I hated beans when I got married. I’ve always thought of them as man food. Like sardines and olives, there are just some things I wouldn’t even touch, but my husband loves them. Over time, I’ve slowly mixed them into my diet, and I actually like them.
On the same note, my husband was never a big fan of tea, seafood, or spinach – all things I love. But throughout our marriage, he’s learned the value of drinking tea when he’s sick, mixing a little fish into his diet, and adding spinach to pasta.
Our tastes changed because we influenced each other and that gave us a better diet. It’s a perfect example of the give-and-take that has to exist for a marriage to be successful. I recently wrote about how women need to accept their husband’s influence, but now I wish to balance that sentiment by detailing how our influence (the wife’s) is good for husbands as well.
The Comforts of Home
Masculinity is tough. Men need space to focus on a skill set. They need peace and quiet to think and solve problems. They often like to work alone. This is not toxic or bad just because it’s not how women do things. On the contrary, it builds character, self-reliance, and resilience for a man to learn to do things on his own.
My husband can’t multitask for anything. He gets obsessed with his projects. He’ll spend six months working on a new drawing. Then when he gets sick of it or finishes, he grabs his guitar and writes a couple of new riffs. Hearing the same two songs all day, every day can test a woman’s patience, but since I’m a music baby, I jump in and add vocals, and pretty soon, we have our own little songs to practice and play.
This is how men are. They work and work when they find something that gives them purpose. Whether they’re building an engine, a website, or a giant music catalog that won’t ever get radio airplay, they’re better at focusing on one thing at a time and powering through until it’s finished. But that can be hard and lonely sometimes.
A man might choose to work alone, but when that’s too isolating, he comes to his wife for comfort.
When my husband hits a snag in a project, he gets angry. It makes him feel like a failure. He puts everything into his work – physically, mentally, and spiritually – and when it doesn’t go the way he planned, he just can’t take it. He needs me to rub his shoulders and kiss him to remind him that I love him no matter what. Mainly, he needs to know he’s not alone.
A wife's support means everything to a man. He craves her respect. It makes me happy to offer a comfortable space for my husband to escape to when work isn’t going right. I finally get him to talk about his feelings and tell me what he’s thinking. My desire to talk and express myself helps him sit down and hash out his issues.
He needs me to be there for him and knowing that helps me to lend an ear without judging him or humiliating him with I-told-you-so’s. I want the comforts of home to remind him that he can be himself with me. He might choose to work alone, but when that’s too isolating, he comes to me for understanding.
Encouraging Charity outside the Family
Instead of punishing men for being who they are, good wives embrace the fact that men focus on themselves and their craft first because by doing so they reach more success and that provides for their wife and children. For centuries, men had to go out and bring home food and supplies. Without their efforts, families struggled and suffered.
It’s part of our heritage and biology. No matter how things change, men can’t deny who they were meant to be. They’re “self-centered” by nature because throughout most of human history, if they weren’t, then their families would die.
Women remained home, and so we banded together. We leaned on each other. We have been social creatures because it too better served our interests.
All of that carries over now. Women generally appreciate group activities and focusing on helping others. We’re self-sacrificing by nature because we’re mothers, caregivers, and/or community organizers. This, again, is not a bad thing (no matter what neo-feminists say). Plus, it’s nice to leave a man to his devices so you can go about your business without getting distracted.
It’s also within our womanly influence to teach our husbands to be more gentle, loving, and giving. My husband is a big guy. He doesn’t always know his own strength. I have to remind him to play gentler with the kids. He also knows that I crave affection and shared experiences. It’s this influence that pushes him to hug and kiss me in public, or grab my butt when I’m walking by him.
Men are often more concerned about their household and feeding their own kids than giving to strangers.
That love also carries us through when we fight about money. It happens. Budgets are tough, and I’m not one to spend on luxuries, but I am very committed to donating to charity and volunteering my time to good causes.
He has never been very big on regularly donating to charities, and he says he doesn’t have time for volunteer work. I’ve spent our entire relationship softening him up to understand that I come from a poor background. I was homeless for a brief period, and I can’t forget that. It pains me when we don’t have enough money to donate to others. It physically hurts.
He doesn’t have that ache, that need to give. Mine may be hyper-inflated because of my experiences, but even my grandmother (whose husband made a good living) always taught my mother to give, and my mother taught it to me. Even when we had nothing, she would find a penny to put in a charity box collecting change. That’s something that was passed down through generations of women in my family, and other women I talk to have a similar connection.
My dad complained about it, and so did my grandpa. Men are often more concerned about their household and feeding their own kids, and it’s not necessarily because men are bad or wrong, but they understand survival. If you can’t run your own house, then you won’t be in a position to help others. It makes sense, but women look to find a way to help others and still take care of their own. It’s not easy, but we’re the givers who remind men of the need to be charitable and think of the bigger picture.
Wives balance their husbands by making them look around and really see everyone. We influence them to be better than they are even when they feel like nothing. That is a special bond that breeds faith, healing, and trust.
Influencing Through Invitation and Example
Good wives understand their positive influence. We don’t work to control or manipulate. Women who use their position to dominate or rule over their husbands are setting themselves up for failure because we’re not attracted to weak men.
Women are biologically predisposed to seek a hunter, a leader. We must gently offer our influence with grace and dignity.
If I grow angry at my husband for not trusting me or doing what I want, it just makes him mad, and we fight. If I calmly hold his hand and suggest something, he might disagree at first, but over time he thinks about it, muses alone, and then comes back to me and agrees with good ideas.
For example, I started a tradition in my twenties where I drive around handing out cookies to the homeless during the holidays. After we got married, I invited my husband to come with me. He liked the idea of directly giving to people in need, but he felt awkward and uncomfortable.
Wives balance their husbands by inviting them to look around and really see everyone.
We talked it over, and he eventually agreed to just see how it goes. I told him we could head home if it didn’t suit him. Once we found a few people, it was hard for him to see them begging on street corners in the roughest neighborhoods. It actually made him cry. But he wanted to keep doing it. We saw so many men and war vets with ragged clothes and missing teeth.
I explained to him that a lot of shelters only take women and children, and even the ones that take men kick them out first when they get overcrowded. He thought about a homeless vet who lives in his car and parks at his dad’s motorcycle shop (with his dad’s permission). It made it more real for him. He connected on a deeper level and suggested that we bring sandwiches and water bottles too. Now we drive around handing out food every couple of months.
The invitation to join me in giving to strangers taught my husband to look closer and care about people he never really thought about before. He then took my idea and made it better.
Wives have a lot to offer their husbands. We teach them to make better connections, support them as they work harder, and remind them to keep going when they want to give up.
Just as husbands have much to offer wives, we cultivate love and put it into every aspect of our marriage. Sometimes that means mixing olives into a spinach salad; other times, it’s backing the man we love when he starts his own business or plays the same song for the thousandth time. Women have a big role in the lives of the men they love, and we should always cherish that.
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