Tip #47: Wives, Be Your Husband’s Best Cheerleader – Especially When He Gets Hit!
Not long ago, speaking at a large church one weekend, I was very touched when I learned the code name the security team had given the wife of the senior pastor. These men were all business as a security and protection detail, but they also had fun with it and in each code name they tried to capture something important about that person.
The name they assigned to the wife of the senior pastor? “Cheerleader.”
Now, this pastor’s wife is a smart, sophisticated, well-known leader herself; a leader who had helped her husband grow the church to a vibrant mega-church presence. So was she offended by her code name?
No. She embraced it as the best accolade she could have been given. Because despite the thriving church and her own ministry and business opportunities, her most important priority was her husband and family. And she knew what her husband most needed.
To become the leader God had created him to be, her husband needed to know that his this person who knew him best believed in him absolutely, cheered him on when things were going well, and encouraged him unconditionally when he faltered, messed up, or got hit by circumstances.
This does not imply some subordinate, vapid role. It implies an immensely powerful and important one. In sports, a team can probably win whether or not they have good folks on the sidelines, cheering them on. In marriage, it is a very, very different story.
You know that you and your husband are partners and teammates in life. You know you have skills and experience that he does not, and vice versa. You know that your husband relies on you in many ways, and depends on you to keep the marriage and family on solid ground.
But what you may not know is that without your encouragement, it is very difficult for him to feel able to do what he needs to do for the marriage and family.
In my research, it has been so clear that what a man most needs from his wife is that completely solid support who believes in him when he doesn’t believe in himself.
What does that look like? In addition to actually cheering him on when things are good (“You did a great job at getting the kids to stop fighting”) be very sparing about giving advice or “constructive criticism” when things are stressful.
For example, if your man is struggling with something going wrong at work and you suggest potential changes, you think you are “helping” – but he likely won’t see it that way. He’ll see it as “well that was stupid” second-guessing. After all, there’s a reason that cheerleaders – who are often successful athletes in their own right – don’t stride out onto the field or the court and analyze a play that goes wrong! Every man already feels like an imposter, and wrestles with self-doubt. If the business is going fine, he can look at the financial returns and reassure himself. But where does he look when the business isn’t going fine?
It’s in those times of trial when he looks squarely to you for the affirmation that you still believe in him. And it’s during those trials that he’ll be far more sensitive to your words and actions. When he is vulnerable and you say, “Maybe this isn’t such a good time to enter that particular market,” what he hears is, “You stupid idiot, you should know better!”
It may not seem “fair,” but in each situation you have to choose what is more important: ensuring that your husband knows you are unswervingly behind him, or exercising your right to voice your opinion. Now, just to be clear: as his wife you absolutely do have the right and even the responsibility at times to share something that needs to be said.
But just make sure it truly does need to be said. If it does, then when you run out onto the field to give your input, do it in a way that recognizes he’s been beaten up and also needs to see that you believe in him. If it doesn’t, consider whether your best possible “help” might be passionately cheering him on instead.
When you do, you are ultimately giving your husband what every man needs most: you are showing, not just saying, that you believe in him. That you trust him. Your support and confidence will make him feel like he can do anything. As long as he has you as his number one cheerleader.
Don't give up on your marriage. It is worth the effort and investment. If you feel like your marriage is struggling, or even failing, there is hope. There is healing.