Every woman is given a power that can bring about change, growth, and the fulfillment of potential in another person, especially a significant man in her life. Part of that power comes into being when a wife will encourage her husband.
There are many women who try to encourage the men in their lives, and even think they are doing so. But it’s difficult to be an encourager if we don’t understand what encouragement really means.
To be an encourager you need to have an attitude of optimism. The American Heritage Dictionary has one of the better definitions of the word. It’s a “tendency or disposition to expect the best possible outcome, or to dwell on the most hopeful aspect of a situation. When this is your attitude or perspective, you’ll be able to encourage others. Encouragement is to “inspire, to continue on a chosen course, and to impart courage or confidence.”
Encouragement is recognizing the other person as having worth and dignity. It means paying attention to them when they are sharing with you. It’s listening to them in a way that lets them know they’re being listened to.
The road to a person’s heart is through the ear. Men and women today have few people who really listen. When someone is talking most of us are often more concerned about what we are going to say when the other person stops talking. And this is a violation of Scripture. James tells all of us, men and women alike, to “be a ready listener.” Proverbs 18:13 states, “He who answers a matter before he hears the facts, it is folly and shame to him.”
Sometimes in an attempt to be an encourager, you end up crossing the line and become a pleaser. But that’s not the only line that can be crossed. We need to consider the worst things you could do for you and for him.
Avoid becoming a controller in your relationship. And also avoid letting yourself be controlled. Sometimes one partner ends up being smothered by the other. Allowing this to happen is no way to encourage someone! If you end up letting the other person control you, the result is you end up feeling unnecessary. Total dependence on another is not the way Christ has called us to live. Jesus has called us to equality, not domination. Jesus called us to willingly serve one another, not just one to serve the other.
Encourage and Respond
From the passage in Ephesians 5:22-31 and from the creation account, it’s possible to discover what a husband needs from his wife. As we look at the early chapters of Genesis we see he needs a woman of strength. He needs a helper who will respond to his leadership as he sets out to subdue and populate the earth. Nancy Groom in her book Married without Masks states, “Adam (even after the Fall) would have been disappointed if Eve had refused to engage with him as his partner in the work God had called both of them to do. He did not need a slave. He needed a woman who knew who she was and was confident in her gifts. An alive, vibrant woman gives zest and excitement to her husband’s life. He needs that.”
Remember this fact: One of the main causes for the death of love on the part of one person for another is when their partner controls and dominates them.
Look at what God’s Word says: “For all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither slave not free man. There is neither male nor female. For you are all one in Christ Jesus.” (Galatians 3:27-28)
Servanthood is the model of leadership that Jesus is teaching. Remember that the only way that you can really encourage another person in a healthy way is to be sure that you encourage yourself. And you can do this because of knowing who you are in Jesus Christ.
Encourage in Your Healthy Independence
The best way to be healthy as well as to be an encourager in a relationship is to be healthily independent or interdependent. The person whose identity is found through others often ends up with relationships that are addictive.
• Dependency in relationships is not a Christian calling except for being dependent upon God. This is something all men and women are called to be.
• An independent woman thrives on individuality, few restrictions, and self-gratification. She finds her identity through herself.
• But there is a third option called interdependence. The interdependent woman has a strong sense of personhood and bases this upon being affirmed by God. She knows she has been given gifts and is willing to use them. But she can also rely upon others. This woman views others as her equal and also values herself. Are you dependent, independent, or interdependent woman?
Dependent vs. the Independent vs. the Interdependent
In Free to Be God’s Woman, Jan Congo gives four options in which to view ourselves and others. A dependent woman says, “I am nothing and you are nothing,” or “I am nothing but you are a person of worth and dignity.” The independent woman says, “I am a person of worth and dignity.” The independent woman says, “I am a person of worth and dignity but you are expendable.” The interdependent woman says, “I am a person of worth and dignity. And you are a person of worth and dignity.”
The interdependent woman allows herself and others the freedom to grow and be in process. She has role flexibility. She is relying on God’s expectations for herself rather than others. Plus, she enters into relationships with others but she does not restrict them nor is she responsible for them. She discovers the value of commitment.
This is best summarized by Jan Congo:
The very word commitment grinds on many eardrums today in this independent, self-centered society of ours. Yet it is only after we have committed ourselves to the God of love that we can commit ourselves to care for others. We can then identify with them in their various stages of growth.
We refuse to make others either our projects or our heroes. Instead we choose to walk, as much as is humanly possible, where they have walked. We choose to laugh and weep with them, to be available to them, to be as gentle with them as Jesus Christ is with us and to be vulnerable to them. This is demonstrated by our willingness to speak the truth in love about ourselves when we are with them. I choose to back up my words with an authentic lifestyle. In relationships I am willing not only to give but also to express my needs honestly and receive from others.
We are one of the best means of getting God’s life and love to others. Jesus is our source of strength so never do we purposely choose to have others become dependent on us. In all of our relating, we must remember that the purpose is for Christ to be formed in you and in me. (Galatians 4:19) If we find ourselves imitating anyone but Christ or pressuring someone else to imitate us then we need to confess and readjust. We need to honestly share, with no inhibitions, what we see happening. And together we need to get our friendship back to its original purpose —that Christ will be formed in both of us.
Love is the evidence that I am Christ’s woman. Only through dependence on Christ alone will I find myself freed to be a most courageous lover who will not lose her identity through living. I will find her God-given purpose in loving.
Encourage But Don’t Be Absorbed
Encouraging a husband does not mean that you become so absorbed in your husband that your identity and value come from him. It’s not becoming a doormat with no ideas, opinions, or voice. Nor does it mean becoming an appeasing woman. Encouragement is not manipulation either. It’s not done for the purpose of reshaping him for your own dreams, desires, or wishes. Absorption, appeasement, and manipulation are actually forms of control.
Avoid mothering the man in your life. Let me say it another way. Never, but never mother a man. When you act like a mother you can’t encourage him. Treating an adult like a child is demeaning and makes you a controller! And if you mother him he will continue to act in a way that makes you continue to want to mother him and on and on and on.
How do mothers sound? Well for one thing they remind. They actually make the other person (child or adult) rely on them to bail them out. Anyway, why should the other person stop forgetting when he has someone who will remind him?
Similar to reminding is another approach. It’s called rescuing. How do you know if you tend to be a rescuer? Think about these factors.
• Would that man be incapable of functioning in his daily life without your help? If so, don’t rescue. Encourage growth.
• Do you tend to be stronger than him? If so, don’t reinforce his weaknesses and foster dependency. Find his potential and encourage growth.
• Does he tend to be unhappy unless you’re doing something for him? If so, don’t play this game. Encourage by showing you believe in his capability to do it himself.
• Does he make excuses for himself or do you make excuses for him? Remember excuses cripple and perpetuate helplessness.
But aren’t you to love another person by helping and serving? Yes, but it can become rescuing when you believe that it’s your responsibility to solve his problems or protect him from the results of what he’s done.
Encourage and Promote Growth
Rescuing doesn’t work. It doesn’t promote growth or change. It doesn’t help your man grow. It’s another word for fixing. Loving encouragement means support, being available, cooperative, and sympathetic. When you follow through with these you’re sending the message, “I believe in you. I believe in your capability to be responsible, mature, and an adult!”
Don’t do anything for your man that he should be (meaning capable of) doing for himself. If he asks you for something, and you’re used to getting it for him, let him get it for himself. Don’t make suggestions. Don’t pick up after him. And don’t bail him out of experiencing consequences. Yes, it probably means that your life could be a bit more frustrating. But you need to stick to your commitment. If you hear complaints let him know you know he’s capable of assuming the responsibility himself. You may be the first person in his life to show a belief that he can be different. Treat him as though he is reliable. I’ve seen so many women who end up being the clock, calendar, key finder, garbage reinforcer, and appointment regulator. Don’t rescue! Don’t bail him out!
In counseling I’ve dealt with men like this. As we discuss together the situation the dialogue goes something like this:
Norm: John, you have a fairly responsible job, don’t you?
John: Yes I do. I’ve been there three years now.
Norm: And you’ve received a couple of promotions, haven’t you?
John: Yes, one just recently.
Norm: John, when you’re at work who is it that reminds you of what to do, when to do it, how to do your job?
John: Well, no one. I can handle all that myself. I don’t need reminders.
Norm: So you don’t need any kind of reminders or support like that at work?
Norm: I guess my question is what’s the difference? Why are you so different at work? You’re competent, reliable, functional, and you follow through. At home you’re just the opposite. It appears that you’re making a choice. You have the capability, and you choose to be that way at work. At home you have the same capability, but choose not to use it at home. I wonder what kind of message you’re sending to your wife?
If a man is functional at work and not at home, there’s some kind of game playing going on that needs to be exposed and stopped.
Sometimes a man may not act capable because of other reasons such as the fear of failure. When a man fails in one area, he will take on only “safe” tasks. Why should he attempt something that carried with it the uncertainty of risk? Therefore, some men will pull back from activities over which they don’t maintain a high degree of control or in which they aren’t certain of success.
A wife shared with me how she was able to help and encourage her husband. “My husband had no conception of organization. He’s a perfectionist and if something couldn’t be done perfectly then he wouldn’t do it at all, or he’d leave a job half complete. Needless to say, we had a lot of half-finished projects, a lot of messes, and a lot of tasks never started!
This Wife Shared:
I’m not a nag and I didn’t pester him about the unfinished projects. But I did pick up the tools and materials left lying around and put them in big piles. I also have a big drawer in the kitchen that I called his tool drawer. And anything I found lying around I put into the drawer. That way if anything was missing, he could find it either in a pile or in the drawer.
This caused a lot of arguments because he said it was his house, too. He said he should be able to have his items wherever he wanted. (My husband is a carpenter and some of these items included big boards on which he would write notes or phone numbers or lists of materials needed. I started burning the boards in the fireplace.) All this was after many requests for him to write on tablets and put things away.
I started buying him organizational tools—a small hand-held computer and tablets. We worked on writing lists of things he needed to accomplish in a day. He prioritized the list. If he didn’t have the materials needed to start a job, then it went to the bottom of the list.
I showed him it was OK to do a job as good as you could. It didn’t have to be perfect, and it didn’t have to be better than anyone else could do it. He began to feel good about starting something, completing it, and crossing it off his list.
I praised him when he began a job, during the job, and of course after it was complete he got lots of praise. Most of the time the finished project was better than anyone else could have done it.
Praise was very important to him and I found he needed to hear me praise him to other people. I would tell the person what his next project was going to be and how excited I was about his plans. I guess he just needed a system to get him organized. He could see that if he didn’t get organized his stuff was going to get burned or he was going to have a pile in the backyard as big as the house. He needed to know his projects were appreciated and we didn’t expect perfection.
Encourage One Another
Hebrews 3:13 says we’re to “encourage one another every day.“ In the setting of this verse, encouragement is associated with protecting the believer from callousness.
Hebrews 10:25 says, “Let us encourage one another.“ This time the word means to keep someone on their feet who, if left to himself, would collapse. Your encouragement serves like the concrete pilings of a structural support.
One of my favorite verses is Proverbs 12:25. “Anxiety in a man’s heart weighs it down. But an encouraging word makes it glad.“
One man described why he felt encouraged. He said, “I was reading the Scriptures one day and found this passage. It summed it up better than I could say it.” “A good woman is hard to find, and worth far more than diamonds. Her husband trusts her without reserve, and never has reason to regret it. Never spiteful, she treats him generously all her life long.“ (Proverbs 31:10-21, MSG)
Hopefully you’re already encouraging the man in your life. The results may amaze you!
This article came from the book, “How to Encourage the Man in Your Life” by H. Norman Wright, which was published by WORD Publishing. Unfortunately, it is no longer being published. But you may be able to find a used copy somehow. There’s so much that we weren’t able to share with you within this article that was written in the book. It could be helpful in learning how to be an encourager to your husband, rather than a rescuer, or someone who nags and mothers him.
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17 responses to “Called To Encourage Your Husband”
(USA) This all sounds great and makes a lot of sense. However, what about the woman? Everything I’ve been reading always talks about the man and how he needs this or that…what about the woman, doesn’t she need the same? The woman is supposed to be the weaker vessel but what I’ve been reading makes the man sound like he’s the weak link.
I have had the complete opposite experience, every church I have ever been to elevates the woman and promotes how a husband should treat her and lift her up. But very few times, if any, have they taught me how to care for my husband’s spiritual needs. I very much appreciate what this article says.
(ZIMBABWE) Women are taught how to be submissive, please their men, etc. It’s all good but I am yet to hear of when men are taught to be good husbands and how to make their wives happy. Women go out of their way to please men but very few men do the same. Biblically, a man is instructed to love his wife the way Christ loved the church. Lets not forget that.
(USA) Tendai, I think it really depends on the culture and the particular pair of individuals. In America, it is a mixed bag, but our culture is highly individualized -everything is about personal fulfillment. You have men who act like little boys, who can’t commit to their woman, are totally focused upon their wants, their toys, and living like they are still single. They act like babies. But there are also lots of women who act the same way to their men. They emasculate men and run them over to get what they want. They are certainly *not* taught to submit to and please their husbands -they are taught to go after their own personal happiness.
Within the church, I’ve seen religious extremes of this as well. I’ve seen men who over-stress how their wives are supposed to submit to them (and sometimes their abuse) and be the backbone of the home and homeschool all of their 400 children. And I’ve seen women who have extremely high expectations for their husbands -expectations that no mere human can meet.
I think the main point is that we should be looking for ways to love the other, not for ways to demand that others comply with our “needs.” We should be primarily concerned with how we can love more and need less, not how our partner should be loving us more. In other words, we should be less obsessed with getting some kind of elusive “balance” in the relationship. This doesn’t mean we become doormats -God’s love for us is imbalanced -He loves and pursues us far more than we do Him, and yet He is not our doormat. Jesus shows us that real love doesn’t sit and wait for there to be balance and total reciprocation.
So, though it might be unpopular to say, but I don’t think love really asks the question (or makes the demand), “Hey, what about them?! Who is going to tell them that they need to meet my needs?!”
Yes, I am a man, but I have often felt the way you do toward women and my wife. What I’m saying to you is what I’m learning for myself.
(NIGERIA) This is really quite good and in a way educating. Although my husband encourages me more than I do, if ireally want to be honest here. His belief is whether a woman is submissive or not, Christ has commanded a husband to love his wife and submission is not a condition for loving a woman.
I am also of the opinion that as women, God has endowed us so richly to be able to be whatever our husband(s) may demand from us; be it a wife, sister, friend, mother, lover, confidant, adviser etc. It is not about what we need as women but how we can add value to the lives of our men. Of course, our needs are also very important but the Bible tells us to prefer one another in love. Let us recommend this site to our husbands so that they may also read articles on how to be more sensitive to our needs and encourage us more in order to bring out the best in us.
(USA) I think what the scriptures allude to is that each party take their roles despite and irrespective of whether the other person doesn’t do their part. It won’t be long before the other person begins to change! Everytime I do the right thing in my marriage consistently, it doesn’t take long before my husband behaves himself. I think I am married to the right man but I guess there are some funny men out there who do no appreciate their wives!
(USA) Wow!!!!!!! I really need to re-valuate me… I am a controling person. I do it by buying things, relying no one but me. I have been so self-absorbed that I couldn’t encourage my husband with his dreams. Wow!!!!!!!
(ZIM) Thank you for the article. I personally feel that encouragement should be a dual thing in a realtionship and not just one sided. People have the conception that women don’t need this or that, but honestly women truly also need encouragement in all the areas in their life.
Husbands should really learn to encourage their wives, otherwise we get the independent women thing. Being an independent woman is not something that just happens or something one just decides. What makes us independent is that we lack encouragement. Then one ends up with no choice left except to believe in themselves, which then forces you to become independent. Lets us encourage each other in the name of the Lord; lets encourage each other.
(KENYA) Thanks for this great piece. I regularly read your articles and am learning a lot from the comments on the current topic. I believe most of us make mistakes for lack of knowledge. For a long time I tried to understand what it means for a wife to submit to her husband. But as I mature in marriage I am understanding what the scripture means. Let us learn to share with our sisters; this could save marriages in the current generation.
(UNITED STATES) My husband was having trouble meeting the expectations of covering the home. Our priorities were always different. We never seemed to want the same things and when he said he did he would go back on his word. I tried for more than 4 years, different ways of trying to find common goals and interest. We could never sustain, so year five, I left.
I love him, however. I needed him to provide, protect and profess and his ego/pride seemed to not allow him to this. Everything was always or most often my fault in his opinion. My hope is that this separation will allow us both some clarity on what we really wanted from a marriage –our marriage.
Maybe the age difference and experiences played a larger role than we thought. We were never equally ypoked and he lied to me from the very beginning. It has been difficult for me to forgive and forget.
(ZIMBABWE) Dear Monica, What you have shared has left me so troubled and sad for your broken marriage. I wish I had some encouraging words for you, but the story is incomplete and therefore difficult to pinpoint the trouble areas. You say you tried different ways of finding common ground for 4 years. Was he also making an effort to save your marriage or was it just you?
You paint him as a liar, proud man and immature Christian. Was he unable to meet the expectations of covering your home because of inability, immaturity or was he unwilling?
Also, it sounds like all this is still pretty recent, so sometimes your feelings of hurt might be causing you to see him as the wrong party. You did not mention any factors on your side that may have contributed to the problem. It sounds like you are still hope full for reconciliation. What measures are you currently putting in place (e.g counseling?) to ensure that this can be made possible? Did you have a good Christian body you were accountable to, that could speak life into yo marriage. This I ask because you left him, yet the Bible does not say “after marriage, if you cannot find harmony you can separate.”
(UNITED STATES) This was very moving but I’m still confused on how to encourage my husband. He recently learned that he was not receiving any more financial aid for school and his last 27 hrs he would have to pay. I told him not to feel discouraged and we could discuss options. I’m also 9 months pregnant with our second child and we have a two year old. He moved from one city to mine where I already completed two degrees. When I finished my masters he was to be finishing his bachelors only to find out he was short 20+ hours. So at this point, almost three years later, I’m not sure how to approach the situation.
(UNITED STATES) Please pray for me, God has blessed me with a wonderful god-fearing man. We just celebrated our 3 month anniversary together. Please pray that God’s will be done for he and I. Thank you so much, and I pray that God will bless you and this ministry. In Jesus name, amen.
(CANADA) This past year has been one of the hardest in my life. Last spring I discovered that my husband had been engaged in on-line pornagraphy and dating sites. We’d been married for almost 16 years a that point, and it was so unlike him, that I almost could not believe it. He was repentant and we’re working on building up our marriage. In the ups & downs of this recovery, the last few weeks have been exceptionally difficult for me.
God has been bringing scripture to me about doing good. I know that He’s specifically pointing me towards my husband. Your article has been an affirmation to me on how I am to live before my husband. I just texted him a note on how I appreciate him. Eventually, between God and me, my wounds will heal. Between God and my husband, his self-inflicted wounds will also heal. God is calling me to love my husband in the same way that He loved me while I was still His enemy and my sin killed Him. Your article has given me some insight on how to just that without compromising myself or harming my relationship with my Saviour. Thank you.
A few yrs ago I discovered that our marriage was dysfuntional. I learned to go to God for his help and guidance. My husband got more upset when I got healthier. He is 57 and insists that he needs nuturing. I gave what I could to encourage him but HE DIDN’T DO FOR HIMSElf. He got more offened with me. I grew closer to the Lord and his leading. My husband never took ownership for HIS CHOICES AND MAJOR DESTRUCTION in our relationship. He sought out other female friends. He filed for a divorce.
He says he has only an emtional connection with women who nurture him. It saddens me because he never grew up. It looks like what he wants is a mother and not a partner. We had been married 28 yrs and it was so manipulated and controlled. I learned love is not doing for another if they are not willing to do for themselves. My heart is broken because we have been in the church as leaders but we didn’t lead well. During this divorce process my heart is to still encourage him to greatness but how? He chooses to NOT invest in us and do things differently. He chooses to run away hurt and wounded. I chose to forgive and encourage him but he didn’t recieve it. Any thoughts to how to handle him now while going thru the divorce?
I’m so sorry for what you are going thru. …Sometimes we try to fix it our selves… Sometimes we try to be wise in our own eyes and understanding and then just say, “I do not get it. “ITS NOT BY MIGHT, NOT BY POWER… BUT BY YOUR SPIRIT,” says the Lord God Almighty (Zechariah. 4:6). Cry out to God to help you to take the focus off of your husband and the sins he is committing …unto God and say, “Lord change me.” Lord show me what pleases you and how you want me to handle this. Take delight in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart (Psalm 37:4).
Pray for your husband, and ask God to show you how he sees your husband, no matter what you see with your human eyes. Now to God who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us. Bless you; I’ll pray for you.
Oh my! Your words so resonate with me. I just finished reading a great new book that aligns with this so well. It’s called The Wholehearted Wife: 10 Keys to a More Loving Relationship by Erin, Greg and Gary Smalley. You quoted Proverbs 31, and of course they do, too. The first chapter in the book, the first “Key” is “Honoring: The Value of a Diamond.” Biblical, inspirational, affirming. One of my favorite quotes is, “If you want to have a more loving relationship with your husband, remember that he’s a gift from God, a treasured possession – just as you are. As a Wholehearted wife, seek to honor him each day by cherishing him and affirming his value. Treat him like a Stradivarius!” I highly recommend it!
And regarding other’s comments… if you honor and encourage your husband, despite how he may or may not treat you, just watch what God will do. You are honoring Him by honoring your husband.