First, let me say there’s no real cheat sheet to being a good husband. It’s something you do, or don’t do – consistently. And every good husband falls short. Every good spouse falls short. But with effort, every husband can always do better tomorrow than he did today.
For myself, between my career, my business, the next sale, the next service request, the next consult, our son, our family, our goals, retirement planning, and simply the overall pressures of being a man in today’s society, my wife can get the short end of the effort stick.
But, like most husbands with good intentions, I try. We all do.
I like to think of myself as a simple man. And I keep a list of simple solutions to the complex issue of marriage – also known as two people living under the same roof, sharing the same bed, breathing the same air, and trying to not physically harm one another every single day as the end result.
Here’s my personal cheat sheet to keeping sanity under my roof.
Listen – really
There’s a difference between hearing someone and listening to them. Just because you make yourself available to your wife’s rants, concerns, complaints, suggestions, criticisms, jokes, preferences, and opinions doesn’t mean you’re listening to her.
Give her feedback, ask her if you understand what she’s saying, but don’t just nod your silly head or try to fix everything she puts on your table. Because the truth is she’s not putting it on your table, she just wants someone to share her thoughts with.
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Ask what she needs help with
I may wear many hats, but so does she. Wives balance many spinning plates simultaneously. As men, it’s easy to see only our burdens. Many of us walk around with blinders on everyday.
Your wife should be the first thing you truly see. And if you truly see her, the odds are she’s struggling with something. You’re her partner – ask her what you can help with today. If not you, then who else is going to notice her struggle?
Your wife wants to trust you. She’s wants to put her confidence in where you’re leading the family. In a perfect world she wants to support your ambition. No one is going to get there if you haven’t communicated where you want your family to go, or painted a vision for your future.
This happens every day through your actions and the conversations you have. Just because it’s December and you told her you want to go on a beautiful family vacation in 2016 doesn’t mean you have given direction.
That’s expressing a wish. Figure out how you’re going to get there, and plan accordingly. What are you talking about every single day? What are you conversations about? Are you talking about the new episode of “Being Mary Jane,” or being the best family you can be?
Give her space
Pretty much no one wants someone breathing hot air on their neck all day. Back up. Give her room. In my house, I go so far as to book my wife an airBNB.com getaway for a weekend when we can afford it just so she has time away from the family.
Everyone needs some breathing room. Sometimes we need breaks from our own lives. Many times your wife simply needs a break from you. Give it to her. Maybe you simply arrange to take the kids out of the house for the afternoon and leave her alone in the house for the day.
Think about how excited you get when you know you have the house to yourself for a few hours. Why wouldn’t you want to give that feeling away? It doesn’t take much to regenerate a genuine smile.
Buy her something
We all know money is a luxury, especially in today’s world when the divide between the haves and have nots are becoming wider by the day. Spend some of that luxury on the person who chooses to spend her life by your side.
Show her she’s worth the sacrifice. And don’t just buy that sexy outfit from Frederick’s you’ve been peeping. Get her something she wants, or better yet something that she needs. If you’ve been paying attention, it shouldn’t be too hard to come up with something.
Do one of her chores
Don’t even ask what she needs help with this time. See the dishes? Do them. Haven’t vacuumed or dusted in a while? Do it. Clean the toilet. Go get groceries (at least the ones you know you need). Do all these things already? Great. Do something else that normally falls within her realm of care-taking. Nike said it best – Just do it.
Tell her you appreciate her
This may be one of the most important life hacks of all time. You see what she does. You see her manage your entire household every single day of the year with no days off. You know where that evening scowl and passive aggressive huff comes from. You even know it’s coming.
Stop trying to out burden her by listing all the things you have to deal with everyday. It’s not about that. Your marriage is about one another. The next time you see she’s two seconds from a meltdown, give her a kiss on the forehead and tell her how much you appreciate the things she’s done for you and the family.
Also read: A Good Wife’s Cheat Sheet
Be specific. Be genuine. Regardless of how she reacts to your words right at that moment, she’ll be glad you thought enough about her situation and contribution to speak up.
Every marriage is different, but there are common bonds that hold us all together. And one of those bonds is simply giving a crap about one another. My cheat sheet for my house is designed to show my wife that no matter what happens to us or between us, she will always know I care. Because what a person cares about, and what we care enough to act on are two totally different things.
BMWK, what else can be on the good husband’s cheat sheet?