I have a friend who is a great golfer, but a terrible husband. He consistently makes his “tee time” with his buddies, but he’ll always have an excuse for why he can’t schedule a “date night” with his bride. It’s no surprise why his golf game is stellar, but his marriage is “sub par.”
This happens a lot with husbands, and golf isn’t the only culprit. I’m not picking on golf or hobbies, by the way. I think it can be healthy for men to have a pastime, but it can be very unhealthy for hobbies or career pursuits to be more important than family. Even “good” things and healthy outlets can become negative and unhealthy distractions for your marriage when they’re given an imbalanced portion of your time and attention.
Before we dive into the solutions to this widespread marriage problem, we first need to understand the thought process of most men…
We men can be tempted to throw our efforts into pursuits with measurable results. We want to know exactly what the rules of the game are and what we have to do to win. We might define winning in our careers in terms of specific titles or dollar amounts we have earned. We might define winning in fitness by our bench press goals, our body weight or the visibility of our abs (which I’ve never really had). We might define winning on the golf course or fantasy football in terms of our performance against other men.
One reason why some men are tempted to pull away from their wives in pursuit of these seemingly-insignificant distractions is because those men don’t know how to “win” at home the way they know how to win in other places. Just like a thirsty animal is going to keep looking for water, men have a thirst to “win” and they’ll gravitate to wherever they feel they’re winning most.
My explanation of the male psyche is not in any way an excuse or justification for men to abandon their wives and children in the pursuit of their hobbies. I think it’s heartbreaking, cowardly and irresponsible for men to get their priorities so out of whack. I’m simply explaining the thought process behind the actions to help wives understand the underlying motives in their husbands and to help men understand their own motivations more clearly.
Men, your marriage is not going to work like your fantasy football league and thank God for that! You don’t want a marriage with a points system. You want a marriage where you and your wife can win together in the pursuits that matter most. You want an adventure you can share together with her. And here’s the best part…Your wife wants the same things!
Don’t settle for the diversions and distractions of cheap amusements and pastimes when you could be creating a world-changing legacy with your wife!
To start changing the thought process and giving your wife the place of priority she needs and deserves in both your schedule and your heart, I’d suggest doing the following…
1. Find some shared hobbies that you BOTH enjoy doing.
It’s okay to have some hobbies and interests independent of each other, but the strongest marriages find as many ways as possible to enjoy time together. Travel together. Try new things together. Eat new foods together. Learn new things together. Create new dreams and goals together. You have much more in common than you may realize.
2. Have honest conversations about what “winning” means at home.
Both the husband and the wife should have the freedom to speak freely (without accusing or demeaning each other) to explain their own needs, desires and dreams for the marriage. Once you’ve started to communicate openly (which isn’t just one discussion but a lifetime process), then realign your goals and schedules to make this new shared vision a reality. The dreams you cultivate together will always be much more enriching and enjoyable than the ones you do solo.
3. Commit to giving the best of yourself to the people who matter most.
Choose to love your wife and family more than you love your career or your hobbies. That other stuff can’t love you back! Make the conscious decision to give your family your best; not your leftovers. Even if it means making some career shifts or even losing some income, remember that your family can do with less of almost anything if it means having more of YOU.
For additional resources to help you build a stronger, healthier and more fulfilling marriage, check out our new podcast and upcoming book which are both entitled “The Naked Marriage.” We’d also love to see you at one of our XO Marriage Conferences.