I said “I’m sorry” as I hugged the gentle man I get to call my Husband. His response to me immediately caused my almost callous heart to melt into a puddle as he walked toward the door. Somehow, I mustered up the ability to say with a cracking voice “I love you” before he made it outside. And the tears flowed.
I’m sure most of you aren’t surprised that I was crying given how dramatic I can be, but here’s the thing. My sweet Husband didn’t snap at me or make a mean remark or call me a name. Rather, he said something that opened the shutters to his heart. His heart which I was hurting in my tightly grasped hand. And I had no idea.
Not You Again
Lately, I have found myself voicing my frustration about the stage of life we are in. I’ve complained, ranted, become angry…the whole works. And never once, not even one single time did I stop to ponder my man’s heart. I just assumed he didn’t care and I was so wrong. Turns out, his desires align with mine but the Lord hasn’t provided the pathway for our desire yet. Instead of whining and complaining like me, he’s been quietly working on finding a solution. And this realization smacked me in the forehead: I have been so incredibly selfish.
Selfishness is sadly something I gravitate to. It’s like that ex boyfriend you fear you’ll never be rid of. You cut it off and then two days later (Actually, five minutes later would be more accurate) guess who’s knocking on your door? Mr. Selfishness. Ugh. Just go away already! I despise the selfishness hidden in the deep crevices of my heart.
When I am hurting or frustrated about something I have trouble thinking about those around me. Being others focused does not come naturally to me though I wish it did. I bet most of us are in the same boat. You know who did a tremendous job at focusing on others? Jesus. Sunday school answer or not, what a beautiful example to consider! He constantly put other’s needs before himself. Throughout the Gospel books there are trails of thousands of people he healed. He was exhausted and yet he fully devoted himself to their demanding needs. And think about the cross where Jesus hung as his life faded. Even as the people mocked him, he pleaded on their behalf, asking the Father to forgive them. (Luke 23:34) Wow. What amazing love the Savior has! We need love like that. We have to learn to reroute our minds to others when it wants to zoom in on our circumstances.
Sometimes as women we forget or ignore the fact that while our men aren’t wired like us, they still fear, hurt and want. They too are emotional beings made in the image of God. And so often, we make it harder on them than we realize. Think about how terrible it would make you feel if your husband didn’t consider your emotions. It would eat at us like termites! Most of us would probably explode into some sort of crying mess. While men may not scream at us and run away to cry on their bed (totally guilty), they still feel the rejection of our nagging words and the weight of them can crush their spirit. We may not find them weeping in the bathroom eating ice cream (has anyone ever actually cried while eating ice cream? I just feel like that’s impossible) but we very well could find them shutting down on the inside. Your husband is not a robot but if you want him to become one, keep on pretending he can’t feel pain. Continue to act like you’re the only one in the marriage that is capable of having a broken heart. Over time, you’ll get your robot manufactured straight from your grumbling spirit. Congratulations, you’ve just destroyed the communication in your relationship.
I have come to realize that when I make comments of discontentment about money, lack of children or frustration with having to work, these are direct blows to my Husband’s heart. They tell him he’s not doing a good enough job as a provider. They crush his spirit and only inspire frustration and fear in his mind. Most husbands work hard to be a good leader and provider for their families. They want to be successful in this God given task. As wives, our words hold a great amount of weight in the lives of our men. More weight than any other person they know. More than their Mom, Dad or best friend. And our words can either speak life or death, encourage or cut down, heal or break. I want mine to be words of life, encouragement and healing. It’s time we start building our men up rather than cutting them down to size.
I encourage you to think about the words you’re speaking to your husband and how they may affect him. When you want to complain about something, try to decipher if it could cause him to be discouraged. I’ll give an example from my own life. My Brother by blood and both Sisters in love all have kids and they are growing up fast. We however are not in a place yet where we are able to have kiddos. I recently spoke this complaint to my man “By the time we have kids all of their cousins will be grown up and they’ll have no one to play with!” I didn’t realize at the time but what I said was an assault to his pride and it hurt him because he too wants to start a family. What I said was unfair and placed pressure on him that wasn’t a weight he should have had to carry. We need to always be mindful of how our words may affect those around us, especially our Spouse.
A Bigger Picture
This isn’t just about our husbands. It’s about our marriages and our marriages are supposed to bear the reflection of Christ and the Church. When a husband loves his wife with the sacrificial love of Christ and a wife submits to her husband as the Church submits to Christ, they show a beautiful picture of the Gospel.(Ephesians 5:22-33) Can a nagging wife still be a submissive wife? When a Christian wife turns her husband into a doormat she distorts the Gospel picture her marriage is meant to display. She takes a role that God didn’t create her for and forces her husband out of a position where he can love her like Christ loves the Church. This will get under the skin of some ladies and I understand. Submission has been poorly defined in our culture as something that makes women into a possession and even the word itself strikes a cord in many. Biblical submission to our husband is a beautiful thing and takes great strength on our part. There is so much more to be said on this subject but I’ll save it for a later post.
“It is better to live in a desert land than with a quarrelsome and fretful woman.” Proverbs 21:19
“…and a wife’s quarreling is a continual dripping of rain.” Proverbs 19:13
These verses hurt me. My heart requires so much growth in this area. I don’t want to be a quarrelsome and nagging wife. I want to remember that my Husband is a real man with real emotions and an image bearer of God. Women, we have to fight for our marriages. It is a war! Don’t provide a foundation of pain for Satan to build on in your marriage. Don’t provide a pathway to the destruction of your husband or your relationship with him. Remember, this isn’t about you. It’s about the Gospel.