Don't Wound His Sensitive Pride
A man is proud of his masculine qualities. These qualities include his strong muscular body, his manly skills, abilities, and achievements. He is also proud of his leadership, guide, protector and provider traits. When he feels he is lacking in an area, he will try to hide it or mask it from the world.
It is very important that you realize how sensitive he is in these areas. As his wife you must also learn not to ridicule, belittle, or act indifferently to these qualities. When you lack insight you may make remarks that you think are very innocent, but will get quite a different reaction out of him.
How to Avoid Wounding His Pride
Never demean, make fun of, or act ho-hum to any part of his masculinity. Don't make the mistake of comparing him and insinuating he does not measure up. Don't hint that he could do better or suggest he could be "more of a man". Don't pass up chances to admire and appreciate his displays of masculinity. And don't compete with him in these areas. In other words, don't be a better man than he is. Let him excel you in masculine areas.
Apply these principles to the following:
Do not ridicule any parts of his masculine body, such as his beard or mustache, his hairy chest, his muscles, his stamina, or his more private parts. Don't act bored when he flexes his muscles, or struts in front of you. He is looking for admiration. Don't suggest he go to the gym or compare him to someone bigger or stronger. If he is lacking in an area, try to help him with a solution without putting him down or making him feel less of a man. Do not make a show of your strength or ability to out-do him in a task or sport requiring masculine skills or talents. To excel him is to belittle him. (This is very popular in today's movies.)
Do not belittle or show indifference in any job that requires masculine skills. This not only applys to his work, but things like carpentry, electrical work, mechanics, hunting, shooting, fishing, mathematics, logic, or anything that requires masculine skills. If he is working on a problem, don't suggest he call for help, and don't figure it out yourself.
Do not fail to notice his achievements. Do you ever hurt his pride by making any of the following mistakes?
Do you yawn or look around the room when he is telling of his latest accomplishment? Do you continue reading the paper, change the subject or walk off?
Do you get that "not again" look when he retells a story of a past goal or triumph?
Do you keep your mouth shut when he receives an honor or earns a reward so he won't get a big head? Are you calm and quiet, or even jealous?
Do you let your activities keep you too busy to listen when he is excited and wants to share news with you?
Don't take a dim view of his dreams for the future. Don't cast doubt on his ability to reach them. Don't be a dash of the cold water of reality in his face. Men are very sensitive to a future failure.
Do not suggest that he is feminine in his personality traits. For instance, don't accuse him of being wishy-washy, timid, submissive, or lacking in the masculine traits we have discussed above.
Do not suggest he is not performing well in his role as the guide, leader and protector of his family. Do not let him know that you could do better, or could get along just fine without him. Take care to appreciate his efforts in these areas.
Pride in His Role as Provider
It is important that you take care to appreciate him in his role as the provider and breadwinner. He does not want to think that you are suffering neglect or doing without. (You should be thrifty with what you have, but do not be a martyr and go without.) Here are some common mistakes that women in two areas make:
The working-outside-the-home-wife has to be extra careful not to wound her husband's pride in this area since she also has an income.
Don't remind him he couldn't make it without you, or
Complain about how hard you work, or
Bring up how much you sacrifice, or
Let everyone know you work because you have to, or
Let everyone know the family just wouldn't make it without you, or
Excel him in your work by doing a better job, advancing higher than he, or earning more pay.
The working-at-home-full-time-wife needs to watch her ways also.
Don't say things like "we can't afford it", or
Act insecure about the future, or
Offer suggestions about how he could do better at work, or
Admire someone who does better at work, or
Remind him how much you scrimp and save to stretch his paycheck.
Who Wounds Him?
There are many areas where a man can receive wounds to his pride. Some of his wounds may come from his childhood and youth. His family and school friends could have made fun of his budding masculinity or his accomplishments.
Men also have much to face on a daily basis in the working world. Someone is always trying to look better than him, climb over him, or cut him down to size. Customers may have run-ins with him, and employers may be difficult to get along with.
Wives, don't add your name to this list by adding to your husband's humiliation. He can expect it from the world outside, but is cut to the quick when the woman he loves joins the throng.
The Wall of Reserve
The most immediate effect of wounded pride is for a man to crawl inside himself in a protective shell called the wall of reserve. He builds this wall to protect himself from further pain or humiliation. It is easier to hide feelings than to suffer humiliation or ridicule, so he just keeps his hurts and emotions to himself. His need for admiration is so important he will go to drastic measures to protect it, and a huge protective wall is the result.
There should be no wall of reserve in an ideal marriage. You and your spouse should have no fear of expressing yourselves. If you sense a wall of reserve in your husband, you need to check to see if you are at fault, then take action to get that wall down and restore your husband's wounded pride.
How to Break Down the Wall of Reserve
It will do no good to just ask a man why he is so quiet or why he never shares things with you. After all, the things he shared or said are what were ridiculed in the first place! You have to change your method of operation by doing the following:
You will begin to notice as you change that your husband will begin to open up to you. He will put the hook out, so to speak, to see if you will take the bait. He will fish for admiration, appreciation and acceptance. Make sure you do not miss these chances. Practice your 3 A's skills. Be ready with answers and comments. He will get braver as he learns he can trust you. Once he gets a taste of the fish he caught (a woman who admires, appreciates and accepts him) he will keep fishing for more. He has an unsatisfiable appetite for this kind of dinner!
You all know the #1 rule and here is a great place to put it in practice - Accept him. Are you breaking this important fundamental? Go back and study chapter/lesson 3 if you are. Remember to look to his better side.
Right behind fundamental #1 is #2 - appreciate him. Be sincerely thankful for the many facets he adds to your life. Make him feel special because he is.
You know what's coming if you've been around at all, yes...#3 - admire him. Build up his confidence with your wonderous admiration. Don't forget, the woman who does the 3 A's will be indespensible to his happiness.
Don't ever belittle him. You must stop making him feel small. All you succeed in doing is adding more rocks to his wall and building it higher and wider than before. Work on eliminating indifferent or hurtful looks and words.
You need to work on your angelic qualities. Deficits of character will be noticed. If you criticize others, he will expect you to do the same of him. Always try to look to the better side of everyone. Be generous in your attitude toward others. He will trust you more when he sees your goodwill and sweet nature at all times.
Another angelic quality is to appreciate the good in other people. When you can somehow see past the obvious faults in people and see the good underneath, he will trust you to see the finer side in him.
Add to the above qualities the trait of trustworthiness. When people open up to you, hold their confidences and do not discuss their problems with others. How can anyone trust a person who talks about someone else when they are not around? Your husband will not trust you if he sees you betraying confidences. What will stop you from betraying the ones he tells you?
A man can also protect himself by turning off his feelings and not caring. The problem here is you can't just turn off the hurtful feelings, the good ones get turned off, too. A man who has done this walks through life like he is made of stone or steel. You will feel like you need a chisel to get through his protective armour. The above suggestions for the wall of reserve will help.
If your husband is being dishonest about his shortcomings and failures it may be because he fears ridicule instead of acceptance and understanding. A man needs to be able to share the defeats as well as the victories with his wife.
Close to this is the tendency to always justify his actions, even when wrong. This is a protective measure meant to keep his sensitive masculine pride intact. Meet disappointments with sympathetic understanding (lesson 13) and you will help your husband be more truthful and able to deal with his faults.
We all know people who belittle themselves. When a man does this it is another protective feature. He might want to beat you to the punch. If he says it first; then he won't have to hear it from you. He also may be looking for someone to contradict him and build him up. You need to beat him to the punch - deal a few knock-out blows by telling him how great he is before he puts himself down. Don't argue about his feelings about himself, refuse to even see them. Make him out to be a bigger and better man than he is and he will try to fill those bigger shoes.
You have a two-fold responsibility in this:
First, do not do things to cause him to build a wall, and
- second, take steps to break down the wall if it is there.
If you fail to do these two things and his sensitive pride remains wounded, he may lose his feelings for you. You have a unique opportunity to either build or destroy a man. You are the one person with the most influence in these areas. It is a great responsibility. Don't make the mistake of taking this lesson lightly. Masculinity is suffering in our culture and many others today. A fascinating woman has the knowledge and understanding to undo much of the damage.
Assignment for This Lesson
Success Stories Relating to this Lesson
FW Lessons Index
My Home Page
Join the mailing list for a discussion of Fascinating Womanhood principles, send an empty email message to:
Fascinating Womanhood Mailing List
This mailing list and the lessons are in no way related or affiliated with Fascinating Womanhood or Andelin 2000.
I would like to thank Victorian Elegance for the beautiful graphics on this page.
I would also like to thank Dynamic Drive for the HTML code for the mouse trailer.