You’re right. There is NO way I can deliver on a title like that!
So yes, it’s a bit misleading. But I did it for a good reason: If you think you can “become the perfect husband and improve your wife’s life without changing anything you’re already doing” you’ve got about as good a chance at marital bliss as a popsicle in…
That makes this blog all the more urgent.
But there IS something you can do to be a more perfecter husband. And it WILL improve your wife’s life.
First, the background.
Today, women lead complex lives. One of the big struggles they face is having to figure out the epic home/work balance.
Especially since World War Two, more women are in a workplace outside the home. Not only are there issues in the workplace with things like pay equity, but they sometimes face criticism (or guilt) for not being at home full time.
And according to a study I read, even in families where women and men work the same amount outside the home, women still do the majority of the meals, laundry and general housework.
For women who choose to be at home with their children as their daytime vocation and primary investment of time, not only do they have to deal with a different financial reality, but they are often belittled as if their choice to be at home full-time is somehow less-than. “Oh, you’re just a stay-at-home mom?”
Then there is the strange and aggressive brew of modern parenting philosophies. Women are simply deluged with books (which, it seems, are popping up faster than new Starbucks locations) about how “the answer” to pretty much everything is whatever they’re selling.
To some it’s all about the right gluten-free or dairy-free or vegan-friendly diet… or the latest trend in sleep patterns… or breastfeeding… or…
The list goes on. I’m not saying there is anything wrong with those things; in fact, there can be a lot of wisdom there, and some of them have been a part of our lives too. But I think it’s troubling when moms and wives are summarily told that “If you just did this” everything would come up roses all the time.
Plus, society is changing in a way that makes everyday life more difficult. Fewer people are living in the towns they grew up in. One of the implications is that it’s harder to lean on family and friends for emotional, physical and spiritual support. Let’s face it, creating community is getting harder. And since our workplaces are often further away from our homes, that puts another crunch on family time.
Oh, and don’t forget about the continued pornification of society. With the increasing normalization of “porn” in many quarters (you can read my blog about that here), and with the unhealthy manufacturing of what constitutes “beauty,” real world women and wives who are working through the hustle and bustle can be increasingly made to feel unattractive if they don’t look like Barbie.
Then there’s technology. For all it’s benefits, one of them is not making you feel great about yourself when you scroll through Facebook or Instagram. Sure, it’s nice to get a few likes here and there and see what cousin Matilda’s cat is up to. But social media can draw you further into the curse of constant comparison as you continually (and subconsciously) see how you stack up against your home-made-baking, bigger-house-living, stylish-outfit-wearing semi-friends.
So, husbands, here is something you can do:
Respect the complexity of your wife’s life.
Seems simple enough. But it’s not. After all, she is living through a grinder of a time:
- There are the tensions of balancing work life and home life (and probably still doing most of the housework)
- She’s being bombarded with quick-fix bits of parenting advice which are being produced at wild rates
- She is probably less connected to the family, friends, and traditions of her past that have—in previous generations—been huge emotional, physical and spiritual supports
- She is made to feel poorly about herself if she doesn’t measure up to certain synthetic standards
- And technology can thrust her into the curse of constant comparison.
And this short list doesn’t even consider things like health issues or caring for parents. I know I’m missing some things. (But don’t blame me. I’m a dude.)
So how do we husbands respect the complexity of our wives’ lives?
Sometimes our wives want to talk about a problem with us. Personally, my instinct is to offer a quick (black and white?) solution. But that’s not always helpful. It’s important to be a support without always trying to ‘fix’ things.
Second, share the load.
For example, don’t fold laundry just to get something or as a favor to your wife. It’s your home too! Sharing the load at home may be what separates the men from the boys.
Third, pray for her.
If you do one thing, do this. In Ephesians 5 in the Bible, a writer named Paul says that husbands should love their wives like Jesus loved the church. That’s a big ‘ole sacrificial love. And it includes prayer.
Prayer has a way of burying apathy and resurrecting a passion for something more.
Let me end with this. There was a study done at the Universities of Virginia and Wisconsin. Sixteen married women participated in an experiment where they had electrodes attached to their feet.
They were told that one of two things would happen. They would either be given a safety signal to tell them they wouldn’t get a shock, or they would be given a signal that indicted they had a 20% chance of getting a shock.
I know, sounds fun, right?
The whole experiment was about studying brain activity under stress. And get this. When the women were allowed to hold their husband’s hand, they were calmer and experienced less stress.
But that’s not all. The women who had a stronger relationship and a deeper bond with their husband showed evidence of being the MOST calm of all the participants, even when threatened with shock.
Your wife’s life is stressful. Probably more than you think. It’s shocking, actually. (Sorry, couldn’t help myself.)
But seriously, one of the ways we can honour our marriage vows and be the steadfast, strong partners we are called to be is to respect the complexity of their lives.
Listen, share the load, and pray.