I’m mainly writing this as a reminder to myself, but I figured there are probably more of you fellow married guys out there than I realize who could benefit from hearing the same thing. So, here goes.
You are married, and you and your wife will have problems. Problems that are small, big, weird, stupid, frustrating, unnecessary, and a thousand other adjectives. You’re human beings, so it’s a fact. When those problems come up, it’s really easy to be scared of the consequences. To be scared of how she’ll react to you. To be worried about how she’ll see you now because you messed up (again). To passive-aggressively shame yourself into (hopeful) forgiveness. It’s so easy to think that if you just show how much you can’t stand what you did (even though you let yourself do it again), that she will see how sorry you are and stop blaming you for it. Boo-freakin’-hoo.
Seriously, stop it.
The more you paint yourself into a corner of self-deprecation, the less hope your wife will ever have that you’ll just hear what she’s saying, and help her be healed from whatever pain she’s feeling. Sure, it hurts to think that you’re the one that hurt her, but what she cares about more is just that she’s hurting, and the fact is that you’re still the one in the best position to help her, even though maybe yeah, ok, it was your fault in the first place.
“Yeah, but-” Stop. Shut it.
Stop feeling sorry for yourself that you “just can’t get things right,” and that you “know exactly what you want to change, but you just don’t know how!” There will never come a point where that way of thinking will ever solve the problem. She will not magically one day just say, “Oh sweetie, I am so sorry that I’m making you feel so bad for messing up.” So take a deep breath, pick yourself up, and become the solution. Realize that, if your wife is anything like mine (i.e. an amazing woman who wants nothing more than to support you, love you, believe in you, and be led by you through an incredible, exciting, hilarious, and fun life together), that you can do this.
So what do you do?
- You say, “Ok, wow, I’m sorry I’m being so ridiculous. I totally owe you some Chipotle. Tacos or burrito?”
- You listen to her.
- You tell a dumb joke (even if she doesn’t want to laugh right now).
- You figure out three things to do to show her how much you mean to her (and write them down so your dumb self doesn’t forget what they are when it counts)
- You ask her what you can do to help.
- You send her flowers when she’ll be somewhere without you (work, at a friend’s house, at home while you’re gone, etc.)
- Basically, take five flipping minutes when you’re in the bathroom and THINK about her (What? You’re just going to sit there and get annoyed at all the crap on Facebook anyway…)
When things are not the greatest in your marriage, run towards the fire, not away from it. It’s probably mostly just smoke anyway, and really isn’t as big and scary as it is in your mind.
But hey, that’s just what I’d tell myself; my wife is too valuable to me to keep doing things the way I have been, and this is my way of keeping myself grounded, and reminding myself that I’m actually more capable than I feel most of the time.
One of my favorite authors on marriage (actually, on just the topic of being a strong husband) is a guy named Reb Bradley. He has a seminar called “Becoming the Ultimate Husband,” and in the intro session, he talks about how he was not naturally one of those husbands that always knew what to do and how to just naturally be the kind of man that his wife needed. He said, “No, instead, my gift is documentation. Whenever I’d make a mistake, I’d write down what happened, along with what I did to fix the problem. Eventually, I stopped making so many mistakes.” It definitely got a chuckle from the crowd, but he definitely made a good point, and it was one that resonated with me. That seminar is excellent, by the way, and actually allowed me to jump-start my relationship with my wife when it really needed it. You can check it out here; I highly recommend it.
So I guess my goal is to make my documentation public, in the hopes that I can help as many of my fellow married guys as possible. Here’s to happy wives!