things men forget

5 Things Most Husbands Forget

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Husbands forgetting things is one of those tropes that is embarrassingly true. We often do a horrible job of listening to our wives, so we tend to forget the conversation we had yesterday, or the thing she asked us to grab in the kitchen, or that one thing she asked us to get at the grocery store. All that is frustrating, for sure, but it’s relatively minor.

However, there are things men forget that are much more serious. These are the types of things that can utterly ruin a marriage if we can’t recollect them. So allow me to create for you a cheat sheet. Here are 5 things most husbands forget that can wreck a marriage.

1. Love is not a feeling; it’s a doing.

There’s a famous passage in the Bible that lays out a definition for love. The writer says, “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud … it always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.” Whenever I officiate a wedding for a couple, I emphasize the fact that none of these are things you feel. They are things you do.

Love is something you choose. And in marriage, you choose it again and again.

We often think of love as a feeling, but it’s not. Don’t get me wrong—feeling attracted to someone is important in romantic relationships. But it’s not love. Love is something you choose. And in marriage, you choose it again and again.

2. You always marry the wrong person.

You thought you were marrying your soul mate. Then she changed. Or maybe you changed. Or wait—did you both change? The answer is yes. Duke ethicist Stanley Hauerwas said, “Marriage, being [the enormous thing it is] means we are not the same person after we have entered it. The primary challenge of marriage is learning how to love and care for the stranger to whom you find yourself married.

One of things men forget is that they aren’t signing up to marry a static individual, but rather a dynamic, growing, changing person. And men are also dynamic, growing, changing people. This is one of the reasons this next point is so important.

3. There’s a reason we share vows, not hopes.

When we get married, why do we exchange vows rather than share our hopes for our lives together? Because marriage is hard. Despite what your neighbor’s Instagram feed tells you, the vast majority of marriages do not come easy. It requires a regular willingness to set aside your preferences for the good of another. It presses you to accept that your wife will not live up to your expectations (nor will you live up to hers). In all of this, we promise to stick with each other, love one another, and work for the good of our partners.

This can be hard work. It’s worth it, like working out is worth it if you want to be healthy or studying is worth it if you want to be a doctor. But it takes a commitment bigger than hope. It takes a willingness to dig in when the gratification is delayed.

4. There are two sides to every story.

We are all biased toward our own perspectives. We only see what we see. It’s difficult to see another’s point of view. One of the things men forget is that there are two sides to every story. Your experience of your wife is not absolute truth. You think she’s bossy or overly critical or distant or angry? She might be. But it’s also possible that you are behaving in ways that exacerbate those things. And it’s not only possible but almost certainly true that your marriage is the way it is because you are part of it.

With few exceptions, difficulties in marriage are never the fault of one person. If there’s something your wife is doing that drives you crazy, the first question you should ask is, “What change could I make that might move us in a positive direction?”

5. There are no shortcuts to any place worth going.

As Pippin warns Frodo in Tolkien’s brilliant Fellowship of the Ring, “Shortcuts make long delays.” Most men are motivated toward action. We want things to change yesterday. But one of the things men forget is that the best things in life often take quite a bit of time. There’s a reason why the fastest food is the cheapest or why aged wine is better. The best things take time. This is certainly true for your marriage.

If you want your relationship with your wife to thrive, it won’t happen if you won’t put in the time. Lean in when she’s upset; don’t deflect or change the subject. See a counselor when things get hard. Don’t be satisfied with ignoring what’s difficult. In the end, if you want to get to the promised land, you’ve got a journey in front of you. But the land is a good land. It’s worth the trip.

Sound off: What other important things do many men forget?

Huddle up with your kids and ask, “What do you think it means to love someone?”