dog house

5 Keys to Getting out of the Dog House

We’re all guys, so – let’s face it – we all visit “the dog house” on occasion. Getting in there is no mystery; but sometimes we need a little help getting out. This article offers five simple keys to “getting out of the dog house.”

Many of us are masters at insensitivity, obstinacy, foot-in-mouth disease, advanced cluelessness, stirring the pot, and more. It’s not that we plan to come home from work, enter the house, and immediately say something idiotic that ruins our wife’s fond “hello” or dinner or the evening or sometimes the entire weekend. If you are like me, screwing up seems to take no effort at all; it’s like a talent.

If being consigned to the dog house resonates in any way, then here are 5 simple keys to growing getting out of the dog house:

  1. Listen, listen, listen: More than anything, your wife wants to know that you hear her. Not hear her, then correct her; not hear her, while doing something else; not hear her, then offer an airtight explanation. No, your wife wants you to practice active listening, and she wants to believe that you are enjoying it. 
  2. Let the restitution fit the crime: Appropriate restitution accomplishes a couple of things. First, it demonstrates that we know not only that we messed up, but how we messed up. If we’re in the dog house because we were insensitive, then flowers with, “Sorry, I was a jerk,” are good. If our crime is “not paying attention,” then dinner out and our undivided attention would fit.
  3. Don’t sweat the small stuff (being right is very small stuff): Here’s some free advice: Being right is overrated. [Tweet This] If you’re in the dog house over a disagreement, proving that you were right all along is never a good move. Getting out of the dog house isn’t about justice, it’s about grace. Proving a point never restores a relationship; demonstrating your wife is more important to you than your ego just might. [Tweet This]
  4. Never minimize your culpability: “I’m sorry we had an argument, but it really wasn’t my fault,” doesn’t work. Neither does, “I only forgot our anniversary because my work schedule is overloaded.” Accept responsibility for the whole thing.
  5. Be randomly wonderful: This tip alone is worth the price of the entire article. Say, “Don’t cook, I’m picking up Chinese;” followed up by a personal delivery of a flower arrangement to her at work. Try fresh sheets (make the bed) and a mint on her pillow. Pick an obscure anniversary (first date, 3,000 days married, get creative…), make her a card, and celebrate. Arrange a lunch date. Or turn off the TV, serve her a cup of tea, and say random romantic stuff.

We can’t promise any magic, just plain, simple, well-practiced ideas to help us when we need to reestablish communication – or at least crack the door just a little.

Sound Off

How do you get out of the dog house?

Derek Maul

Derek Maul is the author of five books, a nationally recognized men’s resource, a committed encourager, and a pilgrim in progress. He divides his time between writing and traveling to speak about the fully engaged life.

  • Don Dunlap

    Why is it that only men can end up in the dog house? The whole concept of ‘dog house’ legitimizes a woman’s every resentment.

    • Paul_Sp

      Agreed, she can get in the “doghouse” too.

  • Fred Jorgensen

    Here is another simple and effective approach toward making a sincere apology:

    1) I’m sorry for _________________.

    2) How can I fix it? What can I do to make it better?

    3) It won’t happen again.

  • dude

    I know the feeling. Perhaps its our egos and I know I need to work on things, but I feel like there is this whole mentality that men are “dogs” and they need to be trained. I guess a woman going to the dog house is a rarity because most guys are not the emotional, hormone driven wonderful and delightful beings that we call women. I usually can’t stay mad at my wife for most of the everyday issues – I think they just tend to hang on to things because what guys do to make them mad strikes them to their core?

    Despite men are from mars thing, and again I know ego and pride are mixed in there but it still makes me feel 2nd class.

    • Paul_Sp

      Ditto and well said.

      • netreality

        Well, then you put yourself there (2nd class). All humans make mistakes and need to ‘man up’ and find a way to fix, or at least apologize and make a sincere effort to atone. Both genders. I’ve been in the doghouse and eventually apologized. My husband thinks he’s never wrong, so he’s staying in the doghouse. His loss.

        • Paul_Sp

          Well, others sure can treat you as second class, and he’s right that we don’t generally hear of women being in the dog house. But I agree with your comments.

          And some have made very sincere and determined efforts to atone, and she still divorced him for a more preferred man, bypassing the dog house altogether.

  • A_Husband

    I have told my wife on numerous occasions that “It sucks to be right”. It took her years to understand why I would say that. It basically means that I was right in the beginning of the disagreement, she never admits it and we continue to argue. Then after she has time to cool down and think about it, she then agrees with me. Of course this only happens when I am correct, so not that often, but after the fight, it still sucks to be right. So there is no real enjoyment to being right, so I try to take joy from weathering the storm together, and a better understanding of each other for the future.

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