By Special Contributor Don Macleod.
How does a modern man manage to keep his wife happy, raise happy and healthy kids, and be happy himself? How does he keep his shit together so that he can be one of those guys who gets to walk hand-in-hand on the beach with his wife at 80 years old, and have kids and grandkids that want to visit him out of affection and not obligation?
Those are some big questions. I’ll give you five general answers.
Number 1: Lead the Way. Not all men have had the greatest of role models. That doesn’t mean that a man can’t step up and set a precedent for reliable and appropriate masculine behavior in his marriage and family, though. If you had a shitty father, commit to doing a better job. That’s better payback than letting his crappy fathering continuing to affect your life and the lives of your wife and kids.
If your marriage is having problems, don’t wait for your wife to change her ways or take the first step. You go first. I guarantee you that that 80 year old guy walking on the beach with his wife didn’t get there by expecting his wife to do all the work. No, this doesn’t mean you have to be a doormat or do everything. It does mean you need to do your part, and you may at times need to do it first. Have the humility and strength of character to do so. It will mean the world to your wife.
Number 2: Know yourself. Know your own fears and shortcomings. Are you afraid of being hurt? Do you have a short temper or are you unreliable? Are you critical, defensive, or self-focused, or do you always need to be right or get your own way? Do you ignore your wife’s feelings or perspectives or check out other women? You know the truth of this, so be honest with yourself.
But shortcomings don’t always have to be of the unpleasant variety. Some guys don’t know how to assert themselves in their marriage in a respectful way so that they get their own emotional and sexual needs met, especially if their wife is the one behaving in disrespectful or destructive ways. You need to find that balance.
Number 3: Have pride in your marriage and family. Every person on Earth who has ever accomplished anything significant has done so with a sense of pride. Whether it’s an astronaut who makes it to the moon, an athlete who makes it to the Olympics, or an 80 year old who makes it to the beach with his loving wife, every single one of them took pride in what they were doing. They worked hard, they stuck it out, and they got the reward. And they’re proud of that.
The greatest source of a man’s pride should be his marriage and family. When those are his priorities, everyone sees it—including his wife and kids! And when they see it, when they feel it, they feel safe, loved and happy.
Number 4: Think long-term. We’re definitely an impulsive culture that indulges in instant-gratification. That’s why we trade-in our vehicle the second it needs a little work—why do the work when I can just drive a new one off the lot right now? Of course, that means you’ll be driving a new one off the lot every few years, but who’s counting, right?
Men who manage to keep their families together have a long-term view of things. They see the big picture. And yes, they’ll stick around through some ugly, boring, and unpleasant times in their marriage, knowing that no storm lasts forever and the sun will eventually shine again.
Number 5: Learn practical skills. Yes, women can be an enigma. Yes, kids can be frustrating. But you’re all human beings, you all breathe the same air, and you are more alike than different. If you have a hard time connecting with your wife or kids, or communicating with them or getting along, get help. Learning how to reduce your negative personality traits while also managing your wife’s can work wonders. Learning how to talk to each other and solve your problems together…there’s a great sense of pride and solidarity that comes from that. Unfortunately, we’re not born with these kinds of skills.
That’s why my wife and I created our online program New You, Renewed Marriage // Improving Interactions & Intimacy. It’s ’s an easy, enjoyable and extremely practical way to learn the skills you need to keep a marriage and family together. Happily together.