Good things

I don’t think I’ve ever solicited advice from other parents on keeping a marriage healthy. It’s not that I don’t need any—it just doesn’t usually occur to me to ask for it. Maybe I don’t know an awful lot of parents I would value such advice from, or maybe I’m just too proud to think I need it. Sometimes I do need it, though. It would be great to know an older couple who could be role models for us, but such strong relationships are rare in this world.

Conversely, the unsolicited advice that usually comes in torrents on any other subject has failed to materialize when I tell people I have a nearly-one-year-old baby and another due in February. I have had people tell me that kids are what drive couples apart, but that’s not usually helpful. I can say from experience that the presence of a child tends to shine a high-powered spotlight on every flaw in a relationship, but that needn’t drive a couple apart.

I’m writing about this because I received some unsolicited advice from a long-time reader recently. I usually resent it when people presume to tell me how to be a good husband, but this message seemed full of concern, kindness, and hard-earned wisdom (she is the mother of four, and the first three came within 36 months of each other):

Babies can fill your life in a wonderful way, but please guard your marriage more than ever as you become consumed with wonder over the new lives God is entrusting to you. Your wife needs your love and thoughtful care and concern more than ever at this time-I know because I was pregnant once while caring for a one year old and once while caring for a baby and a two year old. Help her as much as you reasonably can and put her needs (especially for sleep) ahead of your needs for other things. She will be better able to meet your needs if you do this. Pamper her when you can. Now and then, instead of taking care of the baby for her, arrange for somebody else to take care of the baby (at their house) and bring home her favorite take-out and a great movie and give her an I-love-you-and-I-don’t-expect-anything-from-you backrub. Babies take a lot out of their moms physically (both before and after they are born). The more you care for her physical needs (read: sleep), the more she can care for yours. That’s the best advice I can give you. Like you wanted it. I just so remember how I felt and what I needed, I want your wife to get the advantages of our hindsight.

If any of you have other great advice like that, please share it.

5 thoughts on “Good things

  1. I agree with her advice – I’ve heard that advice from all the church leaders I’ve ever had.
    I heard James Dobson put it kind of like this (at least for men):
    When you come home from work, your wife should be the first person you hug and kiss,
    even if the kids run up to you first and are trying to get attention. This lets the kids see that
    she is the most important thing to you, and you value and respect her.
    Hopefully, the kids will grow up to respect their spouses just as much.

    Rubi and I are very affectionate towards each other, and we let our kids know that we really love each other.
    Even when we are fighting about something stupid, and the kids get concerned, we let the kids know that we still love each other.

  2. Your longtime reader is very wise and correct.

    I have six kids ages nine and under—the first five were born in six years. My husband does all of the things your longtime reader describes. One time he arrived home from work 3 hours early with a gift card for a salon. He told me to go, get anything done I wanted. I felt beautiful when I returned home several hours later—not just because my hair was colored and smartly cut. He arranged an out-of-town getaway for the two of us, including the babysitting. He’ll call on his way home from work and offer to pick something up for dinner, or he’ll volunteer to cook. He gets up early, stays up late, anticipates my needs, and sacrifices his own.

    He asks the big question: What can I do to help you? He gets it.

  3. This is wonderful advice. To many christian men assume that they are doing everything right just because they make every effort to be the spiritual leader of thier home and assume that they are on the same page with their wives. They don’t think there could ever be a problem with thier marriage and take thier wives for granted.

  4. Pingback: » The most important parenting advice you’ll ever read CrashintoLove.com: reflections on life, love, and family — a smalley blog