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Wifey Wednesday: Helping Your Husband Feel Strong

Last weekend my husband and I flew out to Vancouver for a conference with Family Life Canada. We speak with the around the country at marriage conferences, and this was our staff retreat.

Loads of fun and loads of laughs, but one of the nuggets I gleaned from the time together was from a marriage talk on how to communicate better.

I know I've been talking about sex a lot here on Wifey Wednesdays lately (and next week is my HUGE party for Honey, I Don't Have a Headache Tonight), but I want to take just a minute and talk about something else today.

Here's the gist: men like to feel like they know what they are doing. If they feel like they're not competent, they'll move on to another thing. So if you're always nagging your husband to fix something around the house, and then you berate him for not doing it right, he will rarely fix anything ever again. He doesn't like to fail. Get it?

Or if he takes you out to dinner, but he chooses the wrong restaurant, don't let him know that right away. You'll chase him off planning dates again. He doesn't want to fail.

But he does like to feel competent! So spend some time with your husband in areas that he feels confident, because then it's like you've entered his favourite world. He will feel so affirmed and so connected to you, in the same way you would if he sat down and talked to you for hours just about how you're feeling.

Here's how it works. My husband loves history, and especially military history. He knows everything about the Pelopenesian Wars (I know that's spelled wrong), or the civil war, or the Seven Years War, or anything about war in modern history. He and friends play out war games. He reads war stuff. He lives and breathes it.

But it doesn't really interest me. So I have two choices. I can ignore it altogether, and let him do his little thing, but then when we get together insist that we talk about something important, or every now and then, when we're out walking, I can ask him a question about a battle. And then suddenly, this man who wasn't talking a lot before, will open up with a stream of information.

And he'll feel very affirmed, because I have asked about something where he can teach me. And if I try really hard, I can see that it really is interesting.

One of the mistakes that women often make is to leave their husbands hobbies as if these have no relevance for them. They're just something that the men do on their own, and we have to humour them. But that's not true. They're something that excites our husbands. It's something they think about deeply in their inner world. And don't you want to share that?

Now I'm not saying that you have to actually participate. If your husband plays poker with the guys every Friday night, he probably doesn't want you there. My husband has fun with his friends playing his games, and I would wreck the dynamic. But that doesn't mean that he doesn't want me to be interested.

Women talk more than men do, and so we often determine the subjects that are open for discussion in our marriages. Don't leave his hobbies out. Maybe it's his work that he loves to talk about. Maybe it's computers. Whatever he loves doing, enter that part of his life. Just listen. And afterwards, he'll probably feel much closer to you because you've shared something precious to him.

Tonight, what are you going to talk about? What does your husband love? Ask him something about it. Let him share it. And see what happens!

Don't forget about my party next week for Wifey Wednesday! I'll have a blog scavenger hunt, a teleseminar, a Twitter party, and more! Find out more here!

Do you have any marriage thoughts for us today? Why not write a post on your own blog, and then come back here and link to it in Mr. Linky!

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At 8:36 AM , Blogger Mrs W said…

I talk to him about his hobbies, even try to learn about them even though they are kind of boring. He never returns the favour though so if we ever do anything it has to be something he's interested in because he sure isn't going to delve into my "stupid" hobbies. EVER. At all. That much is clear. And people still blame the woman...


At 10:31 AM , Anonymous Amanda said…

This is SO true, especially for my husband. His family was less than supportive for anything he wanted to do growing up. I'm not sure how he came from that gene pool (must have been the deep end). :) Any interest or affirmation he gets now goes a LONG way in making him feel secure about himself and then I reap the benefits from that. :)


At 10:33 AM , Anonymous Carol @SheLives said…

I wish my husband had a hobby. The closest thing he has is grass-growing. As in, fertilizer, mower, edger...During the growing season, this occupies his Saturdays. On Sunday afternoons, he sits on the porch and watches it grow. If I come sit with him, he talks about ... grass. How he's finally "turned the corner" with his lawn. Just the right use of organic matter to get that golf-course green.

I mean, the Peloponnesian War *IS* way more interesting. How much affirming can I do that his grass is....very green? Year after year?

Okay, I'll quit complaining. Just wish he'd get a real hobby.


At 11:43 AM , Blogger Alicia, The Snowflake said…

I have had to learn this one with my husband. I have spent many Sunday afternoons curled up on the couch watching Nascar. But that's ok because he also takes the time to let me be me.

Thanks for sharing Sheila. This fit right in with what I was trying to say this week.

Hope you enjoy the rest of your Wednesday!


At 1:38 PM , Blogger Melissa, Multi-Tasking Mama said…

Great post! Sorry about my name in Mr. Linky- the link is correct though :-) Happy Wifey Wednesday!


At 10:47 PM , Anonymous Rosie said…

My husband and I have very different interests and hobbies. He likes to hunt and fish and go places. I like to stay home and garden and decorate. (That's just samples of our different interests! So, it takes sacrifice on both our parts.)

But it is definitely good to affirm a man's interests, skills, hobbies, even if he doesn't show interest in yours. I know it's hard. But we'll all stand before God someday,won't we!


At 5:02 PM , Blogger MammaDucky said…

My jaw hit the floor when I read the line about the husband choosing the wrong restaraunt. We quarreled about that today!
I've been asking to go to this particular restaurant for a year now. I stated I wanted nothing more for my b-day then a dinner alone with him there. Birthday comes around, he takes me (with a bunch of friends) to a sushi restaurant. I don't eat sushi. Granted, they also served steak, but still!
I don't know where I'm going with this, but when I brought it up to him he got defensive. I don't know how I could have approached this differently. I'm definately learning some stuff from reading your blog though!!


At 8:20 AM , Blogger Karen said…

Another great post... Sheila, I love your writing and pass it on to my friends all the time!!

A thought for Mrs W - perhaps you should stop expecting him to return the favor and affirm him just because you love him! I find we get too caught up in "what about me??" as wives and mothers and lose sight of the pleasure we get just from giving to our loved ones.

A good deed returned has already been rewarded, but if it is not returned, you will be rewarded later :)


At 8:34 AM , Blogger Mrs W said…

Yeah yeah yeah, stop expecting him to return the favour, stop expecting him to do anything, woman's fault, woman must change, man is just being a man blah blah blah I'M SICK OF THIS JUNK!!!

The church tells me that if I change it will change my husband. Sure it does...he gets meaner and meaner and asks why I am just letting him walk all over me and why I'm trying to be interested in stuff I don't like. And I tell him it's for him and he throws the whole lot in my face. Ungrateful, thoughtless man.

Yes, I've husband HATES it and says he "doesn't want a wife like that" but then again, my husband hasn't a clue what he wants since nothing I do is good enough.


At 9:23 AM , Blogger Sheila said…

I've responded to some of the comments on this post in a new post! Just scroll up to the top of the page. It's all about what change really means! Hope it helps.

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About Me

Name: Sheila

Home: Belleville, Ontario, Canada

About Me: I'm a Christian author of a bunch of books, and a frequent speaker to women's groups and marriage conferences. Best of all, I love homeschooling my daughters, Rebecca and Katie. And I love to knit. Preferably simultaneously.

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