When we get married, we make promises. To our bride and in front of the dearly beloved, we pledge to forsake all others—and to not split for the hills when the going gets rough. And the easiest way to sustain your collective happiness and guarantee that you float over the rockier terrains of matrimony is to take matters into your own hands and be better husband.
No, that doesn’t mean pampering her at every turn and showering her with extravagant gifts. It means simply being more present, being more thoughtful, and being more supportive about the little things in your daily life. To give you some added help, we’ve compiled 30 research-backed methods that will instantly elevate your husband game. And for more perspective on life after marriage, take a look at 15 Ways Getting Engaged Changes Men Forever.
Make meaningful eye contact
While it’d be nice to present your darling wife with six-pack abs or a home cooked meal worthy of a Michelin star rating, a University of Virginia study found that wives actually care most about how affectionate and attentive their husbands are.
Giving her a heartfelt hug, looking her in the eye, and asking how her day was, is far more important than you could imagine. “Show her you’re interested in her and what she has to say,” says sex therapist Constance DelGiudice, Ed.D, LMHC. “Keep in mind, listening is more than just giving her your ear.” DelGiudice recommends that you engage in “active listening,” which requires that the listener fully concentrate, understand, respond, and then remember what is being said. And for great self-improvement advice, don’t miss all of our great healthy-living coverage.
Meet up with your bros
Guys who choose to hang out with large groups of other men are actually doing their spouses a favor, according to research from Germany. The study showed that spending time with a bunch of dudes is more likely to lower a man’s stress levels than a night out with his partner—or time spent with his family. In addition to being able to handle stress better, men who fraternize even do a better job of warding off sickness during cold and flu season.
What’s more, researchers at Cornell and the University of Chicago have found that men who shared close friends with wives were up to 97 percent more likely to suffer from erectile dysfunction. Being a chilled-out husband who’s rarely sick and sports a reliable erection is likely to make for a happy spouse—so make sure you fit in some good bro time and make it count. And while you’re at it, here’s How to Build a Bromance as Strong as Your Marriage.
Share a hobby
While dates and vacations are great, you’ll score major husband points if you make your together-time more productive and less lazy by learning a new hobby together. You know: taking a cooking class, learning a new language, or training for a marathon. Whatever you do, that newfound sense of purpose will bring you closer together and the bonding experience will make for endless conversation fodder.
But steer clear of the same-old, same-old
Keep things fresh, as well. According to a study published in the journal Psychological Science, boredom in the 7th year of a marriage predicted significantly less satisfaction by the 26th year.
Don’t buy her love
Sure, we’re living in a material world. But a survey of more than 1,800 couples published in the Journal of Couple and Relationship Therapy found that couples that highly value money and possessions are less satisfied with their marriage compared to couples where at least one person wasn’t materialistic. So spend your hard-earned cash on a great experience or date-night—not new home furnishings.
Hire a sitter for an impromptu date night
Speaking of date nights… Being more present with your wife after years of marriage can be a tall order, especially if you have kids using you as a jungle gym the minute you get home from work.
Though it can sometimes double the cost of a dinner or drinks out, the price of a sitter on date night is well worth it in the long run. Consider it a bi-weekly investment in the romantic bonds between you two.
Fight it out
According to research from the University of Michigan, having a good fight might keep your marriage alive and kicking because repressing your feelings can literally be deadly. The study found that those who kept their anger bottled up actually died earlier than those who fully expressed their opinion and resolved the conflict amicably. While respecting your wife’s point of view, voice your opinion early. You’ll be less likely to die from keeping all of your moldering resentments pent up and your romance will endure until you’re both old and gray.
We live at a time of technological marvels that enable us to do some extraordinary things. They also allow to us to do some pretty banal things, like peer into the lives of people we haven’t seen in decades, or find out if Van Halen ever had a number one single on the Billboard chart. (Don’t bother looking that up. They did. It was “Jump.”)
But tech can diminish our most important relationships. In a study published in the Journal of Marriage and Family, researchers reviewed cell-phone usage of more than 1,300 couples for 2 years and found that relationship and family happiness both decreases as cell-phone usage goes up. If you find it hard to disconnect, don’t miss these 11 Easy Ways to Conquer Your Smartphone Addiction.
Loop her into multi-generational family get-togethers
Grandparents use family get-togethers as opportunities to mentor, pass on traditions, and teach family values to their grandchildren, according to a study published in the in the journal Family Relations. Building strong intergenerational bonds between your parents and your children will invariably enhance harmony with your wife.
Laugh at her
Or rather, laugh at her jokes. Reacting to someone else’s attempts to be funny—be they successful or not—is one of the most affirming things one person can do for another. Even if your wife is no Tina Fey, laughing with her will positively affect your standing in her eyes.
Expertly plan your romantic weekend away
A recent study of 68 sexually active women published in the Journal of Human Reproduction noted an average 24 percent increase in frequency of sexual intercourse during the 6 days leading up to each woman’s ovulation—in other words, that’s when she wants to do it most. Your move? Be somewhere in which you can both take advantage of the biological imperative. Know her ovulation schedule, and then plan your romantic getaway around it.
Remind her of where your minds meet
According to research published in the journal Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, reminding your spouse of your shared interests and passions is an effective way of reminding her why you fell for each other in the first place.
Encourage her career
Speak in complete sentences
Brevity may be the soul of wit, but it might not be helping you show up as a great husband. When she asks how your day went, she doesn’t want to hear “fine, and yours?” She wants to feel some of the things you’ve been feeling since you last saw each other. When updating her on what’s going on with you, don’t be afraid to give her an insight into your real emotions. “I was relieved when the presentation went well,” for example.
Be kind, unwind
Stress is a killer—linked to a higher risk of heart disease, stroke, cancer, and many other potentially fatal health problems. Worse: people in bad marriages are, according to a British study, more than twice as likely to report stress in the workplace.
But if you have a supportive partner, they will diminish the harmful impacts of whatever’s got you in a tizzy. One such supportive gesture you can proffer right now is to..
Give her a heartfelt compliment
Don’t hesitate to tell her how great she looks or smells. Remember when your relationship was fresh and the compliments came out of your mouth thick and fast? Try and tap into the all the googly-eyed thoughts and feelings that begat all those sweet nothings, even though years or even decades have elapsed since then. It’ll pay dividends. If you need help, here are the 13 Sexiest Things You Can Ever Say to a Woman.
Only touching your wife a sexual way will likely limit your standing as a great husband. According to a study published in the American Journal of Family Therapy, a woman’s relationship satisfaction went up when her husband was physically affectionate in a subtle, non-erotic way. We’re talking hand-holding, an arm around the shoulder, resting your hand on her thigh. You’re telling her that you want to be close to her, even when sex isn’t on the cards.
Pick up your slack
According to a University of Michigan study, the average husband creates an extra seven hours of housework for his wife every week. If you think that having to deal with the trail of destruction you leave in your wake isn’t going to create some friction sooner or later, you’re living in a dream world: a Pew survey of 1,128 women found that male willingness to take their share of the household chores is a major predictor of marital bliss. Think of washing the dishes, picking up your dirty socks etc, as lube for your relationship.
Randomly leave notes for her to find
“Everyone wants to feel like they are loved and appreciated” says sex therapist and sexuality educator Kristen Lilla LCSW. “Random notes remind her how special she is to you.” Imagine her surprise as she finds a thoughtfully composed note tucked away in her pants pocket, in her underwear drawer, or any other incongruous cranny.
Buy a more comfortable mattress
Here’s a fun fact: If a dude has a hard time falling asleep at night, it won’t make interactions with his wife more negative. The same can’t be said for women who, according to a recent study, are prone to to be short with their husbands if they spend a good portion of the night tossing and turning. It may behoove you to do all you can to ensure that she drifts off sooner rather than later. Offer to finish up chores and let her get a head start in the sack.
Let her know how you feel
Being a better husband doesn’t mean that your thoughts feelings and emotions are de-prioritized. Great husbands know that being open about what’s going on with them is a vital component of a great marriage.
“At the end of the day sharing how we feel is what bonds two people,” says Lilla. “Sharing your feelings shows that you know how to be vulnerable and that you trust her.” Men have a reputation for keeping feelings inside. Play against stereotype and let her know about the thoughts that occupy your mind in any given day.
Text her more
We’ve mentioned the how leaving random notes for your partner to find is a great way to tell her that you’re thinking of her, that you value her, and that you care. But all kinds of things happen when you’re apart—and texting is a fantastic way to show her that you’re thinking of her in real time.
Kiss her every morning
A study at the University of Albany sought to figure out why kissing is so important, and they concluded that kissing promotes bonding, partly because we know that we are putting ourselves at risk by kissing somebody and also because kissing is thought to raise levels of oxytocin (the so-called “cuddle hormone”) while lowering cortisol (a stress hormone). According to experts, a kiss in the morning, a hug after work, and another kiss before bed can produce a lasting feeling of intimacy.
Kiss her in public
Public displays of affection aren’t everybody’s bag, but many women we spoke to told us that they like others to see that their significant other loves them. “Women want to feel special, that you adore her more than any other,” says DelGiudice. “Kissing her in public sends this message.”
Unlock the power of “we”
Researchers from the University of California, Berkeley, found that couples that say “we” are better at resolving disagreements, show less stress, and are more positive than couples who use separate pronouns like “I”, “me”, and “you.” Other research has shown that language that emphasizes “we-ness” or “separateness” is a strong gauge of marital satisfaction.
Act like you’re a team
“Having a partnership means supporting one another and working as a team,” Lilla reminds us. “You can’t pick and choose when to be on your partner’s team, because then it isn’t really a partnership. It doesn’t mean you have to agree on everything, but it should mean you respect and validate differences in opinion and find ways to compromise, together.” A practical way of strengthening that partnership is to…
Talk about the future
Take some time think about where you want your relationship to be four, five, or ten years out from now. Set aside an evening to relax and invite your wife to open up about what she wants from your marriage in the years ahead. Where will you be living? What will you be doing? Where will you be wanting to spend your leisure time? This will demonstrate a willingness to be on the same page as your wife and chart a course for the future together.
Slow your roll in bed
Research has shown that after a few years together, men tend to start abridging foreplay and initiate intercourse sooner. However, being with you for a few years doesn’t speed up the time it takes her to go from a standing start to screaming orgasm. For the average woman, it takes around 27 minutes of sex play. Make sure you front load your time together with plenty of outercourse to give her the orgasm runway she needs. One of the things you can do to that end is…
Be on your breast behavior
According to one study, 59% of women have asked their partners to stimulate their nipples during sex and some even report being able to orgasm from nipple stimulation alone.
Tantric sex is all about creating an intense, focused intimate moment. Common rituals include decorating the sex space with flowers or candles, playing music to set the mood or embracing for several minutes before beginning your chosen tantric sex practices. Those practices can include gazing into one another’s eyes, synchronizing your breath, and touching your partner all over their body with focus and intention.
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