One day I came home from work to find Susan and one of our teenage daughters arguing. I stood listening for a few moments and then thought I would intervene to end it. I then proceeded to address each of them individually on what they were doing wrong and why they each should stop. In essence, I spoke to each of them as if they were children. I put Susan on the same level as our child. Later that evening Susan brought up the incident. She told me in no uncertain terms that she felt unsupported. I had undermined her authority rather than back her up. She felt as if I wasn’t on her team. Challenging the way she was handling the situation, if necessary, should have been done in private. It was something I needed to stop doing. There have been many bad habits like this in my marriage that have taken hard work to stop. As I began to think about this I came across a good article written by Dave Boehi, author and senior editor at FamilyLife, called “40 Things Husbands Should Stop Doing.” I picked some from his list, came up with some of my own, and added my own thoughts on each.
1. Stop dishonoring your wife by criticizing her in front of your children or others.
You may think you’re being clever or funny, but it’s not helpful to your marriage or honorable to your wife to criticize her, especially in front of others. Your kids need to see you modeling how to be supportive and complimentary, not critical, of your wife.
2. Stop comparing your wife to other women.
Saying something like “Why can’t you be more like Karen?” is demeaning and devaluing to your wife. She is created with immeasurable value and worth. Cherish and honor your wife for who she is, not for what she does or doesn’t do.
3. When your wife tells you about a problem she’s having, don’t immediately try to fix it.
Your wife may just need you to listen to her. It’s in our nature as men to want to fix things. So when Susan tells me about something, instead of jumping in to fix it, I often ask her something like “Do you want me just to listen or do you want my input on how to deal with it?”
4. Stop trying to control your wife.
As I mentioned in the Introduction, this one has been a struggle for me, especially in the early years of our marriage. I thought Susan should think, behave, and do things just like me. I soon learned not only to accept our differences, but to cherish them. I let go of the reins and let Susan be the woman, wife, and mother God created her to be.
5. Stop being passive in disciplining and training your kids.
Parenting is a team effort and is not just Mom’s job. Be actively involved with your wife in disciplining your children and in training them up to walk in truth and love.
6. Don’t be alone with any woman who is not your wife or family member.
Susan knows that I’ve always had a personal policy not to travel with, have lunch, or meet with any other woman alone. To do otherwise would only invite temptation into my life.
7. Stop feeding your sexual desires from any source other than your wife. Whether it’s flirting with another woman or looking at pornography, avoid anything that could take your mind, heart, or body away from your wife. Treat your sexual relationship with your wife as something to be protected, not just enjoyed.