One of the best ways to help your husband or partner manage his stress is to pretend he's a puppy or a small child. "Like dogs and young kids, you cannot praise [men] enough," says professional speaker, husband and father Chip Eichelberger. Give Him Praise "Let your mate know what you love about him," adds Kim Fulcher, author of Remodel Your Reality: Seven Steps to Rebalance Your Life and Reclaim Your Passion. "While it's definitely OK to make requests for him to change behavior that isn't supporting you, it's at least as important for you to let him know what he's doing right."
This is not always easy to do, of course, especially on those many days when you, yourself, are exhausted and stressed out by the kids, your own job, household and family responsibilities or all of the above. But Father's Day is a great time to start thinking about priceless gifts like praise where your husband or partner is concerned. Here are a few others that will make your guy's day -- and then some. Give Him Time to Unwind When Judy Carden was interviewing men for her book What Husbands Need: Reaching His Heart and Reclaiming His Passion, she kept hearing the same thing over and over again: A little decompression time after work can go a long way. Even just "15 minutes of quiet time can carry [men] through the chaos of dinner, homework, baths and so on," she says. Temple University psychologist Gordon Hart, author of Power and Intimacy in Men's Development, agrees. "Let him have some time to do something that would be fun for him," says Hart. "Suggest he go for a walk or read a book. It's all about reducing the pressure on him for a little while." Say What You Mean Your husband or partner probably isn't a psychic, says stress-management expert Debbie Mandel, author of Changing Habits: The Caregivers' Total Workout. So "tell him specifically what you want him to do." Fulcher adds: "Bottom line [is] men like to succeed. Yet your man cannot read your mind!" Let Him Parent His Way Most men wrestle constantly with the emotions of powerlessness and worthlessness, says Hart. So when you as a wife or partner offer him parenting tips with the best of intentions, he's more likely to perceive your advice as criticism, which in turn leads to stress and frustration. "Moms often feel compelled to bail Dad out when he makes a parenting mistake, such as using the wrong diaper, packing the wrong school lunch or failing to quell a temper tantrum," says Jen Singer, creator of the Web site MommaSaid.net and author of 14 Hours 'Til Bedtime: A Stay-at-Home Mom's Life in 27 Funny Little Stories. "Unless your child's safety is at risk, let Dad figure it out on his own." Take Care of Your Own Needs, Too "I wish my wife would take more time for herself and not feel guilty about it," says Eichelberger. He's not alone. And though it's counterintuitive at first, Eichelberger's observation makes sense. Who, after all, is the person in your husband's or partner's life that he loves the most? You. If he knows you're devoting time to yourself, he'll worry about you less -- and you'll both be happier for it, every day of the year.