Being a husband I have made my share of mistakes. Here are some of the things I learned along the way. When I got it right, I saw how it made such a big difference. Of course, I am human and didn’t get everything right.
Your marriage is so precious, and your family is your life. Balancing a home, work and family is hard, especially that in so many families both parents are working. Yet when mom comes home, it is common that all the traditional tasks of motherhood is on her shoulders. Even those that are able to be a stay at home mother, are in an endless state of keeping up, especially if there are small children.
As you and your wife build a home together and as you grow as a family, you need to plan and set things in place, so that both you and your wife are happy, close, and loving. Think of yourselves as one unit, and as equally responsible parties in the home. Be realistic and divide the responsibilities according to your abilities, your energy and your time.
If your wife is the high energy, creative, organized type, then just go with it, do what she says and count your blessings.
This article is written to husbands who have a growing family and a wife with average or low energy, who is trying her best. But there are also lessons here for all couples, just use what applies to you. Here are some things I did, and a few things I wish I did.
MAKE THINGS EASIER FOR YOUR WIFE
Being a wife, a mother and a homemaker is a huge job, anything you can do to relieve your wife from these burdens will be appreciated, and if you do them with joy, she will love you for it.
1) If You Can, Hire Help.
Hiring help for housekeeping and for taking care of the children, is a good idea. If you can afford to have it all the time, then you should. If your budget doesn’t allow you to have it all the time, then have it as much as you can, and at least for the hardest tasks, even once a week, it will make such a big difference.
If you want to know what the hardest tasks are, it is the things that your wife dreads doing, if you ask her, she will gladly tell you.
2) Be a Mentch.
When you are home, be involved, don’t sit on your bottom while she slaves away. Ask her what you can do, remember that it is your home too.
When you are taking care of the children don’t call it babysitting, they are your children and your responsibility. When you are with them, you are being a father, not a baby sitter. When you call it babysitting, you are saying that they are not your responsibility and that you are doing a favor. This is hurtful to your wife, because she wants you to be a father to them. When you are a good father to your children, it is so endearing to your wife, she will fall deeper in love with you every time she sees it.
When she does things for you, don’t take her for granted, say thank you, let her know that you appreciate the things she does for you and that you respect her. This might seem small to you, but when she feels appreciated and respected, it will lift her spirits, she will be happy and she won’t feel used.
3) Have Things That You Do Around the House and Be Reliable.
Pick a few regular chores and make them your responsibility. It could be cleaning, food preparation, laundry, shopping, taking care of the cars, etc. It is your choice, but pick a few and do them well and reliably. The best things to choose, are the things she likes to do the least.
4) Have Things That You Do in Preparation for Shabbos and Yom Tov.
It is a long standing tradition, that husbands set up the candles for their wife and daughters to light. This is the way that it is done. Before shabbos, set them into the candelabra or candlesticks, light them for a few seconds and put them out. This will make them easier to light when it comes time for her to light them. Before Yom Tov do this as well, but on Yom Tov you will be in shul when it is time to set them, so she will do it. But if you do set them up on Yom Tov, don’t light them, because you are not allowed to put them out.
Have a dish or two that you make for Shabbos and don’t leave a mess for your wife to clean up. If you can’t do that, have some other preparation that you do, it can even be done on Thursday.
If you can’t help prepare, then help clean up after the Shabbos meal, especially Friday night. She has been on her feet all day preparing for Shabbos and she is probably exhausted.
(I am a big advocate of using disposable dishes, especially when the children are young, it makes clean up a breeze. Unless you have hired help, keep the fancy dishes for special occasions.)
5) Give Her Time to Put Her Feet Up.
Most mothers work hard and hardly ever get a break. If you could give her a respite from the kids she will be grateful and you will be a good husband. Being that you will be with the kids you will be a good father as well.
Here are some things you can do to give her rest:
Learn how to make one or two simple dinners, like sloppy Joe or something else the kids like. Once a week, or every other week, make dinner with the kids, while your wife rests. Make sure to clean up after. Your wife will appreciate it, and your kids will enjoy spending time with you.
When you have off of work, take the kids out to the park, or do some other activity they enjoy. This will give your wife some quiet time.
6) Give her time to get together with her friends.
At minimum once a month watch the kids so she can get together with her friends. Once a week is better. She needs time with her friends. If you can’t be home, the baby sitter can watch the kids.
Here are some things you should do just to be loving.
1) Do small sweet things.
After a long day do something sweet to make her feel special.
Here are some ideas: Make her favorite tea, the way she likes it, and bring it to her in a pretty cup. Cut up a fruit she likes or a piece of chocolate and bring it to her. Get her her some warm water to soak her feet in.
With a little bit of thought, you will come up with some of your own ideas. Small sweet things that will make her feel special.
2) Be Supportive of Her Interests.
If your wife has a hobby she likes or she would like to try, be supportive. Here are some ways to do this.
Buy her a book or a magazine on the subject. If you come across an article on the subject, bring it to her or email it to her.
If she asks you to join her, don’t be difficult, go along with her. You might find that you enjoy it, and even if you don’t, at least you tried, and that will make her happy.
Offer to get her classes or supplies.
You have to realize that your wife is multifaceted, you have to love and respect all her different qualities. Including her interests, her creativity and her wishes.
3) Do Things Just Because She Wants You To.
The home is the place your wife makes her own, she should have the last word in designing and decorating it. Unless something is offensive to you, you should not argue with her choices. If she wants things a certain way, have it that way.
If something is important to her, like putting your dirty laundry in the hamper, hanging up your wet towel, putting down the toilet seat after your done, etc. Do it and train your kids to do the same. These are small things, and the decent thing to do.
You will find, that it is the small thoughtful things you do, that will make her feel special, appreciated and loved.
These are just a few things that will make your wife happy and your relationship better. I hope that you will put them to the test.
The things to remember that is the basis of this article is to: Make things easier for your wife, respect your wife, show her appreciation and be loving.
Rabbi Yitzi Hurwitz is the founder of Chabad Jewish Center in Temecula, CA. He is married to Dina and has 7 children and is currently living in Los Angeles as he battles ALS disease. Visit his blog at yitzihurwitz.blogspot.com. To donate to his medical costs, visit hurwitzfamilyfund.com