Sep 2, 2010

Rule #16: Sing His Praises

"A few well-placed compliments are certain to garner your husband's favor . . . His ego will appreciate the boost . . ."
This rule is actually talking about building your husband up by commenting on his appearance and accomplishments. There is absolutely nothing wrong with that. Who DOESN'T enjoy having someone appreciate you?

So, I'm going to consider that a "given." If you haven't done this in a while, please make it a point to give some sincere compliments.

I want to focus on something else. When I first read the title, I thought it was about "singing his praises" to other people. Let me explain.

From the very beginning of our relationship, we agreed that we would never bad-mouth each other to other people. If we were having an "issue," we would deal with it ourselves until we worked it out--which sometimes meant staying up all night! (Note: I'm not talking about abuse here. I'm talking about two people living with one another dealing with day-to-day circumstances. For years.) We promised each other that we would NEVER talk critically about one another to other people. We knew, even at 21yo, that doing so would be detrimental to our relationship.

One of the worst examples of criticizing a spouse in front of others that I've seen is my aunt.

My aunt married my uncle in the early 1950s. My mother's family was DIRT POOR. They lived in the sticks of central Florida in a shack with no indoor plumbing. My aunt met a boy who was not the sharpest knife in the drawer. He was, however, a nice man and he had a "good" (meaning steady) job as a dairy farm employee. My aunt decided he was her ticket out of the poverty. She was about 16 and he wasn't much older.

Well, he stayed a dairy worker with no ambition. He wasn't very smart which embarrassed her. She belittled him. She insulted him. He would bring her flowers for her birthday and she would sneer and throw them in the trash. I know this because she did it in front of everyone. He always treated her respectfully, but she always felt she had "married beneath herself" and acted accordingly. He never complained, always complimented her, always tried to show he cared about her. She resented that man until the day he died.

I've seen that sort of thing quite a lot over the years. Yes, their example was extreme, but I've seen many women act like the man they CHOSE to marry is not worth speaking positively about. It's almost expected among their friends that they're going to "bash the husbands" when they get together. Movies and television support this as well. Certainly sometimes it's fun to joke about your spouse to friends, but there IS a line that shouldn't be crossed.

Instead of that mindset, we need to be careful to speak the positive things about our spouses--to him, to ourselves, to our children, AND TO OTHERS, and just keep the nitpicky things to ourselves. Complaining, even humorously, is still complaining.

Be careful about how you interact with him in a non-verbal way, too. An example I've witnessed in that regard is seeing a wife bump her husband's elbow off the table when he was leaning on it in deep discussion with someone across the table. I saw her do that. I'm sure others did, too.

He's not your child. You're not his child.

You're not brother and sister, either! The longer you spend together, the easier it is to forget that you have a unique relationship as husband and wife that is not duplicated in any other way. After many years, you can fall into the patterns of responding a certain way to each other. He says something a certain way and you defend yourself. He absolutely refuses to remember to close that closet door, though you've asked him over and over to remember. You don't see WHY you should scoot the driver's seat back when you get out since you drive that car all the time. Sounds like siblings, doesn't it?

I married a man to be my HUSBAND. I don't need any more siblings!

Being careful about these things and making it a point to "sing his praises" to him and to others most likely will result in it being a two-way road. Don't you think?


Packrat said...

Beautiful post. Thanks

Amy said...

What a great reminder! Thank you!

Roxanne said...


Amy--I'm glad!

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