Whether you’re giving him “front-line support” by helping out with his business, or working behind the scenes by caring for your family, your support can empower your spouse into reaching greater heights. 

While it isn’t easy to be that pillar of strength for your partner, your spouse will appreciate the support; this will improve your marital relations too. 

Through loving encouragement and a relationship built on mutual trust and respect, you can bring out the best in your husband. He will be more able to fulfill his ambitions and become the best that he can be.

You want the love of your life to be the best he can be; here’s how
you can help your husband realise his full potential. Image: Corbis

We ask marriage counsellor Chong Cheh Hoon for tips on how you can play a big role in helping your husband to reach his fullest potential.

“A positive affirmer builds trust and love towards her spouse, by recognising and highlighting good character traits – while a negative communicator is critical and dismissive,” says Cheh Hoon. This support and encouragement must come across as sincere if it is to be effective. Take time to hear about his day, and acknowledge it with phrases like, “Wow! That must have been really difficult for you. I’m glad some good came out of that mess.”

Never list another man’s attributes to underscore your husband’s weak traits, even if in jest or in retort. Cheh Hoon explains that the criticism that arises from such comparisons “comes across as a judgment that he’s falling short of your expectations.” It diminishes his self-worth and sends the message that he is not cherished or respected.

Use phrases like “I like it when you are so thoughtful,” instead of “I wish you were like so-andso who is so thoughtful.” Hopefully, your husband will get the hint and rise to the challenge of his marital responsibilities and your expectations.

With our pressure-cooker lifestyles, the stress of work and family may eat into precious couple bonding time. However, Cheh Hoon says spending quality time with your husband signals to him that you enjoy his company and appreciate his presence.

Doing things together helps foster stronger social and emotional intimacy, which is integral for a fulfilling marriage. Even if you don’t share the same interests as your husband, supporting his passions shows that you have a vested interest in his personal happiness, and is an indication of your love for him. Weekend breakfasts away from the usual home routine or a simple stroll in the park are great date ideas to strengthen your connection.

Men process their hurt through methodical and reflective steps. When your husband confides in you, he’s likely to be looking for a listening ear rather than someone to solve his problems. Cheh Hoon advises, “In listening, it’s important not to judge or jump to quick solutions. Likewise, don’t recycle his past failures and pain just to prove you’re right with your prognosis.”

Be quick to listen and slow to judge – your husband needs to know that he can trust you with his vulnerable moments. Acknowledge his problems with words like, “I’m sorry to hear your pain…” instead of “Just let it go and you’ll be okay!”

When you accept responsibility for a bad decision or a mistake, it shows that you are mature enough to understand that reconciliation is the key to a successful marriage. Such transparency speaks highly of you as a wife of integrity and grace. Instead of brushing the problem aside as something minor, apologise immediately when you make a mistake.

Spousal intimacy through loving, affirmative touches doesn’t necessarily have to lead to sex all the time. Being affectionate gives your husband the assuring comfort of being loved and nurtured.

When your children see you and your husband being affectionate towards each other, it demonstrates to them the key ingredients of a strong marriage – mutual respect, trust and honour. A daily good-bye kiss or even holding hands when you’re out are some examples of simple but loving gestures that can go a long way in fostering a happy marriage. 

Chong Cheh Hoon is a marriage counsellor from Focus On The Family Singapore, a non-profit organisation that provides counselling services for families and youths. To arrange for an appointment, call 6336 1444 or focus@family.org.sg. Go to www.family.org.sg to find out more about the organisation.

This article was originally published in SimplyHer January 2011.