MarriageSpiritual leadership

Building Up Your Man

By October 18, 20108 Comments

This week I heard a great piece of wisdom on my local Christian radio station from author Sheila Walsh.  She was responding to a concern she receives from women all the time: My husband is not stepping up spiritually–how can I help him?

Sheila’s response to this common problem is not only helpful for women in difficult marriages but from women in good marriages as well: Focus on your husband’s strengths. Sheila explained that every day your husband has people tearing him down at work or judging him based on his performance, so the last thing he needs is one more person tearing him down at home. Instead, wives need to be intentional about focusing on the areas where their husbands excel, and REALLY affirm him there. Not only will it encourage him, but it will help change your own attitude as well.

I think this is excellent advice. And I admit this is an area in which I need to improve. My husband and I have a wonderful marriage and a fun friendship too, but boy am I quick to criticize! Sheila’s words were a great reminder to focus on the positive–and I am fortunate to have a LOT of positive things to focus on!

But for some women, this is a more difficult task. Some women have husbands who are incredibly far from God and there is no spiritual connection whatsoever. Other women are married to Christian men who bear no spiritual fruit at all. There is a disconnect between the man he is in church and the man he is at home. In those situations, it’s more difficult to find positive things to focus on.

All of this begs the question: How, exactly, should we affirm our husbands?

Before I answer that question, I have one caveat: Everything I’m about to say is null and void in the case of abuse. If your husband is abusing you physically, verbally or emotionally, your only priority is to get out of the house and go somewhere safe. Do NOT stay in a situation like that if you’re in danger.

With that caveat out of the way, I think there are a lot of guys out there who aren’t getting a fair shake. For all the talk about Christian manhood and womanhood, a lot of the lines are drawn in cultural, not Biblical ways. And that can put undue pressure on a husband (and a marriage) who is not masculine in traditionally acceptable ways. Not all men like to climb mountains or watch UFC or shoot guns. Some guys like romantic comedies and some guys like listening to Taylor Swift. So before you compare your husband to your pastor or any other “ideal” man in the world around you, the following list is the best starting point for affirming your husband. As you seek to build up your husband, look for the following qualities:

  • Love
  • Joy
  • Peace
  • Patience
  • Kindness
  • Goodness
  • Faithfulness
  • Gentleness
  • Self-control

These attributes are collectively known as the “fruit of the Spirit” (Gal. 5:22) which means that each one reflects the very heart of God. Your husband may not be a theological giant, but is he kind and gentle? Your husband may not express himself emotionally very well, but is he faithful to you?

Of course, most men like to be affirmed in traditional male ways, but I would caution you against comparing your husband to the traditional male standard, and subsequently becoming discontent. Sometimes it is so hard to know what is godly manhood and what is Scriptural (and some “Christian” standards are in flat-out conflict with the above qualities). That’s why it’s best to start with the qualities explicitly presented in the Bible. And to be quite honest, those are the things I value most about my husband. While he certainly loves it when I tell him how safe and protected he makes me feel, the thing I value the most is how he lays himself down for me the way Christ does for the church–and this is usually in the simplest, most mundane, every day ways. My husband’s deeper, Christ-like character is what I admire most about him, and I try to tell him that often.

As Sheila Walsh said, our husbands have enough people tearing them down. It’s our job to build up our husbands. And I’ve noticed that the more time I spend affirming and adoring my husband, the more I fall in love with him!


  • Emily Gidcumb says:

    A really good book about this is Sacred Influence by Gary Thomas.

  • Chris Pappa says:

    I can’t help it–Taylor Swift is just SO STINKIN GOOD.

  • Sharon says:

    Bahahahahaha! OWN IT, Chris!!

  • Oooo… I love the idea of using the Fruits of the Spirit as touchstones for encouragement for our husbands!

  • anonymous says:

    What happens if your husband honestly does not possess any of those qualities right now? About three months ago I learned that my husband of ten years cheated multiple times. He is in counseling and and intensive therapy program to deal with sex addiction. There is not an area listed that he has going for him at this time.

  • Sharon says:

    Dear Anonymous Sister,

    My heart is broken for you! I cannot imagine the pain you are going through right now. I am SO sorry and I am praying for you right this moment! I pray you will experience healing and comfort that will sustain you each day as you walk the road ahead of you.

    Regarding your question, the above strategy for building up your husband is just one option, but there are others. You can love your husband unconditionally when he doesn’t deserve it. You can work towards forgiving him. You can pray for him. And you can pray for God to soften your heart so that, whenever the day comes that your husband does display a positive quality worth affirming, your heart will be at a place in which you are able to recognize it.

    (I also have a friend who kept a prayer journal in which she would take out all her angry feelings about her husband and yell at God about them. It helped her to vent to God and work through her feelings in a healthy way instead of always yelling at her husband and creating more conflict)

    Unfortunately none of those options are quick fixes, but they are baby steps in the right direction. I hope you are also seeing a counselor and that you have a good church family who can lift you up during this dark time. If not, I would encourage you to get plugged into a church or Bible study where women can know what you’re going through and walk alongside of you. Oh my heart just hurts for you right now!! I am praying for you!!!!

  • mama jaja says:

    )))hugs to anonymous((( I’m praying for you as well. I have had several friends who have dealt with cheating spouses. It’s not easy and I agree with Sharon…prayer journals really are a good anchoring step towards healing. You can unwind your mind and make room for more positive healing sustinance from God.

    As for the post, Sharon, my husband has been battling a lot with the outside world especially his job. So when I read this yesterday, I really felt it speaking to me. I do try to lift him up as much as possible but when I got to the list of ‘fruits’. Then I thought, hmmm….maybe I could list all the ways he is fulfilled with these things and leave it for him in the car or somewhere as a little pick-me-up throughout the day.

    I’ll report back how it goes. 🙂

  • Sharon says:

    aww what a great idea! definitely report back!!

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