References the catholic faith but main ideas are good.
Seven steps toward being a better husband from lovingthechurch.com:
- Listen – I’m an A-to-B kind of guy, so extended listening can be extremely difficult for me. I want to get to the point as quickly as possible. My wife likes to discuss things. This is a golden opportunity for me to be a better husband. By taking time to actually listen to my wife I get out of myself. I do something I wouldn’t generally “want” to do. It helps me to realize that it’s not all about me. As a person made in the image and likeness of God, my wife deserves my respect too. By listening I show her that I value her as a person and that I genuinely care for her. Again, I don’t do this perfectly, but I’m trying.
- Avoid Criticism – My wife is not going to do everything the way I want her to and that is okay! Really, it is. I have to remember that when I’m pointing the finger at my wife I’ve got three fingers pointed back at me. If I’m not the problem there is no solution. I have to ask myself why a specific behavior or situation is bothering me. What part of me is affected? Normally, this kind of introspection reveals an area of my life that needs work; it helps me to be a better husband, a less critical husband. I find the Serenity Prayer extremely useful in dealing with the circumstances that can lead to criticism:
God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
The courage to change the things I can,
And the wisdom to know the difference. Amen.
In reality, I can’t change my wife, I can only change me.
- Be Quick to Apologize – As I said, I’m not perfect. I still fail to listen at times. I can be critical. Yet, when I reflect on a situation that’s gone badly, if I’ve hurt my wife’s feelings, or failed to give her the respect she deserves I need to apologize. A simple “I’m sorry” can go a long way. It’s an act of humility and manifests my desire for peace and harmony in our marital relationship.
- Be a Servant – Love demands service. It means laying down my personal wants for the good of my wife and family. Christ said,
…whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be your slave; even as the Son of man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many. – Mt 20:26-28
St. Paul, in turn, directly applies this to husbands.
Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her… – Eph 5:25
So, if I’m honesty seeking to be a better husband, to love my wife as Christ loves the Church, I will make a conscious, daily effort to die to myself in loving service to my wife and my family.
- Seek Direction – Proverbs 11:14 tells us, “Where there is no guidance, a people falls; but in an abundance of counselors there is safety.” I need direction. First, I need spiritual direction. It is generally suggested that a spiritual director be a priest or religious, however, certain members of the laity may also serve as a spiritual director. An excellent book on spiritual direction is Seeking Spiritual Direction by Thomas Dubay, SM. He goes into great detail about what to look for in a spiritual director, how to find one, and the value of spiritual direction.St. Francis de Sales, in his Introduction to the Devout Life, wrote about the benefits of having a spiritual director:
…above all we require this faithful friend, who will guide our actions by his warnings and counsels, and thereby protect us from the snares and delusions of the Evil one; in all our sorrows, our sadness, our falls, he will be as a treasure of wisdom to us; he will be a physician to give ease to our hearts, and help in our spiritual diseases; he will preserve us from evil, and forward us in what is good, and when we are conquered by some infirmity, he will save us from being overwhelmed, and will raise us from our prostrate condition. – pg 10
Another useful form of direction comes from the fellowship of other husbands. Being a part of a fellowship where you can share the joys, sorrows, and challenges of married life can be extremely beneficial. A fellowship committed to helping one another overcome sin and advance in holiness can create lasting bonds and genuine friendship. It becomes a strong support to the husband, to the family, to the parish, and to the Universal Church.
- Pray Every Day – Is prayer a priority? This is the question I must ask myself every day. All my relationships suffer when my relationship with God suffers. St. Paul wrote to the Colossians that they should “Continue steadfastly in prayer, being watchful in it with thanksgiving” (Col 4:2). I . I try to remember to be of a “thankful” heart, calling to mind all the many good things God has given me – my wife, my children, my health, our home, but even more importantly my Catholic Faith, the Father’s willing me into existence, Jesus’ love and mercy, the Holy Spirit’s indwelling presence, our Mother Mary, the great company of the saints, our Holy Father, my parish priests, the contemplatives offering up their lives in prayer and sacrifice for all of us, the freedom to openly practice my Catholic Faith, opportunities to share that Faith, and many, many other things.
For me, prayer is a surge of the heart; it is a simple look turned toward heaven, it is a cry of recognition and of love, embracing both trial and joy. – St Thérèse de Lisieux, Manuscrits autobiographiques, C 25r. (per CCC #2558)
- Stay Tapped Into the Source – I’m a sinner. I need God’s grace. So how do I get more grace? The Catechism of the Catholic Church states:
The sacraments are efficacious signs of grace, instituted by Christ and entrusted to the Church, by which divine life is dispensed to us. (#1131)
So I need to stay tapped into the sacramental life. How do I do that? I go to Mass on Sundays, as prescribed by the Church, and during the week when I am able to. I go to Confession at least once a month. For me, I just have to do this. I also have to live the sacrament of matrimony. All the sacraments are channels of Christ’s grace. I get grace from being married!
Christ is the source of this grace. “Just as of old God encountered his people with a covenant of love and fidelity, so our Savior, the spouse of the Church, now encounters Christian spouses through the sacrament of Matrimony.” Christ dwells with them, gives them the strength to take up their crosses and so follow him, to rise again after they have fallen, to forgive one another, to bear one another’s burdens, to “be subject to one another out of reverence for Christ,” and to love one another with supernatural, tender, and fruitful love. In the joys of their love and family life he gives them here on earth a foretaste of the wedding feast of the Lamb… (#1642)
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