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?

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