It's better to live alone in the corner of an attic than with a quarrelsome wife in a lovely home.
There are times in my marriage when I think everything is going great when it actually isn't. I don't always pick up on the signals my wife, Carrie, sends out. At times I can be really dense. Over the years, though, I've learned to be straightforward and ask Carrie what I can do better. I've also learned that there are a few common mistakes to avoid.
Here are ten common errors husbands commit:
1. We procrastinate on the "Honey-Do" List. There is always something that needs to be done, and we can always find a reason to put things off another day. The problem is that each day that passes, regardless of the excuse we use, is like adding a vile of nitroglycerin to the situation. The longer you leave it in the sun the more unstable it gets until the explosion eventually takes place.
2. We have been busy all week and spend zero quality time together when the call comes in to play a round of golf with the guys. We justify the time away in our minds and go. When we get home we wonder why our wife is on kid-overload and wants to cash in our life insurance policy. Duh.
3. We refuse to change a diaper, saying, "That's woman’s work." If you decide to say that, run for the hills because that three-pound mass of "woman’s work" will be coming at your head.
4. Too much time on sports or video games. There is nothing wrong with taking some time to relax and enjoy these things. There is a problem when your family takes a backseat to your sporting event or you are taking every free moment to join your buddies to play the latest online game. Your family matters more than the Stanley Cup. I promise.
5. Making private things public. How many times have you said something and as it leaves your mouth you look at your wife's fake smile and know you just messed up big time? We used to have a sign in our hockey locker room that said, "What is said here, stays here." It's the same within your home. There are just some things you should keep between you and your spouse. It's a respect issue.
6. Not taking an active role in the kids' up-bringing. Our wives should not be the only ones actively involved in the lives of our children. As Dads we need to lead our homes and help shape our children into the adults God wants them to be. Parenting requires a team effort, so be sure to play your part.
7. Pretending to listen. Ahh, the selective listening muscle we develop so well! Ever see a guy drooling on himself watching a TV program while his wife is trying to talk to him? Guys, when we tell our wives we can focus on both her and that show, we are only fooling ourselves. We miss out on a great deal when we don’t actively listen to our wife. It will tick her off. Big time.
8. Making a major purchase without discussing it with our wives first. Need I really say more here? When I was working in the car business, I saw the macho man come in like he is the boss and buy the car without talking to his wife first. The results are not pretty. Although he may talk a good game when he is not around her, we all know what will happen when he gets home with the new ride. If you don't believe me, go ahead and buy the most enormous big-screen TV with money she has set aside for the kids' school clothes and supplies. See how she responds. Good luck with that.
9. Trying to be funny in public by attaching wives to jokes. This is an especially nasty one, guys. No wife feels loved by someone who makes her look like a fool in public. This one cuts deep, guys, and is a huge no-no. Never, ever make your wife the butt of a joke.
10. We stop dating our wives. With all of the responsibilities we have to deal with each day, we get caught up in the details and stop making the time to date each other. This is like throwing a bucket of water on a fire. We have to keep working on the romance and reminding ourselves what we love about each other to keep the fire burning. We can easily let the demands from life (and children) take over. We could end up missing out on some great years. I have a motto that I have followed for quite a few years: "Happy Wife, Happy Life." If your wife isn't happy, no one in the house is happy. Spend time with her and treat her like she is special. She is.
I am not perfect, but I do continue to work on these things because when Carrie feels loved, respected, and appreciated, all is well in the Sharpe household. Chances are, if the better choice for me is to live in the corner of an attic, I have messed things up and I am reaping the harvest of bad decisions like I have mentioned above. You may think that verse I mentioned at the beginning of this article is a warning to wives about their attitudes, but I also know that my behavior (whether good or bad) can influence Carrie's attitude.
What things can you do today to be a better husband to your wife? If any of the pitfalls I mentioned struck a cord with you, I challenge you to make the necessary changes to improve your marriage. Marriage is a journey, and it is worth the time and effort we put into it.
To read the corresponding article, Mistakes Wives Make, click here.