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A Sure Way to Soften Your Husband’s Heart – Karla Downing

January 15, 2020

A Sure Way to Soften Your Husband’s Heart

My husband works hard physically and mentally at sixty-seven years old and always has. Along with this, we have had a cycle that repeats in our marriage when he works extra hard or feels overwhelmed with job stress. He becomes resentful and angry toward me because my work looks much different than his and because I have time to pursue my passion  and have more time for leisure than he does.


In the past I’ve responded to my husband by getting mad at him for his resentment toward me. I focused on how unfair it was that he was angry with me for doing what I am doing. This has resulted in a standoff that goes nowhere. 


Deciding to approach the situation differently resulted in the opposite outcome. 


What did I do differently? What did I do to change his heart toward me? I wrote him an email telling him how much I appreciate everything he does for our family and how his hard work has given us all a good life. I let him know that it was because of his effort that I was blessed to be able to pursue my passion to write and encourage Christians in difficult relationships and that God would reward him for supporting me. I also let him know how much I appreciate the leisure activities I have. 


The result? His heart softened. His anger dissipated, and he was happy that I had time for my ministry and leisure.   


Men need appreciation. It’s the way God made them. It motivates them to continue doing the right things. Without it, they struggle. Appreciation simply yet profoundly feeds their souls. In fact, men are more motivated to change by appreciation than confrontation. If you doubt this, try this experiment. Complain to your husband that he doesn’t help enough around the house. Then watch and see if he helps more. Wait a week and do the opposite. Compliment him for helping you. Tell him you are a lucky woman to have such a great man by your side. Then watch and see if he helps more. And if he does, be sure you don’t criticize his efforts.


An important benefit of praising your man is what you’re teaching your children. When you express your appreciation for what their fathers do for the family, your children are not only learning how to speak to their future spouse, but will also likely experience a stronger relationship with their father as their fathers’ hearts are softened, wanting to be even more involved in their lives. Our daughters will learn that men need to be appreciated which will set them up for successful marriages, and our sons will discern the women who lean toward thankfulness rather than criticism.  


Appreciation is simply expressing how much you value what someone is doing. We all like to be acknowledged for what we do, but our husbands desperately need it. It is a primary motivator of their behavior and without it, they will struggle with serving their families.  Also, if you are feeling desperate for appreciation, we hear you! Trust us and start here. Read this post and then this post to help your heart today. 


Wife Step: How has your husband expressed frustration or anger over not being appreciated? Today, express your appreciation for what he does for his family.

Karla Downing, the founder of, offers Christian marriage help and Christian relationship help as a speaker, author, counselor, and Bible study teacher. Karla grew up in a dysfunctional family and then found herself struggling with Christian codependency in her own difficult marriage. Through her personal struggles, she discovered biblical and practical principles, which she now teaches to others. She also trains counselors, pastors, women’s ministry leaders, church leaders, small-group leaders, non-profit ministry leaders, and individuals to minister to Christians in difficult relationships. Karla’s passion is to see individuals, marriages, and families set free from the chains of dysfunction, misunderstanding, and emotional pain through a correct understanding of what the Bible teaches about relationships.

Karla Downing is the author of the Evangelical Christian Publishers Association 2004 Silver Medallion Award winner, 10 Lifesaving Principles for Women in Difficult Marriages. Her second book, When Love Hurts: 10 Principles to Transform Difficult Relationships, applies the same principles to all family members. Her third book, The Truth in the Mirror: A Guide to Healthy Self-Image, offers a unique and life-changing approach to looking at self-image. 

She holds a Master of Arts in Marriage and Family Therapy from Hope International University. Karla also holds a Bachelor of Arts and Master of Arts in Communicative Disorders from California State University, Fullerton. She is a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist and a licensed Speech Language Pathologist. Karla was also the director of Friends in Recovery, a Christ-based, Twelve-Step recovery program.

Karla lives in Southern California. She has been married for over thirty years and has three adult daughters.


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