Given male-female relations in our society, suggestions to honor your husband might lift eyebrows. It’s far more acceptable for men to be pro-women—or women to be pro-women!—than sticking in his corner.
But honor has been a jetpack for my marriage. It creates a growth-hungry biosphere for both of us—of graciousness. Cheering each other on. Courage. Vulnerability. Sacrifice.
Where last night, as I was reading and massaging a kink in my neck, my husband said, “Hey, everything okay? Let me help you with that.”
In Tied Up in Knots: How Getting What We Want Made Women Miserable, political analyst Andrea Tantaros argues,
.…Women are implicitly being told not to be kind, thoughtful, and nice to the men they love because doing so is supposedly just one step away from being barefoot and pregnant and watching Leave It to Beaver.
….If everybody is self-involved in their own happiness, then everyone is going to be unhappy because no one is going to be doing nice things for anyone.
In my own heart, honor brings to a nitty-gritty level the whole idea of loving as I want to be loved. In fact, the Bible speaks of honor like a contest: “Outdo one another in showing honor” (Romans 12:10).
But for me, the kicker’s in the verse before: “Let love be genuine” (verse 9).
It’s tougher than I thought. I’m that Enneagram-two, natural “helper.” But without that love being from my heart? I’ve seen my own attempts at honor end up jaded. Resentful. Manipulating to gain affection. Or a false shell that looks a bit like kindness.
Honor propels us toward being the kind of women who act out what Jesus did—loving us to the nth degree when we deserved it least. (If you’re thinking, My husband doesn’t deserve respect! Check this out.)
Ready for the ideas?
32 ways to honor your husband
1. Steer clear of words that tear him down.
In public, with friends, in front of the kids (see Ephesians 4:29)? Save your explanations of what you don’t agree with for private conversation. Let him know you’re in his corner even in all those moments he’s oh-so-human.
2. Pick up something that shows you’re thinking of him.
His fave drink from the coffee shop, a snack for tonight’s movie, the items on his hardware-store list, something that reminds you of him or a great moment you had together.
3. Do something generous.
Even when you’re not feelin’ it. Make him a sandwich. Rub his feet. Since the goal is to honor your husband, be okay with him not noticing or appreciating it.
4. Verbalize your gratitude or praise sincerely and specifically.
Rather than gushing, this makes it easier to trust your words. Keep your eyes peeled for what he does right (if it helps, set a goal for how many to find each day).
5. Respond to that pet peeve he’s expressed.
Do it out of willingness rather than resentment.
6. Let him pick the restaurant.
Or movie or weekend plans.
7. In conflict, stay away from character assassination.
Nothing shows him you’re in his corner like the two of you being against your problems—not each other. It’s fine to confront! Just do it in a way you’d want someone to confront you—giving reams of grace and gentleness.
8. Keep a tight rein on your mouth.
Check out Ephesians 4:29 (again). If it doesn’t build up, isn’t the right time, isn’t gracious? Nix it.
9. Take care of yourself.
Eat healthy. Keep up a regular workout. Take a nap so you’re not fried after dealing with the kids. Wear that top he likes. Y’know, shave your legs and all that. But do it because it’s your adult choice rather than to gain acceptance.
10. Keep your voice even when he’s asking for something unrealistic.
If he asks you to do something that demonstrates how much he doesn’t “see” you, explain yourself calmly. No slammed cupboards necessary.
11. Don’t interrupt him.
12. Ask for what you need.
Don’t just hope he’ll suddenly acquire Wife ESP. Honor your husband by verbalizing and agreeing on expectations together rather than assuming he should just know.
13. Be conscious of the “word bucket” levels.
If he’s less verbal, create space after he’s done working for the day to allow his communication capacity to regain equilibrium.
14. In conversation, help him shine.
Neither of you needs to dominate verbally.
15. Don’t nag.
When you’re both in a relaxed place, decide at what point it will be easier for both you to hire someone for that honey-do list. Honor your husband with your patience and teamwork rather than (cough) nagging.
16. Use your strengths (like administration or creativity) to set him up for success.
Rather than goading him about time with the kids, for example, ask him what kind of activities he’d like to do and how you can help him make those a reality without being part of the problem.
17. Before unloading about your day, ask about his.
If he’s not in a great state of mind, at times it’s okay temper your conversation accordingly (as long as withholding doesn’t become the norm; God longs for our marriages to be “naked and unashamed” emotionally, too [Genesis 2:25]). This is a great way to come to him with a less-entitled attitude regarding your emotional needs. Every once in a while, you might call a friend instead.
18. Ask about what’s important to him at work.
The big meeting you were praying for, the project he’s invested in, the relationship that’s strained.
19. Show him the respect of asking him first.
Thinking about making a decision for your husband or going around him? Instead, say, “Hey, I know that before you haven’t liked this kind of thing, but I wanted to at least give you the opportunity to say ‘no’ rather than going around you.”
20. Be confident.
Don’t just opt for passivity or acquiesce to others.
21. Follow through even when he’s not there.
Provided you’re in a safe relationship, if he’s asked you not to do something (overspend, talk negatively to your friends, give in to the kids), don’t do it. From the heart.
22. Protect your schedule and energy.
A wife not burned out (and cranky)? Priceless.
23. Honor your husband by doing that little thing he loves.
Parking straight. Leaving the car full of gas. Washing the toothpaste out of the sink. Making that steak dish. Taking out the trash (even if it’s his job).
24. If he slips up in conversation with others, help him rescue things.
Do it without anyone noticing. If he slips up in personal conversation with you, overlook if it’s not a big deal. Be kind if it is.
25. Don’t try to manipulate a “yes” or control things behind his back.
When he says no to something, accept his agency and personhood.
26. Let him know you’re in his corner by saying thank you.
Often—for the big stuff and the little stuff.
27. Realize how sex addresses emotional needs at his core.
Refrain from rolling your eyes about his sexuality or treating sex as a have-to. Don’t let it become rote, just physical, or nonexistent.
Address life’s libido-sucking “noise”—the overpacked schedule, the lack of self-care, the smartphone, the laundry that could stand to stay unfolded. And start nurturing your own sexuality as an act of love for him.
Check out FamilyLife’s Married With Benefits podcast episode, “Why Is He So Interested in Sex?”
28. Help him find responsible, classy solutions to conflict.
Without fueling the fire, if he’s in a tough situation at work, affirm his dignity, competence, and ability to handle things with holiness.
29. Rather than pushing and making plans, get his agreement.
Be his shield. Help celebrate his boundaries when you can, rather than insisting on yours.
30. Doormat ≠ honoring wife.
God’s command to submit (Ephesians 5:22) is no excuse for passivity which may leave us angry (even when we deny it), cold, resigned, hurting, bitter, or insecure.
To honor your husband is to bring the full image of God in you to him, so your voice shapes him into the man God created him to be, too.
31. Let him know you desire him.
When sex is an obligation, statistically, 97% of men would rather not engage! If that’s tough for you, get intentional about setting up connection time beforehand.
32. Give him the respect of withholding assumptions.
When you think he’s done something wrong, ask, “Hey, when you did __, it felt like you were ___. But I wanted to suspend making that call until I had a chance to ask what was going on. Can you help me understand?”
Obviously having good reasons doesn’t always mean someone’s off the hook. Honor your husband by avoiding snap judgments (just like you’d want him to make about you).
Copyright © 2020 Janel Breitenstein. All rights reserved.
Janel Breitenstein is an author, freelance writer, speaker, and frequent contributor for FamilyLife, including Passport2Identity®, Art of Parenting®, and regular articles. After five and a half years in East Africa, her family of six has returned to Colorado, where they continue to work on behalf of the poor with Engineering Ministries International. Her book, Permanent Markers: Spiritual Life Skills for Work-in-Progress Families (Harvest House), releases October 2021. You can find her—“The Awkward Mom”—having uncomfortable, important conversations at JanelBreitenstein.com, and on Instagram @janelbreit.