Posts tagged happy marriage

Desperate househusbands



Does helping with housework help your sex life?

Sex Begins in the Kitchen, Dr. Kevin Lehman’s 1981 book, tells men that a wife’s responsiveness in the bedroom at night is the cumulative effect of the attention she receives during the day through things like conversation and helping with housework.

desperate househusbands

from Homemaker’s Encyclopedia, 1954

Research seems to confirm that very notion. In 2008, the University of Kentucky found that “the happier a wife is with her husband’s participation in housework, the more sex she has with him.” The research was done for the book by Neil Chethik, VoiceMaleand was the first to officially link housework with sex.

But hold everything!

Last year, a broader study seemed to contradict the idea that when a man does more housework it meant more sex. “Egalitarianism, Housework and Sexual Frequency in Marriage” actually showed that husbands who did more of what is usually considered women’s work had less sex.

Are the study findings contradictory? Is one set of research findings flawed? I don’t think so. I believe it just shows what’s really in play here.

The 2008 Kentucky study had to do with a wife’s satisfaction with the amount of chores her husband did, while the more recent study tried to equate the amount of chores with the amount of sex.

The 2008 study revealed that a husband doesn’t necessarily have to do half the housework, just enough that his wife felt supported and appreciated. The 2013 study found that husbands who consistently reported more sex were those whose contribution included tasks that are generally considered more manly, like yard work and taking out the trash, versus tasks that many think of as more womanly, like cooking and cleaning.

Marriage involves cooperation and complementarity. A man and woman, husband and wife, mother and father all offer something unique to the family that benefits the others. But it isn’t just about doing what comes naturally and intuitively.

We husbands need to be reminded that wives want to be both appreciated and desired. A woman may want the home to be a pleasant place and often approaches chores with that as the end goal. A husband who recognizes this and joins with his wife in that common purpose earns her appreciation.

A woman rarely appreciates a man who takes it easy while she’s taking on more responsibility than she feels she can handle. Not only can shouldering all the work make her resentful, it also tires her out and makes her less energized for intimacy. Men are wired to compartmentalize parts of their lives like sex and work, but women process things much more holistically.

Here’s a funny story that illustrates this. It’s from a psychotherapist writing about the 2013 study findings in the New York Times, and comparing them to her own experience counseling couples.

A couple in therapy had been working on making their marriage more egalitarian. Things were going very well, but the husband noticed that they were having less intimacy. He wondered aloud in their session if she no longer found him attractive. She assured him that she did, especially when he came in from working out at the gym and she could see his muscles when he got undressed to take a shower.

He then reminded her that the very same scenario had happened the day before, but that rather than desiring intimacy, she criticized him for throwing his clothes on the floor. She saw his point, but it didn’t change the way she felt.

As men, we have a hard time understanding these types of seeming inconsistencies in women. We desperate househusbands think that because we treat our wives with honor and chip in around the house without being asked or nagged, our wives should appreciate us back with intimacy. In fact, one of the theories about the recent findings was that the men who did the most around the house may have reported the lowest satisfaction with the amount of sex because they were expecting more sex for their contribution.

However long you’ve been married to the woman in your life, you probably have come to realize that there are some things about her (maybe even most things) that you’ll never understand. I don’t think it’s just a coincidence that of all the admonitions Scripture has for husbands, being sensitive to our wives makes the short list.

Likewise, husbands, live with your wives in an understanding way, showing honor to the woman as the weaker vessel, since they are heirs with you of the grace of life... – 1 Peter 3:7a, ESV

Being understanding doesn’t mean being able to make sense of everything your wife says and does. It’s anticipating her needs and putting her first above all people, including yourself. Scripture also challenges wives to be sensitive to their husbands’ need for connection through sexual intimacy, but that’s not the focus of this blog. The truth is that both my wife and I need to selflessly offer our bodies and our lives to each other, but the only one I have control over is myself, so I’ll work on that.

When we treat our wives with the honor they deserve as joint heirs of the grace of life, when we love them sacrificially as Christ loves the church, they’re more likely to take notice of that grace and are more likely to feel the security to offer themselves to us unconditionally.

5 things that make her happy



If research showed you that there were five little things you could do to turn a marriage around or to keep a marriage strong and that they were easy and free, what would you do?

Well, here’s your chance.

5 things that make her happyShaunti Feldhahn spent years interviewing couples to find the ones who had the happiest marriages. Her purpose was to ask them their secrets, and pass them along to others. The research in her recent book, The Surprising Secrets of Highly Happy Marriages, is thorough and her findings are a game-changer.

She took the five most common actions of the happiest couples and compiled them in a list she calls the Fantastic Five (for him and for her). So, guys, when it comes to your wife, here are the five things that make her happy …

The Fantastic Five for Her OR How to Make Her Happy
  1. Take her by the hand.
  2. Leave her a voice mail message, text message, or email to tell her you love her and are thinking about her.
  3. Put your arm around her, or your hand on her knee, when you’re sitting next to her (especially when you’re in public).
  4. Sincerely tell her she’s beautiful.
  5. Pull yourself out of a funk.

Yep, that’s it. Believe it or not, when Shaunti asked wives, between 72-82 percent said these five actions deeply pleased them. That’s not just the happy wives, but all wives. Even two-thirds of the wives in struggling marriages strongly agreed these are the things that make her happy.

In addition to the five actions that seem to be common attractions to all women, Shaunti encourages each man to understand that there are also unique actions that speak specifically to his wife. Knowing and being able to speak your wife’s love language is a huge step toward understanding this. Maybe she likes to receive gifts or likes your undivided attention. She may like you to do little things for her, or speak words of encouragement. Or maybe it’s your touch that does it for her.

Whatever the case, the initiative you take is almost as important as the action itself. It says to your wife that you truly care about her. That’s great comfort and security for her.

So why don’t you make her happy and try them out? What do you have to lose besides a stale marriage?

. . .

Oh, you’re probably wondering what five things she found that a wife does that pleases her husband most. Here they are …

The Fantastic Five for Him
  1. She notices your effort and sincerely thanks you for it.
  2. She says “You did a great job at __________.”
  3. She mentions in front of others something you did well.
  4. She shows that she desires you sexually, and you please her sexually.
  5. She makes it clear to you that you make her happy.

I’d encourage you to get this book, or any of Shaunti’s books. They’re quick reads, and chock full of well-researched, but very practical advice.

make her happyYou’ve just completed reading the article, 5 things that make her happy, on the Stepping Up men’s blog.

Shaunti Feldhahn details more Surprising Secrets of Highly Happy Marriages on the FamilyLife Today radio program

STEPembrace

Pick one of the Fantastic Five to help you build up your wife. Next week, pick a different one and work on that.

STEPpassShare this blog post and the FamilyLife Today broadcasts with your wife so you can work on your Fantastic Fives together.

Denial the key to happy marriage?



Last week, I sat in on a broadcast taping of FamilyLife Today® radio broadcast. Shaunti Feldhahn was discussing her latest book, The Surprising Secrets of Highly Happy Marriages. I’m in the process of reading through the book and plan to write some blog posts about it as it relates to men.

happy marriage

Photo by Bill Branson

The book is the result of her surveying and interviewing about 1,000 couples, looking to find common denominators to marriage success. One of the findings that caught my attention was the idea of assuming the best of a spouse.

Feldhahn found out that more than 95 percent of couples who identified themselves as highly happy said they know their spouse still cares about them, even in the midst of an argument. For those who called themselves mostly happy, it was still 87 percent. By contrast under 60 percent of struggling couples felt that way about their spouse.

This wasn’t the first time I’d run into this phenomenon.

I keep my eye on research about marriage and family issues. Several years ago, I ran across a study that piqued my interest. The finding was that perception, and not reality, is the source of marital bliss. 

Researchers from Northwestern University surveyed 77 married couples and 92 dating couples about their relationships. Or their perception of it. The article I had read in LiveScience took a very jaded view of the researchers’ findings, but acknowledged the same conclusions as in Feldhahn’s new book.

As self-interested, self-absorbed creatures, our own thoughts, feelings, needs and goals come first, and that sometimes means fooling ourselves into thinking we are the center of other people’s thoughts, feelings, needs and goals when, in fact, they are mired in their own business.

But should we be disillusioned by our own illusions? Maybe not. Happy marriages might just be those in which both partners uphold a very nice perception of each other, even when things aren’t so great. And this makes sense. Happiness is a state of mind, and if denial paints a partner better than they really are, the relationship is bound to be satisfying, as long as no one is slapped in the face with reality.

This perception is not so much about denial as it is about being charitable and gracious to a spouse. And this revelation is nothing new. One of the best-known Bible passages, even cited by non-believers, comes from the 13th chapter of the Paul’s first letter to the church at Corinth. In it he lists seven things that love is and eight that it isn’t.

Love IS:

  • Patient
  • Kind
  • Truthful
  • Protective
  • Trusting
  • Hopeful
  • Persevering

Love ISN’T

  • Envious
  • Boastful
  • Proud
  • Rude
  • Self-Seeking
  • Easily Angered
  • A Score-Keeper
  • Glad About Evil

Any guy who’s been married more than a few days knows that the difference between the two lists comes down to willful choice. There will be times when you feel your wife’s actions deserve a snide remark, but what she needs is to be shown love and forbearance.

I’ve come to realize that the best way to avoid the low road is to run everything through the filter of Philippians 4:8, which challenges us to look exclusively at the other person in the best possible light.

“Whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things.”

So, actually, seeking the best in the one you’ve seen fit to commit your life to is not denial of the truth … it’s the recognition of it.

STEPSeek - 10-point checklistYou just finished reading Scott Williams’ post Denial the key to happy marriage? from the Stepping Up men’s blog.

STEPThink - 10-point checklistDo you find yourself assuming bad motives in your spouse? What would happen if you started assuming the best?

STEPEmbrace - 10-point checklistSpeaking the Truth in Love turns conflict into connection. Read how to package the two in this FamilyLife.com article.

STEPPass - 10-point checklistShare this blog post with your spouse or a friend and challenge each other to build a marriage on expecting the best.

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