How To Support A Struggling Spouse

 how to help your spouse in need - a struggling spouse who needs encouragement - relationship advice

It's no question that we all go through difficult times. It's hard to keep yourself going, let alone try and encourage your spouse who is also going through a season of struggle. So, how can we keep going, as well as support the person we love through their difficult time? It's not easy.

There have been times in my life when I didn't know how to take another step. Thankfully, I had a few people in my life to encourage and help me through it, and most importantly, a God who never left my side. Even though I wasn't able to recover right away when overcoming my struggles, with time and perseverance, I finally came out of it. 

But if I can be completely honest, during the time of struggle, it was proved challenging to see a light at the end of the tunnel, no matter what anyone said to me. The hope I knew and trusted had suddenly left this deep gushing wound in my heart, and I couldn't even lift my hand to try and stop the bleeding. 

To make matters worse, my husband was also going through his own battles at the same time. As you can imagine, our household wasn't always roses. 

Through my journey, I was able to cling to a few things that helped me get through, as well as encourage my spouse along the way. So whether you are both going through a difficult time, or just your spouse, these methods were helpful for us in getting through a season of doubt and depression.

Here are a few tips to help you encourage your struggling spouse


Don't take everything personally

If you're a sensitive person like me, then it's hard to not take your partners struggles as some sort of personal vendetta against you. 

It isn't easy for someone to know how they come across when they are struggling. It's most likely what they are struggling with has nothing to do with you, so it's important to accept that it isn't you, and not take it personally.

This will enable you to support them and be there for them when they are struggling, instead of making the problem about something it's not. 

Encourage them to seek help.

If you are also struggling, it may be beneficial for someone else to come alongside them and encourage them. Having your own struggles in and of itself is challenging enough. 

Sometimes, it's difficult to take advice from those who are closest to us. Getting an unbiased outside perspective can offer a refreshing new opportunity.

It's their choice whether or not they want to seek help and there's not much you can do about it if they don't. Sometimes when they see you getting better with outside help, it will motivate them to also seek out help.

Don't expect them to see reality right now

When I was struggling, it was hard to see things for what they were. My mind was cloudy and unable to perceive what was reality and what were lies I was believing. 

Encourage them to see things for what they are, but when they don't respond to that, let it go. They need to go through whatever they are going through in order for them to genuinely see reality.

Let Go Of Your Need To Control!

Pray for them

I have this innate character trait to want to make everything better on my own terms and in my own time.

This not only proves to be exhausting for me, but it doesn't work.

Accept that your partner is going through a rough time - there's not much you can do about it, except be there for them. 

For me, this meant that all I could was pray, wait for, and encourage them. 

Ask them how you can pray for them. Sometimes making it about a prayer, and not their feelings, will help them open up more and share what's on their heart.

Ask them what it is they need

When one is struggling, they sometimes don't know what it is they need. So, my advice for you would be this - Ask them what they might need, but also name off a few things that you think they might need. You, after all, know them more than anyone else does. Try naming off things that you know they love, and see if they are open for it. 

For them to know that you take interest in doing something they want to do, might make it easier for them to do it.

Be supportive and patient

There is no timeframe for things such as these. Who knows how long your partner will struggle. It's important to be patient and supportive during this time. If you aren't, it can cause things to get worse; such as creating other problems in your relationship. 

7 Things You Should Never Say To Your Spouse

Live your own life

Just because your partner is struggling, doesn't mean you can't live your life. Go do things with friends or your kids. Seek counsel if you yourself are struggling. It's important that you are also nurturing your own personal and spiritual growth while taking steps to be who you want to be. 

This was probably my biggest struggle when my spouse was going through a rough time. It was hard for me to focus on my own personal well-being while looking after my husband's as well. Even though it was difficult for me to go through this, it made me realize that I need to live my own life, and not expect that my spouse meet all of my needs. 

In order for me to get through the struggles of my life and relationships, I first needed to understand that it's not my partner's responsibility to make me happy. 

This concept freed my mind to be there for my husband because I wasn't operating from him always pleasing me, rather from God giving me the strength to get through it. 

8 Things A Man Needs That He Will Never Tell You Himself

If you've ever gone through a tough time, then you would know how meaningful it is when someone goes the extra mile for you. It makes you feel important and loved. 

Try doing this for your partner. They need to know that someone cares about them, and it may not be something they will be able to express right now. 

What are some ways that you have helped a spouse in need? I would love to hear your thoughts!

What are the Two Things Men Want Most in a Woman?

 what do men want most in a woman? relationship advice for women. How to build a better relationship. 

When I think of what men in general want, I'm pretty sure I can break it down into two simple categories. The thing is, those two categories each have a million subcategories. You will know more than anyone what your man wants, but it also takes time and energy to really dip deep and figure those things out. Here is what I have discovered upon being married for almost ten years, not necessarily about what he wants, but what he most loves about me. 

What do men most want in a woman? 

1. A woman who admires and desires him. 

2. A woman who respects him. 

So, there you have it. Seems pretty attainable and simple, right? Wrong.

This post contains affiliate links - see disclosure here. 

My husband is a wonderful man. He is full of surprises that keep me on my feet, but he is anything but simple - and what he wants is sometimes very hard for me to pinpoint. In fact, there are times I might have more luck looking for the long-lost Merchant Royal ship than figuring out his needs.

Stated above is a simple breakdown of what men in general might want. But what we need to realize as their spouse's, is that they really do go much deeper than that, whether they want to admit it or not. 

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I know that I married someone who is very different, special, and eclectic in comparison to other men. He is European, masculine, adventurous, stylish, attractive, brilliantly smart, loves Jesus, has an opinion about what color of pillows we have, AND goes shopping with me. I mean, he's the full package and I consider myself a very blessed woman. But it's also taken me a very long time to figure all of the ins and outs of his needs, as well as the things I can offer to him that he loves. I desire to be the woman he wants, and I know that deep down I am because he doesn't have unrealistic expectations of me - but I also want to make sure that without changing who I am, I am being attentive to what it is that he wants. If I stop trying to do that, it means I've stopped trying to get to know him more. It's from there that relationship problems begin to take root - when we've stopped trying.

I screw up on a daily basis of being the wife I know he deserves, but thankfully that is what a relationship can be about if you give it grace - trial and error. 

Here are all the subcategories of what I think a man might want most in a woman. 

Category - Affection/Sex

It's no surprise that this is how men work. Did you know that in your marriage, a man feels most loved when their physical needs are met, as well as when they are respected? 

Both are the surest way to a man's heart. It's how God made them. Just like you feel loved when your husband is understanding, kind, and gentle, he feels loved when you are intimate and respectful. 

So what do men desire under the affection/sex category?

a.) An attractive spouse - not by anyone else's standards, but by their own. If he picked you, you're most likely already giving him what he wants in that!

b.) For us to desire them - Guys don't always want to initiate. They love it when we show interest.

c.) Confidence in who we are.

d.) For us to take care of ourselves, not only physically but also mentally. 

e.) A real connection with YOU.

f.) Surprise and passion.


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Category - Respect

Men are complicated. I don't care what anyone else says. They might say they aren't, but their subcategories can go so deep down that you can get easily lost in that man cave. Here are some ways that we as women can show our husbands respect.

All of the links go more in-depth on each topic.

a.) Admire who he is.

b.) Support what he does.

c.) Give helpful opinions - not ones that are laced with selfishness or ulterior motives.

d.) Good communication - no nagging or accusing

e.) A best friend to do things with that he enjoys as well.

f.) Someone he can talk to about anything - even the tough stuff without being judged.

g.) A life-giver, not a soul sucker. 

h.) A woman who looks after her own spiritual and personal growth.

i.) A patient and loving mother

j.) Waiting to address something you're upset about when you're alone and not at a dinner party.

k.) A woman who doesn't correct his parenting skills in front of your kids.

l.) Goes on adventures with him.

m.) Say yes more than no. 

n.) A free thinker - someone who thinks for herself and isn't needy. 

o.) In hard times, a shoulder to lean on and the ability to sometimes be stronger than he is. 

p.) Let things go and picking your battles

q.) Transparent and honest.

r.) Knowing when to bring up the hard things.

s.) Accepting of who he is, how he is. 

t.) Listen attentively to those seldom moments he opens up and shares his heart.

u.) A gentle and quiet spirit.

v.) Passionate in pursuing your own dreams.

w.) Someone who doesn't give up - loyal.

x.) Isn't controlling him or attempting to change him. 

y.) Has her own friends and hobbies.

z.) Stylish and takes care of herself. 


Marriage books I LOVE and recommend

There you have it. What I believe men most want in a woman/wife/partner under two main categories.

Men most feel loved when they are respected and desired physically. If you try and show them the same kind of love you desire, you might be missing the mark because they just don't tick the way we do. 

As always, it's a two-way street. But there may be times when you have to step up and do some of those things possibly without "feeling" like it. 

There have so many times in my relationships when one of us has to keep things going, even when the other isn't as willing. This is SO normal in any relationship. When you both are at a place of giving up or not trying anymore is probably the worst place to be, but you can always break the cycle if you are willing!


What do you think? Did I miss some? How does your man feel respected?

How to Build Trust in Your Relationship

 how to build trust and learn to trust once again

Here are some topics I will discuss in this post

  • How our society might be feeding our mistrust of one another

  • How broken trust doesn't only come from infidelity

  • How to take the first steps to trust again

  • Learning to trust with forgiveness

  • Setting boundaries when trust has been broken

Is our society to blame for all of the mistrust in relationships?

Trust is one of, if not the most important aspects of any relationship. Unfortunately, it's the hardest to establish, especially if that trust has been broken.

Tabloids, social media, movies and TV shows, all are indicators of the direction in which our society has gone when it comes to being faithful or having integrity.

Sure, it may be nothing new under the sun that relationships are often broken with infidelity, but since we can have instant knowledge of just about everything, our awareness of it is more apparent now than ever.

Any show or movie you watch today won't let you escape the mistrust, lies, and affairs of the characters, and I can't help but notice a certain numbness sets in. Our society has almost brought a playfulness to it. Condoning it, yet not blatantly. 

Take Desperate Housewives for example. Your modern day soap opera. You might think it's a harmless show. Heck, I got sucked into watching it, excusing it as my guilty pleasure. Living in Germany, I sometimes like to escape to what it's like living in America again, even though that show imparticular is a bit far-fetched as to portray what America is really like. Just a bit. 

Even though it's entertaining and cheesily endearing, in a way, Desperate Housewives is a perfect example how society makes light of infidelity; although they make sure it's veiled in a "shameful" shadow.

So no, they don't condone it, yet they show you how fun and enticing it can be. How if your partner is ignoring you, it's okay to seek attention elsewhere. Sure, it shows the consequences of infidelity, but not without first giving you an alluring impression. 

Do you think that from all of these sources we are being brainwashed to not trust anyone? On top of that, it's encouraging infidelity, laced in an "everyone does it" mentality. 

I'm not saying just because you watch a show with infidelity means that you will someday cheat on your spouse, or watching such shows will cause you to mistrust. I'm only asking, is what we fill our minds with brainwashing us to some extent? I think we need to be asking ourselves these questions. 

That being said, learning to trust even if the trust hasn't been broken is easier said than done, especially in this day and age. 


 how to build trust in your relationship

Broken trust doesn't mean infidelity is always the cause.

Trust being broken doesn't necessarily mean that one of you in the relationship has done something terrible, like being unfaithful.

When we start a relationship with someone, trust is formed and grown from day one. Let's call these "Trust Tanks." Starting out, our trust tanks are empty. We don't know that person yet, so there is no basis or foundation of trust.

As you get to know one another, these tanks start to fill up. A woman's trust is very emotionally driven. When a guy shows you he wants to take care of you, keep you from crying, protect you, understand you, and love you every single day no matter what, then he is filling your trust tank.

Men are more factually driven. His trust tank is filled when you respect him by showing him you are grateful, dependable, supportive, and encouraging of who he is as a man.

Men and women are very different in how their trust tank is filled, similar to how we each feel loved. 

It's no wonder those aspects, whether fulfilled or not, play a huge role in how much we trust or mistrust someone. 

 How to build lasting trust in your relationship

Let's say you or your partner haven't committed any sort of infidelity, yet you have no trust for one another. Yes, it's possible. By not meeting one another's needs in filling those trust tanks, we are in essence breaking our trust with one another. Soon, expecting the best will be a thing of the past. We will be operating off of mistrust, and when you let that creep into any relationship, you are in for a disaster. 

How can I start trusting again?

I'm not going to touch on how to build trust up again specifically after infidelity, but just include that in your mind if it's happened to you. Let's just come from a standpoint that you don't have trust in your relationship, and it doesn't quite matter how you got there. 

Let's say you don't have an ounce of trust left in your love tank. Your partner has let you down in more ways than you can count, and you've just had enough. Is there still hope for you? YES! Not only is there hope, there is something YOU can do.

It's really the best place to be if you think about it. You don't have to sit around and wait for your partner to change. Like many things I talk about here on Word From The Bird, I will always come at the issue or problem you have from a standpoint of, "what are YOU going to do about it?"

Unfortunately, so many relationships are broken because we aren't willing to own up to our part of the problem. We end that relationship without self-reflecting. What happens is, once we get into another relationship, the same problems occur. It could be a measly 2%, but still, it's your part.

By growing personally and working on what you need to address, all aspects of your life will begin to change for the better, including your relationships. Not only will it help the situation you're currently in, it will change your perspective on how you look at things. 

What does forgiveness have to do with it?

Before I get to the surest way of how to learn to trust again, I want to take you through a first step you will need to go through in order to trust again. It's called forgiveness

Forgiveness is a fickle thing. When we don't forgive, we ultimately sabotage our best efforts in trusting. Forgiveness is often misperceived in many ways, so I want to address that for a second. 

Forgiveness is not:

·       Going to release your offender of any consequences of what they did to you. 

·       Forgetting what happened to you. Unfortunately, the wounds in our lives will leave scars. 

·       Forgiving only when asked for forgiveness.

·       Forgiving only when we feel like it.

I know, some of those sound harsh. But I am living proof that if you CHOOSE to forgive, even when you don't feel like it, your feelings will eventually follow suit. If we wait for our feelings to make the decision to forgive, we won't get anywhere. And guess what? Your unforgiveness is hurting you more than anyone! 

The surest way to trust once again. 

Listen carefully, this is where it gets good. The surest way to begin to build trust in your relationship is to make sure you are filling your partner's trust tank, even if they aren't filling yours. Is that easy? Nope.

In fact, it may one of the hardest things you will ever do. But think about it. Are you, every single day, making your best effort to fill your spouse's trust tank? If not, how are you any better in being a trustworthy person?

Just because they may have done something "worse" doesn't mean you're off the hook. Do your part! I guarantee, your partner will see it. Not only will it begin to change your heart, it just might change theirs. Do you tend to be more loving towards someone who is loveable or someone who is awful to you? Exactly. The same goes for trust.


Setting boundaries when trust is broken.

To be clear on some things, I want to also address what trust is NOT.

Let's go back to the fact that forgiveness will not release the offender of consequences. There will always be consequences to broken trust, and unfortunately, you may be the one to suffer the most.

So where do boundaries come in to play? They come when we understand exactly what is expected and what trust isn't.  

Trust is NOT:

  • Letting that person who broke your trust walk all over you and continues in their ways. Even though we can't control what they do, we can control the boundaries we set in place. Obviously, this looks different for everyone, but figure out what it is you won't tolerate, set those boundaries, and stick to them. If they can't follow through and respect those boundaries, then figure out what your next step will be, and seek counsel on it. 
  • Letting your offender off the hook in proving they are trustworthy. In order for you to trust them again, they need to show they are trustworthy through their actions, NOT WORDS. They need to earn your trust! 
  • Assuming they are lying and not believing them at all, no matter what they say. It's a frustrating feeling when someone has lied to you so much you don't know if you can ever believe a word they say. But if you start operating out of assumption and not facts when it comes to trust, they will never feel like they can ever earn your trust again. It may hurt and they may break that trust again, but if you don't take a step of faith, the trust will never come. 

What are some way you and your spouse have built trust? Feel free to comment below!

 Are you struggling in your relationship right now? 

How To Better Communicate Sensitive Topics

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 3 questions you should ask yourself before talking about something difficult.

3 communication tips when talking about something sensitive and heartfelt.

Once again, you settle on the couch after a long days work to watch your favorite Netflix show. Your spouse is next to you, and then BAM! It hits you. This is it. This is your life. Not only are your work days are on repeat, you come home and are reminded that your home life is also...on repeat. So, you wrestle with your thoughts for a minute and that still small voice that's been nagging you for the past few years is steadily getting louder. 'There has to be more to this relationship.' or 'Is watching TV with my spouse every single night normal or beneficial? Why can't we do something more with our evenings together, or our lives for that matter?' It's getting so loud that if you don't immediately transform those thoughts into words, you just might burst.

Yes, we have all been there. It's mostly women who grow steadily unfulfilled when they sense something becoming redundant. I couldn't quite put my finger on why that is until I realized something. Women love to be pursued. Not just in a "hey babe, wanna go on a date?" kind of pursuing, but an everyday, active curiosity of who we are pursuing. If you're a free-spirited, emotional, sensitive, and opinionated soul like I am, you know this need. And when it's not met...we get restless. Redundancy gets under our skin, and if we feel as though our spouse has become complacent, which brings about the dreaded boredom of life, we sometimes resort to unhealthy communication.

So, what should we do when these thoughts and feelings come up to the forefront of our needs? Well, I can tell you one thing; it's easy in these situations to commit communication sabotage and before you know it, you wished with all your heart you had kept your mouth shut. But before you push it down and let it simmer even more or say something in a way that will send your home accesories flying, ask yourself these helpful questions.

Is this a good time to talk about it?

I can't tell you how many times I've said something, and immediately after, knew it was the wrong time to say it. My best efforts at using my words carefully or not sounding critical are put to waist faster than I can say, "@#$%" because no matter how well I communicate, it won't matter. It just wasn't a good time. 

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How do we know when there's a good time to talk about what's on our hearts as opposed to the wrong time? Here are few pointers. 

  • Don't talk about a heart issue that has been simmering for quite awhile immedietely after it happens again. 

There is a time and a place to address something right away, but that's not what I'm talking about here. I'm talking about that issue that started as a tiny little seed which was planted awhile ago, that has taken root and grown into the biggest effing ugly pumpkin you've ever seen. It's a thought like, 'there has to be more to this relationship' that deserves a bit of analizing before you voice it. 

  • Don't talk about a heart issue when your spouse is in a bad mood. 

If you're sensing a Mr. Hyde sitting next to you that night, it's probably best to wait to discuss heavy heart matters.

  • Don't talk about a heart issue when your emotions are high on anger. 

Some of the best advice I received from my mentor was this. Figure out something physical you can do to try and keep yourself from spewing out your emotions. For her, it's literally putting her hand over her mouth to keep herself from talking. For me, on the other hand, I don't do that because I'm pretty sure my husband would think I'm a whack job. No, I squeeze my hands together as hard as I can. It takes the energy from the monster trying to escape me, to my poor hands who aren't able to talk, thankfully.  Anyway, whatever you have to do to keep yourself from talking about something when you OR your partner are not at a good place, do it. Nothing good will come out of a conversation veiled in anger. 

Have I thought through how I am going to say what I need to say?

Remember in high-school, when you had to present a book report to the entire class, but you wrote it based on reading a few pages here and there throughout the book? Well, maybe you weren't as lazy as I was. High-school for me was a time to mess around with my best friend. We would often find ourselves doing voiceovers of our fellow classmates, given our classroom was arranged in a circle. We had the perfect view of everyone. I would do a voice for Jimmy, while she would do one for Mr. Holtcamp . It was hilarious, and now that I think of it, we were pretty much simulating a real life, "Bad Lip Reading Class of 2005." 

Sometimes, relationships are like that book report you wrote based on a book you didn't read. We say shit that we haven't studied for and end up getting a really bad grade, except not from the teacher, but from our spouse.  

It's very important to do your homework on what you are going to say if it's a hard topic to discuss. Now that I know I need to do this, I have an actual ritual I perform before discussing something sensitive. And yeah, I call it a ritual. I got the idea from a book I read and my shortened version of it goes like this. You can really do this exercise for anything difficult you're going through, as it's a great tool for really digging deep as to why you feel the way you feel. 

My "Don't eff this one up" ritual

First, in my journal, I write down the topic of my issue - Discussing...with my husband.

Then, I thank God that he has given me a husband, or thank him for something having to do with the specific trial. Yeah, always gratitude first, even when angry. 

Next comes telling God how pissed I am with my husband, and sometimes, how angry I am at Him as well. Basically, I believe that God doesn't want us to hold our feelings from Him. He can handle it. He wants us to be real with him!

Then, I confess and ask God to show me what it is I need to work on in the situation. Oftentimes, I find that most of my anger is coming from my suppression of feelings. After expressing them to God, I don't feel the need to discuss it with my husband anymore. But sometimes, a conversation is still needed, except the anger and garbage from my mind has been addressed and I can better process what it is I need to say to him. 

Is this a preference or an actual issue? 

There is a difference between an issue that is an actual issue and something that is a preference. By that I mean, ask yourself, "Is this something I am just preferring to be different, or is it causing real damage to our relationship?" If you find that your issue is something you preferred were different, you need to come at it differently than if it's a real damaging issue. 

An example of preferring something to be different could be this issue of watching Netflix every night. Sure, it's maybe not an ideal way of spending time with one another, but you are still spending time with one another. Know what I mean? If the other person, when dealing with a particular issue, isn't emotionally or physically causing you harm, then it's quite possible you should let it go as it's a preference. Voicing that you want to do something else sometimes is how you would address it, and leave it at that. How they react is on them. There's nothing wrong with voicing your needs. Just make sure there isn't a deeper issue at hand. Are those thoughts about your relationships being meaningless because of doing the same thing every night really true, or would you just prefer your circumstance to be different?

Many times, what we thought was this huge deal, and our lives are meaningless are just a fleeting moment. Hormones running high, stress, or not sleeping well. Sometimes they are more than that. That's why it's very important to first analyze your side of things before you go stirring the pot. 

You'll be grateful you did. 

 Amazing communication advice for talking about something difficult

7 Things You Should Never Say to Your Spouse!

How To Better Communicate What We Want to Say To Our Spouse

Do you ever regret what you said, either because it came out ten times worse than what you thought it would, or it just wasn't thought through? Yeah, been there. I was thinking the other day of the things I say that cause me to get in an argument with my husband, and if there was a way to shut myself up from saying something I'll regret before I said it. So, I came up with a list of common things that are said in relationships that could be transformed into a useful tool of communication. You see, it's good to express how you feel and say what you need to say, but it's how we say it that often leaves us in the gutter. Communication, as you know, is key to having a thriving and well-balanced relationship. 

It's quite possible that we use unhealthy tactics in order to try and convince the other person to see our point of view without even knowing it. 

Here are some unhealthy tactics we use in everyday arguments

 Learning to better communicate what you want to say in your relationship.

1. The Hopeless Tactic.

Don't say - "I don't believe you."

Trust is one of the most important things in a relationship, if not the most important. When the trust is broken, it can be quite the hurdle to overcome that will have to be taken on by both parties; the one who broke the trust and the one who got hurt. While it is important for the one who broke the trust to show transparency and prove that they are trustworthy, it is also important for the one who got hurt to communicate that it isn't always easy to trust again, while giving the other person the benefit of the doubt. If we use ultimatums that express hopelessness, it may prove difficult for the one who broke the trust to believe you will ever see them as trustworthy. Perhaps you can give them the benefit of the doubt, but when you can't, how should you express it in a way that is letting that person know you have hope to trust again but you're just struggling?

Say - "I really want to believe you, but I'm having a hard time."

If you're struggling to trust or forgive someone, read here for my article about healing from your past. There are some great steps to take in forgiveness. If you can't forgive, the trust will never begin to form. You will never forget when trust has been broken, but by forgiving you can finally put it behind you and begin to heal yourself and your relationship.  

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2. Putting fuel on the fire tactic. 

Don't Say - "You're overreacting" or "You're out of control." 

In any relationship where two people care about one another, things are bound to get heated. It's normal, and some might say, it's a good thing. Arguing can be a healthy way to clear the air, but only if done appropriately. In the heat of the moment, this is unequivocally easier said than done, and before you both know it you're in a full-blown fight. One of the worst things to say is " you're out of control," or anything that hints that the other person is beginning to head in a heated direction. The last thing they need to be told is that what they are feeling and saying is invalid. It may be true that they are getting a little too fiery, but what should be said in order to bring things down, instead of fuel it up?

Say - "I understand you're upset, but it seems like you're getting frustrated. Should we take a break and revisit this after we've cooled down?"

Not only will this make them realize they need to cool it, it won't completely neglect what they are trying to communicate. Taking a break when things are getting out of control is possibly the best thing you can do. It may not be the easiest, but trust me, it helps. 


3. The assuming tactic.

Don't say - "What's wrong?" 

One of the most common things said in any relationship is "what's wrong?" I find myself saying it before I realize it. The motive behind it is not necessarily amiss, it's perhaps the fact that it is automatically making an assumption, and the receiving party will most likely begin to put up their defenses. So, what should we say instead that doesn't assume something is wrong, but rather shows our real intention behind the question, which is, "I care about you."

Say - "Is everything okay?"

Yep, that's it. You are basically asking the same exact thing, but something completely different. It's not assuming, it's assuring them that you are there, ready to hear what is on their heart. 


4. The avoiding tactic. 

Don't say - "Nothing." when asked if everything is okay.

I do this ALL the time and will admit if I don't want to talk about something, it's the first thing I say. Avoiding it altogether is sometimes easier than saying, "yeah somethings up, but I don't want to talk about it." It can send a red flag to the other person who is a bit too eager to find out what they did to upset you, but then in essence that becomes their problem if they can't accept that. So, yes, you need to say...

"Yes, something's bothering me, but I don't want to talk about it just yet. Can we talk about it later?"

They then have the responsibility to respect your decision not to talk about it quite yet. They need to, by you saying, "not just yet," be reassured that what is going on will be revisited and nor ignored or shoved under the rug. It's not healthy to display your frustration about something without expressing to your partner what's up. But needing time to process it and consider what needs to be said is probably the best option at the time. Most miscommunications and arguments come from talking about something that isn't near ready to be discussed.

5. The giving up tactic.

Don't say - "I'm done" or "it's over!"

Sure, we've all been there. At the end of our ropes, not really knowing what to do about the dire situation our relationship is in. When we feel fear of something happening we react one of two ways. Fight or flight. When our emotions are in full swing, flight is usually the one that seems ideal, so we go into "protection of our heart" mode and the only way out is...well, out. After things have cooled down and you have said some more things you shouldn't, you realize you don't actually want out, you want a resolution to a problem and your emotions got the better of you. What should we have said that we can take note on for next time that expresses how we feel, but doesn't hurt the other person?

Say - "I'm not feeling so great about how things are between us. I would like if we can figure out a way to work through this because I'm having a hard time."

Again, it's important to express how you feel. After all, there is something that has happened between the two of you that caused you to react that way, and ignoring it won't solve anything. Relationships are HARD and take a lot of work. It's no news to you. So, if your partner is not willing to work through the tough stuff, you at least can do that for yourself. Hopefully, they are willing to get counseling or do whatever it takes but don't let the deeper issues in your relationship or your heart fester. 

6. The ALWAYS or NEVER Tactic

Don't say - "You're always or never..."

In the heat of it, you say it. I do it, we all do it. Again, our emotions take over and we resort to ultimatums that not only dismantle everything the other person has ever done that is good or right but also makes them feel hopeless. For myself, I know that if I have really tried to change in something, take steps to do so, fail once, then the other person plays the "you NEVER" card, it can feel detrimental and hopeless. Again, what we are trying to say isn't necessarily wrong, but it's all in how we say it.

Take for example, if a husband has the tendency to not think about taking his wife on regular dates, and the wife has to mostly pursue it, she may get frustrated. In response to this, she says, "You NEVER take me on dates or EVER care about what I need," She may feel that way and it's valid to her, but how she communicated it wasn't the best. The husband will most likely respond defensively and an argument will surface. So what should she have said?

Say - "I would love to start going on regular dates with you, but I feel like it's not something on your mind. Am I wrong?"

They will most likely respond with "Of course you're wrong! I would love to do that as well." So then you should say...

"Okay great! I would love it if you would start asking me sometimes. It makes me feel special."

Express what you need, but don't attack by going to ultimatums that will only cause strife. 


7. The blame shifting tactic.

Don't say - "You do that too!" in response to someone addressing something you did that hurt them. 

No one likes to be criticised or held accountable for something they did, but it takes good character and humility to own up to it, even if what they did wasn't intentional. You see, we can easily say that because we didn't "mean" to, we didn't. Unfortunately, the other person doesn't see it that way. You did something that hurt them, and they are expressing that to you. The worst thing you could say in response is, "You do that too!"

Sure, it may be true that they do unto you as you do unto them, but this is the wrong place and time to express that. So, what should we say?

Say - "I'm sorry I hurt you with what I did. What can I do differently next time?" 

Blame shifting will never accomplish anything. You will then go back and forth, round and round, hurt one another, and get nowhere. Sometimes we just need to own up to something, and just because we didn't intend to hurt the other person, doesn't mean we didn't hurt them or do something wrong.

Relationships take time and effort from both parties. I hope that opening up your eyes to some dysfunctional tactics you might be using will help you express what you need without complications to follow. 

I would love to hear if you have communication tips to share! 

Ladies, read more about how to better relate to your spouse by gaining awareness of what he needs. 

What Men Truly Want and Need - 8 Tips on Making Your Relationship Great

What your husband wants you to know more than anything

Did you know that one of your spouses deepest desires is to be your hero?

Did you also know that most men, when they walk out the door to go to work, in their deepest of fears, hope that no one will ever find out what a failure they are?

Go ahead, ask your husband. What is their most significant desire, and what is their greatest fear? You will gain a lot of awareness with those two questions, even if it's not exactly that.

I have learned in my eight years of marriage, that I have a lot of influence on how my husband feels about himself.

I will admit, my lack of understanding about men and how they think has left me at a disadvantage in a lot of ways. The longer I'm married, discovering the mysteries of who my husband is and the more intel I draw from our experiences together, the more I realize just how little I know and how little I apply.

Applying is where it gets difficult. In all honesty, most of this guidance is unfortunately given on behalf of my failures. I hope you can learn from my mistakes.

It may prove to be difficult if in your marriage you have a hard time respecting your husband, or if you are feeling a lack of love from him. It's hard to push past those feelings of neglect and try to see your man as some kind of hero.

If you are having a difficult time in your marriage, but want it to get better, then try and put on a brave face. Put on those rose-colored glasses when you look at him and give it a whirl. Try these tips for a week, at least, and see if things don't start to take a turn for the better.

Whether you are struggling in your marriage, or it's as right as rain, I hope these guidances can beckon a new experience for you both.

This post contains affiliate links - By purchasing from one of my book recommendations, I may receive a small commission at no extra cost to you. I would never recommend something I don't stand behind and absolutely love. Thanks for your support in helping me do what I love! 

These tips will not be helpful if you are going through any kind of emotional, physical or mental abuse. Please seek immediate help if that is the case.

1. Tell him you're proud of him.

Part of feeling like your hero is knowing he is caring and providing for you, not only financially but also emotionally. Provision is one of man's deepest desires in succeeding for his family and knowing he is not failing.

Even though he may never express this to you verbally, he is, by going to work every day, expressing it to you with his actions.

You see, men are not wired the same way we are if you haven't already noticed. They sometimes have a hard time separating the emotional from the physical.

In our minds, we are needing more than a paycheck every day. Sure it's great to have money coming in, but for most of us women, this isn't where true intimacy lies in our relationship. We are needing attention, understanding, to be told we are beautiful and enough. For most men, they don't see it that way; to be emotionally present is also to be financially stable.

So, what is our part in assuring him of his efforts, even though they don't meet the exact expectations we have?

As women, we have a tendency to let our spouses know when they are doing something wrong, but neglect to acknowledge when they do something right. If this is a habit of yours, over time they might just give up trying to please you, thinking that you can never be satisfied; in their minds, they have done everything possible.

It's important for you to examine your actions in this. I know for some of you, you can't think of a single thing your husband does right. If that's the case, the first thing you should do is dig deep and figure out if those unmet expectations are a result of you having too high of standards, or if it is in fact that they are really never succeeding.

Many times, we get so caught up in what isn't going right, instead of what IS going right. Not only will recognizing the good in your life cause your thoughts to become more positive and therefore bring joy to you personally, it will cause you to see our husband in a different light.

I know that a lot of people say that relationships should be about your happiness and expectations being met. But what if our expectations can never be met? What if we are causing our own unhappiness by the expectations and standards we set for others, and then when they aren't met we are devastated?

I believe that if we start acknowledging their efforts in the little things, like going to work, they will see that they are pleasing you in some way and in return want to meet more and more of your needs. By you meeting his needs of seeing him as your hero, he will in return meet yours. After all, its truly brings a man joy when he can be your hero, and even more when you show him that he is.

2. Don't expect the worst of him.

Along the lines of showing him you're proud of him, it is also on us to not always expect the worst from them. That means, expect the best, even if his previous actions have proven otherwise. For some of you, this is SO HARD if you've operated out of thinking the worst for a long period of time.

You see, whatever your specific struggle is in your marriage, (for everyone that's different) it is the hardest in those circumstances to be expecting the best. If you've been let down time and time again it's only human to keep expecting the worst. But there is hope. How?

First of all, thinking it doesn't mean it's true, and also doesn't mean we need to voice it. This is SO hard for me.

I tend to think that my husband needs to know exactly what it is I'm thinking so that he can better understand me. But the truth is, he won't always understand me and it will most likely cause an argument if I tell him one more time that I'm dissapointed that he didn't follow through.

Goes to say, if he screws up, don't let him know that you didn't believe he would succeed in the first place. Give him another chance.

Maybe, just maybe if you show him grace when he fails, then he would want all the more to repay that grace with following through the next time.

3. In the midst of an argument don't try and win the fight for once.

One of the hardest things to do in the middle of an argument is to pause, take a deep breath, possibly walk away to go pray or think, and give it up.

If you're anything like me, there is nothing I hate worse then not being heard or understood.

It frustrates me to no end, but over time I have learned that the more I fight back trying to get my point across the more he fights back. It goes nowhere, leads to a ruined day, possibly a resolve after we've completely damaged one another, and ends up doing more harm than good.

In essence, I can't change him and the more I try, the more I fail. Men HATE it when you try and change them. We also hate it when they try and change us!

In moments where you want to smack some sense into him, don't. Say something like, "I'm going to take a break and go think, so maybe we can work this out after we've taken a step back." Check out some of my tips on better communication here. 

Your emotions and feelings in the midsts of an argument can very easily end up ruling your mind and actions if you don't give them time to settle down. And believe it or not, emotions and feelings are sometimes FALSE!

You will only realize this when you calm down and take a step back to access the situation. Believe me, I have been there and done that TOO MANY TIMES. As much as I hate to admit it, when I take steps to control my feelings, figure out the root cause of why I am feeling the way I am feeling, I can, in love and RESPECT, better express myself.

Sometimes, that means letting it go and apologizing for the percentage of the issue that I need to take responsibility for. In most cases, letting it go and apologizing makes him see my point of view. Funny how that works.

4. Show him respect.

This also goes hand in hand with telling and showing him you're proud of him. Every guy is different, so every guy feels respect in a different way. It could be helpful to ask how your spouse how he feels respected.

The modern-day woman doesn't really want to acknowledge respect, because in our minds it has taken on a bad light.

Unfortunately, some men have abused and misused that word to gain some sort of rule over women, but respect in and of itself isn't negative, it's honorable. It doesn't mean an unhealthy submission to do anything and everything he wants, but is rather figuring out how he likes to be loved. In fact, respect for a man translates to love.

Love & Respect is a great book, even if you aren't religious, and it points out in detail how in the same way you need love, he needs respect. 


5. Tell him what a great father he is.

Sometimes we think they don't need to hear things like this, but again, our words can make or break a man. He needs to hear he is a good father just like you need reassurance you are a good mother.

This is an area in his life he might be a bit vulnerable, especially if his relationship with his father was difficult. Pay attention to where he is successful with fatherhood and make sure he knows it with a word of encouragement. I guarantee this will bring out the hero in your man.

6. Encourage an outlet or hobby.

I really struggled and still do with this one. My husband loves video games, I don't. You get the picture. But it's what he likes to do! It makes him happy and gives him an outlet to relieve stress while giving me time to be alone and unwind.

It's perfectly normal and healthy for couples to have alone time. If you're a stay at home mom, this may be hard to always accept. I know for me when I go through seasons where I am at a home all day dealing with kids or being alone, it's the highlight of my day to see my husband walk through the door. 'Finally, a person to talk to,' I think. Little did I know I was putting an immense amount of pressure on my husband to fill a void he wasn't always able to fill by expecting him to ALWAYS spend time with me.

It's important for you to find hobbies or things you enjoy by yourself and not wait for your spouse to meet every need of entertainment in your life. If your spouse has a high-stress job, or if he is constantly around people, he may be feeling the exact opposite as you are when he gets home from work or has time off.

He may need moments now and then to be alone and just do something for himself. But a forewarning - communication is absolutely key here.

Coming to an understanding about time/boundaries of when those moments are, or how often they occur is VERY important. What helped us was making a schedule for the nights we have together and the nights we are alone. Knowing ahead of time what to expect for how your evenings play out will avoid a lot of issues while making sure you each get time for yourself.   

7. Tell him you're attracted to him.

My husband is so handsome that I don't think he needs to always hear it from me. Surely he knows full well he is attractive. Nope! He still needs to know his wife thinks he's a hunk! Men are way more insecure than they will ever let you know. Tell him he looks nice before he goes to work. Compliment specific features that you love about him.

8. Tell him you need him.

Men need to be needed!

I don't buy into the notion that men are simple. They might say they are uncomplicated, logical, sensible or unemotional, but deep down lies many needs and emotions that in my opinion, are sometimes explained in illogical ways.

The difference between them and us is that we tend to overemphasize our needs, while men don't open up much at all. That makes it hard for us to really know what it is they need. They tend to have this underlying code, and if we don't decipher what they are saying, best of luck.

Them thinking they are simple could be because they don't voice the deepest and most intimate details of their mind. We, on the other hand, make sure we don't miss any nook or cranny of our thoughts left unsaid.

 So how do I know that men need to be needed? Sometimes I have caught myself in the middle of an argument overemphasizing all the things I need and get nowhere! Then I realized I just needed him, so I voiced that. I said, "I just need you." His persona turned from being on the defense to that of understanding. All blame was taken off him, so he was then able to understand what exactly it was I needed from him. Just him.

Being needed is never a negative thing in anyone's eyes. Remeber, one of mans sole purposes is to provide, and being needed just goes hand in hand with that. So don't let it go unsaid!

In Summary

 I think we as women have the tendency to think our spouses don't need things we need, like being told we are pretty, or loved, or needed. In my experience, it couldn't be more false. Thankfully my husband has opened up and let me in a little, without seeming "overly emotional," of course, so that I could get a glimpse of some things I can do to not only make him feel like my hero but feel like he is doing something right. Don't get me wrong, I fail almost every day in it, but having knowledge of it helps me to just keep working on my part in the relationship and stop thinking he is always the problem. It is NOT our responsibility to make one another happy. It is our responsibility to love, respect, and work on our own problems. Treat him as if he is your hero, and I see what happens. He might just become your hero.