When a Man Comforts His Wife

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By Dr. Gary Smalley

During most of our marriage, my wife could never expect to receive comfort from me whenever she made an embarrassing mistake. I usually ridiculed her or got upset. But eventually, she began to share with me her need for sympathy, compassion, and understanding. Just when I was starting to get the hang of it, my newly acquired knowledge was put to the royal test. I came home one Saturday to find my camper parked at an angle in the driveway—not unusual in itself. Unfortunately, a large section of the garage roof was lying next to it in the driveway. Like most men, the first thought that came to mind was money. How much would it cost to fix it all? I felt like going into the house and screaming at my wife for her carelessness.

As these thoughts raced through my mind, I recalled the many times she had told me how she needed to be treated in upsetting situations. I walked up to her, put my arms around her with a smile, and choked out the words, "I'll bet you really feel bad. Let's go into the house and talk about it. I don't want you to feel bad for my sake."

Inside, I held her for a minute without saying anything. She told me she had dreaded my reaction as much as the accident. "That's okay, honey," I said. "We'll fix it. Don't worry about it." The longer I held her and the more I comforted her, the better we felt.

When we walked out to survey the damage, I realized it wasn't as bad as it looked. The roof hadn't splintered; the part that fell had sheared off neatly like a puzzle piece. All that was needed were some nails and a little paint. Within a few minutes, a friend had heard about the accident and had driven into my driveway with a pickup and tools; in an hour we had it completely fixed.

When we were finished, I thought to myself, A couple of hours ago I could have crushed my wife's spirit, strained our relationship, and made her feel like an idiot … all over an hour's work.

Even though I thought Norma would be the only one to gain from my understanding attitude, in the long run I actually benefited the most. The increased admiration and respect I received from her provided an even greater incentive to comfort her.

© Copyright 2005 Smalley Relationship Center

© 2002 - 2006 Smalley Relationship Center. Used by permission.