I’ve been married for 21 years now and I’ve made my fair share of mistakes as a husband along the way, but I’ve also done a lot of things right too. So here’s my list of the top six areas that I have worked on to make my marriage survive and even thrive!!
There are two specific areas I have had to learn about in my communication with my wife. They are:
- Honesty – I’ve had to learn how to be honest in sharing with my wife. Not that I have ever lied to her, but in the earlier years of our marriage I often wasn’t really sharing the entire truth about how I was feeling. I often didn’t share how my wife was really making me feel because I didn’t want to hurt her or make her cry. That was a big mistake and now I (we) have learned to really express truth to one another. PS Sharing truth is not a licence to be brutal! You have to choose your words very carefully, but learn to speak honestly about what you are thinking or feeling.
- Not denying emotion – I’ve learned that I need to express my emotions (fully) to my wife which often involves sharing the good, the bad and the ugly! Again, it can be easy to be brutal in the delivery, but you must work to share how you are feeling – without making the delivery destructive!
About 12 years ago my wife and I were going through a very rocky patch in our marriage. After talking about it, one of the things we identified was that we weren’t having any fun together. We created a regular date night and began making it a priority for us. We’ve kept up the practice for many years now. Often we go to the movies or out for dinner and laugh together, and remember what we like about each other. This keeps our relationship fun and gives us something to look forward to each week. Marriage often involves kids too, so in our family we have a lot of fun with our kids and do special things together, like having a family night once a week where we play games or do an activity and connect. We also try and eat meals together as much as we can and laugh a lot. That really helps to make life enjoyable.
All wives need romance and affection. Neither of these two things are natural to me – or perhaps not even to most men(!) – but I’ve learned that my wife feels insecure if these things are lacking in our marriage. Hugs, kisses, notes, texts, emails, phone calls, making cups of tea all communicate affection to my wife. Romance doesn’t always have to be expensive or time consuming, just thoughtful. I am still working at this after 20 years, but there have been some special things that I have done for her. At least once a year we take a weekend and to go away together (without the kids!) This getaway is really important to her and for romance!! I’ve also arranged some very creative dates for her, like creating a restaurant in our home with candlelight, a table for two and a fancy meal that I cooked for her.
This is definitely not natural for me!! I have had to learn to admit when I am wrong and sincerely apologise to my wife. I definitely don’t take the blame all the time – my wife doesn’t want me to either; sometimes she is the one who is in the wrong and I’ve had nothing to do with it! But usually it takes two to tango and both of us have to contributed something to the conflict. So while its hard to admit my fault in any disagreement or conflict, I have noticed what a difference it makes in conflict resolution when I make the move to apologise first and admit I haven’t done some things right.
In his book “His Needs Her Needs” author Willard Harley talks about how one of the top needs for women is that they feel financially secure. I have tried to make sure my wife and our family feel financially secure and provided for even when we didn’t (or don’t) have much money. Making the choice to move into Christian work 15 years ago was a big decision for me and my wife. Most people – including us – know it’s not the path to achieving great wealth! Having less income than when we were employed in our secular jobs (and with no kids back then either!) made me rise to the challenge of finding intelligent ways to generate the finances we needed. Some of the decisions I made along the way are now also enabling us to create new ministry opportunities like Fit 4 Life which is very fulfilling.
At the end of the day a marriage is a commitment. In the majority of marriages both the partners start off making some very holy and solemn vows to each other, but the ravages of time and life make us forget what we promised to do. Sure there are days when I have been frustrated and angry in my marriage, or my wife and I are having conflict again over something that’s come up; there are days when I wonder if we made a mistake. But then I get my head right and seek to come back and talk to my wife and work it out.
If you base any relationship solely on feelings you’re eventually going to bail-out of it because feelings come and go. The bottom line is that I am committed to my wife, and we hang in there and work things out when it’s not going so well. And then after we have worked it out we fall in love (feelings) again.
In today’s society for many it’s become the easy option to bail out of marriage, but this has proven and documented long term negative consequences on your emotions, your finances, your children’s emotional and psychological health and wellbeing, and the fabric of our society is weakened by the huge number of marriages that have fallen apart through choice of one or both partners to go separate ways. My wife and I have had to work through some very tough and complicated issues in our marriage, but we’ve persevered through them all and are better people today because of it. (I know that I certainly am!) So even if it seems dark right now for you, hang in there and give it your best shot to make your marriage work. It’s worth it!!!!
Here’s to becoming a better husband!!!
Bryce – Fit 4 Life Staff