I have made it a habit the past few weeks to listen to Christian radio pretty much exclusively throughout the day while I'm working, doing laundry and cleaning up yet another mess on our carpet (thank goodness it's so forgiving.) It has really helped me keep my focus and my heart where it needs to be. It's also calming and that's always a good thing... especially around nap time (Little Man's, not mine - unfortunately).
However, this morning it kind of infuriated me, honestly. I heard two songs back to back about, in essence, a man who doesn't have his priorities in order. In one it began with the lament from his wife about how she feels so alone and in the other it was about how he had wasted his life pursuing things other than his wife and kids. I'm not saying this doesn't occur, but is it isolated to just the male population? Don't women have pursuits and jobs and activities that take them away from what the better priorities for their life should be? Why is it always "his fault"?
I understand that we need Godly men. I understand that we need passionate, fearless, Godly men in leadership - in the church, in the home, in the workplace, in Washington, D.C. But I'm a little worn out of women whining about how hard their life is - and this includes myself. I'm tired of seeing every movie and every show on television portraying a weak, foolish, pot-bellied man, who somehow, miraculously, are rescued and loved and tolerated by their gorgeous, skinny, wife who apparently never retained one ounce of pregnancy weight. It's not that there aren't gorgeous wives out there - I know many! It's the fact that the man is undeserving of such a wonder woman - both in beauty and brains.
He doesn't measure up. He doesn't even come close.
Over the past week or so I've been reading out of "The Love Dare" (made popular by the movie "Fireproof") during my quiet time and trying to implement the challenges into my daily life. It has given me a lot to think of during the day and by the time my husband comes home, I admit that my disposition is sweetened by the truth I've noshed on all day. Today I "had to" ask him for three things that I do that irritate him or make him uncomfortable... and I promised to not pout or fight about it. I just wanted constructive criticism and I actually cringed when I wrote "criticism". I don't want any FORM of criticism, thankyouverymuch.
When Aaron and I had been married four months, we joined a group at our new church that was going through the "Fireproof" study. We were the most recently marrieds in the group and only one other couple was younger than us. We were babies. And we didn't speak up much, because we felt as though we hadn't earned the right - we were new. We still had rose colored glasses. We didn't have kids. We had it "easy". And sometimes after class we would talk on the drive home about how much simple, common sense comes into play in marriage... how so many "issues" would be resolved if you just used your head. We took a few steps into the actual "The Love Dare" book, but found it to be pretty basic ("Be kind!", "Don't embarrass each other in public!" etc.) And we were like, "Maybe in ten years we'll take that off the shelf and read it."
Our 2nd Anniversary is in a week. Ha.
We're not having problems in the grand sense. But we are human and we are married and we do have a baby, now. The dynamic of our home has changed. We can't do what we want, when we want; we have to consider the Mini Us, now. I no longer work outside the home and I have different challenges - like daily showers and wearing "real" clothes and not spending too much at Walmart each week. And Aaron has the full responsibility of providing for us. He works hard and has a job we are both very grateful for. But things are different. We both have altered responsibilities and while my daily tasks have changed - we both work and we both are tired at the end of the day and we both think we've earned the right to be a certain way.
It's really easy, I am finding, to become a little (only a little?) self-righteous. For instance, when Aaron isn't all gung-ho to take over baby care in the evening, it's easy to reach in my pocket and pull out ye ole scorecard. You know, the one we women seem to keep adding to throughout the day - throughout the lifetime of our marriage - the one men don't seem to typically have their own version of. It's easy to say, "I've changed him 1309843094893 times, doing it right now will not kill you." However, did I work the way my husband worked all day? Did I deal with the stress of the public? Did I have the annoyance of being on the road or being in the office or getting home after getting up before the dawn and have an albeit adorable 6 month old pushed into my arms and a wife idignently demanding that it's my "turn" to take over? Because she's done quite enough?
I know a lot of women who feel they are the "Godly" or "righteous" one in the relationship. They are the ones who own devotional books and actually read them. They are the ones who pray that their kids won't turn into a disaster at sixteen. They are the ones who were raised in the church, while their husband went wild in college. They are the ones who are thinking about how to "fix" their marriage or their husband. They are constantly worried about what their "love language" is and what she can do to make him realize she needs something other than what he's giving.
Why is it always the man's fault?
What would happen if I stopped thinking so much? Men don't worry about half the things women do. And in turn, women don't worry about half the things men do - even though we may think that they don't think about anything serious or weighty. That's arrogance on our part as women, as wives. It's pride. It's selfishness. And if we keep twirling all that they don't do around our little finger, we will only serve to be constantly reminded of how much we are convinced they are failing us.
What if we decided to not do that anymore? What if we torched the scorecard? What if we forgot what our "love language" is and opened our eyes to how our husband is loving us? One of my "languages" is words of affirmation. Do I need Aaron to tell me every day what an awesome mother I am, how lucky he is to have found me, how perfectly I fold the towels every time? Do I really "need" that? Honestly. Do I?
If not, then what do I need? Do I need my husband to love me and my son? Do I need my husband to laugh with me? Do I need him to take delight in our boy and how he's growing and changing? Do I need him to provide for me? Do I need him to DVR my favorite, can't-miss show because I've gone to visit a girlfriend for the day? My husband shows me all the time, every day, that he is there for me. Does he always say what my pride and ego want to hear? No. But, is that really necessary for us to have a healthy, happy marriage?
Or is it more important that we're kind? Is it more important that I'm not a drippy, argumentative wife? A lot of our happiness, I think, is dependent on what we set our minds on. And if you spend all day thinking how hard your life is and how easy your spouse has it, how they don't understand all the crud you deal with on a daily, hourly basis... then I'm sorry, sister, but you're stuck in a vicious cycle and no man is ever going to be good enough.
Our men don't need saving. Or fixing. Do they need to be more like Jesus? Sure. But, doesn't everybody? Don't you? Is your husband truly "lucky" to have you? Are you such a tremendous blessing that you somehow outdo him on the scale of awesome spouseness? Do you really do so much more than he does? Is your day really that much harder than his? Is he really such a dead-beat?
I am not saying that there are not situations and families and marriages in this world that are sad, terrible, impossible train wrecks. I am not saying that abuse doesn't happen or that people don't marry the wrong people. (I am also not justifying divorce, just an FYI.) What I am saying is that for those of us who are in the church, going to Bible studies and writing music for Christian radio... is it really always the man's fault? I've seen some really Godly men treated unfairly and disrespectfully by their "holy wives".
I just think it's unfair to always blame the Daddy. I think with anything, it's always easier to blame someone else or the situation or society or the economy or your 3rd grade math teacher who made you feel stupid. But we need to take responsibility. We need to grow up and own up. And we really, really need to love our own as well as we love strangers and friends. It's easy to put up a good front when you're in public - to act loving and sincere - it's a much different story to do it when you're home and watching TV and eating pizza. What would happen if we were just as kind and respectful and honoring inside the home as we are outside or on Sunday mornings?
I don't think it's always the man's fault. That's all I'm saying.
"Be devoted to one another
in brotherly love;
give preference to
one another in honor."
~ Romans 12:10