A standard

April 30, 2011

in Good Marriage, Marriage Killer

Standard weight © Alexey Kaznin | Dreamstime.com

My last few posts have discussed why it is difficult for us to know if our standard for marriage is valid and good. With that in mind, I’d like to create a sort of check-list of what a husband should and should not be and do. I don’t mean I am going to do that, as I can’t possibly do so. I am going to toss out some thoughts as a starting place, and I hope to see additions and discussion in the comments that will help round the list out.

Given the premise that we may be doing things we should not, without knowing that we should not, I am going to focus more on what we should not do.

These are never acceptable:

  • Hitting or otherwise physically harming her. This could include tickling her if she does not enjoy it.
  • Physically restraining, or blocking her from going where she wants. This includes forcing her to talk to you or listen to you when she wants to walk away.
  • Doing anything to restrict or control her movements beyond the house.
  • Interfering with her friendships.
  • Yelling – other than to communicate over distance.
  • Calling her names, be it swear words or things like stupid, ugly, or clumsy.”
  • Assigning motives to her actions (“You did that because …”)
  • Telling her what she thinks or believes (“I know you think …” or “Don’t lie, you believe …”)
  • Belittling, shaming, or otherwise trying to make her look bad in front of anyone – including your kids or extended family.
  • Attacking her ideas or beliefs.
  • Forcing her to agree with you, say you’re right, or repeat what you say. This includes arguing until she gives in.
  • Treating her like a child.
  • Demanding/expecting her to do something, get something, or drop what she is doing to do what you want.
  • Countermanding what she has said to the children.
  • Discussing how she deals with the children in front of the children.
  • Asking her to be dishonest (lie, mislead, or hold back the truth).
  • Asking her to cover for you.
  • Leaving her a task you know she cannot do or is not comfortable doing.
  • Bringing up personal or embarrassing issues in front of others.
  • Teasing her beyond what she is comfortable with – privately or in front of others. Same with joking.
  • Pushing her sexually – asking her to compromise her beliefs, do something she finds gross, or try to force/coerce/shame her in any way.
  • Compare her unfavourably to other women.
  • Make sexual comments about her, or your sex life, in front of others – with or without her being present. Anything that makes her uncomfortable is unacceptable, no matter how silly you think she is being.

And a few things that every husband should do:

  • Put her needs as a very high priority.
  • Accept and respect that her mind works differently.
  • Accept that she will sometimes not feel comfortable with, or willing to do things you can do easily.
  • Back and support her with the kids.
  • Speak well of her to others and in front of others.

Now the disclaimers:

  • I know there are wives who do all kinds of things they should not.
  • I have tried to cover the truly bad here. There are plenty of rude and unloving things that fall short of doing the harm caused by the things I have listed.
  • My audience is primarily men, so I am focusing on them.
  • As she read this, and made a few additions, my bride said she was thinking of doing a similar list for men.

Image Credit: © Alexey Kaznin | Dreamstime.com

9 comments
John Toner
John Toner

Wow. I'm a bit saddened such actions are, apparently, common enough to warrant mention here. I'd like to AMEN one in particular: It is important to PERMIT your spouse to WALK AWAY (for a time) if/when "discussion" gets overly-heated. The BEST book on "Communication" I've ever seen is "Crucial Conversations". It's a "business" book that is HUGELY helpful to ANY relationship. The authors point out that PERIODS of "silence" can be essential to good communication. Anger triggers adrenaline & other chemicals which BLOCK intelligent "discussion." A "cooling off" period - often of hours not just minutes - is PHYSICALLY necessary sometimes for "thinking" conversation to occur. ALSO - LET'S "MAN UP" HERE! As Christian men we should not tolerate other men doing any of the listed items - in fact, we need to be more "bold" in confronting one another. Paul, thanks for your - as per usual - very excellent blog.

Confused
Confused

I'm a little confuse about a couple of the things U suggest should never be done. Asking her to be dishonest (lie, mislead, or hold back the truth). Bringing up personal or embarrassing issues in front of others. I'm not referring to honesty here but isn't "holding back" the same as "not bringing up personal or embarrassing issues in others presence" the same. Let me explain where I'm going with this. There are things about me that only my wife knows & there are things about my wife that only I know. These "Things" would create a huge amount of shame for us if we were to share this information with anyone else. Doesn't my confidence in her secret deserve her confidence in my secret? I think that in a marriage, "A completely open & honest marriage," which is the only truly fullfilling marriage, it's totally appropriate to open up ourselves completely but only with the whole hearted belief that we can trust that the personal knowledge shared between the two united as one will remain between the two individuals that are united. Again, I'm not referring to lies or dishonesty but maintaining the privacy of very intimate and personal information that is shared. It seems that if we don't each hold back this information, then we are already guilty of bringing it up in the presence of others. I mention this because I believe that we should do what we say and say what we do. Anything less is dishonest in itself.

John
John

That's a pretty comprehensive list! I see two broad groups here: things we really shouldn't do, and things that are completely non-negotiable. I shouldn't countermanding what she said to the children. But if I struck my wife, she would likely leave me and I can't say that I'd blame her. Here's another non-negotiable: making important decisions that affect the family without consulting her. Also, isn't "covering" for someone a strict subset of being dishonest? I actually disagree with one of these: Leaving her a task she is uncomfortable doing. In my case my wife is sometimes the logical choice for carrying out tasks because being a SAHM allows her to have a far more flexible schedule than I have. I wouldn't ask her to do something she's philosophically opposed to doing, but if I lack the time to accomplish a task I may ask her to do it even if she's not happy about it.

Louise
Louise

Yes these are all very outstanding standards that every husband should try and abide by. All I can possibly add to this list is to... Husbands please be sympathetic with your wives. I see that is very hard for Men to do (Sympathize) but that is what Women Need and when they feel their Husbands dont care about what they're going thru... then thats how easily they confide outside the marriage with girlfriends and then you lose alot of emotional intamacy in the Marriage.

The Generous Husband
The Generous Husband

@John Toner - It s a bit shocking to think some of the more violent things on my list happen and that any man who does it might not know it's wrong. Sadly, I've seen it.

The Generous Husband
The Generous Husband

@Confused - When I said "Holding back the truth" I was thinking of sitting by silent while something you know to be a lie is spoken. If your bride is lying, and you ignore it, you might as well have told the lie yourself. Initially I think you go to her privately and confront her. If it continues, I would say you need to let her know that you will not sit by silently while she lies. In my example, it would be expecting your bride to smile and say nothing while you lie - expectating that is wrong, IMHO. I see keeping a confidence as entirely different. Likewise for saying "That is a private mater that I will not discuss." So long as your spouse is not telling a lie, I don't see this as an honesty issue.

The Generous Husband
The Generous Husband

@John - Clearly there is bad and BAD. Still, I see any of these as wrong and unloving. and therefore unacceptable. That does not mean just cause to leave. I agree with you on decisions. As to the final, it depends on how we define "uncomfortable". Not happy about it or not liking it is one thing, feeling frightened is another.

The Generous Husband
The Generous Husband

@Louise - I think we all have a hard time seeing life through the eyes of ochres, especially autocross gender lines. It is certainly a place where many need to do better

John
John

I agree with both of your points. Here's a "should do": show your appreciation for all that she does. My Joan is a SAHM and every work day she makes me breakfast, packs me a lunch and often a dinner. I know she puts effort and creativity into making me meals that I will appreciate. As I was looking at my lunch this morning I realized how infrequently I tell her how much I appreciate her doing that for me. So I texted her and told her.

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