Karen and I have been talking about doing this post for a while now. Her post 10 Marriage Tips Every WIFE Should Hear has been viewed 5 million times in 3 months! We’ve been asked by many people, “Where is Frank’s version?”. Initially, my thoughts were that Karen’s post addressed a divorced man’s “lessons learned” blog post and there was no reason for me to write my own version. After gauging the comments the we received from our readers, I felt that a few tips from Karen’s other half would be beneficial to see how our suggestions co-exist within our marriage. These suggestions stem from mistakes I’ve made:
- Separate from Mamma. – Men, you are married to your wife, not your mom! When family matters invade a marriage, your wife needs to trust that you and she are a united front. She must not fear that you will go behind her and talk negatively, especially to your mom. When you and your wife speak to your mom, it should be as one flesh, not competing teams. Your mom is usually going to fight in your corner, right or wrong. This will cause serious problems in your marriage. I love my mom and she is precious to me, but YOU leading your family is the best way to honor her, not the other way around.
- Balance the extracurriculars. – Living life in Sportsman’s Paradise can get busy. Louisiana has everything a man could ever want with regards to the outdoors. My boat and I were closer than my former wife and I at one time. I was perfectly happy leaving her home with the kids to go “tear ’em up” somewhere in the Lake Pontchartrain waters. The problem with this is when it’s done in excess. You really need to take a look at why you fish, hunt, play video games, go to sports bars, etc. Are you doing it because it’s fun or are you getting away from your wife? It’s easy to fall into this trap because it’s easy to justify “harmless” activities. After all, you’re not out drinking all night with other women, so it’s not that bad. The problem is that your absence at home is felt by your wife and the kids. Keep your extracurricular activities in check by communicating about them with your wife. Too much passing the ball or too much running the ball will make it easy for the defense to game plan against your marriage. You need balance!
- Kiss her first. – When you see your wife for the first time after a day of work, kiss her first. If you’re coming home from work or a long day out – put your keys down, drop your bag on the floor and lay one on her! There is nothing that makes mamma feel better than knowing you are thinking about her. Hitting the door with the intent to connect with her immediately sets the stage for positive energy throughout the evening and shows the kids that their parents are secure in their relationship.
- “Boys Night Out” (AKA: Bachelor Parties). – I mean – C’mon man! There is nothing that kills a good thing with your wife like a “boys night out”. Back in the day, I was a partying force to reckon with. “Boys night out” usually implied alcohol, taxi cabs, strip clubs and vomit. If this is how you roll with the boys, then I suggest you re-examine your priorities. You may not know it, but your wife is probably scared to death the whole time you’re out. If you want to go hang out with your friends, don’t involve excessive booze at nightclubs. Take some responsibility as a husband and make sure your wife approves. A good question to ask yourself is, “If my wife were here, would she be offended?” (This tip goes for the ladies too.)
- Reject Passivity. – When something is happening that you know isn’t right, step in. Passivity will kill your family’s faith and trust in you in times when circumstances demand your intervention. There were so many times in my first marriage when my passivity ended up defining my role in my home. This can’t happen. Now – rejecting passivity does not mean that you need to be a dictator in your home. We are to love our wives as Christ loved the church, not like Ike loved Tina!
- Your wife did not grow up in your house. – 6 months after my first marriage began, we were in marriage counseling. I was 100% sure it was all her fault. The counselor listened to each of us plead our cases, and after hearing what I had to say, she got very strong with me in her response. My biggest complaint was “This isn’t the type of environment I grew up with in my house. It’s not the way I do things.” My counselor was quick to point out that my wife did not grow up with me or my family. She was thousands of miles away living a different life and didn’t even know I existed. She said, “How can you possibly expect her to understand ‘how things were in your house’ when you met her only a year ago at the age of 27? And why do you expect her to act like your relatives?” She was right. Far too often we think things will immediately “mesh” and that we’re above the communication problems. Understand that you and your wife are building a new life together, and it will always be in progress.
- Own her decisions. – I admit, being married to my wife is like a spiritual roller coaster. She is plugged in to Jesus! Her extreme spirituality leads her in places that are sometimes not familiar to me. She respects my role as the head of our family and when issues arise that are major, it’s my job to make the final decision. (And ladies – before you get up in arms about the “balance of power”, she will be the first to tell you that she prefers it that way. The burden is taken off of her shoulders by allowing me to bear the responsibility of the heavy family issues.) Even though many of the ideas are not mine, I am the leader of my house and therefore the decisions to take action are all mine. If decisions like these fail, you should never blame your wife. You should own it and learn from it.