If you’re looking for tips and advice to help you figure out how to be a better wife without losing yourself and your independence, this post is a great place to start! As much as I find humor in memes about housewives from the 1950s, it pains me to read about all the ways women used to make themselves submissive to please their husbands. I think we still have a lot of work to do in this space, which is why I wanted to share my tips for a happy marriage.
Getting older certainly has its ups and downs, but there’s something really liberating about being a woman in her mid-40s. You finally realize what’s really important, and allow yourself to let go of all of the things that are out of your control. You start to pursue the things that set you soul on fire instead of seeking acceptance and happiness from others. You learn to appreciate things more, and stop sweating the small stuff.
I used to dread the idea of getting older, but I’m not sure I’ve ever felt more comfortable in my own skin or more grateful for the life I’ve been blessed with than I do right now, and I’m excited to give my perspective on how I balance my life as a wife and mom while still chasing my dreams and being unapologetically ME.
How to be a Better Wife: 12 Tips for an Awesome Marriage
1. BE INTENTIONAL
If you want to know how to be a better wife, my first tip is to BE INTENTIONAL. Instead of yelling ‘hello’ and ‘goodbye’ from the depths of your home when your spouse is coming or going in the mornings and evenings, stop what you’re doing and take a moment to connect face-to-face. Send texts or emails throughout the day to let your partner who you are thinking of them, schedule regular date nights, pursue activities you both enjoy, give compliments, and find other ways to ensure your other half knows you are thinking of him or her, and that they matter to you.
2. OWN YOUR OWN HAPPINESS
Many of us are raised to believe that external things and events (our spouse, friends, and family, our career, our home, the acquisition of material objects, etc.) are responsible for our happiness, and while these things can certainly add joy to your life, you must remember that happiness is an inside job. As Rachel Hollis said in her book Girl, Wash Your Face, ‘You, and only you, are ultimately responsible for who you become and how happy you are.’ Pursue the things that set your soul on fire and let your happiness shine from the inside out! This will not only improve the quality of your life, but it will also have a positive impact on your relationship with your spouse as you will feel fulfilled.
3. BE OPEN AND HONEST
Another great tip for those who want to know how to be a better wife is to communicate your wants and needs openly. Remember that your partner isn’t a mind reader, and if you’re married to a man, the chances of him accurately reading between the lines when you’re being passive-aggressive are pretty low (sorry guys, but it’s true!). If you’re not getting something you need from your relationship, or feel hurt by something your partner said or did, express yourself! Just be mindful of using ‘I’ versus ‘you’ statements so you don’t come across as attacking your spouse, and remember to listen to his/her response without become defensive. Relationships are give and take, and you must be open to considering another perspective.
4. LISTEN TO HEAR, NOT TO RESPOND
When we are engaging in conversations with others, most of us spend the time the other person is talking formulating our response. Whether they’re telling us a story from their past, expressing their emotions, or arguing with us, we spend more time thinking about how we want to contribute to the conversation than we do soaking in what they’re saying. If you want to know how to be a better wife, get into the habit of listening to HEAR rather than listening to RESPOND. This is especially important during intense, emotional, and/or difficult conversations when your partner needs to be heard. Pay attention, don’t interrupt, repeat what your spouse has said, and remember that you will have time to respond later.
5. EXPRESS GRATITUDE
As much as it might pain us to admit, we tend to dwell on the negative parts of our interactions with the people we love rather than focusing on the positives. We are quick to point out the things they didn’t do (or did wrong), instead of expressing gratitude for the small ways they show their love to us throughout the day. We’re all guilty of this, and sometimes we need a little reminder to shift our mindset. We all want to be appreciated in life, and when you take the time to recognize the nice things your partner does for you, he or she will be more likely to continue the trend.
6. PICK YOUR BATTLES
Another great tip for those who want to know how to be a better wife is to get into the habit of taking a breather before you react when something upsets you. Ask yourself if you’re actually upset with what your partner did or didn’t say/do, or if something else is bothering you and you’re using that as a scapegoat. If you’re truly angry at your spouse, do a gut check and consider whether you’re blowing things out of proportion. Ask yourself if this will matter a week, month, or year from now, and react accordingly. There’s a fine line between expressing your feelings when you feel you’ve been wronged and taking things too far, and it’s always a good idea to take a few minutes to put things in perspective before you react.
7. GET COMFORTABLE WITH YOUR SEXUALITY
A post about how to be a better wife wouldn’t be complete if I didn’t bring up S-E-X. Whether you’re a newlywed, in the trenches of those first sleep-deprived years of parenthood, or empty-nesters, remember that your partner wants to be desired by you and also wants to please you. And I’d hazard a guess you want the same from him or her! Intimacy is extremely important in a marriage, so get comfortable with your sexuality and tell your spouse what you want.
8. HAVE YOUR OWN LIFE
Another important factor for a happy and successful marriage is interdependence – you and your spouse should be good together, and good on your own as well. Codependency can be dangerous and lead to a whole host of relationship struggles as it prevents you from making your own decisions and communicating your needs and wants, leads to low self-esteem, and creates fear and worry that you cannot survive on your own. Whether you’re pursuing a career or staying home to raise your children, find something outside of your role as a wife (and mother) that sets your soul on fire and MAKE TIME FOR IT.
9. START WITH POSITIVITY
I once read an article about the habits of happy people, and one of the tips in the post has stuck with me ever since. I can’t remember the details, nor do I remember who to credit for this brilliant idea, but the gist was that this person was in a difficult season at work, and one day realized he was allowing that negativity to snowball into every other area of his life. So he developed a new rule.
RULE: Think of one positive thing that happened during the day, and share that thing with his wife when he got home.
While it’s human nature to unload onto our loved ones the moment we see or speak to them after a difficult day, many of us have a tendency to focus ONLY on sharing the bad parts of our day with our spouses instead of leading with the good stuff. If you want to know how to be a better wife, get into the habit of starting with something positive, even if it’s just sharing a compliment you received or a meme that made you laugh.
10. NEVER STOP PURSUING EACH OTHER
Relationships change over time – we become more comfortable with one another, and have a tendency to take each other for granted when life gets busy. It’s human nature to do this, but if you want an exceptional relationship with your spouse, you need to put in a little extra work along the way. Send text messages and emails throughout the day to let your other half know you are thinking of him or her, organize regular date nights so you can connect on a deeper level, and be affectionate so he or she knows you still desire him or her.
11. COMMUNICATE AND HONOR THE NEED FOR SPACE
We all need our space every now and then, and honoring that need can make a huge difference in your relationship with your spouse. This is a dance you will perfect over time as you become more comfortable with one another and learn to read each other’s nonverbal cues, but sometimes it can be helpful to ask your partner if he or needs some time alone. Don’t be afraid to express your own need for quiet time as well – relationships are give and take, after all!
12. REMEMBER: YOU’RE A TEAM
My final tip for those who want to know how to be a better wife is to remember that you and your spouse are a partnership. Marriage isn’t a competition and everything is relative, so stop trying to one-up each other. Instead of arguing over who does the most around the house, who works the longest hours, and who feels the most exhausted, come together as a team. You are meant to compliment and support one another, and that requires a lot of give and take from both partners. It’s not about keeping score – it’s about playing to your strengths and weaknesses and coming together as a unit!
Whether you’re a newlywed, in the trenches of parenthood, or an empty-nester, it can be difficult balancing all of the different hats you wear each day without feeling as though you’re going to lose yourself and your independence. If you’re trying to figure out how to be a better wife, I hope the tips and ideas in this post inspire you to be more intentional with your time, to own your own happiness, to stop sweating the small stuff, and to communicate your needs and wants. Remember that you and your spouse are a team, and never – ever – stop pursuing one another!