As is so often the case, Danielle got me thinking last night as I read her "Your Turn" post about handling those tricky husbands.
I actually took a moment to comment on her post last night. I so often want to comment when she has these posts on Tuesdays, but most of the time, I just plain run out of time and then everybody else has already said such great things anyway! It is just nice to sit and read all the wonderful, helpful comments without having to offer my own two cents.
After finishing my comment, I really did turn off the computer, go upstairs and mend 10 pairs of my husband's dress socks. No pats on the back, please. No "Great job, Celeste." I don't want those accolades. Why???? Because mending the pile of socks that have been sitting in my holding drawer for months now is what I believe I am supposed to do - and do it without the congrats!
Now, I know, there are probably many and varied opinions on the topic Danielle touched on last night. And, like she said, much of this doesn't apply to wives in abusive relationships, etc. I am not here to say there is one perfect way for any given wife to love her husband or serve him. But all wives are called to a common vocation. I am to love him completely and as best I can even if I don't get that same type of love in return. Doesn't that mirror God's relationship with us? He loves us perfectly and yet, we are so often guilty of returning our best love to Him. But he keeps on loving us, blessing us, giving to us. And so wives must do.
And this I have learned. When I started giving and loving without expecting a return, I change. Our relationship changes. And, often, he changes too.
I am so guilty of being lazy in my love for Brian. I put my love off to the end of the day. I will do that loving thing for him after I call the hurting friend, after I finish the laundry, after I do that nifty craft with the kids, after I tidy up, after I take some time for me. Well, usually after all that I am too tired and spent to even think about doing that loving thing now - whatever that was. But when I tend to him first (or at least much earlier in the day), I am changed. Our relationship is changed. And, often, he is changed too.
I am so guilty of waiting for him to do that special little loving thing first. Why doesn't he leave me a note? Why doesn't he treat me to some free time alone? Why doesn't he send me a special email just to tell me he loves me? Well, why does he have to go first? When I go first and make that extra effort to step out of that comfort zone (or lazy selfish zone - whichever), I am changed. Our relationship is changed. And, often, he is changed too.
I am so guilty of thinking the worst of his intentions and actions. Doesn't he know I need such and such? I can't believe he didn't love me enough to call today. He didn't clean that pot from supper because he doesn't want to help me. Even though I may be bold enough to think I can, I cannot read his mind and heart completely. Only God can. When I think the best of him and focus on all his beautiful, wonderful qualities that I treasure, things are more joyful around here. When I quickly excuse his faults and flaws, as I know he must do with all of mine, I am changed. Our relationship is changed. And, often, he is changed too.
I am so guilty of nagging my poor husband to death. Fix this thing over here, please. I need this or that. Would you please watch the kids? When are you going to do such and such? Have you thought about getting that done sometime soon? Why, oh why, do I do this to him? Because, you see, I don't mention it once. I mention it over and over and over. When I say it once and let it go, it usually gets done. He is not dumb. He already knows most of what I am nagging him about anyway. When I think a little less about my needs and my plans and stop nagging him so much, all these REALLY BIG THINGS start to seem a lot less big. And when I let it go, I am changed. Our relationship is changed. And, often, he is changed too.
I am so guilty of complaining. Need I say more? No, actually, I need to say less. My choice complaint of late is, "I am tired. I am so tired." Well, I know when Brian hears me say that one hundred times a day, it makes him tired. But when I offer up this tiredness to my Lord like I am supposed to do and try my best to be cheerful despite my tiredness, I am changed. Our relationship is changed. And, often, he is changed too.
Now this doesn't mean we put on our happy face and ignore our feelings, thoughts, needs, etc. But I do believe that when we change our behavior and our attitude, so much changes in our environment as a result. For instance, there have been times when I have called Brian at work, feeling very frustrated with the children. Sometimes he has told me to go turn on some music and dance with the kids. I don't want to because it is hard and in some weird sort of way I would prefer to wallow in my self-pity. But when I have taken his suggestion and danced, I am changed. I smile. I laugh. My burden feels lifted. It doesn't change the problem or the frustration. But it does change my perspective, my outlook, my attitude. And when those things change, my whole day can change for the better. In much the same way, when my perspective, my outlook, my attitude about my marriage and my husband change, the whole relationship can change for the better.
And so I mended socks. It would have been so. very. easy. to put it off one more day. One more week. One more month. I had to try really hard last night to be less selfish with my time and rearrange my priorities to do something for my Brian. And as I sat there in front of my machine, sewing away at the pile of brown and black socks (they all look alike), I was changed. My heart was softened. I found myself feeling a giddy sort of excitement for him to open his drawer and discover his newly mended socks. Not because I want him to thank me and think I'm wonderful. I am looking forward to that moment because I am excited for him to feel loved and appreciated and special. Because he is.
It truly is better to give than to receive.
P.S. I do not want you all to think mending socks = good wife. That is just how I needed to show him right now that I love him.