Asher Witmer

rediscovering Jesus

9 Ways You Accidentally Make Your Husband Feel Little how you tear him down without saying a word

I suppose it is only fair, after writing about how we men make our wives feel ugly, that I address how women make their husbands feel little. Not because I want to hit women over the head with how they’re failing us husbands. Rather, just as women can feel ugly from small gestures on our part, we sometimes feel little by seemingly innocent actions from them.

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What Teresa and I have discovered in five years of marriage is that it’s not the big obvious issues that create conflict. I suppose those are obvious enough we address them before they cook us alive and have us for dinner. The little things, they are the ones we have trouble with. Not communicating about our schedules, assuming the other person is thinking the same way we are, allowing small concerns to go until they turn into huge annoyances.

In my last post, I talked about nine ways husbands accidentally make their wives feel ugly. Here I’ll share nine ways wives accidentally make their husbands feel little. As a lady wants to feel beautiful and wanted, a man wants to feel capable and needed. These are nine subtle ways wives undermine their husbands.

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1. Glance away or act indifferent to his dreams

Nothing feels more belittling to a man than having his lover seem disinterested in his heart. Women find it easy to share what they are feeling or thinking. Men feel vulnerable doing that. Especially something as precious as a dream. And nothing makes him feel more incapable or silly than having someone show visible disinterest in his dreams.

2. Being “realistic” about his ideas

When a man gets an idea, it is rarely “realistic.” There is almost always some kind of risk involved. Furthermore, there are always kinks that will need worked out. And women are great at recognizing what can or can’t work. But, to interject with “realistic-ness” when he may simply be brainstorming or “testing the waters” is a sure-fire way to get him to never share an idea with you again.

3. Trusting other men’s advice above what he thinks

There is something to be said about we as men seeking out and listening to the advice of others (another post for another day), but when a man’s wife trusts other men above him, he feels incapable and unneeded. He feels little and will soon quit even trying to give leadership.

4. Never complimenting his efforts to provide for and lead his family

Wives do so much for the family, especially around the home. And it can be easy for us as men to come home and never lift a finger in helping out around the house. But if you get focused on that, and neglect to see the ways he works tirelessly to provide for and lead the family, he’ll soon feel really small. There’s a time bomb waiting to go off when compliments for each other’s efforts go unexpressed.

5. Failing to realize his leadership is about more than taking care of the family; it’s about calling the family to participate in something bigger than yourselves

As singles and dating couples, we have a lot of dreams for adventure in life. Teresa and I imagined ourselves in some remote village reaching unreached people with the Gospel. When we got married, however, and felt the weight of responsibility on our shoulders, things suddenly changed. I cared more about money than I ever had in my life. For the first time I can remember, I spent nights awake wondering how we would make it through the next few months financially.

And while finances are a crucial part of life we can’t ignore, one of the biggest benefits Teresa has given me is understanding that family isn’t just about us. It’s about a greater mission. I don’t know that we’ve even talked about this particular thing, but I have always sensed support from her in leading our family in a cause beyond making money and meeting ends. I realize, in hindsight, how small I would feel if she demanded I focus primarily on taking care of us in a material sense and not following God’s leading in His mission for our lives.

6. Never initiating (or worse, refusing) sexual intimacy

The desire for sex is a powerful desire, indeed. Refusing to make love with him, or never initiating it yourself, makes him feel as though you don’t care about his needs. If there has been abuse, or if your husband uses pornography, I encourage you to seek out the advice of a mature, Christian couple who can help you navigate the challenges of sexual intimacy in your marriage. But if your husband is being faithful to you and doing his dead-level best to care for you (and most are), move toward him. At least, respond to his desire for sex. Why not surprise him and initiate it yourself? It makes him feel valuable. Capable. Wanted. And he will rise to levels you didn’t realize he had.

7. Expecting him to organize and plan everything

I am a visionary, innovator, strategist, commander (if you’re familiar with 16 Personalities). In five short years of marriage, I have already put my wife through a roller-coaster of changes and new opportunities. She could complain and throw a pity party. I don’t know that she ever expected to move across the Pond twice before reaching our fifth anniversary, but she has. And while she certainly needs space to process the changes (she longs for stability and relationships, and I care about that) she has also played a major role in pursuing what we feel God is leading us to, even when it wasn’t her first choice. She is an organizer of organizers. Things I fail to see ahead of time, she anticipates and prepares for so the transitions, themselves, are made all the easier.

It makes me feel like we’re a team. Like she believes in us and where God is leading.

8. Not understanding the power she has to complement his gifts, dreams, and calling

Marriage is God’s idea. God created us. And I believe we are attracted to people who, while on one hand are significantly different from ourselves, we complement them in unique and powerful ways. I don’t mean giving words of praise; I mean being strong where the other is weak. Wives, you have strength to add to your husband. It doesn’t make you better or him worse. It means he needs you. Try entering his world, his ideas, his desire for life, and allow yourself to be molded into the greater plan and mission of your family.

9. Handing him a book or blog post on a topic you feel he needs to improve in

See what I did there? 😉 Honestly, this is the most ineffective way to motivate your husband to change. It makes him feel small, like he isn’t any good the way he is, and as if the world is waiting for him to get his act together. It’s okay to express your desire for change in a certain area. Direct is better than indirect. But also, although it feels somehow trite, when you focus on your role and honoring him through it, he naturally feels pulled into maturity. He will soon recognize places he needs to grow in. Pray he’s able to acknowledge it to himself and do something about it.

Marriage is fun because it has all kinds of twists and turns. And sometimes we feel like pulling our hair out.

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In the end, there are many things we fail to see before we bump into them in the process of doing life together. But don’t ever lose heart. Doing marriage just right is not (should not be) the goal. The goal is enjoying each other, and enjoying God through it all.

As with men making women feel ugly, there are probably more ways women accidentally make their husbands feel small. Maybe you have discovered a few yourself. I’d love to hear them, if you have. Feel free to share about it in the comments below.

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About Asher Witmer

I am a son of God, husband, father, and difference maker. I love helping people sort through hard questions they face and rediscover Jesus. I have written three eBooks dealing with church frustrations, and send out daily posts addressing faith, church and relationships.

  • Yvette Vazquez-Sanchez

    Thank you, your article is very insightful.