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Wives-Here’s How To Get Your Husband To Grow Emotionally


Flowers don’t bloom by you nagging them.

They bloom when you give them enough sunlight and water them the appropriate amount. Your husband works the exact same way.

There are many of us wives out there who want our husbands to grow emotionally. It kills us to see them stagnant and unmotivated to work on themselves. However, I think at some point, we go horribly wrong and get the impression that it’s up to us to fix them or make the growth happen. Unfortunately, that is neither our right or our place in their lives. As a wife, I believe it’s absolutely your role to encourage growth in your husband, but it is not your role to force it.

This process truly does have a lot of similar traits to that of gardening. Here is how:

Fertilize the Soil

The first step is to make sure that you’re creating a physically and emotionally safe environment for growth to take place. No one can be expected to grow in hard or unfit soil, and neither should your husband (or yourself, for that matter). So, before you do anything else to encourage emotional growth in your husband, it’s important that you look at the circumstances in your life and truly ask yourself, “is it possible to grow in this environment”? You can’t control your husband, but you can control yourself and how you contribute to the environment you participate in creating.

Is there excess stress in your home? 

Do you explode, yell, slam doors, or “go-off” frequently? 

Do you nag or criticize your husband? 

Do you get excessively angry when things don’t go your way? 

Do you initiate sex and connect with your husband physically? 

Do you shoot down your husband’s sexual advances frequently?

Is your household over-scheduled and under-relaxed?

These are just a few of the contributing factors to the overall emotional environment that your husband is experiencing that you have control over. And, if you want him to even think about taking the step off the ledge to going to therapy by himself or with you, to engage in any kind of self-reflection or self-awareness building, or to even feel excited about the possibility that growth and change is possible for him, it is important that you are a safe person for him.  It is important that he knows he can be messy with you without you trying to take over. He needs assurance that his growth can be his own and that it’s okay for him to do it his way… and that starts in the background with all of this.

It is important to note that he experiences other environments, as well, that could either hinder or positively encourage his emotional growth. These environments might include work, hobbies, friends, family, places he volunteers, a local bar, or even his video game community or chatroom. Unfortunately, you don’t have control over these areas. Later down the road if he doesn’t see any hindrance himself…there is plenty of room for conversation over what is holding him / both of you back, but for now, if he feels safe at home with you, chances are you will have the loudest voice in his life and can encourage him anyway. Leave the rest to him!

Plant the Seed

Once you know that there is a safe environment for growth to take place, it’s time to plant the seed. This DOESN’T mean that you get to look at your husband and have a field day making a list of everything you want to change about his personality and get to work. In fact, it is quite the opposite. Planting the seed of emotional growth into another person actually comes out through positive praise of the things he is doing well at already. It may sound counter-active, but people tend to gravitate toward what feels good or is clearly productive to them. When the idea of change is approached, the lens of “you’re not good enough and need to fix yourself”… that doesn’t feel very good, so it often is met with resistance. However, if you spend time truly assessing your husband and recognizing what makes him truly amazing, then spend time affirming him for those things, it will feel really good to him, and he will most likely want more of that feeling. Now, while it’s not your job to change your husband’s personality, sometimes there are negative habits that need to be addressed, and that’s fair! That kind of conversation could go something like this: “Babe, I see how hard you work at the office and I know that by the time you get home, you’re exhausted, and I completely understand that! You get up early and work late and give a lot to your job and I’m so proud you for that! However, I’m starting to feel really burned out with the chores on top of everything else on my plate and I could really use some help. Do you think we could have an open conversation about something you have the capacity to take off my plate so that we can both get time to relax at the end of the day?” This way, you’re suggesting something that works for BOTH of you and that you can do together.

Planting the seed means helping him believe and truly see that change can be good.

In truth, change doesn’t always feel good, but when the end result is more connection between the two of you, it is good and it’s worth it! You just have to keep creating the space to make it happen.

Additionally, another way to plant the seed of emotional growth into your spouse is to vulnerably work on yourself right alongside him. Be open with the things you don’t love about yourself and ask for accountability from your spouse to help you make changes in those areas. You don’t need to direct change in your spouse’s life, but you absolutely have the freedom to direct change in your own…. and you should! Either way, whether your spouse starts to change or not, you’ll be better off for doing so! Talk to your spouse about the therapy you’re going to, tell them about growth moments you’ve had, and be honest with them about setbacks you’re having in the process. Honestly, I believe that most men, and women, are taught to think that change has to be this huge overwhelming full self-makeover experience, but it doesn’t have to be! The healthiest and most long-term change actually comes out of focusing on one or two things and being intentional to work it out until you get to a place in which you’re happy and content. If you put in the hard work alongside your spouse and let them see it truly isn’t killing you but is making you stronger, they’ll be a lot more likely to someday say, “I want what you have… how do I get that?”

Appropriately Tend to the Growth

Like I said before in the beginning, flowers don’t bloom by you nagging them. They bloom when you give them enough sunlight and water them the appropriate amount. Your husband works the exact same way. We cannot nag or over-nurture our husbands into growing and bettering themselves. We have to have boundaries and recognize what our appropriate role in their growth is while still maintaining everything else on our own plate. The truth is, every tree, plant, flower, and blade of grass in existence is responsible for taking the nutrients it’s given and using them to make itself grow. Your husband is the same way in that he is responsible for his own growth, and in no way should you feel that you have to do that for him or walk on eggshells around him. Your role in your husband’s growth is to allow him to tell you how you can best help him and then show up. If he asks you to hold him accountable, do your best to do so. If he asks you to eat healthy with him so that you can both get in shape together, and you agree, then do that! If he asks you to help him remember to set an alarm at 10 pm every night so he goes to bed earlier, and you’re okay with that, do it. But, make sure you aren’t taking on the role of his mother and doing it all for him. Your husband is a grown adult. Let him fail sometimes so he can learn what works best for him. You are not his rescuer, you’re his wife. And emotional change will have to come to him the way it comes to all of us…. by working really damn hard at it and pushing for the results we want! The best part is that if he does that, he will get to experience the incredible feeling of reward and payoff when he sees the fruit of his labor come to fruition as we all do! It’s the best part of the growth cycle, and the more he feels it, the more he’ll want it. So don’t take that away from him by being a helicopter wife. This bears repeating: Be his helper, not his mother.

Enjoy the Beauty

No one puts all the work into growing anything just so that they can cut it down or close the window and block it out. No way! When things grow, we admire them! We stare and appreciate the fruit of the labor. So, the last and most important part of the growth cycle is to enjoy the beauty and the fruit that is produced. Both in yourself and in your husband! Taking a hands-off approach will produce growth in yourself, so be proud of yourself for that! Further, though, there is a truth I need you to make sure you don’t miss, and I’m going to yell it really loud because I want to make sure you hear it: MAKE SURE YOU ENJOY YOUR HUSBAND! As he makes changes, don’t rush him on to change something else. And most definitely don’t criticize him or say “I told you so” or rub it in his face that you were right. Encourage him, applaud him and give him credit for all of his hard work. Stop and truly appreciate him for exactly who he is and for exactly where he is. It will honestly take a lot of pressure off of both of you and will give you an immense amount of appreciation for this incredible, sexy, driven, capable, respectable, and a hunk of a man that you love and chose to be with!

Written by Anna Collins 
Anna Collins lives in sunny Southern California with her husband and two children. She is passionate about her marriage, staying at home with her kids, writing, coffee, good conversation, and game night. Her life dream is to someday write a book and see it published.

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