Some time ago, my friend Amy wrote a post about her nice voice. (Unfortunately, her blog has been removed from the internet, so you can't read the post.)
In in the comments, I wrote that I am good at giving my nice voice to my girls, but I am awful at letting my husband hear it.
He gets, "I need!" and "Can't you?" and "Don't!" and he deserves so much better.
I know that I am not the only one.
Almost ten years ago, a friend challenged me to write a list of 10 gifts that would show my husband love and respect.
I am sarcastic. I can be critical. Sometimes I mean it; sometimes I don't.
The problem with sarcastic and critical - even when you're joking - is that you start to believe the things you say. Because you said them, after all.
Words are powerful.
I brainstormed gifts I could give to Joe to show him that I respect him.
I thought about showing him that I trust and respect him with our children by going away for a few days, but I'm not sure that's the point.
In the end, I couldn't think of a single gift that would show him respect.
The more I thought about it, I realized that respecting my husband isn't a once a year gift. It's not packaged in pretty paper with a fancy bow. It's a thousand little gestures spread throughout the year.
It's the attitudes and thoughts and behaviors that reflect understanding, admiration, appreciation, and friendship.
10 Ways to Show Respect to Your Husband
- Value your marriage. Spend time giving him your undivided attention. Have fun. Enjoy his company as a human being. Pay attention to his words. Having regular date nights is a must, in my opinion because they give you time to focus on one another and your relationship. If babysitting and time away are an issue, try out one of the at-home date ideas found in The Marriage Builders Toolkit.
- Work on a project with him - without taking over. Joe loves to garden, and he loves to can, and he takes pride in doing both well. He would be honored if I took time out of my hectic schedule to help him while he works. It would show him that I respect him enough to give him a hand. BUT if I take over, it has the opposite effect, crushing his ego and telling him without words that I don't think he can handle the job.
- Give him a break. Joe does so much around the house, and he works a lot of hours (76.5 last week!). He does most of the cooking and most of the clean-up afterwards. He would do anything I asked. On Sunday, I encouraged him to take a nap in the afternoon. I knew he needed some rest, and he woke up feeling so much better. Any husband would love some personal space and privacy - permission and encouragement to do whatever he wants for an hour or two. It shows him that you respect his hobbies and commitments, too.
- Ask his advice. Men like to fix things and solve problems. Asking for his advice shows that I value and respect his perspective, wisdom, and experience.
- Speak well of him to others. This may well be my #1 crime where Joe is concerned. I find it so easy to think and speak ill of him - in jest or seriously. It just rolls off my tongue. Sometimes, I catch it before it comes out my mouth, but still, the thought goes through my brain. I am trying. I need to build up his self-worth; it's so important. For both of us.
I could brag about his achievements instead of highlighting his failures, and that would be a good start.
- Write him a love note. Men love romance just as much as women, but few will admit it. Boost your partner's self-esteem by telling him the specific things that you love and appreciate and admire about him. I love these hearts stuck all over the bathroom mirror or on his car. I'm planning to do it for Joe one of these days when he doesn't have to leave for work at 5 am.
- Thank him. Gratitude is sexy, but don't just say "thank you, dear." Thank him for specific things - for taking out the trash, for mowing the lawn, for making a lovely dinner. Thank him often.
- Compliment him. You picked this fella from among all the fellas in your zip code (and beyond), so he must have some good qualities. Tell him what they are.
- Set the mood. You knew this would be on the list, right? Make time for sexual intimacy in your marriage, and your husband will feel respected and valued.
- Keep your big mouth shut. When tempted to criticize or use a harsh word or an unkind tone, just keep your mouth shut. Make sure you're not interrupting when he's speaking. Given the alternative, silence is the respectful choice.
Marriage isn't easy; no one has ever claimed that it was. But it can be easier when both partners feel respected and valued as people and love each other actively. You are worthy of mutual respect and love, but you can only start by taking care of your side of the street. Make the road to respect start with you, today.