My spouse is my biggest supporter, and I am his.
That sounds corny and borderline gross, right? I know — I get it. I can feel your eyerolls from here. But let me tell you something that might make you feel a little less queasy: I don’t like him all the time, and I’m pretty sure that feeling is mutual. The important thing is that, so far, we have continued to press on and overcome obstacles, even if we’re angry, because we have each other’s backs.
When we met, we were two aimless 20-somethings who lacked clear goals. On the surface, it didn’t seem like it would ever amount to anything, but I knew better.
Over the years, I have come to realize that one of the most important traits in a life partner is support. People always talk about financial support: Can you support a family? Can you afford kids? Can you pay for college? But emotional support, the kind that comes from a person who understands without an exchange of words just how much you need a hug or a gigantic glass of pinot — that is what is truly important.
It’s taken years of trial and error, but I can say that he has become a badass supportive husband. Men, if you’re confused on how to approach your wife’s problems when you know that you aren’t able to “fix” them, here’s a list of suggestions. Ladies, if your husband asks what you want him to do or say and you find yourself screaming, “Why don’t you already know what you’re supposed to do or say?! It’s not rocket science, you idiot!” you may consider directing him to the following list.
1. Bring wine.
Bring it home when you get texts like, “The kids flooded the bathroom and then dropped a glass jar of marbles on the tile floor,” or “I lost our toddler today, but don’t worry, I found her right before I called the police,” or “The oven just caught fire again.” If you are already home and your wife seems upset (signified by phrases like “What the fuck ever,” “I am out of fucks,” “What the fuck”), suggest that she go relax. And then bring her wine. Unsure of what to give her for Valentine’s Day, Mother’s Day, her birthday, or any other occasion? You now have the answer: wine.
2. Formulate a pep talk.
Write yourself a script if you can’t remember exactly what to say. Come up with a speech that includes how much you love her, how amazing she is at being a wife and a mother, how lucky your family is to have her, and how much faith you have in her abilities. There will come a point, probably about once a month, when she will be crying over something stupid and you will have no idea how you should respond. That is when you give your speech, followed by a hug — and wine.
3. Recognize when she needs a break.
My husband has gotten pretty good at noticing when I’m wearing thin and tries to head it off before I’m completely burned out. Sometimes when I’m in the thick of things, I have a hard time stopping to ask for help, and before I know it, I’m yelling at everyone and texting my friends about how much I hate my life. Our partners can help us avoid burning out by proactively suggesting that we go somewhere, anywhere, away from the house.
4. Pick a chore. Any chore.
My husband makes the coffee and unloads the dishwasher before he leaves for work every morning. Those two small acts make me feel like my load is significantly lighter, even though they are relatively menial tasks. It shows that he’s present; he is an active participant in our household. Also, I don’t really function before coffee, so if anything is going to happen at all in a given day, I have to ingest at least one cup. There’s also the fact that I momentarily fall in love with anyone who hands me a cup of coffee, so I guess he chose his chores wisely.
5. Respect the earplugs.
From the very beginning of our relationship, I’ve had to wear earplugs. My husband broke his nose as a teen and has snored ever since. Since we’ve had children, sleep has become a precious commodity for both of us, which means that the moment he sees my earplugs go in, he leaves me alone. He doesn’t tap my shoulder to ask me one more question. He doesn’t paw at my boobs or bump into me suggestively (ew). He doesn’t leave a light on. He knows that when I put my earplugs in, I’m done. Knowing a woman’s tell is a true gift to her, so learn it.
6. Keep trying.
When he knows I’m overwhelmed, annoyed, aggravated, or flat-out angry with him, he tries hard to fix it. This is the one time when it’s OK to try to fix a woman’s emotional problems — when the emotions are directed at you. If my husband knows he is in some way responsible for my unhappiness, he pulls out all the stops. I may pretend not to notice (hello, passive-aggressiveness), but the truth is, I do notice, and I appreciate his efforts. And really, despite the circumstances, if both people are always trying to make the other person happy, then at the end of the day everyone will most likely be happy.
And, if not…wine.