October 2nd, 2007

Your Turn: Handling Husbands

A Reader Writes:
Can you offer any insights on how hard it is to manage kids and husband (essentially another kid)? I would appreciate your insight.
— A great fan struggling with her husband

Since I do not know the details of what is going on in your marriage, I can’t speak about specifics, but perhaps that is just as well. I think that maybe the most valuable thing I can offer you, or any woman who struggles with her husband, is a bit of generalized advice anyway. And here it is:

Take care of him.

It sounds simplistic and maybe even a little bit silly, but I really do think the most important thing any woman can do for the health of her marriage, her family, and ultimately herself is to take care of her husband.

Taking care of him means first of all not demeaning him. You refer to your husband as essentially another kid, but is that really fair? Do your kids work jobs and pay the bills? Do your kids change the oil in your car and keep your health insurance premiums paid? Did your kids vow before God to love you for richer or for poorer, in sickness and in health, for better or for worse, till death do you part?

I know that it’s socially acceptable to mock men and demean dads. In popular commercials and sitcoms, the father character is more often than not a complete buffoon and the women are depicted as their all-knowing, always-right moral superiors. Real marriages, however, are made up of two flawed human beings trying (and sometimes failing) to love and serve one another.

Did I say serve?

Why yes I did. I’ve said this before and gotten a bit of flak for it, but why should it be controversial for me to suggest that wives should take care of their husbands? How did we women become so twisted in our thinking that many of us now consider the very idea of doing nice things for someone we have taken a vow to love forever as somehow absurd? How is it demeaning or beneath us to take care of someone we profess to love?

Take care of him. You know him better than anyone else and you know the things that matter most to him. No matter what else is going on in your marriage (exceptions made of course for abusive situations or mental illness) you cannot help but improve your marriage by taking care of your husband. Yes, it can be hard. That’s why we need the graces of a sacrament to do these simple yet heroic things: Make his favorite foods, make sure his laundry is caught up, ask him about his work, notice and thank him for all his contributions, make an effort to spend time alone with him on a regular basis … and I guarantee that you both will benefit from your efforts.

He is not a monster, this man that you married. He is a man, with human needs and human weaknesses who can’t help but respond positively and look for ways to be your hero when he sees and feels your heroic, heart-felt love and devotion. Take care of him.

106 comments to Your Turn: Handling Husbands

  • sibyl

    First, it seems to me that the women posting on this site have always been extremely compassionate to the ones who are struggling, and supportive of the poor women who deal with abuse and infidelity. No one would recommend that anonymous stay with such a man. I am a faithful Catholic woman and I wouldn’t, either. All the comments on how to treat your husband presuppose that you aren’t married to someone doing this, but rather a guy with ordinary failings.

    Second, I would like to recommend a book to the woman who feels like her husband is always nagging her: The Temperament God Gave You, by Art and Laraine Bennett. It was so helful for me to read — it doesn’t reduce everyone to oversimplified labels, and really helped me to think about the ways I could improve my relationships.

  • karnak

    I agree with some of your advice Danielle but think most men should learn to pull their weight. Too many leave ti all to their wives including earning the money. Being a total door mat is stupid

    My husband is my mate and I love him dealry. I think more of my mun’s adivce which was on the day you don’t like him well he does not like you. We muddle along together and hope for the best. After 22 years of marriage and some kids with special needs we have not done too badly sticking together.

    However I find his not doing the repair jobs gets me down and really cranky and now I write him a list of what needs to be fixed and what bills we have to pay this pay so this gets done. I recently pointed out that as I do the washing and cooking, I expect him to do all the male jobs done without complaint and not thought about. I expect him not to give my little boy with autism who is on the failsafe diet to curb his hyperactivity the wrong fruit and other rubbish which sets him off and he has read the list of allowable foods In return I try to do what he wants of me

    I don’t think it is good advice to suggest to wives that their needs and demands are not to be meet by their men as marriage is give and take, not the male taking it all. My husband does better now in this department as I am not giving all the time as he is not my kid.

  • Anonymous

    This is Anonymous,

    Thank you all for your support. I did not write this looking for alot of sympathy but really to see what you all who seem very good Catholics thought. I have found out that although our marraige was blessed when my husband became Catholic, there is no record of that and therefore the Church does not view are justice of the peace marriage as valid.

    Second I would like you all to know that he has not been in the house for almost a year. The kids following the counselors advice speak to him on their terms on the phone.

    Third, and I know this may sound very weird to alot of you, but I do feel that God warned me of this trial a week before it happened. I was asked by a stranger in a bookstore if I had Faith in my God. When I looked at this man he really shook me up because of how he was dressed. This person followed me through the store asking me about my Faith and if it was strong. After this past year, I have come to see that if he had been dressed normally, I may not have listen to his message. I believe his message to me was that I had to put my kids life and mine in God’s hands and to fully trust that He would care for us. I know he is and that a job will come through for me.

    thank you all for your prayers. You all are in mine.

  • susan

    I enjoyed reading all of your comments on marriage. I have been married for 13 years with 4 children. I did it wrong in the beginning you know I knew more than the church. As the years passed we fought and I couldn’t stand him I am sure he couldn’t stand me as well. I went through a conversion and embraced my Catholic Faith. While I was working on myself and putting my children ahead of my husband we grew farther apart. One day I realised how much I wanted to have a holy marriage and family and I began to pray to the Holy Spirit to change my husband. All of the sudden I saw all of my faults as a wife. At that very moment I changed, I died to me only to find a more beautiful me and a wonderful marriage. And by the way yes, he changed as well. That was over 2 years ago and I thank God for changing this poor soul[me]. Are things perfect? No, but we are together without the fear of losing each other we are in this together and will fight the good fight as best we can. It is horrible out there for men we need to provide them with a warm and loving home to home to. You are all right and so understanding to each others circumstances…I can only speak for myself and I promise to say a pray for all of your marriages tonight. God Bless!!!
    Susan

  • Thanks for a wonderful post, Danielle! Love your blog, love your magazine, and linked this post to my own blog.
    God bless you!

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