Six Things I’ve Learned as a Husband and Father

You Will Need A Support Network

I can’t understate how important this is -especially when your kids are infants and need a lot of time.  Many families often relocate to where they can get work.   What’s crucial is finding a job where you have family or close friends available that can give you a leg to stand on in hard times, but can help babysit when you and your girl – in my case wife – desperately needs a break.

One or two people wont be enough. People get busy – often when you really need them – and you will need a wide network to ensure it doesn’t happen to you.  They say it takes a village to raise a child, and when you have two boys that are 10 months and 4 days apart, that couldn’t be truer.  Your family, her family, friends, everyone.    People we know have bought us diapers, clothes, even carseats and strollers.  Without that help, I don’t know what we would have done.

You want to avoid daycare at all possible costs, but to make ends meet these days, often both parents will have to work. It’s essential you have family, friends and GRANDPARENTS nearby who can babysit and help out.  If you aren’t able to have one parent remain at home with your kids, your family and close friends are far more nurturing and key to your kids success later in their lives than a daycare will ever be.

Lots of babysitting needed there.

With three months left of our lease, our babysitting situation and inability to get the support we needed caused us to uproot and move back to Illinois and in with some close friends of ours.  Now, with my parents nearby, my mom can give us babysitting whenver we need it.  This has been essential to both me and my wife getting work and being able to pay off what’s left on our lease back in Missouri.

Again, if you don’t get support, taking care of your kids in their infancy will become an exhausting burden, rather than a blessing and your marriage will be strained as a result.  Me and my wife have had plenty of small fights over problems created by exhaustion and the lack of people to help us out.

The fact my mom will babysit at any point means that I can finally take my wife. We can go to the Warped Tour and see her bands. A night out at the drive-in theater becomes a reality, instead of a fond memory.  We can never forget what brought us together in the first place.

Swallow Your Pride

Alpha this, alpha that. If you are an “Alpha”, you should have some pride and confidence in yourself and the decisions you make for you family.  However, when you screw up, don’t let your pride get the better of you.  If you can’t keep a promise, plans blow up, or you legitimately end up causing your wife grief – apologize.  Own it.   You are a man.

I must admit, I’m a stubborn prideful bastard.   So when I’m wrong, it’s hard to admit it.  Your wife will respect you if you are willing to admit and own your mistakes.  Key here is that you apologize when you screw up – not just apologize for her mistakes or to make her feel better. Only apologize when you do something wrong so it’s significant when you do.

Admit when you are wrong.

Just do it.   This one of the rare times, “Man up” should be said.  If you want your wife to apologize for the mistakes she does – and not blame you for them, you will have to lead by example.  I absolutely suck at this, but lately I’ve been trying to own any actual mistakes I make.    When it comes to raising my sons, this will be key.   They will look at my example and see if I do what I preach.

Now this doesn’t mean that you should roll-over.  (My wife even admitted she’s glad I don’t do everything she says or wants.)  If you have to battle, pick your battles and stand your ground when needed.

Manage Your Time

It’s so easy to be lazy and not make use of your rare downtime. I get it, but when things are tight and time is of the essence, do something useful and productive.  I love my video games, but the demands and needs of young sons come first.   This means keeping on top of giving them baths, getting them fed, changing them, and watching my oldest as he scurries around trying to touch and grab everything. 14 months is indeed an active age.

For instance, I want my wife to be satisfied with cheap easy to make food – which she usually isn’t.  To make it easier, I’ll have to spice it up, do the small things, and actually learn more about cooking. ( I work from home.)   I’ll also need to do whatever cleaning and stuff needs to be done.

In fact, there was a faucet that had to be replaced.  I had to get some extensions for the water supply valves to reach the faucet ends, but I took forever to get around to it because I was lazy.   We needed that faucet ready to go. I finally did it, but far later than I should have.

Luckily with that SUPPORT NETWORK that I mentioned earlier, time is a bit easier to manage when they boys are being taken care of by my mom and I’m able to get whatever I need to done around the house that me and my wife are staying.

Me and my wife have sex every single day.  That’s no accident. We ENSURE we have the time – that and my wife demands it with her high drive.  No matter what happens that day, we MAKE time.   If you really value something, you can and will do the same without excuses.   This also means that I have to stop making excuses for not getting things done that I should.

Laugh, Love, Live

These are great slogans, but people are usually either too busy or self absorbed with life to actually participate in these.  A great support network will help enable you to actually live life.    The house me, my wife, and the boys currently live at is the home of my best friends parents who are like my second parents.  It’s very similar to living in a multi-generational house and the benefits are immense and tremendous.

We actually talk to each other over food.  Laughter, great stories, and that noise of “happiness” can be heard constantly.   We are never “Bored”, unlike so many people.  There’s always something going and someone to hang out with.  Great conversations occur. Often friends and grandparents are over. Board games, bonfires, barbecues outside are staples of our lives. Beer taste better when you are enjoying it with people you love.  Having a Wii with Mario Party and Brawl is suddenly a phenomenal thing.   We are our own Brady Bunch.

My best friend’s family had four kids and my best friend and his wife have a 3 month old son.  (I’d like to think we inspired them to get going) We are going through almost the same stage of life. The naive dream of me and my best friend hanging out with our wives and raising kids is actually happening.  I feel like I’m living my own version of Second Hand Lions.   It fills me with joy everyday and makes me look forward to waking every morning.

All this makes it easier to raise our two boys with the love, help, and input that my best friends family gives us. I’m constantly learning new things as a dad because of it and me and my wife fight MUCH less than when we lived on our own in Missouri.

One interesting realization is that there’s other people who can hear those fights, so we have to mediate our differences calmly and quickly.  It prevents arguments from blowing up into nasty fights and has allowed us to get needed space and conversation with others in the house to take our minds off it.

Regarding that love part; the daily sex that I mentioned earlier helps resolve those fights and constantly bond us together to overcome if either of us have had a bad day, her emotions are at a low, or just our libido is going crazy.  It also boosts her confidence in herself and her body – very necessary after having two kids back to back.

When my wife’s particularly cranky,  she’s mentioned how she has a stick up her ass and that she needs sex to get rid of it.  Sure enough, it works every time.  Never forget that little fact when you wonder why she’s mad at you for no reason and you can’t logic at all with her.

Do The Small Things

1. We can be great at having the big picture in mind, but it’s the small details and living of our daily lives that makes all of that happen.   It’s those small conversations, memories, and emotions that shape our futures.  It’s easy to let the days blend together until you can’t remember what you did last Thursday.

Do something small each day to make it different.  Tell you wife you appreciate what she does.  Make her a small gift, come up with a quick movie list, and tell her you have a surprise for her – just don’t tell her what it is to the last minute. Never let that spark of romance get lost in the gritty routine of life. Make a date night each week.

2. Plenty of fights me and my wife have gone through were often because she wasn’t feeling “loved”. Every time it comes up, I think to myself, “Seriously?”  Simple stuff like saying, “I love you” in the morning, a kiss when she wakes up, a sincere compliment here and there. If she’s looking really good during a moment of the day, TELL HER SO.  You’d think that she knows you already love her and think she’s beautiful, but she needs to be reminded of it.  She needs your validation and appreciation.

Go beyond her outward beauty and look to her as a whole. It’s easy to see what your spouse does wrong – especially during arguments, but you often forget to compliment and appreciate what she does right.  She needs to know everyday that she is making you happy and that she is worth it.  Appreciate your wife for the great mother that she is and that the effort she puts in everyday.

You can do it

So many men have become jaded and believe that marriage isn’t worth it and fear losing any kids they do have to divorce and eventual child support via a vicious ex.   The risks are there, but the rewards of choosing a life you want to live are there as well.

I don’t make much money.  Neither does my wife.  But with that support I keep shouting about, anything is possible. You don’t have to be financially “stable” – most of us won’t be for years to come – and in your late 30s till you can get married and even think about kids.   Against the current grain, I would advise getting married young and having kids.

It’s far easier to deal with the responsibilities of kids when you are young, then when you are in your 40s and your back is killing you. You also enjoy the wife of your youth in your prime when you are full of energy, hope, and that “spark” that seems to fade as people age.

That essential support network can let you live a life worth living.  Be your own man and if a family is what you desire, don’t look back.  Keep striving forward.  Even though I’m new at being a dad, my boys already have an advantage – they will grow up with a father who loves them, will lead by example, and will always be there.