Even in today’s degenerate culture you can make a marriage work. It takes time, effort, and humility but it can be done. If you don’t want to join the legions of men suffering through cheating, affairs, and divorce courts, then here’s a step-by-step guide to building a better wife:

1. Realize that she wants to make you happy

If a woman has consented to marry you, take your name, live with you, and bear your children, it’s a safe bet that she probably wants her life with you to be pleasurable. Even if she were a purely selfish creature, she’d still want you to be happy just because you being in a good mood everyday would make her life easier.

Bitterness and anger can easily creep into your relationship after a string of disappointments and you can convince yourself she simply doesn’t care. Ninety-nine percent of the time this probably isn’t true. She does care. She probably just doesn’t know what to do.

2. Tell her what you want

Pictured: The modern couple.

Communication is seriously important. If your plan is come home and stare at your screens together, you’re gonna have a bad time. She can’t read your mind. How’s she supposed to know what you want unless you actually tell her? As I said, she wants to make you happy, she just doesn’t know how.

“Bullshit,” I heard you say as you read that. “She knows exactly what I want.”

Are you sure? Even if she used to know what you wanted, are you sure she still does? People change. Circumstances change. Without realizing it both the things that make you tick and the things that make you angry have probably drifted over the years. Unless you make the effort to sit down regularly with your wife and get on the same page then expecting her to just know what your needs are is totally unreasonable.

Do you need more sex? Have you tried telling her? Instead of bitching about it on the internethave you ever just sat her down and said, “Listen, I know we’re both busy, but I really need more intimacy from you if this is going to work.” Odds are she’ll probably respond.

Would it make you happier if she joined you in your hobbies? Great. Sit down and tell her. “Hey Babe, I love you, it would really help me have a better life if you’d go hiking with me on Saturdays.” She’ll probably be flattered.

Is something she does just plain annoying? Tell her. “Honey, mostly you do a great job, but I really can’t stand it when you don’t hang up your towel.”

Your life together is the sum total of all these smaller things. You can’t just expect them to work out on their own. Sit down and talk about how to make them good.

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3. Prepare for the backlash (and calmly wade through it)

You probably do the same thing when asked to change.

Change is hard. Seriously hard. As you begin trying to set your relationship on a better course, understand that her first reaction is going to be negative. She wants to make you happy, sure, but changing her behavior is difficult and everyone’s first reaction to a difficult request is negative. She’ll throw up barriers. Make excuses. She’ll call your requests unreasonable and maybe say that you’re too needy. Fine. Recognize that this isn’t an attack on you, it’s a defense of her own status quo.

Asking somebody to change implicitly means that some aspect of them is lacking and nobody enjoys hearing they come up short. Talk through it. Maybe what you want really is unreasonable. Maybe it isn’t. Gently but firmly insist on talking it through until you reach an acceptable compromise. This may take weeks but that’s fine. You’re in this for the long haul.

4. Get over your ego

 

Men’s egos are fragile. Whether we admit it or not most of us are very concerned with our status, especially among those we’re closest too. A lot of men don’t want to talk or compromise because doing so feels like an attack on our station. We think they should just do it. In our heads we say, “If she really loved me, I wouldn’t have to ask, she’d just do it.” No. You have to get over yourself.

For example, she’s not going to know that your dissatisfied with your sex life unless you tell her so. Brooding about it silently and telling yourself, “She must not be into me, if she was still attracted to me she’d jump me every time I walked through the door like she used to.” That’s not how it works. If you’ve been married for a while, the flame is gonna die down. That’s natural. You have to actually talk and remind one another to make the effort to keep it burning.

Want her to stop looking at her phone so much and pay more attention to you? Would you like her to do the dishes more often? Would it be better if she made the effort to greet you with a kiss when you got home? Great. Say so. We convince ourselves that if it doesn’t happen spontaneously and without prompting then a gesture isn’t sincere. That’s dumb.  You’re not above asking for things and just because she needed to be asked in order to change doesn’t mean her effort isn’t genuine.

5. Reward her

Pavlov was onto something.

Okay you’ve done it. You’ve had the difficult conversations and told her what you need.  You’ve fought down your ego and weathered her resistance to change. Great. Now, when she actually starts doing what you asked, reward her. Again, change is damn hard. If she’s making the effort she deserves the reward. Our brains are wired to respond to incentives. It’s okay to make use of that.

Give verbal praise. Tell her how much you appreciate what she’s doing. Buy her flowers.  Help her with her chores. Pick up her favorite candy from the store or sit down and watch her dumb HGTV show. Little gestures go a long way. If you want a change to become a habit you reward it. Incentivize the behaviors you want to see.

Take the lead. You’re the CEO of your marriage. Don’t wait for her to come and give you a list of ways you could make your marriage better. Take charge. Your wife will love you for it.

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