Everyone wants to feel understood, especially by the people closest to us. Whether you’ve been married for 10 minutes or 10 years, you know that communication is challenging! And the most difficult thing to communicate? You guessed it, it’s our feelings.
Even greater challenges arise when we become parents and the responsibility of raising children consumes our time and our thoughts. As a mom, I often find myself navigating worries and fears without sharing them with anyone.
Knowing men are even more likely to keep their feelings hidden, I decided to ask a few of my dad friends this question.
“What do you wish your wife understood about being a dad?”
I was surprised that many of their answers were the same and I noticed 5 main themes. My hope is that this inside look into the minds of fathers will give you insight, and inspire you with ideas to intentionally support and encourage the dads in your life.
Here’s what they said:
1. There’s a lot of pressure.
“Being a dad is harder than most women think it is. There is a lot of pressure to take care of my family and I bear the weight of providing for them. I sacrifice a lot of what I may want to do or what sounds fun so I can be there for them.”
“How much stuff there is to fix! As dad I’m the plumber, HVAC repairman, auto mechanic, landscaper, small engine mechanic, battery expert, toy repairman, pest control man, and IT troubleshooter! If anything breaks, everyone brings it to dad!”
“The birds and bees conversation can’t be sprung on the dad. He needs to work up to it.”
Dads feel the weight of earning a living, keeping things working, and leading their family. Don’t wait for signs that he’s stressed. Tell him he’s doing a good job and you’re thankful for him.
We often tell our husbands the things we’d like for them to do differently, but we need to remember, dads are putting in a lot of effort! Don’t forget to appreciate what he does well.
2. Sometimes I worry about measuring up.
“I wish my wife knew that I truly wish I knew how to make her life better as a mom. I spend a lot of time wondering if I am doing all I can to ‘do my part’ of the parenting, the chores, or whatever in raising our kids. All in an effort (and often coming up short) to make things easier on her.”
“So much of what we do as parents overlap. There are certain topics that my wife talks to our daughter about while I speak with our sons.”
“I worry that I’m not going to be a good enough example for the kids to follow”
Think about what your expectations are for your husband. When we expect more than is possible, we are setting ourselves up for disappointment. Talk through your responsibilities and work together to accomplish tasks you are most suited for.
That’s what it means to work as a team! Know how God has uniquely designed you and your husband to contribute to your family. This builds dads who are confident leaders even if they don’t get it right every time.
Dads get it right more than we give them credit for! When you see your children doing something right because he taught them or they’ve followed his example, point it out. Next time you’re in a group of friends, complement something he’s done or say something that you love about him.
3. I feel pulled between my obligations.
“I wish my wife understood that when I’m at work, it isn’t just ‘fun,’ and I really do miss the family when I’m not home.”
“I want to give 100% in whatever I am doing. I don’t give all my best effort at work and then use whatever energy is left over when I get home.”
You can tell that these dad’s are feeling a constant pull between two important things, what has to be done at work to provide for their family and spending quality time with their families. A dad’s work is never done. Even after a full days work, there’s still plenty to do at home.
If your husband is feeling overwhelmed, be intentional to help him out where you can. If you have a little extra time this week, show him love by taking on one of his responsibilities so he can be free to do something else. Or make plans for family fun away from home, which can be a welcome and refreshing distraction!
4. It’s not easy to say how I feel.
“After the birth of our first child, everyones attention was on my wife, and rightly so! But, I had no close friends at the time and felt very alone in figuring out fatherhood. In those moments, I wished that my wife had known how I was feeling.”
“Crying does not come easy. Emotions too.”
“Days like Father’s Day can be difficult for dads. We are expected to be strong, but many of us are also struggling with losing our own fathers or children.”
We need to support these dads. The best way to do that is to listen and ask questions. Because men aren’t always quick to share what they’re feeling, it’s easy to assume and fill in that blank ourself. Instead, let’s be wives who take the time to listen without pressuring our husbands.
5. I want more than anything to support and take care of my wife.
“I wish that she knew I am willing to give up everything precious to me for her and the kids. That their happiness means more to me than my own! ‘Greater love hath no one this than a man who would give up his own life for his friends.’ I always loved that verse and I have tried to apply it to my family.”
“I want her to know how many sleepless nights I have worried about providing for her. I hope she understands how much I adore her. I worry daily about trying to make sure she is happy and safe and secure.”
Wives, here’s our biggest take away… Know that your husband loves you and would do anything for you. Notice when he gives you the bigger slice of cake. Notice when he skips an outing with his friends to spend time with his family. Notice when he continues to wear old worn out tennis shoes, so the kids can get new ones.
My last piece of advice is to pray. Our husbands need wisdom, confidence, strength, and grace. Write these words somewhere you’ll see them every day and intentionally pray for God to equip your husband. Ask God to help him to know how to lead his family well, to be confident in who God made him to be and to overcome uncertainty when he’s not sure if he’s getting it right.
After all, he IS trying his best. If you don’t believe me, here was one dad’s response:
“In a house full of boys… we truly DO try to leave the toilet seat down.”
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