We all try find ways to be a better partner. Here are two simple steps that really help with that.
When we ask couples which exercise they're still doing, years later after seeing us at our clinics, they always bring up the "15 Minute Daily Conversation". We think it's because this exercise help couples reconnect daily.
To have your 15 Minute Daily Conversation, first turn off all electronics and distractions. Tell your partner that this is their 15 minutes of undivided air time. During this time, he or she can talk about anything they're experiencing *outside* of the relationship. (We make this qualification in order to avoid it being 15 minutes of complaining about you. That involves another type of scheduled conversation called the "State of the Union Meeting" on this blog.) Most people will use these 15 minutes to download about their day.
Your job as a listener? First, please avoid problem solving your partner's concerns away. This is designed as a time for people to simply share, and possibly think out loud. The problem solving will come later. Second, acknowledge what your partner is saying. "Wow, that must be hard," or, "He said THAT to you???" shows that you care about what's being said.
The second way to be a better husband? Ask your partner regularly about their dreams and hopes. We find that fantasy is an integral part of marriage and relationships. People use their relationship to try on new hats, and experiment with future goals. Listen for, "I've been thinking about taking some new classes at the community college," or, "I wonder how much it we'd have to save to take a big vacation next year?" Often we're pressed for time, and problem solve immediately upon hearing those dreams. We say things like, "Well, the last time you tried those classes you hated the instructor..." or, "Didn't we just go on a big vacation LAST year???" Those turns away add up, and can erode at your friendship. Instead, just find an open ended question you can ask from a place of curiosity. "What class would you take?" or "Where have you been dreaming of going lately??" are simply ways to acknowledge your partner's statement without feeling like you're giving in.
Sincerely, Gay Couples Institute Staff, San Diego Therapy Clinic