By Dave Willis
One of my all-time most popular posts addressed the 9 things married men need to stop doing. It went viral and started countless conversations about how men can and should stop some common behaviors and attitudes that are hindering their marriages. There was an immediate request for a followup article on the things married women need to stop doing.
I’ve waited a long time to write this follow up because my amazing wife Ashley has written similar articles on her blog (which were wonderful and insightful). Plus, I wanted to make sure I had the research and facts to say something original, accurate and meaningful instead of just rushing to capitalize on the success of the first article. More than a year after the Men’s article, I’m finally ready to release the Women’s version. I hope that both the Men’s and Women’s editions of these articles will spark some meaningful conversations and positive improvements in your marriage!
I’m convinced that marriages could instantly improve if wives would STOP doing the following nine things (in no particular order):
1. Stop expecting your husband to read your mind.
Most women are naturally better at reading nonverbal cues than men. That’s a generalization, but it often holds true. Men aren’t as good at picking up on the nonverbals. We are more concrete in our communication. We need you to spell things out clearly with your words. Don’t be angry at your husband for not knowing something if you haven’t clearly communicated it to him. Be direct. He will appreciate it and it will save you both a lot of unnecessary frustration.
2. Stop using sex as a bargaining chip.
Most men have a greater need for sexual frequency than women. Again, this is a generalization, but it holds true in most cases. Sometimes a wife can be tempted to “leverage” this primal need in her husband by giving or withholding sex as a bargaining chip. It might not be spoken out loud, but there’s an underlying message that, “If you do this, you’ll get it, but if you don’t do what I won’t, then it will be a cold night for you.” Using sex as a rewards or punishment cheapens the intimacy in your marriage and causes resentment to form in both spouses.
3. Stop nagging your husband (or speaking negatively about your husband to your friends or online).
The tone of your words will shape the tone of your marriage. Don’t speak negatively to your husband or about your husband. Choose to build him up. This doesn’t mean you can never call him out for something he’s doing wrong, but even then, do it with respect. A husband can do anything if he believes his wife truly respects him. A husband will be tempted to give up altogether if he feels that he always falls short of his wife’s expectations. The Bible even says, “Better to live in a desert than with a quarrelsome and nagging wife.” (Proverbs 21:19)
4. Stop punishing your husband for “crimes” someone else committed.
This one requires a bit of explaining, but it’s a HUGE issue in many marriages. If you had a dad who walked out on your mom or an ex who mistreated you somewhere along the way, there’s a temptation to take that pain and mistrust and silently place it on your husband. It’s as if you’re waiting for him to hurt you in the same way that other guy did. Your marriage will never move forward if you’re punishing your husband for someone’s else’s mistakes.
5. Stop seeing yourself as a “mom” more than you see yourself as a “wife.”
Obviously, motherhood is a sacred calling and one of the most important duties of your life, BUT when you prioritize your kids ahead of your marriage, you’re actually hurting your marriage (and ironically, hurting your kids too). One of the best gifts you can give your children is to model the kind of marriage that makes them actually want to get married someday. Give them the security that comes from seeing their mom and dad in a loving, committed marriage. Don’t wind up with an empty nest and an empty marriage too.
6. Stop expecting your husband to be the only one in the relationship to admit fault or apologize.
A dangerous double standard has begun to emerge in modern marriage. This certainly isn’t the case in every marriage, and there are still many marriages with a chauvinist husband who makes demands and never admits fault. This new trend seems to make the silent assumption that any time there is something off in the marriage, it must be the husband’s fault. I interact with husbands often who feel that they need to apologize for everything (even when they don’t really understand why they’re apologizing). A healthy marriage must have BOTH spouses who both freely admit fault and humbly seek each other’s forgiveness.
7. Stop comparing your marriage’s “behind the scenes” moments to other people’s “highlight reels” on social media.
In our age of social media and constant connectivity, every person’s life is turning into a reality show where we can show our highlights to the world online while keeping our struggles private. This can create a false sense of reality where you might assume everyone else’s family and marriage is “better” than your own. You might start comparing your husband to a standard of someone else’s husband based on what you see posted online. The Comparison Trap has sabotaged many marriages and stolen the joy and peace from many people. Don’t let it happen in your marriage.
8. Stop prioritizing your friendships with your girlfriends ahead of your friendship with your husband.
I’m not saying you shouldn’t have good friends. Friendships are a great blessing. I’m saying that your primary friendship should be with your husband. The best marriages are between best friends. If you’re relying on other friends to be your primary providers of social and emotional support, then you’re depriving your marriage of something vital. Don’t give your marriage your leftovers after you’ve given your best to other people. One of the best ways to improve your marriage is to improve your friendship with your husband.
The level of your honesty will determine the level of your intimacy. If you find yourself making a purchase, sending a text message, entertaining a fantasy or anything else you wouldn’t want your husband to find out about, then you’re already in dangerous territory. Do your part to have a marriage built on a foundation of transparency and trust. Anything less isn’t truly a marriage.
For more tools to help you build a stronger marriage, you can take part in our FREE 3-Day Marriage Challenge (by clicking here).
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