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Crawling into Your Husband’s Skin

To help us get a handle on what makes men feel appreciated, listen as a few men share their thoughts. I hope this will help us put ourselves in our husbands’ shoes (or “crawl into their skin” so to speak). I’ve gathered several comments from various sources and compiled a list of answers from men, and I’ve found that these are helpful in giving me insight on what communicates appreciation to a husband:

  • Say “Thank you” more frequently and mean it.
  • Listen!
  • Watch for signals—men can’t always put into words what they’re feeling.
  • Hand out compliments—men like to know they’re doing a good job.
  • Accept us—stop trying to change us!
  • I’d love to hear my wife say, “You’ve got what it takes!”
  • Let me know when you like something I’ve done.
  • Remind me when I’ve done well previously.

After attempting a home improvement project, one husband said, “This week I picked out the type and color of new shingles for the roof. My wife said they looked terrific when she saw them applied … Phew!”

I can just imagine that husband’s fear and trepidation as he entered the hardware store. “Will she say this color works? Are these shingles the ones she’d pick?” Then as he worked away on the roof, “What if she hates this? Maybe I should’ve gone with the grey color instead …”

I wonder how many husbands carry out their role of protector and provider hoping to hear “You are awesome!!” but instead are greeted with “Why did you do it that way?” or “Well, you sure messed that up, didn’t you?”

James 2:8 describes love’s royal law as an action of empathy. “Love your neighbor as yourself.” Put yourself in his shoes, consider how you would want to be treated and use that knowledge to demonstrate love to your husband. At least nine times this love law is repeated throughout Scripture, spanning both testaments. The same principle is reiterated in the golden rule as we are commanded to treat others in the way we’d want to be treated.

Empathy births compassion. Compassion is the necessary ingredient for loving the unlovable.

I’ve compiled some ways to help in the process of putting yourself in your husband’s shoes, and I hope you’ll add your own ideas as you consider the specifics of your situation:

  • When he’s irritable, remind yourself that “hurting people hurt others” and consider where his heart may be.
  • Enter his world at every opportunity.
  • Ask him about spending a day with him on the job to give you a better understanding of the pressures he faces.
  • Become familiar with his background, family relationships and history, early childhood, and pivotal events of his life in order to gain a better understanding of how he views the world and what impact these experiences have on his responses to you and others.
  • Become acquainted with his hobbies and interests; find out what his passions are and why.
  • Listen! Ask him to help you understand pressures he’s facing by talking to you about them (without jumping in with unwanted advice!). Invite him to share with you his goals and dreams.

You may be thinking this is pretty one-sided and wondering why you have to be the one putting in all this effort. My response to that is: Love is birthed through dying to self. Rewards come from dying. We find freedom in Christ and in turn that freedom flows into your marriage.

Let’s add to this list. How will you “crawl into your husband’s skin” today?

Excerpted from Fierce Women, copyright ©2012 by Kimberly Wagner. Used with permission of Moody Publishers. This post originally published at FamilyLifeToday.

You can hear Kimberly Wagner talk more about her book on a recent FamilyLife Today® interview.