As a woman, you are most likely a natural-born nurturer, and when you have been married for any length of time, it becomes easy to pick up on your husband's emotions. You also learn to recognize when he is struggling and needing to feel validated. However, your instinct to nurture could come across as motherly and demeaning if you aren't careful.
Here are five ways you can offer your husband validation during hard times, without seeming patronizing.
1. Seek out opportunities to show him how much faith you have in him.
When men are struggling, they often experience feelings of not being manly enough, strong enough or capable enough to conquer their current challenge. As a woman, your natural instinct is to help carry the weight. While your spouse does need to know he has a reliable partner who isn't afraid of rolling up her sleeves from time to time, he also needs to believe you have faith in his ability to deal with adversity. Before you decide he needs your help and that you should take over, take a step back; let him know you have his back and that you know he is stronger than the circumstances that are trying to bring him down.
2. Search for moments to praise him publicly.
When you validate your husband in a public way, it doesn't need to be a grand gesture. Next time you are on the phone with a friend and speaking about your spouse, make a point when your husband is listening to brag on how great, strong and competent you think he is.
When his weaknesses are rising to the surface, what you say about him is just as important as what you say to him, so make sure whatever you are saying is positive.
3. Trust him enough to give him space.
When your spouse is struggling, you might notice he seems to withdraw or shift focus for a time.
Trust him enough to give him space. Even though you may want to know every detail of what is occurring, resist the urge to get heavily involved in his challenges when he makes it clear he needs to work them out on his own.
4. Make sure you are respectful of him.
It has been said that a woman needs love out of a relationship, but a man needs respect. As a woman, you probably know that the times you act most unlovable are usually when you most need to feel loved and supported. Sometimes your husband will act out and become disagreeable, which might be an indication that he is not feeling respected. This also might be a good time for you to remind him of why you look up to him so much.
5. Be there for him physically.
Depending on your husband's temperament, a challenging time could cause him to lean into sex more for validation, or it could cause him to withdraw sexually for a time. Be sensitive to the cues that he gives you. Remember, even when he is withdrawing sexually, he still needs to feel desirable. Seek opportunities to remind him of how much he makes you want him and how excited you are that he chose you.
As different as men and women are, navigating challenges in your relationship can be as simple as taking a step back and reminding yourself of your husband's core needs.
You do not need to be over-the-top or focused on the hardships at hand; you merely need to remember to be his biggest cheerleader, no matter what season your marriage is in.
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