Ouch, these were painful for me, as a wife, to find out. I don’t even want to think of the times I’ve done these things… AND didn’t even know if it was painful to Caleb.

You know, I went through the 3 Best Ways to Ruin Your Wife’s Day and totally understood EVERY ONE of them. I could relate, and fully understand how any one of them would ruin my day.

But, when it came to the things that ruined my husband’s day I actually got defensive and figured that the things weren’t actually that bad. That’s when it helps to have the research the back things up.

So without further ado:

Number one: Insult his breadwinning ability.

You know, complain about how he doesn’t make enough money for you to live on comfortably, and then go out with your girlfriends for some “retail therapy”. That will crush him really good!

Despite the advances of feminism and the increasing entry of women into the workplace over the last half century or more, the fact is that men still have this legacy belief in our culture that they carry the breadwinner role. Men’s roles have changed more slowly than women’s in that women have moved into the workplace but men haven’t moved into the family in the same way.

We are not here to give a commentary on feminism or traditional versus contemporary gender roles, but we do want to point out, dear wife, that your husband’s self-concept as a breadwinner is quite possibly a much more significant construct in his mind than you might think.

In a 2006 study, Dyke & Murphy looked at gender based definitions of success. They found that a woman’s success focused on a personal notion of balance and high importance was placed on relationships. For men, material success still loomed large; first was material success, then relationships, then making a contribution, and finally, having freedom.

Before we’re too hard on the wives – dear husband, are you sincerely a hard working man and not blowing all the dough on yourself or your truck or toys or whatever? 1 Timothy 5:8 says “But if anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for members of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.” If you are an able-bodied, able-minded man, you need to be providing for your family.

But back to the wives – if your hubby is doing his best, you need to build him up, not tear him down. The best way to ruin a hardworking man’s day is to insult him as a breadwinner when he gets home from work.

If your income is not where it needs to be, have that tough discussion. Ask yourselves the questions:

  • Are your expectations realistic, or do they need to be adjusted?
  • Are you wanting or trying to live beyond your means?
  • Is he on board for income growth, or in a dead-end job?

There may be a genuine need for more income. In that case, make a plan. Does he need more training or a different job, and what kind of income are you, the wife, bringing to the table? We have a whole series on budgeting if you need some help in that direction. Start with Episode 1, and go on from there.

So there it is; the number one way to ruin your husband’s day is to insult his breadwinning ability.

Number two: Drown him with emotionality and then yell, “You just don’t understand me!”

For most of you, wives, your husband doesn’t understand you completely, and that’s not entirely his fault nor yours. It is just how it is.

If you unload on him and then emphasize the fact that he doesn’t understand, he’ll probably spend part of the night and most of the next day trying to figure out what happened and what was actually going on. He’s going to do that because he loves you, but it’s probably not going to help.

When he buys you flowers he’s not just saying sorry, he’s also saying, “I have no idea what went on there, but I hope you’ll forgive me and we can move on”.

This is accentuated by another study done in 2006 by Gonzales & Koestener who looked at Valentine cards to see what the comments revealed about the romantic emotions of men vs. women.

They found that men were more likely to offer praise, whereas women were more likely to express love. Why? Men are generally uncomfortable expressing vulnerable emotions.

Which brings us to our point that the best way to blindside your husband is with emotions. We are NOT saying you can’t be emotional. In fact, we all need to be more emotionally expressive and to develop our emotional intelligence. But you need to know that most men are way more impacted by emotionality than women realize.

When faced with strong emotions, men get flooded. Their blood pressure increases as well as their heart rate and respiration. They usually start sweating. These are all symptoms of anxiety. When these things happen their cerebral cortex (brain) actually reduces its functionality which makes them less able to stay with you and stay engaged. Ironically, if you’re charged up it’s probably because you WANT engagement!

So, all these emotions are wrecking his day, and foiling what you’re trying to achieve.

The solution? Start softly. No matter how important the issue is, don’t come out of the gate at full throttle, or with your guns blazing. Start with a calm voice and use simple language. Find a way to communicate the importance of what you’re saying without using volume, high intensity or overwhelming emotion.

You may not think he even wants to understand you, but we think he would actually love to understand you, so help him do that by starting softly.

Or, if you want to ruin his day, wait until you have a good head of steam and then hit him with a loud voice, preferably shrill, with tears, anger, and so on. Try to switch between emotions of angry and sad and desperate – and even the odd bit of passion – as fast as you can. And then when he’s totally overwhelmed don’t forget the final touch: “You never try to understand me!”

Number three: Make sex as infrequent as possible and then just ‘do your duty’.

There are gender differences that are critical to understand when it comes to sexuality. McNulty and Fisher (2008) looked at gender differences in newlywed couples. When they controlled all other variables, an increase in sexual frequency increased a husband’s sexual satisfaction. The opposite also was true – a decrease in frequency resulted in lower satisfaction.

For women, however, changes in frequency did not predict changes in satisfaction. That’s a straightforward observation, but the real question is, Why?

To answer this, let’s look at a study by Birnbaum and Laser-Brandt (2002) that looked at gender differences in the experience of intercourse. They pointed out that men are more socialized towards physical gratification. Men are socialized to have this idea that there’s something pent up that needs to be released.

But there’s more to it. This study revealed that despite this physical gratification piece, men generally have a very sincere desire to please their wife. Because she is relationally focussed and expects him to be more emotionally responsive, men generally respond by being more focused on how their wife is doing during sex.

Specifically, men reported being more centered upon their wife’s needs, thoughts and reactions as well as being more preoccupied with pleasing their wife. They want to know what pleases her!

This is why we said if you want to ruin his day, not only keep sex as infrequent as possible, but you also can ruin it by just ‘doing your duty’. By that we mean not really being engaged, just giving yourself to him as an object to satisfy himself with.

Again, we’re making an assumption, husbands, that you want fully engaged sex. If you’re treating sex as a way to merely relieve yourself you’re selling yourself short, your marriage short, and you’re dishonoring your wife. Don’t settle for cheap sex.

But, if your husband is pursuing you, ladies, there’s a good chance he really wants a number of things:

  1. To feel competent – like he’s a good lover.
  2. Mutuality – that he’s not the only one getting gratification
  3. Connection – with you
  4. Pursuit – to feel pursued himself, like he is wanted.

So, our challenge to you is not to settle for cheap sex. That is a good way to ruin your husband’s day. He knows if you’re just obliging him. He really wants your pleasure too. (It goes both ways, doesn’t it? It’s a great way to ruin your wife’s day as well…)

So there you have it. Three ways to ensure your husband has a terrible day and feels as rotten about himself as possible by the end of it.

Is this where I add the warning, “Do not try this at home”?!?!