Over the next five weeks, as we approach Father’s Day, I will be participating with four other bloggers in a series called Honoring the Man They Call Daddy.
My husband is pretty amazing. He’s an incredible artist, a DIY-er who can almost always come up with a way to do whatever needs to be done, the kind of guy who loves to make me happy and a daddy that his four girls adore.
Although I love and appreciate him more than words can say — not only as my husband, but also as my best friend and the father of my children — I will be the first to admit that I’m not always great at the whole respect thing.
It’s often said that women crave love and men crave respect. While any gender stereotypes have exceptions, I think this is true for the vast majority of marriages. And while Sean doesn’t struggle with being “just” a stay-at-home dad and some of the feelings that could accompany that role, I know he still needs my respect for him as a man and a father.
The truth, though, is that I come from a long line of strong Italian women, and sometimes that manifests itself in ways that don’t necessarily show Sean that I respect him.
I created this list of ways to show our men that we respect them as much for myself as for you. I’d love for you to chime in with other ways as well because I can use all the help I can get!
Speak Kindly About Him to Other People
I’m starting with this one because it’s the one I’m most passionate about (or because it’s the only one I actually do right…).
My mom always taught me never to be speak badly about my husband to other people –– not just in word, but by her example as well — and it’s always stuck with me.
Is Sean perfect? No. But there’s no need to nitpick his every fault to other people. Doing so doesn’t make anything better; it just makes it grow in my mind and disrespects my husband in the process.
Is it okay to talk to a close friend about issues you’re having in order to get advice? Yes, absolutely. But I’ve been around groups of women who seem like they’re trying to win the “married-to-the-biggest-loser” award with the way they bad talk their husbands, and I don’t think that is ever okay.
I wish I could stop with that one because the rest of these hit a little too close to home, but I’m going to keep going anyway…
There’s a reason there are so many jokes and comedy sketches about nagging wives. Not only is it common, but it really is obnoxious as it comes across in those sketches. In Proverbs, there’s a verse that says it’s better to live on the corner of the roof than in a house with a nagging wife. That’s pretty thought-provoking stuff when we consider the toll that nagging takes on our husbands.
I regularly fall into this pattern of nagging about household chores because I wait and wait for Sean to notice that something needs to be done, and then when he doesn’t, the words just come spewing out of my mouth. However, he’s told me more than once that the best way to ask him to do something is to send him an email or write him a list. He doesn’t mind doing the things that need to be done, but if they’re not a high priority to him, he tends to forget about them. Putting them in writing makes it easy for him to remember them and keeps me from having to remind him verbally.
I’ve heard other women say that their husbands prefer the written list too, but ask your husband how he would like for you to handle honey-dos so you can figure out a system that works best for you.
Respect His Choices
Nagging doesn’t just happen around to-do lists and chores, though. Many times we nag our husbands about lifestyle choices as well. Although I don’t want to address serious issues like pornography addictions or alchoholism because I’m not a trained counselor (that would be my recommendation, though…to find a trained counselor), for smaller issues such as diet choices, exercise, TV habits, neatness, etc., the key is to respect your husband’s choices.
Many of these issues are simply not a matter of right or wrong. While I may want my husband to eat a healthy, whole foods diet, I can’t force him to, and I need to respect that he is an adult capable of making his own choices. Similarly, making the bed is not a matter of right and wrong, and nagging your husband about making your bed each day probably just causes tension.
Should you talk about these things and encourage him to make different choices? Yes, of course. Marriage is about helping each other become better. But nagging or insisting he do things your way just puts up a wall between you and, frankly, puts you in the role of mother rather than wife.
Don’t Question His Decisions as Parent
Parenting is a partnership, and it’s definitely important that we be on the same page on the big issues surrounding our kids.
However, Sean and I parent differently on a day-to-day basis, and I’m really ashamed to admit that I break this rule a lot. Since we’re both home all day — although I’m usually sequestered in my office upstairs — I pretty much listen to him parent all day long. More than once I’ve questioned a decision Sean’s made…from up in my office! It’s ridiculous, really. Most of the time I have no idea what’s really happening down there, but since Sean tends to be stricter, I will decide that he’s being too harsh with the girls and call him out on it…from up in my office.
What I should be doing — and I’m really working on this — is talking him about my concerns outside of the moment, when it’s just the two of us. As my girls’ mother, I have a right to an opinion, and I think it’s helpful for us to talk about the way we parent regularly (and I do welcome his feedback as well), but doing it in front of the girls (or from up in my office!) just undermines and disrespects my husband.
Those first few things were all don’ts, but I have a couple dos as well…
Really Listen to Him
Sean is passionate about a few different things besides his family…most notably, home design, the Washington Redskins and remote-controlled airplanes.
If I expect him to listen to me ramble on and on about Life Your Way, then the least I can do is listen (and pay attention) when he’s sharing something with me about one of his passions. I try to pay attention to the Redskins news and talk to him about the latest happenings both during the season and in the off-season, I go outside to watch him fly his planes, and I listen to his ideas for our home.
No one likes to talk to someone who just nods and smiles without really paying attention, and Sean deserves my full attention. My rule with my girls is that I try to look them in the eye when they’re talking to me so that I’m not distracted by whatever’s on my computer screen at the moment, and I think I need to be better about applying this rule when Sean is talking as well!
Ooh, boy, here we go. Show your husband that you respect and love him by, yes, serving him. This isn’t, in my opinion, a men-deserve-to-be-served-by-their-women issue. I think both partners in a marriage should be serving one another. In fact, I can still pinpoint the exact moment that I knew that Sean was the man (okay, boy at the time) I wanted to marry and it was because I felt so cherished by him.
But since this post is about loving and respecting your man, I’m focusing on that side of it. Serve your husband by taking care of chore so he doesn’t have to, by making his favorite foods, by letting him put his feet up and relax after a long day. Look for ways to make his life easier and to show him you love him by serving him!
Now it’s your turn. In what other ways do you show your husband love and respect?