My husband and I had an argument last night. As usual, I was trying to prevent an explosion and instead caused one. It’s very disturbing when you try so hard to do the right thing and still fail. I guess that’s where grace comes in.
I am a doer. When I see the light, I go for it and too often forget to ask God if that’s where I should go. It’s a problem with us spiritual big shots. You know who you are. You’ve been walking the walk so long you think you already know God’s way, so why waste time praying? Just go for it.
Ouch! I get stung every time.
How bold and prideful of me to think I know what God’s will is regarding my husband, much less what my husband needs. When has a man ever changed because his wife tells him to, even if she is right? It’s just so much more fulfilling when the Lord does it and we pray quietly in the background. Do we get the credit? Hardly, and if that’s the issue, we need to talk to the Lord. Our love needs some adjusting. You see, when the revelation comes from a higher authority, it is fresh and wonderful and a whole lot gentler than from us. And the best thing is, it sticks.
When he hears it from God, he is unlikely to ignore it next time.
The fact that I am in my third marriage probably underscores how hard this lesson has been for me to learn.
Some of you may choose to stop reading any further because of that fact, but who better to learn from than someone who has made the mistakes? We’ve often wished our kids would learn from our mistakes, but we adults aren’t much better.
We women have been blessed with the admirable and awesome gift of intuition, second sight, wisdom, discernment — use any word you want. We understand things at a level our husbands can barely fathom. And it can be downright irritating to them when we are right about people or circumstances. But they are not going to trust us unless we learn to allow God to show them, and then offer support when he does.
Back to the fuss.
My husband and I have very different ideas about running a house. We are pretty settled on the fact that he manages the finances, the cars and the lawn, and I manage the house interior, meals and our calendar. We share laundry. I don’t let him touch mine, and I usually help him finish his. If he gets pink underwear and lint on his pants, it’s his doing. Where we differ is motivation.
We just moved into our new home, and after six months, the carpet is looking a little ragged and stained. The holidays were approaching, and I wanted everything to look spiffy when I decorated the house for Christmas. I already know I will get nowhere with the “rent a shampooer” routine, since this is simply not good enough for my husband. He is more detail oriented than I, and our ideas of “clean” don’t always agree. Since he won’t rent a shampooer, the only choice I have — other than being on my hands and knees with a sponge and spot cleaner — is to hire a professional. This is not a cheap route, and therefore falls into the joint-decision category.
Trusting my gut (intuition), I choose a moment when we are driving (usually a good time to talk over stuff) to visit his Mom to broach the subject.
“Honey,” I say gently, “I would like to look into getting the carpets cleaned before Christmas; not the whole thing, just the higher traffic areas. What do you think?”
His response, rather typical, is, “Why do you want to clean them before the holidays? They are just going to get dirty again.”
I want it to look nice before the holidays; he wants to clean up the mess after all those people (my family) are finished making a mess. Then, as is also typical, he wants to do the whole house if we are going to do it at all. From my view, this is out of the question this close to the holidays; that is just more time and expense. I feel pretty shut down and resentful.
Something small to me has become too big and complicated.
I cannot deny my feelings were hurt. This is my territory, and he was imposing himself on me. It wasn’t about money; it was about procedure. I want, with every fiber of my female logical being, to convince him how unsupportive he is being, but I shut up, stew in my anger and let it drop. We don’t even speak for several minutes, but finally conversation of a totally different topic resumes.
Inside, I am still determined to have my way. I will get on my hands and knees if I have to, but I will not have Christmas with those ugly spots on the stairway. This doesn’t sound like submission, does it? I realize that to go behind his back and do it anyway in any form is contrary to being a partnering wife, so I reluctantly tell God, fine, I just won’t do it until after the holidays.
The next day my husband comes home, and with a look of “what a jerk I am” says that if I want to do the carpets the way I suggested, it was fine with him. Wow, was I impressed! I had agreement — voluntary agreement! It felt good.
It’s a small thing, but a big victory.
What caused the change? I have to think it was partly due to the fact that I didn’t plead my case, giving him the opportunity for some self-evaluation. If I had been high-handed and demanding — like my selfish voice was telling me — he could easily have excused his stubbornness as something I deserved since I had a bad attitude. Since I gave him nothing to retaliate against, he had to rethink his attitude because of the kind of person he is.
You see, he really wants to make me happy. What’s really interesting is that I felt less insistent on having the cleaning done before Christmas. I probably will, but it’s not an issue anymore.
We have a loving Lord to turn to when our feelings are hurt. He knows our needs, and He knows our husbands’ needs. So when push seems to be turning to shove, let go, cry on Jesus’ shoulder, and know that as He pats your shoulder with a “there, there,” he is probably smiling to himself … and patting your husband’s shoulder at the same time!
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