bad husband

The First 5 Things to Do When You’ve Been a Bad Husband

The story of any marriage is the sum of a number of key moments shared by both of you. Before you got married, these might include the first time you noticed her, your first date, first kiss, or the first time you told her “I love you.” You’ve likely shared joy, intimacy, adventure, and grief. There is one other key moment that can be foundational for a good marriage: the moment you really screw something up. While no one is a perfect husband, there are times when you might do something that really hurts your wife—the moments you feel like a bad husband.

Sometimes, this could be in hurtful comments you’ve made. Other times, it might be working too late on a day your wife really needed you at home or forgetting an important anniversary. It could also be that she discovered your porn habit or addiction. Whatever it is, when you screw up as a husband, there are some things you need to do right away to make it up to her. Here are the first 5 things to do when you’ve been a bad husband.

Whatever you’re doing that hurts your wife, the first thing you need to do is stop.

1. Stop your bad behavior.

Whatever you’re doing that hurts your wife, the first thing you need to do is stop. Don’t continue doing something you know harms your wife or marriage. If you’ve become a workaholic, change things and bring your life into right order. Use alarms and reminders to make sure you don’t forget when you’re needed at home (and why). If you’re looking at bad content online, stop looking at it. If you haven’t taken her on a date in a while, take her out for a coffee or an ice cream as soon as possible.

2. Own it.

When men get caught or called out for something, there’s always a temptation to try and justify oneself. This is where the belief that “boys will be boys” is often used to dismiss unacceptable behaviors. Don’t do this. When you realize you’ve hurt your wife, don’t make excuses, minimize your actions, or project the blame on someone else. You screwed up, so you need to take responsibility and accept whatever consequences might be coming for your actions.

3. Apologize for what you’ve done.

If you’ve hurt your wife, you need to tell her you’re sorry. This may seem like the hardest thing to do because it’s humiliating to admit you’ve done something wrong. You’ve got to swallow your pride, assume a position of accountability, and say the words “I’m sorry.” Depending on what’s happened, you might need to say you’re sorry more than once as the hurt could go very deep.

4. Pursue growth.

Do whatever you need to do in your own life to make things better. If you always watch TV on the couch after dinner instead of helping with the kids or cleaning up, build a new habit of being present. You could also ask for advice from an employer, friends, family members, or pastor. Do whatever you can immediately to look after yourself, your wife, and your marriage.

5. Rebuild trust.

After a particularly difficult week for the corporate image of his company, Under Armour founder Kevin Plank said that “trust is built in drops and lost in buckets.” That’s also true in marital intimacy. If there was an act of infidelity, many years of trust can be dumped out in a moment; it’s going to take time and work to restore her trust in you. Be willing to put your actions alongside your words and put in the necessary work to rebuild her trust in you, drop by drop.

Sound off: What are other steps can you take if you’ve been a bad husband?

Huddle up with your kids and ask, “Is it ever hard for you to apologize? Why?”