Would you like to give your husband an expensive gift that you just can’t afford? I sure would. My husband is a car guy, and would love to drive a pricey, high-performance car. If I could, I’d gladly buy him a Porsche, Ferrari or Lamborghini. But, unless Publisher’s Clearinghouse shows up on our front porch with balloons, flowers and a big check, that isn’t likely to happen!
Fortunately, I can give him gifts he wants even more than an expensive car – and they’re totally free. More than likely, these are gifts your husband wants too – and they won’t cost you a dime.
• Appreciate the things he does for you and your family. I often get caught up in the busyness of everyday life and forget to acknowledge the things my husband does for me. I’m guessing it’s the same for you. Does your husband work hard every day? Is he a good father? Does he do the hard/messy/thankless jobs around the house? Is he honest and loyal? Does he set an example for your children of how to treat others? Think about the things he does day in and day out and thank him for them – and let him know what those things mean to you and your family.
• Treat him like a man, and let him treat you like a woman. In previous generations, our society devalued women (and in some ways it still does). Now, in many ways, it devalues men. Why can’t we value both? Men and women are different, so why not celebrate the differences. One way to do that is to remember that your husband isn’t one of your girlfriends and he certainly isn’t one of your children – he’s your man. So let him be a man and appreciate his masculinity.
And let him treat you like a woman. Many men like to do little things to take care of their woman – so if yours does, let him! My husband likes to put gas in my car, even though I’m perfectly capable of pumping gas. He also cooks dinner when I need to finish some work or a project. And I really appreciate both of those things (and all the other things he does for me) and try to remember to let him know. A friend recently thanked her husband on Facebook for warming up her car on cold mornings, even on days when he goes to work later in the day. She isn’t diminished in any way when her husband does things to take care of her. Instead, they’re both blessed by his acts of service. So let your husband bless you by taking care of you.
• Speak well of him. Don’t speak negatively about your husband to other people – just don’t do it. Honor him with your words and avoid conversations in which friends or co-workers gossip or complain about their husbands. Say things about him that you’d like him to say about you. To do otherwise tears down your marriage, slowly but surely.
Instead, when you’re angry or disagree with him, speak to him directly – work out problems within your marriage, not within your extended family, church, or social circle. (Speaking to a trusted friend or a counselor about serious marriage problems is an entirely different thing and is a good idea.)
• Give him some time and space. Most men need a bit of time and space to relax and recharge from their work and family responsibilities. So figure out what your husband needs and make sure he gets it. Does he need a space to call his own? Time to work in his shop or work out at the gym? A night out with friends? An afternoon of golf? Offer him the opportunity to recharge that way on a regular basis. (And yes, wives need time and space to recharge too!)
• Involve him in day-to-day decisions and activities. Many wives handle all of the day-to-day decisions and activities for their families, everything from the family’s schedule to children’s activities to social activities to finances. If your husband has an extremely demanding job, he may appreciate that you handle all of those things.
The downside, though, is that husbands can begin to feel as if they’re living on the margins of their own families. And wives can feel overwhelmed, resenting the number of decisions they have to make and tasks they have to handle on their own. So talk with your husband and work out the balance that’s best for you as a couple. Whenever possible, talk through issues and make decisions together. Don’t let your family be divided into two camps, with mom and the kids living one life and dad living another.
• Create a sex life that you both enjoy. Sex is such an important part of marriage – it’s one of the primary things that distinguishes your marriage from all of your other important relationships. For many men, it’s the primary way in which they connect with their wives – both physically and emotionally. And in most cases, they long for their wives to crave and enjoy that connection too.
So give your husband the gift of developing a regular and enjoyable sex life. And remember that sex is about you too – it’s not just for your husband (so ignore the people who say it’s primarily for him!). And if enjoying sex is difficult for you, I encourage you to take steps to make it more enjoyable. A number of great resources are available to help and encourage you, including blogs (e.g., Pearl’s OysterBed, To Love, Honor and Vacuum, Hot, Holy and Humorous) and books, including those listed on the Sex and Marriage Resources page. (These resources won’t be helpful if you’re dealing with serious sexual issues or marriage problems. If that’s the case, I encourage you to seek help from a professional counselor.)
Although you may not be able to afford expensive gifts, you can afford these free gifts your husband wants and needs. Try giving one or two of them to him this week, and see if they make a difference in his life and your marriage.