I’ve been married for 23 years. I am not a perfect husband. Truthfully, I would not even call myself a great husband. Almost every week I read about, hear of or see a man do a wonderful thing for his wife and think, “Gee, I wish I had thought of that!” Even though I might think I’m the best husband around, I do think I have learned some good husband habits. I have much more to learn, but hopefully some of this might be useful to you.
Several years ago Dr. Gary Chapman wrote The 5 Love Languages: The Secret to the Love that Lasts. I encourage all husbands to read the book (or watch the videos) to discover their love language and the love language of their wife. I know it sounds mushy and emotional, but it is a good read. There is even a quick online quiz available to help get someone started. The information contained in the book, if put into practice, will change the way you give and receive love. Ultimately, it will help your marriage be more fun.
At first glance this may seem silly. You might think, “What difference does it make when I go to bed?” Honestly, it makes a big difference. If a husband falls into the practice of staying up late while his wife slips into bed, he runs the risk of two things.
a) A bored man late at night will encounter the temptation to watch TV shows, movies or websites that he simply would not watch if his wife were in the room with him. I am not saying that every time a husband stays up late by himself that his goal is to watch porn. I am simply warning that if it becomes a regular habit, the temptation will be greatly enhanced. How do I know this? Well…I am a man. Plus, I’ve had countless couples sit in my office and walk through the pain and shame porn has brought to their marriage. Almost 100% of the time, the husband watches porn while the wife is asleep.
b) Going to bed with your wife can be ho-hum or WOW! The problem is we don’t always know which one it will be. The Bible calls marriage a mystery…and that is putting it nicely. I get that most nights may be routine, but not all wow moments have to be sexual. Lying in bed with your wife at the end of a long day is a unifying moment. It is the two of you…together. It may be the first uninterrupted conversation you’ve had all day. The two of you may talk or you may simply listen to each other fall asleep, but either way you are together. The two of you may solve a problem or choose to sleep on options, but either way you are together. You may have a warm moment of holding each other and chuckling about silly things or you may keep to your sides of the bed, but either way you are together. If the husband habitually stays up late while the wife goes to bed, all of those unifying moments are lost.
Every couple has to decide who is going to do what for the household to work. My wife has worked out of the home for most of our marriage. Therefore, I have learned that I just need to “own” a few chores. To own it means I do not have to be asked to do it. For brownie points, choose a chore that uniquely helps her.
Let me give you an example. My wife has always prepared the food in our house. Up until a few months ago, she has also always gone to the grocery store. She never really enjoyed this activity, but since she was preparing the food I assumed it was best for her to go buy it. One day she was complaining to me about another trip to the store…something about rude people, heavy bags and not enough time. All of a sudden it dawned on me, I could go to the grocery store. I asked her if she would like for me to do the shopping. She ERUPTED with joy…like a kid getting their number one wish on Christmas morning! Honestly, I felt a little embarrassed that I had not offered this earlier. I now own this chore. Each week I head off to store armed with the list she has made. (HINT: I would strongly encourage owning more than one chore.)
I have to say no to people frequently. I don’t like doing it, but because of my position I simply cannot agree to every request or idea that comes my way. However, when it comes to my wife I want to say yes as often as I can. Don’t misunderstand me. My wife does not need my blessing to be herself, but one of the challenges of marriage is coming to grips with the fact that the husband and wife are no longer separate individuals. The Bible teaches when a man and woman marry they become one. They share life physically, emotionally and spiritually…as one (remember, marriage is a mystery).
When she approaches me with her ideas, dreams, plans or requests; she is not seeking my permission. She is seeking oneness. Out of her desire to be one with me, she comes to me. And, out of my desire to be one with her, I go to her with my thoughts. But when she comes to me, my goal is to agree as often as I can. When I (or she) says no it means we have to work through it until we find yes. As the husband I must always be willing to do this work. No matter how difficult or unpleasant it might be, I must find the place of yes. If I just reject her thoughts, and then don’t work with her to find the place we can both say yes, I am pulling at the seams what God put together. I have discovered that saying yes to my wife comes more easily when I say no to myself. It is called sacrificial love and Jesus is the One who teaches husbands how to do this. I’m still learning.
Great advice! Especially #4 for wives too, I never thought of figuring out a way to try to say “yes”.
In a busy life of work and kids, it is hard to focus on being one in marriage. Thank you for the reminder that marriage makes us one…and it takes commitment!