Iron sharpening iron
One of the worst things a gal can do for her husband is to compare him with other men or try to change him. While it is true that we are called to be a helpmeet for our husbands, that doesn’t include changing him into somebody he’s not. It is also true that two are (usually) better than one, and that iron sharpens iron. That’s different than iron trying to change iron into another metal.
It happens. A lot.
How Not to Change Your Spouse
The gal who continually talked to her husband about his preaching- she had ideas for how to make his sermons better – but they were all compared to other preachers she knew whose messages and styles she liked better than his. She let him know – and even told him in front of me. In a conversation with them one day, I mentioned to her that she could not expect him to preach one way when he was wired another way. Later that evening, he told my friend, “Gert understands me better than you do.” How sad. I was embarrassed, and she was enlightened. She purposed to support his style of teaching and let God be the one to tell him if he needed to change.
Telling him how to do things
The gal who knows her spouse struggles with in-depth teaching – so when she sees his notes on his desk, she reads over them and makes some additions and corrections, including scriptures she thinks he should use instead of the ones he has listed. He finds her notes and says to her, “Is this your class or mine?” to which she responds, “I was just trying to help!” The question is this: in what way was she trying to help? Was her concern that he needed some help or did she want him to look good to others, thereby making her look good? Was she comparing him to other men and wishing he was more like them or was she content with the man he was and willing to give support instead of correction?
Insisting on being something he’s not
The mom who thinks her spouse should do something with their kids that is just not who he is. I’m not saying a dad should not be involved in activities if it’s something his kids enjoy, but to insist that he invests in things in which he is not comfortable because other dads are doing it is unfair to him and to the kids. It’s wrong to take our cues from other fathers and then expect our spouse to become like that father. Each parent has his weaknesses and his strong points. To insist that a weak area becomes his strongest is unfair. I’m not saying a man can’t learn to adapt or grow in an area – but the reason a spouse demands it must be considered.
Demanding more when enough is enough
The gal who isn’t willing to live within the means that her spouse can provide. She constantly badgers him for a “better job” when he enjoys what he’s doing now and his income provides for them. Before we think more pay is in order, we need to consider what it is we want to buy or indulge in with that extra income. Is it because there really isn’t enough money for groceries, or is it because we’re comparing our situation with others?
Some of the most derogatory statements a wife can make to tell her spouse is “Why can’t you be more like ______” or “I wish you would be able to do _____ like _______________.” Even when we don’t say those words, the insinuation is there by our hints and expressions.
How to Help Your Spouse
Ladies, it’s a fine line we walk. In our wanting to encourage, sometimes we smother and stifle because we give our man the message that he needs to change to receive our support and blessing.
Sometimes I’ve asked myself: “If I were the one who needed a suggestion or even correction, how would I want Dave to convey that to me?” I consider that when I approach my man.
While we’re all wired differently, each of us certainly knows whether or not our plan of attack or method of approach is something that would make us personally want to try to do better or change – or whether our plan of approach would make us feel that we will never measure up anyhow, so why even try?
When your spouse knows that you’re not trying to “set him straight”, he will usually want to hear what you say. He will be more inclined to want to listen and to take your suggestions when he knows that you honor and respect him. Sometimes posing an idea and allowing him to claim it as his own will help him shift from feeling that he’s being told what to do to finding a way on his own.
The Hidden Picture
We need to look at the hidden picture behind our desire to “fix” our men. Why do we feel the need to try to fix our men? Why do we want them to change? Perhaps getting to the bottom of the issue would be helpful. Ask yourself: what is my motive in this?
Is it because
- I want him to look good to others?
- I’m embarrassed by him?
- I wish he were more like someone else?
- if he fails it makes me look bad?
- I honestly feel that he is not living a life of integrity or compassion?
Our husbands need us to be in their corner – supporting and encouraging them to be the best they can be. When there is untapped potential there, we should be tapping it and encouraging him to use that potential. When he’s afraid to do something because he doesn’t want to fail, help him see that even if he loses a battle, it doesn’t mean he can’t win the war.
The Bigger Picture
Help him look at the bigger picture. I remember the day we had a discussion about our family devotions when we only had two kids and they were very young. I knew that if we didn’t get started, it would be easy to never begin.
Dave wasn’t sure that he wanted to start something because he was having several evening meetings a week. He felt that if he couldn’t do family devotions every evening, it would be failing. Dave wasn’t opposed to having family devotions; he just didn’t want to start something and then “fail”. With church events and his evening board meetings at that time, devotions might only happen three or four nights a week. My man considered that below par.
I reminded him that even one Bible story a week would be fifty-two a year, and that was better than none. The bigger picture helped us get past the idea of failing.
When your heart’s desire is to encourage your spouse to be the best he can be because you know the potential is there, it will affect the way you communicate your ideas and encouragement to him. He’ll be able to tell whether you are in his corner or wish he would be someone different. Choose to allow him to be who he is while encouraging him to be all that he can be!