Dear Husband Who Isn’t Mine,
As I sit here writing this post, I’m stewing over my husband’s lack of communication, defensiveness, and inability to accept any kind of help or input that might put his own contributions in jeopardy. In a marriage like ours, one with a husband struggling with deeply rooted psychological issues and substance abuse, this type of behavior is the norm. Honestly, right now it is the least of my problems, and I’m happy for every sober day my husband gets through. Eventually, I hope we’ll get to repairing the damage addiction has caused in our marriage. Until then, I try to share my story and help other men like you be a better husband.
You see, men like to invalidate women’s feelings and experiences in relationships by calling us crazy or hormonal, disdainfully accusing us of being on our period, or claiming that we’re super complicated beings from another planet. In truth, we’re pretty freaking clear about what our needs are, and it’s really not that hard to make us happy.
Be a Better Husband: Be Present
Sounds simple, right? Wrong. We don’t mean sit in the room with us and play around on your phone. We don’t mean drag yourself to the couch to watch our favorite show with us. We mean enjoy time with us. Put down the device and listen to us. Listening is more than just hearing. It’s empathizing and finding ways to relate. It’s asking whether we need to vent or want a problem solver. You can be a better husband by simply being present in the moment with us.
Be a Better Husband: Participate
Participate in the argument! Socially, most people are accustomed to conflict being a completely negative experience when it can be anything but. Unfortunately, when many men sense conflict brewing they either invalidate it with sarcastic comments, targeted insults (re: stop acting crazy), or pure avoidance, but when you avoid the conflict or find a negative way out of it, the problem itself never gets fixed. Instead, resentment and hurt fester, and the problem itself gets worse.
So, suck it up, buttercup. Bring down your emotions, respectfully help your wife de-escalate her emotions, and participate in the argument. It takes practice to have healthy conflict, but with persistence you’ll get there, and you just might find you actually fix some issues for a change.
Be a Better Husband: Pick up After Yourself
I am not your mother or your maid, so for god’s sake just pick up after yourself, and do it in a way that works with your wife’s lifestyle or needs. For me, I hate having a messy house all week followed by a mass cleaning day. I’d much rather clean as I go throughout the day. Yes, even if that means sweeping the floor around the baby’s highchair 6 times a day. I do appreciate having one place to be a bit messy and procrastinate, and that’s typically my night stand. Talk with your wife and ask her what she needs. Tell her how you envision your domestic responsibilities being divvied up. Work together, and pick up after your damn self.
I promise that if you’re a better husband, she’ll probably be a better wife, and if she’s an amazing wife already, she deserves to have the best husband you can be.