My husband, LeRoy, was sprawled across the floor beside our 25-year-old washing machine. Heavy sighs, groans and loud banging filled the air. Tools and parts were spread in every direction. The one thing we had come to count on with that washer was a regular cycle of breakdowns.
We were struggling young parents in that season of married life. LeRoy was finishing his degree while working at a low-paying job, and we didn't have money for a repairman. That meant nights were often spent working on that old washer.
My regular contribution to this evening activity included handing LeRoy a glass of iced tea, sitting on the floor beside him and conveying the most important message a woman can communicate to her husband: "I'm on your side!"
I've been delivering that same message for three decades now. I don't always voice those exact words, but I've learned to express this sentiment through my attitude and supportive actions.
God assures us that He is "on our side." In Romans 8:31, the apostle Paul writes, "If God is for us, who can be against us?" And knowing that God is "for us" provides us with courage.
This is the same assurance that a husband needs from his wife. When my husband is under pressure to make a tough decision, when our children need his wise counsel, when things are looking bleak in the bank account, he needs to know that I am on his side — partnering with him through every challenge.
So how can a wife demonstrate her support for her husband?
Respect his need for space
When I see my husband struggling to find a solution, my biggest temptation is to jump in and tell him what he needs to do to fix the problem. But when I give him space to think and pray, I convey to him that I have confidence in his ability to grapple with the issue.
Partner with him in his dreams
Men thrive when they pursue their dreams, and if we aren't careful, we can squash those dreams. When I throw cold water on my husband's grand vision, it may prevent him from tackling a pursuit he needs to try. And if he's making a foolish or risky decision, he'll be more receptive to a cautionary word from me if I've first shown him that I'm on his side.
Give him room to fail
I want my husband to succeed, but no matter how dedicated or brilliant his efforts, failures will happen. And failures can provide the opportunity for growth. LeRoy needs to have the freedom to fail without fear of my response. And if he does fail, he needs my assurance that the failure doesn't define him.
A man can courageously press on through life's obstacles when his wife assures him that she is standing with him and that her love for him will not fail. After all, isn't that what we verbalized in our marriage vows — our commitment to love and honor our man in sickness and in health, in good times and in bad?
Kimberly Wagner is a pastor's wife and the author of the book Fierce Women.
For more from Kimberly Wagner on women and marriage, read the article Fierce Women.