If you ask most men, they’ll tell you that there is a major midlife crisis happening in their lives today.
More specifically, they’ll point out that women and children are struggling to find the type of man with who they feel comfortable leading their family.
More children than ever are growing up fatherless, and more men are unable to figure out how to be there for their kids. Approximately 25 percent of all homes with kids don’t have a father.
Studies show that children who grow up without a father are more likely to turn to crime, become addicted to drugs, and feel feelings of abandonment. If you want your kids to stay safe, you need to be able to be the dad they need.
Women are also looking for a man who acts like a great husband, and that’s not always easy to do. No one ever teaches men how to maintain a relationship.
So, how do you start being a better husband and a father?
1. Realize that just being present means you’re halfway there
Fatherhood (and being a good partner) is something that many men think is easy, but is actually fairly intimidating. Most people do not realize what they’re signing up for until they are really in it, and it’s actually unsurprising that many men flee their responsibilities.
Even if you are not the ideal TV dad like Hal from Malcom in the Middle, your kids and spouse are going to recognize that you are still physically present.
Unless you are abusive towards them, most people will agree that having you literally be in their lives is better than having no dad (or partner) at all.
So, don’t be too hard on yourself. You’re already halfway there and you’re actively working towards being an even better partner. That’s more than a lot of women and children can hope for out of their partners.
Now let’s talk about the other parts of the equation…
2. Seek help from your family and try to understand them
If you want the quickest way to get feedback, it’s time to ask your family what they really need and want from you as a parent and partner.
You might be surprised at what they say—provided that you give them the space and feeling of safety to let them speak their minds. These tips can help:
- Hard as it may be, don’t get defensive about what they say to you. It’s going to be rough to hear where your shortcomings are, and it will make you feel like a terrible human being. Don’t raise your voice, don’t argue with them, just listen. Write it down if you need to.
- When you hear your wife complain about something in your relationship, actively listen and work on it. It may seem silly to you, but those complaints often come from a place of high stress. Listening to your partner is a main cornerstone of a healthy relationship, not to mention healthy communication.
- If you aren’t sure what they mean by something, always ask. It can be easy to misinterpret what your family says. Sometimes, you may even need a counselor to help “translate” things in a way that you understand.
If you are scared that you won’t be able to react well to what they say, it may be time to enlist the help of a counselor to help your communication blossom.
It’s also worth asking yourself what you think makes a great dad and partner.
Think back to your childhood, and look at the men who helped you become who you are today. Even if they are no longer alive, the men of yesteryear can be your greatest teachers. After all, you saw what happened when they were the way they were.
What were the traits that you really admired about them? How did they treat their wives? Start writing down the positive traits you want to embody for your kids—as well as the actions that exemplified them when you were a child.
If you didn’t have a good father figure growing up, that’s okay. You can actually learn how to be a better dad by looking at what the adult men in your life didn’t do. Just doing what they didn’t do is a smart move.
3. Always keep a reason to do it all in mind
Relationships are hard. Parenting is hard.
It’s going to be hard to want to be there all the time, especially when you see things take a turn for the worse. That’s why you should always remember why you are there for your family.
This tip is particularly important when it comes to your wife. It’s easy to feel the seven-year-itch, but that rarely ever bodes well for anyone. You will have to remember why you fell in love with your wife. The best way to do this is to keep the spark alive and do one nice thing every day for her.
PRO TIP – A good husband and father is not easy to come by. If your wife treats you poorly, refuses to engage with you, berates you, or harms you, it may be time to walk away from the relationship.
No matter what they’re like, accept your kids as they are.
We have all heard the trope of troubled kids who have parents that can’t quite accept them for who they are. It’s a trope in TV because it is a real-life issue. When a dad rejects his own kid, he inflicts a very deep-cutting primal wound on his child.
Kids who realize their parents don’t totally like them are not happy kids, nor are they always well-adjusted. This is, by and large, the most hurtful thing a father can do to their child. Don’t be that dad.
4. Understand that marriage is a partnership
A lot of men tend to think of marriage more like a purchase or two dual roles that tend to work with one another, rather than a true partnership.
Society pushes the idea that women should do all the housework and that men should bring home the bacon. This doesn’t always work well, since women now have full-time jobs too.
Simply put, this kind of dynamic generally puts undue amounts of labor on women. If you want to show kids how to be good partners and what to expect in a decent marriage, the best thing you can do is pitch in on housework.
Even if it is something as simple as putting away your own laundry, watching the kids for a while, or cleaning the dishes, those little things matter. They make your wife feel appreciated and give her a break. They also teach your kids that strong men help out around the house.
5. Take time to bond with your wife and kids
The biggest mistake men make with their families is letting them grow up without you around them.
Do you know your kids’ friends? Do you know what your kids do for fun? Bonding with your family is the best and smartest way to make sure that you don’t miss the little things that make family so important.
Believe it or not, you don’t need a vacation to bond with your family. These tips can help:
- Bond over chores every day. A good way to make chores easier is to create rituals that you and your wife (or kids, or both) do together. Something like driving to school can turn to car karaoke. Or, in the case your wife, doing something as simple as folding laundry together can be a great way to bond.
- Spend time discussing important matters over the dinner table. Having a meal together as a family, where you talk things out, is a very classic way to have memories made on a daily basis.
- Form a family game night, movie night, or trip night. Even if it’s only once a month, that kind of bonding will make for a huge improvement on how you see your wife and kids.
6. Turn family issues into a team problem
Being a great dad and partner means that you have to take the reins when it comes to life’s hurdles. This means you lead by example and you ask them for their help.
Coming to a solution together is the best way to make everyone feel heard, respected, and important.
This also goes for moments when you talk about sticky subjects, like finance. It’s better to let everyone know what you’re up against than to leave them in the dark until it’s too late.
Don’t be afraid to look to professional services to improve your communication. Sometimes, everything from therapy to having a good life coach can make you rethink how you talk to others.
7. Remember to take care of your house, first
Being a great father and husband often means providing something that is increasingly rare today: stability.
When you have to worry about how you’re going to eat or who’s going to explode in rage, you’re going to have a pretty miserable life. That’s why stability is so important.
Stability can come in all types of forms: financial, legal, and even emotional. You want to make sure that your home is set up in a way that makes people feel safe. What does this look like? Well…
- Stability means that you know how to pull in an income that lets your basic needs get met. If you can do more, all the better. But, money is only a part of the equation when it comes to stability.
- It also means that your wife and kids will not fear your retaliation when they have to broach something difficult. Emotional safety is something that is priceless. It means your kids won’t need to walk on eggshells around you.
- Stability means the home is clean, taxes are filed, and the food’s in the pantry. The little chores you do all add to stability.
This is often a two-person job, to say the least. So make sure that you have your wife on the same team as you and figure out how to split chores.
8. Remember that being a great dad and partner also means caring for yourself.
This is the one thing that people often forget about being a good dad and husband—especially on the husband’s part.
There is a difference between being a dad who does the dishes and a man who has lost himself in a relationship. A healthy relationship is not one where you lose yourself in it; it’s one where you are your best self.
What does this mean for a man trying to find his way? Simple:
- Don’t give up your life goals for the sake of others around you. Yes, you may need a high-paying job, but work a little extra at home so that you can eventually quit that job and do what you want. Your kids need to see that the dream is still alive.
- Set and maintain boundaries about your needs. Your needs are not negotiable. If something is eating you alive, this is not okay. You owe it to yourself to have boundaries. You can never be a great father if you are constantly miserable!
- Keep your eyes on what you love. No, it doesn’t just have to be your family. It can be hunting, fishing, or even playing video games. Carve out at least two hours a week to do this. Oh, and make sure to keep in contact with your friends.
- Invest in one small treat for yourself (and your wife) every week. It doesn’t have to be a big treat. Just something that brings both of you a smile. For example, it could be a salon appointment for her and a six-pack of craft soda for you.
- If you are being mistreated, remember that it is okay to stand up for yourself and leave. Good men are not easy to find, especially when you make a point of being dedicated to being a good parent. If you find yourself feeling emotionally cornered or dreading the arrival of your wife, it may be time to call it quits.
There are a lot of people who are stuck in relationships that are abusive thinking that this is what being in love means you do. Love does not hurt. Follow the 80/20 rule. If you’re thrilled 80 percent of the time, you’re doing well. If you feel hurt more than 20 percent of the time, it’s time to leave.
9. Make sure to associate yourself with men who understand the importance of relationships
You can work hard to become a great man to your family, but that’s not going to be very good for anyone if you’re surrounded by people who drag you down. In the case of your relationships, this often means that the male friends you have around you will predict what happens with you.
Did you know that you are more likely to divorce or cheat if your friends cheat? It’s true. Part of that is because the wrong crowd will often encourage behaviors that alienate you from the people who actually care about you. This is particularly true if you hang out with friends
We’ve all heard of horror stories that involve friends who convince friends to cheat on doting wives, or worse, who tell you that your wife is lying to you when she’s not. This can lead to a complete breakdown of your marriage. Even if you don’t believe it at first, what they say can and will impact you.
Relationships with your family members are never easy, and guidance can help.
The hardest part about becoming a better partner and husband is knowing that you are going to have to buckle down and do self-examination.
While you can always try to do it alone, it’s not always the easiest route. We all have blind spots that are hard to accept about ourselves.
Relationships are a lot like building elements. The relationships around your family will help support one another if you are smart about it. However, trying to navigate the difficulties that come with finding the right friends and partners can be rough.
The greatest thing about the Knowledge for Men coaching program is that it helps you connect with yourself in a way that attracts the right type of people around you. You have what it takes to be the amazing dad you want to be—you just need to have someone to guide you and help you surround yourself with men who want to improve and be the best version of themselves.