What to Do When You Suck at Being a Husband

Josh Smith
Jan 8 · 6 min read
Photo credit: OlcayErtem / Pixabay

Yesterday, I listened to the newest episode of a marriage podcast I frequent, called Marriage After God. The hosts, Aaron and Jennifer Smith, talked about things like dreaming together.

It’s something they mention pretty regularly on the show, but hearing it this time finally got me:

I’m phoning it in.

Maggie and I have been married less than three years, and I’ve been coasting the entire time.

And when you’re coasting, you’re not really in control of the vehicle. At best, it will take way longer to get where it’s supposed to be headed; at worst, it will drift off course because you’re tired of steering, or it will come to a full stop at any time.

We never (or rarely, if I’m being optimistic) talk about dreaming together. We only recently started praying together consistently, and it’s usually it’s with our daughter at bedtime. A few weeks ago I announced that I wanted to go through a Bible reading plan together, but hadn’t followed through with it (we finally started it this week).

We don’t go on dates. We rarely have time for just us. And when we do spend time together, we’re watching a TV show. Not that there’s anything wrong with TV, but it’s kind of a red flag when that’s the only thing you do together.

Much less do we talk about dreaming together. Sure, we discuss long-term financial goals and rough ideas of five year visions and that kind of thing: we want to be out of debt by this time next year; we want a second child; we want to be the primary caregivers for our children. We talk about where we might want to travel. But we don’t dream together. We don’t learn about each other.

How to Be a Better Husband

The good news is that it’s a relatively easy fix at this point. God calls husbands to love our wives like Christ loved the church (see Ephesians 5). We typically associate this passage with things like giving up our self-centeredness and pride, and serving our wives and making sacrifices for them. And rightfully so; it’s no question that Jesus gave up his rights for those he loved.

But more than that, Jesus loves his people. He deeply, truly loves us. It’s that kind of infatuation you get when you first start falling for someone, only much, much deeper than that. Remember, he died for us because he cares so deeply. He is so passionate about us!

So at the point in our marriages where there’s no alarms going off but it feels like the relationship is simply coasting, we must look to Jesus and his passion.

Where does the passion go?

A lack of passion isn’t always due to a lack of love, and that is an important thing to note. A lack of passion often occurs when we get too busy. For us, we started our marriage busy right out of the gate.

We both worked, and Maggie got up at 4 AM — she still does. This means she goes to bed usually around 7:00 PM. She gets home around 5:30, and I would get home at 3:30. I can’t remember what I did with those couple of hours; I probably wasted them. That left us scrambling to clean up the kitchen and shower before she went to bed.

Then we had our daughter near the end of year one of marriage, which added a whole ‘nother layer of “busy.”

Trying to navigate my day like… Photo credit: GregMontani/Pixabay

Just before our daughter was born, I’d received a promotion at work that allowed me to work at home every day. Even then, it was really hard to work my full time job, take care of the baby, and try to get household work done.

In 2018, I got a better-paying, non-remote job. I’d take our daughter to a babysitter, go to work, and then get home with around 4:30 or 5:00 after picking her up. So I’d change and feed her, and start some laundry or dinner when possible — but we were still scrambling in the hour and a half or so that everyone was home.

A few months ago, I was laid off. So I’m now taking care of our daughter while attempting freelance work in the evenings. And guess what — still busy.

Now that our daughter is a toddler, I of course can’t get a whole lot done during the day. What this looks like most often is that I do things like my quiet time and household chores during naptime, and then I work in the evenings after everyone is asleep.

Still busy.

If your day-to-day looks anything remotely like mine, you’re probably wondering how we can bring back the passion our marriages require in the midst of all the things we have to get done?

How do we find passion when we’re so busy?

I like to plan and make lists, so it’s no surprise that I formed one in my head when reflecting on how I can be more passionate in my marriage relationship. For me, it looks something like this:

  1. Pray for yourself regularly, asking God to remind you of your call to be a good husband, to equip you with the tools needed., and to mold you into the husband he wants you to be (and that your wife needs you to be).
  2. Read God’s word consistently and take time to reflect on it, looking for connections between how Christ loves his church and your marriage.
  3. Listen regularly to podcasts or read books that discuss Christian marriage to be practically reminded of what it’s supposed to be like.
  4. Take an inventory of your day-to-day and re-arrange it so that you can create or maximize your free time. Use this time daily to consistently do the things on this list. A practical way to do this is to “couple” activities. As a stay-at-home dad, this looks like listening to podcasts while doing housework; when I worked, I used my commuting time to listen to podcasts, pray, and connect with God through worship music, and did my quiet time during breaks.
  5. Make a space for rest during the week, and use it to connect with your wife. When we were both working full time, this actually meant adding more dishes and laundry on top of the busy schedule I described above on weekdays, so that when Saturday rolled around we could spend the entire day together. Now, we’re prioritizing reading through and discussing the Bible together nightly, so we may not be able to do this. But we can use this time occasionally to connect on a different level and develop our relationship— we’re utilizing Marriage After God’s Date Night Conversations to start us out on Fridays.
  6. Once you’ve gotten into the habit of regularly connecting with your wife, begin to talk dreams. The guide above will be a great tool for this!
  7. Show affection daily: thank her for specific things she does, kiss her, do something for her that she normally does, do a household chore that she normally does, buy her flowers - something that reminds both you and her what a blessing she is in your life.
  8. Pray for her daily. I’ve always prayed for my wife, but it tends to be the same prayer. Find a prayer guide if needed that will help shape and grow your prayers for your wife — this will help you to keep her on your mind instead of letting your thoughts be dominated by the stuff on your to-do list, work, kids, or whatever may be occupying that space.

My prayer is that if you and I can do these things regularly and intentionally and reflect on them, that we will be on our way to better pursuing our wives and fulfilling the role in our marriages that God has uniquely designed us for.

And in the process, with God’s help, we will begin to build and live marriages that are truly exceptional instead of busy and flat.

Daily Fatherhood

Josh Smith

Written by

Follower of Christ; husband; father. Arizona, USA. Author of zero published books; just honest thoughts on Christianity and parenting. More: joshsmithaz.com

Daily Fatherhood

A journey through marriage and parenting from the perspective of a Christian husband and father. My goal is that as I share my experience and my reflections on it will help other men to examine their own relationships and lead their families well as we are called to do.

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