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Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Don't Treat Your Husband Like a Child

When I was ... less mature (ahem)... I had no idea that women were designed differently from men - in more than just the anatomical ways.

Some people will think the differences stem from strictly scientific means (hormones, etc.), but I think that is just part of it. From the beginning, man and woman were created in different ways and for different purposes within their relationship (Eve being created as a "corresponding companion" to Adam).

I say I had no idea, but rest assured, some very good Bible teachers had relayed this message to me while I was in college. I took it in, processed it, and stowed it away in my Very Important Biblical Information file in my brain. I then heard more very good Bible teachers preach on the very same message multiple times in my first several years of marriage.

And then I carried on my way doing one of the exact things I was created to do: Nurture. To my husband.

Right behavior, wrong subject.

So, ladies, you've already pointed your mates to Servant Leaders Are Sexy, now what's our role in all of this? Let me tell you this very plainly:
  • My job is NOT to love my husband.
  • My job is to RESPECT my husband.
Let me also say this, if you're anything like me, You don't know what that means!!!!  I truly thought that if I would just love Brad to death, then he would have everything he needs to thrive as a man. W.R.O.N.G. The reason I truly thought that is because that is what I long for as a woman.

I thought men and women needed the same things (and, you know, we just call them different things). No. Men and women need very different things. I need love; he needs respect. Our community group went through a study based on the book, Love & Respect: The Love She Most Desires; The Respect He Desperately Needs*, by Emerson Eggerichs. And finally, I started to see what respect really looks like.

Ladies, there are ways you can encourage your husband (or boyfriend or fiance) to thrive in servant-leadership. In fact, even if your husband is not a good servant leader at all, you should still start with respect.

Now I am no expert, believe me (or ask my husband!). My heart here is just to share with you some things that have worked for us. In most situations, ask yourself what would empower your man. In no particular order, here are some suggestions.
  • Your husband is not your child. Do not offer to cut his meat for him. You do not need to ask his opinion on exactly how he wants his sandwich made for lunch; that kind of behavior is belittling, naggy, and makes his seem incapable. I'm pretty sure you already know what kind of sandwich your husband likes anyway.
  • When your husband leaves the house, don't say, "Be careful." He is not made to be careful. He is made to be a risk-taker, a wild man. I just say, "I love you." He knows I want him to come home safely.
  • Pet names: Instead of "widdle widdle wammy poo poo", call your husband by something that makes him feel like a man. I like "My Warrior", "Strong Man". FYI, I do have other gushy pet names, but they do not in any way make my husband out to be a child. E.g., "My One and Only".
  • Trust him. If you're anything like us, and you as the wife is the left-brained one, you might have the tendency to question his every decision. I'm not saying it's bad to talk through decisions together; in fact, I hope you do! But you absolutely need to trust him in some things to give him room to lead.
  • STOP NAGGING. I have never thought I was a nagger, but then I found out that even "gently reminding" my husband of an undone project is a nag and makes him want to check out. Here's the way we work around this. We have a list (yes, you probably have a similar honey-do list). The list is on a bulletin board. When there are projects, big or small, that need work, either of us can put it on the list. Once a week, hubby has a man-check morning. As part of this ritual, he asks himself some questions to make sure he is doing what needs to as a servant leader. One of his tasks is to check the list and make plans towards those projects. I don't have to nag, and he is empowered in his efforts.
  • But DO communicate! We have a monthly "Team Pete" meeting where we discuss calendars, budget, spiritual goals, and anything "big" coming up. This is a great time to discuss things that are and are not working. This isn't the only time you communicate, but it's one big download session that we both mentally prepare for.
  • Don't constantly correct him on how to play with the kids. His ways are different, and it's supposed to be that way. (I hope you know that I do not mean that you should not be unified, but that it's OK for him to be more rough and wild with the kids than you would be.)
Now, I'm sure some of you are much better at this than I am. Tell me in the comments what you do to empower your husband.

*This link is an affiliate link, which means I make a little pittance if you use this link to purchase something at the site. :)

6 comments:

  1. I royally stick at all your examples, and find myself saying "but, but..."
    Like he is really hard to please food wise, and so me asking is just attempting to make him happy...
    Like He doesn't tend to be careful,sometimes he really does need that reminder...
    Like He has not been that trustworthy in the near past...
    Like not nagging doesn't seem to work (neither does nagging though).

    Then I remember the KEY thing I must always remind myself over and over and over: My respect is not conditional!
    Regardless of if he shows love or does not show love as I would to him if it were my job.
    Regardless of if he has met or has not met my unfair you deserve respect measurement.
    Unconditional is unconditional.

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  2. This is a GREAT point because we think of love as unconditional, but we don't think of respect as unconditional. Thanks for adding that!

    My ideas definitely aren't "rules", but they are examples of the heart behind the matter, so there will be exceptions. Just try focusing on the empowering of your husband for 1 week, and just SEE if anything is different in his attitude. He may not be responding to anything because he does not feel like a man and doesn't know what to do about it.

    "Attempting to make him happy" and "he really does need that reminder" - make sure you are not trying to be your husband's mother. Your job is not to make him happy with a sandwich, but happy with respect.

    Thanks for interacting through the comments!

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  3. This is beautifully written and so very true!

    I'm a firm believer in that I am my husband's wife, not his mother. I don't need to coddle him, baby him, or in any way make him feel insignificant.

    I need to build him up, instead.

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  4. Beki - thanks! Yes, keep building him, girl! Sometimes it's hard for me. That little nurturer takes over, and I have to fight her back so that my husband can lead.

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  5. Jac and I dated for 5 years before he proposed. For about 4 1/2 of those years, he had been telling me that I didn't respect him, and I thought he was crazy. But I wasn't seeing "respect" as a daily action word, I was just seeing it as a feeling about him. (We often get great reminders in the church that love is a verb, but up until that point, I'd never gotten that message about respect!) Then
    I read this concept, and decided to try to put it into action. It was amazing what God did with our relationship at that point! Six months later, we were engaged, and happier than we'd ever been. Thanks so much for the reminder! Since I've been mothering for 7 years now, it's pretty easy to lump him in the same boat with the kiddos!

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  6. YES, Respect is a verb! We need to "put legs" on it! It makes such a huge difference in our men - finally, they feel empowered instead of usurped.

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