How to Be a Better Husband: What Science Tells Us

Learning how to be a better husband and father

Do you want to learn how to be a better husband? Volumes have been written about how to do just that, and some of the information you find can conflict with each other. This can make things confusing. Which bits of advice should you take, and which should you ignore?

To answer that question, we’ll need to define what makes a “good” husband instead of a bad one. Once we’ve established what scientifically makes a good husband, we can see how you can improve on those traits and become a better husband to your wife.

Also, in typical BeyondAges fashion, we’ll go further in this article and look into how to become a better husband and father to your kids. But, first things first...

How to Be a Better Husband

So, what makes a good husband? We looked at studies of male traits that were the most significant predictors of marriage satisfaction and tried to see why they’re so profound. These are what we found.

(QUICK NOTE: If your marriage is falling apart at this point, now’s probably not the time to look for long-term changes to solve the problem. Instead, you’ll need to fix the issue as quickly as you can. Here are our tips on doing just that.)

Similarity with your wife

The first trait, one of the biggest predictors of a happy marriage, is the similarity with your wife. You’ll want to have traits, goals, beliefs, and values similar to hers. Apparently, birds of a feather do flock together when it comes to leading a happy marriage.

It makes sense. The more similar you and your wife are, the fewer arguments you’ll have, and the more often you’ll reach a consensus when making decisions. Not only does that make you a better husband, but it also makes her a better wife to you. Altogether, that makes for a much better relationship for everyone concerned.

If you want to be more similar to your wife, check your relationship now. How are you different from her? And among the differences you’ve listed, which ones will be easy for you to change? Start with those, close the gap, and match your wife’s deepest values.

The big five personality traits

A sociable, extroverted man

Another huge predictor of marriage happiness is a similarity in the Big Five personality traits between the couple. If this is the first time you’ve heard of it, the Big Five traits are agreeableness, extroversion, openness, conscientiousness, and neuroticism.

More specifically, you and your wife are in good shape if you share these traits:

  • High agreeableness, or when both of you are generally pleasant people.
  • High extroversion, or when you both enjoy meeting people and being in groups.
  • Increased openness to new experiences.
  • High conscientiousness levels, or the desire to do your duty well and thoroughly.
  • Low neuroticism, or the tendency towards negative emotions and actions.

Among the Big Five, it’s been found that high conscientiousness levels were the most significant predictor of a happy marriage. So if you’re used to doing just the bare minimum to get by, you’ll want to start investing in your work and doing more than what’s required.

Do you want to learn how to be a great husband? Then see how well you match with your wife on the Big Five. Find ways to close the gap between them. List down what you believe you can do, then make each change one at a time.

Match her intelligence

This one’s on the touchy side—studies have shown that similar intelligence levels between couples predict happier, more stable marriages. The closer you are in terms of intelligence, the more satisfying your relationship will be.

So, what should you do if one of you is noticeably more intelligent than the other? Luckily, intelligence is malleable. If your wife is significantly more intelligent, that’s fine—you can expand your knowledge and learn valuable new skills. With the Internet at your disposal, there’s nothing you can’t learn.

Now, what if it’s the opposite, and you’re significantly more intelligent than your wife? Likewise, not to worry—make a conscious effort to not make her feel inadequate. If you have a habit of calling her for making dumb mistakes, for instance, you might want to change it to playful teasing instead.

How to Be a Better Husband and Father

Now, let’s take things one step further. How do you become a better husband to your wife and a better father to your kids? Here’s what the science knows and what you can (and should) do from now on.

Spend time with the baby

A father spending time with his baby

If you want a smart baby, don’t let your wife hog the spotlight. Spend time with the little tyke as well. Studies show that babies who spend more time with Dad turn out to be brighter than average as they grow up.

Why is this so? It might be because it’s with you the baby will learn new words. While your wife is more likely to use baby talk to communicate with the little one, you’ll speak more normally—and your speech patterns will rub off.

Smart babies are more versatile and resilient and, therefore, more capable of facing the world. And a huge part of being a better father is to prepare your kids for the rigors and responsibilities of real life. Give them a head start by spending more time with them while they’re still in the cradle.

Play with the kids

What about your kids’ social skills? Guess what: You have more influence over how your kids grow up than you might think. And it’s all about the time you spend playing with them.

Studies have found that kids who regularly play with their fathers develop better social skills than their peers. This includes how to relate to others, make friends, and manage relationships as they grow older.

The key is to moderate the intensity of your playtime to suit the kid(s)’ levels. If you sense the kid is getting overwhelmed, slow down a bit. If you spot a pout, ease up and be gentler. And if your kid’s getting too wild, frown at him as a sign to slow down.

Playing with your kids this way will help them manage their emotions better, keeping them in check and preventing them from getting too disruptive or exhausting.

Want to become a better father? Play with your kids more—but keep a moderate intensity, and watch for the cues you need to take it easy.

That said...

Don’t be afraid to wrestle

Another study showed that rough-and-tumble play with your kids will teach them valuable life skills. These include:

  • Understanding the world and other people
  • Learning social guidelines and cultural norms
  • Being considerate of other people’s feelings
  • Making new friends

The secret is having a rough-and-tumble play that’s warm, playful, and sensitive. Also, dominance-sharing is essential—let the little ones win as often as necessary to make a good play session. This will teach them, among other vital skills, how to lose gracefully.

In case you’re afraid of accidentally hurting your child, here’s something that might surprise you. The same studies show that the more you engage in rough-and-tumble play with your child, the fewer injuries they’ll actually sustain. It’s likely because rough play teaches your kid how far they can push themselves before they get hurt.

What are some good rough-and-tumble play ideas? Here are some of our favorites:

  • Wrestling on the bed
  • Pillow fights
  • Playing tag
  • Playing “pretend” battles (superheroes vs. villains, for instance)

Feeling the urge to rough-house with your kids? Chances are they feel the same way. Go for it!

Never Stop Improving

A happy afternoon with his family

Lastly, always continue improving yourself if you want to continue being a better husband and father. If you’re not in a constant state of self-improvement, commit to making that lifestyle change now. Always, always find ways to become a better man by:

  • Having a mission in life that’s even bigger than your wife and kids
  • Increasing your capacity for responsibility
  • Becoming more disciplined
  • Working out
  • Accepting your masculinity

Also, don’t ignore the practical side of things. Never stop finding ways to become more valuable. The best (and most enjoyable) way to do this is by constantly learning new skills.

Here’s a quick list of skills you can and should learn. Pick one and master it first before moving on to the next:

  • Martial arts like boxing, Muay Thai, or Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu
  • The art of persuasion
  • Habit-stacking
  • Social skills (holding a conversation, presiding over meetings, etc.)
  • Learning to change your wife’s mood instead of her mind
  • Eliminating an addiction or weak spot in your life
  • Being more present in your children’s lives

Do you want to be a better husband and father? Science has found ways for us all. Get to it—your wife and kids will be glad you did.

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