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How to be a Great Husband

How to be a Great Husband

A great husband is in the eye of the beholder. However, there are clear virtues identified in research by the Institute for Family Studies which rhyme with other research findings. 

For this post, we will share the evidence of the virtues separating great husbands from the rest of the pack and provide a handful of simple and actionable steps you can take as a husband to move forward and be great. 

The Institute for Family Studies identifies couples who flourish in their relationships and are connected. Of those marriages that are flourishing, they evaluate three components of relational-connectivity:

  • couples’ sense of belonging

  • friendship

  • intimacy

After that, they compared flourishing and non-flourishing couples on multiple relationship factors.

Marital Virtues

They compared high-connection and low-connection couples on the aspects of commitment, centeredness toward others, and compassion.

How to be a Great Husband

The Virtue of Commitment

The virtue of commitment entails full fidelity to one’s spouse and a long-term devotion to fostering the permanence of the relationship. 

How to be a great husband: Establish lifetime habits of support 

We built our Transition to Marriage Toolkit as the leading resource for couples to use to establish the lifetime habits of support and devotion necessary for a last relationship. Of all the virtues, this is not one which can be addressed by singular tasks or commitments, but rather a holistic approach to the relationship. 

The Virtue of Other-Centeredness

The virtue of other-centeredness entails not being self-centered or selfish, while being kind to others. To foster this virtue, spouses need to learn to value and prioritize each other and seek ways to be true supporters of each other. 

How to be a great husband: Take ownership of more home management tasks

Fifty years ago this largely entailed being the breadwinner, in today’s world, this often means providing in many more ways such as managing the home as a team. We have numerous ideas for taking ownership of more home management tasks on our Household Chores page.

The Virtue of Compassion

The virtue of compassion involves being there for others in times of difficulty. Due to the natural challenges of marriage and family life, spouses need to become an enduring support to one another to provide help and assistance to one another. 

How to be a great husband: Be attentive and compassionate

Their findings also jive with quite a bit of existing research, including from PEW which highlights that 90% of women believe that a good husband is attentive and compassionate. Read 3 Steps to Be a Present and Supportive Husband for ideas. 

Responsible Behaviors

They also compared the level of responsible action in relationships between couples with high and low connections. Specifically, they examined differences between high-connection and low-connection couples on how frequently they engage in four responsible behaviors:

How to be a Great Husband

Spending Meaningful Time Together

Spending Meaningful Time Together: “We make regular time to just be together and focus on each other.” 

How to be a great husband: Commit to organizing weekly date nights

Dr. Wilcox, Director of the National Marriage Project at the University of Virginia, also points out in his latest book that the happiest marriages often included couples who set aside time weekly only for each other.

You can find countless ideas for winning date nights on our Date and Activity Planning page.

Acts of Kindness

Acts of Kindness: “We regularly do random acts of kindness for each other.”

How to be a great husband: Commit to random acts of kindness

We know from research that a great gift giver must see the world through the receiver's life. They must think deeply about what that gift will mean to them and the bond it will strengthen. 

A random act of kindness does not need to be candy and flowers. As a matter of fact, when we asked women what they really wanted, they said to “clean the toilets.”

Forgive Offenses

Forgive Offenses:“My partner is quick to forgive me when I make mistakes.”

Relationship Maintenance 

Relationship Maintenance: “We work on our relationship and tell each other what we want or need.” 

Relationship Outcomes

They also compared overall life satisfaction and meaning between couples with high and low connections. The average percentile score of high-connection couples was twice as high as that of their low-connection counterparts on life satisfaction and meaning. 

Couples' happiness in their marriages and their overall lives is also affected by these findings. These findings emphasize the importance of helping couples view happiness and personal satisfaction as the fruit of their relationship connection, rather than the cause. 

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