Ideas for Small Ways To Become a Better Husband
When we learned that each month nearly 4,000 people around the world are searching “how to be a good husband,” we paused and wondered, “What is the need behind the statement?” We know that “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,” according to Romans 3:23. Having engaged with thousands of couples around marriage issues, we recognize when people talk about wanting to be a “good husband” or “good wife,” they seem to be trying to figure out how to bring their best self to their marriage. And by figuring out what it means to bring their best self to their marriage, they will be a good husband or good wife.
In the book, “Atomic Habits,” James Clear points out that we often convince ourselves change is only meaningful or noteworthy if there is some large, visible outcome associated with it—losing 100 pounds, taking a bucket list trip, or crossing the seven-figure mark in your business.
In reality, and especially in marriage relationships, change follows the Marginal Gains Theory aka “the power of tiny gains”—by focusing on being 1% better every day, you’ll end up 37 times better by the end of a year because small improvements compound. In Clear’s words, “This is why small choices don’t make much of a difference at the time, but add up over the long-term.”
When it comes to marriage and how we, as men, look to foster greater connection with our wife, implementing large-scale change is not always practical. What is possible, however, is implementing easy, regular, small changes. These are the things that over time will compound to create a meaningful difference in what we’re bringing to the table in our marriage. In short, these things will help us to be a good husband.
Men—below are a few small ways you can begin improving how you show up in your marriage—even if it’s a 1% improvement every day, over time, your marriage will be better for it.
1. Pray regularly for and with your wife.
Have you considered how you’re growing in spiritual intimacy with your spouse? One way is to establish a regular rhythm of asking your wife how you can pray for her, and then, do so. Pray over her while she’s sleeping. Pray for her on your way to and from work. Or, pray with her before bed. A great resource for this is “The Power of a Praying® Husband” by Stormie Omartian.
2. Speak her love language.
Do you know each other’s love languages? If not, stop what you’re doing, and go find out together! Whether it’s acts of service, physical touch, receiving gifts, quality time, or words of affirmation, learn to be fluent in loving your wife the way she best receives love, not the way you do. Additionally, “The 5 Love Languages®” by Gary Chapman is a great resource.
3. Keep a gratitude journal.
There’s no better way to frame your thoughts and attitudes toward your wife than by recognizing the ways you’re grateful for her. In a study conducted at the University of North Carolina Wilmington, couples who practiced gratitude journaling for each other over 14 days showed an increase in perceived support levels, personal intimacy, and overall marital satisfaction.
4. Recognize her bids for connection.
Bids are simple ways in which your wife wants to connect with you. A bid can be anything from a wink or smile, to a desire to cuddle, to her sharing about her day, to her wanting to go on a run together. Learn how to recognize these bids, and actively turn toward her when you see them.
5. Leave work at work.
Simple enough—when you get home from work, put the laptop away and put the phone in a drawer. If you have trouble turning off your brain, try practicing a daily shutdown ritual before heading home. When at home, let your attention be 100% on your family.
There’s a saying that a leader is someone who “gives others the gift of going second.” One practical way to serve your wife is by proactively initiating moments of connection and letting her follow your lead. This can be planning a date night (including finding a babysitter!), registering for a WinShape Marriage Retreat, or simply spurring new conversation with some conversation starters.
8. Work on yourself.
Do you feel like you are showing up each day in your relationship full, healthy, and whole? What personal routines or self-care do you need to establish in order to be available for your wife, mentally, physically, spiritually, and emotionally? Schedule that annual doctor’s visit, find a gym buddy, or set up a regular meeting with a counselor.
9. Keep a list of things your wife values.
Put your ears and the Notes app on your phone to good use and keep a running list of things your wife mentions as they come up in everyday situations. It could be an idea for a gift, a way in which you can serve her, or her go-to Starbucks drink or favorite flower.
10. Think outside the box.
It’s likely if you’ve been married for a while, you have some routines when it comes to expressing love and celebrating annual moments together. In line with speaking your spouse’s love language, consider new ways to express your love and appreciation.
- Leave a sticky note on her mirror.
- Scrape the frost off her car in the morning, or write a note on the snow-covered hood.
- Set up a mini scavenger hunt in the house.
- Recreate your first date when she least expects it.
- Buy a new game to experience together.
10. Keep your promises.
Your wife needs to know she can count on you in both small and big ways. If you say you’re going to be home by 5 p.m., then be home by 5 p.m. Have you promised to fix the drawer that keeps breaking? Then, take time to fix it. Over time, small compromises on promises can lead to misunderstandings and misaligned expectations that eventually lead to distrust.
When looking for ways to be a better husband, appreciate and lean into the small steps along the way. Change won’t happen overnight. This list only scratches the surface of ways to show your wife your commitment and appreciation. If you have a unique way in which you’ve practiced serving and loving your wife, share it with us at firstname.lastname@example.org.