(This is an archive from SFL that has been reworked for today's post. Before reading this, please know that I am not talking to women who are in physically abusive relationships. Please, if your safety is an issue, please, please get help today.)
Boink! That's the sound of me stepping up on a soap box. Are you ready? Let's go...
Since when are men stupid? When did women let pop culture decide that Homer Simpson was the rule, not the exception; that men are, in fact, lazy, spineless, and foolish? I've seen some women treat their husbands like garbage, like subservient children who are lucky to have a wife to educate them. I've seen this on TV and in movies. It seems like this is everywhere I turn, even the church.
Now before you bounce off the page, hear this: Men are not blameless, they have their faults and I think they're the first to admit it. They have insecurities and shortcomings and they know it. I have never seen a perfect man. But I surely have seen very good men become an empty shell of their wives own styling. How does this happen?
When two people are dating everything seems perfect. She adores his ideas, opinions, and strength. They get married and somewhere along the line her attitude changes. The smiling woman he adored gives way to a person he doesn't know, who may even demean him to her family or children. Everything is suddenly fodder for a fire that burns a dark, steep abyss between them. The friendship goes, the camaraderie turns to jagged blows, and intimacy gives way to void. He clams up out of hurt and loss; he's grieving the wife he lost somewhere along the way. So, he makes due the best he can by simply and quietly enduring.
At first glance you’d think it’s because he’s just given up. But I have another theory: Perhaps because after all the chipping away at his armor, he thinks, "Maybe she's right - maybe I am stupid." Of course this isn't true, but I think people can only take so much before it starts to do damage.
So why do we sometimes do this? You know what I mean, a group of ladies get together and it isn't long before someone starts making fun of her husband. And another joins in, and another.
Years ago I listened to a woman emphatically declare that if her husband didn't do housework "her way" she would withhold sex until he did it right. "It's his reward for coming around," she laughed. She wasn't kidding. All I could think was, "What if he withheld comfort and conversation from her until she was empty? Then she might know what she's putting him through." But I'm a coward, I said nothing. Well, that's not entirely true. Somewhere during her tirade I interrupted with, "Are you high?"
Any of this sound familiar? Have you ever treated your husband like he was stupid? Men, have you ever been treated this way? It's a mistake that's common, but there's grace to cover it but the basing has got to stop.
Here are a couple of ideas that have worked for me:
- Watch how you talk about your spouse to your kids. Don't make your frustration theirs; if you do you're unfairly asking them to carry a burden for the rest of their lives. Instead of saying, (infer sarcasm) "Dad's working late again. Typical!" Try saying, "You are lucky to have a daddy who works so hard for us. He misses you, too." You may not believe it at the time. You may have grounds to be really pissed off. But children, no matter their age, are children and they love their father.
- Treat your husband like he's the man you dated. Chances are, when you were dating, you both did as much as possible to extend grace to the other. Why not try that again now? Yes, times are different and maybe you're both hurting. I'm not asking you to pretend. I'm suggesting you forgive and move on. If you spend your days waiting for your husband to suddenly transform into Mr. Perfect you'll be waiting for a long time. Let God work on you. Surrender your will to His. Let God deal with your husband.
- Enjoy sex. Withholding sex hurts men in ways women don't understand. When men have sex there is a chemical reaction in the brain that tells him to protect and provide for you. Being female, I don't quite get it. But I do know that sex is bonding for both partners. Assuming there are no larger issues like abuse in your relationship, sex can bring back the fire between you. You say you don't enjoy sex? Increasing frequency will help both of you learn about each other. Try it and see.
-Don't set your spouse up for failure. I sometimes have expectations of my marriage that don't fit my husband's personality. Hanging on to those Harlequin dreams will sabotage any fun we have. So, instead of falling for all those lies that good husbands give their wives diamonds and roses for Valentine's Day, I'm going to surprise him with a gift he'll love. This year Valentine's Day will find Dan and I blowing $20 at a local arcade. We'll have a blast because that's what works for us. Ladies, your husband wants you to be his playmate, and not just in the bedroom.
- Enjoy more sex. Be willing and have fun. Wait, did I already emphasize this? I'll just assume some body's husband will have a great weekend because I repeated myself. Now don't make me look stupid...
- Fall in love with Jesus. He made marriage and He made men and women different. He longs to love on you and your spouse. Sometimes we use God as a last resort. In a crisis we turn to Him and He pulls us through. But what if that same grace carried you day to day as you tried to love your spouse? Think about it. (Also, He wants you to have more sex. Just saying.)
-Talk to a counselor and get accountability before things get worse. Sometimes hurt piles up and starts to rot like maggoty meat. Getting the help you need today can save your marriage and a world of hurt. Don't be a hero - ask for help until someone listens.
Maybe you're here reading this and didn't get what you expected today. Perhaps this hits a sensitive spot for you. Know you don't struggle alone. The person you married (or may marry one day) isn't your worst enemy. If you fell in love once, you can do it again. By stopping the jabs you can restart the process today.
So what do you think?
P.S. I would really like to hear the male perspective on this if there are any guys willing to comment. I think "Anon" is a perfect alias, don't you??
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