One night we had a few couples over and one husband and his wife were standing in the kitchen. I asked the husband, “Would you like some coffee?” The wife turned around and answered, “No, he doesn’t need any” and walked off. The husband looked at me, smiled, and shrugged his shoulders. He said, “I guess I don’t need any.” We both had a little chuckle over her deciding if he wanted coffee or not.
Husbands definitely do want some of your good advice and opinions, but not a constant stream. They definitely don’t want you to criticize or “improve” everything they say or do.
Are those the socks you’re going to wear with those dress shoes? Shouldn’t you be more lenient with your female employees? Don’t you think you should use some stronger chemical to take those stains off the driveway? Do you think all those emails you write are necessary? Are you sure that’s how you want to cut your hair?
Many wives think it’s their duty to remind, correct, improve, and fix their husband on a daily basis. After all, he certainly doesn’t handle things the way you think he should. In contrast, you feel like you’ve been given an abundance of savvy know-how in multiple areas. Although many wives are beautiful, well-educated, and extremely talented with their businesses, they still treat their husband as if he were a child.
Some of you are thinking, “Well, I have a lot of ideas and I’m very creative, and he makes poor decisions. Why can’t I give all my opinions and ideas? I have 100 great suggestions every day.”
You can’t overwhelm your husband with constant ideas and ways for him to improve because it ruins his affection for you. Men can’t stand to be mothered by their wives. Current movies and novels are not the standard, of course, but have you ever seen a movie or read a book in which the man was madly in love with a bossy know-it-all? (Well, yes, in Parks and Rec, but that’s a comedy, so it doesn’t count.) Men adore women who adore them and make them feel like kings, not children being reprimanded.
I’ve written before about a relative whose husband is a world-class physician. Once we were at a funeral and he was standing in the doorway. This relative barked at her husband, “Harry, sit down. You’re making me nervous standing up.” This brilliant world-class doctor was so humiliated that his wife was telling him whether to sit or stand that he left the room.
Now, of course, if you have some great ideas you can occasionally fingertip-drop them. But it’s still best if you make it like it’s his idea, and don’t expect to get any credit for it. One woman told me that she has given her husband most of the ideas to build his dental practice, and had even been in charge of his website. She said he never gives her any credit or even thanks her for all she’s done for him. This idea of wanting credit and appreciation is a frequent downfall of women.
I repeatedly quote Good to Great, an excellent business book by Jim Collins, in which he says that Level 5 leaders (the top level) “give the credit and take the blame.” This is because they have deep humility and personal self-confidence. They don’t need other people to applaud them. In fact, they can praise others. This is wildly high emotional intelligence! (Low emotional intelligence is, “Wow, I’m sad, because no one is noticing me.”) (See Lesson 6 in Happy School on self-pity.) Highly emotional intelligent people focus on how they love and give, not on how they’re loved or given to.
Just to warn you, if you read an article in most of today’s magazines or websites, you will get slammed for this kind of thinking. The culture’s attitude is more like, “Tell that testosterone-filled human to give you some appreciation or you’re not going to take it.” We have to remember where to get our advice on how to live: “The reward for humility and fear of the LORD is riches and honor and life.” (Proverbs 22:4 ESV).
Of course you have the freedom to give your husband your opinion. But you can decide to dial it back and only give your opinion when it really matters. This will be difficult for many of you, but constant criticism or even constant “how you could do that better” will rob your husband of affection for you. (Learning how to understand and treat husbands is the theme of Wife School and Wife School Advanced.)
Again, I want you to share some of your genius wisdom with your husband. But just be mindful not to overwhelm him with all of your (great) advice. When you feel you must give it, finger-tip drop it and do not demand credit (indeed, it is now his brilliant idea.)
Giving constant advice and tips for improvement is an example of bringing emotional turmoil to your husband. CLICK HERE to read more about this subject. (Scroll down to Day 2 in Week 1 in Wife School Advanced/Online.)
Relationships are not rocket science. The same principles apply today as they did centuries ago. “Better to live on the corner of a roof than to share a house with a nagging wife.” (Proverbs 21:9 CSB).