By Craig Playstead
Everyone worries too much about bills, getting the kids off to school, and why the dog keeps peeing on the carpet. It's time to light that fire again and remind her of all the reasons why she married you to begin with. Here are 10 steps that will get you on your way to husband of the year.
1) Take an interest in something your wife is really passionate about.
This can be especially tough for guys, because we generally feel that if someone else has interests that differ from ours, they're morons. It's not an easy task, and being able to show interest in something that matters to someone you love shows growth—and that's terrifying. Good, but terrifying. Accomplish this and you'll make her feel better about herself, and you get better insight into what makes her tick
2) Put the kids to bed. Once a week give her the night off and put the kids to bed by yourself.
Let her take a hot bath, read a book, or check gossip on the Web and forget about the kids. I'm always amazed how happy this makes my wife. It ranks somewhere between low-end jewelry and a Hawaiian vacation.
3) Learn to apologize.
This is the easiest one, and the hardest one. A marriage is a marathon, and we all fly off the handle too quick or let our temper get the best of us sometimes. When you're wrong, it's best to step up and apologize. It's amazing how fast "I'm sorry" can defuse a stupid argument about something you can't even remember.
4) Thank her for putting up with you.
Every once in a while, just thank her for putting up with you. That's all you have to say. Don't launch into a list of your faults, or the story about coming home two days late from that Vegas bachelor party. Just thank her, and let her know that you understand that you're not the easiest person in the world to live with.
5) Clean up after yourself.
Take care of that late night snack or morning cereal bowl. Setting them in the sink is one thing, but go that extra mile and actually put them in the dishwasher. After all, no one enjoys scraping bacon dip off a bowl that's been sitting too long or smelling the chili from the night before. A beer bottle on the counter the next morning is even worse.
6) Make time for just the two of you.
Take her on a date once a month. Surprise her by arranging child care, ordering a pizza for the kids, and getting a sitter. She will be so thrilled at your ability to take care of the details that reservations at the best restaurant in town aren't even necessary. The fact that you love her enough to do this would make a Big Mac taste like cracked crab.
7) Groom yourself.
Don't embarrass her when you venture out of the house. Check the ears, nose, neck and yes, feet for hair or other growths that shouldn't be there. She not only wants you to impress her friends by how you act, but also by how you look.
8) Get away from the family.
Yep, you're getting a free pass. This takes a left turn from the others, but it's essential. Get away from all your responsibilities and go camping or on a golf outing with the guys. You'll laugh, relax, and recharge your batteries. And all three will make you a much better husband when you return.
9) Deal with your side of the family.
Help your wife set expectations with your side of the family when it comes to making plans. Don't make her inform your parents that they won't be seeing their grandkids on Christmas this year—pick up the phone and do it yourself. Dealing with extended family can be a huge stress throughout the year, and you don't want the burden to fall entirely on her.
10) Don't lose your dating manners.
Remember, she's your wife, not one of your buddies. Don't burp during dinner, or squeeze one out during the movie as she's reaching for the popcorn. You wouldn't have done that while you were dating, and you shouldn't do it now. Continue to try and impress her. Do everything you can to keep the fire alive, and fight the urge to let the passion die. Find the new, hot place to eat or take her to see a cool band that's in town. Have fun, laugh, and make sure you tell her how great she looks.
Craig Playstead is a freelance writer and father of three living in the suburbs of Seattle. In the past he's also been a sports writer, a game writer and a talk show host. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org