If you have a good marriage, everything else seems perfect. But if your marriage is struggling, then it doesn’t really matter what else is good; a tension-filled home can easily carry over into the rest of your life and sour your demeanor. No matter how fortunate the rest of your life is. Many husbands think that their spouse could be doing something differently. But the truth is, you can’t change anybody without changing yourself first. If you make an honest, genuine effort to be a better husband, then you being a better husband improves your marriage. To that end, here are eight tips for becoming a better husband right now.
#1: Pick five things about your spouse that you’re grateful for
When you first met your spouse, the two of you probably wore rose-colored glasses whenever you looked at each other. When we’re infatuated, it’s easy to overlook the things about someone else we find annoying or difficult. But as the years go by, stressors such as work, life, personal finances, and health take their toll on us individuals and couples—and we become a little more sensitive to the things we find irritating in our spouse. In this regard, turn your power of perception into a proverbial cup. Pour in positivity and gratitude, and let the negativity spill out.
Make a list of five things you’re grateful for regarding your spouse every day. If they’re not coming to mind quickly, do a little mental work and introspection to find something. Nothing is too small to notice. Try doing this every day and you’ll see an incredible shift in the way you view your spouse. Even better, communicate your gratitude to them, make them feel special. By doing this, you’ll see them light up and make you feel the same way. When it comes to gratitude, there is no such thing as too much, and as you start making a practice of this, your cup will spill over into all the other areas of your life.
#2: Take on one of your spouse’s responsibilities
Most relationships—especially at work—are quid pro quo. Unfortunately, that doesn’t really work for marriage. Relationships built on the premise of “you scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours” lack the component of love, a feeling that finds its fullest expression in the act of giving. You are only in control, after all, of the amount of love you give. Many men are chivalrous and helpful when they first meet the love of their life. But over time, as their infatuation fades and routine sets in, they start to have expectations. And if they’re asked to help out, they’ll expect something in return.
Our advice to you is to stop looking for that quid quo pro. Be magnanimous; look for responsibilities your spouse typically takes on and shoulder them yourself. The easier you make things for your spouse, the easier life will be for you. Try it out…it really works. Pick up the kids from school so they can take a me-day and relax in the afternoon. Wash the dishes so they can watch their favorite TV show or read a book. Call the utility company to straighten out that mistake on the bill so they don’t have to. On top of the fact that these helpful behaviors will make your spouse really happy, you’ll also start to grow more into the role of being a carer and provider, and will in turn, feel much more fulfilled.
#3: Schedule a weekly date
As mentioned before, the early days of a relationship are filled with infatuation. Text messages fly back and forth. Dates are looked forward to all week. Couples can’t get enough of each other. But after a few years, life becomes routine and we forget to make a continued effort to spend quality time with, and get to know, our spouse. But no matter how busy life gets, you need to make it happen, no matter what. Otherwise, your romance will slowly die out over time.
Put a weekly date on the calendar and stick to it religiously. Make the date involving something that both you and your spouse like to do, and make sure that it contains the opportunity for some conversation. It can be as simple as three hours walking through the park on a Saturday or grabbing dinner at your favorite spot.
Aside from your weekly date, buy your spouse little gifts here and there to show them that they’re always on your mind. It doesn’t have to be something large or expensive. Even a simple rose or box of chocolates on the way home from work will endear them to you, especially if it’s something that lets them know you care and listen.
#4: Work on yourself
Your partner always wants to feel that their man can and is taking care of himself. Your partner does not want to be your babysitter. It’s not attractive to be lazy and to lack the drive to continuously learn from your mistakes and better yourself. Even worse, people who don’t grow and change will often find themselves trapped in the same circumstances and arguments again and again, giving themselves and their loved ones needless headaches.
So, with that being said. Take moments that trigger you and analyze them carefully. Do some deep work through introspection, therapy, or spiritual pursuits to find out what bothered you and why—then use that realization as a starting point for self-improvement. You can even consider starting a journaling practice in order to keep track of this. For example, perhaps a comment your spouse makes about your work situation drives you to get angry. Consider that you might have a self-esteem issue. Head down to the bookstore or library and find books on building self esteem. Every man has a different trait to work on. You don’t need to fix it entirely in order to make your partner happy; you just need to be making an honest attempt to grow and improve. And little-by-little, you’ll find yourself becoming your ideal self.
#5: Learn how to properly communicate to your partner
Great marriages can implode if all of our complaints and grievances are kept to ourselves and left unaddressed for years. But the problem is, that it can be very difficult to communicate these to our partner without offending them. What we have to do, then, is learn how to properly criticize. This means, that if there’s something about your partner that tends to irritate and annoy you, you first have to analyze that thing and see whether or not it’s something that you can work on. For example, if your partner comes home from work and their way to unwind is by putting on a show that you don’t like, realize that it doesn’t have to affect you like this. In fact, if they want you to watch an episode with them, you could do so and focus on how happy it’s making your partner rather than how much you dislike the show.
If it’s something you’d like them to do or change, then figure out a way to say it without being offensive. Don’t use strong adjectives, but try to voice it to them in as objective a way as possible. For example, if their spending habits put a strain on your marriage, then address the topic with clear, valid reasons and propose that the two of you compromise together. Resolving disagreements in this form will have the effect of adding to the level of trust you share and help the both of you put the relationship first.
#6: Listen to their problems, don’t just try to solve them
When your partner is sharing their thoughts with you, 99% of the time they are not interested in getting help. They are, instead, trying to flesh out their thoughts by talking them out. Don’t give them advice unless they ask for it. Instead, try acting with empathy. Refrain from immediately trying to come up with solutions to their problems and instead, repeat back to your partner a rephrased version of what they are telling you. This lets them know that their feelings are being acknowledged and by doing this, you are helping them ask the right questions rather than just imposing yourself and showing why you know better.
Part of this tip is making time to sit with your partner every day and talk. This time could be after dinner over a cup of tea, or in the afternoon ver a long walk. This conversational time will really help your spouse know that you care about them and using this time to genuinely try and get to know your partner; their thoughts, feelings, preferences, and personal history, will help you become a better, less selfish, listener.
#7: Throw money out the window (not literally)
Avoid over-sharing or taking out money stress on your partner. Imagine if the President came on air and announced that the government had literally run out of money. All services would henceforth be suspended, even if civil anarchy breaks out. Imagine the panic that would spread!
The same thing is true at home. A man is supposed to be a rock of dependability for his partner. Complaining about money or oversharing financial troubles will not help your marriage; it will just make your spouse upset. Instead, try and be more disciplined about your spending habits before you criticize your partner. Try and find a middle ground where the two of you can compromise your finances in a way that leaves the both of you happy.
Treat your spouse as your primary investment; the one you’ll see the greatest returns on. Though it flies in the face of popular sentiment, try to get them the gifts they want the most. If you genuinely can’t afford it, tell them so but let them know that you hope you’ll be able to soon. Most people will be accommodating, and even letting them know that you’re putting in the effort to make things work will go a long way.
#8: Throw your partner a party for two—show them that they’re number one
The biggest thing you can do to improve as a husband, and the behavior that encapsulates all other tips, is shifting your perspective and focus in life. Most men do care about their spouse, but just as one of the many other things they care about like work or their hobbies. But the way to make a relationship flourish is by put the effort into genuinely making your partner the #1 thing you care about.
Becoming a better husband will make you feel better about yourself and your life, as you step into the masculine role of caring, giving, and loving. Your marriage will improve, and you’ll find that your partner is a lifetime best-friend, supporter, and number one fan. Don’t wait to implement these tips until tomorrow, start today, with the smallest possible thing you can do. Those small things will eventually add up and transform your life and marriage for the better.