07 September 2012

How the Wife can Help a Husband with a Quitter Attitude - Part II

In the first part of “How the Wife can Help a Husband with a Quitter Attitude”, the problem of husbands who shy away from home leadership is introduced. Husbands who avoid leadership are commonly characterized by a lack of confidence in their ability to lead their wife and children. Unfortunately, this lack of confidence often goes unnoticed by the wives. Why? These same husbands are confident leaders outside of the home, in their workplaces. The wives expect the same strength of leadership from their men at home, and take it personally when the husbands choose a passive route to the backseat of home leadership. Wives typically try encouraging, then begging, and eventually start nagging their husbands to take responsibility. The criticism from the wives becomes more harsh as the husbands become less responsive and more withdrawn. The more critical and frustrated the wives become, the more their frustration boils over in harsh words that erode the confidence of the men. The result is a society of strong, capable men with a bad case of part-time lack-of-confidence. And the frustrating part is that these husbands only exhibit symptoms of this “condition” at home or in the presence of their wives.

Part I highlighted the fact that the nagging and criticism on the part of the wife does not help a husband rise to the challenge of leadership. Few men experience the “I am going to show her that she is wrong about me” urge and use that to motivate the leader in them to emerge. Instead, the constant verbal battering causes these husbands to retreat into themselves. They take up hobbies that keep them in the garage or at a friend’s house. They do over-time at work to minimize the time they spend at home. The husband gets up and goes to sleep at different times to his wife. On the surface, he appears to lose interest in his wife, his children, and his responsibilities around the house. In essence, the husband gives up hope on ever being the leader in his home.

So what can the wife do to help her husband shrug off this hopeless, quitter attitude and step into his role? He needs to build his confidence at home. How can his wife help him? Fortunately, there are some practical steps that a wife can take to help her husband build his confidence as the home leader.

Step ONE

It is clear that refraining from criticizing her husband is the first step. This is a tough one for most women. Once the habit of complaining has been established, it takes effort to ban negative comments from slipping out of your mouth. (And yes, the wife will be able to justify most of her moans - if she is married to a man who feels small inside, he will sometimes do silly, irresponsible things that are undeniably “childish” and “immature”.) But, every wife who wants a better marriage can take this first step. It starts with a choice. Make the decision to focus on the positive: if it’s not positive, don’t allow yourself to say it. If a critical comment (even if it is justified in your view) gets past your guard, immediately apologize to your husband. Do it right there, in front of your children or guests if they are present. Your husband is a grown man. He doesn’t need you pointing out everything he is doing wrong, but he may need you to help him see what he is doing right.

In the beginning, a wife may end up offering more apologies than positive comments and encouragements, and it may feel like little progress is being made. Do not become the quitter. Hang in there, wives. It takes time to change bad habits, and constant nagging and criticism of your husband is a bad habit. It is bad enough to cost some couples their marriage, so don’t convince yourself that it is insignificant. If you offer sincere apologies when you say something that will break down your husband’s confidence, it can go a long way to overbalancing on the side of building that confidence. A sincere apology tells him that you respect him and regret hurting him with your disrespectful words. Respected men become confident men.

Step TWO

Fill the void created by all the absent negative comments with positive observations. Your husband may be alarmed by the silence if you suddenly stop talking because all your previous conversations were basically nag sessions. Be on the lookout for things your husband is doing well. Compliment him on those things. Be sincere. If you are not, he will know. Do not lie. Don’t fabricate “accomplishments” on his part, just so you can have something to say. If you compliment him for things that are not true, it will do a lot of damage to the credibility of any subsequent compliments. What kind of things should you compliment your husband on? Listen to him and watch what he does, and you will soon have a long list of your own. The best compliments are those which focus on your husband acting like a leader. For example, if he made a decision confidently on behalf of the family (even if you didn’t agree with his decision), let him know that you appreciate him making the decision after taking the family’s needs into consideration. In the past, you may have used this opportunity to whine about how you didn’t get what you wanted, or how he was selfish in his decision, or how he was taking too long to decide. This time, focus on the fact that he actually took that decision decisively, like a leader should. Don’t kill the compliment by exaggerating his prowess as a leader. Keep it simple and let your husband feel like this little step towards being the head of the home is worth the effort it took him. The chances are that he was nervous to be so decisive around you, when you are probably a lot more confident at making decisions affecting the home than he is. This little step in your eyes may be a leap of faith on his part, so don’t take it lightly. When you compliment the step he took, it encourages him to try doing that again. And THAT is what you want, isn’t it? You want your husband to become more confident as the leader.


Support the leadership steps your husband takes with your action. If you are at step three, you have come a long way. You are working on mastering your mouth, and keeping a tight rein on your sharp tongue when a criticism is just begging to be uttered. You are working on complimenting your husband’s progress as the leader. Isn’t that enough? There is another step you can take that will supercharge your husband’s confidence growth. You need to actually back up that compliment with supportive action. Let’s consider again the example of your husband making that decision on behalf of the family. Remember that this decision is the one which you didn’t agree with. As a good wife, you refrained from telling him he was wrong. You also found the courage to tell him what you appreciated about him making the decision the way he did. But deep down you still think he made a huge mistake, don’t you? Step three is the hardest one. You find your strength for this step in your love for your husband. You are going to not only say you support his decision, but you are going to actually do that in a practical way even if it means sacrificing your own personal goals and opinions. In step three, you put your husband’s will ahead of your own. You not only say you support his decision, but you start doing things that align with his decision (which you may still have your doubts about). You put aside your own agenda and you adopt the agenda your husband set for the family. You ensure that every small decision you make lines up with that agenda. At first, it may be hard to be enthusiastic when you still are not convinced that your husband’s idea is best for you. But again, this is the time for you to demonstrate that you are not a quitter. When you find yourself struggling to take ownership of the agenda your husband chose as the leader, cast your inner gaze back onto the fact that you love your husband. If you can find no other reason to fight for his cause, do it for love. The more you take ownership of the leader’s decisions, the more your submissive (and step three is ALL about submission) behavior will feed the confidence of your husband. Be tenacious. Before long you will wake up one morning and realize you are married to the kind of husband who not only has the strength and the confidence to lead his home and family, but is actually exercising that authority on a daily basis.

Three simple steps carried out with courage by the wives will help husbands grow their confidence as the leader in the home. It hasn’t been mentioned yet, but this simple approach has some amazing benefits for the wife. As your husband grows in his confidence and ability as the leader of the home, so you will be growing into your role as a submissive wife. This journey into submission will not be the result of you trying to be more submissive. It will be the result of you GIVING of yourself so that your husband can become the man he is called to be. In you giving selflessly to your soul mate, you will be rewarded with growth in the very area you struggle most with. It doesn’t end there. As each of you grows into your marital role, you also grow closer together and discover new levels of intimacy. Being brave enough to take three simple steps is a small price to pay for so many good things.

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