Last week we covered the 6 common marriage mistakes women make. This week it’s the men’s turn… Of course, we all make mistakes but some are more avoidable than others. In fact, sometimes we don’t even know we’re making a mistake until someone points it out. In the spirit of letting you know what you might be doing wrong, here are six common mistakes men often make in marriage:
1. Power Hunger
Some men see their relationship as a power struggle, and will make attempts to dominate decision-making and conversation to maintain a misguided sense of a power position. This is a sure fire way to alienate your wife, who is much more likely to see your marriage as a partnership. A relationship built on seizing power from one another is the very opposite of what you should be after: an environment of compassion and cooperation, of caring and compromise. You are both in power – work together to combine your strengths for mutual benefit.
2. Financial Frivolity
Reckless spending is the basis for many complaints about husbands, second only to infidelity among common “deal breakers” that tear marriages apart. Making a big purchase without consulting your wife says a few important things to her: that you don’t value her input and that you’ve assumed a self-appointed leadership role. In marriage, though, where the entire household depends on your combined finances, large purchases should be made as a joint decision. This keeps everyone in the loop, and can help some unpleasant surprises when the credit card bill shows up.
Also, reckless spending can threaten your wife’s perception of your family’s financial stability – if you make one outlandish purchase, you might make another – and this can make her feel like her home, family, and lifestyle may be in jeopardy. It’s always best to make these kinds of decisions together.
3. Listening With a “Fix It” Attitude
This is problem in our hardwiring – a simple problem of mismatched communication styles. Men tend to be problem-solvers, and this means looking for solutions, remedies, or ways to repair a situation. For many women, though, they aren’t looking for immediate fixes to the problems they are telling you about, they just want to be heard, understood, and empathized with. When you are constantly offering solutions, you are not internalizing your wife’s need for support and understanding. She isn’t looking for you to solve her problems, just to lovingly knowledge that she is experiencing them.
4. Lack of Empathy
This goes hand in hand with #3, but can have to do with more general communication than just “when she needs to talk to you.” That “Fix It” attitude can come out in a variety of situations, and in many of them, your wife just wants you to behave with a little feeling. Focus more on the emotional aspects of a given scenario, and less on the stone-cold facts. Understand the way people feel (everyone, not just your wife) will help you to be more communicative, help you understand the motivation of the people around you, and show your wife that you are capable of understanding and empathizing, not just searching for a way to repair the damage.
5. Closing the Emotional Gates
Men are notorious for not sharing their feelings. Just as your wife wants you to understand and empathize with her, she wants to do the same for you. For some reason, though, many men view sharing their emotions as a sign of weakness, and this prevents them from opening up to their wives and building a strong, emotional connection. To admit your fears or shortcomings takes great courage – it takes great bravery to trust someone enough to let them in.
6. Sexual Selfishness
Men and women have vastly different needs when it comes to sex, and part of the male sex drive makes him ready and raring to go at a moment’s notice. This is simply not the case for most women, who, generally speaking, need to feel connected before they want to have sex. Even if the connection is strong, many men make the mistake of thinking her “turn-on” process is as direct as his. If you’re not sure what you can do to meet your wife’s needs, ASK HER. It could be more foreplay, finding ways to let go of the stress of the day, or simply more time spent together. Show her that you want to satisfy her, and she will reciprocate.
Have you found ways to overcome these common mistakes or change your old habits for the better? Let us know marriage advice men can use in the comments!
Dr. Dana Fillmore and Amy Barnhart, co-Founders, StrongMarriageNow.com