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10 ways to help your husband struggling with low self-esteem

If your husband is highly insecure, he could end up taking it out on you.

Whether he acts jealous, he’s indecisive or he needs constant reassurance, over time it can take its toll on you and your relationship.

But the sad truth is – your husband doesn’t love himself.

And until that changes, he’ll struggle to show his love for you in the right way.

Whether you’re at your wit’s end, or still optimistic that things can change, and the good news is that with a little support and patience, it can.

So, we’re going to cover 10 ways you can help him and stop his low self-esteem from ruining your marriage, but first…

Where does his low self-esteem come from?

An important point to remember, no matter how frustrated you feel with your husband’s lack of self-esteem, is that it has come from somewhere.

Most sufferers of low self-esteem were first affected as children, and their lack of confidence is likely the result of a negative parent, teacher, sibling, or friend.

It’s very possible that during your husband’s childhood, he was made to feel like he simply wasn’t good enough.

As you can imagine, for a child to experience has a pretty profound effect and will certainly stay with them until adulthood.

Other causes of low self-esteem include:

  • Experiencing bereavement
  • Having a negative personality in general
  • Having unachievable high-standards for themselves
  • Stress or illnesses
  • Being bullied during their lifetime

In one way or another, these factors can cause a person to lack self-esteem, and view the world in a highly negative, fearful way.

Essentially, a person with low self-esteem doesn’t view themselves in a good way.

They are easily hurt, can seem overly-sensitive, and often can feel like they’re being rejected by others, even when that isn’t the case.

So now we’ve covered what could be some potential causes for your husband’s lack of self-esteem, but that doesn’t mean it’s not still causing problems in your marriage.

Let’s look at some of the effects it can have, and then we’ll cover what you can do to support him:

What effects can it have on your marriage?

One of the main attitudes that an insecure person will adopt is the idea that they’re not good enough.

They’re not good enough to deserve your love.

They’re not good enough to be the parent your child needs.

And even worse:

This lack of self-esteem will lead them to question your love and commitment.

He might constantly second guess your intentions even when you’re trying to do something nice for him.

Essentially, he will always feel like the victim, and this can have very strong effects on your marriage.

Because let’s be honest, a confident man is a sexy man.

Studies have shown that when it comes to doing things for your partner, an insecure person won’t always feel good about it. According to psychologist and professor Francesca Righetti:

“People with low self-esteem sacrifice in their relationship as much as people high in self-esteem. However, they are more likely to regret those sacrifices and this leads them to experience more negative moods, greater stress, and lower life satisfaction, even over time.”

When faced with this, it can make your husband feel even worse about himself, because he doesn’t realize that the sacrifices you both make are for the good of the relationship.

This can lead to him having feelings of resentment, and of course, they’re going to be directed at you.

Other issues that come from low self-esteem may present themselves in the form of jealousy.

You might find your husband gets upset easily if you even smile or talk to other men.

You might find your husband isn’t trusting, even though you’ve proven time and time again that he can put his faith in you.

He might look for negatives in a situation where there are none, or predict negative outcomes for the future without any basis.

And, unless you’ve got an education in psychology, it’ll be hard to know exactly how to deal with your husband in a way that raises his self-esteem but also doesn’t drain you of the little energy you have left.

But that’s where we can help.

Below are some great tips that will help you to help him, and as a result, your marriage will greatly improve.

What can you do to help your husband?

1) Avoid compliments that don’t address their insecurities

Knowing that your husband has low self-esteem might make you want to compliment him more to try and boost his confidence.

This is a great thing to do, but the key to doing it well is to be genuine.

Here’s a common example:

Your husband complains that he’s crap at his job and he feels like a failure.

Your first reaction might be to say, “Don’t be silly! You’re great at your job, I’m sure you’re doing just fine”.

Now, whilst that compliment is well-intended (you want him to feel good about his performance at work) it doesn’t do much to support his self-esteem.

In some ways, it can be taken as dismissive, almost as if the problem isn’t as bad as he thinks it is, and to just “get over it” and be positive.

Secondly, it doesn’t address the actual issue at hand – your husband doesn’t feel like he’s excelling in his line of work.

A better way to approach the situation would be to listen and let him know that his feelings are being heard and they are valid.

You might ask him to explain which areas at work he feels bad about and why.

Once he’s explained, you can then try and offer alternative viewpoints, such as, “We all feel like we underperform at times, but didn’t your boss congratulate you on that last project?”.

This way, you’re not shutting him down – you’re making him feel heard and understood, and then you can gently guide him to a more positive outlook on the situation.

2) Encourage plenty of self-love

Here’s the thing, you know your husband is a wonderful person with a great heart and many attractive qualities, but he simply doesn’t see it.

So no matter how much you try to drive it into him, he’ll never accept it until he starts to see it for himself.

But that’s where self-love comes into the mix.

As psychologist Deborah Koshaba explains:

“Self-love is not simply a state of feeling good. It is a state of appreciation for oneself that grows from actions that support our physical, psychological and spiritual growth.”

And self-appreciation is one thing your husband lacks due to his low self-esteem.

To combat this, encourage him to do things that give him a sense of independence and achievement.

Help him discover things that make him feel like he has a purpose and a sense of control and direction over his life.

And remind him all along that self-love is about having patience and forgiveness with yourself, and strong boundaries with others.

Ultimately, the more he practices self-love and builds the three areas of growth that Deborah mentions above, the sooner he’ll increase in confidence.

3) Have patience

It’s not an easy task, to help someone deal with their insecurities and lack of self-esteem, but if you want to be supportive you’ll need patience.

As you’ve probably already experienced, there are going to be upsetting times, where your buttons are pressed and you feel like your husband is ungrateful, uncaring, and even unreasonable at times.

During these hard times, it’s important to remember that even though your husband loves you a lot, he hates himself even more.

And there’s no quick solution for low self-esteem, and you’re not going to magically “fix” him.

What you can do is help him manage his insecurities, improve his confidence and cultivate more of a positive mindset by following these steps.

4) Don’t avoid addressing problems

It might feel like sweeping arguments under the rug is the best thing to do, rather than upset your husband or make his insecurities worse.

You might walk on eggshells to avoid ever upsetting him and let problems slide because you don’t want a full-blown argument.

This isn’t healthy, for you or your husband.

In the long run, the issues in your relationship aren’t being addressed (and they’re not going to fix themselves) and you run the risk of becoming resentful towards your husband.

So, the next time there’s an uncomfortable conversation looming, don’t shy away from being honest with your husband.

Ask him what made him upset, and give him a chance to explain how he perceived the argument.

Once he feels heard, you can then counteract any negative perceptions he might have formed with what you actually meant.

And that way, you can resolve issues before they get out of hand.

5) Let your husband do things for you

Yep, you read it right.

A great way to help your husband’s low self-esteem is to allow him to help you.

Whether it’s asking him to help you fix the brake light on the car or a problem with your phone, making him feel needed and useful is a brilliant way to boost his self-esteem.

And, it gives you a helping hand too.

This idea of making a man feel good by asking for help comes from psychologist James Bauer, the author of “His Secret Obsession”.

In the book, Bauer explains the concept of the “hero instinct”.

Essentially, the “hero instinct” refers to the biological desire that all men have, which are:

  • To feel needed and appreciated by others
  • To look after and provide for his loved ones, especially his partner
  • To feel respected by those around him

And an easy way to trigger this hero instinct in your husband is by simply making him feel valued.

Every time you ask his help for something, you’re showing him that you trust him and that he’s useful and needed in this family.

This will do wonders for his confidence, and he’ll experience a boost of feel-good emotions every time he successfully helps you out.

Check out other ways to make him feel like a hero by watching this free video by James Bauer.

6) Keep him living in the moment

A husband with low self-esteem may spend so much time worrying about the future or fretting over the past that they forget to enjoy the moment.

They can become so caught up in their thoughts and feelings, that it’s hard for them to shut off and simply be present.

Not ideal when you want to have a fun day out but he’s not engaged with it.

And this can feel unfair on you, not to mention if you have kids who don’t get the attention they need because their father is so wrapped up in himself.

The solution?

Mindfulness.

If you can help your husband practice mindfulness, it’ll make change the way he sees life, quite literally.

As Jay Dixit writes for PsychologyToday:

“Mindful people are happier, more exuberant, more empathetic, and more secure. They have higher self-esteem and are more accepting of their own weaknesses.”

The next time you take a walk together, draw your husband’s attention to small details, the light falling through the trees, or to a pretty bird sitting on a bench nearby.

When your husband tries to talk about the stressful meeting he has next week, listen, then gently bring him back to where you are and what you’re doing.

7) Encourage independence in your husband

Now, within all this help you’re doing for him, there’s a trap you don’t want to fall into.

You can’t be the only source of confidence your husband gets.

He needs to build his self-esteem himself, and the only way he can do that is to be independent.

Even when he doesn’t want to be.

When he’s faced with a difficult situation that he doesn’t want to go through, don’t jump in and do it for him.

Encourage him to tackle his problems and be supportive in the process, but ultimately the only way he’ll overcome some of his insecurities is by facing them.

And this doesn’t have to apply only to situations he sees as negative – you can also push him to do the things he enjoys.

Whether it’s to spend more time with his friends or to pick back up on old hobbies that he enjoyed, it will all benefit his self-esteem.

And once he gets a better grip on that, and less reliance on you, he’ll start to see your marriage for what it is – a partnership where you’re still both entitled to your own lives and passions.

8) Show your confidence in him

Another simple way to help your husband’s low self-esteem is to drive home how much you believe in him.

To do that, avoid making assumptions that he’s going to fail at a task.

For example, the next time he goes to pick up dinner, avoid statements like, “Make sure you don’t forget the drinks like you did last time”.

Or, if he’s been having trouble with a colleague, don’t shout out as he’s leaving for work, “Try not to rub anyone up the wrong way today”.

Every time you make a preconceived notion about him, it’s fueling his insecurities.

Not only does it make him feel like he’s going to screw up, but the one person he seeks approval and support from is the person reminding him of it.

9) Offer positive viewpoints

People suffering from low self-esteem don’t think very highly of themselves.

They’ll quickly put themselves down or dismiss anything positive they’ve done or achieved.

This can be frustrating for you – as his wife you love him and want him to realize just how great he is.

So how can you counteract this negativity with positivity without sounding condescending?

Firstly, listen and don’t dismiss his thoughts or feelings.

Then, when he’s finished, counteract his viewpoint by suggesting an alternative.

For example, he says, “I didn’t play football well today, I’m just crap at all sports”.

Now, you know that this is an irrational leap, a bad match doesn’t mean he’s terrible at all sports.

This is where you can challenge his thoughts. You might remind him that everyone has bad days and it’s okay if he didn’t perform as well as he hoped.

You could mention famous players who have messed up, and that doesn’t end their entire career because we’re all human and we all make mistakes.

Essentially, you want to turn the conversation in a positive direction so he recognizes that his inner critic isn’t the only voice he should listen to.

10) Help him recognize his triggers

Most people with low self-esteem have particular triggers that make them feel worse about themselves.

In some cases, they might feel insecure about their appearance. Someone mentioning that they’ve gained weight could be a trigger for them.

If their insecurity is rooted in distrust, a friend not being upfront might prompt them to become even more insecure.

A great way to deal with your husband’s insecurities is to first know what the triggers are.

If you’re both aware of them, you can sit down and talk through the situation before he has a chance to escalate it in his mind.

Ultimately, you’re getting in and dealing with the insecurity before it has time to blossom and take over the whole day.

And over time, your husband will get better at spotting these triggers and he’ll learn to rationalize his insecurities himself before they become a full-blown issue.

What can you do to look after yourself?

Now, we’ve spoken a lot about what you can do to help your husband, but what about you?

There’s a good chance you’re feeling very frustrated and worn down by his lack of self-esteem.

And ultimately, if you’re not looking after yourself, you won’t be in a position to help him.

So, here are a few pointers to remind yourself to do as often as you can, so that you’re relaxed, happy, and ready to be a supportive partner to him:

  • Remember to make time for yourself to be alone and calm
  • Lead the lifestyle you want – have hobbies, social life, and goals
  • Apply self-care and self-love to your routine
  • Make sure you have a support network of friends or family to call on
  • Be honest with your partner if you’re feeling overwhelmed or his insecurities are starting to affect your mental health

And just as it’s important to be strong mentally to help your husband, ultimately it’s for yourself as well.

Living with an insecure person can drain you, and after years and years of tiptoeing around his feelings, you can easily forget yourself in the process.

Final thoughts

Whatever the reason your husband has insecurities, it’s not something that will go away on its own.

You can be a loving, supportive partner, and it may make a difference to the severity of his low self-esteem, but ultimately he needs to work on overcoming these insecurities himself.

Whether he seeks professional help or embarks on his journey of recovery, know that there’s only so much you can do to help.

Hopefully, the tips above will give you a better grasp on his insecurities and a few handy ways to deal with them so you can spend more time enjoying your marriage rather than trying to fix it.

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Written by Kiran Athar

Kiran is a foodie, writer and traveler. She considers herself a citizen of the world, who gets her inspiration from the people she meets along her journeys. She's currently living in Spain, where she spends her time writing, watching the shepherds and eating tapas in the mountains of Andalucía.

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