“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.“
I 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,