Tuesday, February 9, 2016

She Just Doesn't Get It

As a follow up to my post He Just Doesn't Get It, today I will share what I took away from the sermon She Just Doesn't Get It, where the tables were firmly turned.  I had a solid week to analyze and think about what in the world they could teach us women.  We know it all.  Don't they realize this?  Well, as I sat on the edge of my seat I learned that this wife thing is a full time job, apparently.  You need to read the above referenced post to know that we women are fairly low maintenance....you know...listen to us, make us feel special, listen to us, make us feel special.  Well, typed neatly on my lap was a list of four very different needs of a man.  It was not a pick one or multiple choice or true false test.  No.  It was, "Hey You!  Here are the four needs of a man."   And they say women are complicated.  I did a quick attitude adjustment and took it ALL in.  Oh, and I graded myself the whole way.  Please tell me I am not alone.

Need #1 - A Managed Household

"Men need their home to be a refuge...from the chaos." - Pastor Jeremy Smith
If I am honest, I wanted to fall out in the floor from laughing so hard.  I assure you I remained composed.  Hello?  Have any of these people ever had children?  And can they please explain to me that chaos part?  I am pretty sure I would pay for reduced chaos.  And when exactly am I supposed to escape the chaos?  That I live in.  24/7.  But I am supposed to create a refuge from the chaos for him?  I am clearly losing focus.  But I think I understand.  So, let's just pretend that "from the chaos" part wasn't there or that our kids aren't there.  Just use your imagination.  I guess.  So, in your imagination, where there is no chaos from kids and your husband comes home....   Perhaps we should try a little of this?  "Better a dry crust with peace and quiet than a house full of feasting, with strife." Proverbs 17:1  If the sacrifices required to have the best foods, biggest homes, newest furnishings, and grandest vacations come at the price of unhappiness and strife within our homes, perhaps we need to re-evaluate and focus on the less is more attitude of life.  Less stuff, more happiness, peace, and joy.  Our homes should be a place of peace to get away from the troubles of the world, not a battle ground.  And then there was this, "Better to live in a desert than with a quarrelsome and nagging wife." Proverbs 21:19.  And I wanted to text my friend at that moment and scream, "Holy (you know what) it.is.in.the.BIBLE!"  'Cause there was this one time that her husband ever so slightly insinuated called her a nagging wife and I am pretty sure that the roof might have experienced some damage if her reaction was remotely in the same universe, in that moment, as it was when she relayed his gross misunderstanding of her concern over telling having to remind him of the same thing for the thirtieth time.  Or something.  Details.  Men: FYI - Affirming that you have in fact heard your sweet wife, with a "Yes Dear," will get you miles further than the word nag.  Never use the word nag.  It's a four letter word.  Yes.  I can count.  Just trust me.  This will keep you out of the dog house.  For sure.

 Need #2 - An Affirming Spouse

 "A good wife is her husband's pride and joy; but a wife who brings shame on her husband is like a cancer in his bones." Proverbs 12:4  Ever heard the words praise in public, criticize in private?  It sort of applies a lot here.  Ladies, if we have an issue with our husband a public forum, in front of their friends, or an intimate holiday gathering with family is not the place to air those issues.  Guess what?  The only person we make look bad in that moment is ourselves.  Have you ever found that when you take the time to focus on the good in a person your mind and heart change as well?  Or have you ever been so mad at your spouse and someone else begins to sing their praises you totally forget ever being mad at them?  I sometimes get mad when this happens because I was really upset at whatever that was that I can no longer remember.  Moral of the story?  Use your words to build up your spouse whether you are in public or private.  It might be the best thing they hear all day.  I have found that they will work harder to make you feel special when they feel awesome!

 Our pastor took a moment to address the men to say, "You must be a husband worthy of respect.  It is not given; it is earned."  As much as I wanted to jump up and applaud, I was convicted.  WARNING - Transparency ahead....  My husband does many things to earn my respect.  No one would argue this that knows him well, in the context of a relationship with me.  The problem here is me.  I am not always trying to see those things.  I am over here looking at the grass still uncut after 7 days and not the 2 hours he sent me to my room for quiet, alone time last night while he bathed and put the kids to bed.  When I am not seeing right, I fail him and us.  I stop affirming and start critiquing.  My words are not respectful but resentful.  Only the pain in his eyes will set me straight, and that is worse than any words he could spew at me.  So, if you're like me and sometimes you just don't see right, own it.  Be quick to apologize and swift with recognition of your own failure.  In other words...know yourself so you can better yourself.  Men, if you aren't feeling respected make sure you turn a hard eye on yourself before you go into battle.  Have you done what it takes?  Have you earned the respect?                

Need #3 - Recreational Companionship

"Relish life with the spouse you love
Each and every day of your precarious life.
Each day is God’s gift. It’s all you get in exchange
For the hard work of staying alive.
Make the most of each one!
Whatever turns up, grab it and do it. And heartily!" Ecclesiastes 9:9 (MSG)

Let me just tell you that I was paying very close attention during this segment.  If you don't know, my husband and I have very different tastes in this area.  His thrills included hunting, running (marathon style), and airplanes...big ones...that drop bombs and fly fast.  I enjoy reading, sewing, cooking, shopping, decorating, traveling...oh you know everything but what is in his list.  While our lists do look very different, here is what was brought front and center that day.  

I was in complete shock that this was a need of a man.  I just sat there thinking that this must be some type of lie because my husband loves recreation, but not the companionship part.  How would I know this you ask?  Because he has never invited me to join him.  I invite him all the time to my stuff.  He is my favorite travel companion (I get to ride shotgun and be the backseat driver...he loves it.), I tell him about the crazy stuff I read (Cliff Notes version is good enough for him), he regularly has to help with sewing projects or machine repairs, we enjoy cooking together as long as he remembers who is in charge, he's always ready to move some furniture around, and as long as a good meal is involved shopping is his favorite.  The longer I sat there, the more upset I got.  I was already working out in mind exactly what I was going to say about this when we got in the car.  But God had a different plan.  Before I could say anything he said it himself.  He confessed to never having invited me and not even really knowing why he hadn't.  There was nothing for me to say or to do...just to forgive.  And then he invited me on a date...to go shooting.  And I accepted...happily.

"The acknowledgment of our weakness is the first step in repairing our loss." 
- Thomas Kempis

Need #4 - Sexual Fulfillment

We'll just start where the pastor did.  He was most assuredly speaking to the men when he started off this point with, "Expectations kill this area of our married life.  Don't expect what you don't express."  He proceeded to influence everyone to have a sit down, face to face, and be clear about your expectations in this area.  Let's just be honest with each other for a moment.  I have had this discussion in my marriage, more than once.  The face to face part is difficult because when he lays out the expectations my eyes start to roll... on their very own.  I know my face is making some awful gesture.  Internally I am wishing Freaky Friday was a real thing so we could switch places for like two weeks and re-evaluate those expectations of his.  This is one of those times I actually adhere to my mother's advice, "If you don't have anything nice to say, say nothing at all."  The faces though, I am sure they are still there...as hard as I try.

Lovingly captured by the ten year old when I didn't know it.  Clearly the faces are not reserved just for him.
 Next he hit us with this and I wanted to run up and high-five the man on stage...in the middle of his sermon.  "Women: you need to make time.  Men: you need to do your part."  Here is where he was going with this, in my words of course.  Women need to stop being so busy.  Not only do we have a lot going on out of necessity, but we create a lot more to do as well.  It's ok to have your hobby, phone conversations with friends, favorite show to watch...you make time for those things.  Right?  We must also focus on making time for our husband.  Men, if you want to have us to yourself then you are going to have to do your part.  Ever heard your wife say, "I am too tired."  Instead of complaining that she's always too tired maybe you could look in the mirror and understand why that is.  What can you do about that? 

{Here's a peek into our home life.  I am up everyday around 6:00 a.m.  Maybe I slept all night or maybe someone was up.  I get myself ready for the day while breaking up at least one disagreement before 7:00 a.m.  By 9 I have repeatedly told everyone to get dressed, make their bed, turn off their Kindle, help their sister, to stop banging their chair on the counter when they swivel it, navigated three different short orders for breakfast, explained that we can't have Cheesy Puffs for breakfast...this is the short list.  When we finally reach the school table, yes let's not forget we homeschool, the real fun begins.  The four year old is done in like 30 minutes and wants a playmate, no one wants to be there, one needs a "sitter" to stay focused, now it is snack time....it goes on all day long.  Next we will be getting ready for some sort of extra-curricular that will last until dinner time.  I have either cooked something all day in the crock pot or have had to prepare it ahead of time to be a quick fix when we walk in the door.  Because little people are always starving.  So I have learned.  Once we eat (note: someone will be crying because they didn't like it and will now die of starvation) it is time to clean up the dishes, bathe the kids, read bedtime stories, and then threaten their lives for the next thirty minutes every time they get out of bed.  This is all very clear to me, having just done all of this for 380 days straight.  Alone.  It is still fairly accurate when he is here.  He helps with transportation to activities, when possible, and trades dish and bath duty with me.  In all fairness, there is only so much help he can give me in the few hours he is there before they go to bed.  And those Love Languages....the last one on my list is physical touch (and the top of his list).  And there are three people touching me and hanging on me and breathing on me all.day.long.  It takes all I have to hug and kiss the man when he walks in the door.  Then he's all googly eyed and my face does this thing that immediately sends him into, "Everyone outside right now!" mode.  It's a beautiful thing really.  He scratches my back, I scratch his.  ;)  Or something like that.}

I laid it all out for you to totally defend myself when I tell you this next part.  When those kids go to bed, all I want is time to myself.  Doing something I want to do.  Sew, spend mind-numbing hours on Pinterest, Facebook, Instagram, Netflix, read, journal, write, stare at the ceiling in total silence.  That last one might be my favorite.  Can you see how that one thing that is in the front of his brain is no where to be found in mine?  I am an introvert.  I crave quiet and alone.  So, this takes a lot of work on my part to balance his needs and my needs.  I have had to learn how to express to him what I need from him to create this balance.  This takes a lot of work and communication on both our parts.  I strongly encourage everyone to talk openly about this with their spouse.  It is hard, and your face might make expressions on its own, but communication bridges gaps, restores, and heals.  One final thought for you men.  If you get home and you are just too tired to help out, well, don't be annoyed when she's just too tired to...you know.

At the end of the sermon we were given about thirty seconds to rank the four needs as we thought he would.  Since I was grading myself, I took this very seriously.  He told me I scored a 100, but I am pretty sure that as long as I put Need #4 as #1, I was scoring a hundred.  ;)

My Dear Girls,

I know this can all seem overwhelming.  Heck, I sat there stunned.  Here's how it all shakes out though.  When you are newly married you will be meeting all of his needs Like.A.Boss.  And then, God willing, you will have children.  And then you will be looking at your husband like, "You mean you have needs?"  And then one night, in complete frustration, you will both say things you really don't mean, wonder what happened to your marriage, and you will feel like a failure...broken.  And then you will call your Mama because that is what daughters do.  Because Mamas fix things.  And I promise to you now that I will be very honest with you in the mistakes I  made in my marriage when the babies came.  I will try to help you learn from my mistakes.  And then I will pack your father in the car and come for the weekend because I have learned that a little goes a long way with men.  A weekend away (even if it's only two miles down the road in a local hotel) focusing on all of his needs, putting him front and center, will absolutely work wonders.  Don't worry about Daddy, he's all in too.  He'll probably even high-five your husband on the way out the door, 'cause he's been there too.

I Love You,

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