Husbands, when your wife is facing tough times or is weary from dealing with the everyday demands of life, and it’s in your heart to help her in some way, you might think, “If I only knew just the right thing to say to make her feel better and let her know how much I love her.”
Well, I have a few suggestions for you. And they aren’t sweet-nothings designed to sweep her off her feet with romance—they’re phrases with substantial intentions and meaning. They’ll meet your wife right where she is and express your love in a concrete way. (But don’t be surprised if they do sweep her off her feet . . . with love and gratitude.)
From my research for the book For Men Only, I know that you guys want to make your wife happy. And for most men, the everyday things you do are your expressions of love and are designed to make your wife feel cared for. But in those times when you know she needs to hear your strong support, here are four phrases she would love to hear from you.
Phrase #1: “Here, let me do that.”
“What can I do to help?” is a good question and it will likely elicit a smile from your wife. She will appreciate that you recognize her need for a helping hand. Maybe it’s washing the dishes or folding the laundry. Perhaps it’s taking her car in for that pesky oil change or helping your fourth-grader with her book report. By stepping up and taking something off her hands, she will feel as if a couple dozen roses were dropped in by parachute.
Phrase #2: “You’re right. I didn’t do that quite right. Show me again.”
Maybe you stepped in and said, “here, let me do that,” only to be shown a “better” way to do the task at hand (like cleaning the kitchen or dressing the kids). As a man, your gut instinct is to think, “Nothing I do is good enough for you,” and then you back off. Men, understand that your woman has no idea that you secretly worry about being inadequate. Because of that, she doesn’t understand why you would be upset by her implying something wasn’t done right. She’s not trying to criticize you; she’s merely taking you at your word that you want to help and is showing you how best to help. Believe the best of your wife’s intentions, hang in there, and don’t back off.
Phrase #3: “I’m angry and I need some space. But I’ll be back in a bit. We’re okay.”
When you’re mad or hurt and just need some space to process things, it’s important to let your wife know that the relationship is safe and that you still love her—before you take a walk or retreat to the man-cave. Or maybe you’re dealing with work stuff and need to switch of the “husband” box in your brain for a few minutes and will deal with the argument later. While you’re tinkering in the man-cave and thinking about things, she’s standing outside the door with her stomach in knots wondering if this is that fight—the one that’s going to hurt your love for her. She will probably go on about her day, but if she’s like most women in my research, part of her brain is worrying, “Are we okay?” So reassure her before you go get your space and you’ll be protecting her from hours of stress.
Phrase #4: “I’m so sorry that happened. How did that feel?”
Most men would rephrase the question like this: “I’m so sorry that happened. Here’s what I suggest you do.” Men are wired to fix things. But as my husband Jeff and I wrote in For Men Only, “How she feels about the problem is the problem.” Supporting your wife doesn’t mean that you try to remove whatever caused the pain—at least not immediately. For most women (although not all), removing the pain is Step 2. Step 1 is helping her talk through all those jangling feelings she’s dealing with. Because of the way the female brain is wired, that is what will reduce the pain most. After a few minutes, you’ll see her tension ease as she feels heard and cared for. Then you can move on to Step 2 to solve the problem if needed. But most importantly, she’ll feel understood.
So the next time you’re searching for just the right words to make you wife feel cared for, try one of these four phrases based on what the situation calls for. Your wife will appreciate the thought and the intentions behind the words. She’ll hear your heart. And she’ll feel loved by the most important person in her life—you.
Find Christ-focused wonder in the midst of everyday life no matter what your situation might be. Pick up a copy of Shaunti’s latest devotional, Find Joy, available in major bookstores.
Check out Shaunti’s latest book and Discussion Guide (co-authored with her husband, Jeff), Thriving in Love and Money. Because you need a better relationship, not just a better budget.
This article was first published at Patheos.
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