I like to think I’ve now established myself as the leading authority when it comes to writing and speaking on steps to not suck at something. Many of you are familiar with my earlier works in the “Steps to Not Suck™” series and the exhaustive experience-based research I’ve spent my life pursuing, in order to offer those up for your reading pleasure.
It’s true that these experiences have not been easy for me or my family, but at this stage in life I can say it has all been worth it. I feel confident saying that few people have been as effective at sucking as a man, husband, or father as I have at times. Experience either makes us better or drowns us in misery, and the choice is ours. I personally not only enjoy this life, but know I have a purpose in it, so I’ve chosen to live, learn, and swim.
I choose to look at it this way: I’m alive, the kids are alive, and my wife is still with me. God is good!
I say all of this in jest, my friends, as my sense of self-worth is not nearly so low. Although at times, it quite possibly should have been. There are worse and there are better husbands and men out there, but I’ve learned my lessons the hard way and certainly try and improve day by day.
Today we’re going to discuss a topic that I should have received an honorary PhD in by now. I’m going to share with you, based on my own experience, 10 Steps to Not Suck at Being a Husband.
So without further ado, I’ve compiled a list that most men couldn’t have possibly failed at as much or worse than I. If you have, please seek counseling and share your story so I’ll feel better. I kid. I only want to be clear that these steps come from the heart and not from a holier-than-though, I-have-it-all-together, perspective.
This one seems cliché, huh? Right out of the gate, I went all religious on you. I sure did and with good reasons: one, God created and defined marriage; two, if a relationship with Jesus Christ isn’t your priority, then it will be impossible to ever fully understand the marriage design and experience all it was created to be. This gets pretty deep and I can’t get off topic, so I encourage you to check out the message in the “Can You Handle the Truth?” series by Pastor Marty Strait of Pathway, titled “The Truth About Marriage” to get a full picture of design and purpose of marriage.
Simply put, when God is first, good things happen in the other areas of your life. Chief among them being your marriage.
Put Your Wife First
This one is pretty simple, but sometimes so hard. We’re human. We’re men. Most of us are pretty good at being selfish and going after what we want. This whole marriage thing really puts a damper on that. However, God calls us to love our wives as Christ loved the church. Read Ephesians 5:22-27. As men, it can be tempting to focus on the first part of the scripture that instructs your wife to submit to you, but the part that will strengthen your marriage is obeying the command God gives to you as her husband. Your wife doesn’t come second to your mother, your best friend, your kids, or anyone else. Getting this wrong sells us short on the marriage we could and should have.
Your wife is to be cherished above all else. Her value to you should be second to none and she should know that. You should demonstrate it. Make her feel it. This is hard for us as men, because it requires us to be vulnerable and to willingly give someone the power to hurt us. Welcome to marriage. You’re all in or you’re pretending.
Work at this every day. It’s that important.
Have Good Friends
Man, oh man. I could write a book about this one. Bad company corrupts good character (1 Corinthians 15:33). To be the husband you were created to be, and that your wife and kids needs you to be, you simply cannot afford to screw this one up. If you hang out with the types of men who turn blind eyes to or participate in adultery, abuse, or who refuse to speak difficult truth to you in the hard times, get new friends and get them yesterday. No friends are better than bad friends.
We absolutely must develop friendships with men who share our principles, convictions and the behaviors that embody what solid husbands look like. It’s not okay to place your friends above your wife, and real friends who are real men would never put you in a position to do that.
You need friends willing to tell you that what you’re clicking on at work or late at night is wrong. You need friends that refuse to tell you the answer is divorce. You need friends who don’t play into the “grass is greener” crap, just because it’s easier and it’s what you want to hear. Men should speak direct words of truth to each other and they’re not always easy to hear or easy to say.
Hanging out with and turning a blind eye to those who cheat, beat, revel in addiction and do everything in their power besides being a husband is the equivalent of condoning it. You’re becoming part of the problem and you’re disrespecting your own wife and family in the process.
She’s your wife, your partner, and hopefully your best friend. It is absolutely essential to your relationship that you continue your pursuit of her and her passions. Remember, we discussed the whole selfishness bit. Your wife has talents, ability, and dreams just like you. As her husband, you need to encourage these. Be careful to encourage her dreams and not your interpretation of her dreams.
I know this one well, as I’m blessed to be married to a beautiful wife who has more artistic talent in one little finger than I possess in my entire body. Her art and passion for it are incredible. If I’m not careful, my personality gets in the way of my encouragement. The way my mind operates would seek to capitalize on her talent in a monetary fashion. Unfortunately, for her, the moment it becomes a job or a commitment that in any way restricts her artistic freedoms, she’s not as motivated or passionate about it. I’m still learning to simply encourage her and share her joy in creations that are her own.
People need to love what they do, and your wife is no different. I’m not saying she may not work a job to contribute just as you do, but I am telling you to support and encourage her in pursuit of the things she loves and has a talent for.
Oftentimes as men, we look to ourselves as the head of the household, provider, and protector and neglect the fact that our wife may very well have her own career goals, ambitions and dreams that she would like to accomplish. Whether it’s President of the Homemaking division at your house or CEO of a company, support and encourage her. It’s part of your responsibility as her husband.
I want to end this one by saying that in order to have good friends, you also need to be a good friend. A good friend can speak truth to a difficult issue and refuse to condone it, while also avoiding condemnation. We’re not perfect, nor should we expect others to be, but we should always encourage each other to be better.
Be the Head of the Household
This probably doesn’t mean what you think it does. This isn’t a license to tell your woman how it is. It doesn’t mean you can come home, plop down in the recliner and demand your beer. It’s far less glamorous and requires far more responsibility.
Being the head of the household requires you to be serious about the spiritual health of your wife and children, as well as anyone else in your home. You should pray for them, pray with them, and work to insure they have everything in your power to pursue their God-given dreams. This doesn’t mean doing it for them. It means supporting and empowering them.
Being the head of the household is about responsibility. Men are called to be the provider and protector of those in their home. This goes far deeper than just the physical realm, which is why we often have such a hard time understanding this and in getting it right.
Guard Your Heart
In today’s world, this one is vital to your health and well-being as both a husband and a man. Just because something is popular or widely accepted doesn’t make it good for you. Just because you aren’t the only person doing it, doesn’t make it okay. As a husband, you are created to embody strength and self-control. Lead by example.
Unfortunately, men aren’t known for their will power and society eats our lunch because of it. Fifty percent of men in the church are said to be immersed in pornography. Roughly fifty percent of marriages end in divorce. According to a 2004 University of Chicago study, twenty-five percent of men have had an affair.
Let’s be real with each other here, men. Stop the porn. Stop it. It’s destroying your life, your marriage, and your view of women. Would you want your wife, daughter, or mother to be in those images? If you answer yes, seek extreme counseling. If you say no, like most sane people, then don’t be part of the problem.
This issue goes deeper than the images on your computer, phone and television and extends to where you allow your eyes to wander. We can be honest with each other here. We’re men. We like to look at beautiful women; however, there is a difference in acknowledging a woman’s beauty and crossing that thin line to lusting, even in a glance. It would behoove you to know that line, be honest with yourself, and learn to turn your eyes.
Nothing will be easy about this, but rarely is anything worth doing easy. The better you become at guarding your heart through what your eyes take in, your mind processes and what you justify, the better you, your wife, your daughters, and your sons will be.
This same approach should be taken when it comes to workplace friendships, professional relationships, and relationships with the opposite sex in general. If it’s not a conversation or interaction you’d carry on with your spouse present, then it’s wrong. You know it. You don’t need me telling you. So, stop it!
You need safeguards built in every facet of your life and friends who hold you accountable in these. The effort you put in here will pay dividends for your marriage and spiritual health.
To speak further to the elephant in the room known as pornography, let’s be clear: It is adultery. It’s also just as serious an addiction as drugs and alcohol. Ignoring this won’t change the truth of it. We attach so much shame to our issues that many of us won’t bring this to light, even with those we trust. If you struggle, you need to find a safe and trusted friend to confide in. You also need professional help if you are unable to abstain from viewing pornography.
Considering the road I’ve traveled, I’m a blessed man to not struggle in this area. I’d be remiss if I didn’t credit my relationship with and identity in Christ. When I view my choices through that lens, it makes it difficult for me to entertain material of that nature knowing it objectifies His children as well as cheapening and corrupting a beautiful act He created for a much more valuable expression.
This issue is defeated in the heart and mind and not the physical realm. The enemy has defeated and derailed many a great man with this weapon. Don’t be one of them.
Admit When You’re Wrong
I’m terrible at this. Granted, I’ve had very little opportunity to practice. On the rare occasion that I am mistaken or slightly inaccurate on something, I have a mild tendency to forego admitting it. I could place all blame squarely on a lack of practice, but truth be told it’s just tough for some of us men to do. The downside here is that marriages rarely flourish prior to grasping this principle.
A real man learns to accept responsibility and accountability. Part of this is admitting when we’re in the wrong, sometimes even when we refuse to believe we’re at fault. Sometimes we can be right and still be wrong.
Talk About Money Often
This one hurts already. No one wants to talk about money or the seeming lack thereof. I’m a firm believer in Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University and one of the biggest benefits of this course is the level of communication it encourages with your spouse. So many marriages are wrecked over money that you’d think we’d spend more time here, but we don’t. Get this right early on and your marriage will be better because of it. It will make you a better husband and a better man.
It’s true what they say, either you control your money or your money controls you. I’ve learned this the hard way.
Any healthy marriage will teach both parties the art of forgiveness. It’s an absolute must if the relationship is to endure. Extend grace to your wife when she lets you down because she’ll need grace to deal with you and your transgressions. We’re broken people, all of us. Two broken people trying to find unity in a broken world is so hard to do. Society tells us to hire a lawyer, split everything you already couldn’t afford in half, rip your kids apart and cause problems for them they will deal with indefinitely, divide the friends up, find new love, and the grass is greener on the other side where you’re bound to find real “happiness.” Good luck with that.
Never Ever Quit
Let me preface this one by saying that if you’re in an abusive relationship (yes, it can happen to men too) or one where marital infidelity is an issue, you should seek professional help and counseling. However, outside of these issues, I can’t advise much other than buckling down and committing to the fight of a life time, both figuratively and literally, in order to see your marriage through thick and thin.
We’re all too easy to quit these days. We justify it in wanting to be “happy” and so on and so forth. Happiness is a state of mind, a decision. It isn’t captured through possessions, nor partners.
The new will wear off. You will get on your spouse’s nerves and she will get on yours. You will probably walk through seasons where you don’t feel in love anymore and may very well not be. There will be times when it seems easier to throw in the towel. These are the times where your commitment and resolve to your vows must reign supreme over every single desire you have for anything and everything that is in opposition to your relationship with your heavenly father. You may as well prepare for and guard against this prior to it happening.
The grass is greener where we water it. Invest that time spent in fantasy land toward your marriage. Invest the time you spend griping, complaining, and assigning blame toward being a better husband. Even if you’re in a season where none of this is being reciprocated, hang in there. You do your part and the rest is out of your control.
This won’t cure all your marriage ills, but it will certainly reduce the likelihood of divorce and negative impact. Take it from someone who hasn’t been particularly good at many of these, that when you start to adapt and embody these points of focus, good things will happen in your marriage.
I’d also like to encourage you to hold onto hope. My wife would be well qualified to lengthen this blog to one hundred points, based on her experience in being married to me, but the fact is, it’s our commitment to God’s design for our lives and marriage that holds us together, even when one, or both, of us aren’t being particularly easy to love.
There are already a world full of so-called men who suck at being husbands. They bounce from woman to woman blaming the latest one for the latest failed relationship. They never consider the kids, nor their broken vows as they lament the crazy ex-wife. It’s hard to look in a mirror and acknowledge our part in a broken marriage and family, but I encourage you to learn to do this before it’s too late and you’re living with it. I know too many men who figured out that the perfect life they thought they’d have when free from their commitment and their marriage was a complete lie. Many are too proud to admit it after the fact, but know this all too well.
My last note is to those who are still dealing with the failure of a broken home, marriage or family. Don’t give up. You can still be the husband you were meant to be. It’s not too late. You’ll be better for it, and so will your current or future marriage.
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