“I learned a great many years ago that in a fight between husband and wife, a third party should never get between the woman’s skillet and the man’s ax-helve.” Abraham Lincoln
“Let the wife make the husband glad to come home, and let him make her sorry to see him leave.” Martin Luther
There are many reminders, provided weekly by my wife, that require some action on my part…take out the garbage, put a battery in the smoke detector, tell the neighbor to hush the barking dogs or we will call the police…you know the standard sort of stuff. I hear them and I do my manly best to take care of my wife’s “honey do” list. My list is long but in no way compares to her list of things that she requires herself to do daily.
Perhaps the most important list to any married man, however, is the “honey don’t” list. It is the wise and savvy man that learns this early on in his marriage. It is much shorter than his honey do list but oh so much more volatile…sort of…marriage meets nitroglycerin. When you enter into this honey don’t venue, sweat beads form on your forehead like old dynamite. You realize too late that you are in a marital minefield and you strive to navigate your way through the situation without any permanent loss of wife, life or limbs.
It is great to enjoy in depth and personal conversations with your wife but try to avoid venturing into the land of don’t and especially into the land of don’t ever. A good honey do man does not necessarily make a good honey don’t man. Husbands…listen to reason and consider why you should stay clear of the following four crucial items that should be on your honey don’t list. (Keep in mind that this list is not exhaustive.)
Don’t Tell Her How She Should Feel
After listening to your wife carry on about something for what seems like forever, don’t make the mistake of dismissing all of her emotions by casually saying something like, “Don’t be so uptight about it, just ignore it and it will go away…can you pass the potatoes? Hey kids what do you want to do after dinner?”
Her emotions matter. Her problem solving technique is different than yours and what may seem matter of fact to you, may require more detailed analysis for her. That analysis takes into account things that generally don’t even cross a man’s shallow mind. Telling her how she should think or feel shows a gross misunderstanding and lack of appreciation for her own thought process and will in most cases, be seen as an insult.
Don’t Ignore the Listening Time
Whether you know it or not, there is a time allotted in your day when the most important thing you can do is listen to your wife. Many men make the mistake of thinking that a casual chat while continuing to do their work, play or TV watching counts as that time…it doesn’t. You are required by the laws of nature to listen and it is so much easier to listen to her quiet concerned voice than her ranting about your insensitivity voice. So… divest yourself of all of your surrounding distractions and listen.
The net side effect is that you actually learn things. You learn names of family friends and your children. You learn things that are happening with your kids and neighbors and extended family. Granted, because you are trying to get the TV on to watch the football game, your manly brain tries to condense all that she is telling you into the few words that you hope she is really trying to communicate such as, “I had a good day I hope you did too. I’m going to go clean up the kitchen”. But that is when you have to allow your manly survival instincts to kick in and remove your quivering thumb from the remote and sit back and just listen. You might even consider getting off your comfortable rear and listening while you wash the dishes.
Don’t Ask Her that Question About Her Past
Some couples may choose to share things of their past in the spirit of full disclosure. However, this may not always be the best option, especially the second time around or if it inserts itself into the conversation year after year. After you get by the basic, “have you ever killed or maimed somebody” and “are you a child molester or porn addict”, you need to proceed cautiously.
Don’t ask unless you are big enough, mature enough, and forgiving enough to handle the answer. It is not your prerogative to demand answers because of your curiosity.
Many mistakes are private and many experiences are personal. It is not requisite that some things are ever brought up again. A pushy partner that needs to know everything and dwells in that knowledge, misses the whole point of your present life together and seriously impedes the potential for true joy in their marriage.
Don’t Ever…Compare Her to Your Mom
Even though you may love both of these women, your wife is not your mother. On some occasion you might be tempted to say, “Hun my mom said that one day I could be President of the United States…tell me again why you disagree.” If you somehow think there should be a correlation between your mom’s assessment of your skill set and your wife’s assessment, you are mistaken.
They both love you but in a different way. The mother that you remember had a life that was devoted entirely to making you feel better, safe and loved. Your wife will do the same for your children but this same drive is not innate in your relationship with her. Her love for you will grow as she sees you sacrifice for your common goal (which is generally your children). Her task is not to raise you again though she will help you remember things that your mom taught you (Like don’t leave your clothes on the floor).
This is so clear to see when you go to a family dinner with your parents. Even though your mother may be in her eighties, she is still up and down at the dinner table serving you like you were a king. You hardly even notice because that’s just the way your mom has been to you since you were born. Your wife, however, observes and thinks, you lazy bum, get up and serve yourself and your mother.
Your wife will see the good things your mother does and pick and choose the qualities if any, that she would like to emulate. Remember that though your mother and your wife are different, they are both women and both recognize the limitations of the man species. This creates a very tight natural bond that you would want to exist between them. Any comparison you make will only hurt that bond.
Your mother changed your diaper out of love and one day your wife may too but it is not the same…the difference will be that one is done with hope and the other is done with pity.
…and so Life Goes on.
We’re just men. We came with a set of selfish genes. One day this journey through life will be complete. Part of the purpose of this journey is to overcome our selfish tendencies. You will be a better man as you work hard to keep up with your honey do list. But the reward for navigating your life away from the honey don’t list will be far greater. You will find peace and respect and a desire to serve your wife in a way that every Queen deserves.
We’re just men but we can learn. To the woman in each of our lives we say, thank you for giving us a second chance…again and again. That’s a trait that my mom was always really good at…whoops.
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