Everyone likes to get a little golden star on the forehead. It doesn’t matter whether it is you or your grandchild that is in Grade 1, it is nice to hear that someone approves of you. So, don’t be stingy with your stars!

It was a rough day for Jacques. He was once again humiliated by his bully boss, and had to bite his tongue, although he just wanted to blurt out his true feelings. He did not get the promotion that he had worked so hard for these past three years; instead a young guy, fresh out of school, stepped into the position.

Back home, he steps on a “landmine” that the new Great Dane left on the grass. And as he walks through the front door, his daughter comes clutching at his legs, crying because her brother was teasing her. He feels worthless and can’t imagine what Madeline ever saw in him. At school, she dated the captain of the first rugby team while Jacques was secretly in love with her. At University, their eyes met amongst all the first years and he walked over to hear how she was doing. The rest is history. But today he doesn’t feel like he deserves her. He walks to the bedroom with his head hanging. At the door he stops. Madeline is talking on her phone and he hears his name…

“I just don’t know which way anymore, Mom. He is always glum, constantly on my case and I am at my wits end with him. It is not my job having to rescue him every time things are not going well. I am tired. Maybe it is time to shut him out of my life for a few weeks …”

Jacques slides down the wall and slumps on the floor. So that is what Madeline thinks of him? He feels the panic in his throat. She continues …

“No Mom, he doesn’t know anything. I don’t want to hassle him with Gideon’s problems. He is my brother and it isn’t Jacques’ responsibility to get him back on track. You know Mom, I couldn’t have asked for a better husband. During this whole thing with Gideon I was so distant and dismissive with him but he remains an anchor in my life. He knows just when to say what and he carries me through these times, even though he doesn’t even know it. Jacques is a superman.”

Did he hear correctly? A smile spreads across Jacques’ face, even though no one sees it. His wife is proud of him. She thinks he is a superman…

About pride and respect

Shaunti Feldhahn, author of the book “For Women Only”, interviewed 1 000 men to determine their emotional needs. In a FamilyLifeToday interview with Dennis Rainey and Bob Lepine, she said: “For men, their highest need is not to feel loved and cherished, as it is for women. It’s to feel respected and trusted by us. And in fact, we can spend so much time trying to show our husbands that we love them, saying, “I love you,” and doing all these things to show love. But if we tease them in public or make them think we don’t respect their decisions or don’t trust when they make a choice, they will feel disrespected, and they won’t feel loved.”

How do you show your partner that you are proud of him?

  1. Just say it. Not too much that it loses impact though. But also, not so few and far inbetween that he doubts it. Just enough so he knows you really mean it. “I am proud of you.” These are words that are sometimes hard to say and it may feel weird, but the more you say it, the easier it will become. Don’t keep it general, but be specific: “I am so proud of you for the hands-on dad that you are to our kids.” Or: “I am so proud of you for doing things that you don’t necessarily enjoy, in order to provide for our family.” Or: “I am so proud of the respectful way you handle my dad.”
  2. Be like Madeline. “Gossip” about him! But in a good way. Tell the people close to you how proud you are of him and why. Frame the certificate he received as salesman of the year and hang it where everyone can see it. Show visitors to your house how beautiful his new rock garden is. Tell the kids about all his achievements (big and small). And yes, hammer on it! Are there people in his life that makes him feel inferior? Such as his dad who never really approved of his career choice? Or his jealous sister? Especially focus on them.
  3. Share his dreams (even the impossible ones). His ideas might sound outrageous! That patch of land in the Karoo that he wants to buy one day, where he wants to put up a dome with the largest telescope imaginable… you both know it is never going to happen. But entertain him. Dream together. Tell him about the guest house that you want to set up nearby where you will only serve vegetarian food. And the rooms with glass ceilings. And the fifteen sheep and three goats that will be grazing outside… Chances are he very well knows that it will never materialise, but everyone is entitled to a dream. No, wait – everyone NEEDS to dream.
  4. Teach the kids to respect him. As the mother in the house, you are a role model and the manner in which you treat your partner will determine how they behave towards him. If you lie about your shopping habits and ignore him when he asks you to respect the limit on the credit card, your teenage daughter will notice and think it is perfectly acceptable. In fact, one day she will do it to her partner! If the children ignore him when he asks them to get off social media, don’t whisper behind his back “Only five more minutes”, but rather say: “You heard your dad. We want you to switch off the screens right now.”
  5. Laugh at his jokes and affirm his stories! When he tells the story about the turbulence on his flight to Germany, you already know which swear words he will use. You know every hand gesture he will make and you anticipate the way he will hold his breath at the end for dramatic effect. Instead of rolling your eyes, winking at your friends and saying: “Here we go again!”, go sit with him, put you hand on his leg, and listen as if you are hearing it for the first time. Ask questions about the parts you know he wants to elaborate on and laugh the loudest at the funny bits. When he tells a story that involved you, don’t correct him. And if the fish he had caught grew by 70cm since the catch, let it be.
  6. Show him how proud you are of him. When you are at a public event and there is a physical distance between you, make eye contact with him, smile at him and purposefully walk towards him. Put your arm through his, as if you want to make a statement: This is my husband and I am damn proud of him! Post photos of him on social media to brag about what he does and who he is.
  7. When you fight, keep it private. It is natural to sometimes lose your temper with your husband – also in public. You might have to bite your tongue sometimes, but it is worth it. Don’t declare war in front of people you know (nor people that don’t know you). Also, don’t tell a friend in the heat of the moment how angry you are with your partner. Remember that all those people who see you fighting, won’t be there later on when you talk things through and make up, so all that is going to get stuck in their heads is the nasty stuff that was thrown back and forth.
  8. Pick his side. Yes, you can tease him about his snoring! But if someone else is hurting, humiliating or breaking down your partner, defend him. Choose his side. When someone emphasises one of his weaknesses, tell them about his good qualities. Show that you are proud of him and that your loyalty lies with him.

Don’t just tell your partner how proud you are of him. Show him in your day-to-day behaviour and attitude towards him. Your partner will stand tall and know – it doesn’t matter what life throws at him, you will stand beside him – unconditionally.

  • Article inspired by Familylife.com

Article by Annelize Steyn

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