Marriage

5 Ways To Be A Better Husband, Because A Happy Marriage Isn’t Just Women’s Work

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happy wifeYesterday, I wrote a post gently criticizing in the harshest way possible Katelyn Cameron‘s piece titled, “5 Ways You Are Destroying Your Husband And Killing Your Marriage.” Someone in our comments section suggested that we write a post about how men can be better husbands. I decided to take on the challenge.

Cameron clearly understands wives…well, some of them. A few. Perhaps an uncountable number because they are all at home cleaning their husband’s golf clubs. But because I only have the one husband and therefore can’t profess to be an expert in husbands in general, I decided to look at some men’s sites and see what kinds of relationship tips they have come up with in the past. I found five that we all agree on, and have listed them here with just a wee bit of editorializing on my part.

1. Compliments are awesome, but cleaning the litter box for us is nice too.

Women love compliments. Most men have a hard time giving them. This has been a source of frustration since caveman times, when wives would skin and cook an entire animal and get no more than a grunt of appreciation from their hairy, hulking husbands with their love of sticks and their enormous foreheads.

It’s not that men don’t think nice things, it’s just that the path from brain to mouth can be a little choppy. For example, I can say all kinds of beautiful things to my husband, and his response will always be, “You’re good, too.” For him, that is the equivalent of a Shakespearean sonnet. But he also always leaves me coffee and once painted an entire room for me without my asking. I’ll take it!

Either way, we just want to know that our husbands love us and that we are on their minds, even if our place there is somewhere between Sons Of Anarchy and bacon.

2. Finances. Oy.

Most of the men’s sites recommended being honest with your wife about money, making budgets, etc etc. Here’s my advice: marry someone who handles their money the same way you do. That’s not exactly helpful for men who are already married, but if you’re not it will go a long way towards making you a good husband in the future. Trust me.

If you are both spenders, then get married and live precariously close to bankruptcy together with your many things. If you are a cheap bastard, find a cheap bitch and enjoy double coupon days and large savings accounts. Mixing these two types and keeping both of them happy is hard to do. My advice: don’t cross the streams.

3. Romance is great, but for God’s sake don’t be creepy.

A lot of men’s sites recommend “courting” your wife; I myself despise the word “courting” so I would ask you to do that part silently. Suggestions for how to keep the romance alive in your marriage usually include: leaving a rose on your wife’s pillow, recording a sweet message on her voicemail, or writing her a love note and sticking it on her windshield. Please know your audience, however. If my husband did any of those things, I would know for certain that my life was about to end because he had obviously lost his mind and was planning to murder me.

If your wife loves that kind of stuff, then go for it. If romance is cuddling on the couch watching The Expendables, however, then grab a beer and your wife and enjoy.

4. Ask us about ourselves. You don’t know everything.

If you think about it, it can be pretty shocking how much most of us don’t know about our spouses. It can be hard to admit after years of marriage that you still don’t know some of the basics, but taking the time to ask shows that you’re still curious about the other person, and that makes them feel good. That can also make them feel suspicious, however, so don’t just come right out and ask your wife what three books she would take with her to a deserted island. Don’t be a weirdo.

The site All Pro Dads has some ideas for how to get this started:

  • Do you know her favorite band?
  • What books did she read last year/is she reading now?
  • Where would she like to go if you had a three-day weekend?
  • What restaurant she’s been dying to visit?
  • Ask good questions, and then listen.

Those are great, but I’d like to add a few to the list:

  • Does she know your children’s names?
  • Can she correctly rank the three best kinds of pie?
  • Can she solve for X?

Remember, focus on what’s important.

5. Encourage, support, and value us, whether we are running a company or raising our kids.

Be interested in her life, even if there is nothing happening. If your stay-at-home wife can pretend to care about that hideously boring meeting you had today, then you can pretend to care about the worst trip to the zoo that anyone has ever had, ever. If she works outside the home, ask her about her job. Try to remember the names of her co-workers (the two you’ll want to focus on are the names of her closest friend and of her work nemesis.) Recognize your wife as someone who has her own hopes and dreams, some of which don’t involve her family. Find out what those are and cheer her on.

So that’s it. Five things that will make your wife happier that basically boil down to this: give a shit and show it. That’s all. If you’re interested in copies of my new marital counseling book, “Give A Shit And Show It,” please email me at Mommyish. It’s gonna be a best-seller!