Without practice, knowing how to be a husband and head of a household can seem like a daunting task. Even for those who have been married for several years, being able to lead and inspire your spouse and your family can be difficult. For some, the transition from being single to being married comes naturally and is a relatively smooth one. For others, however, this transition can be a challenge. When preparing for marriage or attempting to be more involved as a husband, it is important to remember the 4 A’s: attention, acknowledgement, adaptation, and affection.
Being attentive to your spouse can be an especially difficult transition for a husband to make. Many men have spent their adult lives as relatively self-sufficient, so making the switch to giving your attention to a spouse instead of to your own needs can be challenging. But being attentive to your spouse will more than likely enhance your marriage. A partner who feels valued and loved and attended to will typically engage more fully in the relationship and return the attention being shown. Especially for women, being conscious and considerate of needs can go a long way toward enhancing the emotional and physical connection between her and her spouse. Leading as a husband must include attentiveness since it provides an example to children and to others as to how a spouse should be treated.
While it might be included as part of being attentive, giving your partner acknowledgement is vital to the health of your relationship as well as your leadership role. Think of the most influential supervisor you have had in your career field. When considering this individual’s leadership style, acknowledgement of the ideas and accomplishments of other is likely a strength that this person exhibited. Similarly, as a leader in your marriage it is important to see your spouse’s ideas, thoughts, and opinions as valuable within the relationship. You may not always agree or see eye-to-eye with one another, but a good leader is willing to set aside personal differences in order to give encouragement to others. By acknowledging your spouse, you are indicating that your voice is not the only one to be heard in the relationship. Rather, it is through partnership that the best ideas will emerge.
Be flexible! Especially for new husbands, being flexible with routine and day-to-day tasks can be very difficult. If you have been used to doing things a certain way for even a small portion of your adult life, changing that routine can be quite a task. Start with small things, and always be open to change. For both spouses, learning to adapt to one another’s habits takes time and requires understanding. Life does not always go according to plan, so it is important to frequently practice flexibility and adaptation. Having a willingness to be flexible and open to change can relieve pressure in the relationship and allow your marriage to flourish. Lead by example and be willing to adapt to the changes life throws your way.
Last and most definitely not least, is the importance of showing affection. While this does include physical affection and sex, it is by no means limited to just that! Affection can be shown to your spouse in a variety of ways. Be creative in showing your partner how much they mean to you. There is no formula or set of rules to follow. Affection is what you make of it! One helpful tip is to pay attention to how your spouse shows you affection. Gary Chapman, in his book The 5 Love Languages, describes the five primary ways people give and receive affection. These include: giving gifts, speaking words of encouragement or affirmation, physically touching, doing acts of service, and spending quality time together. If you pay close enough attention to your spouse and how they show you affection, you will likely be able to figure out how they also like to receive affection! Knowing the primary ways your partner wishes to be shown love and appreciation is valuable information. You will hardly ever go wrong in showing affection if you are taking the time to do so in a way that is meaningful to the other person.
Remember that as a husband you are a leader. You lead by example and can either lead poorly or richly. It is up to you to decide what kind of husband you choose to be. The 4 A’s can be a valuable resource, but it is up to you to be fully invested and engaged in your relationship.