Somewhere around a year ago, when my husband and I hadn’t been married for very long, a woman in our church came up to me and gushed about how it was probably silly to say since we were still newlyweds, but she thought we just had the best marriage relationship of anyone in the church, and that the next time there was a womens’ conference, I should speak at it about love and marriage. At the time, I just laughed and thanked her with some incredulity, because I was still figuring out things like how to keep the house clean and cook a meal on time, much less how to show my husband love in his language and what respect looked like.
And lately, I have noticed a HUGE issue: with Father’s Day coming around, there’s nothing at the stores I usually visit to celebrate Fatherhood and the hard work men do for their families. And I think it’s sad. For Mother’s Day, there were huge displays, lots of gifts at the front of the stores, and my phone calendar had the day automatically labeled. But Father’s Day? Nothing. Not in my phone’s calendar, not in the stores; you can’t find a lick of Father’s Day celebration stuff anywhere but the dinky section of the card aisle.
Dude. Just because men are not home with the kids all day doesn’t mean they do any less work or deserve any less attention for being who they are.
So in honor of my husband’s first Father’s Day, I would like to write a post about how I can show love and respect for him as a man, husband, and father, because as a new-newlywed I had no idea what that really was, and as a mother the best gift I can ever give him as a father is to display my love and respect for him in front of our kids and in private.
Keep in mind, these are things that, while I think they can apply to others, are especially relevant for my husband and I and our relationship. And after having read some crazy internet comments on other stay-at-home-mama blogs, I should clarify: I am not a walked-all-over wife. He and I are equal partners who chose to have specific responsibilities as husband and wife. I chose to be a homemaker and stay-at-home mother. I have wanted to be this my entire life. No joke. And my husband? He’s pretty much the most caring, amazing, tolerant, wonderful, loving, sexy, hilarious man I’ve ever known. So don’t even assume for one second he doesn’t treat me right or I will get all crazy mama up in your grill.
Well. Actually, I’ll just politely retort otherwise. But you have been warned. Haha!
1. Know his love language. This is a big one, you guys, and it also includes knowing how he expresses his love as well as how he receives love. Because my husband and I definitely perceive displays of love in very different ways. I feel loved through touch, acts of service, and words of affirmation. Words are huge for me. But my husband communicates and feels loved via quality time, gifts, and respect. And I sometimes forget that.
2. Give him my time. Phone and laptop free, without cleaning, without doing errands, without checking off my list of to-do-today. Because quality time is one of his love languages, one of the simplest ways to show him love and respect is to put away the electronics when he’s driving (I really don’t need to check Instagram in the car), and just… stop when he’s just gotten home from work, or otherwise is trying to pay attention to me. So while it doesn’t bother me if he’s on his computer or cleaning up while I’m talking to him, I know he loves it when I give him my time without checking my Instagram feed or picking up around the room.
3. Vocalize my admiration for his talent and appearance, and encourage his efforts. I need to let him know that I think he’s hot (because he is. Oh yeah), but even more I need to make sure he knows I think he’s talented and capable of doing some awesome things. Guys need affirmation that they are able to do whatever it is they’re able to do. Telling him builds his confidence and shows him I respect his abilities.
4. Listen to his advice. Even if I don’t want advice. Without interjecting the (totally valid in my mind) reasons I’m not following his advice. Guys, this one is hard for me. There are things that I tell him about that really, I just want to complain. And I should know better. If I tell him my problems, of course he wants to fix them! He wants me to be happy, and he wants to help me sort out issues, so he advises me on what he thinks could fix it… even if I don’t want it fixed.
It’s this video. So much.
5. Value his opinion in life and in child-raising, and have an opinion in life and child-raising. This one goes along with listening to his advice. Not only do I need to listen, but also give value to what he has to say. I found out that he would really like to be there when I take Asa to the pool for the first time, not because he distrusts my ability to keep Asa safe, but because if he’s not there, he will be thinking about all of the things that might go wrong and feel helpless to save us (in his mind.) So even though I have no fears about the situation, I’m totally okay with holding off on taking Asa in water until my husband can be with us. Besides, experiencing it together will be much more fun!
And the other day I also discovered that it bothers him if I don’t have an opinion on something. If I just say “whatever you want” or “I really don’t care,” it gets to him. So, I need to care. It’s okay for me to offer up my own opinion. He didn’t marry me to be a doormat, he married me to be a companion.
6. Be open to debate, and not take everything personally. Because one of my love languages is words, this is probably the hardest thing for me. My husband loves a good debate. He loves to think, and he hashes out his thoughts by debating it, to make sure we’re doing the right thing and that my advice or his opinion is sound. But when he debates what I said, even though he does not in any way mean it personally, I take it that way. And I shouldn’t. It’s just the way he communicates and thinks.
7. Respond to him physically. Yes. I mean sex. I have a hot husband. I love him a lot. But of course I have those days when I’m lazy, or feel funky, or just plain… eh. And while he definitely respects my wishes not to get all hanky panky, sometimes (most of the time) I just go with it. Because seriously. It’s not going to kill me. And once I go with it, I realize… you know… it’s definitely not just for him any more. Yep. Nuff said.
(Funny enough, it happens just as often that the situation is flipped.)
8. Let him be knight in shining armor. This might sound old-fashioned to some people, but you know what? Too bad. Whenever I can, I let him be my knight. I ask him to lift the heavy stuff, reach the high stuff, and rescue me from spiders. My husband is my safe place. He is the shoulder I cry on, the one I need when I am in distress, the only one who can make me feel better when I’m upset or in a bad situation. He’s always the one I want. And I try to tell him that a lot.
9.Uphold his good reputation. When we’re alone, when we’re in company, to my family, to my friends; I don’t talk badly of him, I don’t tease him about stuff that makes him feel like a lesser man, I don’t air out our issues with others, and I try very, very hard not to remind him of his bad moments. If it’s going to make him look bad, feel bad, or in any way demean him and make him seem like less of a man than he is, I won’t do it. Because he is an excellent man.
10. Put him before our kids. Love him more than our kids. This one actually isn’t too hard for me. I chose my husband first. And I adore him. He will be with me forever, while our children are one day going to grow up and leave the house. A long time in the future, it’ll be just me and him again, like it was when we first got married. So his needs, in the long run, should always be first and foremost. Of course, day to day sometimes I have to pay attention to Asa before I can pay attention to my husband. But I need to make sure he knows that he is just as important as our kid.
11. Only ask him to do things once, and give him his free time. I didn’t realize it until these last few weeks, but I can be a nagging wife. See, my husband likes to play Minecraft in his free time, and that is 100% okay with me. But a few weeks ago in the middle of his play-time, I had asked him to do something for me… and then later, reminded him of what I had asked. And I did it again the next day with a different thing, and the next. Until he told me he felt like every time he started to play, I was there nagging him to do other stuff. I didn’t even realize I was doing it. I wasn’t irritated that he wasn’t doing what I wanted him to do, I wasn’t trying to distract him, I wasn’t trying to get him to pay attention to me. It just came to my mind so I said it. So I need to consciously remember to only ask him to do things once — because he does do them if I ask — and not to ask him while he’s in the middle of his relax time.
12. Keep his/our secrets. Oh, boy. So, I’m a talker. I get this from my dad. We like to talk. We like to have information to give people. And sometimes without realizing it, I say something I should have kept to myself. I sort of just blabber on until the point where I have the thought of… “oh. Dang. That was too much.” My husband is a much more private person than I am, and sometimes he’ll tell me information about himself that I need to keep to myself, or we’ll do something that I thought was hilarious and want to share… but shouldn’t.
Like the time I told my parents during dinner about the day I was pretty sure we conceived Asa, and why. Yeah. Awkward. It wasn’t super detailed at all, but it was just enough that my husband felt extremely uncomfortable, and I immediately thought “oops. I probably should have kept my mouth shut.”
13. Make sure the house and I are ready for him at the end of the day. It’s simple. Because I know that I can relax if the house is clean and dinner is on the way, and I will better be able to give him my time and express my love in that way if I don’t have a million other things to do. And also, because it’s nice for him if I’m at least clean, done with work, and dressed by the time he gets home.
You know. Because it’s just not as fun to come home to a woman who’s got greasy hair, burp-up on her yoga pants, and another hour of work to be done before she can even think about dinner.
There are a lot of other things I can do, I’m sure; I’m still learning. I know I’ve only been married for a year and a half, and in fifty years this list might be longer, or shorter, or completely different. Because we change and learn every day. But those are the most prevalent things on my list, and the biggest things I’ve learned through being married.
What about you? If you’re married, what are the ways you appreciate your husband? What wisdom would you add to the list?
And if you aren’t married, how do you appreciate your father the most?
I have been wanting to write more essay-type posts such as this… you know, just my thoughts on things, but I wasn’t sure how. So let me know if you like them, and I’ll try to keep it coming!