In the midst of the lockdown, we cannot go to the gym, so my wife and I walk every morning to keep fit. We both enjoy each other’s presence, so we hold hands when we walk.

Fight to Stay in Love

One morning recently a woman who walked past us regularly said, “You are my role models for love.” I felt like saying, “Yes, but you have to fight to stay in love.” But we held our peace and we both just smiled and nodded. 

The famous quote by Andre Maurois comes to mind,

“A successful marriage is an edifice that must be rebuilt every day.”

Perhaps Mignon McLaughlin summed up the challenge in an even better way.

A successful marriage requires falling in love many times, always with the same person.”

 

The Greatest Thing You Can Do

This is the challenge that every father must accept on a daily basis, because the greatest thing a father can do for his children is to love his wife. This is perhaps the hardest thing and yet here we are as a couple 46 years on, still holding hands and doing ‘other things’ besides.

John Fletcher said,

Of all the forms of wisdom, hindsight is by general consent the least merciful, the most unforgiving.” 

So when I read Kelsey Borresen’s article titled, What Divorced Men Wish They Had Done Differently In Their Marriages I had to wince. You see I have made most of these mistakes myself and probably a few more of my own. 

Still Working on It

In fact, listening to my wife is still something I am working on. Hopefully, I will get there before I die. 

A huge thank you to Kelsey Borresen for her foresight to put the article together. We can all learn from each other. See my abridged version of her complete article below.

Here’s what ex-husbands would change if they were to do it all over again.

After a marriage ends and you’ve gained some time and distance from the relationship, you can slowly start to see where things went wrong. As they say, hindsight is 20/20. 

Your own mistakes and shortcomings― things you did or didn’t do, things you said or didn’t say ― come into plain view, hopefully offering important lessons to be carried into your future relationships.

We asked divorced men to share some of the things they wish they had done differently while they were still married. Here’s what they told us: 

I wish I had gone to bed at the same time as my wife. 

“Even before we started sleeping in separate rooms, we didn’t go to bed together. And I don’t mean we stopped having sex, I mean we didn’t go to sleep at the same time. I would stay up late and decompress watching my favourite show and she would go to bed at what I thought was a crazy-early bedtime. I’ve learned there is a special kind of closeness to be nurtured by ending your day together. Snuggling up and letting the day wash over one another and speaking fleeting thoughts is a bond we should all aspire to have.” ― Adam Petzold

I wish I had put more effort into mending the relationship while I still could. 

“My greatest regret from the beginning of my divorce three years ago through today is not trying a little harder before things got to the point of divorce. I became complacent, distant, and stopped caring. While divorce was the right choice for us in hindsight, I regret letting it get to that point. Yes, we were unhappy in our marriage, but my children and ‘normal’ family life will never be the same, and just maybe I could have prevented that.” ― Derick Turner

I wish I had been honest about my personal fears and struggles.

“I wish that I would have been more transparent about my challenges as a man, as a father and as a husband. I kept negative thoughts and fears stuffed deep inside, which did nothing positive for either of us. I wanted the best for her and for us, but keeping her sheltered from the downsides was not the right way. She thought all was good, and I’d isolated myself emotionally. A truly solid relationship relies on open communication without fear of retribution. One must love and respect their own self as well as their partner, which includes openly divulging fears and challenges.” ― Bill Douglas

I wish I had stood up for myself more. 

“When we were first married, my (now ex-) wife supported us while I was struggling to get started in my career. Because of that, I deferred to her and took a backseat as far as our decision-making. When things worked out and I began doing really well, I expected to have a more equal role. But it was not to be. That original dynamic was baked in, and she remained fairly dominant. Totally my fault — I lacked the strength early on to assert my value and role in our relationship, regardless of financial contribution. I doubt it would have changed the eventual outcome, but it might have been a more enjoyable ride (at least for me) while we were together.” ― Barry Gold, author of Gray Divorce Stories

I wish I had truly listened to her because she just wanted to be heard. 

“Divorce was a painful wake-up call for me. It was only then that I got to be honest with how I really showed up (or didn’t show up) for my wife. When I look back, there are thousands of mistakes I made over 16 years. Most of them were small. A few were big, but the mistake that cost me the most was my inability to really listen. I didn’t get that my wife’s greatest need was to feel heard, validated and understood. Instead, every time she was upset I would either get defensive, try to fix it, or walk away and avoid her, hoping she would get over it. What I didn’t realize at the time was how much my pride and inability to understand her point of view cost us in terms of intimacy and trust. I really believe that if I could have just been able to be present with her and more respectful of her feelings, we could have made it through all the other ups and downs. But because I didn’t really make her my biggest priority, I ended up losing her forever.” ― Gerald Rogers

I wish I had taken responsibility for my part in our issues.

“My biggest regret is my lack of self-awareness and poor communication skills. I never stopped to figure out why I felt how I felt, said what I said, or did what I did. I operated in the relationship reactively, and you just can’t do that, or you will have the same issues over and over. It wasn’t until I worked on learning how to communicate effectively and be self-aware that I fully realized my contribution to the downfall of what we had. It may not have lasted anyway, but certainly a lot less damage would have been done and the latent resentments and animosity could have been curbed quite a bit. When you aren’t self-aware and do not communicate well, things devolve into a power struggle of whose needs are more important and whose are not being met, and you simply can’t resolve that without either.” ― Billy Flynn

Lovework

We can always learn from others. So, this is the week you take your wife out for date night and ask the million-dollar question. How can I be a better husband? Hopefully you can take notes or better still record her wisdom. 

Yours for a Better Marriage,

Warwick Marsh

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Image by Renate Vanaga on Unsplash.

About the Author: Warwick Marsh

Warwick Marsh has been married to Alison Marsh since 1975; they have five children and nine grandchildren, and he and his wife live in Wollongong in NSW, Australia. He is a family and faith advocate, social reformer, musician, TV producer, writer and public speaker. Warwick is a leader in the Men’s and Family Movement, and he is well-known in Australia for his advocacy for children, marriage, manhood, family, fatherhood and faith. Warwick is passionate to encourage men to be great fathers and to know the greatest Father of all. The Father in Whom “there is no shadow of turning.”

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