For the past 20 years, I have been officiating at weddings and offering marriage counseling to couples who are preparing for marriage (as well as couples who have been married for a while.) Marriage is a beautiful thing, but it can also be a lot of work. It takes intentional effort to keep it healthy and strong.
Unfortunately, not everyone is willing to make the kind of spiritual, relational, and emotional investments their marriage needs to thrive. It's always sad to me to watch marriages struggle or end when the issues that were present could have been addressed and overcome.
Many articles have been written to men in particular with advice on how to strengthen their marriages, but please allow me to do the opposite for just a moment. Today, I'd like to offer a few words of advice to men on how to have a miserable marriage and lose the respect of your wife and children.
1. CHOOSE NOT TO LEAD. Defer all important decisions to someone else. Don't provide spiritual leadership, financial leadership or household leadership of any kind.
2. DON'T WORK HARD. Let your wife carry the exclusive burden of providing for your family's needs. That way you'll never have to miss an episode of "The Walking Dead" on Netflix for something as boring as a job.
3. DON'T HELP OUT AT HOME. In addition to her work outside the home, make sure your wife understands that it is also her responsibility to keep you fed, clean the house, and care for the children. You do your part by being awesome.
4. FOCUS EXCLUSIVELY ON WHAT INTERESTS YOU. Don't bother to engage your wife and children in conversation or show any interest in what might be important to them.
5. KEEP LIVING IN A DAYDREAM. Somehow, the world hasn't figured out how awesome and smart you are, but eventually, the world is going to discover that you're a genius. Then you'll be praised and showered with money.
6. WASTE YOUR WIFE'S MONEY. Just because she's the one financially supporting your video game addiction, doesn't mean she can protest your expert financial decisions. Besides, the electricity doesn't usually get shut off after only one past-due notice.
7. FEED YOUR WANDERING EYES. Why bother resisting the temptation to lust after other women? Frankly speaking, your wife is starting to look a little too tired and worn out for your tastes - especially after spending years supporting you.
8. COMPLAIN ABOUT YOUR NEED FOR INTIMACY. When you got married, your wife contractually agreed to be intimate with you even though she doesn't find a man who doesn't lead, work, help, or hold a conversation attractive. That's her problem, not yours. Complain more and she'll probably give in.
9. KEEP MAKING EMPTY PROMISES. Promise your wife that things will get better, then make new promises when you break those. Promise your kids that you'll start being there for them, then convince them that they heard you wrong if they ask follow up questions sometime in the future.
10. BLAME. It's not your fault that things aren't so great. It's probably the economy's fault, your parents' fault, your disorder's fault, or maybe it's your bad back's fault that you can't manage responsibility. Just keep blaming. Eventually, something will stick.
You can honor your wife, love your children, sacrifice your time and preferences for what's in their best interest, and gain their respect by being a continual blessing to them. You choose.
© John Stange, 2018