Before Kris and I got married, we took all the necessary precautionary measures. We did premarital counseling sessions, a marriage retreat, an intense 4 day relationship bootcamp and our own individual healing. In the beginning, I struggled with self doubt and had nightmares Kris would leave me. With abundant thankfulness, Kris had addressed his wounds and ungodly beliefs before we met, so he was able to lead me to inner healing when we began dating. I won’t say I feel completely whole all the time, I definitely have my moments. But I can at least acknowledge the root of my reactions when they do arise and Kris understands them too. So I would say we started on a solid foundation with a lot of ground covered and an understanding of all our “stuff.”
About two weeks after the return of our honeymoon, I started to feel overwhelmed at the pressures of my new wifely role. Mind you, none of these “pressures” came from Kris. I wanted to measure up to the standards of the Proverbs 31 woman. But I am not of a domestic nature whatsoever and I literally feel a physical resistance at the thought of pulling out a cook book to try a new recipe. I also began to notice how quickly the sink filled up with dishes and how I seemed to be the only one cleaning them. Or cleaning anything for that matter. I thought, “he must just expect me to do it.” It was as if I were looking for red flags or reasons to believe our love wouldn’t last. I knew it was unreasonable to be frustrated, Kris works harder than anyone I know and the least I can do is be joyful in maintaing a presentable and comfortable home, right? Why was I jumping to negative assumptions about the person I just gave my heart to?
I realized in this new important role of being a wife, a sustainer; that fear had crept back in. It was irrationally stealing my joy and super unfair to Kris. I remembered a book my friend raved over called “For Women Only.” So I headed to the bookstore and dove right into the pages that provided insight to all the small stuff. I realized that maybe I knew all the big stuff about Kris, but there were some things to learn about the makings and wiring of a man that could help me have a whole lot more grace. I am learning how to love and accept him better, which in turn makes me feel more loved too. Here are my discovery hi-lights from Shaunti Feldham’s For Women Only.
1. Men Have a Think Tank:
The wiring of male brains are different than ours. They work really hard throughout the day and carry the weight of the world on their shoulders. So when they come home, their tank is literally full to the brim of all the stuff that went on that day. Talking about the dishes or bills or asking him about home logistics when he walks in the door ain’t gonna elicit the response we’re looking for. This does not mean he doesn’t care. Your honey needs some time to decompress however he likes. If we can give him this time, his tank will begin to make room for what we want to talk about. We will be a lot happier when he is totally available to engage with us.
2. Men Need Respect:
Our husbands want to do a good job for us. And we have the ability to empower him. Respecting him allows him to feel like we trust him. This includes his decision-making abilities. Of course, it is important to discuss certain decisions and we certainly can help our husbands make a good one. But if he does choose something we don’t agree with and it fails, it can severely damage his confidence to take care of you if we overly criticize them. Our guy wasn’t being thoughtless, he did think through every step and his intent would never be to fail. I’ve learned to let Kris do what he thinks his best when I don’t agree with him, without my criticism. I wouldn’t want him to make me feel like a failure, so I am careful not to do that to him either.
3. Men Are Romantic:
I am really lucky that Kris shows up to the airport with flowers and my favorite candy. In the past, I have had a tendency to want more romance rather than appreciating each thoughtful gesture. This is important because men have extremely sensitive egos and many of them don’t make romantic gestures due to fear of failing. One guy interviewed in For Women Only said, “That’s why a man won’t risk trying to be romantic. I’m risking humiliation if I do it wrong.” Another one said, “You tease me about not quite getting the candlelight dinner right, that’s it- it’ll be 5 years before I try it again.” This attitude may not be right and our intent is not to discourage them. But ultimately, our men need affirmation at any thoughtful gesture in order to feel confident in romantic approaches. I’d say the same goes for us women.
4. Men are Providers:
I grew up learning that starting from the days of the caveman and the theory of evolution, that men are providers. What I didn’t realize is the huge amount of pressure they feel to perform, not only for us and our family, but in their competitive work environments. One man’s interview stated, “You working or not working is irrelevant, not to the family budget -it does ease some of the financial pressure. But it is irrelevant for my need to provide.” My love language is quality time so I could easily complain for Kris to spend more time with me. But the fact is, although he loves quality time too, he sees working hard as a way to show me how much he loves me. It is better that I genuinely acknowledge how hard he works and how well he handles pressure on a very regular basis than to complain about it. This makes him feel appreciated and it keeps me more in tune with his feelings and less self-seeking.
5. He Wants to Listen:
This one I learned on my own simply through trial and error. I have learned that it is best not to say anything of emotional importance or value without first asking for his attention. There have been countless times where I’ll pour out an exciting revelation or my experience at an audition while Kris is texting or working, and I’ll get a super delayed “that’s awesome, baby.” It makes me feel shut down and want to shut him out. But the fact is, if I have something to say where I know I really need him to be engaged, I have to let him know so he can shut out his distractions and daily stresses in order to focus on me. This helps to let him know that I need him and it helps me not to get my feelings hurt.
In conclusion, these are simply the hi-lights that hit home for me and helped me to understand my husband better. The course of a night together is dependent on how we perceive certain nuances. It is easy to get upset or hurt, especially if that is our habitual coping mechanism. Believe me, I did last weekend at our pastor’s pool party. And like our pastor said, “What are you gaining by shutting him out? Life is too short. Choose to believe the best about him because it’s most likely the truth, you will be a much happier wife.”