It’s been quite the ride, hasn’t it, discussing Chris Taylor’s (of Forgiven Wife) guest post, “A Wife’s Heart”. Last week, we put up our final segment, discussing the last part of her post. (Here are the links to part 1, part 2, part 3, part 4, part 5, part 6 and part 7, btw.) And, per usual, I exhibited my happy talent for pushing buttons and asking questions at the most inopportune times.
However, in an uncharacteristic fit of sportsmanship, I offered Chris the chance to turn the tables on me and ask questions of me. And in a display of impolite behavior, she took me up on it! Humpf! Doesn’t she know that when someone offers you the last donut or waffle, you are supposed to politely demur, saying, “No, thank you. I’ve had enough.” Well, having opened my big mouth, I’m stuck.
At the end of Colloquy #7, Chris asked three questions that she would like me to answer, so here I go:
#1 – Dealing With Hurts
How do you and your wife deal with feelings of hurt in a healthy way?
I think the best way to describe it is that Wife and I hold our hurts with open hands. I’m not saying that I don’t trod on a toe from time to time, but if I do, I can usually pick up on Wife’s demeanor. Yes, something changes when I do something to disturb her; I can sense a barrier between us, as she may become a bit more quiet and withdrawn, and I know that something I’ve done has struck her athwart.
When that happens, when He-of-the-Thick-Skull (Me) realizes that he’s done something that has offended, he will wait until we have a time by ourselves (we still have two adult daughters living at home). If I am unaware of my particular offense, I will ask “Whaddido?” But quite often, I know. *sigh* I. Know.
In that time, I will apologize, making sure to identify why I know that it was hurtful, and making a mental note to try to remember to not do THAT again.
I will say that it doesn’t usually work that way in reverse, however. The reason for that it that I can be somewhat stoic, and I see no need to share my miffs. Yes, I can get upset, but I am usually quite adept at not walking my irritations about for all to see. Usually. (Living with three adult women, I don’t see the gain in being offended and letting everyone know about it.)
It’s not hard for me to just “sleep it off”, and get up the next day and go on about my day. As I said, I hold hurts with an open hand. Let me tell you a story that will show what I’m talking about (in case you haven’t picked up on this, I am a collector of stories).
A young woman was getting married, and her grandmother attended her bridal shower. One of the activities that they had was giving the bride-to-be a bit of advice to help the marriage grow. Her grandmother, who was married for 50 years, said that when she was first married, she made a list of ten things for which she would automatically forgive her husband if he did them, and it made all the difference in their marriage.
The young bride-to-be was intrigued by this bit of advice, so when she could, she took her grandmother aside and asked her, “What were the ten things that you decided to forgive Grandpa for, if he did them.”
Her grandmother laughed and replied, “Oh, child, there never was such a list. Instead, every time he did something that irritated me, I just said to myself, ‘Lucky for him that’s one of them!’”
I’d say Wife and I learned to apologize and forgive, and hold hurts with open hands.
#2 – My Wife’s Heart
What lessons have you learned about your wife’s heart?
Since Chris asked these questions, Wife and I have done some talking to see if we had any special insights. Maybe Wife is an exception to the rule, or came into the marriage wise beyond her years, but in talking about how she processed things, she said that she has had the attitude that when things have happened that bothered her, she says to herself, “I can either choose to dwell on negative things and be miserable, or I can choose to dwell on positive things and be happy.”
I do need to let you know that Wife is the most, uh, innocent (?) person I know. Her idea of being really, truly upset and cussin’ up a storm is to say something like “Oh, that mean man!” (She actually said this watching someone speak abusively at a gas station. 🙂 )
That’s not to say Wife is sheltered; she did have challenges growing up. But Wife gave her heart to Christ as a child, and took her faith seriously from the get-to. We often hear of childhood conversions that don’t seem to ‘take’, that are jettisoned as soon as said child leaves home. In Wife’s case, her faith is what probably kept her family faithful in attendance in church, and kept her when she left home.
Wife grew up in a home that didn’t value education; in fact, her parents told her that their highest ambition for her was being a cashier at Kroger’s. Her desire to read and learn was not encouraged (“Books are okay, if they teach you something”), and I think that one of the things that attracted her to me was the fact that I loved reading, study and discussing ideas. As you might guess, Wife was the only person from her family to even attend college, much less attain a degree.
Wife loves to study the Bible; in fact, we still have the copy of Halley’s Bible Handbook that was given to her in 1970, before we even met. We have developed our own collection of books and commentaries by different Christian writers, including several Bible reference works, that both Wife and I use.
It’s because of all this that I’m assuming that Wife may be the exception to the norm, and another proof that I married above my weight class. 🙂
#3 – Lessons Learned?
What lessons have you learned about how to be a husband in your years of marriage?
As I read Chris’s last question, and pondered on it, I wondered if I hadn’t already addressed it in a previous post (It’s A Man Thing). In that post I had presented one of my favorite analogies, that of the space shuttle, gantry and launch pad, and so emailed her about it.
Chris responded by citing a couple of statements that I had made in that post, and then elaborated on what she would like to see me address. (I will use the previously established protocol of putting my words in blue and Chris’s in purple):
You owe her your entire self, as that is what your marriage contract entails. You promised to love, cherish, and provide as a husband.
Husbands, you are the support, the base upon which your wife will find her place to stand in this world. It’s your task to provide a wideness for her to nurture her abilities and discover how to use them to serve your family, friends, church and community.
What does this ^^^ actually look like? What are some things you do (or that other husbands do) that establish and maintain this base? What might a day in the life of a good husband look like?
Furthermore, what are the kinds of things that interfere with making good husbandly choices, and how can a man begin to recognize whether he is doing so? How does he determine what she needs from him? If he has a history of not being the husband he should, how does he start to change? How can he keep going long enough to help his wife began to truly believe that she can trust in his love and provision on a constant basis?
Looking at her questions, I realized that I had more than one post on my hands, so let me try to deal with the first paragraph, and save the “Furthermore” for a week or two down the road.
I am going to assume that when Chris asks,
“What does this ^^^ actually look like?”,
she is pointing to my statement about the husband’s task to “provide a wideness for her to nurture her abilities and discover how to use them to serve your family, friends, church and community.”
Let me preface my response by saying that it is my belief that responsible, godly husbands are needed to make Christian marriages work. If the husband does not take his role at head of the family seriously, then that wife, that family, can be compared to a runner being assigned a handicap of having to run a race carrying a pack on his back. Yes, the runner can still run the race, but does have difficulties that the other runners don’t have.
“Provide A Wideness”
The analogy that I used in my “Man Thing” post was that of a Shuttle launch, with both shuttle and gantry being supported by the launch pad as the launch takes place. In my analogy, I said that I saw my role as providing the place where Wife and family could grow and mature and achieve fulfillment in our marriage, and also in our church and society.
When Wife and I married, we were both in the Navy, but I knew that with the G. I. Bill, I would be able to go to college full-time as I prepared for my eventual career (whatever that would turn out to be). And, of course, Wife would also have G. I. Bill, so it was my belief and desire for her to further her education at college, despite her parents’ “Kroger dreams”.
As I said, I believed that my task was to provide the environment where this could take place, and so we learned to structure our life in order to live on one income, even if it was a teacher’s salary. This was so that Wife could stay home and teach our children. This also gave Wife the opportunity to become a teaching part of a home school co-op, and develop friends and acquaintances in churches around our seven-city area.
Later, as our children grew and she was free to participate in more activities, Wife and I became ministers in a small denomination. We taught and preached in two churches for ten years. Now that we are attending a local Methodist church, Wife is a lay speaker, and I am encouraging her to find opportunities for her to share her gifts. As well, Wife is taking part in our church through women’s ministries and Church Council activities on local and district levels.
Why all these things? As I said, I saw it as my duty to my wife to “provide a wideness.” A wife, MY wife, is more than just a partner for life, a “helpmeet” to help ease my way through life. She is an investment from God, a “talent”if you will (Matt. 25), entrusted to me by God; He made me steward of His child. It’s my belief that, as husbands, we have the obligation to not only seek the best for our wives, but to see the best in our wives and be there to support them as they discover and grow in God’s plan for them.
In our case, my career, my life, have enabled Wife to discover and nurture her capacities by teaching our kids at home, by working as a home school mentor to other mothers, and to serve God’s people through preaching, teaching and administration. In someone else’s situation, it might be a business or a service ministry, such as food banks.
To me, the key is in understanding that just attaining our majority age does not mean that we have attained all that God has for us. Yes, as Christian parents, we do those things that will help them to grow into rounded, capable, spiritual adults. But just because I’m old enough to leave home and live on my own doesn’t mean I’m done. God has more for me as I grow, mature, and live through the different seasons of my life.
And one of my obligations is to provide the support and help that will allow my wife to grow throughout her life. I provide the environment where she can widen and expand in God’s grace. I’m not the provider of that grace; I merely try to make sure that there are no hindrances to her growth, and to provide the tools and support that will help her grow.