How to Encourage the Man in Your Life: Don’t Shoot Down His Ideas

A favorite college professor of mine used to describe his marriage like this:

Him (in deep, booming voice):  “I have a vision!”

Her (gently):  “Let’s be practical, dear.”

This personality divide doesn’t describe every relationship, but it is apropos of plenty of marriages.  And there are two ways these opposing personalities can play out:

  1. A synergystic union in which the two personalities complement each other and increase the greater good.
  2. Disaster.

If you’re married to a man who dreams big–a man with a vision–don’t shoot down his ideas! A man wants the woman in his life to be a source of encouragement, not criticism.  If your man doesn’t like the way you react when he tells you his big ideas, he may not share them with you in the future.

This is not at all to say a woman can’t have strong reservations about a man’s big plans.  But timing is everything. There is a time to listen, and there is a time to give feedback.  Learn the difference.

If you shoot down his plan right away, it’s easy for your rejection of his idea to look like rejection of him.  But if you encourage him–instead of shooting down his plan–you can be his sounding board.  If he knows you believe in him, he’ll share his dreams with you–and he’ll value your input.

Encourage your man by hearing his plans, crazy as they may be.  This is what your man wants from you:

  1. He wants you to be a listening ear–and not a critical one.
  2. He wants you to believe in him. Here’s where it gets tricky–he wants you to believe in him–not necessarily in his every idea.
  3. He wants your approval. He wants you to think well of him, and he wants you to speak well of him too.
  4. He wants you to accept him–unconditionally.
  5. He wants you to respect him. He doesn’t want you to think he’s an idiot with hare-brained ideas.
  6. He wants you to trust him–and he wants you to believe he has your best interests at heart.
  7. He wants you to think he’s competent. Men want to be good at what they do.  (Hey, don’t we all?)  And he wants you to think he’s good at it, too.
  8. He wants your support. Make sure you’re on his team, and make sure he knows it.
  9. He wants to be appreciated and praised–especially by the woman he loves.
  10. He wants your input–when he’s ready for it.  It’s about the timing.

I’d like to think I’m pretty good in this category.  I haven’t always been, but I’ve wised up about the importance of timing.

Now, when my husband wants to tell me his grand plans, I listen with an open ear.  I love to be his sounding board.

He’s become wise about the importance of timing, too.  So when he lately broached another Big Plan, I asked if we could talk about it more when the Big Plan in Progress was a little further down the road.

He happily agreed.


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  1. Damsel says:

    Oh, boy, did I ever need this reminder. I’m married to a Big Dreamer/Big Talker and I have a hard time with it sometimes. But I’m learning!

    In fact, I’m getting a little jealous. I’ve realized that I get so buried in the day-to-day practicality that I never take the time to dream big. I’m learning to think about what I *really* want and go for it!

  2. Jessica @ Acting Adult says:

    Thank you for this post. My husband is always coming up with schemes and I have to admit that I act like the example in the very beginning. I tend to bring in the reality sooner than he would like and end up crushing his spirit. I’ve been trying hard not to do this, but this is a good reminder of how to take positive steps to fix my automatic reaction.

  3. Great post! The best advice I got right before I got married was from an older family member who had been married for many years. She told me that the secrets of a happy marriage were (a) to be willing to die to self and put your spouse first most of the time and (b) to be your husband’s biggest fan and source of encouragement (though not at the neglect of voicing valid concerns).
    So far, it definitely seems like sound advice!

    • Anne says:

      I remember hearing part b–be his biggest fan–before we got married. I think somebody must have told me part a–put your spouse first–but man oh man was that a hard adjustment for me to make.
      Thanks for passing along wise advice.

  4. Great post! I always try to act like my husband’s girlfriend…flirty, attentive, excited about his ideas, adoring…I figure our marriage is the better for it! It makes me sad when I see girlfriends trivializing their husbands and their ideas.

  5. I have lived this one!
    Once, my husband told me he wanted to ride bulls in a local rodeo on the weekends to earn some extra money. We had two children at the time. I was mortified!! I’m glad I had an older woman to tell me to be his cheerleader when all I wanted to say to him was “YOU’RE CRAZY!”

    That Friday eve, when my husband came home from work, he found me dressed head to toe like an authentic buckle-bunny. He was astonished! He knew I had decided to rally behind him even though I didn’t agree with him. Then a miracle happened – he changed his mind! We ended up spending the evening at my favorite Thai restaurant in the city!
    It was a real turning point in our marriage – something we laugh about now. Thanks for the great post!

  6. Thanks for this post. It is great advice. Even when your guy is a steady quiet guy like my guy, he still needs his cheerleader. Something that might seem trivial to you at the moment could be monumental. Learning to listen without jumping to my own conclusions has been hard for me, but rewarding.

    I love the idea of being my husbands “girlfriend”. I’ll have to remember that one. ~ Thanks

  7. Hope says:

    While I totally agree with this post and have personally lived out most of these ideas during my 17 years of marriage, I would add a word of caution. Not all of our man’s ideas will be good ideas. Take them back to the Lord and if the Spirit so leads share with your man your concerns. This might not ever change his mind but at least you will have done what the Lord wanted you to do. Sometimes encouraging our husbands is highlighting the warning flags that the Lord has placed in his path.

  8. Ashley says:

    thank you for this! My husband is more the steady type and not so much the visionary type but every man desires those things you listed to be sure. Thanks for the great reminder.

  9. Lisa Maria says:

    Hello Anne,

    I really loved this post. I’ve made this mistake so many times in my marriage.. it took me a while to wise up 😉

    I still slip on occasion.. so thanks for the reminder! I recently wrote a series of posts on all that I’ve learned on my 21 year journey in the marital kingdom. As I write.. I see how much I’ve really grown.. it never ceases to amaze me how immature, selfish and blind I was. Still growing up.. something new to learn each day!

    God Bless!

  10. JV says:

    Thus is a great list thank you. It’s important to note that women want these same things and unfortunately in a relationship, many men want/expect these things without giving much of it in return. So, years will pass of one person laboring in this category and eventually, they get tired. They bring it up and the other person just doesn’t see it the same way no matter what. Selfishness. That’s how marriages fail.

  11. EA says:

    For our marriage it’s more like:

    Me (meekly): I think we should maybe do this thing.
    Her (aggressively): Why would you suggest something so stupid? It’s an idiotic because X, Y, and Z. It’s so obvious. Let me pontificate for at least the next 5 minutes on why your small suggestion is wrong in every way, why you are wrong for suggesting it, and what we will say we will do instead (but never actually follow through on). I will keep going until you shrink away in silence and I have the victory here.

    Then she asks why I act so afraid of her… I can’t remember the last time she complimented or agreed with me. And yes, I’m pretty sure I already know the inevitable responses to this on both sides…

  12. Ruth says:

    I was actually searching for an article with this type of advice. My boyfriend is an MMA fighter who for different life reasons has been out of the game for about a year and he just got a fight and is beginning his training. It’ll be the first time I’ll be introduced to this environment and it’s scary but it’s his passion and he’s good at it. I want to support but not smother or baby him because he needs a strong encourager and someone to believe in him. Your words were wise and helpful, thank you.

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