So, I grabbed a pen and paper, and right there in the pew I made a list.
I feel best as a wife when Ryan: pursues me, leads the family, supports me, encourages my independence. Simple enough – those were the top ways that I could identify that he makes me feel the best, but how do I turn those around and apply them to him, is it even worth it?
From my point of view, in today’s society, us wives and mothers are worn out and tired – we do so much and we can feel it. Slowly, through the generations, our men have been lacking in their leadership roles both spiritually and leading the family from day to day. As a wife and a mother, I take it upon myself to run the house, manage every member of the family, come up with solutions to all problems (financial, personal, relationships, etc.) and because I am a stubborn and independent woman, not only do I pick up that leadership role, but I relish in the control it gives me! However, the more control I take, the less control it gives my husband. The less control I give my husband, the less he is able to lead. I love when he leads the family, it makes me feel the best as a wife and a mother when I have a confident husband, leading our family; I’m creating my own problem, my own dissatisfaction, when I take control of everything.
But if I let him do this, it won’t get done right and I’ll just have to do it again when I could have just done it in the first place… or That idea he has is NEVER going to work, how come he cannot see how logical and fool-proof MY solution is… says my bitter mind on a regular basis.
Because I am so worn out and tired and have so much on my plate - that I have either been given or taken control of - I. am. Bitter. This bitterness (that I’m starting to realize that I have self-inflicted) causes me to think that I deserve whatever Ryan does for me, without me taking action to make him feel HIS best. This is not applying the golden rule to marriage, this is self-righteousness.
“I’m the one who is trapped in the house with these kids all day, cooking, cleaning and breaking up fights. He gets a 30 minute commute to AND from work, in the car, alone, listening to whatever he wants on the radio while I get a dirty mini-van and Skinamarink-A-Doo on repeat. He gets 8 hours in an office setting with regular, uninterrupted bathroom breaks, talking to adults and solving adult issues while I am here for 8 hours solving crayon sharing and coloring book conflicts and sneaking away to the bathroom only to sit down and see fingers wiggling to me under the door.” While the struggle is real, these bitter thoughts feed and lead to that self-righteous feeling that I deserve whatever Ryan gives to me or does for me, and I do not need to build him up or repay him in any way necessary because I already do so much. This is an attitude that will cripple a relationship with your husband over time and I needed an attitude adjustment.
So back to my list; I love when Ryan pursues me like when we were dating. He may go out of his way to tell me I am beautiful, send me a nice text in the middle of a busy day to show me that he’s thinking of me, randomly bring home roses and chocolates; those all make me feel like I am still special to him and that he still thinks about me. So how do I pursue him? What is his love language? What can I do to show him that not only do I still LOVE him, but that I still WANT him? What kinds of thoughtful things did I used to do when we were dating that made him feel special? I need to start doing these ‘puppy love’ actions again and not let them stop just because we live together and have 3 kids running wild. When is the last time that I initiated intimacy? (I just envisioned all the men fist pump an “AMEN!” to that one).
The second item on my list, I love when Ryan leads the family. I’ve already touched on this and, in order for him to lead, I need to give up some of my control. How can he lead our family (which I desire just as much as he does) if I don’t support him? How can he be a confident leader if I criticize him and the choices he makes? I need to pick my battles and bite my tongue if I’m not going to be loving and supportive of his decisions for our family.
Next on my list, I love when he supports me and when he encourages my independence. The best gift I receive from my husband is when he offers to watch the kids so I can go do whatever. Sometimes it’s dinner with girlfriends. Sometimes it’s walking aimlessly at Target checking out the clearance items. Sometimes it’s Adoration or Mass. Regardless of what I do, that ‘me’ time is a time I need to recharge and refresh. It’s icing on the cake when I come home and he doesn’t tell me how awful the kids may have acted. If something like him watching the kids so I can have free time makes me feel so appreciated and loved, how can I do that for him? How do I act when he wants to have a guy’s night? Am I supportive and encouraging when he wants to go golfing with his brother? Do I joyfully watch over the kids then ask him how his time was when he returns, or do I throw a fit before he even leaves then make sure he knows everything the kids did wrong as soon as he enters the door?
Upon all of this reflection, I really see that I need an attitude adjustment and I need to treat my husband how I love to be treated. I don’t deserve anything that he spoils me with, he is a gift and his love for me is a gift and I need to start treating them that way. Jesus, help me to reflect on my own heart and show me how to love my husband as he needs to be loved.