Happy wife does not equal happy life because it's about more than just you.
Dear Sh*tty Wife,
I don't pretend to know your life or the intimate details of your marriage. Maybe your husband is a real piece of work and lucky to have such a competent, smart, gorgeous wife like you to get him through life.
But that's probably just the way you see it, and not actually how your husband feels. Perhaps if you up and left him tomorrow, he'd have a difficult time figuring out how to manage the aspects of your lives you take care of, but give him some credit.
Happy wife does not equal happy life because it's about more than just you. And yes, it's about more than the kids. It's about him, too.
Here's sh*t I see wives do in their marriages that needs to stop: If you constantly berate your husband, find it a chore to have sex with him, and cause fights to get attention, then this advice is for you.
Listen: I'm not perfect; I have been guilty of these destructive behaviors at times. I've grown from the experience, though, and hope you can, too.
I've learned more about the effect these degrading behaviors have on men from dating than I ever did in my own marriage. Maybe because dating requires a lot of listening and exchanging of information about relationship failures. And boy have I been listening.
Wives, if you're doing any of the following, please stop:
1. You don't accept your husband for who he is.
We're all guilty of wanting people to understand and accept us for who we are, yet don't always take the time we should to try and understand them. Your efforts to try and change your husband, to train out his annoying traits, are fruitless. Just stop it. Either learn to accept the things your husband does that drive you crazy, put the work in to help him change, or pull some reverse psychology on yourself and laugh it off.
Learn who your husband is, what he loves, and why. Make a sincere effort to understand who he is at his core. The more you try to understand him and why he does the things he does, the better you will be able to empathize.
As a result, you might be less irritated when he leaves his socks on the floor, again. And you may be more likely to rationalize that although your man might leave his belongings strewn about the house, you haven't taken the trash out in months. Tit for tat — keep reminding yourself of that.
2. You act like an ungrateful b*tch.
Stop being ungrateful. And stop blaming him for everything. Instead of asking your husband for more, work together to create and live the life you want so you can enjoy a happy, loving marriage.
Instead of complaining, give him the male version of what you want from him. If you want more affection and romance and he's a sports enthusiast, take him to a football game, eat hot dogs and laugh with him. Chances are he will feel so connected and appreciated by you that you'll be making out on the kiss cam, and your definition of romance might shift to suddenly include crushed popcorn on the floor and overpriced beer.
Appreciation can change your marriage because it shapes the lens with which you view your husband, flaws and all. Practicing gratitude can change your life. Start by telling each other one thing you're grateful for every night before you go to bed.
3. You incessantly nag.
Men don't respond to nagging; they shut down or do the least amount possible just to get you off their backs. It's counter-productive. Try this instead: Think about what you need from your husband. Then edit it in your mind so you use the fewest words possible to ask for it, very nicely.
As a wife, there's so much to manage — your relationship, kids, career, house — the list feels never-ending. I was guilty of being a slave to the to-do list and bringing my husband along with me for the ride. Errands, housework, do this, do that, can you fix this, take the kids here ... on and on, thinking there was an end in sight.
That's why I recommend to learn his language and figure out how to negotiate with him in a playful way. Think about what a difference it can make if you ask him sweetly to finish putting together that bookshelf while you make him his favorite drink, or agree to watch the kids the next day so he can make happy hour with his buddies.
If everything you've tried is ineffective, consider what it would feel like if he left. There you're alone, with three kids and a full-time job, and no one to nag. Bet you'd be grateful to have a husband who loaded the dishwasher at all, even if it was the "wrong" way. Let the small stuff go — it doesn't matter.
4. You emasculate him to make yourself feel better.
If something isn't done your way, do you put your husband down for being incapable and insist on taking over? Stop it. Figure out what really matters. Discuss the issues you simply can't let go. Ask him his.
In my own marriage I was quick to complain about my husband to my close friends and family. I felt I simply had to unload and I needed to feel like someone could relate. Eventually, I came to understand that I was oversharing personal details about my husband and marriage because it was impossible to have the emotional connection I needed with my husband.
As hard as I tried, he seemed incapable of it, so I would compensate by seeking out that security from others. A personality disorder diagnosis later (his, not mine), it all makes more sense, and I learned that feeling like you have to go outside your marriage for anything you might need is never a good sign, and often leads to trouble.
5. You fake orgasms like it's your specialty.
If you've grown accustomed to faking orgasms or avoiding sex with your husband altogether, it's a warning sign. Something is missing from your marriage, and you're cheating yourself and your husband from experiencing a fulfilling sex life.
Don't waste another minute having bad sex. I know you think you've tried everything and nothing works, but you're wrong. Your husband wants to make you happy. He wants to make you orgasm. What can happen in marriage is you get into a routine and just accept sex for what it is.
If you've tried to show your husband what you like and he still isn't getting it, or if you don't feel as sexy as you once did after having kids and it's affecting your sex life, do something about it. Don't just accept an unsatisfying sex life. Go to counseling or buy Kama Sutra books.
There's only so far a night of hot drunken sex or racy lingerie can go. That's surface level. Work on figuring out what your underlying problems are in the bedroom and you will have a more fulfilling sex life. Is there an intimacy or trust issue? Does your husband not understand the direct link between emotional connection and sex for you? If there's sexual dysfunction in your relationship, get professional help and be supportive.
6. You wallow in your misery but don't do anything to fix it.
If you're miserable in your marriage and stay anyway, please consider whether or not it's fair to you, your husband, and your kids. I was the wife who tried to work through the problems in my marriage, and was propelled by my sheer determination to do what I thought was best for our children. But in the end, if you've tried and still can't be happy in your marriage, everyone might better off figuring out the best way to uncouple and move on.
Every marriage goes through ups and downs, and that's not what I'm talking about. I'm shocked by women who have told me flat out they hate their husbands but stay because they want him to be taken care of or vice-versa.
Some women are miserable in their own lives and marriages, and are jealous of others who have great relationships. Cut it out. Be happy for the rarified couple who still love each other, and use it to inspire you to work harder to create the same passion in your own marriage.
Give up the crusades to "fix" your husband, stop leaving self-help books for him that you know he won't read, or passive-aggressively forwarding him emails about how to be a better husband.
Take his hand, look him in the eye, and describe what you need in terms he can relate to. Set small goals that you can sustain over time. Connect with your husband in ways that encourage him to respond.
Your husband may not be the same man you fell in love with all those years ago. You've changed, too, and as we age, we become more set it our ways. Learn who he is now, spend time with him, give him your undivided attention. Accept him and learn how you can help encourage him to be the man he wants to be in marriage, and in life.