Wednesday, February 13, 2008
Valentine Musings...Married Love
Mrs. Fussypants beat the Merry Rose in posting about the subject I wanted to discuss today. My alter ego just wasn't fast enough to out-type Alli's.
But, no matter. Great minds think alike, and it's well known that the Merry Rose and Mrs. Fussypants are great minds, at least in their own legends. Besides, this is a subject that we wives need to continually keep in focus, and I was planning to approach it from a different avenue, anyway.
I've been asked to do a five to ten minute talk about romance at a woman's coffee at our church this Saturday morning. It's part of a class for married women about physical intimacy in marriage.
Well, I'm only supposed to speak for a short time about this subject, but I'm spending a lot more time than that studying it, praying about it, and pondering it. You know how it is when you teach something. You convict yourself!
My overall thoughts are running in the direction of some of my earlier posts about how essential it is to be happy. Specifically, I have noticed among my younger married friends that many of them have a mindset that something always needs "fixin'" in their marriages.
Many decide the best way to "fix things" is through 1) nagging and preaching at every opportunity 2) refusing to be happy until the husband shapes up 3) taking control or manipulating to get a desired end, instead of trusting the Lord (Think of Sarah and that whole unhappy Hagar/Ishmael incident. Perhaps, some of the strife in the world today traces back to that decision.) and, as is on the minds of both Mrs. Fussypants and the Merryrose at the moment, 4) asking a husband to have a "deep talk" every moment he turns around.
Now, there are times to have deep talks, and, sometimes, we wives will need to be the ones to initiate them. But, if we overdo this, we can wear our husbands out.
Women and girls grow up analyzing and talking about relationships face to face. I remember parties and double dates and other events in late high school and college. My friends and I would have a pre-event conversation: "Who are you going with? What are you going to wear? Who is Sally going with?" At the event itself, we'd go to the ladies room en masse, where we would discuss whether everyone was having a good time. Then, after it was over, we'd call each other on the phone and discuss how things went. I'm not advocating the American dating system as I experienced it. My point is, though, that girls are inclined to talk and talk about relationships.
Do you think the boys had so many long conversations about a dance or a date? Nah. Guys bond by doing stuff. My son loves a good conversation. But, he also drops his fiancee off at her place after they attend an event, and he goes off to play a game of basketball with his guy friends.
Now, from our point of view, it's helpful if a husband tunes in to our feminine need to talk. My dear hubby accepts that I have a greater need for relationship talk (any kind of talk, really) than he does. I love it that he makes plenty of time to listen to me, though I know that sometimes he'd have personally chosen to do something else -- anything else.
On our part as wives, though, we need to see it from our hubby's vantage point. If you want to have deep, heart-to-heart communication with your hubby, but he's not a great talker, here are a few suggestions:
1) Listen, listen, listen! Hubbies do talk, just sometimes not on our preconceived time table or about our pet subjects. My hubby does like to share with me what's going on in his life, particularly in his work, some of which goes over my head as he performs mysterious doings with satellites and computers and field monitors and a Ph.D in Electrical Engineering. Whether I understand the technical details or not, sharing his thoughts with me is a great gift. But, I sometimes stomp on that gift by interrupting him to talk about me, me, and me. Fortunately, my hubby is outgoing, and he recovers when I mess up in that area. But, a shyer, quieter man might decide it's not worth the effort to make conversation if his wife doesn't hear him out. Everyone should be quick to listen and slow to speak...James 1:17
2) Do fun things with your husband. He'll open up to you as you enjoy something together. And, you'll both benefit.
3) Be honest about problems, but don't be problem-centered. Every morning, we wake up to a day full of blessings and trials. The question is, which will be we focus on? It's good to be open and talk about difficulties, but that should not be the running theme of our conversations.
4) My husband tells me that a good deal of a man's satisfaction in marriage comes from being able to make his wife happy. Now, no person can completely make another person happy. But, a loving husband does feel a great responsibility to care for his wife's needs. If we aren't grateful for the good things about our husbands and if we continually remind him of his failings, we can make him feel like a total failure. When that happens, he may clam up in conversation, and he may also quit trying to be the husband he wants to be. If you are grateful for the ways he does take care of you, he'll be inspired to even greater things.
5) There's a reason why Paul said, "Let your conversation be full of grace and seasoned with salt." A timely and gentle warning from a wife can be the salt that helps preserve a husband's or a friend's soul. But, the salt should be the seasoning on a plate of grace. None of us would relish sitting down to a plate of only salt.
I've applied these principles to husbands. But, actually, we all are freer to be open when we 1) feel heard by our family and friends and 2) receive a lot of encouragement along with whatever life-giving, well-timed correction we may need to hear.