I’ve been procrastinating writing this. For one thing, I’m neither a man nor a husband and while I do not do a lot of this writing from my own life experience, the other thing is that I do not see a lot of men in my practice! One thing I do know, men are more complex than we give them credit for, so I won’t pretend these 3 things are exactly right for every single husband out there! If you feel like these things don’t match your hubby, definitely ask him what three things he feels that he needs from you. And don’t be surprised if he needs some time to think about it. Give him some time then ask him again.
From my work with women, I’ve chosen the following 3 things that seem to be lacking in their marriages as far as complaints of husbands: respect, patience and to have fun.
Now I don’t mean going around saying “Yes Sir” to your husband. What I DO mean is having a sense of admiration and gratitude for the role he plays in your marriage and family. We talked about how women are socialized in the other blog, so in this one, I want to highlight that as boys get older, they are socialized moreso to be providers and protectors. This is a big deal!
This can feel daunting as men enter the workforce, risk losing their job, or not getting that promotion or raise they were hoping for. Being the protector can feel like quite the responsibility to have…even if it is being responsible for all the spiders in the house! I’m aware I’m making some generalizations here, but go with me on this just for the sake of getting the gist of what I’m saying. Maybe this looks differently in your marriage. Whether you have an egalitarian or traditional gender role experience in your home, consider how your husband was raised and what expectations (implied or explicit) he felt growing up. It’s probably somewhat different from your own upbringing as a girl.
So fast forward to your own marriage. Do you think your husband has ever felt fear, burden, pressure, imposter syndrome or anything like those things when it comes to how he views his responsibility in caring for you and the family? Does he work super long hours and miss date nights or extra curricular activities with the kids? Does he get criticism about this? What if he’s doing this to be able to pay for your kids’ college or maybe take you on that dream vacation you’ve always wanted? Respect through gratitude and admiration can go a long way. Compliment your man in front of others! Let other people know what a great guy he is and how much you respect him. Preferably without any disclaimers or backhanded compliments! 🙂
I debated this one because I wanted to go a few different directions with it and wasn’t totally sure if it’s the right word. I’m thinking our husbands need patience from us when it comes to communication, understanding more about women as well as us understanding more about our man.
Going back to this whole socialization thing, boys are often chastised, criticized, shut down or made fun of for showing emotions like anxiety, sadness and insecurity. So it stands to reason that, generally speaking, they often do not have a sense of confidence of how to respond to us if we’re expressing those emotions and just want them to listen and not “fix it.” I think patience could go a long way in understanding this instead of us being another critical voice of “you never get me” or “you never say anything helpful.” In my sessions with my clients who are wives or girlfriends, I often suggest being more direct and perhaps coaching our male partners with what responses ARE helpful. Unfortunately, women in general seem to struggle with just stating needs as we’d rather have people mind read (hey, I get it!) and this sets up our marriages for unrealistic expectations of our partners. So maybe next time try “Hey I wanted to just run something by you as I think I just need to get this off my chest. If you could just give me a hug and tell me ‘that sucks, sweetheart,’ that will help a lot!”
To Have Fun
Responsibilities seem to pile up after marriage. The spontaneity, fun-loving, and can’t-wait-til-the-next-date feelings that dating often brings kind of just fades. But you don’t have to let it! It takes some pretty intentional work, especially once children enter the picture, but I would venture to imagine your husband misses just having lots of fun with you and wouldn’t mind periods of time where responsibilities can be delegated or put off just a little while longer! Laughter goes a long way in a relationship so make date night or family game night or whatever you and your partner like to do to have fun be a part of your regular routine.