Thursday, March 22, 2012

How To Be a Good Husband

The title of this post is misleading.  It sounds like I'm going to bash Brian or tell you all the things he does wrong.  That couldn't be further from the truth.

Brian is 100% my copilot in navigating this family.  He does a lot.  Probably more than average when I really sit down to think about it.  Especially if I think about it when I'm not fresh off an emotional high of something going terribly wrong.

Instead this post is about some things I've realized about myself in the past couple of weeks after an incident know as The Stain and at the end of a very long week of Brian being overseas for work.  It's about what I need from him to carry on with this vocation of mine as the stay-at-home parent.  It's what I need to wake up every morning with a go-get-'em attitude.  Feeling confident that I can tackle the day without melting into a puddle of tears or with fists in the air ready to punch the next person who gets in my way.

And it's very simple, guys (all three of you that read this blog), we either need acknowledgement or someone to commiserate with.

When ladies talk with their girlfriends rarely will you hear them say, "OK, this is what you need to do to fix it."  No.  Instead you'll hear them say, "Oh!  That totally sucks!  That's awful!"

Women are emotional beings.  And we need empathy to get through the day.  Flowers and chocolates and time away from the house are nice but if a husband comes home at the end of the day and says Wow, how did you get all that done today?!, well, that's just the best payment we could ever receive.

Or, after she tells you the toddler pooped her pants you might say,

Oh, that totally sucks for you!  And it was right before you were supposed to leave?!  How did you manage to get everyone out of the house on time?

Or, when she's still in the same outfit she went to bed in the night before you say,

Good, I'm glad you took it easy today.  You need days like that.


You brought all three kids to Target by yourself?!


Man, that totally sucks about the stain on the floor.  I'm just kicking myself for not bringing the mop downstairs!


This dinner really hits the spot.  How did you have time to make it?!


Aren't you exhausted?  The baby was up a lot last night.

What I've realized about myself is that when I'm upset or stressed to the max, rarely do I want Brian to fix anything.  When I want him to change a lightbulb or hang up a frame or install some window blinds, I'll let him know.  But when I'm just complaining or telling him about my day, all I need is for him to agree with me.

And don't say I know like you know.  Because, unless you stay at home all day every day, you don't know.  Instead, with utmost sincerity, acknowledge that something totally did suck.  And then just listen.

(Of course, this is true even if your wife isn't a stay-at-home mom.  We're all the same!)

I remember  a time when Brian stayed home on a weekday shortly after Lucy was born and I had him help me clean the whole house.  In the midst of him getting on his hands and knees and scrubbing the kitchen floor he said to me, "Wow, this is a lot of work.  You're making me work harder on my day off than I do at the office."

That little line from him bought me months of satisfaction.  Every time thereafter that I got on my hands and knees to scrub the kitchen floor while Brian was at work sitting in his office I thought to myself, Brian thinks I work hard.  And that, in turn, made me not only want to work harder but it also made me want to try to do it with a smile on my face.

Guys, don't assume that your wives think you appreciate them for their hard work.  Say it.  And be specific!  Even if it's as simple as being thankful that she made a trip to Target with all the kids in tow and purchased a new pack of razors because she noticed you were running low.  A little goes a long way.

And really, all this is a good reminder for me to pay it forward as my husband will shortly be stepping off a plane after many days of back-to-back-to-back meetings and a whole heap of jet lag so that he can provide for our family.

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