Ladies, do you love your husband, but find yourself regularly irritated by that little thing that he does? He’s a great guy and all, but Ugh! If he would only stop parking in the mud when he takes the kids to the ball practice. Or fold the laundry instead of just pulling it out of the dryer and leaving it in the laundry basket to get wrinkled. Or that always popular toilet-paper-roll-direction issue. Sound familiar?
We mention those “little” things to him– and don’t realize they aren’t so little.
Consider this seemingly “bigger” scenario: Audrey is away for a weekend with friends, and Joey decides to surprise her. She’s been saying the kitchen cabinets need a fresh coat of paint. So when Audrey returns, Joey is like a big kid, secretly giddy with the surprise as he opens the door to the kitchen. Her beaming smile looks around at all the freshly-painted cabinets. “Wow, this looks wonderful!!! Thank you!!”
Then she sees a little corner spot where the paint has peeled. She walks over and says absently, “Hey honey, did you sand it well? Because, it may start to peel if you didn’t.”
Now, Audrey was probably thinking, Wow – I am so surprised that he did this for me – especially since he’s never painted cabinets before! He is so sweet. Hm, it’s peeling right here… I hope he knew to sand it first, I should check.
For her, it’s an offhand, minor comment. But guess what her eager husband is hearing? And guess what your man is hearing when you (in his mind, at least) focus on the wrinkled laundry or muddy car rather than the fact that he did the laundry or took the kids to practice?
Of the men that I surveyed for my book, For Women Only, only one out of four felt actively appreciated by his family. Let me repeat that: only 25% of men feel truly appreciated by their wife and kids. As odd as this seems to you, that means your husband may not, either.
Don’t just assume your man knows you appreciate him! Here are three very simple ways to ensure your man is in the 25%:
First: Do not mention what he’s doing wrong, without also (or only) telling him what he’s doing right
Take a different attitude toward your husband. The next time that little “drive you nuts” thing happens, figuratively or literally turn your head away from it, and look for something good that your man has done. Do not mention your frustration over the wrinkled clothes until after you’ve given him a big hug and a smile for the laundry. Then, the next day, say “Hey honey, I’m so glad you do the laundry! I know you might not have time to fold it, but it would make so much difference to me if you would pull everything out of the basket and lay the shirts and pants out on the bed so they won’t get wrinkled.”
He might not have thought about the fact that even when he’s stretched for time, another 30 seconds to fluff out the clothes that way would matter to you. Once he does know it – he will want to do it! Unless he feels you’re critical instead of thankful. Which leads us to secret #2….
Second: Don’t try to “help” by critiquing what he does.
We have this tendency, when we show our man the “right” way to dress the kids, make their lunches for school, or put the board games away, to think “I’m only trying to help.” But here’s the thing: You aren’t his mother. He is not a husband-in-training, and you are not his coach.
Men are usually painfully aware of their shortcomings, and they want to please their wives. They want their wives to respect them. Which is why your tendency to give him step-by-step directions (“No, the board game pieces don’t go into the box that way. Look, here, you do it like this.”) is the opposite of helpful.
Ladies, let’s be honest. Usually, we’re trying to help because we don’t trust him to get it right without us. But he’s a fully-grown man, who is smart and capable in many areas of life, and he deeply desires (and deserves!) our respect.
Third: Let him know he makes you happy.
Audrey’s husband was so excited when he led her into the kitchen to see the cabinets. Just as your husband is when he does the laundry. Or takes the kids to ball practice. All Audrey’s husband wanted was to know that he made her happy.
If you can give your man a sincere, delighted hug and thank-you… he will rope the moon for you. And feel very, very appreciated, all at the same time.
If you need help building a new habit of appreciation, take the 30-Day Kindness Challenge. It is totally free and proven to improve 9 out of 10 relationships. It will improve yours.
Helping people thrive in life and relationships is Shaunti Feldhahn’s driving passion, supported by her research projects and writing. After starting out with a Harvard graduate degree and experience on Wall Street, her life took an unexpected shift into relationship research. She now is a popular speaker around the world and the author of best-selling books about men, women, and relationships. (Including For Women Only, For Men Only, and the groundbreaking The Good News About Marriage).
Her newest book, The Kindness Challenge, demonstrates that kindness is the answer to almost every life problem, and is sparking a much-needed movement of kindness across the country. Visit www.shaunti.com for more.