Every man or woman who is looking for a good husband is up against it. Truth is, most guys are jerks in some way. Probably now more than ever.
I should know. I was just like this. Not as bad as some guys, mind you; the only thing I need to do these days in order to make myself feel superior to a lot of men is to open my eyes and ears. There’s no shortage of married people (or divorced people as it may be) who are more than willing to go on and on about what a colossal jerk they ended up hinged to.
But I find real solace in admitting my faults, past and present. It’s the only way forward.
We live in strange times. Humans are rapidly becoming self-absorbed. Higher consciousness and deeper understanding of our own selves, of our own shortcomings and our own broken paths — it’s all going the way of the dinosaur. Maybe there’s too much to think about, or maybe we’re all just getting dumber.
There’s no app for being decent. But there will be before long, trust me.
Yet, it’s not too late. Like I said, it feels good to turn the cameras back onto your own heart/guts/feelings/actions/mind. It’s progressive. It’s courageous. And, surprise, surprise, it’s helpful.
I’ve been divorced now for about two years and in that time I’ve made a lot of progress. I still have miles and miles to go, though — becoming a better person, and maybe learning how to be a good husband someday, is a lifelong trip. You don’t wake up one morning cured of all your ill-fated tendencies. Your big blind eyes don’t suddenly see the true light forever after a couple of TED Talks or self-help books. Oh, no.
Dudes need to man up. Day in, day out. And along the way, you fall off the wagon. It’s human nature. It’s okay. I do it all the time; I say terrible things; I feel the raging jealousy of a thousand Napoleons; my heart hurts and it comes out my mouth in a raging torrent of jaded bitterness.
However, I figure the difference between me and a lot of other husbands/ex-husband/future husbands is that after a lot of self-work, I almost always recognize my own idiotic ways instantly now. And, I’ve got to tell you, that recognition been a true lifesaver for me.
Because simple-minded self-righteousness is more than likely the leading cause of broken homes and divorce. When husbands (or wives!) refuse to acknowledge that the collective good is worth sacrificing some of the voices in your head for, love is doomed.
So, a bit of insight, shall we? From a guy whose marriage ended to those who don’t want theirs to. This ain’t rocket science, and I know it. But reminders from the real world are worth their weight in starlight. And so it goes. Here are 4 pieces of marriage advice that a good husband will do without being asked.
1. He listens.
For God’s sake, listen up. Stop trying to crowbar your beliefs and opinions into every square inch of your love affair. It’s horrific. It’s a bullet in the temple of the person down the pillow. Listening doesn’t mean some 1953 version of taking out the trash when you’re told, either. What I’m talking about is opening your mind by shutting down your ever-clanking mind.
When something becomes heated or seems genuinely of concern to the woman in your life, take a deepbreath, let it out slow, and say to yourself, “NOW is the time for me to step out of the ESPN 4 that is my brain and focus entirely and completely on what this lovely lass in front of me is saying.”
This might happen in the car on the way to the grocery store. This might happen while you’re hustling kids out the door in the morning. This might happen during the middle of hot spontaneous sex in the dressing room at Macy’s. (Wait, what? You guys don’t do that anymore? It’s been years?! Oh, you kids need to go try on some “slacks.”)
Listening isn’t something you need time to prepare yourself to do. You simply need to train your impetuous mind to stop on the dime when you recognize she needs you to hear her. Right now. And then doing it.
2. He helps out around the house.
Laundry. Cooking. Dishes. Packing lunches for the kids. Grocery shopping. Paying the bills online. The list goes on and on for stuff that so many men have somehow weaseled their way out of over the past trillion years solely based on the flimsy notion that “This is a woman’s job.”
Don’t perpetuate that myth another second. I’m begging you. As the father of a seven-year-old daughter, I’m beseeching you to punch yourself in the face 80 times a day if need be, every single time even the slightest whiff of one of these ancient sexist thoughts sails across your mind.
Example: Maybe you’re at a stoplight on the way to work and you’re listening to your sports talk or your favorite Maroon 5 CD (the one you’ve had since college!). And suddenly you’re saying to yourself, “Damn, I hope she washed my Banana Republic t-shirt so I can wear it to Poker Night tomorrow.”
Immediately, punch yourself in the face as hard as you can. I know this could endanger other drivers, but still. It’s worth it. Because even that simple statement you just made to yourself is living proof that you are a big part of the problem when it comes to marriage, equality, and human existence in general.
Sure, she might actually even enjoy doing the laundry for you. No problem. That’s great. But punch yourself in the face anyhow. You know why. You get what I’m saying. Change the world.
3. He’s the best dad to his children.
This is so obvious that I’m embarrassed to even have to bring it up, but I know I have to. So here goes.
Being a father is one thing. Being a dad is so much more. Your slightly disfigured member made you a father. Everything else about you will make you a dad if you want it. Your heart. Your soul. Your endless, boundless love for your child. Your desire (not your “trying to pitch in’ BS”), but your desire to change diapers from the moment your baby is born until they use the potty. Actions make the daddy. Love makes the child.
I know fathers who leave their wives to the kids all day while they go to work. Okay, fine. That’s super-prehistoric, but finances sometimes dictate less-than-progressive circumstances.
But I also know that some of these throwback “Dads” also come home from work and expect a hot meal for themselves while they slip off their shoes and uncurl their feet out in front of the TV, all while basically ignoring the kids until they feel motivated to spend ten minutes half-heartedly playing Legos with them before supper.
You’re better than that. You have to be. Otherwise, your kids will always remember you as a man they loved whose feet stank like sour piss while he watched TV on the couch.
4. He doesn’t project his insecurities.
Men have this almost surreal way of covering up all of the stuff that bugs them about themselves. Financial stress, wishing for more, fears, desires, sexual frustration — you name it, men are probably experiencing it. Yet, many guys bury everything. Because they feel like they have to. Women do, too, by the way. But that’s a different article.
Gentlemen, I’m here to tell you, by way of experience, by having walked across the prairie of broken glass that is this flagrant, resilient toxic waste dump called masculinity, that being a good man or a good husband has nothing at all to do with being a clammed-up self-loathing time bomb whose own soul is on fire with the need to communicate so many things that he mustn’t ever reveal, lest he look like a failure in the eyes of his partner. And his neighbors. And his mom. (Oh god, his mom.)
By holding back from open communication with the person you’ve married, men end up doing three things:
- They become frustrated over time.
- They tell themselves a fable of their life rather than openly admitting the true memoir they are living.
- They ultimately fall apart in epic ways and blame everyone else but themselves.
Listen to her. And let her listen to you. Jeez, can’t you see it? You two could grow old together. Damn. That would be so cool.