How To Be A Great Husband: A Letter To My Son
An Open Letter to My Son (and Boys Anywhere):
As you tackle life, you’ll find lots of instruction manuals/websites advising you how to fix things, solve computer problems, publish a book, lose weight, or even build your own pool. In the same way, there are a TON of opinions on how to be a great husband. As of today, Google serves up 638 MILLION links!
I wish I could tell you where to begin your clicking, but instead I thought I’d give you a few suggestions to cut through the clutter. These are practices your dad has used with me to navigate the marriage waters for the past 15 years.
So, in honor of our anniversary milestone, here are 15 habits to keep your future wife happy!
#1 – Develop an appreciation for shoes.
Sure, it’s cliché to say women like shoes. Not ALL women like shoes. The larger point is to pay attention to what YOUR wife likes and show some interest! Even if the topic is mind-numbing to you. If she asks for your opinion on something (i.e., “which shoes should I wear?”) for the sake of making a connection AND speedy decision making, muster up an answer!
#2 – Do your share of the heavy lifting.
If you marry a firecracker, she’ll rarely say she needs a hand. Instead, she’ll expect you to jump in without asking. This is a test to see if you’re paying attention to her needs. Look for clues and always lend a hand!
# 3 – Date your wife
If you want your wife to know you dig her AFTER the wedding, you’ll prioritize dates. Your calendar, the airlines, the office, and children’s birthday parties will make scheduling a date a monumental pain, but you can fight and win this battle by scheduling the date first!
#4 – Support the family
Find something you can do for the family that no one else wants to do. In our home, dad handles all IT issues, frog catching, dish washing, and anything gross. Find a consistent way to contribute that your wife values and DO it! (Even when the dog wants to help)
#5 – Be the lifeguard
When there’s a lifeguard on duty, a beach is safer. If you make it your responsibility to guard your relationship from stress, dysfunction, and discord, your marriage will be safer too. Take the job to keep an eye out for danger and stay on guard to protect your marriage.
#6 – Make her laugh
Always remember the fun you had when you first started dating and work hard to keep the humor in your relationship. Remember sarcasm is more mean than funny, so stick with genuine humor! You’ll be surprised how much “having a light touch” helps. Have fun!!
#7 – Cheer for your wife’s teams
I realize this may be the cause of some tension, but remember, when your wife is happy, everyone’s happy! Meanwhile, I’ll pray that you “get” to marry a Bruin or a Yellow Jacket.
#8 – Share your emotions
Even if you’re not an emotional guy, your wife appreciates knowing that you are processing big, emotional events! So if you’re happy, laugh. If you’re stressed, give her a word or two about why you’re quiet. And when you want to cry, we won’t judge you for it!
#9 – Partner in parenting
As a rule, the words “I’m babysitting tonight” should NEVER come out of your mouth (unless you’re watching the neighbors’ kids!). You don’t “babysit” your own children: you parent them. When you’re a dad, make sure you’re part of the logistical AND emotional upbringing of your kids.
#10 – Don’t meet your wife in the middle
Fights and disagreements always happen. If your wife’s like me, she’ll likely retreat with her book and her iPhone in a world far away from you. She’s regrouping, but sometimes she’ll dig into her position and refuse to budge. Don’t panic and don’t meet her half-way; meet her all the way! Don’t wait for her to exert half of the effort; commit to meeting her wherever she is! Re-read #5 and have a lifeguard mentality.
# 11 – Be romantic
Oh sure, I fuss about spending money on flowers, but when the doorbell rings and the flowers are for me (!), I enjoy every minute of them. I don’t tell your dad this, but I save his cards, emails, and text messages like a school girl. Be a little frivolous towards your wife. She’ll act like it’s not important, but it’s most likely an act.
#12 – Love her family
Your wife’s family will be very different from ours. They may be wonderful or they may be challenging. Love them regardless of how you FEEL about them. Love is a verb that is characterized by thoughtfulness and respect. Embrace her family unconditionally.
#13 – Say “yes, and…”
Your wife is going to have a bunch of ideas you may not like. Maybe she’ll make you do elaborate Christmas cards or have you take silly pictures. Embrace her ideas. Start from a position of saying yes and building on her thoughts. This affirmation builds trust and makes the times when you really don’t like her ideas easier to resolve.
#14 – Celebrate differences
Your wife will be very different from you. You may be more of an introvert while she’s wildly extroverted (hypothetically speaking, of course!); enjoy the different style. Tensions around differences won’t surface right away, but they WILL surface. Don’t try to change her, but love her for the way she organizes herself (or not), for her music taste, or for her propensity to drag you into adventures. We all need diversity in our lives, so celebrate the differences with your spouse!
#15 – Finish together
Your marriage has the potential to be a gift of support, fun, and encouragement to your family, children, friends and, most importantly, to each other. Remember this. Your relationship is worth the effort required of you.
I KNOW you have the potential to be a great husband – even if you never do a Google search!