“My wife has been my closest friend, my closest advisor. And … she’snot somebody who looks to the limelight, or even is wild about me being inpolitics. And that’s a good reality check on me. When I go home, she wantsme to be a good father and a good husband. And everything else is secondaryto that.” –Barack Obama.
Being a good husband starts with looking at your wedding vows. Use thoseas the touchstone by which you judge your performance as a husband. Onecommon set of marriage vows goes like this:
“Will you love her, comfort and keep her, and forsaking all others,remain true to her as long as you both shall live?”
“With this ring I thee wed, and all my worldly goods I thee endow. Insickness and in health, in poverty or in wealth, ’til death do us part.”
Thefirst words in those vows are crucial. “Will you love her?”
Author Stephen Covey shares a story about a husband who came to himasking for advice on what he should do if he wasn’t in love with his wifeanymore.
Covey told the man, “Love her.”
The frustrated husband explained again, in more detail, how he didn’thave those feelings toward his wife anymore. They’d fallen out of love.
Covey explained to the man that “love” is a verb, and if he startedloving his wife again, he’d start having the feelings for her again.
Love is about giving, not about taking. What you do for her is what givesyou the satisfaction of loving.
What things do you do when you love someone?
- You put her needs ahead of your own
- You give to her without thinking about what you’re getting inreturn
- You forgive her for her faults and mistakes
- You listen to her
- You encourage her
Marriage counselors don’t talk about it much, but comforting your wife isone of your primary roles as a husband. (It’s right there in the vows,remember?)
You’re not only there to comfort your wife when she’s devastated becauseher mom just died. You’re also there to comfort her when the kids have wornher patience to a nub. You’re also there to comfort her when she has aheadache. You’re also there to comfort her when she doesn’t feel pretty.
Men tend to want to solve problems and offer solutions to others withproblems. But often, what women need is comfort, not solutions.
Forsaking All Others
This one’s simple. You promised to have a single wife for the rest ofyour life. So if you have a mistress or a girlfriend, then you’re notkeeping your promise.
Want to be a good husband? Get rid of the girlfriend.
Want to be a good husband? Don’t put yourself in situations where you’llbe tempted to break your vows.
Put the effort you’d put into covering up an illicit relationship intoimproving your relationship with your wife instead. It will pay untolddividends.
All My Worldly Goods
A friend of mine explained to me once that when you’re married, you don’thave a glass of soda any more. It’s not yours.
It belongs to your wife too.
That made a big impression on me. If you want to be a good husband, thenyou have to take the attitude that all your worldly goods belong to her justas much as they do to her.
What does this mean?
- A good husband doesn’t loan money to his deadbeat pals secretly.
- A good husband doesn’t blow money gambling when his wife disapproves.
- A good husband doesn’t let his wife do without good clothes or anythingelse she needs. She should be able to dress as nicely as you do, eat as wellas you do, and enjoy all the other physical comforts you enjoy.
In Sickness and in Health
This means you keep these promises whether or not she’s sick. Being sickisn’t just a matter of having a cold or cancer either. Mental illnesses andspiritual illnesses count too.
If a wife suffers from a mental illness like depression, a good husbandstands by her.
If a wife suffers from a spiritual illness like alcoholism, a goodhusband stands by her.
If a wife suffers from a physical illness like obesity, a good husbandstands by her.
This doesn’t mean that a good husband ignores his wife’s unwillingness toget treatment for her ills. But it does mean that you stay with her andpatiently, consistently continue to comfort her and help her with whatevertreatment she needs. And it means you’ll continue to do so until one of youdies.
It’s a Tall Order
Being a good husband is a tall order. Like running a marathon, it’s noteasy, and it’s not for everyone. But also like running a marathon, being agood husband brings untold benefits, not the least of which is the abilityto look in the mirror and know you’ve accomplished something reallydifficult.