Thursday, October 16, 2008

Creative Counterpart - His Greatest Fan

Slightly late, here's my look at the next chapter of Linda Dillow's book, Creative Counterpart.

Today's chapter is entitled, "His Greatest Fan" and looks at the power of approval and admiration. Last week, we looked at how as wives we are called to "reverence" our husbands. This week, we learn why.

Many men in today's society have issues - plenty of 'em. They don't want to grow up, they refuse to take on responsibility or leadership. This can often be traced back to problems of self-esteem and at it's root, a sense of inferiority. Learning to give our approval and admiration to our husbands will build up their self-image and give them the confidence they need to be the man of God you have been longing for. And if your husband already has a positive self-image, your admiration and approval will be used by God to make him even better.

There are three key words that apply to building up your husband's self-image: Accept him at face value. Admire his manly qualities. (Stop the snickering, ladies!) Submit to his authority. Last week we talked about accepting him for who he is. Next week we will look at God's organizational plan for the home and how and why a wife should submit to her husband, so this week, let's look at how our admiration for our husband's can improve our marriage.

Both in public and in private, the messages we send our husband can have a profound impact on him. Mrs. Dillow opened the chapter with the story of a young boy who was raised by a domineering, busy single mother who had little time for loving on her little boy. This boy, a loner all his life, grew up into a man who married a woman who had nothing but contempt for him, due to his lack of providing well for their family. She demanded more and more of the things he could not provide and became his greatest critic. She began to bully him and, on one occasion, even locked him in the bathroom to punish him for some mistake. She kicked him out of the family home and he came back, crawling and begging to be taken back in. She humiliated him in front of friends and belittled his attempts to provide for him. She laughingly informed a friend of his sexual impotency right in front of him. She crushed his ego.

One day, this man, totally destroyed and without any hope, took a rifle and ascended the building where he worked, a book storage facility. From a window on the third floor, he took aim at and killed President John F. Kennedy.

I wonder if Lee Harvey Oswald's wife had understood these principles and had built her husband up instead of tearing him down, if history would have been changed. She received him damaged, to be sure, but in her hands, Oswald would have become a different person had he received the love and admiration God designed him to need.

Now you may be thinking, this sounds silly. You can't go around "admiring" your husband. Let's look at why you may feel that way.

1) Feeling awkward - Well, yes, it may seem strange at first, but you can admire your friend's new haircut, a delicious dish she made, or her garden.

2) He's too self-centered already - He already thinks enough of himself, if I just encourage it I may create a monster!

3) No admirable qualities - What if you just don't see anything at all in him? Well, think back to why you married him! Goethe, the German author, said that if you treat a man as he is, he will stay as he is, but if you treat him as if he were what he ought to be, and could be, he will become the bigger and better man.

4) Failure to accept him at face value - Mrs. Dillow says, "Until a wife totally accepts her husband with no condition of change, it will be very difficult for her to admire him. The negative must be removed before the positive can be planted."

So, how do we develop admiration for our husbands in light of all these barriers?

1) Realize that he is one of a kind - How well do you know your husband? Mrs. Dillow recommends trying to answer the following questions about your husband and then asking him for his answers. You may be surprised.

  • What has been the happiest thing that has ever happened to your husband?
  • What has been the hardest experience of his life?
  • What are his secret ambitions, his goals for life?
  • What are his deepest fears?
  • What does he appreciate about you the most?
  • What traits of you would he like to see changed?
  • What man or men does he most admire?

2) Take an interest in his interests - Regardless of what it is - hunting, jogging, intellectual pursuits - make an effort to become more a part of his life and to understand what interests him. You may see new things to appreciate in him as you see him in a different light.

3) Be a good listener - As Mrs. Dillow reminds us, "Can your husband talk to you and not be ridiculed? Can he confide in you and know his confidences will be safely guarded? Do you minimize his weaknesses and emphasize his manliness and strength? Do you create a climate in which he feels safe to voice his fears because you believe in him? Do you treat your husband as the most special person in the world, or are you more polite to neighbors? You teach your children to be polite, yet how polite are you to their father?"

4) Don't interrupt - Do you finish his sentences? Perhaps you are impatient, subconciously feeling that your time is to valuable to wait for him to put his thoughts together. Maybe you feel that you know him so well you are just sure you know what he's going to say. Take the time to invest in him and listen. Another habit may be interrupting him because you want to get your point across. Do you focus on what he's saying, or on what your reply will be? This is good advice for communicating with anyone, but particularly with your husband. Be an active listener rather than just waiting for your chance to talk.

5) Don't hang on to the past - Yes, your husband may have made mistakes before. We all have. But don't throw them up in his face. Encourage him when he wants to try again. Listen, ask questions, offer encouragement and wise advice, but temper all of it with the assurance that you know he will do what is best for your family.

6) Let him dream - When he brings up something that may seem far-fetched to you, let him dream. Sometimes by our practicality, we stomp all over something that may just be a passing idea, but leave the taste of our negativity.

7) Be specific - Don't just say general things like, "I admire you" or "You are wonderful." It comes off as if you are unable to think of something specific so you are just throwing it out there. If you need a little help, keep in mind these characteristics: leadership ability, mental capacity, superior strength, sexual capacity, steadfastness, courage, logical mind, financial expertise, and athletic skill.

Ok, now is the time to put this into practice. Sit down and make up a list of all your husband's good qualities. List physical qualities, then emotional, then intellectual, then spiritual ones. If you have to dig deep, that's ok! Look back in time over the course of your marriage if you need to.

Now that you have a list to work from, don't keep it to yourself. Put into practice the art of admiring your husband. Do it not only in private to him, but boast about him to your friends and others in public. Thank him for all he does and tell him you appreciate him.

Mrs. Dillow ends the chapter with the following quote, which I think is fantastic. "I told God about his bad points and I told him about his good points." That's the way to do it!


Karen said...

Um..okay, I'm a week ahead of you. I guess I could have put the chapter on submission off another week, huh?

Anyway, my post is up somewhere. (I can't remember if I did it Tuesday or Wednesday.)


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