You will also be wise to watch for signs that you aren't giving him adequate nourishment for his ego. Most husbands now and then overpraise themselves. When yours does this too much, it may mean that he needs more of your praise.
Letters to Karen - Charlie W. Shedd
Remember those glorious dating days? The days when you were "twitter-pated" and starry-eyed and thought your husband was just amazing. The days when you were just so impressed with everything about him and you made sure he knew it. Then you got married, you figured he knew how great you thought he was and you stopped praising him.
I know. This is a classic Have-a-Better-Marriage Tip. Praise your husband. Compliment him. Got it.
Here's the twist: Years ago, in college, I read this sweet little old fashioned book entitled Letters to Karen: On Keeping Love in Marriage written by Charlie Shedd in 1965. The book is written as if it was a father writing letters to his daughter, passing on lessons on marriage. (There's a volume for guys called Letters to Philip.) In the book, the "father" advises his daughter not to stop admiring her husband because if she doesn't, he'll look for it elsewhere. And then he gives this cute little suggestion: praise him for what he is proud of, not just for what you are proud of about him. "Every man has certain areas where he's particularly pleased if his woman applauds," says Shedd.
Frankly, this is harder than simply finding a sincere compliment based on what you appreciate. You have to really look at your husband, study his reactions, notice what he talks about most often. It's much easier for me to say, "Hey, you look good in that suit!" because I happen to like how he looks in a suit. When I first started doing this kind of praise, my head hurt a little. But here's some examples:
- When he's done mowing the grass, I tell him how great it looks.
- When I go to one of his indoor soccer games, I make sure to comment on a particular maneuver or on his speed or the goal he made.
- When he tells me about work situations, I tell him specific things about his job that I think he's good at.
- When he figures out our health insurance or sets up a retirement account for our future, I thank him for how well he planned ahead or for taking care of us.
Those are all things that are satisfying to him. They are all things he enjoys or is proud of. And I see a little glow in his eyes when I comment on those things.
For some of us, thinking of positive things about our husbands will be hard. In a good marriage, it might take just a little thought to come up with something; in a marriage where the love has been dwindling or is gone, it might be extra hard. You might even think it's impossible. I'm going to challenge you to do it anyway.
Luke 6:45 says, The good person out of the good treasure of his heart produces good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure produces evil, for out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks. Where your heart is, there your thoughts will be also. But if you change your thoughts, you can also change your heart.
Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. (Phil 4:8).
Instead of focusing on your husband's faults, instead of telling him all the hurtful things he did to you that week, instead of pointing a finger at his (possibly legitimate) sin, instead of focusing on yourself...find something that you know he is proud of and offer some genuine, sincere praise in that direction.
Let me know how it goes.
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