Husband & Wife Articles

Love the One You’re With

The 4-point B.E.S.T. method for marriage

By Rachel Swenson Balducci

I was talking to a good friend a while back, not complaining about my husband as much as bemoaning the fact that he had a particular character trait that sometimes bothered me. The issue at hand was not a matter of righteousness or sin but something about Paul’s personality that was pretty much the exact opposite of mine.

My friend listened patiently before mentioning a similar issue in her own marriage – something her husband did that was different from her.

“But you know,” she finally said, “this is who we’ve got and we love them.”

Wow, I thought. Words to live by!

Rachel Swenson Balducci

Mother and blogger Rachel Balducci writes from the hearth.

Instead of loving my man and embracing him wholeheartedly, I was (in that moment) choosing to focus on how he could be better. I was admitting he wasn’t perfect – not necessarily a bad thing – but was unfortunately getting really worked up in the meantime. The problem was, I had a plan for how we could make improvements happen – if only he would listen.

But my friend, with her simple statement, reminded me how dangerous this thinking can be. She wasn’t suggesting that we accept abuse or wrongdoing, nor was she saying there was never room for improvement in a marriage. Of course, a husband and wife should work on their interpersonal relating and the two should always be moving towards more unity and deeper love.

What she was suggesting, however, was quite basic and equally brilliant, and during that conversation I had a light-bulb moment.

Her sage advice was simple: stop trying to change your man.

Too many times have I looked at my husband and with all the love in my heart tried to fix areas that just didn’t need fixing. My motives were pure and it was out of my devotion to him (I said to myself) that I wanted to help. But all it did was put my focus on the “negative" instead of paying attention to everything about him that I love so much.

Years ago, when Paul and I first started dating, I had a conversation with my dad about the best ways of relating to your spouse. He shared with me the B.E.S.T. method, a set of guidelines for treating your husband or wife with love and respect.

As a wife, I want to:

1. Build Up: Tell my husband what a great job he’s doing. Thank him for all his hard work. Notice all the little things and comment on them (in a positive way).

2. Encourage: Point out things my husband has done that I really appreciate and admire. Let him know that he’s great and that I know it.

3. Share: Talk to each other. Talk about my day and then let him talk about his! Listen to my beloved (even if he doesn’t have as much to say as I do). Listen, even if it’s not the same level of sharing that I might offer.

4. Touch: Don’t forget to hold hands! And give back rubs! And show I care in the million little physical ways (outside the bedroom) that mean so much. These really do add up.

I realized, after my friend made her comment, that when I take the time to focus on my husband, to really love him the way I should, then I don’t have time to nitpick. Even if I have the best of intentions, when I walk around with a list of ways my man can improve, I’m not building him up – I’m tearing him down.

My energy is so much better spent looking at all my husband’s wonderful traits instead of the one or two things about him I wish I could change.

Rachel Swenson Balducci, the author of the book How Do You Tuck In A Superhero?, blogs at