There’s an old joke about one of our presidents walking with his wife, who sees one of her old boyfriends in a less-than-glorious occupation. The president looks at the old boyfriend and remarks, “If you hadn’t married me, you might be married to that guy.”

The first lady answers calmly, “If I had married him, he’d be president.”

Now, occupation is not the measure of a man. But as a wife, you do possess a unique power to inspire your husband. Your loving vision of the man he’s becoming propels him toward greatness—not necessarily by the world’s yardstick of success, or even your own, but by God’s.

When you believe in him, he is secure. He can take the leaps of faith required to surmount fear. He can bear up under pressure, pioneer new territory.

An inspired husband feels the freedom to reach the fullest potential of the man God has created him to be. He’s not merely encouraged. He’s a man who’s empowered; a conqueror. If you want to give your man some “wind beneath his wings”… start here:

1. Send him an email. Example: “Praying for you today. Thanks for being so courageous in ___.”

2. Give him one night on a regular basis to do something he loves.

3. Consistently mention ways you see him growing to be more like Christ.

4. Initiate intimate sex. (Wondering whether this is a good idea in light of your particular relationship? Read more here.)

5. Ask him about his “bucket list”—the top list of things he’d like to do in his lifetime.

6. Give him a book or audio book to learn about something he loves doing.

7. Ask him about some dreams he has—and pray about them together, evaluating them. Then ask how you can help him go after them.

8. Text him on a stressful day. Example: “Reminder: I believe in you.”

9. Make sure he feels respected by you. (Check out In His Corner: 32 Ways to Honor Your Husband.)

10. Leave sticky notes in his lunch, on his steering wheel, in his briefcase, etc. “So proud of all you’ve been doing with ___.” “You are so great with our kids.” “You are my dream come true.” “You are an incredible lover.”

11. Suggest that he take some time to go pursue a hobby.

12. Leave a message on his voicemail: “Thanks for going to work every day to take care of our family. You are so good at what you do.”

13. Ask him how you can pray for him at work. Later on in the week, get an update from him on what you’ve prayed for.

14. Be proactive about doing something together that he really enjoys. Make a date, get him excited, and share his enthusiasm!

15. Tell him areas he’s gifted in. Don’t stretch the truth: Be honest so he can trust you.

16. Pray for him.

17. When he’s talking about something and his eyes light up, tell him about it. Ask him to tell you more, and encourage his enthusiasm.

18. Start and keep a “Dreams” mood board with him. Include some photos or whatever gets him energized. Help him start to make the board a reality.

19. Talk with your husband about setting aside a small part of the budget to pursue the unique ways God has designed him (including his gifts, abilities, and passions)—through education or through sheer enjoyment.

20. Send a message through social media: “I love being your wife! See me tonight regarding this.”

21. Gently communicate with him about what you like in bed, and respond encouragingly to his attempts.

22. Remember a dream that he had a long time ago. Talk with him about whether it’s still a dream—and still a possibility. (If the latter is not, express your compassion, as well as your trust in God. Consider whether to gently bring up another possible dream.)

23. Ask God to open your eyes to the ways He has made your husband unique, and to give you wisdom about how to maximize that workmanship.

24. Have your children write him notes or letters about what they love about him as a dad.

25. Use something you excel at to honor him. Maybe you excel in music and write him a song; maybe you’re a boss at creating space in your home for him to relax; maybe your money-savvy helps him eliminate the college debt hanging over his head.

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26. Ban yourself from nagging, which is the Great Life-Sucker.

27. Ask, “If I could do one thing that would really empower you and inspire you, what would it be?” Then listen, resist being defensive (the hard part), and follow through.

28. Remind him of specific times when he’s made an impact on other people’s lives. “Hey, I was thinking the other day about all the time you invested in that Cub Scout troop. Wonder what those boys are doing now. It was so cool to watch them grow with you as their leader.” “Our son has grown so much in encouraging people lately. He gets that from you; you are such a good example for him in that.”

29. Buy him something small to stoke the fires: A journal for a writer, some carpentry pencils for a woodworker, some grilling tools for the master chef. Add a sweet note: “Just because I love the way you’re made.”

30. Do something fun and unexpected together. A few ideas to try: paintball; airsoft, laser tag; on a spring day, have a picnic, blow bubbles, and bring the books you’re reading; swing; play a pick-up game of a sport together; go to a drive-in movie, bring popcorn, and instigate a make-out session.

31. Think about a way you’ve been hurting him or annoying him. Or there may be ways you’re not “seeing” him—not stepping into his world to understand what it’s like to be him, with all of the things he cares about. Apologize, and work hard at showing true change.

32. On a day he’s exhausted, tell him you’re proud of something specific he accomplished that was hard. Remind him why it matters and honors God.

33. Go to a home improvement store to plan a small, doable project that energizes both of you, even if it’s just painting a room or fixing up some landscaping. (Hint: Be positive that it’s something by which he won’t feel burdened.)

34. With quality, complete something from his to-do list for him—something that he’d rather have you do anyway.

35. Find a mutually enjoyable activity you like doing together on a regular basis, even if it’s as simple as playing video games together after the kids are in bed.

36. Create a cheerful atmosphere when he comes home.

37. Design a date night that will help him to de-stress and have fun.

38. Discover his “love language,” and become fluent in it.

39. Pray about and pursue at least one dream of your own, talking with him about it. An inspired wife breeds inspiration.

40. What’s difficult about his life right now? Pray for his endurance, and encourage him specifically. Galatians 6:9 is a great start for both. Think, What can I do to ease the load he’s carrying?

41. Organize or clean something in your home that you know he finds messy.

42. Send a snail-mail love note to him at the office, affirming him in his work.

43. Think of something on his honey-do list at home that he finds overwhelming or for which he doesn’t have much time. Talk with him (respectfully and gently) about the possibility of hiring someone to do it. Communicate clearly that it’s not because you find him incompetent, but that you want to free him up from a burden.

44. When he arrives home or calls home energized, encourage him to do more of that specific task that lights his fire.

45. Be a student of your husband. Does he feel inspired if he has all his ducks in a row? If he has a creative space to think? If he feels verbally affirmed?

46. If your man is into dressing nice, go with him to shop for clothes in which he feels confident.

47. Let him overhear you speaking well of him on the phone, among friends, or in public places. And to your mother.

48. In his area of weakness, pray about how to subtly, gently step in and help him.

49. Tell him what a great dad he is. Be specific.

50. If and when he messes up, respond with the kind of grace, compassion, and mercy that God gives you. Respond in a way that communicates, You’re safe with me—and I’m not going to rehash your failures. This is a secure place for you to grow … and I love the journey with you.

Check out the companion to this article, “50 Ways to Inspire Your Wife.”

Copyright © 2012 by FamilyLife. All rights reserved.