8 Ways to Be a Better Spouse
We’re talking supportive partner, not Stepford Wife
You know those articles that tell you how to please your man or 10 ways to drive him wild in the bedroom? Yeah, this isn’t one of them. Read on for eight healthy and realistic tips for being a better spouse…and a stronger member of a loving and equal partnership.
Use “I feel” statements rather than “you are” statements
You might think your husband’s (or wife's) eyes-glued-to-his-phone habit is objectively annoying. But you’re more likely to get positive results--and keep him on your side--if you couch your complaints in your own feelings: “When you stare at ESPN.com during our conversations, it makes me feel hurt, like you don’t value what I’m saying.”
Talk about money--Often
As anybody who has ever argued over the grocery bill knows, money is the number one cause of stress in relationships. The best way to nip this in the bud? Set up monthly (or, heck, weekly) check-ins to talk about all aspects of your finances. This will keep resentment at bay, and help you guys get closer to your goals.
Practice random acts of kindness and gratitude
Bring him a coconut doughnut just because. Offer to rub his back while you’re watching VEEP. Tell him he looks foxy in chambray (and mean it). You’d be surprised how far a little kindness can go--and how quick he’ll be to return the favor.
Be direct with what you want and need
“Ugh, the sink is sooo full of dishes,” is a line that works for no one ever. Instead of passive-aggressive hints at your requests (or, worse, criticizing him for not intuiting them), ask directly for what you want, then give him a chance to live up to expectation before you start complaining.
Don’t criticize him in public
You know that time you told an entire dinner party that it took your husband five tries to correctly install the air conditioner? Yeah, he hated that. Of course it’s fine to gently rib each other, but don’t use a public forum as a place to air your dirty laundry.
We get it. It’s easy to devolve into the Netflix/sofa/Pop-Tart routine. But you owe it to your marriage to treat your partner as more than an extension of your own sweatpants-clad body. Surprise him with plans for a weekend getaway or weeknight date. He’ll love the initiative and will definitely reciprocate in the future.
But have an independent life, too
You know what no spouse needs? A constant, ever-present shadow. Go out with your friends. Finally start that book club you’ve been talking about for the past decade. Sign up for pickling lessons. Giving him space will ultimately bring you closer together.
And when all else fails, laugh it off
He installed the air conditioner wrong…again. You forgot to pick up chili powder. It can be easy to jump to the registers of “annoyed” and “I hate you.” But if you approach moments of conflict with humor, you’re more likely to de-escalate the situation. And, you know, find an actual solution.