On 12 /19/1981 at 11:00 AM, I said I do to Ruby Lee Gordon and we became Husband and wife. I was 19 years old and very naive about my new responsibilities as a Husband and a man. Looking back on that time in my life I realize that I was a man and a Husband in training, and the training has really never ended. After 35 years of marriage I can honestly say that I am still learning how to be a better man, husband and father.
When I told Ruby the title of this article she said I should call it “35 things I have forgotten.” Ouch! There is some truth to that comment. So in spite of what I may have forgotten, here are “35 things I have learned in 35 years” with Ruby. I cannot imagine what my life would be like without her. What I have learned is not in order of importance or rank but each lesson, remembered or forgotten has added great value to my life and marriage. Enjoy.
1. Make it home for dinner every day. Help in the kitchen and open a bottle of wine. Spend time together cooking.
2. Express your appreciation for the home and life you have with your wife daily. Talk about work if you need too but focus on life and family.
3. Cook Dinner once a week or more if you can. There are great online dinners you can order that give instructions on how to prepare them.
4. Pick your clothes up off the floor and help straighten up the bedroom.
5. Stop by the store and pick up some groceries and her favorite junk food. Everything is good if eaten in moderation.
6. Wash your clothes and hers every now and then to show you care. Or just wash your own clothes. She is not your maid.
7. Pay attention to her when at home and listen to what she has to say. Turn off the cell phone. Yes, it’s hard to do in the sales business but you have to set boundaries.
8. Go shopping with her once in a while and be engaged in the process especially if she enjoys shopping.
9. Spend time together with the kids. It must be scheduled when you are busy but it is important.
10. Spend time together as husband and wife. It doesn’t matter what it is: watching TV, walking, eating out or just sitting in the family room and talking.
11. Be engaged at the dinner table and know what is going on. Contribute to the conversation by finding out what is happening with everyone at the table.
12. Go to your kids games and take part in their events. Understand their interest and invest in them. Your wife wants you invested time just as much as she is. Paying for it is not good enough.
13. If something breaks fix it immediately – Don’t let it become an issue. If you don’t have the time hire a handy man. Everything breaks: Air condition, heater, water heater, toilet, light fixture, blown out light bulbs, broken door or gate, alarm system, stove, oven, refrigerator. Get it done man!
14. Paint or wallpaper the walls if she wants to change it. Move the furniture around as often as she likes. Listen to her complaints about colors and designs and that things our old or out of style. Then budget and plan the changes together.
15. Mop and sweep the floor frequently. Especially the kitchen. Own it. Do it in the morning or after dinner. Just do it. Don’t ask if she needs or would like you to do it. You can see the floor
16. Help with the kids. Divide the work: homework, sports and lessons. Devise a plan and work the plan. Share the load and make her feel like she has a partner in all of this.
17. Clean up the patio and the yard. Hire a gardener if you can afford it. Don’t let your yard be the worse looking yard in the neighborhood. It is reflection on you and your wife. She will be embarrassed to have her friends over.
18. Paint the exterior of the house. The areas that need frequent attention are doors, garages, crown and based modeling, wrought iron fencing and gates, and the eaves on the house. Let her see you take pride in your home. In doing so you take pride in her. Women take pride in their home. How the home is being taken care of reflects how much you care about them. Of course, this is not true but that is how women think.
19. Be happy at home. Don’t argue and fight at home and especially in front of the children. Go for a ride. Don’t let anger about what happened at work take root in the house. Let your home be an environment of peace, joy and comfort. Let it be a sanctuary.
20. Make money. There is no easy way to put it. If you are not making money you will have serious problems in your marriage and home life. Get a second job, start an online business, do something. Financial security is the bedrock of a marriage. Not love. Love is the decision to get married. That decision can be unmade.
21. Pay your bills on time and take care of business. Be the point of contact for creditors. If you are having financial problems own it and be the lead. Do not turn it over to your spouse. This is not to say that your spouse’s income and help is not necessary or required but you need to be the lead. No woman wants to take care of a man unless he is boy and she is his mother.
22. Save your money. Establish an emergency fund. You are the security and the answer to problems that arise in the family. Not her father or her sister or brother. If you don’t have the money get a loan. If you can’t get a loan sell something. If you can’t do either one go to family and friends but do it discreetly and pay the money back as soon as possible. No man wants another man to take care of his family. Tough times can call for tough and uncomfortable actions. Hopefully the experience teaches you a life long lesson and you will never find yourself in that place again.
23. Sit down together and go over your finances each month. Have a discussion and not arguments about spending. It’s not your money it’s our money.
24. Create a budget and strive to live by it. It is a goal for spending and not the law. Be flexible but be committed. You are in this together. Keep a joint checking and saving account. No wife or husband should have their own checking account. You are asking for trouble. Transparency is everything in a marriage
25. Make saving money a family goal. Agree on the goal and use of the funds when the goals are achieved. Make sure they are S.M.A.R.T goals.
26. Plan and budget for big spending or gift spending and trips. Women really do not like surprises they like thoughtfulness and planning. Your married now and you have a joint bank account. You don’t need to surprise her. Surprises only last a moment but the argument over what you bought will last forever and create resentment.
27. Make time to talk to each other especially about very important issues. Don’t put it off. If you do she will see it as her opinion is not valued.
28. Do not go to bed angry. Ask for forgiveness all the time and mean it. It may require a conversation so be prepared to stay up late until it is resolved completely before you go to bed.
29. Hug and kiss as much as possible. When leave home and when you come back. Intimacy is the most effective way to communicate, “I love you” than just saying those 3 words. Women are emotional creatures. Touching and embracing is one way she validates your desire for her and your love for her.
30. Don’t try to change your communication style because you can’t. You are who you are. Understand your weakness and work on it. In marriage communication, a strength cannot over compensate for a weakness. You know what your weaknesses are so work on them and get help.
31. Don’t communicate when you are angry. Calm down first, be an adult and talk with your inside voice. Only children yell and scream and it gets you nowhere fast. Calm down and think about who you are in the marriage and try to understand her perspective. Anger leads to hurt and pain that is sometimes difficult to come back from.
32. Laugh as much as possible and tell bad jokes. Share funny stories and bring your spouse in your world for a minute or two. Levity and humor is always appropriate in every situation.
33. Talk about people even when you don’t like to with your wife. Women can’t help it. They love to talk about their girlfriends and people in general and they do it all the time among themselves. Consider it a privilege to be brought into the club. If you don’t take part in the conversation you are communicating that you are better than they are and you are not.
Intimacy and Love
34. Make love as much as possible. Let your love-making be the gauge of how she is really feeling about you. Whatever you do don’t demand it. Most importantly don’t fight about it. It is symptomatic of a much bigger issue and you probably need help to address it. Love making is a natural occurrence of two people coming together because of love. If it’s anything other than that it is not worth the pain it will cause and whatever pleasure you gained from it will be short-lived.
35. Demonstrate Love don’t just say it. Love is best communicated in actions and deeds. Saying it means very little unless it is after the action or deed has been completed. How to show love is found in numerous books so go buy one. If you want to know real love then read the bible. There is a ton of information on marriage in bible. Two chapters I recommend is Ephesian the 5th chapter and 1 Corinthian’s the 13th chapter. These two chapters will put you on the right track.
Limit your engagement with the opposite sex. Love is territorial and emotional. Women have a built-in radar to detect when you are too close to another woman, especially if they sense that the relationship is more than business but is in fact a friendship. There are strategies to deal with this but I cannot deal with it now. But simply stated, men cannot be inappropriately close friends with women. Save yourself the heart ached. It is a conflict waiting to happen. Do not engage in inappropriate conversations with the opposite sex. Keep it business and social – not personal.
Let pray that Ruby gives me another 35 years of training so I can write more about what I have learned. Can you imagine coming up with 50 things in 50 years? I am up for the challenge. Marriage is a beautiful thing.
Eric Lawrence Frazier, MBA
President and CEO
NMLS 461807 CAL BRE 01143484