This weekend, I am heading to Orlando for my niece Lindsay’s wedding. She and her fiancé, Johnny, are great people. They both have good jobs, supportive family networks, mature understandings of commitment, and sensible heads on their shoulders. All told, we have every reason to be optimistic about their future. I really like Johnny, and I want to see him actively embody the best qualities of a good husband.
I plan to toast Johnny (not roast him) at the wedding, and I’ve been thinking about what to say based on four decades of the beautiful but at the same time “constant work in progress” marriage my wife Rebekah and I have enjoyed. What are the qualities of a good husband? I have decided it comes down to these 5 attitudes that men must bring to their marriage.
I don’t know about you, but I am wrong at least 50% of the time. It’s a huge plus when we make sure our wives understand we own this! Humility is a key characteristic in people willing to learn and in an openness to learning together. The old cliché says, “Do you want to be right or happy?” But that’s not it: The real power is in understanding that being right is never the point.Humility is a key characteristic in people willing to learn and in an openness to learning together.
Marriage is a big deal, and this must be reflected in our constant intention to make the relationship work. “Making do,” “getting by,” “settling for mediocre,” and “limping along” are all poor substitutes for what is possible. Being intentional keeps my focus on the things that work, positive decisions that lead to service, growth, imagination, and the practice of love.
“It is not your love that sustains the marriage,” wrote theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer in his Letters and Papers from Prison, “but from now on, the marriage that sustains your love.” Commitment is a stronger force than feelings or physical pleasure. Also, when we are committed to something greater, a power and principles beyond ourselves, we own a critical source of stability and purpose.
As an inherently stubborn man (yes, me), my unwillingness to change set me up for avoidable newlywed “fails.” Rigidity holds me back from learning, but when I am flexible, I find myself not only more relaxed but more open to positive change with my wife. The following adjectives are often applied to software, but they are helpful here: “nimble,” “responsive,” “adaptable.” Men who bring these qualities of a good husband into a marriage generate respect and invite it in return.
Here’s a 100% helpful life hack: First thing in the morning, every day, tell yourself out loud how grateful you are for life, the new day, and your wife. It’s like being the cheerleader for your own marriage and life. Then, right away, do something to express the gratitude. Say, “I love you!” Serve your wife a cup of coffee in bed, or leave a thank you note on her breakfast place. The point is to live with gratitude. Simply be grateful to be there, with her, in this relationship.
Sound off: What is an additional attitude you either contributed to your marriage or wish that you had?
Huddle up with your kids and ask, “How can our attitudes affect our relationships?”