Extra hugs, kisses, physical touch…. Let’s just say it: SEX
His favorite home-cooked meal
A foot/back rub
While those may be important and should not be overlooked, there is an underlying factor FAR more important when we are encouraging our husbands.
In fact, the secret ingredient for a healthy marriage AND for encouraging our husbands is one and the same.
The driving force behind any action we do (or do not) take…
It all starts with your heart.
Have you ever noticed your husband is in need of some extra encouragement, and rather than joyfully coming alongside him, you hang back?
Maybe you don’t know where to start. You want to do something, but you’re not sure how to help.
Or you DO know where to start, but- quite honestly- you just don’t want to. You’re tired, in need of a little extra encouragement yourself, and, really, can’t he just suck it up and deal with it? (Whatever “it” is?)
YOur husband sees your heart before you share it and despite your best efforts to hide it.
We could do all the “right” things: give passionate kisses, make all his favorite foods, rub his back every night, wear different lingerie every night of the week, but if our heart is not right with God, our marriage will not function as God intended. And if we’re harboring bitterness, resentmentment, anger, or unforgiveness toward our husband, he will not feel encouraged, despite our best efforts.
If you struggle with bitterness, resentment, anger and unforgiveness toward your husband, make time to read the following related blog posts:
Back to our heart…
The following verses speak to just how vital the condition of our heart is:
In Luke 6:45, Jesus says: “The good person out of the good treasure of his heart produces good… out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks.”
Proverbs 4:23 Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.
Proverbs 27:19 As water reflects the face, so one’s life reflects the heart.
Proverbs 17:22 A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.
Ezekiel 36:26 I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.
Our heart shows in everything we do; we cannot fake it. It drives our lives, decisions, and actions.
“Getting married is like babysitting a child who is not capable of doing anything, and even when they do something, you have to make sure that they don’t mess anything up.”
“My husband and I compromise on a lot of things. He admits that he made a mistake, and I agree with that.”
“A husband who had turned 50 was looking in the mirror and admiring himself. He saw his wife and asked her, ‘Do you still love me, even though I’m balding and no longer youthful?’ The wife said, ‘I have no other option, honey.’”
Honestly, sometimes jokes about marriage make me chuckle. Why? Because there are relatable elements, so my natural reaction is to laugh. But what if my husband made these “jokes” about me?
Would I feel encouraged? Supported? Loved?
Try deflated. Abandoned. Hurt.
Imagine if the person who is supposed to be your helpmate- and who knows your every weakness- hurt you every time they could be helping you. That’s basically what happens when we openly criticize, or sarcastically “joke” about our husband’s shortcomings. Oy.
Our husbands have weaknesses.
They also have STRENGTHS. Do you know your husband’s strengths? Do you spend more time focusing on your husband’s flaws or praising his strengths?
Do you recognize where God has made you to counterbalance a weakness in your husband?
Why is it tempting to make a disrespectful jab that screams, “You’re incompetent!” instead of gently supporting him from a place of genuine, gentle love?
One word: HEART.
4 ways to check your heart so encouragement flows from it:
First: Encourage from a heart of PURPOSE.
As always, we must first understand (and call to mind) the purpose of marriage- as God intended- if we’re to be an effective helper/encourager.
So what IS God’s purpose for marriage? Simply put: to love like Him.
When we lose focus of that purpose, all we see is ourselves. Our hearts harden. Bitterness and resentment pile up. The 1 Corinthians 13 patience, kindness, and gentleness dissipate into frustration, anger, and harshness.
Know God’s purpose for your marriage; understand it fully. (Click HERE for a quick 6-minute read that will be a game-changer for your marriage.)
Second: Encourage from a heart of RESPECT.
Respect him- especially when he doesn’t deserve it.
Why? Because it may be the biggest encouragement you could ever give him. HOW can you respect him when he’s not respectable?? By Remembering.
Remembering will spur on the kind of heart change needed to respect your husband even when he doesn’t deserve it.
Remember what you’ve undeservingly been rescued from: the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord (Romans 6:23).
Once upon a time, you needed the free gift of God- no strings attached (we ALL do!). So, when your husband makes a dumb mistake- one you saw coming from miles away- before you start in on some form of “I told you so”, remember: Christ loved you beyond measure when you didn’t deserve it.
Now it’s time to show your husband the same kind of love and respect.
As we love how God has called us to, we cling to His promise: But love your enemies (your spouse is not the enemy- even if it feels like it- but the same principle applies)... love your enemies and do good to them. Lend to them without expecting to be repaid. Then your reward from Heaven will be very great, and you will truly be acting as children of the Most High, for He is kind to those who are unthankful and wicked. You must be compassionate (merciful), just as your Father is compassionate (merciful)- Luke 6:35-36.
Children of the Most High God… what could be better?
No matter the offense or actions of our husbands, OUR purpose is to love. Our privilege within the purpose is to love the MOST when he deserves it the LEAST.
Third: Encourage from a heart of GENEROSITY.
The desire to give in ways our husbands most need flows from a heart of generosity. Generosity is a powerful and amazing encouragement! (For a quick, motivational read on giving generously to your spouse, read THIS.)
A generous heart understands what it has been given and actively looks for ways to give to others.
A generous heart asks: What does MY SPOUSE need?
For most men, physical intimacy is a huge need and desire. A husband needs to know his wife:
Still finds him attractive
Is grateful and appreciative of his efforts (especially if he feels like a failure)
Will love and respect him regardless of his “performance”
Is not giving out of obligation but out of generosity
If physical intimacy is a struggle for you and your spouse, please make time to read:
Fourth: Encourage from a heart that KEEPS NO RECORD OF WRONGS.
Don’t keep score (1 Corinthians 13:4-6).
“You did that, so now I won’t do this.”
“You got to do that, now I deserve this.”
Oooo…. It’s a slippery slope. One I’ve been down many times. One I still slide down more often than I care to admit.
Do any of these thoughts resonate with you?
If I give him _________, I may lose ______________ (my “me” time, my independence, etc.)
Why should I give up my preferences when he didn’t do that for me?
If I forgive him, then I’m letting him off the hook for what he’s done. He needs to understand how much he’s hurt me.
I’ll lose all control over the situation if I don’t show him what he’s done wrong. I’ll be a doormat.
If I serve him too much, he’ll take advantage of me and expect more and more.
(If you find yourself thinking things like this, we highly encourage you to listen to the VowsToKeep podcast series “Your Self Talk About Your Husband Could be Ruining Your Relationship”)
Stop those thoughts.
Read Luke 6:27–29. Jesus says, “But to you who are listening I say: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. If someone slaps you on one cheek, turn to them the other also. If someone takes your coat, do not withhold your shirt from them.”
When we’re keeping score, we are NOT on the same team.
We stop looking for ways to bless and be a blessing, and instead, we look at how much it’s going to cost us.
Scoreboard, scoreboard on the wall… who has the most points in all?
Don’t let “points” determine what you will say and do. Don’t let your husband’s actions (or lack of action) direct your own.
Instead, remember what God has done for BOTH of you: loved when it was least deserved. And so, we love because He first loved us (1 John 4:19).
Vow to Change: An Encouraging Call to Action
Write down your answers to the following questions:
Encourage from a heart of PURPOSE: How would your heart (and therefore your words and actions) change toward your spouse if you remembered your God-given purpose in marriage? List 2-3 realistic ways you can remind yourself of your God-given roles and purpose in marriage.
Encourage from a heart of RESPECT: What do you need to lend to your husband without expecting anything in return? How does this help him feel respected and encouraged?
Encourage from a heart of GENEROSITY: Where is God asking you to be generous with your husband? What would that look like specifically this week/weekend?
Encourage from a heart that KEEPS NO RECORD OF WRONGS: How can you show your husband that you’re on the same team (not in opposition, not even staying in neutral)? How will you take measurable action to ensure he receives what he needs? How has keeping score prevented you from loving him in this way?
Proverbs 14:1 says, Every wise woman encourages and builds up her family, but a foolish woman over time will tear it down by her own actions.
I want to be a woman who builds up my most beloved people; the ones whom God has entrusted to me to love like He does.
Lord, please keep me humble. Examine my heart and show me areas You want to change and refine. Help me build up our home- my husband and our children- with my actions and words. Show me where each of them need encouragement. Give me wisdom and guide me as I take action to ensure they receive what they need. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.
To go deeper, listen to post's corresponding podcast: How to Encourage Your Husband