how to really help your husband

I’m married to a pastor which means that life is a little different from some people’s.  However, marriage for a pastor and his wife isn’t different because at the core it still involves a sinful man and a sinful woman.  We struggle with many of the same things other couples do.  You see, I’m first married to a man not a pastor. So, when I received this question by email from a reader and also a fellow minister’s wife, I realized her question applied to nearly all of us old married folks, and I thought you might benefit from our interaction with one another.

Here's the Question:
how do you deal with people in the church criticizing your husband? When (if) you can tell it sometimes really gets to him, how do you encourage him? 
Here's My Response:
As to your question about your husband and people’s criticism.  There isn’t a straightforward answer here.  First of all, you have to come to accept and expect critical people.  Some of them are even well-meaning, believe it or not, but they just don’t have a clue.  I’ve had to really pray for God’s eyes for them and trust that just as He is doing a work in me, He is doing it in them, as well.  Just as I resist that work, so do they.  So, first, pray that God will give you His eyes for those people.  (easier said than done, btw)  I would also add that my husband often reminds me that with every criticism is usually some truth.  We have to be discerning to dig that truth out and disgard the rest.

williamsAs far as encouraging your husband when you know it’s getting to him.  Be a student of your husband.  What encourages me doesn’t encourage my husband.  I tend to try to encourage him in the ways that I want to be encouraged and though it’s meant well, it doesn’t really do the trick.  If you & your husband haven’t been through Gary Chapman’s The 5 Love Languages you should.  Really learn how you can love your husband in a way that he receives it.  As a minister’s wife, my goal has always been to provide a safe, encouraging environment for my husband to come home to.  Over the course of 14 years, I’ve learned that in order for him to receive it that way, I have to be super-intentional.  For my husband, it is physical affection and words of affirmation.  I have to make an intentional point to try to verbally be his biggest cheerleader and to constantly be touching, hugging, and meeting his physical needs.  He can deal with a lot outside our home when his needs are met inside our home.

Now It's Your Turn:
When your husband experiences criticism at his job or elsewhere and you can tell it bothers him…how do you encourage him?  What would be some ideas you might add from your experiences in marriage?

7 Comments

  1. Hi Bobi Ann!
    This is an area in which I am not always successful. I think you’re right when you say we have to be intentional. I know what I need to do to encourage my husband, but I am often too busy trying to get dinner on the table or too distracted by my children’s needs or just too tired to listen to my husband. When he gets home in the evenings, he often wants to tell me about something that happened at work. Unfortunately, instead of giving him that moment to say what is on his mind, I have a natural tendency to put him off. I even become irritated that he doesn’t see the importance of the work that I am doing at that moment. I mean, does he not understand that I must get children fed and homework questions answered so the kids can get to bed on time???

    That said, I have seen how much it means to my husband to be heard. Several times when I have disappointed David by not listening, he has called my mother and shared his big news with her. Ouch!

    She listens intently. She celebrates his achievements. She takes his side against injustice. My mother models “good wife” behavior. It is also a reminder that if I am not available to my husband he may seek to have his needs filled elsewhere.

    1. Wow Amy, it sounds like you have already done some real soul-searching here. I have to admit that for a really long time I knew what needed to be done and I would try for a while and then get busy (read lazy) when it came to meeting my husband’s needs. I would work so hard to meet my kids’ needs (including their love languages) that I was just giving Jared my leftovers. One day when we were really struggling through this (and I saw how much he needed encouragement), I realized the attention and effort I give to Jared should be equal to (if not greater than) what I’m giving to the kids. I’m his person and he’s mine. He wants ME to be his person and my lack of effort really signifies that I just don’t want to be. Nothing could be any further from the truth but I realized how I was communicating that to him. Now, I make a point to constantly be communicating by the way I love and encourage him how honored I am to be chosen to be “his person.” I’m walking this road with you (I certainly haven’t arrived). Cheering you on, Friend.

  2. My husband says I am actually his biggest critic. We are truly like “one person” and we are hardest on ourselves.
    We are in marriage and individual counseling (me) at Whitesburg to deal with this and other issues.

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