[callout]This is a guest post from Brian J. Lindner. Brian is a Licensed Clinical Professional Counselor specializing in couples counseling at his private practice. His blog, “Make Some Wonderful,” provides solid guidance for a wonderful marriage. His e-book, “The Best Holidays Ever,” moves couples from conflict to connection through the stressful holiday season. Follow him on Twitter. If you want to guest post on my blog, check out my guest post guidelines and submit your post.[/callout]
The cardboard box is waiting for me in the shadows of my garage right where I left it this February. It holds a few dozen strands of Christmas lights magically intertwined into one impossible jumble. Every year I tackle the jumbled mess with a combination of “Eye of the Tiger” enthusiasm and “Jingle Bell Rock” cheerfulness.
By the time I actually get them sorted out hours later, my fingers are frozen and my cheerful enthusiasm is decaffeinated. I tend to keep the project simple after the detangling. I put a few lights along the rain gutters in the front of the house and call it good. Last year I even put some lights in the tree in our front yard.
My favorite part is the big reveal when my wife sees the entire display fully lit for the first time. It’s not unlike the scene in the classic Christmas movie National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation where Clark Griswold has the family come outside to witness his lighting masterpiece.
I have my wife come out to see the lights because I want to hear her say something like, “Awesome! Well done, Love, they look great.” I like hearing words of affirmation from her. It makes hours of wrestling Christmas lights in freezing temperatures worth it.
Guys like hearing words of affirmation from their spouse. It’s not just an ego thing. The desire for affirming words touches much deeper. In his bestselling book, The Five Love Languages, Gary Chapman identifies words of affirmation as one of the five love languages. Even if your husband’s primary love language isn’t words of affirmation, these are five phrases men want to hear this holiday season.
“Your preferences matter.”
The Christmas season is full of decisions from vital to trivial. You have to decide who to visit and for how many days, how many sugar cookies to bake, how much money to spend on gifts, and if you’ll get an artificial or fresh Christmas tree. The decisions go on and on and on. Your guy may not have an opinion about everything during the holidays, but he wants to be included. When you tell him his preferences matter, you’re showing him he is valued and not merely another decoration in your house.
“Your family matters.”
Family time is a big part of holiday celebrations and often a major source of conflict for couples. No family is perfect, but they are important. A man wants to know you value his family even if they are a chaotic bunch. Before the holidays, talk with your husband and come up with three simple ways you can show respect for his family this season.
“You’re a great dad.”
The adventure of parenting goes into hyperdrive during the holidays. Children bring fun, excitement, awe, and wonder to the holiday season. They also bring frustration, fits, and chaos. Remind your husband that you notice and appreciate the unique skills and abilities he displays with your kids. Tell him he’s a great dad.
“You make me happy.”
Real men like making their wife happy. You’ll make his day when you name a specific way he made you happy today. The holidays tend to pile pressure on guys to be perfect and find the perfect gift. Remind your guy he doesn’t have to be perfect and he has what it takes to make you happy.
“I love spending time with you.”
Every season is busy, but the time drought becomes even more dire during the holiday season. Schedules are packed full with holiday parties, school programs, travel, extra church services, and shopping for gifts. It’s easy to overlook the importance of spending quality time together. Get cozy and remind your guy you love spending time with him.
Your husband loves you and wants to be close to you. Fuel his desire for emotional intimacy with you this holiday season by providing simple words of affirmation. When nice words replace criticism you drastically reduce his defensiveness and cranky responses. Words are powerful currency in love; use them wisely and give them generously.
Final tip: When your guy asks you to come outside in the bitter cold to see the Christmas lights, give him a smile and shower him with words affirming your love and appreciation for him.
[reminder]Men, what encouraging words do you want to hear from your wife this holiday season? Ladies, what words of affirmation can you give to your husband?[/reminder]
I appreciate the last three a lot. I hear them often from my wife, especially when I need it. She consistently tells me my preferences matter but I always default to her preferences. Just want to make her happy. Her being happy makes me happy. I think all of these are reciprocal for both husband and wife.
Five Love Languages is great. Been to a couple marriage retreats where this was the main focus and the book was the source material. Very effective and positive outcomes.
Thank you for the great, actionable reminders to affirm my husband. I’ll be using these this weekend! (And beyond, of course.) Thanks for the great post!
Awesome, Angela! We’re glad you’re going to use them.
You’re welcome Angela, the habit of affirmation transforms relationships, it’s one of the best Christmas gifts you can give.