My wife and I always strive to be better versions of ourselves than we were yesterday. It's not always easy, but it's necessary. Here are the things I do—some mundane, some less routine—in an ongoing attempt to be a better husband.

By Christopher Dale
October 25, 2019
Advertisement
Getty Images

I do not have the best history as a husband.

Shortly after my wife Patty and I married, I became an alcoholic. Over the ensuing three-year escapade I was a petty thief, a not-so-petty liar, and an unemployable loser–among other undesirable spousal traits. She had every right to leave. But she didn't.

It took a drunken hit-and-run, a night in jail, and a lost license for my recovery to begin. That was October 2011, and I'm proud to say that, however imperfectly, I have been making a living amends to Patty every year since–and counting.

It would be understandable for you to think that after three years of low-bottom alcoholism, I have forfeited any marital high ground–moral or otherwise–and that our union's dynamic is irrevocably imbalanced. But fortunately, marriages can't survive such subservience. We just had to heal along separate paths to reunite as equals.

The flip side of addiction is the opportunity to become "weller than well." In order to get and remain sober, I had to uproot deep-seeded issues that had propelled me to drink to oblivion. As the spouse of a recovering drunk, Patty had to heal from wounds unfairly inflicted by me, even while (also unfairly) ceding ground to a man who once deserved all the leeway afforded an asylum patient.

But at this point in our marriage, we have reclaimed normalcy, whatever that means. We support each other's goals, watch each other's backs, and tolerate each other's families. We bicker, with the occasional knock-down drag out war. And we cherish our only child, three-year-old Nicholas, a growing testament to our lasting recovery.

And always, we strive for progress. We've decided that the tools we used to recover together should never be banished to the basement, and always make efforts to be better to one another. In my ongoing attempt to be a better husband, these are a few things I do. Some are mundane, some are not, but all I feel have strengthened my marriage, so perhaps they can do the same for you.

I give her alone time.

Both my wife and I are full-time parents and full-time executives. She carries the added weight of being our son's preferred parent. There's addition by subtraction here: I'm being a better husband by taking Nicholas on my own while she runs errands, visits friends or just relaxes.

I do the housework while Nicholas dotes on her.

My wife gets the brunt of Nicholas' boundless toddler energy and neediness. That's a tough task, and much of it is simply unavoidable… Nicholas' mama radar is often locked in too keenly for evasive action on Patty's part.

In response, I lighten her domestic load elsewhere. Laundry, dishes, lawn mowing, bathroom cleaning–all me. Being a better husband means alleviating my wife's stress–a tangible way of limiting the items she worries about.

And when I inevitably get pulled into a mommy-son dust-up–a three-year-old being a three-year-old–I back Patty up even if I'd have acted differently. Typically, I find she's too lenient with Nicholas, but "in the moment" I refrain from playing bad cop because doing so only drives Nicholas further up her rear end.

I tell her when she's wrong–especially when she doesn't want to hear it.

Somewhere between Modern Family and Family Guy, the caricature of the doofus dad came into vogue, along with the notion of "happy wife, happy life." It's all over-compensatory nonsense–cultural backlash overkill to an historically male-dominated society–and serves neither husbands nor wives well.

We are partners in progress, meaning we have free range to challenge and push each other, even when it leads to an argument. Our marriage is strong enough that five minutes of fury is worth the gradual, mutual self-improvement that emerges from constructive criticism.

Parenting is an outsized aspect of this, as we are both eminently fallible novices. With Nicholas the most important person in our lives, he exists at the core of the marital mantra that "we can do better." We want Nicholas to be self-confident but never self-satisfied, always striving to move forward rather than stay stagnant. Our marriage exemplifies that, even if it means getting in each other's faces from time to time.

I never tell her that she's not good enough, and consistently praise her fortes. 

What makes our "we can do better" partnership possible is the continued recognition of each other's strong suits and overall value as a person, parent and spouse. Our spouse is the one person for whom we've publicly professed our unceasing love; make no mistake: that person belongs on a pedestal. Patty is special, and warrants extra effort.

I can challenge my wife without (much) resentment, then, because Patty knows she's one of the few people I deem worth making waves over. I hold her in higher regard, and therefore see perpetually higher potential. When she exhibits patience I could never muster, or fixes a toy I would have long since smashed into a thousand pieces, I tell her how impressive, even masterful, she truly is at certain things. I acknowledge her strengths while trying to build up her weaknesses, and expect no less from her in return.

I communicate regularly about the "big stuff."

When a couple commits to mutual progress, it's wise to make sure you're both perpetually proceeding toward the same desired destinations.

As parents, what this means is reaching consistent consensus on big-ticket items affecting our son. For example, concerning his education, we discuss not only where Nicholas might need immediate improvement ("he's confusing 'm' and 'n' lately…") but also our determination that, should the trend of unsustainable college tuition increases continue into his teen years, we will not allow him to take the equivalent of a home mortgage for an undergraduate degree.

This level of candor–of factoring in each other's strengths and weaknesses as well as society's pitfalls – is only possible in a healthy marriage. Most recently, it is serving us well amid a looming decision of whether Nicholas, who is smaller than 99% of boys his age, should undergo growth hormone therapy.

In short, I try to be a better husband by realizing that the person I married is capable of the hard work of personal progress and the even harder work of motherhood, given the right partner.

Comments (4)

Anonymous
June 18, 2020
Save Your Relationship and Get Your Ex Boyfriend/Girlfriend Back! contact Dr Abaka is certainly the best spell caster online and his result is 100% guarantee It's a privilege to share this miraculous testimony to the world. I'm from Thailand. My husband divorced me 3 months back and i have been filled with remorse for i didn't know what to do to amend issues with my husband. I searched for help on the internet on how i could get help in my marriage and i discovered great testifiers about Dr Abaka who has been progressive with his spells. I got in touch with him and behold, Dr Abaka told me that he will prepare a spell for me that will bring back my husband. I was skeptical but i had no other option but to work with him. 2 days after, my husband called me that he's coming back home and from that day till this moment, we have been living peacefully. He is back now with so much love and caring. today i am glad to let you all know that this spell caster have the powers of bringing lovers back. because i am now happy with my husband,and the most surprise,is that our love is very strong,every day is happiness and joy. and there is nothing like been with the man you love. I will highly recommend Dr Abaka to anyone out there who needs help whatsoever.if you have any problem contact Email: drabakaspelltemple@gmail.com Or write him on Whats app: +2349063230051, i give you 100% guarantee that he will help you!!.
Anonymous
June 18, 2020
Save Your Relationship and Get Your Ex Boyfriend/Girlfriend Back! contact Dr Abaka is certainly the best spell caster online and his result is 100% guarantee It's a privilege to share this miraculous testimony to the world. I'm from Thailand. My husband divorced me 3 months back and i have been filled with remorse for i didn't know what to do to amend issues with my husband. I searched for help on the internet on how i could get help in my marriage and i discovered great testifiers about Dr Abaka who has been progressive with his spells. I got in touch with him and behold, Dr Abaka told me that he will prepare a spell for me that will bring back my husband. I was skeptical but i had no other option but to work with him. 2 days after, my husband called me that he's coming back home and from that day till this moment, we have been living peacefully. He is back now with so much love and caring. today i am glad to let you all know that this spell caster have the powers of bringing lovers back. because i am now happy with my husband,and the most surprise,is that our love is very strong,every day is happiness and joy. and there is nothing like been with the man you love. I will highly recommend Dr Abaka to anyone out there who needs help whatsoever.if you have any problem contact Email: drabakaspelltemple@gmail.com Or write him on Whats app: +2349063230051, i give you 100% guarantee that he will help you!!.
Anonymous
April 28, 2020
Ever since my husband got me divorced for the past 2 years, i v'e not been my self. I was reviewing some post of how i could get back my husband then, i saw a testimony shared by Marina Choas from SWEDEN about a spell caster named Dr. tunde. I contacted Marina Chaos to confirm about how Dr. tunde helped her and she clarified everything to me of how he helped her and that gave me the courage to get in touch with Dr. tunde for help. Dr. tunde assured me that my days of sorrows will be over within 48hours after he has finished with his work. I followed his instructions he gave to me because i had the believe, faith, hope and trust in him. Verily i say to you today that i and my husband are back together and i can proudly say and testify to the world of what Dr. tunde did for me. Contact him today via E-mail:(babatundesolutioncentre1@gmail.com) OR call him or whatsapp him +2348143581382 if you seek his help. Also specialize in treating all kinds of illness, HERPES VIRUS, HEPATITIS B, CANCER, BRAIN DISEASE, INFERTILITY, DIABETES AND MORE
Anonymous
March 27, 2020
Strong And Powerful Love Spell To Win Your Ex Back.. I have decided that i am going to spend the whole day on the internet just to make sure that a lot of people are able to read this my testimony about Dr.happy who is a powerful spell caster from Africa, After been abandon by my lover i was so lonely that very day that i decided to go through the net for some relationships tips, I never knew that this was the road map that will secure the return of my lover. After reading a lot of tips on how to restore my relationship in a more better way i discovered that Dr.happy has a lot of recommendation than other spell casters, So with this i had my mind made up that Dr.happy was the right person for the job, And i contacted Dr.happy through his details which i saw on the internet and i was so happy that i chose to work with Dr.happy because his work was 100% perfect and the spell brought my lover back to me with fast relief you can also contact him for help now email.. happylovespell2@gmail.com Website...happylovespell2.webnode.com/ Whatsapp/cal +2348133873774