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5 Ways to Help Your Husband Step Up to Manhood

A wife plays a pivotal role in her husband’s transition from boyhood into manhood.
By Barbara Rainey

You’ve probably heard the saying, “Behind every successful man is a strong woman.” Though the statement has been ridiculed as anti-woman, it is, in fact, very true. When you married your husband, he was unsure of himself as a man and was unskilled as a husband. It’s true of all boys who have grown up and gotten married. What males need—what your husband needs—is a wife who believes in him, encourages him, and helps him step up to become the man God created him to be.

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  What your husband needs is a wife who believes in him.

Here are five ways you can influence your husband’s successful transition to manhood:

1. Choose maturity. Sometimes in your marriage, one or both of you can act selfishly. If you’ve been married longer than two weeks you know this is true. Have you ever seen two children riding their bikes, and when the child in front stops, the child behind begins to ram his or her bike into the one in front instead of asking that child to move over? It’s called needling or just plain intimidation. Oftentimes the kid in front gets mad and the situation escalates. I’ve watched my children relate to each other this way. It’s called childishness. And a parent’s job is to train children to communicate verbally with kindness, not physically with bullying.

Sadly most of us enter marriage still clinging to some childishness in our behavior patterns. Your husband may act like an adolescent at times, but the problem cannot be solved by manipulation, intimidation, or criticism. One of you needs to choose maturity first to get out of the cycle. Set aside the emotions as much as you can and speak with kindness. Communicating with maturity is a choice. Proverbs 15:1 says, “A soft answer turns away wrath.” A woman who wants to help her husband grow into a strong, godly man can help by becoming mature herself.

2. Speak the truth in love. In our marriage, I've come to Dennis many times to speak the truth about what's going on in our family or what I feel is missing in our relationship. There have been seasons when he was traveling too much. At other times I sensed that one of our children needed a father’s focus.

One of my favorite Bible stories is the one about Esther. Even though she was married to a man who was not a believer in the God of her people, she still treated him with great respect as her husband and her leader. When she discovered the plot to exterminate all the Jews—her people—she didn’t go running into his office crying hysterically and yelling at him for making such a foolish mistake. Instead she prayed before going to inform him that he had signed her death warrant.

What Esther shows all of us wives is the importance of approaching our husbands with difficult information in a way that is easy for them to hear. Esther made a great dinner and talked to her husband after he had eaten. Sometimes the information or the truth must be told immediately without the kind of preparation Esther made. But many times we wives can wait until the kids are in bed or after he’s had dinner or we can even wait a day or two to make sure we speak wisely. Wives would benefit from praying before we speak the truth to our husbands. And so would our husbands.

Proverbs 16:21 says, “The wise of heart is called discerning and sweetness of speech increases persuasiveness.” What a great verse for wives! But don’t sugarcoat the truth either. He needs to know the whole truth in any situation, but it can be said with grace and wisdom and kindness. At the same time remind him that God is in control and that you are trusting God and him. You are a team in marriage. Be on his team and help him win!

3. Praise your husband when he steps up to manhood. When he leads family devotions, when he prays with you, or when he makes decisions that are especially responsible, thank him. Just as you want to cheer your kids when they do something right, you need to cheer your husband. Your words to your husband are powerful. Ephesians 4:29 says, “Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.” Encouraging him and praising him when he does what's right is one way you can help him be the man that God wants him to be.

4. Believe that your husband can grow to become a more godly man. If you believe in your husband … if you accept him as who he is … if you trust God and then allow God to work in his life … God might just surprise you. One of my favorite verses, Luke 1:37, says, “For nothing will be impossible with God.” Perhaps you’ve been married for more than 20 years, and you really think your husband can’t and won’t change. Remember that nothing is impossible with God. The King of Heaven is not finished with your husband, and you need to believe both in God and in your husband. Don’t underestimate what God can do!

5. Pursue godliness. You will encourage your husband to become a godly husband if you choose first to become a godly wife. As Matthew 6:33 says, “But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” If you’re seeking to become righteous, then you will be more in tune with what God is doing all around you, including allowing God to work on your husband. Focus on your attitude and your own pursuit toward godliness.

Galatians 6:9 says, "And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up." Stepping up to manhood is a process for your husband, but so is your helping him. As with all processes, sometimes there are setbacks. Your husband might be doing well, making good decisions, and acting responsibly, but something happens that causes him to step back into adolescence from manhood. When he does something that’s childish or foolish, your responsibility is not to berate and belittle him. Instead, be the kind of wife who can call him up to manhood.


Copyright © 2010 by FamilyLife. All rights reserved.

Next steps

1. What do your words and actions say to your husband about your love and respect for him? Read “15 Things Wives Should Stop Doing.”

2. A couple’s differences can either bring them together or pull them apart. Listen as Barbara Rainey tells FamilyLife Today® listeners about her early years as Dennis’s bride and her first year as a mom. And order her book Letters to My Daughters.

3. One of the best investments you can make in your marriage is a weekend away together, refreshing your relationship and learning about God's purposes for marriage. Learn more about the Weekend to Remember® marriage getaway.

Meet the Author: Barbara Rainey

Barbara Rainey is a wife, mother of six adult children (plus three sons-in-law and two daughters-in-law), and "Mimi" to nineteen grandchildren.

After graduating from the University of Arkansas with a Bachelor of Arts degree in history, Barbara joined the staff of Campus Crusade for Christ in 1971. She and her husband, Dennis, whom she married in 1972, are co-founders of FamilyLife, a ministry of Cru that is headquartered in Little Rock, Arkansas.

Barbara has published articles on family-related topics and is the author of Thanksgiving: A Time to Remember and When Christmas Came.  She speaks at FamilyLife's Weekend to Remember® marriage conferences and is a frequent guest on FamilyLife Today®, a nationally syndicated, daily radio program.  She and Dennis are the coauthors of several books, including Growing a Spiritually Strong Family, Starting Your Marriage Right, Moments Together for Couples, The New Building Your Mate's Self-Esteem, Parenting Today's Adolescent, Rekindling the Romance, and Moments with You. She co-authored A Mother's Legacy with her daughter, Ashley Rainey Escue and joined Dennis and their children Rebecca and Samuel on the book So You're About To Be A Teenager. Barbara has also co-authored Barbara and Susan's Guide to the Empty Nest, with close friend Susan Yates, and A Symphony in the Dark, written with her daughter, Rebecca Rainey Mutz. And Barbara has written a series focusing on character traits for families, including the titles Growing Together in Gratitude, Growing Together in Courage, Growing Together in Forgiveness, and Growing Together in Truth.

Having faithfully served alongside Dennis for more than 30 years, both in ministry and at home, Barbara has recently launched a new endeavor called Ever Thine Home™.  This new line of products, including Christ centered ornaments for Christmas, teaching tools for Lent and Easter, and beautiful additions for your home for thanksgiving and year round makes it easy to express faith at home in a way that is both biblical and beautiful.  Her heart for Ever Thine Home is based on the familiar Old Testament instruction:

"And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates." (Deuteronomy 6:9, ESV)

You can read more about Barbara's work at

Find Barbara online on:
Twitter @BarbaraRainey and Facebook



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