Getting Even…

He just expects you to do everything. So he does nothing. You should do the same to him for a while, let him know how it feels…” she quipped.

Early in my marriage I had asked an older friend how to get my husband to help around the house a bit, instead of leaving things for me to do.  Like cleaning up after dinner, or putting kids to bed.

I hate to admit this, but I actually tried her advice.   I got up from dinner one night, announced to everyone that I was going to bed early, left the mess and the two young children and went upstairs to go to bed.  I remember having a hard time going to sleep, and don’t remember much else.

The next morning I awoke to a messy kitchen and a grumpy kids.

Over a decade later, I learned from my oldest male son that the reason he doesn’t just jump in to help unless asked is because it’s disrespectful to men.  What?  Then I thought about my dad.  Often his male friends would come by the house on the weekend and would lean over the car while he worked on it and watch, or sit with him in the garage while he fixed things, doing nothing until he asked.  Upon further discussion, my son explained, “Just jumping in says, ‘I don’t think you can handle this,’ and so you don’t offer.  But if a guy asks for help, he knows his abilities, which is also worthy of respect. So you don’t help unless you are asked.  It’s just what we do.

ImageI also had my “need to control” pointed out to me early in our marriage – and discovered I had a bit of a bossy nature, needing to direct others as they did things with me.  Thankfully God matured me out of this and helped me realize early on that the DESTINATION and RESULT was what mattered, and that there was more than one right way to get there.  He also showed me that I couldn’t expect my husband to read my mind, that he wasn’t like a girlfriend who would just chip in when she saw me struggling.  My husband lived by the code of honor that communicated, “I think you’ve got this under control,” even though when baby #3 popped out and mastitis, thrush, kindergarten, and 5 day a week travel for husband had us eating chicken nuggets and noodles for dinner more nights than I care to remember!

By then I had learned to not only ASK for help, but also ACCEPT it.  Tough stuff for us independent types!  But God wants us to live in community so He can grow us, and that independent spirit needs to change. I’ve also been able to say, “I might be wrong about this, but it would communicate to our sons that men are part of the family in a deep way if they help keep the home picked up.  Would you be okay with that daily?” and seen it happen.  I left for a week one time to visit some relatives and said, “I know you’ll be busy while I’m gone, but if you could keep the house picked up and I’m not returning to a mess, it would mean a lot to me.”  I ask, and I receive. :)

And I learned from this Scripture, too:

Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everybody.  If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live in peace with everyone.  Do not take revenge, my friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written, “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord.  Romans 12:17-19 NIV

I didn’t necessarily think my husband was evil, but I was garnering “payback” or “turnabout’s fair play,” which is immature and wrong. Perhaps the most important thing in marriage is knowing that many of our assumptions are just wrong.  I had allowed my own perceptions to hurt my feelings, when my husband was actually more than happy to help – but I had to ask.  I can deal with that.  And it’s one of the best pieces of advice I offer up to women. “Yes, you have to ask.  And you’ll have to keep asking. Don’t take it personally.  Neither of you are right or wrong, but different.”

What about you? Have you struggled your way through this? Still learning?  Dare you to share what God is doing in your life, and be a Titus 2 gal, inviting others to join us here.

So glad you are on the journey with us!

Love to you,

~Nina

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Comments

  1. says

    When My husband and I married, he was fresh out of a divorce and I had be single for 10 years. I moved into his house ( I was a renter). He had one daughter(14) and I had 2 sons(12 and 14) who lived at home. His house was immaculate, filled with antique furniture and white carpet. I gave my dog away (because he had a cat), and tried to keep his house the way I found it. He was not domestically challenged at all. He always pitched in, doing laundry and helped to keep things tidy. He expected this of the kids as well. OK, for anyone with teenagers, you know this did not go over in a big way, and in his eyes the house was always a wreck. He blurted out one day that if his ex could keep the house by herself, certainly ALL of us could do it. I lost it and reminded him that I was not HER and reminded him also that if he liked the way she did things, he should heave kept her around. Needless to say, it was a tough adjustment for all of us, but we did. We went to counseling and started going to church, built our marriage around God and eventually my husband learned to relax about the house.In 2005 that house burned to the ground. We lost all our earthly possessions (including the cat), but we still had each other. We clung to each other, thankful no one had been at home when the fire started. We started over~ completely. We renewed our vows and are presently living our “happily ever after” in a …um…not so immaculate house.

    • Nina Roesner says

      Amen! :) Much of the stress in our lives is put on ourselves by having too many things that we can’t keep in order without a full time maid – and I’m sorry if this offends anyone, but mom’s job is not that of maid. She is a discipler, a teacher, a friend, a confidant, a leader, a helper, a learner, and an equal heir to the throne. :) Yes, she serves her family, but so does her husband – and the best marriages are the ones where both people allow each other to be where they are on the journey, and not surprisingly, they both eventually get to the place where they are trying to out serve each other. And that’s where God’s best shows up. :)

      CONGRATULATIONS! :)

      Love to you,
      ~Nina

  2. says

    When my kiddos were younger I would get soooo frustrated about my hubby not helping. I was tired and overwhelmed. I would play the games…he doesn’t help around here I won’t wash his laundry. Well, he just went out and bought new clothes. I wish that back then I had someone telling me the kids wouldn’t die from eating PB&J everyday for lunch or that the house did not have to be perfect or even presentable all the time if there were other things going on. 15 years later, my kids are all healthy and my house has order…not all the time. I am much better at asking for help and if my Hubby is unable or unwilling I have the confidence to ask or pay someone else. I am still learning about respect and I agree that men think differently then women and sometimes they just “don’t know”.

  3. tonacraft says

    great comments … wish we knew where “jumping in” is disrespectful to men teaching/attitude/doctrine came from? I haven’t found it taught in the Bible … do our men have a gentle answer to this question?

    But the Word does say, “Do not say, “I will recompense evil”; Wait for the LORD, and He will save you.” (Proverbs 20:22 NKJV); and Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good. (Romans 12:21 NKJV); … does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; (1 Corinthians 13:5 NKJV). – so all of us are on the hook (yes, the guys too). I think a good place to start re not going down the path of getting even is Romans 7:18-25)

    Hugs,
    Tona

    • Nina Roesner says

      Tonacraft – :) Stellar comment. :)
      I think the “jumping in” thing can be found in 1 Thes 4:10-11, 1 Peter 4:15, and Prov 26:17, in that these are verses that deal with minding one’s own business – and then we have the whole judgment verses, too. Obviously “submission” isn’t present if we are “bossy.” :) Gobs of good stuff And then we have that whole “control issue” that not just women, but men also struggle with… we are complicated beings, aren’t we? BLEH. :)
      Love the dialogue, so glad you are here!
      ~Nina

  4. says

    Yes, I do see God working in this area of my life. I have gone for years been upset quietly inside with pent up frustrations about not getting much help around the house. Something has recently been brought to my attention and that is that I am my husband’s help meet. I’ve had it wrong walking about the house thinking he’s not helping me when in actuality I’m suppose to be helping him. That’s not to say that I don’t need help at times because I do, and that’s when im learning I should speak up and say so in a respectful way instead of walking around accusing him in my mind. I am seeing a difference in my life as I’m learning to look differently at my role as wife. I’m truly called to be helpful to him. I’ve started to ask him “how can I be of help to you” and he is telling me. For him, keeping on top of the things at home is a big one. He has a lot of pressure at work and when he comes home he’s ready to rest and refresh. I am now a stay at home mom and my babies have grown up so it is easier for me to take care of our home. I can remember both of us working and both of us being exhausted after work. I believe that’s when you will have to do things as a team but it’s still good to remember that we as women are created to be a source of help for our husbands, when we do so I am finding that husband’s in turn will respond back in love which is what God has called them to do for us.
    Thank you for the encouragement today.

    • Nina Roesner says

      Michelle –
      “Domestic support” is a huge deal for many men, especially if their wives are not working outside the home (notice I didn’t say, “not working” – it is work to manage a home!). We’ve been through all the different things you talked about, too, and it takes gobs of effort, tons of patience, and lots of scheduling and lowering the standards helps, too. SO glad you are in a place where you are figuring out what “help” looks like for you two. I’m disabled physically (my hands, and you wouldn’t know it to look at me) so we’ve had to come up with our own version of “help” in our marriage, too. Awesome he is responding back in love to you – many men do not.
      Love to you,
      ~Nina

  5. Melanie says

    God just knows what I need to hear and I needed to hear this. I just did
    the ‘leave the mess’ thing last week. Didn’t work. I liked the part about guys working together. That makes total sense. I also have a ‘wise’
    son and value his advice on how guys think.

    • Nina Roesner says

      Thanks, Melanie! :) He is very good indeed. Glad you have a wise son! :) Speaks volumes about you, too. :)
      Love to you,
      ~Nina

  6. says

    Impatience is what zapped my strength as a young mother. There were things that needed to be done and apparently they had to be done right then or the house would explode, the children would die, and I would turn to stone. Well, my youngest is now almost nineteen and I can attest to the fact that none of those things ever happened. I did learn though to ask for help when it was something I really and truly needed help with, like moving heavy furniture or getting something down from a high shelf or hanging a shelf and getting the screws into the studs. Other things, well, if I could do them and I didn’t think it would be taking my husband’s manliness away by me doing them, I just did them myself. In hindsight though, I do wish I had communicated more to him in the beginning that the help I needed with the children didn’t have anything to do with needing his actual physical help as much as it had to do with making him a part of their lives. He said years ago that he often felt like the fifth wheel when it came to the kids. I handled everything just fine without him and really left no feeling of usefulness for him. He sometimes felt like he was just a paycheck. So if I had it to do all over again (and I will when my children have their kids) I would have started out from day one not acting like I knew it all because I was the Mommy. I would have made parenting a partnership. I think I would have had less to complain about and then he would have naturally jumped in to do more things around the house and with the kids. There sure would have been less bitterness in our home!

  7. Lynette says

    I struggle a lot with this. I tried it all, not doing anything since he didn’t, doing it all myself, and asking. None of it works with him. I am also told if I keep asking for help it’s ‘nagging’. So what then?

    • Nina Roesner says

      Lynette –
      I had the same situation. So I said, “I know you don’t want to be nagged by me, and I know you have a servant leader’s heart and want to bless us. When I ask for help from you, and maybe you forget, or nothing happens, how would you like me to handle it?”

      He literally said, “Ask me again, but don’t do so in a way that makes me know you’ve already asked me five times. And if I haven’t done it, then say, ‘I need to have this done by xyz, I know it is your intention to do it’ and then if I don’t do it, just pay for someone else to do it and leave me the receipt.”

      So I did that. :) Dr. Kevin Leman’s “Have a New Husband by Friday,” is awesome with similar ideas.

      Blessings to you! :)
      Love to you – and glad you are here!
      ~Nina

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