Children are so much better off in a nuclear family, and unfortunately there are far too many families that have failed. While both husband and wife have responsibility to build and strengthen marriages to provide a stable environment for children, there are many things men can do as husbands and fathers to try to protect and preserve their marriage relationships.
Time Required: A few hours a week
- Banish divorce from your thoughts. If you have an idea that you would be better off outside the marriage, that thought alone can cause a major break in your motivation to make it better. Simply deciding that divorce is not an option will help you focus on what you can do rather than on what you don't want to do.
- Honor and respect your partner. Granted, your partner may not be the same person she was when you married. But she is still worthy of respect and honor. She is an incredible person in her own right. Consider making a list of her most amazing and endearing qualities so you can remember why it was you fell in love in the first place.
- Communicate, communicate and communicate. There is no substitute for talking regularly and about everything. Our wives feel intimacy with us when we share openly about our lives, our interests, our dreams and our expectations. A family therapist freind of mine suggests that husbands and wives set aside 30 minutes each day without interruptions where the couple can just talk together. Effective communication is an important way to strengthen marriage.
- Share financial expectations and budgets. The demise of many families revolves around finances. Often we bring different expectations about money to a relationship and coming to agreement on how we handle money together is a critical component of success. Agree on a budget and an approach to debt and then live within your limits. Learn to differentiate between a need and a want, and then make sure your needs are met.
- Give her the right amount of space - the amount she wants. One of the hardest balances to find is the amount of time to spend together. Too much is smothering; too little is inattentive. So when she needs some space to herself or with girlfriends, let her have it. When she wants more time with you, make time for her. If her time away from you begins to grow, it's a good time to sit down and talk about expectations and needs.
- Take care of yourself. Many wives I have talked with have become a bit disillusioned with marriage when their spouse starts to fall apart physically. Shave and shower on the weekends; make time to exercise and eat smarter. Gaining weight and not taking good care of yourself is a turn-off for her. And the better care your take of yourself, the more likely she is to care more about her appearance too.
- Keep up the courting. One of the best ways I know to keep a bit of a spark in marriage is to make time to court your wife. Make time for a "date night" every week, even if it is just a drive out for a milkshake. When times were leaner for us, my wife and I would trade babysitting with another couple, put the baby in a stroller and walk around the mall. Leave her little love notes where she will find them. Bring her a single rose occasionally. Little courting plesantries go a long way in keeping a marriage strong.
- Forgive quickly. Often marriages begin to fall apart when one partner or another holds a grudge. Forgiveness is a gift that you give yourself more than one you give your partner. So refuse to hold grudges and have a forgiving spirit.
- Don't hesitate to get help. If you are still having challenges, consider getting counseling or couples therapy. Often your workplace (or hers) will have access to an employee assistance program or EAP, where you can get some initial help and a referral to others. You might consider starting with a trusted member of clergy if you share a religious heritage and then move beyond if needed.
- Don't try to control your partner. Give her room to be the person she is and learn to cooperate.
- Disclose nad discuss other friendships. Partners often become suspicious when men have relationships outside marriage, however innocent.
- Little compliments matter. Find something nice to say about your woman every day.
- Remember she is a mom, too. Sometimes men forget that his wife is also a very busy mother with many demands on her time. She does not exist just to be a playmate. So be sensitive to the demands on her time and lighten her load when you can.