Most of us were brought up to believe there was a single entity called a Good Husband. Yet there are actually two very different kinds of good husbands: the Boyfriend and the Husband. The former is everything you've wanted since you were 15: sexy, spontaneous, irresistible. He makes you laugh, makes you shiver, makes you mad as hell. The thing is, he never quite pictured himself as a husband and father, and deep down he still doesn't. When you're trying to explain the concept of equal parenting or picking up his wet towels from the floor, you wonder: Did I make the biggest mistake of my life?
The Husband is your best buddy, a man you can count on to walk the baby at 3 am, research Consumer Reports for the safest car and even buy you tampons on the way home. Yes, sex is more tender than thrilling, but isn't that to be expected with time? Still, sometimes you wonder if marriage should have more pizzazz, mystery. . .
Well, yes. And Boyfriend husbands should stay home more often, too. But just as there is no one good marriage, there is no one good husband: Even the best have a B side. But how do you live with your doubts and still love and nourish the good marriage you've got? Read on. . .
He's such a bad boy!
From the outside looking in, we all envy the Boyfriend Marriage - and from the inside out, it does feel as good as it looks. Romantic. Spontaneous. Magical. Right. At its best, it feels the way you were always told marriage should feel. You will have a rollickingly connected kind of marriage, like a radio that never gets turned off. And that's wonderful when the magic is working. But, if the highs are higher in this marriage, the lows are also lower.
Passion - the glue of the Boyfriend Marriage - has a downside, and it resides in its very origin: The flame that fuels it is either unfamiliarity or uncertainty. And much as we love our husbands, they do not remain an endless series of brand new revelations. Which leaves us uncertainty, for the dynamics haven't changed much since your dating days. The same questions still rivet you, just beneath the surface of your everyday lives: How does he feel? How do you feel? Is he still attracted to you? Do you still love him?
But most of the time, you just love the way your heart jumps when you first catch sight of him, the way you feel walking into a room together, the rightness. Then something happens, and the balance tips - and you're back to does-he-or-doesn't-he?
He's comfy and cool
There's no question: Being married to a Husband is easier on the psyche than being married to a Boyfriend. Here, the *** connection evolves out of a steadily growing regard, an intellectual rapport, a shared sense of humour and a profound romantic attachment. One doesn't so much fall in love as walk into it.
The downside of the Husband Marriage? The yearning to be swept away by a tidal wave of lust. And it can feel a lot worse when you're going through a period of doubts . . . or when an actual person comes along who reminds you of the passion you once knew.
How to love the one you're with
No matter what the style, good marriages are based on chemistry, commitment and communication. And optimism: It helps to look at your marriage as half full rather than half empty. Loving your husband and yourself at the same time depends upon seeing him as clearly as possible, trying to forgive him for what you see that you wish you didn't, and trying to live with him in spite of it.
Given how different the Husband Marriage is from the Boyfriend Marriage, you'd think they'd require vastly different strategies for long-lasting happiness. Not so. Just don't compare him to your best friend's husband. Realise that a good marriage has intimacy and independence. It pays to cultivate a network of friendships and interests outside the marriage.
In the Husband Marriage, you need to find something that stirs you and allow your enthusiasm to invigorate your marriage. In the Boyfriend Marriage, you need that independence to nourish your self-esteem and to see you through rocky times.
Whichever kind of husband you married, if you want change, say the experts, take the initiative. Don't wait for him to read your mind. If you want more time for yourself, say so. If you want a hotter sex life, make the first move. And. . . Stay away from temptation.
Michael Douglas is a marriage counseler and relationship expert who offers marriage advice and healthy relationship advice to help couples and singles in building healthy and successful relationships. Also, Don't forget to check out love and relationship quiz to find out your relationship stats with your partner.