Chances are, you’ve said words to your husband that you wish you hadn’t. Words that slipped out. Words that you regretted. Words that might’ve even hurt him deeply.
In Scripture we are told “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen" (Ephesians 4:29, NIV). In the Contemporary English Version, the last part of that verse reads: “help others by what you say.” In the Message, it reads: “Say only what helps, each word a gift.”
That’s a great guideline for how to talk to our spouses. I’m sure you’ve heard that your husband needs your respect just as much as you need his love. You can convey your respect to him through your gift of words, carefully chosen and lovingly spoken.
After asking my husband – and several other husbands who have been married anywhere from 5-50 years – what phrases would be considered “gifts” from their wives, I came up with this list of the 10 things your husband wishes you would say to him. (By the way, this is the G-rated list. If you want to know his preferred pillow talk, I’ll let you get that list by asking him yourself.)
1. "I will take care of it."
Our husbands need help at times, just like anyone else. If you’re like me, when your husband expresses a concern or states a need of his, it’s easy for you to give him a rundown of your schedule and all the reasons you can’t get to it. But remember, you and I were created to be our husband’s helper (Genesis 2:18) and sometimes you show him love simply by helping him with things he can’t get to right away.
By telling your husband “I’ll take care of it”, you are reassuring him that what is important to him is important to you. When you let him know you’ve got it under control, he will have one less thing to worry about—and that is something he will see as a gift.
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2. "Don't worry about the cost."
If you are the one who manages the finances and you’re doing it well, that in itself is a gift to your husband. But don’t do as I once did and leave him feeling penny-pinched by his wife.
“Men don’t like to be money-managed by their wives,” my husband told me, drawing on his experience as a pastor, counselor, and longtime discipler of men. “Some men are responsible for large budgets and expensive projects at work, and to be questioned at home by their wives over finances can feel belittling.” Another man told me “If they have a good track record of being responsible with money, men need the freedom sometimes to spend without an audit from their wives.”
3. "Go get 'em, tiger!"
There are days your husband does not believe he can accomplish half of what you believe he is capable of. Whether he’s doubting his ability to tackle the project in front of him, score a sale on the presentation at work, or land the promotion he is up against, he craves your confidence in him.
When you say “Go get ‘em, Tiger,” or “You can do this!” or “I believe in you”, you are being his cheerleader as well as giving him your approval and your confidence. A man’s belief in himself is often directly proportional to his wife’s belief in him.
Photo Credit: ©Unsplash/Justin Follis
4. "You look great."
Women aren’t the only ones who want to be told they are attractive and, well, a knockout! Men like to know they look good, too, and that news is especially crucial coming from their wives.
Tell your husband you notice that his efforts at the gym are paying off. Let him know that he still catches your eye. Tell him often (especially the longer the two of you are together) that when you look around the room, you are still glad he is the one who stole your heart.
Keep in mind that if you aren’t telling him he looks good, it’s very possible someone else eventually will and you want to always be his number one cheerleader. Give him enough praise, and you’ll likely decrease his desire to hear it from anyone else.
Photo Credit: © Getty Images/Goran13
5. "I'm really proud of you for doing that."
Your husband really wants to be your hero. He wants you to not only notice the risks or sacrifices he makes for his family, but he wants you to admire him for it, too.
Letting him know you are proud of him for certain things that he does, or simply for who he is, is not stroking his pride, building his ego, or making him vain; rather, it is assuring him that his wife notices the efforts he has been making and appreciates him for it. More than just a “thank you,” saying “I’m proud of you” builds his confidence as a provider and as a man.
Photo Credit: ©Unsplash/Toa Heftiba
6. "Why don't you worry about it later?"
According to one middle-aged man and father of three, “Men always feel under pressure to perform, mostly at work. They constantly feel expectations on them from their jobs, their bosses, their schedules, their rush to meet deadlines, and so on.” Your husband may go all day with everyone around him believing their need is an emergency or a fire that he must extinguish.
Then he gets home and finds another list of expectations to meet and fires to extinguish. When you tell your husband “Why don’t you worry about this later?” you are giving him permission to let his foot off of the gas pedal and not take another step toward becoming a workaholic. Give him permission to rest and enjoy the fruit of his labors. Many times, he’s waiting for you to invite him to take that much-needed intermission.
Photo Credit: ©GettyImages/FS-Stock
7. "That was amazing!"
Sometimes it’s not enough for your man to be told he did a “good” job. He wants to know he did a great job. “That was amazing!” is something he wants to hear from you in any number of circumstances – his play on the sports field or his “performance” in the gym, his well-stated definition of a term that no one else knew, the way he handled a disciplinary matter with the kids, or how he expressed his opinion in front of others or defended you when you needed it most.
Yes, he wants to hear it in the bedroom too, and in the garage when he’s fixed something, and in the bathroom when he’s unclogged a toilet. There is a competitive nature in your husband. When he knows you believe he’s the best – or at least “amazing” – he will walk a little taller.
Photo Credit: ©GettyImages/Bernardbodo
8. "Have a great time this weekend."
Men need meaningful time spent with other men, which is how they forge their friendships and establish new ones. But some husbands feel that asking their wives for time with the guys will hurt their wives’ feelings or even worse, raise suspicions about their motives.
The last thing your husband wants to say to you is "Honey, can I please go bowling with George tonight?" or “Can I go hunting this weekend with my brother?” And the last thing he wants to hear from you is “When will you be home?” or “Do you think it’s safe?” or “I’m afraid you might get hurt.” Don’t mother, smother or hover. Let him retain his dignity and independence by letting him know you want him to have a good time.
There’s a reason the Nike slogan “Just do it!” resonates with men. When you tell your husband “Have a great time” or “Just go do it!” he will appreciate the challenge and knowing that every decision he makes doesn’t have to be approved by his wife.
Photo Credit: ©GettyImages/Finn Hafemann
9. "I'd still choose you."
Every husband knows the ways in which he has fallen short and failed to meet his wife’s expectations. In short, every husband knows the pain of having disappointed his wife. If his wife isn’t letting him know that he is disappointing her through verbal or nonverbal cues, he will figure it out from his own insecurities.
Let your husband know, especially at times when he feels he’s blown it, that you still need him and you’d still choose him if you had to do it all over again. It’s one small way you can show God’s unconditional love to him when he needs it most.
Photo credit: ©GettyImages/MangoStarStudio
10. "We'll get through this."
Sometimes your husband just needs to know that his wife is on his side through thick or thin, good times or bad. Even if he makes a poor decision, he doesn't need the added accusations and condemnation. Most men know when they mess up - their supervisors/managers/bosses at work do a pretty good job of reminding them of that, so a husband knows what that feels like, too. When you let him know the two of you will get through whatever lies ahead, you are reminding him that you are on his team, you’re in his court, and you’ve got his back.
This phrase “We’ll get through this” or “I’ve got your back” is especially what your husband needs to hear when he tells you about something that concerns him or something he’s struggling with. (Do you know why men don’t often open up and talk with their wives about what causes them to struggle? They aren’t sure how their wives will respond.)
Encourage your husband to be open and honest with you by letting him know that regardless of what he struggles with, regardless of how he thinks he doesn’t measure up, regardless of how much he believes he’s failing or is going to fail, you are going through this with him and you’ve got his back.
Photo credit: ©Unsplash/Christiana Rivers
Originally published Friday, 14 June 2019.