10 WAYS TO BE YOUR HUSBAND’S NUMBER 1 HELPER
By Cindi McMenamin
Would you be surprised to learn that one of the things your husband most needs from you is your ability to help him?
Men want a connection just like we do. They want a partnership, a teammate, a helper to enthusiastically come alongside them and make their lives brighter, better, and easier. That’s the way they were designed. And that’s why we were designed.
Genesis 2:18 tells us the reason we, as women, were created: “The Lord God said, ‘It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him’ because for Adam no suitable helper was found.” God designed a perfect counterpart – not a clone – to help the man work, play, think, decide, enjoy life, and grow old with. God even took the man’s rib to make the woman who was designed to be, literally, at his side. God planned that the two work together, shoulder-to-shoulder, complement one another, and balance each other with their unique strengths.
God did not create Eve to be Adam’s mother or his maid. Nor to be his supervisor, nor his doormat. He made her to ultimately be his helper. As I was writing my book, 12 Ways to Experience More with Your Husband, I asked numerous wives how they help their husbands, and I also asked many husbands to chime in on how they are best helped by their wives. This is the advice they offered and it amounts to 10 ways you can be your husband’s number 1 helper:
1. Be his teammate.
While it’s been said that men tend toward independence and autonomy, I have yet to meet a man who doesn’t want a teammate. And when that teammate is his wife, he can rest assured knowing she is working toward the same goal as him.
Approach him about areas he might feel isolated in and let him know you’re on his team. Is he bearing some stress over the family finances? Offer to help him come up with a budget or tell him “Let’s work together on this.” Is he struggling with a huge responsibility at work? Ask him “How can I be on your support team once you get home?” Is he trying to lose weight or manage his health? Offer to join him in activities that will help him meet his goals. Every man wants a teammate at some point in the process. Ask yours how you can be a part of his team even if it’s just to be on the sidelines and cheer him on.
2. Offer him “wife support.”
My husband, Hugh, offered some insight on how men most want help from their wives. Having ministered to men for nearly 30 years – including leading small-group sessions where men talked about their innermost desires when it came to life, their wives, and their life’s goals – Hugh offered this: “Husbands want ‘wife support’ just like someone who is having difficulty breathing needs ‘life support.’”
Hugh explained that one of the ways a wife can show support to her husband and truly help him out is to trust him when he wants to take a risk. “When he says ‘let’s do this’ and you haven’t calculated the risks, costs and other factors, realize he desires to live spontaneously and adventurously.
“When he says ‘trust me on this one’ he might not have all the details, he might not be able to explain why, just trust him. Women call it a sixth sense but men call it a gut feeling. If he says ‘I’m going with my gut’, indulge him. Trust his male instinct at times. By doing that, you are helping him out.”
3. Help according to your strengths.
If you are better than your husband with the finances, help him by overseeing the household budget, paying the bills, and planning vacations. Sometimes having to think about finances adds pressure to your husband’s load. Look for ways you shine and then help him, if he’s open to it.
Emily said she has learned to help her husband, George, with their two young children by looking at their strengths and doing what each does best. “Although we are extremely different in many areas, George and I know that the differences ultimately make us stronger as a couple. We try to make our differences work for us to strengthen our marriage. We see this especially in raising our kids. I am a teacher and I spend time working with our son, Max, on his letters and numbers, whereas George works with his hands and builds things. He takes Max outside and teaches him the names of tools and how to use them correctly and safely. My instinct is not to dig outside with my son, and George would never think to buy ABC flashcards. Yet, we both bring these very different skills to parenting and it works.”
4. Anticipate his needs.
Helping your husband is not just about seeing to it that the children have what they need. It’s about making sure you are helping your husband personally by anticipating his needs and coming through for him.
“My husband is a very simple, practical man,” a wife of five years told me. “The little things are what he values. He feels loved through my acts of service, especially when I do the dishes and his laundry. If he comes home and these things aren’t done, he feels stressed that he’ll need to find time to do them. Yet, if these chores are completed when he comes home from work, he feels loved. I don’t always have a clean kitchen, but when I have done the simple act of cleaning up before he gets home, I know I am showing love by helping my husband.”
5. Be his protection.
You can help your husband by watching his back, being his eyes and ears, and giving him the insights that only you, as his wife, possess. In this way, you are, in a sense, protecting him.
Steve says his wife of 10 years, Sophie, “will help me smooth over awkward conversations at a party by interjecting something in the conversation that makes me look good. She also works toward the better good of our team by doing what’s best for the family, putting her immediate dissatisfaction with me aside, if we’ve had a conflict.”
While Steve is busy at his high-stress job for a television studio, his wife, who is also busy as a choreographer and owner of her own dance school, still manages their social calendar and is the one who makes sure the two of them spend time together regularly. In doing so, she protects his image, his good standing at work and in the family, and their relationship by carving out time for them to be together.
6. Help him date you.
If you and your husband don’t ever “date” because you are waiting on his suggestion or initiation, give that up – you be the one who initiates. Yes, in a perfect world your husband would do that and thereby make you feel cherished. But you are his helper. And one way you can help him is to schedule activities that the two of you would like to do that he most likely wants to but hasn’t gotten around to planning yet.
If your husband is one who is all talk and no action, he is needing you to put the plans together and make it happen. If he doesn’t talk at all about dating, perhaps he needs to be reminded that he has a wife who still wants to date him. When we make the first move, chances are they’ll appreciate it (and get the hint on how to do it the next time around).
7. Practice random acts of kindness.
Debbie, a busy wife who hosts a radio show and works long hours, says when she helps her husband, it pulls them closer together.
“I believe the secret to our strength as a couple is truly living out Philippians 2:4 – “do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others” (NASB) – where we both strive to consider each other’s interest, not just our own! So, I intentionally go out of my way to help my husband, encourage my husband and do little random acts of kindness every day.
“For example, when I can see my husband is getting frustrated with a computer project, I drop what I’m doing and assist him. When I notice that he’s feeling a bit discouraged, I drop what I’m doing and sit down with him to listen to what has happened during his day, and then I remind him of all the good qualities I see in him. When he fasts on Tuesdays (in preparation for evening ministry), I make him his favorite food, so that when he comes home late that night, he’ll be treated to a terrific meal.”
Helping your husband like that will most likely encourage him to help you, as well. Debbie said, “I now find my husband does little random acts of kindness every day for me, too.”
8. Help him spiritually.
When God said He would make a helper suitable for Adam (Genesis 2:18), God used the same word that describes the role and ministry of the Holy Spirit in the New Testament. The Holy Spirit is called our helper – and He is also our counselor, comforter, intercessor, and advocate. The Hebrew word translated helper in Genesis 2:18 can also be translated as one who brings unique strengths and qualities to the other. These qualities, found only in the woman, complete the union between man and woman. This word is also used in the Old Testament in reference to God Himself in Psalm 54:4, where David tells us that God is our helper. God was giving your man someone who was designed to act, in some ways, as his counselor, comforter, intercessor, and advocate.
Think about the beauty of that. You were designed to be your husband’s helper – both spiritually and otherwise. That means your discernment – that “sixth sense” you get when you feel like something is wrong but you can’t put your finger on it, your caution and practical advice when it comes to finances, your conviction about something that he doesn’t yet see – could all be attributed to the way you were wired by God to be your husband’s helper.
Be his God-appointed helper with the finances (if that’s your strong point), with the kids, with his goals, with this health – not like a mother who hovers, but like a companion who covers. You can cover him with your discernment, your prayers, your care, and your love.
9. Start expressing your heart.
Perhaps you are doing this already. Perhaps you feel you are the only one in the marriage who is expressing your heart. But as much as your husband might act like he doesn’t need positive strokes, praise, and admiration, he definitely does. And as much as he might not be able to express his heart, he needs your help in doing so.
Find ways to show him that you appreciate him, you respect him, and you admire him, and it’s safe for him to be able to express similar feelings of love and gratitude toward you. If either of you has trouble verbalizing how you feel, try what Tara did to reconnect with her husband, Chris:
After 10 years of marriage, Tara felt at a loss for how to reignite the spark between her and Chris, who didn’t find it easy to verbalize his feelings for her. So, after praying, she felt led to write something to him in her journal and she left it out – and open – with an invitation for him to read it. He responded by writing back to her in the journal. He responded to it so well that the two have been writing to each other every day in the same journal, taking turns writing words of love, endearment, and encouragement. Tara is helping her husband express his heart while giving him the expression of hers. You can try that, too.
10. Remove the expectations.
Every woman has expectations when she marries. High expectations. And then later she either raises them, refuses to lower them, or loses them altogether. But when you keep in mind that your husband is a man, not God, that he has his faults like you, and that he operates well after being fed and having time to relax, you won’t be as disappointed.
I know you don’t consciously expect your husband to be God, but we all look to someone or something to fill us, calm us, and comfort us. When we expect our husbands to come through for us as only God would, they will disappoint us every time. And no husband wants to disappoint his wife. So, don’t set him up for failure. Keep yourself in check emotionally by asking yourself often, “Who is the one I am ultimately depending on?” If the answer to that question is anyone other than God (yourself included!), confess your misaligned priorities and invite God back onto the throne of your life. It could be the greatest gift – the greatest help – you give to your husband. When you lessen his load of expectations, you free him up to love you in the best way he can.