Being a great husband isn’t hard, despite what we hear in pop-culture. I really dislike it when people talk about how much “hard work” is involved in marriage, because a relationship done well, is smooth like butter.
Relationships are not supposed to feel like a arduous endeavor that we simply have to endure. If that’s how we feel, something is very wrong.
However, what makes it “hard” for many people is that they are playing by a set of rules that don’t work anymore.
They are beating their head against the wall….insisting that their old paradigm, and old set of rules is supposed to be working.
Playing any game, with the wrong set of rules, is going to be frustrating. Marriage is no different.
Marriage, just like everything in life, has evolved, and shifted. And naturally, there are new rules that need to be adapted to.
The rules are super easy though, and super learn-able.
And when we learn how to play be the new set of rules, marriage becomes easy-peezy…and super smooooooth.
Rule #1: Learn to Listen really Well
I don’t know about you, but I never took a course called, “How to Listen Well”. I guess it was just assumed that I would figure it out. Well, I didn’t just figure it out. I actually had to dedicate time and effort to learn how to listen well and made lots of mistakes along the way. The good news is that listening well is a learned skill that anyone can learn. We have to learn how to listen well – it’s one of the number one complaints of women in marriage. It’s an easy target to hit, we just have to take the time to learn how to do it.
Rule #2: Learn to be really Honest
Honesty is the bedrock of any quality relationship, yet so many of us have a hard time saying the hard things to our partner. We avoid these conversations because we don’t like conflict. I get it. I used to be that way too. But when we’re not as honest as we need to be, we will build resentment. Guaranteed. And that resentment will start to spill over into your relationship and will erode all the goodness. Learning how to embrace conflict isn’t as scary as it sounds. You can totally learn it.
Rule #3: Learn to Adopt Humility
It doesn’t’ take a rocket scientist to realize that something isn’t working well in marriage. Divorce rates are all the evidence we need to prove that. Since we know this, doesn’t it makes sense to adopt a lot of humility about our abilities in marriage? If we were more humble and approach marriage with a frame of mind of openness and a willingness to learn, things would feel a lot different. I personally approach marriage with a frame of mind that says: I have no idea what I’m doing, but I’m willing to learn”.
Rule #4: Learn about your Own Emotions
I don’t come from a family that taught me a lot about my emotions. Just like listening well, I was left to figure it out myself. But that doesn’t work, because left to ourselves, we usually just avoid our emotions like the plague. 21st century women are looking for an emotional connection with theirhusbandsmorethananythingelse. Alackinemotionalconnectionis the #1 reason for affairs. If you don’t do emotions well, don’t beat yourself up – it’s not your fault. You weren’t taught. But you can definitely learn.
Rule #5: Learn to make REALLY good friends
Without good friends to keep us on track, we’re destined to run aground in marriage. We can’t do the marriage experience by ourselves. We need other men to support us, challenge us, and be honest with us. Without these kinds of relationships, we will get lost in our thoughts and beliefs, and when things get hard, it usually ends badly. Good friends are a critical piece of a healthy marriage.
Rule #6: Learn to Not Take Yourself So Seriously
I know you have a lot going on, and that life can be very stressful. I feel it too. As a therapist, I can totally be guilty of taking life too seriously. But when we’re too stressed out, too overwhelmed, and too serious, it sort of just robs the joy from marriage. Our wives want us to be, at times, light, and playful, and they want to laugh with us. If your marriage feels too serious and too tense for too long, people will inevitably wonder: What’s the upside of this relationship?
Rule #7: Learn to Act Consistently
I’m sure you’ve heard it before; marriage is a verb, and not a noun. Gosh that is so true. Marriage is a tree you’ve planted. And you’re hoping to grow it and mature it over time. It takes lots of water, lots of sunlight, continually providing new soil. We tend to this tree and study it and watch it and think about it a lot of the time. We care about the tree and feel a sense of pride in it’s growth and established roots. Our marriages are not different than this tree. Marriage requires consistent effort and energy to keep it growing and healthy.
Rule #8: Learn to Adopt Gratitude
I can tell you a hundred things I don’t like about my wife, and I’m sure you could tell me a hundred things you don’t like about your wife too. But I could also tell you a hundred things that are incredible about my wife, and it’s those things that I deliberately choose to spend my time feeling thankful for. In marriage, there is no perfect partner. And choosing a partner is choosing a set of problems. The grass is never greener, and the sooner we come to that realization, the sooner our restlessness and discontent fades.
Rule #9: Learn a New Money Mindset
I love the idea of people using their skills to become financially successful. I love it. However, achieving wealth at the cost of your marriage doesn’t make sense at all. Too many men put the entirety of their self-worth in their jobs and their ability to make money. But the truth is, in the hundreds of wives I’ve worked with, NOT ONCE have I heard a wife say she was leaving a marriage because her husband didn’t make enough money. Now isn’t that interesting?! Again, I love the idea of people making good money. But if we’re doing that because we have some outdated beliefs about our roles as husbands, we’re are totally misdirected. You can kill it financially, AND have a great marriage.