Little Things

The Simple Habit That Helps Me Be A Better Husband, According To 12 Men

It’s the little things that matter.

Man and woman smiling and talking at a counter

Being a good husband isn’t about grand gestures or elaborate displays of romance. If that’s your thing, hey don’t let us stop you. But it’s the small, daily habits that make the biggest impact on how loving, healthy relationships are cultivated. Because they’re “little things”, they can be easy to overlook or dismiss as insignificant, but they’re the real difference makers on a daily basis. And as they become more habitual, they add smoothness to the journey for both partners.

A habit isn’t always something that requires concerted effort. Some are automatic and engrained. Others, though, require a bit of self-reflection to get started. Realizing what you are doing, what you’re not doing, what you could be doing, or what you should be doing in your role as a father and husband is the first step toward growth. And embracing simple habits that show courtesy, affection, respect, or open-mindedness is a great way to start growing.

Whether you're newly married or have been with your partner for years, simple habits can help you deepen your connection and create a more fulfilling relationship. These 12 dads/husbands shared elements of their daily, weekly, or monthly routine as a partner and caregiver that have made all the difference. And whether through words or actions, embracing these habits has made them better husbands.

1. I’ve Learned To Listen

“To be a good partner myself, I think it’s important to make sure I’m really hearing what my spouse is saying. In order to truly understand someone’s perspective, and making sure they feel heard and valued, you have to listen. Listening is a simple concept, but it’s not always easy. So I’ve tried to cultivate active listening as a habit, and it’s improved our relationship immensely. It’s also something I can model for my kids, and show them exactly how important it is to show compassion and empathy, even in what may seem like trivial situations. Listening takes practice, but it’s been a habit worth working on for me as a husband.” - Owen, 41, California

2. I Take Care of Myself

“One way I’ve become a better husband to my wife is to take better care of my emotional needs. She is primarily a stay-at-home mom, and I know she is very stressed by the end of most days. I used to expect and want her to meet my emotional needs at the end of the day just like she used to do when we were dating. I realized one day that this expectation was not only unrealistic, but it was also unhealthy. Needing her to soothe my stress was creating a codependency. I started making more time for my self care such as yoga, meditation, and other healthy habits. I quickly noticed that once I became healthier and put less pressure on her to support me, home life started to flow more naturally.” - David, 36, Vermont

3. I Stay As Consistent As Possible

“Consistency helps with everything in a marriage. And it sounds like a big thing, but it’s really just a combination of small things that make a big difference. For me, being consistent with chores has been the game changer. Barring an emergency or something, there’s never any question about who is going to take out the trash, feed the dogs in the morning, walk them in the evening, pick the kids up on certain days of the week, or do any of the other jobs that need to be done as a husband and a dad. Being consistent in managing my responsibilities has given my wife peace of mind, just like knowing I can rely on her has allowed me to relax as well. Consistency as a concept is intimidating, until you realize that it’s just a stack of small things done right, and on time.” - Ron, 42, Arizona

4. I Maintain A Team Mentality

“I'm coming up on 10 years married this September and, for me, being a better husband has meant learning how to work more as a team. My wife is an amazing mother to our two young kids, who are six and eight. She also deals with all our finances and bills, as well as anything that the school throws at us. The problem is she's not very organized and doesn't stick to a system or write things down, which means her mental load is huge. Fortunately, I'm the opposite. I'm super organized and live my entire life through my calendar and to-do list apps. That means that every day I can remind her of the things she's told me she needs to do and help relieve the stress of being the one who deals with all that stuff. Marriage is a partnership and both partners have to play to their strengths. Being organized is my superpower and I'm glad I can use that to be a better husband.” - Matt, 42, Manchester, UK

5. I Always Respect My Partner’s Opinion

“My spouse and I disagree on things from time to time, but what I always do is respect her opinion. I might think it's wrong, and I might challenge her as to why it's wrong, but I always respect the opinion itself. Why I think this makes me a better husband is because that strategy leads to a more respectable agreement after our argument is over. Basically, we can agree to disagree if we can't eventually agree altogether. It's also helpful because my spouse knows that at the end of the day, with anything that comes up, her voice will always be heard and treated with respect.” - David, 55, Georgia

6. I Stay Curious

“It can be easy to get caught in the autopilot rut when you’ve been married for a while. One of the small things I’ve done to actively try and be a good husband is to show interest in my wife’s hobbies. She has a lot, so I have a lot of opportunities. She’s interested in plants and gardening. She crochets. She reads a lot. And for a while, I just thought it was enough to let her enjoy those things on her own. But when I started asking her questions about all the different things she was enjoying, it not only made her feel special, but I learned that I could enjoy her hobbies as well. I try to stay as curious as possible with the stuff that she’s interested in, because I love her and I want her to know she has my support.” - Jimmy, 37, Massachusetts

7. I Send Notes With Lunch

“I work at home, so I usually get a jump on meal prepping for our family. Most days that means I pack lunch for my wife and kids. I always leave notes in my kids’ lunchboxes, and recently I started leaving them in my wife’s lunch too. It started as just a simple, ‘Love you!’ But now I’ve found myself doing everything from drawing doodles, to writing movie quotes, to making up silly poems. Really, what it’s helped me to do is be creative with regard to expressing affection. The ‘I love you. I love you, too.’ stuff as you’re both heading out the door is fine and reassuring, I guess, but these silly little notes have really seemed to help me remember all of the little things I love about our relationship. I think it’s been a great way to remind myself of the husband I can and want to be, in addition to the husband I am.” - Charles, 39, South Carolina

8. I Always Say, “I Love You” After A Goodbye

“I was raised in a home like this, where we would always, always, always end every conversation with ‘I love you.’ It was so comforting, and I realized that embracing it as a part of my marriage really helped me frame and reframe what it means to be a good husband. Because, honestly, every time I say it — whether quick and passing, or more deliberate — it’s a reminder. I say it to my wife and kids, and they’ve adopted saying it too, and it always leaves me thinking about exactly what it means. What I love about them, specifically. In short, it’s made me realize that you can’t overstate how much you love someone, and that’s helped me bring a lot of good into our family.” - Tom, 38, Nevada

9. I Regularly Go To Church

“My wife is religious, but I’m not. We were both very up front about our beliefs early on in our relationship, and it’s just something that we respect about each other but don’t necessarily agree on. That said, I do go to church with her as a way of letting her know that I support her beliefs and am trying to keep an open mind. Truthfully, while it’s not always my cup of tea, I’ve enjoyed it quite a bit. Even if I don’t necessarily subscribe to what’s being said, I can get on board with the messages of love, kindness, and compassion. And it’s a chance to spend time with my wife while she’s doing something important to her, which I think has made me a better husband.” - Derek, 28, Auckland, New Zealand

10. I Vent Daily

“I have a stressful job. Early on in our marriage I tried really hard to keep my emotions and complaints at the office. I really didn’t want to bring things home with me. That ended up really straining my relationship with my family, because bringing home all of those feelings was unavoidable. It was going to happen whether I liked it or not. So I decided that I was going to schedule time to vent to my wife about my day, when necessary. Some days, I’m honestly totally calm and relaxed. Other days, I come home and just have to spew what’s in my head before it settles. The habit of being able to express myself, and the support of my wife in letting me have an audience, has transformed who I am as a dad and a husband for the better.” - Will, 41, Michigan

11. I Send Regular Updates

“I’m not talking about live-streaming my entire day, but I’ve found that checking in with my wife and updating her about what’s going on has made me a much more present, considerate husband. I’m a contractor, so sometimes the days get really unpredictable. I’ve made a habit of doing my best to text my wife and let her know where I am, when I plan to get home, and how I’m doing. I wasn’t always a fan of constant communication, but it’s really helped me connect with my wife and family. I’ve learned that even just a quick text saying I might be late shows my wife that I care and that she’s on my mind. It’s a simple thing but it’s had a big, positive effect on our relationship.” — Mark, 37, Indiana

12. I Tuck My Wife In

“After the kids go to bed, my wife and I usually end up watching TV on the couch. She almost always dozes off within 10 or 15 minutes, while I tend to stay up for a bit. I’ve gotten in the habit of waking her up before she really falls asleep, and asking her if she wants to go to bed. Then we walk into our room, she gets in bed, I kiss her on the forehead and tuck her in for the night. I’m usually up for another hour or so, but that act of tucking her in — as silly as it may seem — is one of my favorite parts of every day. I feel like I’m taking care of her, which makes me feel like a good husband, and I know she looks forward to it every night as well.” — J.D., 35, North Carolina