The number one thing I've been learning over the last five years of marriage is how to make an effort. I'm not great at it and I have a lot more to learn in this thing called "marriage." But I think us women should join together to encourage each other in making an effort for the men in our lives. If, like me, you're not always sure how to do this (nor excited about the work it requires), keep reading. Then share your own ideas! I think we can learn a thing or two from each other. Our husbands will thank us ;)
Ideas for Making An Effort
1 | Let him take a daily 15.I originally got this idea from Dr. Laura in her book The Proper Care and Feeding of Husbands. In response to a common complaint from women who want more help from their husband's without having to nag, she suggests letting him take 15 minutes (or 30 or 60 or 10 or whatever you can offer) to decompress when he gets home from work. He has long days too with job demands and stresses he needs to shake off before he's even in the mindset to help out at home.
But the incredible thing--given just this short time without expectations (browsing the internet, reading a magazine, laying on the couch) my husband jumps into helping. He plays with the kids, cleans up after supper, takes the trash out. Sometimes I have to ask or remind, but he's generally ready and willing when he's had a little break between going from one job to the next.
2 | Give him an evening off.This is similar to the one above, but it's a whole evening or at least an hour or more. Daniel and I each get an evening each week to do whatever we want. Mondays Daniel will go to the driving range or batting cages with a friend, play basketball, watch a man movie or go do whatever his manly heart desires. I stay home with the kids and keep minimum expectations about when he'll be home.
He gets to keep up with hobbies that I don't love and that can't be enjoyed with kids in tow, and he gets an opportunity to hang with the guys. I love being his best friend, but I can't (and would never wish to) replace bromance. And I don't complain, because my evening off is coming.
3 | Choose to be happy.Maybe this is an error unique to me, but I've too often placed the burden of my own happiness on others. In the book God Never Blinks, Regina says, "No one else is in charge of your happiness. You are the CEO of your joy."
She goes on to to say if you want to be happy, then there's nothing else left to do but be happy. Even if you don't feel it, practice it and act like you are. Make a happy appointment to have a massage, sip a yummy drink, do yoga or visit a friend. What does this have to do with making an effort for your husband? Well, it takes a load of impossible expectations off his shoulders.
Take care of your own needs and wants and you won't be foisting desperate expectations on others. You'll no longer go to them hungry for anything. You'll go satisfied, with something to share that will enhance you both.
4 | Do for him what you want done for you.My husband's not a flower-buying man. He has bought flowers a handful of times in our six years together, but it's not something I know him to do frequently. On a date night I was planning, I thought about how I wished he'd bring me flowers, then decided why don't I just do that for him?
Maybe it won't mean the same thing to him, but it will show him what I want and make him feel special in the process. It can apply to so many things, but instead of wishing you were written sweet notes or taken on fancy dates, why not just do them for your man?
5 | View yourself through his eyes.I'm as good as the next girl at being overly critical of myself. But most days I'd do well to just view myself through my husband's eyes. He thinks I'm smart and sexy and organized and a good mom. And while I'm at it, maybe instead of just borrowing his eyes to look at myself, I should go ahead and act the way he sees me. Because being smart, sexy, organized and a good mom is a heck of a lot better than putting on sweat pants, eating from the ice cream carton and sulking. (And his eyes would see that too.)
6 | Be sexy.Dr. Laura is great at reminding women to make an effort. Especially in the bedroom. Men need sex (yes, need) and it's sad that we women too often control the situation when it comes to that. So why not make an effort in the bedroom?
Attempting to be sexy is about him a little--but it's mostly about us. Put on something sexy, be sexy, and enjoy what happens when you start to believe that you are.
Sexiness isn't a thin waste or a full bra, it's not perfectly coiled hair or pouty lips--sexiness is what happens in your head. Let it shine--you'll both be glad you did. (If sex is an area you struggle making an effort in, then read Dr. Laura's chapter on it in the book The Proper Care and Feeding of Husbands.)
7 | Tell him what you want, when you want it.I'm terrible at this. There is an endless list of things I assume Daniel should know about me and what I want from him. But unless I'm verbalizing it to him, he probably doesn't know. Communication really is key, and is necessary to keeping disappointments at bay. It's worth the effort to communicate properly, and he's always glad to be spared the dog house he never even saw coming.
I'll revert to Regina one more time in this passage from God Never Blinks...
Men cannot read minds.
Every woman knows that, yet too many of them pressure their husbands, boyfriends, and lovers into attempting that impossible feat.
Take Valentine's Day, the most disappointing day after New Year's Eve. How many women know exactly what they want but haven't given their love a clue? You want a box of Godiva; he buys you edible underwear. You want theater tickets; he takes you to a basketball game. You want a candlelight dinner; he brings home fast food.
If you don't name [your wants], there's still a chance you might get them. It's a strange mind game that women often play, one we almost always lose.He wins and you win, if you just communicate what you need.
8 | Clean the house, wash the laundry, make supper.Sure, we can go on about how we're not their mothers and we're not going to cater to them like that. But if we're talking about making an effort, then why not do at least one of these at least some of the time? I'm pretty sure Daniel appreciates it, and he shows his gratitude by not treating me like his mom.
9 | Ask him questions.I don't know about your husband, but mine doesn't love talking. I always want to connect on the deep get-to-know-each-other level we did when we first started dating, and that's just not him. I've wondered a time or two how we could last years without the intellectual connection I thrive on. Then, I realized I was waiting for him to start the conversation.
So one of our dates this month I wrote down a few questions to ask him over dinner. It spurred more questions and it got him to asking me questions. Some evoked silly responses and got us to joking, it revealed so much about who he is today, and got us talking more than we have on previous dates when we run out of topics after kids and work.
Ask questions like "What is your daily routine after you get to work?" or "What would you tell your 16-year-old self?" or "If you could do anything once, what would you do?" Then see where the conversation goes. The possibilities for questions are limitless, so enjoy spending a lifetime getting to know this man you think you know so well.
10 | Pray for him.A couple years ago I spent a month praying for Daniel everyday using the book The Power of a Praying Wife. I put myself in Daniel's shoes more than I ever have as I prayed for a new area of his life each day. Praying for his work and for his family, for his temptations and his marriage, his spiritual life and his sex life. I often think about Daniel's life in terms of how it effects me, but this gave me an opportunity to think of every part of him. This was an incredible experience. Not because mountains were moved in his life. Not because I prayed for him to change and he did. This was an incredible experience simply because I learned what it means to have a chord of three strands that is not easily broken (Ecc. 4:12).
100 date night questions
his + her happy co-existence
date night basics
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