“When you tug at a single thing in the world, you find that it’s attached to everything else.”
John Muir (misquote)
I think this (mis)quote best sums up where we are currently with the roles we play in our relationships and marriages. Whilst speaking with an old colleague, she proudly boasted that she wears the trousers in her marriage, because her husband is “rubbish at that kind of stuff”. This got me thinking. What does it mean to ‘wear the trousers’ in a relationship? The ‘trouser’ has become a symbol that represents a man who is decisive, leads and provides, however the truth is that in the society we currently live in, the trouser has become optional for the man to wear within a relationship. In essence, when a man opts out of wearing the trousers, he pulls away from fulfilling his roles within a relationship; he creates a vacancy, which his partner will ultimately fill, in order to keep things ticking over. I’m going to call this process “The Tug”.
You may have heard a married woman confess to planning all of her date nights, or maybe she’s openly shared that she is the one who makes all the decisions and guides the direction of her marriage. These statements seem quite acceptable on the surface; however, these are both statements that simply highlight areas in a relationship, where a void has been created by a man, who hasn’t fully stepped UP and stepped IN to HIS trousers. We’ve all been there at some point, but the question is this: How do we get back into our grease-stained, Old Spice-smelling trousers again? How can we be intentional about getting back into the driver’s seat and become that symbol of a man, who’s decisive, leads, provides and knows how to expose a relationship to experiences again? Here are nine things we could all be doing today, in order to make sure we are wearing our own trousers again, and fulfilling our natural role within the relationship.
1. Up Your Game
Don’t reduce her to the level that you are currently underperforming at. DO MORE! Be better, be encouraged and feel challenged to push yourself to grow beyond capacity. Be committed to becoming a man who IS dedicated to stretching himself, and work on self-development. When you grow, she grows, and when she grows, so does the rest of the family. It’s a no-brainer! Most men can quite easily be content with repeating the same routine, year in year out but, it turns out, most women like variety, change and progression. So increase your drive, up your game, and work on providing an environment that allows your wife (and others) to feel inspired to grow also.
2. Initiate date night
Dates can be fun, but if single people are the only ones who get to go on them, then… well, you’re better off not getting married. We often neglect to initiate dates once we are married, so surprise her by asking her out on a date! Just because you’ve got your dream woman, it doesn’t mean that the fun and the chase stops there. The fun has just begun! Set the date and be intentional about creating new experiences. There is nothing worse than taking her to the same place over and over again, because she told you ONCE that she really liked the food there. Think outside of the box.
3. Bring Out The Best In Her
Find out what she is passionate about. What takes her to that ‘happy place’? Lead her there. When you take the time to just reconnect with each other, and tap back into those characteristics that attracted you to each other in the first place, you can begin to rediscover what she is passionate about and what makes her happy. It’s good to take a side step out of your current situation and remind yourself of why you promised to commit to this woman. Look for the best in her – even when she is mad at you. If you focus on what you love about her, and work on bringing that out of her more, you can’t help but be driven by that love to forgive and overlook the things you don’t.
4. Don’t Try To Change Her
If you’re anything like me, you probably have plenty of work to do on yourself. Concern yourself with that. Men often moan and criticise their wives, but I think if you were to swap the word ‘brother’ for ‘wife’, this quote from the Bible would sum it up perfectly: “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye?” Your job is to love her as she is. Nothing more, nothing less.
5. A Happy Wife Makes a Happy Life
You are the engine that powers that happy train! My father has always said, “A happy wife is a happy life.” And I have to admit… he was right. I have found that it’s in the little moments where my joy has been topped up by simply seeing her happy. The environments we live in may not always be conducive to building a happy life, however, as men, it’s our job to do our very best to work on cultivating and changing the environment around us that breeds happy moments!
6. Have Fun!
Laughter! Remember that? I know that life can sometimes knock the fun out of us, but try not to take life so seriously. Have fun; jump on her (not too hard!), and be playful (wink wink). Make her laugh. Take risks and make a fool of yourself… for her. Take an unplanned road trip – or whatever else you need to do – to kick-start the fun. It’s been said that the best curve on a woman’s body is her smile. So put yourself in positions that take you outside of your comfort zone, and chase after new, adventurous experiences and put a smile on her face.
With all of the distractions around us, we can often mistake being ‘there’ for being ‘present’. Don’t focus on simply being in her presence; focus on engaging with her mentally. Create an unplugged moment! Switch off the TV, go for a walk, talk, share your visions and goals for your family, and listen to her views and feedback. Regularly set aside time to give her all your time, your focus and all of your attention. 100% of it.
8. Absence Makes The Heart Grow Fonder
Time together is great. However, I’ve found that spending time apart can actually help create a space that allows us to enjoy our own time as individuals, and have more to talk about when we reconnect. If you have children, or even if you don’t, allow her to take time for herself. We all need that space every now and then to have a moment where we can just indulge in something tailored just for us. The bonus is that if you don’t have children, then whilst she is having her time off you can also have yours! Everyone’s a winner!
9. Learn To Lead
Whether you’re a natural born leader or you’ve had to learn leadership skills along the way, every man CAN and SHOULD lead in his relationship. Our relationships are like the tango. There are two roles needed in order to execute this dance properly: a male part and a female part. The key to making this dance work and function as it was designed is to have a strong and confident male that… LEADS. Once the male is able to lead in this dance, it makes it very easy for the female to then follow in any direction that he leads. Marriage is no different. Leading is a man’s innate function, however HOW we choose to lead must first be learned. So get learning! You can learn by changing your circle of friends, and start hanging out with other guys whose wives can vouch for them as men and as husbands. Take tips, lead and introduce her to new unexplored paths within your relationship. A man who can “tango” well will have a woman who is confident in his ability to lead and will follow him to the ends of the Earth.
At some point, we mistook the meaning of the word ‘equality’ for the word ‘same’. My wife and I are equal, however, we are not the same, and so our roles are both equally important though they function in very different ways. If we forget our roles as men, and allow our women to step in, then we will ultimately end up depriving our women – and those around us – of a resource that is very much needed in this day and age. Let’s start wearing the trousers again, so she doesn’t have to!