A Valentine’s Day Wake-Up Call to Be a Better Husband (and Father)

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My friend asked his wife how their marriage was going, and he got a shocking answer. Just to make it plain, she said, “It’s hell.”

Needless to say, my friend “Mark” got a shocking wake-up call that day. Since then, they’ve really been working to make things better.

I realize we have a lot of single-dad readers out there, and this week’s blog may not apply to you, but I feel it’s an important message that many men need to hear….

A Valentine’s Day Wake-Up Call to Be a Better Husband (and Father)Looking forward to Valentine’s Day next week, I want to ask you the same question. How’s your marriage going? Maybe I should challenge you to courageously put that same question before your bride and ask for an honest, no-holds-barred answer.

Just last week, my bride Melanie let me know that she signed us up for a marriage conference that’s coming to our area later this month. Even after 35 years together! You’d think I’d have figured a few things out about how to treat her right, and I suppose I have. But I know I can’t stop learning and growing as her husband.

I’m pretty open about the fact that my marriage isn’t perfect. Melanie and I have disagreements and go through bumpy stretches once in a while. But we’re committed to each other and to building a marriage that lasts.

Maybe more than anything, that’s what I want to throw out to you this week. Make a commitment to be a better husband going forward.

Can you identify with Mark’s wife—or with Mark? Are there times when it’s like you’re walking around the house on eggshells? You glance at each other as you pass in the hallway, but there’s no spark there? And if a marriage has that kind of tension going on all the time, it can make everyday life … well, just like Mark’s wife described it.

And don’t miss this point, dad: the kids feel that tension, also. Even if they don’t know exactly what the source is, they know something isn’t quite right. And in today’s world where so many marriages don’t make it, you know they’re wondering if Mom and Dad are splitting up. Those thoughts begin to erode their security and confidence. Growing up has enough challenges without adding in thoughts about what will happen to their parents.

Maybe this can be your wake-up call. Don’t settle for an unhealthy marriage!

Two action points are pretty obvious:

1. Do whatever is necessary to make your marriage better. Have those hard talks. Get counseling. Read and discuss a book to improve your marriage. Change jobs. Consider life from her perspective. Whatever it takes. Your marriage is that important.

2. Make your improved marriage obvious to your children. Kiss your wife in the kitchen. Renew your vows. Watch your wedding video and tell them all the details.

More ACTION POINTS for Dads on the Journey

  • The official holiday is next Thursday, so you have the weekend and a few more days to plan something special. And you should do something special. Some people downplay the holiday or make fun of all the hype surrounding it, and sometimes I feel manipulated, too. At the same time, I know it wouldn’t be good for my marriage if I didn’t go out of my way to show her how much I love her.
  • Leave yourself regular reminders—in the car, on the bathroom mirror, on your electronic calendar—about how you need to love and serve your bride.
  • Take the challenge from National Marriage Week (February 7-14 every year) to eat, talk, and play together to strengthen your marriage.
  • Use this sheet to help guide a special dinner together (from David & Claudia Arp).
  • Get some creative date night ideas from Love Gives First.

Help other dads by sharing. What insights or habits caused a positive breakthrough in your marriage? Please join the discussion below or on our Facebook page.


Carey CaseyCarey Casey is the CEO of the National Center for Fathering, a nonprofit organization dedicated to changing the culture of fathering in America by enlisting 6.5 million fathers who to make the Championship Fathering Commitment. NCF believes that every child needs a dad they can count on, and uses its resources to inspire and equip men to be the involved fathers, grandfathers and father figures their children need. Subscribe to his weekly email tip by clicking here: “Yes! I want tips on how to be a great dad who loves, coaches, mentors, and inspires my children.



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  1. Great post Carey. I think you made several wonderful points. As a husband of almost 23 years (yes I had to stop and do the math), it is important to slow down and make sure the spark is still there.

    Too many things put you on autopilot these days…kids, work, and everyday routines. Sometimes it’s hard to snap out of a lull.

    My wife and I listened to a great book on tape once, the title alone helps us once and a while when we find ourselves busily rushing about, and I’m not trying to sell the book, I just refer to the title in my head sometimes, “Eating Chocolate and Dancing in the Kitchen.”

    The title reminds me to take advantage of little moments, spark re-igniting moments such as when a good song comes on while both of us are in the kitchen and snatching up my spouse for a quick spin across the kitchen tiles. A sideline result is that my kids get a kick out of it and can see my commitment to their mother and our family.

    Thanks again for the post and the reminder.


  2. Thank you for this article. Although i feel i am on the right track to fixing my wrongs i know i need constant help and reminders. so thank you for being a light.

  3. One thing that I have learned recently is to take care of yourself. I was recently daignosed with sleep apnia and was prescribed a Bi-PAP machine to allow me to actually rest when I went to “sleep” – -Prior to this I snored like a chainsaw and all the associated complications that come along with sleep deprivation. Depression, no motivation, weight gain, loss of libido, headaches, moodiness, high blood pressure…. etc. I have had my machine for about 3 weeks now and find that the headaches are gone, libido is coming back, motivation to do that “honey-do-list” is there, energy levels are increasing, I feel 10 years younger!! Now that I have taken care of my-self I have so much left in the tank to attend to my marriage. My wife said, “it’s nice to have YOU back!!” Guys – dont ignore a health concern, stop and take care of yourself so you can be the best husband your wife deserves, and the best father your children deserve!!


  4. WHATEVER IT TAKES!!! I just wrote her complaints off as “I’m just not that kind of guy” and “I can figure it out myself”. Both lies to myself, and now that it resulted in divorce, we are all paying the price. Carey knows what he is talking about guys, do WHATEVER IT TAKES.

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