[This post is the latest in a series I've begun called How to be a Better Husband, in which I take what doesn’t work in a relationship, turn it upside down and then apply it back to the marriage. Because we aren't really from Mars or Venus. We're just Earthlings.]
Most relationships start out with a lot of sparks and heat and light, then quickly settle down to the slow burn (hot coals buried under the ashes of daily life), until sooner rather than later, your romantic life plays out solely in the plots of movies or books, and the last time you touched each other tenderly was an accident, not intentionally.
Whatever the reasons are for that happening to us, we don’t have to let it continue. But in order for things to change, we have to acknowledge that we’re 50% of the relationship, and we have to accept responsibility for 50% of the effort and heart that gets put into it.
And because it sometimes seems like we as men aren’t as wired for some of the better relationship qualities as our wives and partners are, it’s not as easy or obvious for us to see what needs to change in our marriage, and then to make a plan to work on it.
It seems silly, sometimes. Work on our relationships? That just sounds silly to my brain.
But working on ourselves? That, we can do.
I’ve been attempting to try to see my wife as not just my partner, but as a dear friend to me, someone who is talented and beautiful and wise, someone who deserves the very best. And the very best I can be in any given moment is my 50% of that friendship. So I’ve got a challenge to myself to ‘cowboy up’ and be a better husband whenever I can.
I hope you’re also inspired to take that plunge and step up to learn how to be a better husband and friend, one that your wife deserves.
Be a Better Husband: Make Time for Love
- It doesn’t grow on trees: Money and love, ya gotta work for ‘em. Yeah, when we were young and frisky, we couldn’t keep our hands off of each other. But now that we’ve got responsibilities, schedules, kids, and a weekly routine that we slog through, it’s more like a hug and a smooch before bed. So make time for it. Schedule a date. Put the same energy you would put into your work into creating a connection with your wife.
- Making love ain’t always about gettin’ nekkid: The older definition of making love was more like what we’d consider flirting: “a common form of social interaction whereby one person obliquely indicates a romantic or sexual interest towards another. It can consist of conversation, body language, or brief physical contact.” And so by making the time to have a conversation with her, to sit her on your lap, to share the same space with her and have some sort of non-verbal communication, you’re making love to her. And she’ll dig it. Trust me.
- Change it up: We’re creatures of habit, falling into a routine around just about anything in our lives, and our love life is no different. If you want a different end result for just about anything, you have to change the ingredients that go into it. Something as simple as doing something you’ve never done before (picked flowers, baked cupcakes, drawing a hot bath for her, giving her a massage, take out the trash on time (just kidding)) can have a really good effect on your relationship. And if you start making different choices all the time (going out for tea instead of coffee, turning left on your walk instead of right, eating breakfast together, making time in your schedule for love), those little changes add up to something a lot bigger in your lives.
- Go visit your mother: No, not Mom. Mother Earth. In our marriage, we’ve found that if we can get away from all of our modern conveniences and attachments and be out in nature together, even just for a little while, that we’re more likely to really connect and to talk to each other about things other than the grocery list and the girls’ fiddle lessons and the leak under the sink. Or sometimes we don’t talk – just being alone together is nice, too. So if you have a chance to leave the kids with someone and head into the forest or park or riverfront or oceanside for an hour, it’s well worth it to both of you. But leave your phones turned off.
- Get nekkid: Sometimes making love IS about gettin’ naked together, and occasionally it feels like by the time the rest of the house (kids, babies, cats) is asleep, one or both of us is asleep too. So unless it really works for you, that old routine of sex at bedtime needs to go. Remember what we were like as frisky kids? Wherever we could, whenever we got the chance, was the time for love. Granted, that wasn’t that often back then, but we’re grown up now. We can be much more creative than a teenager, and we’re in charge now, so we can make the time. It’s good for what ails you, so use it as medicine for your body and for your marriage. It’s especially effective in nature…
So if I was the love doctor, and you wanted some advice, I’d say to make a date with your wife for a specific time and place and schedule everything else around it. Do it right now, before you forget. Then, the next time you’re in the same room as her, put your arms around her and give her some lovin’. Rub her neck, her lower back, squeeze her tight, hold on for a bit and share a moment of physical connection. Talk to her as your best friend, ask her about her day and really listen to her.
Then suggest a rendezvous upstairs in 15 minutes. Or later tonight. Or ask if you can make her dessert. Or offer to take her out into the woods and walk together, holding hands and just re-connecting. Or to sit in the dark on the front porch. Whatever. But do it together.
And if you can work gettin’ nekkid into the whole thing, more power to ya. [Repeat as necessary. Your mileage may vary.]
Leave me a comment with anything you have to add to this, please!
Image: mikebaird at Flickr