NBA legend Michael Jordan, regarded by many as the best professional basketball player ever, had an unrelenting drive to be the best. As a freshman in college, he reportedly told his coach that “nobody will ever work as hard as I work.” From high school through a hall of fame career, Jordan kept looking for ways—and motivations—to become better. Even the best keep looking to improve. And this applies to being a better husband.
Even in solid marriages, men should be looking for ways to get better at understanding and loving our wives, unconditionally and sacrificially. Our wives can show us how. Here are 5 signs your wife needs you to step up your game—signs you might be overlooking.
1. She’s asking you about something multiple times.
Time to step up your communication and accountability. This is an easy sign to miss because, on the surface, it can feel like simple nagging. But from her perspective, this could be a sign that you’re not being as responsive or attentive as she needs you to be. If you’re focused on being a better husband, avoid being dismissive of her questions or requests, make sure you’re communicating specifics with her, and show her you are actually listening to her.
2. She talks about connecting more.
Time to step up your team-building skills. If you’re hearing this from your wife, you might wonder what she could want as a better connection between you two than sexual intimacy. But building unity in marriage requires more, and this is likely a sign that she doesn’t perceive you to be available to her emotionally and relationally. Ask her what “connecting more” means to her. Be prepared to invest time to invite her to share her heart with you while you make your ears and heart available to her.
3. She acts distant or shuts down.
Time to step up your detective and appraisal skills. The silent treatment usually builds over time, and not just from one triggering event. You have to be willing to invest in some patient research to discover the cause and be prepared to improve how you show that you truly value her. A woman wants very much to feel valued and wanted.
4. She responds defensively when you offer to help.
Time to step up your awareness skills. It’s quite possible that she’s been needing your help for some time, and you just haven’t noticed. Don’t react to her defensiveness with your own poor words and body language; that’s a recipe for an argument. Rather, being a better husband means being willing to sincerely ask her to explain her reaction so you can understand and learn from it.
5. She’s curt when you talk about or participate in your hobbies.
Time to step up your priority-setting and time management skills. There’s nothing wrong, on the surface, with hobbies. But when you focus more energy and enthusiasm on your hobbies than on your marriage, your wife will notice before you do. Take her terse reaction as a gift that helps you see where you might be out of balance in your life. Instead of reacting to her reaction, ask her good open-ended questions, not yes-or-no questions, that help her express what is really behind her reaction.
Addressing these signs without being defensive is important. The best athletes are willing to accept criticism and instruction. Although they sometimes have large egos in public, when they train, they maintain a sense of humility that says, “I think I can still get better.” So let’s do that, too, men, in our marriages. We can do better. And our wives can help us—if we’re listening.
Sound off: In what ways have you stepped up your game since you first got married?
Huddle up with your wife and ask, “What can I do to improve our marriage and how I treat you?”