Want to be a better husband? Well, the first step to becoming a good husband is to, um, try to be a better husband. Why? Marriages thrive when both partners play active roles in the relationship, paying mind to everything from the daily maintenance of the marriage to personal care in hopes of understanding yourself better for the other. In other words: It’s about making an effort. Do the work — and stay consistent in your effort — and you’ll see improvement in your relationship. Want to start? Well, there are a number of small, nice things all of us can focus on to be happier, more present, and more attentive husbands and partners. Here’s a start.
55 Things You Can Do to Be a Better Husband
- Talk about your feelings honestly. When she asks you how your day is, tell her about something that made you upset or annoyed. Don’t just say your day was “okay,” and leave it at that. Respond. listen. repeat.
- Make an effort to interrupt her less. Chances are you do it more than you realize. A good tactic: If she seems like she’s in between two thoughts, give her five seconds. If she doesn’t say anything, then speak.
- Don’t try to constantly solve her problems.
When a spouse tells us problems at work or with their friends or family, many men feel the best way to support them is to come hard and fast with solutions. But that hunt for a solve often bypasses what the person is likely seeking: understanding. “Psychologically, the best way you can engage with your partner as you listen to them is to truly try and understand what they are feeling in an emotional sense,” says Nancy Lee, a Beverly Hills-based psychologist who coaches patients through relationship issues. “This type of empathetic listening strengthens connections and builds intimacy. That isn’t to say that problem-solving isn’t important, it’s just that you don’t need to jump in and try to ‘fix’ things immediately, which is the tendency of many men,” she says. When a problem is brought up try asking, “Would you like to just vent or would you like to talk about solutions?”
- Clean that thing you know she hates cleaning. Just do it. She’ll notice.
- Do the dishes when it’s “not your turn.” And try to eradicate the idea of “fairness” in a marriage.
- Stay in good shape. Part of the gig is trying to remain attractive.
- Go to the doctor. Part of the gig is also not dying.
Remember: Your wife is not your therapist.
Yes, it’s good and essential to share your anxieties, fears, and frustrations, big and small, with your wife. But she can’t be the only person you turn to for advice and counsel. Try to find friends or a mentor you can lean on, as well. This has the dual benefits of getting different perspectives on things, while also developing and strengthening those friendships, too.
“Confiding in your partner is a great way to be intimate and feel close, but there is also a thin line between confiding in your partner and your partner becoming your full-blown therapist,” says April Davis, a relationship expert and the founder of LUMA matchmaking service. “Not only could that become tiring quickly to the person on the receiving end, but it could also eventually turn from a thing of bonding to driving a wedge between you and your partner if they start feeling overwhelmed and as if they are your caretaker instead of your romantic partner
- Be nice to her friends. For no other reason than they’re her friends.
- Be honest even when it’s hard. Confrontation is not always bad. It’s critical to moving forward.
- Explain why you’re excited about the things that excite you. Don’t keep her on the outside of the things you like. Also: excitement and passion are blue-chip qualities.
- If someone is rude to her in a social situation, ask for permission to be rude back. If the situation warrants it, go to fucking town.
- Oral Sex. We’re all adults here.
- If she seems like she wants to be left alone, don’t take it as a referendum on anything. Just leave her alone.
- Leave Work at Work.
Do everything in your power to sign back on when you get home as infrequently as possible, and also strive to stop bitching about your underperforming and overcompensated work nemesis.“A great way to suck the romance right out of a relationship is to make all conversations and time with your partner about work,” says Davis. Of course, you’ll go through periods where work dominates your mind space space – which can make you less present at home, putting more of the parenting burden on your spouse, and preventing yourself from recharging. Any and all of this can stress a relationship.But do your best to decompress. Listen to music or a podcast. Go for That way, hopefully when you get home, you can be truly present for your spouse and your kids.
- Does she like SMPDA — that is, social media public displays of affection? Then post about her earnestly on social media every so often. Even if it’s a photo of her with the heart-eyed emoji. It may not be your jam, but because it’s not it will mean more.
- Don’t hold back small seemingly insignificant compliments. If she really impressed you by parallel parking, her lunch order, or how she de-escalated a toddler tantrum, tell her. And be specific. Appreciation is everything.
- Be the keeper of your love story. Get nostalgic about your relationship, from time to time. Reminisce about how you met. Bring it up with friends.
- Write down the things you’re upset about before vocalizing them to your spouse. This exercise, while simple, has proven to help the writer see that some — or all — of the things bothering them are not worth complaining about.
Put. Your. Phone. Away.
Even if you haven’t heard of phubbing, you’ve done it. Phubbing, or phone snubbing, is when you completely ignore or only half-heartedly listen to someone else because you’re focused on your phone, instead. And it’s pretty destructive in a relationship, because it sends the signal to your partner that whatever they are saying is less important than anything happening on your phone, says Heather Lyons, a Baltimore-based psychologist and couples therapist.
“Humans are designed for face-to-face interactions, hence our reactions to nonverbal cues, including the intimacy that is communicated through eye contact,” she says. “Even if it’s not intentional, we miss out of on the potential for connection when we’re on our phones.”
When you’re at home, put your phone away, as much as possible. At the very least, if you’re having a conversation with your spouse, put your phone down and give them your undivided attention.“[I]it is important to make sure our actions back up how we actually feel about someone, which means when you are with your partner your attention should be on them and your phone should be put away,” adds Davis.
“This will allow you to have better communication, bonding time and an overall better relationship without your phone being the uninvited third wheel.”
- Leave nice notes. Or emails. Or texts. They don’t have to be long or saccharine, they just have to be original.
- Make a decision when she doesn’t want to. Let her make a decision when she does. Know the difference.
- Be kind. The world is mean, your marriage shouldn’t be.
- And be mindful of the energy you bring home. At least, as often as you can. Stress is hard and it makes us forget the ground rules of a good relationship. But if you’re mindful of it, you can take actions to avoid being a grump too 0ften.
- When you introduce her to your friends or coworkers, mention one of her accomplishments. That is, be a fan of hers.
- Make an effort to look presentable. Shave or clean up your beard regularly. Dress nice. Don’t always be a schlub. No one wants to be married to a schlub 24/7.
Be aware of any imbalances in shared emotional labor.
This is a big one. The mental work of running a household and a family – planning, scheduling, etc. – is often conducted primarily by one partner in a relationship. But that work, while essential, is also often invisible or under-appreciated, at the very least. Don’t fall into that trap. Yes, you may split the housework and hands-on kid stuff 50/50, but recognize that, if it’s your wife who schedules the doctor’s appointments, sets up the play dates, signs the kids up for soccer, etc., that these are things that take her time and brain power, not yours.
“The weight of the household could vary depending on what you two are going through in your lives at any given moment, [so] it is important to make sure a balance is there and while one person might be carrying a bit more weight at one point, they can also rely on their partner to carry more weight during a different period,” Davis says. “The key is to be able to rely on each other to show up when it counts and contribute to the household to ensure both of you are feeling supported by one another.”
- If you make yourself something — tea, a sandwich, a stiff cocktail — offer to make her one, too.
- Take her side in family squabbles whenever possible. If you sense a family fight might happen, discuss it beforehand to get on the same page. Then, talk about how you’ll mount your defense together.
- Keep your promises.
- Talk to her about what she likes in bed. Don’t assume that you know. If there’s a thing she’d like you to do more? Do that thing.
- Give her the benefit of the doubt.
- Take some tasteful nudes. If that’s your style.
- When you become frustrated, take a few deep breaths. Walk away if you need to.
- Remember to love her even when you don’t like her.
- Get rid of the unreasonable expectations you have for your spouse
Your partner is the person they were when you met them. We’re all striving for personal improvement, but expecting your partner to fundamentally change aspects of their personality is unrealistic and unhealthy.“Expectations are premeditated resentment,” says Rabbi Shlomo Slatkin, a relationship therapist. “Make sure your expectations are both realistic and articulated to your spouse. When they go unspoken they create negative feelings.”Things that are achievable can big-picture things like emotions communicating more clearly, or logistical changes like asking your partner to shift their schedule to help out with the kids in some way. Either way, those expectations need to be mutually communicated and understood.“No one is perfect, just the way you might have things about your partner that you think could be worked on is the same way your partner feels about you,” adds Davis.“The trick is to manage your expectations, have open communication, and come up with realistic ways to make your relationship better and more satisfying for both yourself and your partner and continuously work on making sure you both are working towards having a healthier partnership.”
- Call just to say hi. Don’t text. Don’t Facebook chat. Call her.
- When she asks you to go on a run with her, go. Even if you hate it. Especially if you hate it. She’ll know you did it just because you love her.
- When your wife talks about a sexist thing that happened to her that day, don’t give the man in the story the benefit of the doubt. Help her through it. Talk shit about him with your wife.
- Be enthusiastic about her favorite TV shows, even if it’s bad reality TV. Get into it. Make fun of the contestants. Ask her who her favorite person on the show is. Root for someone.
- Make it a point to be positive.
Men stereotypically find the reasons why something will not work out or will be a bad experience or the like.“It’s easy to be negative,” says Slatkin. “It’s a lot harder to be constructive and see the good.”This can be a drag on relationships, not to mention it just makes it harder to actually do things. But it’s also a natural byproduct of long-term relationships that partners start to see each other as the limiting factor in situations, Davis says.“A lot of times, instead of couples looking at such situations as them versus the problem, they look at each other as the problem and therefore have a stance of them versus themselves,” she says. “Do not fall into this trap, instead, look at the issue as a thing of its own and work with your partner as a united front to come up with a solution that will benefit both of you.”
- When your wife asks you how she looks in something, and if she doesn’t look great, tell her about another dress you like. Provide an alternative. Tell her you love her in it.
- When you get in a fight, use “I” statements. Don’t put your anger on her. Make sure she knows it’s about how you’re feeling.
- If you don’t know where something is in your house, actually look for it before you ask. You are not a clueless intern. You are their partner.
- Tell them — and demonstrate — that you love them.
- Flirt More
It’s easy to forget, once you’re married, that flirting doesn’t just make your spouse feel appreciated and loved – it’s fun. There’s a scientific reason for that.“The actual crux of what makes flirting feel so good is that it has the potential to release dopamine, that phenomenally pleasurable neurochemical in our brain,” Lee says. “So, if you wish to intensify an attraction, feel slightly euphoric, and give the suggestion – not promise – of greater intimacy down the line, then by all means flirt more.”So, bring flirting back to your relationship. Tease her. Compliment her. Randomly text her something funny. Do it just for the fun of it, not with the expectation that it will immediately lead to sex.
- Be flexible. Life throws a lot of uppercuts our way. It’s important for partners to understand and anticipate that, well, they can’t anticipate anything and must therefore react with flexibility.
- Do that sex thing she wants you to do. Sex is important and necessary. Try some new shit. Have fun. Keep one another satisfied.
Between parenting and working, it’s really easy to quickly and constantly feel some level of stressed and cranky. That’s no fun for you, and it’s definitely no fun for your kids or your spouse. This year, resolve to consistently destress, and find strategic, regular pathways to your inner chill. This is different for different people, but in short: make time for yourself.
If you love movies, go see a movie with a friend, or even by yourself. If you like to work out, regularly carve out time for a run or a trip to the gym. If you have – or had – a hobby, keep it up. Whatever your thing is, do it. Because giving your time and your emotional and physical presence is essential to being a good parent and spouse, but it can also become draining.
“Any partner who doesn’t take alone time can begin to feel resentful even in the most loving of relationships,” Lyons says.
- Stop being so defensive. It’s a learned behavior that so many of us have, but defensiveness can destroy marriages. Being receptive to a partner’s feedback is essential.
- Remember: It doesn’t matter who wins. When couples respect each other, they can accept not being right in favor of maintaining a healthy balance
- Don’t undermine her thoughts or concerns.
It’s easy to qualify or diminish their perspective when you’re trying to come up with a quick fix for a problem they’re facing. Don’t tell them they’re overreacting or freaking out, or that their concerns are silly. Because if they’re thinking/feeling it, it’s inherently valid.“Even if you genuinely think her perception is silly or ridiculous, keep that judgement to yourself and instead offer constructive solutions, or try asking thought provoking questions that could lead to some real insight,” Lee says.And always remember, Davis says, that these different viewpoints are indicators of individuality, and maintaining that is key to any healthy relationship.“It is important to remember that your partner is not you, they are a person of their own with their own values, thoughts, and opinions,” she says. “Make sure to view them as such and value their point of view with respect and be open to understanding why they have those views.”
- Be open about your finances. Talking about money is one of the most intimate conversations a couple can have. And yeah, financial infidelity is a thing.
- Learn how to get past arguments. Spats. Snipes. Disagreements. Screaming matches. They happen. One of the defining aspects of a strong, happy marriage, however, is the ability to get past them.
- Don’t ever stop trying to do better. Be generous. Be thoughtful. Say “thank you” more than you already are.