Ladies, do you ever have trouble understanding your husband?
Do his little quirks baffle you? Does his perspective on life make you shake your head? Do you ever wonder, “What is this THING I married?”
If you do, you’re not alone. Your husband probably feels the same way about you, at times.
I don’t mean that in a derogatory sense at all. I’m pointing out that, that type of confusion goes both ways. In other words: He is a man, you are a woman. You are different than each other. Very different.
Because you’re so different, there are things you need to know about each other, things that will help you gain true understanding about how each other thinks, responds, and understands the stuff life throws at each of you.
Ladies, in this post, I’m gonna’ tell you some things that I hope will help you understand your husband.
They are things that are vital to who he is as a man, that he may never tell you. It’s not that he’s holding something back, it’s that most men don’t realize that what I’m about to tell you, is actually true of them. They don’t know themselves very well, which is probably not news to you.
The reason I can tell you these things is simple: I have been a husband for 25 years, and I’ve been a man for my whole life. I’ve also spent the last 20+ years coming alongside men as they strive to become more than they are, for the sake of their families and for the sake of Christ.
Before I move ahead, let me make one disclaimer about your husband: Every man is unique.
The reason it’s important for me to say that is because some of the things in the list below may not apply to your husband. The best way for you to find out, is to ask him.
In fact, here’s an ACTION STEP for you… take the points below and set aside a time to discuss them with your husband. Find out how HE feels about what I share below. I think you’ll find your relationship enriched greatly by that kind of conversation. If you want a weekly tool to help you get the conversation in your family going, sign up for my free “Conversation Starters for Couples” list.
And if you’re a husband who happens to be reading this, don’t send me critical emails telling me I got it all wrong. If what I describe is not describing you, then be a big boy and understand me when I say, “I’m probably not talking about you.”
8 things every wife needs to understand about her husband
#1 – He’s a scared little boy, inside.
I’ve yet to meet a guy of whom this untrue. They won’t all admit it. In fact, many would get angry to hear me say it. But in my mind, that reaction just proves my point.
So, what do I mean by this? I mean that every man longs to be a real man. He wants to fulfill his duty to be a good provider, protector, and competent leader. He wants to be strong, capable, and adequate for the challenges that life throws at him. [pullquote position=”right”]But every man is also subconsciously afraid that he can’t cut it. He’s afraid of failing, afraid of missing the mark, afraid of letting you and the kids down.[/pullquote]
This is one of the biggest reasons behind his defensiveness. It’s why he argues with you about things. It’s why he doesn’t like to ask for directions. He’s trying to prove to himself first, then to you, that he’s capable.
So what do you do?
- Do your best to respect your husband (Ephesians 5:33). I know it can be hard if he’s not acting very respectable, but trust the Holy Spirit to help you.
- Let yourself sympathize with the lack of training and help he may have received in this area. He’s learning. Ask the LORD to enable you to be patient with the process.
- Pray for him, that the LORD will reveal to him how he is competent and capable in Christ (2 Corinthians 3:6).
- Encourage him to go to events that can help him make up for lost time.
#2 – He’s not wired as emotionally as you.
Your husband is an emotional creature, but not like you are. He feels things, but not nearly as intensely as you do. By now, you probably already know this about your husband, but have you thought through the ramifications of it?
- Because he’s not as emotional, he’s not as relational either. Relationships are built in large part, on the give and take of emotional interactions.
- This difference in emotions makes effective communication a challenge for him. [pullquote position=”right”]He doesn’t naturally know how to express what he’s feeling. In fact, he may not even recognize that he’s feeling something at all. I know, that’s crazy-weird to you, but it’s a reality about him you need to understand.[/pullquote]
- As a result of not being wired emotionally, he’ll have a hard time understanding you. He’s not being intentionally hurtful, he’s just doing the best he can to understand something/someone that is totally different from him.
So what should you do?
- I’m definitely NOT saying that you should just get used to it. Your husband NEEDS to learn how to understand you better (1 Peter 3:7).
- But you SHOULD work hard to understand the learning-curve he’s going to have to go through in order to get to the point of understanding his (and your) emotions. It’s not going to happen overnight. In fact, it will probably take a very long time for him to connect on your level, in your way.
- Learn to ask him careful, caring questions about what he’s feeling. My wife started asking me multiple-choice style questions that were very helpful (i.e. Are you feeling angry, or frustrated, or justified, or happy?)
- Pray for him about this issue.
- You should also use this information to simmer down your emotions about the way he responds (or doesn’t respond) to you. He’s not intending to be hurtful, he just doesn’t know any better, yet. 🙂
#3 – He needs you to help him know himself better.
Like I mentioned earlier, your husband likely doesn’t know himself very well. Most men just move from event to event without analyzing things like emotions, motives, mistakes, etc. They just keep on keeping on.
I don’t mean to make it sound like men are brainless beasts, because that’s far from the truth. It’s just that guys are very good at getting through the tough stuff of life and continuing forward. Because of this, [pullquote position=”right”]it could seem to you, like your husband is insensitive to hurts, unaware of offenses, or blind to the way he comes across. That’s because he very well may be.[/pullquote]
On top of that, you can add the fact that most men in the world today weren’t intentionally taught how to healthily handle things like relationships, emotions, or conflicts. They have great desires to do right by people, especially the ones they love, but they simply don’t always know how.
You, as a woman, are wired to understand those things a lot better than your husband, and God has given you to him to be his helper. That means he NEEDS your help… and this is one of the areas where he needs it.
So, what do you do?
- You help him… carefully, lovingly, in a way that encourages him as a man.
- Recognize that you are the exact one God has placed in his life to help him with this (Genesis 2:18), and commit yourself to serving him, as his helper, under the direction of the Holy Spirit of God.
- Keep reading. You’ll get some more tips about what that means as you work your way through the rest of the list.
#4 – He has a hard time being a spiritual leader, for some very good reasons.
As I mentioned in point #1, your husband is scared of failing in the important things in life. Spiritual leadership is one of the most significant areas where this is true.
On top of that, [pullquote position=”right”]he’s likely never had a mature, spiritually-capable man of God, come alongside to guide him into an understanding of what spiritual leadership looks like.[/pullquote] That makes it extremely hard, because it’s hard to do something when you don’t know what it’s supposed to look like. Wouldn’t you agree?
On top of that, because he’s not very relationally wired (see point #2), he has a hard time connecting in a relationship with God for himself. It doesn’t come as naturally for him as it does for you. I think that’s a large part of why more women are actively involved in church than men.
So what do you do?
- None of the reasons why he has a hard time stepping in to spiritual leadership serve to excuse him from the responsibility. But it’s helpful for you to be aware of, for the sake of understanding him, and being patient with the “good work” process the LORD is doing in his life (Philippians 1:6).
- Learn about spiritual leadership yourself, so that you have a realistic idea of what you are praying and hoping for.
- If you think he’d be open, encourage him to listen to the audio at the link above.
- Pray for him, that God will be his teacher in this area. Pray that he’ll find a mentor or coach who can guide him in this realm.
# 5 – You probably intimidate him.
I’m not saying that you intentionally get in his face and make him back down. I’m not saying that you try to coerce him into things he doesn’t want to do. BUT, If you do happen to do either of those things, that’s sin on your part, and you should repent.
What I DO mean is this: Generally speaking, guys are one-track-minded beings. We get started on something and tend to be unable to think of much else, at least for the short term. You are very different than that (sensing a theme here?). You can do many, many things at the same time, and generally, you’re able to do them all fairly well.
Connect that difference with point #1 (he’s afraid he can’t cut it), and you can see why your husband might seem defensive or combative at times. [pullquote position=”right”]Your competence, which is a good thing, accentuates the incompetent feelings he’s already fighting inside his own soul, so he responds to it badly at times.[/pullquote]
Connect that difference with point #1, and point #4 (spiritual leadership is hard for him), and it makes sense that if you come on too strong in the spiritual arena, he’s likely back off completely and let you take the lead there. The problem is, that’s not a biblical approach, and therefore, not healthy for either of you.
So what do you do?
- Keep your walk with the LORD strong, but don’t flaunt it in front of him.
- Read, understand, and apply the next two points. He needs them from you almost as much as he needs breath. Really.
# 6 – He needs you to value and encourage his manliness, not criticize it.
The differences between you and your husband are real, and can be very frustrating. I get that.
But remember WHO it is who put the two of you together. [pullquote position=”right”]God thought this marriage thing was a great idea, and we should assume He’s right about that. In fact, He thought YOUR marriage was a good idea, no matter how painful or irritating it may seem right now.[/pullquote]
God put you and your husband together to complement each other. That means you are supposed to fit well together, to fill in the gaps for each other, to work in a harmonious way toward God’s purpose for your marriage (Ephesians 5:21-33). That means that what HE brings to the relationship, as a man, is vital.
So what do you do?
- Ask God to help you understand the strengths that come to your relationship because of your husband’s manly ways.
- Begin to think of your husband as a gift, not a hindrance. That’s what God intends, and what God wants to make him to be.
- Tell him the manly things about him that you appreciate (the way he provides, the way you feel safe when he’s around, etc.). Don’t let anything that should be said, go without saying. He needs it from you.
- Get into a habit of telling him that you’re glad you married him. Ask God to help you get there, if you’re not up to it yet.
# 7 – He needs you to notice and encourage the progress he’s making.[pullquote position=”right”]Most husbands are trying. They really are. They hear your complaints, suggestions, and needs, and are doing the best they can to make you happy.[/pullquote] But because of everything mentioned so far, the growth comes slowly and with great difficulty. From your perspective, because there is so much growth that still needs to happen, it can be difficult to notice the baby steps he’s taking. But he is taking them.
What do you do?
- Ask the LORD to help you notice the areas where your husband is trying, or improving.
- Think back to conversations you’ve had, where you’ve asked him to change or grow in an area. Begin looking for his attempts at improvement so that you can encourage him in those areas.
- Thank him for trying. Point out what you see. Let him know that you appreciate the effort and see his progress. We all need encouragement, especially when we’re doing something that is hard for us.
- Ask the LORD to give you wisdom about your criticisms or attempts to help him. Sometimes the LORD may have you hold your tongue rather than point out another area where your husband needs to improve.
# 8 –If he believes that you truly believe in him, he’ll rock the world.
I believe this. I’ve seen it hold true in the lives of couples that my wife and I have counseled. [pullquote position=”right”]Once couples get on the same page and begin working together, appreciating the differences God has created in each other, an amazing thing happens. Men begin living out their manly role… as husbands, as fathers, as spiritual leaders.[/pullquote]
But I also believe it because I feel it myself, too. I’ve told my wife repeatedly, “When I feel that you are behind me, I can take on the world.” It’s not a statement of hyped up bravado, it’s a statement of how important it is for a man to feel that the woman the LORD has given to him truly respects him and believes he can make a difference in the world.
So what should you do?
- Ask the LORD to show you how to truly believe in HIS work in your husband. It’s not an issue of you trusting your husband to make changes, it’s an issue of you trusting God to do HIS work in your husband.
- Pray for your husband to get a vision of what God desires to empower him to become. When God sets a man on fire, things begin to change.
- Enlist others to pray for your husband. Don’t broadcast details, but get some trusted, close friends on the prayer wagon with you.
- Tell your husband that you’re praying for him. He needs to know your support on a variety of levels.
- Dream with him. Ask him what he thinks the LORD wants to happen in his life. Ask him how you can help.
Carey, thank you for laying this out in such a plain and loving way. My husband and I have been greatly blessed in that the Lord has guided us in how to keep open intimate, honest communication (and thankfully, my husband is a brave leader, realizing the importance of that, however painful it may sometimes be at first).
Largely, I am aware of the things you have shared here, but I definitely appreciate how you’ve laid it out so clearly – and the reinforcement certainly does me good.
There is absolutely no doubt in my mind that God made husband and wife different on purpose! 🙂
That’s very encouraging sister… thank you for taking the time to post such a thoughtful, encouraging comment. Blessings!