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How to Save Your Husband from Himself

  • Jay Payleitner Author
  • 2014 14 Jul
How to Save Your Husband from Himself

Your husband has two kinds of flaws. The ones that bother you. And the ones that bother others.

As for the former, I hope you have chosen a plan of action. Either accepting them or easing him away from his nasty habits and shortcomings that get under your skin. Just for reading this book, I believe you deserve a new and improved husband.

As for the latter kind of flaws, you have a responsibility there as well. In many ways, the bothersome habits your husband inflicts on outsiders are much more critical. For one thing, he doesn’t have a lifelong commitment to the rest of the world, so they can abandon him on a whim. And for another, his bad habits that irritate others may result in a punch in the face or a police record. They can also lead to lost friends, lost jobs, lost respect, and lost ministry opportunities. As his faithful wife, you may be called to take extreme measures to rescue the man you love from his own destructive behaviors.

My most serious flaw has not led to any jail time or broken noses. But it’s led to some personal losses that I regret to this day. You see—I confess—I am the jerk in the stands. Before you judge too harshly, let me explain. Before the game, after the game, during 96 percent of the game, I’m a delightful companion offering sparkling conversation and witty commentary on the decisions by the coaches and the calls by the officials. But much to my dismay, a few times during every season—watching my kids participate in a sport—I would speak, mutter, or yell things that were way out of line.

Actually, I have learned to tone it down over the years. Still, I can’t bear to think of the occasions when members of my own family were regretting I was there. In my head I can replay images of how I acted, and it’s more than a little frustrating. It’s almost like an out-of-body experience. I ask myself, Who is this guy? Why is he making such a fool of himself  ?

To be clear, I didn’t yell negative words at my kids or any of the young athletes. It was mostly at refs. Sometimes at the situation. Often it was just over-the-top-loud game analysis. Frustration boiling over. Many times I would aggressively voice what many of the other fans were thinking. That’s when my wife would tell me, “Jay, your voice carries” or, “Jay, I think the other dads would love to stand with you way down the third-base line.” Which I hated to hear, but I needed to hear.

Which, of course, is the point. When your husband screws up, he may need your help. The challenge is that—even if we’re about to hurtle over a cliff—most men don’t want to be corrected by our wives. That tends to make matters go from bad to worse. If I’m a jerk and Rita calls me on it, I often respond by being even more of a jerk. Still, it’s the right thing for her to do.

Other examples. If a husband is rude to a waiter or clerk, we want our wife to let us know. If our body odor is nasty, we want you to tell us. If we’re about to park in a tow zone or on the neighbor’s grass, say something. If your husband is about to track mud into his boss’s house, is talking too loudly on his cell phone, or is holding up a long line at a ticket counter for a measly three bucks, he wants you to gently point out how his action could be improved. It may not be pleasant to hear, but that’s part of your job and you need to have the courage to do it.

Ideally, a husband eventually recognizes his flaw and actually requests his wife’s intervention. But don’t hold your breath. The best you can hope for is that on the car ride home, he delivers some sort of apology or regret which gives you a chance to gently offer to help. If you respond, “Heck yeah, you were an absolute embarrassing jerk,” that’s not going to help. What will help is for you to come alongside and let him know that he is otherwise the perfect man of your dreams but he does have one teensy-tiny flaw. Good luck with that.

Over the years, Rita and I have tried a variety of strategies to minimize my jerk-in-the-stand scenarios. We’ve talked about it. We’ve prayed about it. I’ve given her permission to nudge me if I start acting up. I’ve learned to walk down to the foul pole or end zone when I feel the need to voice my loud opinions. I’ve stood with other dads who yell even more than me. I’ve distracted myself with game day responsibilities like videotaping, working chain gang or concession stand, and even umping myself.

With husbands, some strategies work better than others. The ones that don’t work include when a wife piles on guilt, loudly corrects her husband in public, points out all his flaws at once, turns the kids against him, threatens divorce, or withholds romantic favors.

Strategies that do work, I’d explain like this: For us, they’re the direct result of Rita and my coming together and recommitting to the big picture. Our goal is to grow old together sharing mutual love and respect. Which means, her job is to never give up on me. A wife’s best tools are prayer, love, tough love, wise counsel, patience, and perseverance.

So do yourself and your husband a favor. Have that one-on-one, heart-to-heart talk and get permission to lend him a hand as he works on his one fatal flaw.

Finally, when it comes to fixing an individual’s biggest flaw—his or yours, for that matter—there’s one more thing to remember. You can’t do it on your own. Both of you are going to have to come together and ask God for help. He’s got answers you won’t find in here or anywhere else.


It’s difficult for any of us to admit when we’re wrong. It’s even more difficult to admit that we can’t admit that we’re wrong.

“Those who disregard discipline despise themselves, but the one who heeds correction gains understanding” (Proverbs 15:32).

Article excerpted from 52 Things Husbands Need From Their Wives by Jay Payleitner. © 2013, Harvest House Publishers. Used with permission.

Jay Payleitner is one of the top freelance Christian radio producers in the United States. He has worked on Josh McDowell Radio, Today's Father, Jesus Freaks Radio for the Voice of the Martyrs, Project Angel Tree with Chuck Colson, and many others. He’s also a popular speaker on parenting and marriage and the author of dozen-plus books, including the bestselling 52 Things Kids Need from a Dad, 52 Things Wives Need from a Husband, and 52 Things Sons Need from Their Dad; he also created “The Dad Manifesto.” Jay has also served as an AWANA director, a wrestling coach, and the executive director of the Illinois Fatherhood Initiative; he now partners with the National Center for Fathering, whose efforts he fosters and promotes. He and his wife, Rita, live near Chicago, where they’ve raised five great kids and loved on ten foster babies.

Publication date: July 14, 2014