How to Be a Good Husband

Be a team player. When you were single, you could focus on your needs entirely. Now that you’re in a partnership, that just isn’t going to work. Sometimes you have to think about the family and the marriage before you think about yourself.

Remember that a marriage is a complicated thing. Being a good husband spans a lot of territory. Sure, you need to support your family financially and raise your children with love and concern. These are two of the givens of being a good husband. But these aren’t the only duties of being a good husband.

When you talk about the interpersonal dynamics of a man/wife relationship, a lot of these dynamics involve how we communicate with one another. We send both intentional and unintentional signals to our spouse through our interpersonal communications. So a large part of being a good husband in this context is showing we are a part of the team, supporting our teammate while communicating when we need support in our turn.

In sports parlance, it’s called “being a good teammate” or “being a good locker room presence”.

1. Be Her Sounding Board

When your wife tells you her problems, she isn’t necessarily looking for a problem solver. She wants someone to listen to her and empathize with what’s going on in her life.

A husband who hears about his wife’s problems instinctively wants to come to the rescue. But most of the time, this isn’t what your wife is looking for. You need to fill the role more of a psychologist than that of a troubleshooter. Listen to her problems; show concern for those problems; show that you have empathy; but don’t always reply with “here’s what you need to do.”

When your wife comes to you with her problems, she isn’t looking for you to be her lawyer. And she certainly doesn’t need you to be her football coach, giving her fiery motivational speeches about how to beat her problem. She wants a counsellor, to listen to her problems and help her deal with their emotional impact.

2. Show Respect

A good exercise for every husband is to try to show your wife respect. This dovetails with my previous point, but goes beyond that specific situation.

A major part of showing respect is to avoid the trap of being hyper-critical. Don’t criticize the way your wife dresses, cooks meals, parks the car or walks the dog. You might think you are instructing your wife, but you are actually showing disrespect for the decisions you make.

Actions are just as important as words. Don’t make decisions that normally a married couple makes together. This shows you have no respect for her opinion.

Also, try to avoid certain intonations with your wife, the kind that can be described as “talking down” to her. A woman can pick up on these as well or better than a man can. These tell her you have contempt for whatever is she’s doing, that you are treating her like a child or even your pet. Showing a lack of respect is one of the surest ways to poison a marriage.

3. Avoid Judgment

When you live with someone every day, it’s hard not to build up resentments and overanalyze your partner’s every move. But no one is going to stand up to that level of scrutiny. Try not to sweat the little stuff, because it has a way of becoming big rather quickly. If you judge every action or opinion your wife has, that’s going to come through in your words and actions.

Your wife is different from you. Of course she isn’t going to perceive things the way you do. She’s had different life experiences than you, not the least of which is the general experience of living life as a woman. She won’t always like what you like. She won’t behave like a man does. Apart from sexual needs and having children, that’s one of the reasons men get into a relationship. We feel the need for a woman’s companionship.

4. Don’t Bring Your Own Issues Into the Marriage

As I mentioned earlier, being in a marriage is being part of a team. This means you sometimes have to put your wants or needs second to those of the team.

All of us have emotional baggage. When we marry, we bring that emotional baggage into the marriage. But when your wife comes to you for support, that isn’t the time to open up that emotional baggage. There are times when you can unload this stuff on your wife, but not when she needs your support.

It’s common for a man to internalize all her problems and make them our own. But if you do this, you are losing sight of why she confided in you in the first place. Don’t be selfish when you are supposed to be supportive. I mean, all of us tend to process information through our own filter. But that doesn’t mean our opinions are always useful to the problem.

5. Know When to Make it About You

Of course, it can’t always be about her or the marriage. There are times when your needs should be met. That’s the definition of a give-and-take partnership, which is what a marriage should be about.

Tell her how you feel, but don’t put her in a defensive position. This means you describe to her how something she does affects you without making your feelings accusatory. When you talk about issues in your marriage, tell her about how it affects you instead of what it is about her that bothers you. Good communication is one of the keys of a healthy marriage; good communication requires you to tell her how you are affected.

If your wife does something that hurts you, tell her exactly that you are hurt. Don’t focus on her actions, but on the consequences of those actions. If you simply accuse her of undermining you or being insensitive, it automatically puts her on the defensive. When she’s defensive about her actions, good communication becomes all but impossible.

6. Be Affectionate

I know guys don’t like being cuddly. Being affectionate after sex takes time and it doesn’t make us feel manly, but women need affection sometimes. If you only give them that stuff to get to bed, your wife is going to notice and think it’s insincere.

Of course, this goes beyond the bedroom. If you show your wife spontaneous affection occasionally, it reassures her of the love bond.

7. Be Willing to Get Outside Help

There’s the common joke about men refusing to ask for directions. Men throughout history have needed to be self-sufficient. That’s one of the characteristics which make men successful. When we were out in the wilderness hunting for food, we couldn’t stop at the convenience store to ask where the herd was.

That being said, self-reliance can only take us so far. A smart man has to realise when he can’t do it all himself. One of those cases is the man whose marriage is in trouble. It’s very standard for a man to refuse to go to a marriage counselor.

A man would prefer to buy a map than ask for directions. In the same way, he would rather read how-to guides on how to save his marriage than ask for professional help. In a lot of cases, getting good advice is enough. Modifying our attitudes and the subsequent behaviors those attitudes cause can have profound effects on a failing marriage. But sometimes the problems run deeper. That’s when a man has to give into his wife’s request that they speak to a counselor.

Professional marriage counselors help to reinforce the points I’ve made above. They are instructors in how to listen, how to show respect, how to avoid judgment, how to be a part of the team, how to express our feelings and how to be more affectionate. In short, when a man finds that his best efforts to improve his marriage skills fail, he needs a trained instructor to work on those skills.

Comments

  1. G M Mioru says:

    I have enjoyed reading your article. If we practice what we are taught our marriages can be better. Keep it up and may God bless you.

  2. I want to be a good husband to my wife and kids. In all aspects of life.

  3. This is a straight forward guide to a man, am one of those that wouldnt want to go before a counselor.

  4. For the better part of these last 32 years…each morning before I leave for work…my wife sits briefly on my lap…and when I come in…she always greets me at the door with a hug and kiss…I try to reciprocate her affection…

  5. Cornelius F. Potgieter says:

    That is all I wanted out of life as well is to be a good husband to my wife and equally good father to my children.
    This does not work is she think that she is the centre point of the relationship, that everything revolves around her and soly around her. Needles to say my marriage is on the rocks after 21 years and I doubt recovery.
    Goodluck for the rest of you and God bless

  6. this is great
    my wife keep complaining that i dont love her, i had no idea what she meant. after reading through the instructions, i think i understand what she means. ni will drive her crazy with the love she has been craving for now and forever more
    thank you
    am happy
    bobby

  7. These Eyes says:

    This article was exactly what I was looking for and needed to read. Thank you publisher!!! I am going to post this on my FB Page…

  8. bleeding heart says:

    Exactly what i was pointing out to my husband! It’s so hard to beg for attention when you’re not suppose to!! Though it was always said that when you truly love someone, you don’t expect anything in return but hey I’m only human… Nice article!! I wish my husband could read and practice this so my heart would stop bleeding!! Goodluck to everyone who go through the same obstacle as i do!! May God Bless my Bleeding Heart!!!!

  9. This week we will be married 44 years and they have been horrible. After the I DOs were over we had a wonderful wedding night. Sex was super an almost all nighter affair. The next day I expected to be heading out on a honey moon but no my husband cancelled it. He didn’t want to go any where with me. He changed in just
    a wink of an eye. He went back to work, then he moved all his stuff down stairs where he has slept all these years. Haven’t had sex since our wedding night. I’ve been alone for all these years, and now in my 60s and accepted my life as a nobody who is lonely and depressed. I would like to relive our wedding night again, but that will never happen. He is a lonely person no phone, computer or TV. He goes no where jsut down stairs and out to his shop. He never comes upstairs to chat.

  10. metfan6691 says:

    My wife and I have been married for 25 years with many ups and downs. All the “downs” have overshadowed and erased all the good times. My wife was sad, frustrated and ready to give up on our marriage many times. I wasn’t always aware of my actions and what affect they have on my wife’s feelings and emotions. This “how to guide” is more powerful than what I got out of hours of counseling. I read the “how to guide” two times a day to re-enforce my commitment and feelings to my wife. I wish I had the “how to guide” 25 years ago. I was stubborn, hard headed and unwilling to change, but now I feel that I owe it to my wife and our marriage.
    I have noticed positive changes immediately. I feel better about myself and our marriage and look forward to our new love for one another for 25 more years to come. I am extremely fortunate to have a wife that is supportive and understanding and love me unconditionally. She is the best.
    Thank you for saving our marriage..

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