The points in this article can be applied in some degree to men and women everywhere, but for the purposes of this article they're specifically tailored to men that are married or that are currently in a relationship.
First, I'm going to make a few assumptions (dangerous, I know). I'm going to assume that most of us men don't cheat on our wives (or significant others) and I'm going to assume most of us men are not abusive. If you are doing either of those things, stop. Now.
This article will focus on some of the more subtle things that, if put into practice, will improve the relationship you have with your spouse.
1. Stop making jokes at her expense
A sense of humor is a wonderful thing, but it's possible to use yours without taking shots at her. Stop making fun of her. Nobody likes to be the butt of a joke. It may seem harmless. She may not even seem to react, and yes, she's probably used to it by now. Poking fun at her probably isn't going to ruin your marriage, but eliminating it from your marriage will make it better.
Oftentimes there's a lot of truth hidden behind a snide remark, and women are great at picking that stuff up. Even if you're not trying to tear her down or passive aggressively express some minor annoyance, she still may construe it that way.
Jokes at your wife's expense are pieces of needless negativity that can be easily removed from the relationship. Work on it.
2. Stop being disappointed that women aren't more like us
Maybe she likes to be stylish while you only have seven shirts- one for each day of the week. That's fine! Support her interests. Does she need 17 different creams and lotions? Probably not, but let her be her. Celebrate your differences instead of shaking your head at them. If you have no legitimate reason to disapprove of her behavior, let it be.
3. Stop trying to fix everything
If your wife is having a bad day, chances are she just wants you to listen while she vents. If she wants your help fixing the problem, she will ask. If she doesn't ask, just lend her a compassionate ear.
Men, this is one of our greatest flaws. We seem to be inherently wired with a desire to fix stuff. When we happen upon a problem, our minds instantly fill with possible solutions.
The same thing will happen as you listen to your spouse or significant other. Let her know that you're there for her and will help in any way you can, but don't marginalize her pain by proposing what you think are easy fixes to the problem.
4. Stop looking at porn
Stop cheating on your wife in your mind. Stop justifying it. Pornography can be just as addictive as illicit drugs (like cocaine). It destroys marriages and families. Religious institutions have been warning against pornography for decades, but scientific research is finally catching up. If you don't believe me, check out the research done by Fight the New Drug. Men, please, love your wife enough to remove pornography from your life.
Your wife wants you to trust her with your most personal thoughts and feelings. That's tough, because we men generally shy away from talking about our feelings. Try to open up to her. Share your feelings with her. Trust her with your insecurities, your weaknesses.
You don't have to be all rough 'n' tumble all of the time. Apologize to her when you're wrong. Ask her for help when you need it. Let her into your heart - it will melt hers.
6. Start taking her seriously
Your wife is smart. Listen to her. Her opinion matters. Before making decisions for the family, talk to her about them. Ask for her input, and then take it seriously. We men are prone to getting very stuck in our ways, thinking we have all of the answers. We don't. Be humble enough to admit that.
If the balance of power in the family always leans in your favor, you're doing something wrong. You and your wife are partners, not Captain and First Mate.
What do I mean by that? Well, let's look at a basic compliment for reference: "Honey, you look beautiful today." Generic enough, right? That's part of the problem. While all compliments are good, I promise your wife will appreciate them ten times more if you apply the double-edge. For example, "Honey, you look beautiful today. Your new haircut really compliments your eyes."
Did you see what we did there? Follow up your compliment with a reason or evidence of why you gave that compliment. That's what the double edged compliment is. It puts a basic compliment to shame. If you don't believe me, try it out and see what happens. I dare you.
8. Start improving yourself
Use all of your innate desires to fix stuff to fix yourself. Become the man you've always wanted to be. Do it for yourself and do it for her. You know what your flaws are. Start fixing them. It won't happen all at once, but start taking baby steps now and you will soon start to see the results you're looking for.
Be patient, but persistent. Push yourself. Recover from addictions. Eat healthier. Use clean language. Do the dishes if that's how you feel you need to improve. If you're not sure where to start, ask your wife. I'm sure she'd be more than willing to help you out.
No more excuses, start improving today (for real).