This article is not particularly insightful. Nor is it all that authoritative. I am not claiming to be the world’s best husband – far from it. But one thing I can attest to is that I am always trying to be better for my lady. I never forget that our relationship is something that needs to grow and change and be worked on.
In this post I am going to tell you all the most important things I know about being a good husband, boyfriend or life partner. Some of these I figured out myself, others I learned by trying to do the opposite of what my father did.
NOTE – This post is for the men out there. Ladies, perhaps you can read it too and if you like it email it to your man.
The role that always changes
The first thing that you need to know if you want to be a good husband is that things change. Your partner changes, you change, your life situation changes. And because these changes take place without warning you constantly need to evolve as a man and as a partner. If you aren’t willing to change who you are (or think you are) then you are going to run into trouble in your relationship.
That being said, being a good husband is not about bending to your wife’s every whim. Not at all. In fact, she wouldn’t like it if you did that. A good woman will always want you to be true to yourself and to do what makes you happy. But she will expect you to change when change is required, and rightly so.
The reason I wrote “become” instead of “be” in the title is because this is a role that is always changing. The job is never finished. The good husband, boyfriend or life partner will always see that there is work to be done on his relationship and his self. Please take this to heart.
How to become a better husband, boyfriend or life partner
I would like to share some tips with you now in the hope that they will impact your relationship in some positive way. Sadly I have not had that many great male role models in my life so my idea of what a husband should or should not do is something that is constantly changing. If anyone out there knows better than me or has some insight into what a husband really is I would love to read your comments.
1. Learn to listen, but not just to her words
One of the best things my life partner has taught me (indirectly) is that a man needs to listen to a woman on many levels, not just her speech. By the time she has to tell you to do something you have often already missed several hints that she has been giving you. If you want to be a good husband you need to learn what these hints are.
Take the dishes as a really simple example. My mother used to cook dinner ever single night for my father, my brother and me and every single night my father would “forget” to help with the dishes. Now my mother never asked him to help because she knew he was tired from work but she quietly would have loved him to offer his help as thanks for a lovely meal. After dinner she would always be grumpy. On the odd occasion that dad did help with the dishes she would be a different woman; happy engaging and gentle.
Being a good husband means listening, not just to her words, but to her more quiet signals. Every woman is different and communicates in different ways and as her best friend it is your job to figure them out.
2. Suggest and create excellent communication habits
After reading the first point you might be thinking, “why can’t she just tell me what she wants?” That is fine. If you have spent a lot of time talking to your wife and creating a relationship where she can openly ask you to do something without feeling like she is nagging then that is excellent. Wait for her to tell you. Mostly, however, your wife will say she shouldn’t HAVE to ask you, you should just do it. This is where communication comes in.
Becoming a good husband means creating excellent communication habits. Sometimes this is hard. Sometimes in the heat of anger you won’t want to communicate. But a good husband tries to. A good husband will find out why you have got to the point of getting angry and create a solution. Let’s look at an example, again borrowed from my father and mother.
Say you go out on Thursday night with your friends for a beer after work. Your wife is at home cooking dinner and as such it would be nice if you got home by 7.30pm to eat together. But it doesn’t always work out like that and sometimes you don’t get home until late. When you get home you wonder why she is grumpy and you ask her things like, “what’s wrong?” and “did you have a bad day?” which only makes things worse. At the end you give up, yell at her and go to bed.
A better way to do things is to use your brain and find out what is eating at her. Does it happen every Thursday? Yes. Well then perhaps it has something to do with the beers after work. Okay, now we are getting somewhere. Next you should sit her down on a nice Sunday afternoon and ask her whether you had upset her by being late for dinner. If she says “yes” then apologize and then promise to communicate with her better the next time (i.e. phoning if you are going to be late). Also, gently suggest that she be more open with her feelings because you would never intentionally upset her.
Opening the communication and creating good communication habits will save your marriage. Be creative. Don’t say “what’s wrong woman” and expect her to tell you and then be cool with it. Take some responsibility and create a solution. If my father did this I imagine their relationship would have worked out a lot differently. This has a lot to do with how much he respected my mother.
3. Don’t lose your sense of individuality
This is not something that you ever get told by your parents but it is something that is so important I had to write about it. Don’t lose your sense of individuality. Don’t become one of those couples that merges into one. A marriage is not a melding of two people; it is two individuals coming together. If you lose that individuality you lose something special.
Quite often I see people get together and then give up their hobbies, past times and interests because they are all absorbed in their partner. Within a few months or years the relationship is over (or in chaos) because they are bored with each other. They gave up their individuality.
There is a quote in Buddhism that says, “If you spend enough time with a person you will see only their faults. Even if you were with the Buddha himself you would find something not to like“. This happens in relationships when you give up your individuality and just live as if you were one person. Remember, when you first met each other you had other things going on (reading, sports, music, poetry, friends, etc.) and this is partly why you were attracted to each other. So why give them up?
Sometimes it is hard to keep your hobbies and past times going because work is so full on and you hardly get to see each other but you must try. You must make a concerted effort to spend time apart every week and do something for yourselves. You will be much happier as a couple if you do.
4. Never hit, swear at or yell at your wife
It might seem obvious to some people but other people seem to miss the memo. It is never okay to hit, swear at or yell at your wife. If you get to a point where you find that yelling is the only answer then you have made a mistake somewhere along the line and need to go back and fix it up.
Sometimes I go out with my mates and talk about our partners and wives. Inevitably one of them will bring up “fights with the missus” and talk about how sometimes you need to yell at your wife to assert your authority. My internal reaction to this is always “no you don’t”. She is not a dog that needs to be trained by showing your dominance. She is your life partner, your best friend and your lover. Hitting, swearing and yelling are forms of degradation and not fit for this person.
For all the men out there who think that yelling is necessary I understand where you are coming from. I know the place you are in, I have been there. But I would like to offer you a quote that has stood by me through thick and thin with my lady. This quote was offered to me by my yogi friend when we were discussing marriage back in India.
“The real measure of a man is by how quickly he gets angry.”
You will not show your dominance by yelling at your wife. All you will show her is that you have a weak will and a low level of patience. Then man she would really respect is the one that can stand up for himself without resorting to bullying. The real man is one who can keep his calm in battle, sport and love. Please think about this.
5. Show creative leadership
Now before you start sending me nasty emails, I do not not think that the male is the leader in the relationship. I am well aware that men and women are equals and have always thought this to be the case. One thing I have learned, however, is that your partner will love you all the more (and find you more attractive) when you can show creative leadership in the relationship. Let’s look at an example.
You have both had a big day, just arrived home and are pretty hungry for dinner. But there is nothing in the pantry. Quite often you will both sit around umming and ahhhing and thinking about what to have. Should we get take away or should be be good and cook? However, instead of sitting around and wondering, a creative leader would make an assertive decision and then get it done. No fuss. No mucking around. Just action.
Scientifically speaking women are programmed to like this behavior as it shows strength and survival skills. But more than that is takes away a layer of stress. If you can show some creative leadership when she isn’t feeling at her best she will really appreciate the input. It might be dishes, a conversation over dinner, the color of the new paint or a solution for a problem she is having. Once you start doing this for her you will notice how often she has been doing it for you!
6. Love her, but not just with words
A big theme in this post is that you must be a husband in more than just words. Words are empty if they are no backed up with meaning and action. The same is true of love. You could tell her that you love her 1000 times a day but it means absolutely zero if you then turn around and ignore her.
A good husband will find new ways to love his wife. He will listen to her stories, ask her about her day, value her input in the house and in your life and always make sure she feels that appreciation. Tell her how much you admire her actions and who she is becoming as a woman. But don’t do it if you do mean it; make sure the words have meaning. If you can find a way to connect the words with an action that shows you are serious she will love you forever.
7. Don’t beg for sex, create the moment
A real man will never have sex with his wife when she doesn’t want to. Unfortunately, sex is such a big part of a relationship if problems start to occur the relationship can get a bit rocky. One piece of advice that I can give you is that a good sexual partner creates the circumstances for enjoyable sex, he never asks or begs for it. If she isn’t into it then you need to be patient.
Being a good husband, boyfriend or life partner is something that is constantly evolving. You cannot just sit back, do nothing and hope for it all to work out for the best. Try to love her with more than just words, be creative and create some really clear communication habits. And never hit her. Ever.