When I married my husband, I thought he was the most handsome, smart, funny, talented guy I’d ever met. I couldn’t wait to spend the rest of my life with him.
But a few short years into our marriage, I couldn’t remember anything I liked about him. He seemed pathetic, immature, lacking ambition and sloppy.
He was the same guy, but my view of him had changed.
I thought I made a mistake and should divorce and try to find someone who suited me better.
Looking back, I now realize that I would have found myself in the same situation with the next handsome, smart, funny, talented guy.
I had 3 behaviors that were making my husband seem less attractive.
They weren’t enhancing the rest of my life, either. At all.
It wasn’t until I changed those habits that I went back to seeing him the way I did on our wedding day.
When I finally woke up and realized what I was doing, I noticed I wasn’t the only one. Lots of wives have these same tendencies, and they contribute to a lot of NET (Needless Emotional Turmoil) and even divorce.
Here’s what the bad habits are, along with what you can do to turn your frog back into a prince:
1. Male bashing
Jenna was surprised when her husband decided to hose off their sick kid after he threw up instead of putting him in the tub.
Jessica found it unbelievable that her husband wanted to watch sports for so many hours on the weekend.
Haley found it completely unreasonable that her husband wouldn’t let her throw out his holey t-shirts.
Men really are from some other planet than women, no doubt about it. And when we expect men to do anything the way women do things, we’re bound to be disappointed.
I used to have a bad habit of getting together with other women to talk about how ridiculous, thoughtless and immature men are, and I punctuated my points with examples of my husband enjoying inane shows like The Three Stooges, or not wiping off the counter when he cleaned the kitchen, or proposing hamburgers when I said I wanted to have a healthy lunch.
But talking about men–including my own husband–that way and hearing my friends put their men down didn’t help me feel more accepting and closer to my guy. Quite the opposite: it had me questioning why I decided to live with him in the first place.
He picked up on it when I made snide remarks echoing the finely-honed put-downs we’d fashioned in our male bashing sessions, and he reacted defensively–which just reinforced my negative view of him.
That’s not a fun place to go, but a night of male bashing with my girlfriends would reliably get me to that lonely spot.
These days when I hear a woman starting down that old dirt road, I’m quick to change the subject, knowing she’s not going anywhere I want to go.
When I focus instead on all the ways my husband makes my life richer–making me laugh, making my tea in the morning, paying the bills, making up songs about me–I remember exactly why I chose him.
In fact, now I hear so many stories of men knocking themselves out to make their wives and girlfriends happy or to serve their families, my whole perspective has changed.
These days I see examples of men being chivalrous, thoughtful and heroic every day, which I admire very much.
2. Mothering my husband
Any time you tell your husband to “settle down” or “put that away” or even “take out the trash,” you’ve just left the role of his wife and lover and started acting like his mother.
The same is true if you remind him to call his mom, wake him up for work, or act like his nurse when he’s ailing physically.
I wrote about this in a blog about what to do if your husband is not attracted to you, but it’s just as likely to cause you to feel less attracted to him, or even repulsed by him.
When I was doing maternal things for my husband, I found him really unappealing. Since mothers are not sexually attracted to their sons, putting myself in that role was a terrible set up for sustaining passion and intimacy.
Turns out he didn’t want to be parented, and he responded badly when I acted like his smother mother. I couldn’t believe he would be so ungrateful and rude when I was sacrificing doing what I wanted to do so I could help him with his responsibilities!
These days, I’m much more focused on myself than what he’s doing or not doing. Even when he’s sick, I’m sympathetic, but also quick to say he’s a strong man instead of telling him to lie down or keep his foot elevated. He’s smart enough to figure all of that out himself.
The result is that he seems much more competent and capable to me, which is far more attractive, and I’m also more attractive to him without the maternal aura. And part of what I’m attracted to about him is how well he admires me. Win-win!
3. Making myself a martyr
Another bad habit I had in my early marriage was being the martyr who was constantly working her fingers to the bone and getting cranky about it a lot.
I was giving so much I was miserable. And to be honest, I hated pretty much everyone.
I especially hated my husband, because…he happened to be nearby.
Since I was not happy, he clearly was not making me happy.
It wouldn’t have mattered if I was married to Ryan Gosling’s character from The Notebook–I would have thought he was a worthless, incompetent baby.
That’s how miserable I was.
It really had nothing to do with my unsuspecting husband, who didn’t force me to deplete myself with things I thought I had to do. I did that myself.
Today, I’m focused on doing everything I can to make myself happy, including taking naps, gabbing with my friends and playing volleyball, for example. And guess what?
My husband seems waaaaay more attractive.
Yours will too when you stop male-bashing, mothering and making yourself a martyr.