From time to time I have the Moms over from the Mom’s Bible Study at Church and they ask me anything they like, about mothering and parenting and you know… older women training the younger women, I would be the older woman in this scenario!!! It is the least I can do, to answer the questions I had when I was a new mom. The topic of the day, that they had been reading about in Bible Study was: “How to Love your Husband…” If you have a look at Colossions 3:18-19 I think loving your husband is all about submitting to your husband and for many men that is all about respect.
Here are some of the questions that were tossed on the table:
- How do you show your husband that you respect him?
- How Can I Help Him in His Relationship With His Kids?
- How do you NOT resent your husband for long hours Away From Home?
- What if he doesn’t pull his weight around the house?
- How can I be the Perfect Wife? Stop being the perfect wife. It took me years to learn this one and a wise woman had to teach me it: We have this image of who the perfect wife, maybe she is the media wife, maybe she is even the Proverbs 31 woman… and we spend hours and days and years trying to be that woman. Remember your husband married you, he chose you… Find out what he likes about you and work on that. It took me years to get that and even longer to believe it and actually ask my husband about what he likes… and it may change. Turns out my husband doesn’t want dinner on the table or the house immaculate and the children all resting when he gets home from work. He wants a cup of tea and a moment of peace. He loves to come home and discover that everyone is busy and there is peace in his home. What about our appearance, ask him what he likes… he may prefer you in jeans than a dress-suit. He may prefer you looking fresh and bright rather than grungy and half-beaten by the day, chances are!!! A friend of mine’s husband loves her to wear make-up, and she always looks spiffy… My husband isn’t mad about make-up, you can tell, I never wear it, but he loves perfume and I am never without it!!!
- How Can I Make Him Feel That I Enjoy Time With Him More Than With Anyone Else?
- Don’t Make Him Wish He Wasn’t There.
- The Elephant at the Table: The question that nobody asked! Was what about their husbands, um, intimate needs. Don’t pretend they aren’t important, they are. We think of so many excuses to avoid it… and one of the biggest excuses is our appearance… What are we so afraid of – well I know I am not the lithe young lady that my husband married eighteen years ago and trust me eight kids can wreck havoc on your physique. How many friends tell me they need to lose a couple of kilo’s before they are comfortable with themselves… Honestly the issue is ours rather than our husbands and frankly just get on with it. I had one friend who made sure that Saturday night was THE night, no matter what… she knew all week to get her head there, and he didn’t have to spend every night wondering if tonight was the night… Whatever you do, know that this is one area that is an important way for him to express his love for you… buying you chocolates and flowers couldn’t be further from his mind. I have another friend who says, “Don’t just say no if you are genuinely too busy, give him hope, tell him a little later and then stand by your word.”
Talk about him in a respectful way… when he is around and when he isn’t around. Be careful who you hang out with. There is nothing worse than the “Oh so common” gathering of women to discuss who has the worst husband. Just step away from it. If your husband knows that you aren’t going to say something against him wherever you are that is already putting a spring in his step. And forget that hysterical anecdote that you really want to tell everyone… it just isn’t worth it, don’t mention it. Rather talk about the things he does that are fabulous – you could change the whole tone of the conversation and everyone could go home feeling better for it!!!
I am indeed his best advocate, I am the one who spends the most time with the kids and I am the one that can raise up their Dad to be their hero or not. He is a pretty fabulous Dad and his kids love and adore him, it is up to me to make sure that they know he has their best interests at heart even when he has to work long hours or he has to attend an important meeting. It also means I have to stand back and let them be with him when he is home. I like things done my way, who doesn’t, but let your husband do things his way often seems to work a whole lot better. I am all about calming the kids down and he isn’t!!! And that’s great, they all go to sleep at the end of the day wether they romped through a story or cuddled through it… the important thing is they have plenty of happy memories with both of us.
I realize that my husbands work is fundamental to him, he devotes a huge portion of his life to it, but what is he doing there. He is earning a salary that supports us month after month after month… I promise you if I was given the task to feed, clothe and educate a family of ten month after month then you may find me hiding under the couch. I realize that being part of a ministry and being involved in Bible Studies and prayer meetings are part of his spiritual life and I don’t begrudge him another meeting. When I was a new mum I discovered just how busy we were with weekly meetings…especially when I suddenly stopped attending them to stay home with our baby, I remember asking a busy pastors wife how she coped with her husband out for a couple of hours every night and she said: “Get busy.” Short and sweet!!! And it is only a couple of hours at a time. I must say for years I baulked at the thought of another Saturday morning prayer meeting… and now they are one of our best times… those of us at home linger longer in bed and read stories and really take a break from the rush… he always brings home something fabulous for brunch – I can’t argue with a lie-in and brunch a couple of times a month.
I do not expect my husband to do 50% of the work around the home but I do expect both of us do our best towards our marriage and raising our family. For us that means that l take charge of things within the home, the details. He is all about the world view and the big picture, he takes responsibility for his salary and worries about world events. I am all about the local, who didn’t finish their school work today and if the street kids who asked for bread at the gate this afternoon have somewhere warm to sleep tonight. I really don’t expect my husband to arrive home from work and roll up his sleeves and get the kids ready for bed and make dinner, while I put my feet up after an exhausting day. He does do jobs around the house but he likes me hanging around as his assistant… pass him the pliers and so on. I have no problem that… who doesn’t like company when they are busy with a job. Fact is, he is exhausted after a day at work and he needs to collapse on the couch… Fact is by the time he gets home from work there are plenty of pretty tired folk around our house and if they want to chill out on the couch together while they wait for dinner then I am all for it. There are days when I wish he was just a tad more energetic… those Sunday afternoon naps can be a little long!!! But if I think of it as a gift I can give him… a little longer nap, a little more time to relax then great. It is a gift that I can give him and it really costs me nothing. And why wouldn’t I want to gift someone I totally love!!!
Spend time with him, and I don’t mean date nights… regular time. I know date nights are very fashionable and the argument for them is that you will spend the rest of your life with your husband and your kids will move on… So true and I look forward to a different era with my husband. But we are loving the time with our family now, both of us are working at raising our family, while we are still all together. We do need to spend time together everyday, have a coffee on the couch together with kids milling about… talk about our days at dinner time while the kids talk about theirs… There is no reason why we can’t enjoy the everyday stuff together and even the not so everyday stuff together. I have no doubt that getting along well in the everyday will stand us in good stead a couple of years down the line when our kids start to find their way in the world. My best way to spend time with my husband is to talk with him… laugh at his jokes, talk about the books that he is reading, I want to know what makes him tick… I won’t hear any of it if we were to go out to a movie. I do hear all about it when we drive home from a family outing with tired, tussled, sleepy heads in the back of the car. Our best outing when we were newly weds was a browse through a book shop and have a coffee… nothings changed and why can’t we share it with our kids. I have a feeling that someone somewhere is making money out of the whole date night issue: A date night puts so much pressure on a couple, especially a couple with eight kids… financial pressure not just for the outing but for a sitter, not to mention the pressure of getting the kids fed and and bathed and ready for bed three times faster than usual – everybody knows the thing that sends a family into a spin is “rushing” and you can get home really late to discover unsettled kids – hardly the marriage builder you were after.
I know at the end of the day when my husband arrives home I can sit with him and lament about all the things that went wrong, and make no mistake I do this… but often I am painting a very negative picture of my world and very often he will say: “Rather you than me.” And that isn’t the impression I want to give him at all… I have to mix-it up a bit and remember to highlight the great parts of our day too… We do have them, it is just so easy not to appreciate them. Remember just as there is a media myth surrounding motherhood, we aren’t actually all sitting in lace dressing gowns on a rocking chair while our babies sleep in a crib beside us… there is a media myth about husbands, that they really aren’t worth their salt if they don’t dash home from work and do a million domestic chores. I make a point of not “reminding (nagging) him” of all the things on my ever increasing “to do” list for him… he knows there are tasks to be done and I know that none of them will be done when he walks in the door at the end of the day… let it go. Find out what he likes to do when he is home… you may be surprised!!!
And the Se7en + 1th Thing…
If you want to read more about this then you must read this article about Shaunti Feldhahn’s"For Women Only: What You Need to Know about the Inner Lives of Men" (Shaunti Feldhahn) book For Women Only. I wrote about her books previously in a post called The Best Relationship Books Ever.