Did you know that the home can be a very dangerous place for a husband?
When my kids were toddlers, Mike and I spent a lot of time making sure our home was a safe place for our curious boys. When our oldest son became mobile at eight months old, my husband and I faced the daunting task of child-proofing our home. Every outlet had to be covered, wires secured, cleaning products placed behind lock and key, and anything fragile placed out of reach. We purchased two bottles of syrup of ipecac “just in case.” Of course, the occasional bump and bruise could not be avoided. But our vigilance protected our little boy through the curious stages of his first three years of life.
While visiting friends and relatives, we often had the unpleasant experience of bringing small children into a house that was not child-proof. Mike and I played man-to-man defense, trying to protect our host’s crystal and porcelain decorations. It seems that every sentence was interrupted with, “Don’t climb the stairs!” “Don’t put that in your mouth!” “No throwing balls in the house!” or “Be gentle with that cat!” Life was more peaceful for all of us when home was safe to roam without unreasonable dangers.
The parallel of “husband-proofing” a home is not meant to be patronizing. Men are capable of protecting themselves and their families from most physical threats. However, many homes contain snares and dangers of a different sort that can easily wound a man’s confidence and feelings of security. It is not uncommon, in fact, for a man to avoid being at home. He may fear emotional dangers that seem to jump out of nowhere and make him feel like a failure in his own home. Work, church, community activities, a drink with the guys—almost anything can be more comfortable than home at times.
Most wives want to have their husband home more. They wish their husbands would be more attentive and “present” even when they’re at home. Some women complain that the romantic men they married have become bumps on a log, incapable of any meaningful interaction. There are many reasons why men avoid home, but almost invariably their avoidance speaks of their discomfort.
People like to spend time where they feel wanted, useful, respected, and capable. Husbands are no different.
When your husband walks through the door of your home, how safe is it? Is he likely to be confronted with a litany of things he’s not doing right? Are your words full of irritation and bitterness? Sometimes, we make home an unsafe place because of unresolved conflict. We sound resentful because we are resentful. Other times, the tedium and stress of life have taken their toll.
It took our ten-pound dog, Snickers, to help me realize that I needed to improve my actions toward my husband. Mike loves Snickers—I mean loves her! He holds her, pets her, rubs her belly, and talks about her like the daughter we never had. One day I half-jokingly said, “I’m getting jealous of this other ‘woman’ in your life.” Mike responded, “Why shouldn’t I love her? She greets me at the door every day with her tail wagging!”
I knew he was kidding, but there was some truth to what he said. I work from home, so when Mike walks through the doors, I’m often knee-deep in a project on my computer or cooking dinner. In contrast to Snickers, I usually give Mike a nod and quick “hi.” I could take a moment from my computer to get up and give my husband a hug when he walks through the door. It’s a little thing that could go a long way toward intimacy.
What You Can Do
You may feel like I’m splitting hairs—like your husband should be a “big boy” and not be so thin-skinned. Yet God created our men with a unique weakness. They are very sensitive to disrespect and feeling incompetent. Our words and nonverbal responses have a huge impact on our husbands’ emotional well-being in marriage.
So, here are a few specific challenges that help you husband-proof your house:
- Make a point to say five encouraging things to your husband each day. Proverbs 18:21 says, “The tongue can bring death or life.” Are your words life-giving?
- Send your husband a fun, flirtatious text during the day, letting him know that you are looking forward to seeing him.
- Thank your husband for something basic—like taking out the trash, going to work every day, or mowing the lawn.
- Ask a good friend to be honest with you about how you talk to and about your husband.
- If you have children, tell them what you love about their dad. Much of what you say will determine how they view their father, positively or negatively.
One of my favorite Bible verses is Proverbs 14:1, “A wise woman builds her home, but a foolish woman tears it down with her own hands.” How about you? Will you choose to be a builder or demolition expert?
Just as electrical outlets and lamps are dangers for toddlers, there are predictable domestic perils for husbands. Fortunately, a sensitive and vigilant wife can avert many of these. She is capable of making her home a safer emotional place for her husband. Essentially, she can invite him to become the hero of their home.