Do you have times when you feel as if you walk alone in your marriage?  Are there things you don’t understand about your man that drives a wedge between the two of you?

Well, you don’t have to feel alone in your marriage anymore. You can be a woman who inspires your husband -- a wife who draws his heart closer to yours in ways you've never imagined.

For years, I asked God to change my husband. I wanted him to be everything that I wanted and needed in a man. But I realized that God wanted to change me. So, after asking God to change my heart, I asked my husband of 23 years, “How can I be a woman who inspires you, who draws you closer, who makes you all you can be?"

I learned from my husband -- and many other men that I interviewed for my book, When a Woman Inspires Her Husband, -- that a man wants to be treated like a king, respected as a man, admired like a hero, and inspired to be all he can be. And when that happens, his wife reaps the benefits!

Now, you might be thinking: Cindi, you don’t know my husband. How can you say if I start pleasing him and serving him, I'll eventually be happier? And isn’t that a little one-sided? My answer: God is one-sided when it comes to marriage. He always wants to change the person asking for change. He starts with the one who is willing. Therefore, the starting point for real change in your marriage - real change in your husband - is you. Gary Thomas, author of Sacred Marriage and Sacred Influence, says, “You can’t make your husband serve you or care for you – but you can focus on helping him, and more times than not, that action alone will prompt him to serve and to care. Even if it doesn’t, it will…unleash a great spiritual adventure in your own  life."\

Become His Cheerleader

Your husband lives in a world where it's important for him to know that he's winning. So what's the best thing you can do for him? Become his cheerleader. A friend of mine told me that when a man hits midlife he needs his wife to be more like a girlfriend, than a mother. I think, no matter how old a man is, he wants a cheerleader in  his life. (And I’m not talking about a young woman in a short skirt!) He needs a No. 1 fan to cheer him on, support him, encourage him, and believe in him even when he isn’t too sure if he believes in himself.  And ladies, that No. 1 fan of your husband needs to be you.

As your husband is out on the football field (in the boardroom, on the construction site, in the pulpit, at the office) he needs to know you are on the sidelines cheering for him, believing in him, and rooting him on. So how can you be his cheerleader in a practical way? By putting into practice the following attitudes and actions until they become habits. (This will help you C-H-E-E-R him on!

"C" - Come Alongside Him 

In Genesis 2:18 after God created Adam, He saw that it was "not good for the man to be alone.” So God made a helper who was "just right for him" (New Living Translation). That helper was a woman.  Our world often looks down upon a woman who dedicates her life to "helping" he husband; but the Bible teaches that a woman's role as a "helper" is extremely significant. When God said that He would make a "helper" suitable for Adam, he used the same word that describes the role and ministry of the Holy Spirit. In the New Testament, the Holy Spirit is called our "helper" - and He is also our counselor, comforter, intercessor, and advocate. The Hebrews word translated  "helper" in Genesis 2:18 can also be interpreted as one who brings unique strengths and qualities to the other. These qualities, found in women, complete the union between a husband and wife. In addition, in the Old Testament, David states that God is our “helper” (Psalms 54:4). This shows that the term "helper" is not a derogatory or inferior term. It's a title of honor and great worth. In giving you to your husband as his “helper,” God was giving your man someone who was designed to act, in some ways, as his counselor, comforter, intercessor and advocate.

One of the best ways you can come alongside your husband and be his helper is to quietly watch and prayerfully wait upon God to know what your husband needs and how you might best respond to meet that need. Just as the Holy Spirit quietly ministers to your heart, you can quietly minister to your husband’s by being his helper without him even knowing it.

"H" - Help Him Look Good...Always 

Sometimes when my husband and I are conversing with another couple, he will describe something that took place, but in a way that's different than how I remember. For instance, he might leave out some details or get some of the specifics mixed up.  And being a former reporter and self appointed “keeper and recorder of details” in our marriage, I often feel I have to set things straight. (Alert: What not to do!) I'm sure that must bug the heck out of him.  I've grown to understand the golden rule applies here. Treat your husband as you would want to be treated. If your husband says the distance is ten miles and it's  nine, let it go. Or if he states that something happened on a Wednesday and it was a Thursday, let it go. It doesn't matter. It's not relevant to the story, and your correction of your husband will sound like mothering. Revere him in the same way you want to be revered. It will go a long way with him. And that’s what a cheerleader would do.

"E" - Encourage Him Personally 

“Letting him know he’s succeeding means letting him know he’s loved,” said my friend, Barbara, who works at intentionally showing her husband  how much she loves him. She understands that he (like any man) needs to feel like he's winning.

“Once I left a sticky note on his bathroom mirror stating he was an awesome man," Barbara said. "Later that week in a study he was teaching, he mentioned it to the group and he choked back tears. That note flipped a little heart switch within him -- that one sentence, that one comment." Barbara's story emphasizes that you should never underestimate how your words impact your husband. One comment, or one note, can minister healing and uplift him.

Of course, encouraging your husband will take deliberate effort. Sometimes you won't be that interested in hearing about his meetings at work, latest idea, or favorite sports team. But remember, your encouragement and affirming words will inspire him more than anyone else's. You can send a short email, text a loving thought, or leave an unexpected note.

One wife of 25 years told me: “I tell my husband that I respect his hard work and I try to frequently thank him for it. He has communicated to me several times that it’s important for him to hear both things – especially from me.”

You can have a profound impact on your husband’s life, job and personal well being, simply by providing a reaffirming voice, a positive smile, a tender touch. As Author and Counselor Elyse Fitzpatrick, says “I know it’s easy to forget, but a wife, because of her nearness, is usually the most powerful human influence in her husband’s life.”

"E"  - Elevate Him In Front of Others  

“A guy wants to feel like he’s his wife’s hero,” my husband told me. A few days later, I heard that firsthand from someone else's husband, Doug. “There’s nothing better than hearing my wife tell someone else: ‘My husband is the man for that job. He’s the best there is.’ When she says that, and really believes it, I feel 10 feet tall.”  

Ephesians 4:29 gives us a beautiful principle to live by -- and it especially works in marriages: “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.” That verse implies that others have a need to be built up, and when you think about it, who doesn’t? Your husband has that need, too, especially to be built up by you. Find ways to build your husband up privately and publicly.

"R"  - Respond to Him Enthusiastically 

Positive words are great, but they are not enough. It's important for  your actions to show how much you support and love your husband. Affirming looks, smiles, touches, hugs, kisses, and sexual intimacy (initiated by you!) are priceless. To the contrary,  the roll of your eyes, the tightening of your lips, and an exasperated sigh will tell your husband that you're disappointed. Let the light in your eyes, the spring in your step, and the smile on your lips show how much you adore him. Give him no reason to doubt that you are his greatest fan.

Cindi McMenamin is a national speaker and author of several books including When Women Walk Alone (more than 100,000 copies sold), When A Woman Inspires Her Husband and When Couples Walk Together: 31 Days to a Closer Connection, which she co-authored with her husband, Hugh.  For free articles of encouragement to strengthen your soul or your marriage, see www.StrengthForTheSoul.com.

Publication date: March 11, 2013