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Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Do You Know What Your Husband Is Doing?

Or, do you know what your wife's doing?

You should, and too many of us really don't have much of a clue how our spouses spend their days away from us.

It's not because we need to check up on them, keep tabs...no, it's a matter of caring enough to know what life is like for the person who's supposed to be first among mortals for us.

Ahead of friends. Ahead of siblings. Ahead of parents.

But I'll wager that a lot of you know more about your friends' daily lives than you do that of your spouse. About your Facebook friends' lives, too, come to that.

I have a friend who's an aspiring writer. She recently received an indication of interest in a novel from an agent, which is big news. She wanted to share it with her husband, tell him about the book.

His comment? "I'm sure it's based on something you read about." Then he walked off, and never raised the subject again.

For sure she didn't raise it.

She writes a solid, well-researched blog on faith questions. He doesn't read it. He does have time for fantasy football, but not for the work that animates his wife's life.

That's an extreme example of disinterest, but it's not that extreme. Many of us are equally dismissive in deeds, if not in words/

If we listen with ha;f an ear, we're dismissive.

If we wait for a chance to talk about ourselves, we're dismissive.

And one day - your spouse is going to quit. He'll ask about your day, but won't volunteer information about his.

She'll listen to your tales, but have none of her own, other than "It was okay".

When that happens, a part of your marriage is dying, and it won't revive by itself. Once your mate gives up, even a sincere interest on your part will feel condescending. It may not be repairable.

How do you prevent this?

  • Know your spouse's job - you should be able to describe, in some detail, what your spouse does on a daily basis.
  • Ask questions - ask leading questions that are not merely an attempt to make conversation. They should be informed (that means do research on your own) and intelligent.
  • Offer your help - even in the most esoteric of fields, a layman's view can often be valuable. I know - I have a PhD in the design of reinforced concrtete structures to resist earthquakes. My wife is an accountant. I found that she had an intuitive understanding of how concrete could potentially work, and she made significant contributions to ideas that eventually became published papers. (And before you ask, I'm hopeless at accountancy.)
  •  Put aside distractions - when you come home, leave the TV off. You don't need to hear the news. You can get weather from the Internet, and the local news is typically entertainment-by-local-body-count. Talk with your mate instead.
  • Carpool when possible - if you can carpool with your spouse, do it, because it gives you private time to share your days.
  • Pray together - this is the most important action item. It's hard to be dismissive of someone with whom you approach God in prayer.
Remember - the person you married is giving you the best years of his or her life. The ;least you can do is give them your interest and attention.

This post is linked to Wedded Wednesday, a compendium of really cool posts on marriage. If you click on the logo below, you'll be taken to www.messymarriage.com, which is the springboard to a wealth of information.


  1. My heart just broke for her...

    I am blessed with a nosy, happy husband who tells me just about everything. Including that his most recent paper was accepted 'with major revisions'. Which always makes me laugh, because a Major is doing the revising.

    1. You're so lucky!

      The writer mentioned in my post (who is heavily disguised, and whose story is used with permission) is having a tough time. Not having support at home makes it hard for her to believe in her own work. She may not quit, but the fun's gone for her, and may never return.

  2. This is so true of many couples, Andrew. I'm grateful that my marriage does not look like this. Sure we have our moments when we are dismissive of one another but we care and are actively interested and involved in each other's lives. You given me another reason to be thankful, my friend! I also really like the use of that word, "dismissive." It is spot on for the way it feels and what it does, my friend! I'll be sharing this one on Twitter!

    1. Beth, thank you so much!

      To me, dismissive conjures up a sort of casual contempt that has no place at all in marriage. I've seen this so often, coming from both husbands and wives (more from husbands, really).

  3. Andrew, Stopping in from Messy Marriage. Such great recommendations and such a sad situation in your post. I'd be heartbroken. One of the best things my husband and I did in our marriage was go down to one vehicle. Yes, it is a challenge at times, but the time together you gain cannot be replaced. We are so much closer and have more time to share our day. It was a good decision for the environment and for our relationship!

    1. Hi, Kim! Thanks for stopping by.

      The 'one vehicle' idea is a good one. My wife and I both worked in the same place for a few years, and the time we could spend together was invaluable.

      It also makes you plan together - if you have individual errands on weekends you've got to cooperate.

      And the environment says Thank You!

  4. Love this great advice, Andrew! It's a timely reminder for me.