The book of Proverbs is probably my favorite in the Bible because it contains such practical wisdom about everyday life. One of its main themes is the value of developing understanding. Consider each of these verses on understanding:

Incline your heart to understanding (2:2).

A man [or woman] of understanding walks straight (15:21)

Understanding is a fountain of life to him who has it (16:22).

Notice that understanding is not an end in itself; it is a vehicle to wisdom and direction. A person of understanding views life and people with God's perspective. This enables you to feel for another person, to identify with his struggles and difficulties, and to know what to say and when to be silent. In the husband-wife relationship, your level of understanding often determines your level of acceptance. However, total understanding is not necessary in order to demonstrate the total acceptance that is crucial in building your husband's self-esteem.

At a recent FamilyLife Marriage Conference I talked to more than a dozen women who were experiencing problems in their marriages. One woman resented her husband's schedule. Another disagreed with her husband regarding how to discipline their children. A third was a young woman whose mate was jealous of the time she spent with her sister.

My advice to these women was basically the same: Seek to understand why your husband is feeling or acting this way. Focus on him, not on the negative circumstances and how you are affected.

Also, give him your complete acceptance, even if you don't totally understand him. It may be necessary to ask God to help you accept your husband, because it may not be easy to live with your situation.

Why is acceptance so important to a man? Because without it, he will feel that you are pressuring him to become something he's not. With it, he will sense that you love him for who he is today and not for what you hope he will become.

About the Author:
Barbara has published articles on family-related topics and is also a frequent speaker at FamilyLife Marriage Conferences and FamilyLife Parenting Conferences. Parents of six children, she and Dennis are the coauthors of numerous books including Moments Together for Couples. She also recently co-authored A Mother's Legacy with her daughter, Ashley Rainey Escue. Barbara is a frequent guest on "FamilyLife Today," a nationally syndicated, daily radio program.