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How to be a better wife: Ideas from 5 bestselling marriage books

If you’re wondering how to be a better wife, check out these key ideas from five best-selling marriage books.

A woman happily laying down the man's shoulder: How to be a better wife

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Marriage can be one of the most fulfilling and rewarding experiences you’ll ever have, but even when you’re married to the best man in the world, you know that effort, dedication, and a willingness to learn and grow is still required.

And you’re okay with that – because when you love your man and love your marriage, you want to do better, be better – to be the best wife you can possibly be.

But there’s the rub – what does that concept of being a better wife even mean? What does it look like?

There’s two approaches you can take here.

The first is by reflecting on the unique nature of both your marriage and yourself.

For example, I used to become insanely anxious when my husband said he would be home at a certain time but then didn’t make the deadline for whatever innocuous (and often uncontrollable) reason.

I mean, we’re talking when he said a cricket game would finish at 6pm but it went on till 6.30pm.

I wasn’t worried something had happened to him – it was something much deeper than that, that had existed in me long before he came along. Something I couldn’t even articulate.

In fact, for years I didn’t even realize that my fast-beating heart, the churning feeling in my gut and my inability to concentrate when he was “late” was anxiety.

Instead, I’d just rip him a new butthole when he got home for being so inconsiderate.

Now when that happens, I recognize the response for what it is and work on soothing myself.

And that doesn’t mean he shouldn’t communicate that he’s running late when he can – more that if he doesn’t, my response is more appropriate to what’s actually happened.

And while that level of self-awareness is useful when working on how to be a better wife, you can also use wisdom and inspiration from others that will challenge you in ways you hadn’t thought of.

That’s the second approach.

So here I’ve showcased key quotes or insights from five books on relationships and marriage, each offering unique perspectives and practical advice on how to be a better wife.

I feature one idea and explain how you can test it out in your marriage.

Whether you’re just starting out in your marriage or have been together for years, these insights can provide a starting point to help you build a stronger, healthier, and more fulfilling relationship with your partner.

I need your love — Is that true? by Byron Katie

I need your love - Is that true?

This book takes a close look at what works and what doesn’t in the quest for love and approval. It will help you find a way to be happier in love and more effective in all your relationships.

03/07/2024 08:04 pm GMT

Hurt feelings or discomfort of any kind cannot be caused by another person. No one outside me can hurt me. That’s not a possibility. It’s only when I believe a stressful thought that I get hurt. And I’m the one who’s hurting me by believing what I think. This is very good news, because it means that I don’t have to get someone else to stop hurting me. I’m the one who can stop hurting me. It’s within my power.

Byron Katie.

I connect this quote with the famous quote from Viktor Frankl: Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.

As a wife, it’s essential to understand that your emotional reactions are within your control. No one else has the power to directly cause your hurt feelings or discomfort. While others may say or do things that trigger certain emotions, it’s your own internal response and interpretation of those actions that determine how you feel.

In the context of being a better wife, this means being aware of the thoughts and beliefs you hold about yourself, your partner, and your relationship. Our minds can sometimes create stressful narratives or assumptions about our spouse’s intentions or behaviors, which can lead to hurt feelings.

By recognizing and challenging these stressful thoughts, you can better manage your emotions and reactions, rather than relying on your partner to change their behavior to avoid hurting you.

Breaking it down further, this looks like:

Self-reflection: Take the time to understand your emotional reactions and identify any recurring patterns of thought that lead to hurt feelings or discomfort.

Communication: Openly discuss your feelings with your partner, using “I” statements to express how their actions or words have impacted you, while also taking responsibility for your emotional responses.

Empathy and understanding: Develop the ability to empathize with your partner’s perspective and motivations, even if you disagree or feel hurt.

Mindfulness: Practice being present in the moment and observing your thoughts without judgment. This can help you break free from negative thought patterns and emotional reactions.

Self-compassion: Be kind to yourself and recognize that it’s normal to experience challenging emotions in relationships. Avoid self-blame and focus on growth and learning from each experience.

By being mindful of our thoughts and taking responsibility for our reactions, we can become better wives by fostering healthier, more compassionate, and understanding relationships with our partners.

The seven principles for making marriage work by John Gottman

The seven principles for making marriage work

John Gottman’s study of couples over a period of years has allowed him to observe the habits that can make—and break—a marriage. Here is the culmination of that work: the seven principles that guide couples on a path toward a harmonious and long-lasting relationship.

Straightforward yet profound, these principles teach partners new approaches for resolving conflicts, creating new common ground, and achieving greater levels of intimacy.

03/07/2024 06:03 am GMT

Most marital arguments cannot be resolved. Couples spend year after year trying to change each other’s mind—but it can’t be done. This is because most of their disagreements are rooted in fundamental differences of lifestyle, personality, or values. By fighting over these differences, all they succeed in doing is wasting their time and harming their marriage.

John Gottman

This quote is a game changer, especially from someone who has had the same argument with their spouse about 50 times this last year.

As a wife, it’s essential to recognize that not all disagreements or conflicts in a marriage can be completely resolved or “won.” In some cases, couples may have differing perspectives or preferences, and attempting to find a definite solution may not be feasible.

Attempting to change your partner’s fundamental beliefs or values through arguments or persuasion is often ineffective and can lead to frustration and resentment on both sides.

It’s crucial to accept and respect your partner’s individuality, including their unique perspectives and opinions.

Differences are natural in any relationship. Instead of viewing these differences as obstacles, embrace them as opportunities to learn and grow together.

Rather than engaging in endless arguments over irreconcilable differences, focus on finding ways to navigate around them and maintain a harmonious relationship. Fighting persistently over unchangeable aspects can lead to a cycle of negativity and erode the foundation of your marriage.

So, how can you be a better wife in light of this quote?

Practice acceptance: Embrace and appreciate your partner’s uniqueness. Understand that differences can coexist harmoniously and that you don’t have to agree on everything to have a loving relationship.

Effective communication: Instead of attempting to change your partner’s mind, practice active listening and empathy. Communicate your feelings and perspectives calmly, seeking to understand each other rather than “winning” an argument.

Focus on common ground: Concentrate on the shared values, goals, and interests that brought you together. Cultivate those aspects of your relationship and find ways to build on them.

Pick your battles: Not every disagreement requires a heated discussion. Learn to differentiate between minor issues that can be let go and more critical matters that need open and constructive conversation.

Seek compromise: When possible, work towards finding middle ground or creative solutions to address your differences without sacrificing your core values or needs.

Celebrate Similarities: Celebrate the aspects in which you do align and support each other’s personal growth and individual pursuits.

You can be a better wife by fostering an environment of mutual respect, understanding, and love, even in the face of unresolvable differences.

Remember, a strong and fulfilling marriage is built on a foundation of acceptance and genuine companionship.

The 80/80 marriage: A New Model for a happier, stronger relationship by Nate and Kaley Klemp

The 80/80 marriage: A new model for a happier, stronger relationship

The 80/80 Marriage pushes couples beyond the limited idea of "fairness" toward a new model grounded on radical generosity and shared success, one that calls for each partner to contribute 80 percent to build the strongest possible relationship.

03/06/2024 07:13 am GMT

At a certain point, sharing a life starts to get really complicated. You start with the responsibility-free experience of dating. Then you add one or two demanding careers. You add sharing space. You add a house or apartment. You add kids. You add a few unexpected health issues. You add aging parents. You add a global pandemic to the mix. And suddenly, running a household together becomes about as demanding as managing any other complex enterprise. You can ignore this fact, wishing things could magically go back to the freewheeling early days, when your biggest problem was figuring out whose turn it was to pay for groceries—a bad choice. Or you can revert to an 80/20 model, in which one partner does it all—an even worse choice. Or you can accept the reality that modern marriage involves an overwhelming amount of logistical complexity and begin to build structures to handle the logistics of life more skillfully—the choice we recommend.

Nate and Kaley Klemp

The Klemps suggest embracing the idea that life these days is full on and is best approached as a team. Effective communication and problem-solving skills are key in navigating the complexities of shared responsibilities.

Using this quote for guidance on how to be a better wife means initiating and participating in regular check-ins with your partner to discuss the practical aspects of your lives together.

These check-ins provide an opportunity to share concerns, make decisions together, and stay connected in the midst of busy schedules.

These check ins can be:

A short daily check in. This can be structured, like over a cup of tea when you get home from work.

A weekly catch up. My article on how to have a weekly marriage meeting shows you exactly how to do this.

An extended time for reflection a few times a year. These anniversary questions are perfect for such a deep dive into how things are working in your marriage.

The five love languages by Gary Chapman

The 5 love languages: The secret to love that lasts

Whether your relationship is flourishing or failing, Dr. Gary Chapman’s proven approach to showing and receiving love through the five love languages will help you experience deeper and richer levels of intimacy with your partner.

03/05/2024 06:04 pm GMT

Our most basic emotional need is not to fall in love but to be genuinely loved by another, to know a love that grows out of reason and choice, not instinct. I need to be loved by someone who chooses to love me, who sees in me something worth loving. That kind of love requires effort and discipline. It is the choice to expend energy in an effort to benefit the other person, knowing that if his or her life is enriched by your effort, you too will find a sense of satisfaction—the satisfaction of having genuinely loved another.

Gary Chapman

In this quote from “The Five Love Languages” by Gary Chapman, the author emphasizes that our fundamental emotional need as human beings is not just to experience the initial rush of falling in love, but rather to be authentically and sincerely loved by another person.

This kind of love, Chapman suggests, should arise from rational decision-making and conscious choices, rather than mere instinctual attraction.

He highlights the importance of being loved by someone who actively chooses to love us, recognizing qualities in us that are worthy of affection. Active loving demands intentional effort and self-discipline, as it involves investing energy into enhancing the well-being of the other person.

When we commit to this kind of love, we derive a deep sense of satisfaction and fulfillment.

Here’s how you can apply the wisdom of this quote to how to be a better wife:

  1. Conscious choice: Recognize that love is not merely an emotional impulse or fleeting sensation. Make a deliberate choice to love your husband based on his qualities and the shared values that drew you together. This conscious choice lays the foundation for a love that endures beyond the initial stages of the relationship.
  2. Invest effort: Understand that genuine love requires ongoing effort and investment. Dedicate time and energy to understanding your husband’s needs, desires, and emotional landscape. Show him that you are willing to put in the work to contribute positively to his life.
  3. Personal growth: Strive for personal growth and self-discipline in your role as a wife. Continuous self-improvement not only benefits you but also enhances your ability to love and support your husband. As you work on yourself, you bring a richer and more meaningful dynamic to your relationship.
  4. Benefit the other: Make a conscious effort to enrich your husband’s life through your actions and gestures. Seek to understand his love language – whether it’s through acts of service, words of affirmation, quality time, physical touch, or receiving gifts – and tailor your expressions of love accordingly.
  5. Satisfaction through giving: Find satisfaction in the act of genuinely loving your husband. Understand that by making his life better, you also contribute to your own sense of fulfillment. This reciprocal relationship of giving and receiving love creates a strong sense of connection and contentment within the marriage.
  6. Open communication: Foster open and honest communication with your husband. Share your thoughts, feelings, and aspirations, and encourage him to do the same. By cultivating an environment of emotional vulnerability, you build a deeper understanding of each other’s needs and strengthen your bond.

Incorporating these principles into your role as a wife allows you to transcend the superficial aspects of love and forge a deeper, more meaningful connection with your partner.

By embracing the idea of choosing to love, investing effort, and finding satisfaction in enriching each other’s lives, you can contribute to a thriving and fulfilling marriage.

Mating in captivity by Esther Perel

Mating in captivity: Unlocking erotic intelligence

Modern romance promises it all - a lifetime of togetherness, intimacy and erotic desire. In reality, it's hard to want what you already have. This book shows how more exciting, playful, and even poetic sex is possible in long-term relationships.

03/07/2024 08:19 pm GMT

The grand illusion of committed love is that we think our partners are ours. In truth, their separateness is unassailable, and their mystery is forever ungraspable. As soon as we can begin to acknowledge this, sustained desire becomes a real possibility. It’s remarkable to me how a sudden threat to the status quo (an affair, an infatuation, a prolonged absence, or even a really good fight) can suddenly ignite desire. There’s nothing like the fear of loss to make those old shoes look new again.

Esther Perel

This quote challenges the commonly held belief that when we are in a committed relationship, our partners belong to us – kind of like something we own.

But this is an illusion.

While we may share a deep connection with our partners, they remain individuals with their own separate lives, thoughts, and feelings.

Emphasizing the separateness of our partners doesn’t mean we’re separate from each other; instead, it encourages us to recognize and respect each other’s individuality.

Ironically, it’s in this that the excitement in the relationship kicks in.

For example, certain situations that remind you of that separateness – from as heavy as an affair to as light as an argument – can unexpectedly make you hot for each other again.

It reminds us of the value of the person we love and brings back the spark and appreciation that might have faded over the years.

It’s like a bit of a wake-up call.

In a way, the fear of losing our partner can remind us of their significance in our lives and reignite the attraction we once felt. It’s as if seeing the possibility of being without them suddenly makes everything about them feel fresh and new.

So in applying this idea, the trick to how to be a better wife is:

Embrace the reality of our partners’ individuality. You’re not the same person, and that’s a good thing.

Recognizing the inherent mystery in every relationship – without engaging in any destructive actions like having the hots for someone else.

Avoiding assuming you know everything about him.

Be open to continuously learning about him as he changes and grows.

Stay curious about his thoughts and feelings and try new experiences together such as date nights and romantic getaways.

In doing so, you can find ways to sustain desire and keep the flames of love burning bright.

How to be a better wife means different things to different people. If you’re taking ideas from these best-selling marriage books, consider how you can accept responsibility for your own reactions, understand that some fights will never be resolved, focus on giving your best to your relationship, know your partner’s love language and stay curious about them as a person in their own right.

Your marriage is something that is always worth putting effort in to. By focusing on how to be a better wife, you’re doing exactly that.

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