Thursday, September 8, 2011

The Best Marriage Advice Ever

Marriage can be tough sometimes. You have moods. He has moods. The two sometimes don't mesh well. You have goals and ideas about how to attain them, he has his own goals and different ideas about how to get there. It can be hard to work these things out.

Especially when you know that you are right and he is so wrong about how to put together the [fill in the blank with random home appliance, child's toy, Ikea furniture, etc.].

That's my better half with daughters #2 and #3. Isn't he handsome?

About five years ago an email circulated that transformed my husband's and my marriage. This is the absolute best advice we've ever received. Okay, maybe not that good, but it's useful. Here it is:

You can tell a man what to do or how to do it, but not both.

Here's an example of how this works: I can ask my husband to fix the towel rods that our dear son pulled off the wall by hanging on them two days after they were installed. I can give him a time-frame for when I'd prefer this project to be done (although they've been down for over a year now, so either I failed to give a time-frame or that part didn't work). I can even give a whole list of household tasks that need to be done. My husband likes lists.

But I cannot then make suggestions about a better way to install the towel rods once he's started the project. That is micromanaging, and it is annoying.

On the other hand, if my husband has started a project of his own volition, I may make a suggestion of a better way to do it (at the right moment, in the right way). In that case I'm offering an opinion on "how," but it's not annoying because the "what" was not my idea.

This tip has numerous applications. I can ask my husband to paint the porch floor, but advice on exactly how to scrape off the old paint are not welcome unless my opinion is solicited. I can ask him to change the baby, but then I can't complain if he dresses the baby in mismatched clothing. I can go away for a weekend and leave Dad in charge, but then I better not comment when I return about things he forgot to take the kids to or the meals I left for them that they did not eat. I can ask my husband to clean the kitchen when we're expecting company, but I can't notice aloud that the counter wasn't cleaned (oooh--I'm pretty sure I did this a few days ago!).

If I have suggested a task and then am micromanaging how it should be done, all my husband has to say is "what or how, Dear," and I keep my mouth shut.

This is a great way to love and respect my husband. If he's showing me love by doing me a favor, I need to appreciate the blessing he's giving me and not gripe if it's not done exactly the way I would do it. After all, who's to say that my way would turn out better anyway? And even if I'm right about how something should be done, it's not worth annoying or disrespecting my husband just to get my way. Of course, if he asks for advice or opinions, I'm happy to offer my two cents. . . .

Speaking of opinions, maybe some men would like to leave some comments on this. Will following this advice help us not be nags?

Now, honey, about those towel rods . . .


  1. Even though I've been married 42 years, I recognize this as great advice. It applies to us now more than ever as I must be off my left foot for 6 weeks. There are many things I can't do and have to ask my hubby to do for me. Being thankful that he is willing to do it is uppermost in my mind... not that I wish he would do it my way, or in my time frame.

  2. Thanks, Mary! I hope you're healing--take care of yourself and stay off of it, now.

  3. I have never heard that advice, but it makes a lot of sense. I'm going to have to try this. You can ask Randy how I'm doing at it!

  4. Nancy this IS like the best advice ever...I need to tatoo this to the inside of my eyelids I think...

  5. Sometimes I have to help my husband with the what and the how, because his brain isn't working along those lines very well these days, but he tells me he welcomes the advice. Usually I say, "You could..." and he looks up and nods and grins and says, "Very smart!" He kind of likes that I think :) I think it's how you say things, but I think it's OK to do what and how if it's a help. We need to be aware that God has input for us to give that's needed at times. MB