Fellas, this is for you. Yesterday was my 18th wedding anniversary (together for 20) and as I look back at my married life, the bumps we’ve had, the arguments, and the disagreements, I ask myself, “how have we managed to make it work when so many marriages end in divorce?”
Many of our friends tell my wife and I that we have the relationship they wish that they had. That we are what they strive to be. Why is that though? How have we managed to create such a loving and thriving marriage?
Before I answer those questions, I’d like to say that marriage is a two-way street. During this post, I will be talking directly to husbands and what we can do to strengthen our marriages. That doesn’t mean it’s all on you. It just means that you can’t go into any relationship with the thought that you want to fix the other person, you have to come from the realization that you can only fix yourself.
As husbands, we tend to fixate on wanting to fix her problems. That’s the wrong way of going about it. You can’t fix her, but you can be the person that she can lean on. You can always listen better.
Pro tip #1: Learn to keep your mouth shut. Sometimes words, no matter how well intentioned, are the last thing that your wife needs. Use your ears instead. Don’t be so quick to give advice; she will ask you for input if it is needed. Until then, don’t just listen, be present. Listen with intention. Hear your wife, not just the words she uses. There is always more to what is being said if you listen to how she says it.
Ask questions. Stay engaged in the conversation and let it takes its course. Don’t be so quick to get out of the conversation by continually looking for an escape route. This is your wife. This is the woman that you said I do to. Give her the time and attention that she deserves.
Pro tip #2: Create memories. It’s not the things that you buy her that is important; it’s the memories that you create together that leave a lasting impression. Spend time together. It doesn’t have to be a beach in Fiji. It can be a couples massage, a cooking class, or even dance lessons.
Pro tip #3: You don’t always have to be right, even if you are right. Being right isn’t as important as the relationship. Think about it. If you’re right, then she is wrong. Do you like being wrong? Do you think your wife does? Argue your rightness too many times, and it will create a massive wedge between your wife and yourself.
Learn to let it go. You don’t need to be right all the time. Relationship first. Everything else is secondary.
Pro tip #4: It isn’t always about you. Just because your wife is upset doesn’t mean it has anything whatsoever to do with you. Maybe she had a hard time with the kids, at work, or with one of her siblings. If that’s the case, refer to pro tip #1 and be there for her. Listen. You may think that you are, but you are not the center of her universe. She has her own thoughts and feelings, needs and desires. Let her have them. She will love you for it.
Pro tip #5: Take action. Mow the grass, do the dishes. Vacuum the floor. Don’t wait to be asked. That wont do at all. If you really want it to count, do it before she gets frustrated about it not getting done. I know that you have a job. I know that you work 60 hours a week. I get it, you want to relax a bit, but I assure you, your marriage is more important. Relationships are an essential part of a happy, healthy life. Do the little things required to let your wife know that you understand that you’re in this together.