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Husband Appreciation Day: April 15, 2007

Husband Appreciation Day
Dr. Bob Burbee and the National Institute of Marriage

Contact: Abigail Smith, National Institute of Marriage, [email protected], 417-335-5882

MEDIA ADVISORY, April 12 /Christian Newswire/ -- "Husband depreciation day?" I said, shocked at the thought of someone charting a holiday to confirm my worst fears.

"No, Husband APPRECIATION Day." a co-worker of mine repeated. I was asked if I had any ideas regarding appreciating husbands. The joke got me thinking about what guys really want in the way of appreciation anyway. I know something about what I might want in the way of appreciation but would that apply to other guys? I've always been skeptical of colleagues and relationship experts who seem so eager to lump guys together in one big basket and presume to know how we think and feel. Maybe it's because I rarely seem to fit with a lot of those male stereotypes, some I do but many I don't.

As I think about it, I have a hunch a lot of guys don't necessarily feel like they fit all the elements of proposed male stereotypes either. You know what I'm referring to. These descriptions make men out to be cave man-ish claiming real men want nothing to do with emotion. According to these stereotypes men are pretty simple psychologically. They want food, sex and competition. And, they are most happy when an activity has all three. Relationships are secondary to conquest and getting the job done. They expect respect and are feared to be time bombs waiting to explode in anger and rage if they are thwarted from their goals. And the goals are always assumed to involve, you guessed it, food, sex and competition.

What has this got to do with Husband Appreciation Day? If a wife is looking to express appreciation to her husband and she believes the above stereotypes are all there is to it, she could sorely miss a grand opportunity to bless her man. As with most stereotypes there is probably something in those stereotypes almost any man would agree describes him, at least to some degree. The problem is men are more complicated and diverse than the stereotype would suggest. I haven't met many women who want to be categorized according to common stereotypes of what women are supposed to be like. Men don't like it either. So when it comes to an individual marriage and a wife who is trying to determine how to express appreciation to her husband, the stereotypes barely get one started in accomplishing real genuine understanding. Wives will need to think more deeply about their mate to hit the mark in communicating appreciation.

This is really about a life long journey of discovery when you consider it. Our mates are a complex mix of characteristics, some of which are constant and some of which go through plenty of change. Just when a spouse thinks they have their mate "figured out," life comes along and you discover something new. Sadly, many relationships lack a sense of discovery because husbands and wives conclude they have their spouse figured out and stop being curious. This curiosity about my mate is a lifelong discipline and can pay huge dividends to a relationship. And, this certainly applies to women who want to know their husbands. This brief article will not begin to solve all those mysteries but that's kind of the point. The mysteries around one's spouse are supposed to keep us curious for a life time. We can however, maybe make a few suggestions that will help a wife in trying to figure out what to do for Husband Appreciation Day. These suggestions believe it or not, don't require spending money on expensive or elaborate gifts. Appreciating your husband may be easier than you think.

The first consideration we would like to offer is to be wary of using yourself as a point of reference. In other words, be cautious about asking yourself, "What would I want if it were Wife Appreciation Day?" Many wives and husbands have had the disappointing experience of purchasing a gift or planning some sort of celebration that would please them only to find their spouse is under-whelmed by their efforts. This can be a huge let down. Just because you love a frilly card, and an elaborate gift, do not assume this will carry your message of appreciation to your husband.

So if a wife can't really use her own wishes and preferences as a guide for expressing appreciation of her husband, where should she begin? We suggest spending some time reflecting on what your husband does in his spare time. What does he seem to genuinely enjoy? His favorite interests and passions are a great reservoir of ideas for an expression of appreciation. You may need to do some research to find something in his area of interest that will be received as something special. Maybe one of his friends whom you know enjoys the same passion could be a resource of ideas.

An easily overlooked area of inspiration for blessing him may be something he values deeply but struggles to fully experience. Maybe he loves golf but rarely gets to play. A new club, gift card, or green fee gift certificate may touch him as an expression of thoughtfulness even though it may be months before he actually uses it. Maybe you have heard him complain he doesn’t have enough time to read. Go ahead and purchase a book you bet he would like. Even if it sits on the shelf he will appreciate your thoughtfulness and take encouragement in the book now being in his possession though he doesn't dive right into it. It's the thought that counts right?

Consider ways you have been able to have his attention in the past. How could you use some strategy you have used in the past to help him understand something important to you, to now express to him how much you appreciate him? Perhaps you have noticed if you need his undivided attention to discuss a financial issue or a concern about the children you needed to schedule a specific time to do so. What would it look like to ask him for 30 minutes of time but only tell him you have something important you need to talk to him about? Imagine his surprise when you sit down pull out your written agenda and proceed to explain to him all the things you appreciate about him. Maybe leisure drives in the car have been an important form of couple time for the two of you in the past. These drives have been times to talk through concerns and make plans for the future. Invite him to go for a drive and proceed to outline for him your concern that he know and understand how much you appreciate him.

This is a good time to reflect about his Love Language. Gary Chapman's concept of love languages has helped thousands of couples better understand how to give and receive love in their relationship. If you have studied Chapman's book, The Five Love Languages, then use the information to help you express appreciation for him in a language he will easily understand.

Finally, there is one stereotype attributed to men that is a good bet for expressing appreciation. You may be thinking now, "Here it comes, the advice for women to be more sexual with their husband." Actually, that is not the last suggestion we want to make; although, we wouldn't want to discourage genuine, loving sexual expressions of appreciation at all. No, the last suggestion we want to make has to do with the deep desire many men have to be seen as successful by their wives.

This is an often poorly understood desire in men. It is poorly understood by men themselves and certainly not adequately understood by many wives. It is tied to a man’s desire to be significant, to know his presence and effort really make a difference. Husband Appreciation Day would be a great opportunity to somehow recognize what your husband is good at. Are there things you deeply respect about his character, sacrifice, talent, skill, or ambitions? Consider drawing attention to these areas of performance in him and let him know how his efforts in those areas are a blessing to you. Tell him how your life is blessed because of his diligence, integrity, skill or persistence. Few things will bless a man more than learning their wife believes in them, sees them as a winner.

Is there someone he admires in sports or history? What would it mean to him to hear you express that you respect and revere him like he respects his sports hero? Maybe you have heard him express admiration for somebody like Tiger Woods, the professional golfer. Could you see yourself somehow letting him know, "Hey, forget that Tiger Woods guy, as far as I'm concerned you're my Tiger!"

Oh, yeah we weren't going to emphasize sexual expressions of appreciation were we? Well you get the idea. Maybe your husband will to.

Find out more about the Marriage Counseling Programs at the National Institute of Marriage.