Marriage can be hard sometimes. You are taking two people who are designed by God to think and act differently and asking them to communicate and work as a team. It’s an amazing plan designed by God because our weaknesses and strengths will balance each other out (ever heard the phrase ‘opposites attract’). That doesn’t mean that this plan doesn’t come with its own difficulties and conflicts, though. More often than not I think these come down to a difference in our core needs.
At their very core, men crave respect. They need to feel that those around them respect them. When they don’t feel respected it tends to make them feel hurt and act defensive and angry. Most articles will say that women need to feel loved, but I think it’s more specific than that. Women crave value. We NEED to know that those in our life value us. More often than not that translates to valuing what we do. When we don’t feel valued it tends to make us feel hurt and act emotional and lash out. That’s not to say that women don’t need to be respected and men don’t need to be valued, these are just the strongest needs for each.
Another day I’ll write about men needing respect. For today I want to take a deeper look at women’s needs. There are two sides that need to be addressed. First, for the heart of women, and second, for the men in our lives.
Women: Where Do You Find Your Worth?
In American culture today we generally found our worth in what we do. If others can see how hard we work, we are valued and worthy. If they don’t, then we feel worthless and unimportant. This is an especially big problem for those of us who are homemakers. Let’s pause here for just a minute. Nobody needs to come storming down to my house with their pitchforks here. I am NOT saying that being a homemaker is harder than working outside of the home. I have been both a working mom and a stay-at-home-mom. They are both harder and easier in their own unique ways.
My point here is that the struggle to feel valued is often harder for homemakers. For much of our society, the value of working wives and mothers is obvious; they bring home money for the family. That money can be used to buy things the family needs or wants, thus their work has value. For those of us who don’t earn a paycheck for our work, it’s not that simple. We work just as hard as our sisters who work outside of the home, but at the end of the day, we don’t have something tangible to ‘show’ for it. That makes it much hard to ‘prove’ our worth to others. Couple that with a society who is not only losing sight of the value of managing a home and family but has often outright stated that children and families have little value and it’s a recipe for an emotional disaster!
We don’t see others valuing our daily work, thus we feel worthless. What do we women tend to do when we feel devalued? Oh, that’s right, we lash out at others. Cue the Mommy Wars! We (the general we, I’m not pointing fingers at anyone) homemakers feel worthless, so we must make others feel worthless. It’s middle school all over again. We attack working moms for what they do so that our opposite roles will feel more worthy. They then attack stay-at-home-moms to once again make themselves feel valued.
There are so very many problems with this cycle, but there is one that is at the very core of it. When we depend on others to make us feel valued we forget where our true worth comes from. We are created in the very image of God! We are His children, whom He made and whom He loves. THAT is where our worth lies. Not in how we look, who we marry, where we work, or how we spend our days. Our true value lies in our lineage. We are daughters of the King! Every last one of us, whether we work outside the home or stay at home. Whether we earn a paycheck or do our work for free. Genesis 1:27 says, “So God created human beings[a] in his own image. In the image of God he created them; male and female he created them” (biblegateway.com). If we are depending on other people, other fallible, imperfect humans to give us our value we are setting ourselves up for disappointment. All that being said, it is okay to want to feel that others value what you do. We are designed that way. Wanting to feel like you matter to others is normal, but your husband may need some guidance on how to do it. Point him here and I’ll give him a hand!
Men: You Can Help!
If there is one thing I know about you men, it’s that you like to ‘fix’ things. It’s okay, it’s how God made you. As much as I know you’d like to, you cannot ‘fix’ this issue in your wife (partially because that’s how God made her). BUT, you can HELP! Just as you need your wife to treat you with respect, she needs you to make her feel valued. If you’re anything like us women, though, you might be at a loss for how to feed the core need of your spouse. That’s okay, I’m here to help!
I polled many of the women I know to ask them what their husbands can do to make them feel valued. The same ideas kept coming up again and again. There are two basic ways to help your wife (or daughter, or mother, or sister, you get the drift) feel valued. First, tell her. Second, show her. See, simple! Okay, I get that while it seems simple to us women, it may not to men because, well, you aren’t women. So I’ll go into a bit more detail to help you out.
The number one answer I got when asking other women what made them feel valued was, “When he tells me…”. From there it varied a bit. Some just wanted a simple thank you, others felt valued with things such as, “Wow, sweetie, that dinner was fabulous” or “The house looks great, honey”. It’s really that easy. Find something your wife has done during the day and specifically thank her for doing it and/or tell her she did a good job. Tomorrow, do it again. Lather, rinse, repeat. I promise you here and now that you will be AMAZED at what will happen. Take this challenge (I know how you boys like a ‘dare’). Every day for the next 2 weeks compliment something your wife has done. It could be the dinner she made, that she got the kids bathed on her own, how beautifully she did her hair that day, etc. Whatever it is, be sure to make it genuine, because your wife’s bologna detector is quite strong in this area. Do this every day, at least once a day, for two straight weeks and I promise you will see amazing results! More affection, more respect, more smiles, the list goes on. She’s going to feel better about herself and that overflowing cup will spill over into every aspect of your lives as a family.
Okay, I said there were two things. This one won’t be quite as effortless. The second way women feel valued by their husbands is when they jump in and help. If you value the work your wife does and you know she works hard, step up to the plate and help her out. Specifically, do so without being asked. When you step in and help your wife with the many items on her to-do list, it communicates to her that you know she works hard and you want to lighten her load. Sometimes this might mean jumping in and bathing the kids while she does the dishes (divide and conquer), other times it might mean telling her to go to Starbucks and enjoy some quiet time to write without four kids climbing all over her while you take care of everything at home (thank you, Babe, I love my writing time). As a side note, one common thread in these actions was letting them sleep. Most mothers are chronically sleep deprived (no, really, there is scientific research about it and everything), so letting her take a nap, sleep late on a Saturday, go to bed early while you take a night with the baby, etc., these are all GOOD ideas! If you’re not sure what to do, just ask. Come to your wife (in a quiet moment, not when she has those 4 kids climbing all over her) and say, “Hey, honey, I know how incredibly hard you work and I want to take something off your plate. What is something I can do to help make life easier for you?” Then do it.
Here is another challenge for you guys. Every day for the next two weeks, do one extra thing to help your wife with her work. Jump right in and do it, without being asked, without making mention of it, and preferably with a loving smile. Once again, you will be amazed by the difference this is going to make in your marriage. Every small act to make your wife feel valued WILL come back to you. The more your wife feels you value her the more emotional energy she will have to be patient with the children, be affectionate with you, do her daily work with a joyful spirit, and so much more.
The big takeaway here is that we women need to feel that we are valued. It’s how we tick. Our loved ones can certainly step in and show us that they appreciate the work we do and it can help. In the end, though, no earthly person can ever fully satisfy this need. Only our Heavenly Father can give us the true sense of worth. It’s not until we see ourselves through His eyes that we will truly understand how valued and loved we are. Husbands, the Bible specifically calls on you to love your wives as Christ loves the Church, so you need to step right up to the plate and work to show your wife just how much you love and value her. If you completed the challenges, comment and tell us how it went. What changes did you notice in your house when you helped your wife feel valued?