Every day, our men wake up and head out to “conquer” the world. Or, rather, the worlds of work, finances, home, school, kids’ activities, sports… We think we understand that, right?
Turns out, we don’t. Not quite. Because in his mind, it isn’t about “juggling” everything. Instead, every one of those spheres have a very, very specific set of expectations of him. Expectations that he is desperately trying to meet. And at a deep level, he doubts that he is adequate to the task.
You see, a man may look confident on the outside, but on the inside, he is constantly asking himself, “Do I measure up?” Do I measure up as a provider and protector? As the husband my wife needs? As a dad? I want to be a great dad… but am I? Every day he is pouring out his effort… and wondering whether the most important person in his life thinks he has hit the mark.
So how can you invest in him in return? How can you show him that he is a great husband or father? Believe it or not, one of the most powerful ways to show your husband how you feel about him, is by looking for daily opportunities to say two little words: “thank you.”
In my research For Women Only and The Surprising Secrets of Highly Happy Marriages, I interviewed and surveyed thousands of men, in part to solve one thorny problem: what is it that you can say to a man that conveys all you feel about him? After all, guys kind of get off easy in the “what to say” department, right? When he says those precious words, “I love you,” we hear ten different things. Not just I feel such affection for you, but sentiments like You’re mine and I would choose you all over again.
The problem is, the men in the research broke the news that, for them, hearing “I love you” is nice but really doesn’t have that same sort of emotional impact. Instead, what deeply touches your husband’s heart is “thank you.” “Thank you for clipping the hedges even though you weren’t feeling well today.” “Thank you for being willing to pick up the kids when I got stuck in a meeting – you’re a wonderful husband.” “Thank you for working so hard to support the family.”
Those sentiments are stuff we may think but we don’t say often enough. And since a man’s primary need is appreciation and respect, we need to get in the habit of saying it! I had one man tell me that he worked a grueling job as a sales executive. He would come home drained and tired after long hours and late-night meetings. His wife would give him a huge hug, and say, “Thank you for how you provide for our family. You do such a great job!” He says, “Those words were all the encouragement I needed. Hearing ‘thank you’ means that she noticed what I did, appreciates it, and says it was good.” He said it makes him feel like he has on a superman cape, and can take on the world!
I know that to us, it sounds so impossible that those two little words could make such a difference emotionally. So don’t take my word for it: try it. The next time your husband is heading out the door for work or completing a chore in the yard, make an investment in his emotional bank account by saying “thank you.” Let him know you see what he has done, and appreciate his efforts. Your deposit of respect and appreciation will speak volumes to his heart.
And don’t give up if it takes a while to see him respond. Usually, a purposeful attention to saying “thank you” will show dividends immediately, but sometimes hurts and doubt have built a wall that takes a while to overcome. So make this a long-term investment in your relationship and don’t give up. Just like a seed that is planted and has to be watered, an investment may not always deliver results right away – but in time it will grow to produce something beautiful.
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Shaunti Feldhahn loves sharing eye-opening information that helps people thrive in life and relationships. She herself started out with a Harvard graduate degree and Wall Street credentials but no clue about life. After an unexpected shift into relationship research for average people like her, she now is a popular speaker and 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 latest book, Find Rest: A Women’s Devotional for Lasting Peace in Busy Life, focuses on a journey to rest even with life’s constant demands.
Visit www.shaunti.com for more.