This past year was a hard one for my marriage.
My wife had to take care of me for a few weeks when I got extremely sick. I completed the final manuscript of the book I’d been working on for over a year (the book, which is about building a happy marriage, required me to rely on her heavily for insights and edits). Then I got a new job, which resulted in us selling one house, buying another, jumping through five temporary living arrangements and restarting our lives.
My wife and I love each other more than ever, but right now, we’re generally worn out and our marriage needs some extra attention. That’s why my new year’s resolution is to refocus on our relationship, to make it the priority it has to be in order for it to stay strong for years to come.
Basically I’m going to love my wife like I’m trying to win her heart all over again
I’m not doing this because I’m afraid she’s going to leave me. I'm doing it because she’s just as valuable to me now as she was when I pursued her all the way to the altar.
While most of us men very much want our relationships to thrive, sometimes we just need a reminder of some of the practical ways to make that happen. So, with that in mind, here are three suggestions for what we can do to rejuvenate our marriages in 2020:
1. Make time
I have a propensity to overwork – staying at the office for just 15 more minutes, which turn into 30 minutes and then an hour. That doesn’t bless my wife at all. For you, it might be binge-watching TV shows, golfing or some other distraction that pulls you away from your wife. Letting go of those things to be with our wives communicates, “Those things matter to me, but you matter far more.”
One of the ways I drop the ball as a husband is by failing to initiate in ways that will help our relationship thrive. For example, I’ve got a lot of room to grow when it comes to asking my wife out on dates or genuinely asking how she’s doing. Maybe you need to compliment your wife’s looks without her prompting you, or perhaps you need to suggest marriage counseling. When we initiate, it lets our wife know that we care about the health of the relationship as much as she does.
While my wife does more than her fair share of cleaning, she hates cleaning the shower; so that chore falls to me. It wouldn’t take much work for me to do it but it’s just easier to ignore it, and I usually do. Maybe you leave it up to your wife to call the cable company, expect her to manage the kids, or want her to have all of the hard conversations with the in-laws. Being willing to serve our wives communicates that the marriage is much more than a one-sided relationship.
I’m a little uneasy about this op-ed being published and here’s why: My wife is actually going to expect me to step up in these ways I’ve suggested. And if I’m going to do my part to strengthen our marriage in 2020, it’s going to take more than declarations of love and nice anniversary gifts. It’s going to start with the small things – the stuff that tells my wife in countless little ways, over and over again, “I love you, and I really mean that.”
This essay is adapted from the author's book "Confessions of a Happily Married Man: Finding God in the Messiness of Marriage."