One of the most difficult things to balance is goodhusbanding and goodparenting. It is easy to spend all of your time focusing on one, and ignoring the other. Nothing good can come from this. Either your wife or your children feel cheated and find a way to get your attention, or they find ways to entertain themselves without you. Face it, everyone wants to feel special. Everyone wants to know that they are the most important person in your life. So how can you show your wife and each of your kids that they are your favorite? You make time for them!
When I was in the middle of my self-righteous adolescent phase, I may have let my father know that I was feeling unimportant to him. (I’m sure that as an eleven-year-old girl, I used very dignified, mature words, and an even tone… or not) Shortly after this ‘conversation’, my father and I had a tradition of two regularly scheduled ‘dates’. One was breakfast on Sunday mornings, and the other was Chinese Food Mondays. During these times, I had my father’s undivided attention. I would talk about school, and he would tell me stories about when he was growing up. I later realized that these ‘rivoting’ stories taught me more about being a grown-up than pretty much anything else.
After a few years, Chinese Food Mondays became less of a regular thing. I was in High School Colorguard and I worked after school. Free evenings were in short supply, although I do remember my father telling me that he walked out of a Board Meeting. As I looked at him incredulously, he told me that he explained it very clearly to the Board “Sorry guys, I have a date with my daughter”. I could not believe that he had done that! It was absolutely crazy…. leaving a Board Meeting… (Guess who felt really special THAT day!)
Sunday breakfasts, on the other hand, kept going for a number of years. From age 11 to 19, I think we may have missed a total of 8 Sunday Breakfasts – because my Dad was out of the country. No other excuse would be acceptable. When I was in college, I drove about 90 miles each way for the weekend. Mostly to visit my boyfriend and wait tables… but also for Sunday Breakfast. After I got my first apartment with my boyfriend, and got a job more local to school, I stopped driving back home. Neither my Dad nor I knew what to do with ourselves on the first Sunday… What do you eat for breakfast on a Sunday? Are you allowed to eat? Maybe I’ll just sit here until I figure it out… We were both completely out of it for the entire day.
Fast forward about 8 years, and Sunday Breakfast is still one of the only guarantees in life. Even now, when I live in Chicago, and my Dad lives in California, if we happen to be in the same State, Sunday Breakfast is a given. It took my husband a while to get used to the concept, and fully understand how it works. The first time my husband and I flew to California so that he could meet my family, I left him to fend for himself for breakfast on Sunday Morning. A few years later, my husband had plans on Saturday morning, so he did not join me and my Dad for breakfast, assuming he could join us on Sunday. Nope. It’s SUNDAY.
Earlier this year, I got married on a Sunday, and despite the fact that my entire immediate family was in town, my Dad came over with a box of Dunkin Donuts for everyone else, and we went to the Original Pancake House together. Why? It was SUNDAY.
I assume that my father has a similar ‘Date Night’ arrangement with his wife, because he understands that it is imperative to make the important people in his life feel special. What do you do to make your wife and children feel special?
About the Author: Abby Dryer's goal in life is to bridge the communication gap between men and women. She finds herself giving lots of marital advice to her guy friends whose wives don’t want to have to explain *everything* to their husbands. “Women are hard to understand. I’m a woman, and *I* don’t even get us sometimes! Goodhusbanding is a great guide to help men understand their women, and hopefully communicate with a little more confidence, because that’s what works… communication!”