Right now, my son, Tristan, is 7 years old. Even at this young age, I think a lot about what kind of a husband he will make. I think about his future, and if I'm setting a good example. Below is a list of things I want him to know about marriage.
(Author Note: This list is based on my own experience in a straight marriage because it's all I know. However, I have to assume that some of this advice is universal.)
1. No one will frustrate you more than your wife. This is a good thing. Your wife will keep you on your toes. She will question you, your motivations, and your sincerity in ways that will ultimately make you more self-aware.
2. You are not the only one with an opinion. Sometimes it's best to just shut up and listen. You might learn something.
3. Sometimes she needs to be left alone. During an argument, your wife might lock herself in the bathroom or bedroom -- or hop in the car and go for a drive just to get away from you. Leave her alone. She needs time to process.
4. You will always find other women attractive. Marriage does not make you dead. You are still a man, and you will still look at other women. The real question is how you handle that. Don't forget the commitment you made on your wedding day.
5. Sometimes the house will be a mess, and it's your fault, too. When I say sometimes, I mean most of the time. Especially after you have kids. You have as much of an obligation to clean the house as she does, so stop b*tching and do the laundry.
6. Take her out and bring her flowers. Cliché, I know, but it's true. I've mentioned this in another post, but the most frustrating stalemate in your marriage will be this: Dates lead to intimacy. Intimacy leads to dates. Sex makes me feel valued in the same way dates and flowers make my wife feel valued. It doesn't have to be flowers -- perhaps she likes something else (it could be anything from candy, to sports, to free time). But it is your job figure it out and give it to her.
7. Tell her she's beautiful every day. There are a lot of people telling your wife she's unattractive. At the grocery store, there are magazines with photoshopped women telling your wife she needs to look impossibly slim and forever young. TV stars with a fleet of physical trainers, dietitians and plastic surgeons make it seem like there is something wrong with your wife because having children changed her body in ways she can't define. She is bombarded with people defining beauty for her, and it is your job to help her fight those outside influences.
8. Get up in the night with your kids. If your kids take after you, you are going to have some long nights. Sure, you have work in the morning, and although you think that being tired at work is going to make your job harder, your wife has work, too. She might have a job outside the house, or she might be a stay-at-home mom. It doesn't matter. She has sh*t to do, same as you, so help her out. This is a partnership. Never forget that.
9. It's OK to talk to your wife about your problems. Sometimes you will feel that you need to keep your problems to yourself. I get it. You're a man, and perhaps you feel that discussing your frustrations is a sign of weakness. But let me tell you something: discussing your problems humanizes you. It gives your wife the opportunity to help you and draw closer to you emotionally. And honestly, no one can help you overcome your problems better than your wife.
10. Give your wife the benefit of the doubt. This is what the hard work of marriage really looks like.
11. Tell your wife that you love her several times a day. Telling your wife that you love her several times a day gives her reassurance. Being married and raising children can be demanding for you and your wife. Without regular reassurance, your wife can begin to wonder why she is with you at all. And here is the really cool part: the more you tell her that you love her, the more she will say it back to you.