25 Ways (a rant) (Part 2)

Part 1 of the post is here. I like to rant, and I often ramble, but I try not to combine the two.

I was talking about this article (25 Ways to Communicate Respect to Your Husband). There’s a major aspect of it, and all other lists like it, that bothers me. They all seem to leave out a small but crucial bit of advice. Without that advice, the list becomes generic and sterile.

Allow me to rewrite the article and include the missing element.

25 Ways to Show Respect (and Love) to Your Husband

1 – 25: Spend time talking to each other. Find out who he is, what he likes, what his passions are, what his fears are, what makes him happy. He’ll do the same for you. Then both of you act on this knowledge.

Talk to each other.

I don’t know your spouse. I can’t write a list that will tell you how to respect (and love) your spouse the way he or she best understands it. That’s your job.

Glancing over this article, I find precious few suggestions that call for a woman to actually interact, on an adult and equal basis, with the man she married.

Instead of “choosing joy” or “not complaining” when you’re upset, communicate about it. If he’s hurt you, tell him in a mature and gentle way. If your bad mood has nothing to do with him, let him know — and release both of you from the responsibility of being happy for the time being. Talk about it.

Instead of “keeping the house tidy” or “prepare his favorite foods,” find out what’s important to your husband. My husband doesn’t much care about a cluttered house, but he loves coming home to a hot supper. Your man might not care a thing about fresh-baked biscuits, but would appreciate having time to work in the yard on weekends. Guess how you find that out? Talk to him.

Instead of “being content,” sit down and talk to each other about what your priorities and goals are. Some couples want lots of children, lots of land, and lots of space. Others want a small family and a quirky apartment in the city. I don’t know what you or your husband wants, and neither will you if you don’t talk about it.

Instead of “respond physically” (that’s the squeamish Christian way of referring to anything sexual), let each other know how you feel. Are you in the mood, too worn out, not feeling well, wanting something different? Do you like hugs or not? Talk about it. What does he like in bed? What do you like in bed? I sure as heck don’t know, and I’m not asking. You should talk to each other about it! It’s important. And also can be really fun.

Go through the article I linked to, and insert the sentence Talk about it for each one. That’s how you build a good marriage.

— SJ (who admires, is grateful to, is content with, and responds physically to her husband. And took twelve years to learn how to be in a bad mood without either blaming him or stuffing it.)

Note #1: If you can’t address important issues with each other, or if you can’t talk without getting into a fight, it has nothing to do with how well you’re following a list, or God, or whatever. It means both of you need to see a good counselor. One who can show you how to talk to each other.

Note #2: For the record, I object to #25 in principle, which reads:

“Follow His Lead
If you want your husband to lead, you must be willing to follow. Neither a body nor a family can function well with two heads. Learn to defer to your husband’s wishes and let final decisions rest with him.”

Alternatively, talk about your decisions together and come to a decision together. Sometimes you defer to him. Sometimes he defers to you. If you consistently hit a gridlock where only one person can ever make the final decision, it’s not a sign of a godly marriage. It’s a sign that you need a good counselor.

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7 thoughts on “25 Ways (a rant) (Part 2)

  1. It *is* an amazing skill to be able to be honest about your feelings without projecting them on the other (and, vice versa, to notice and acknowledge the other’s feelings without feeling the need to fix or apologize.) It’s one of those Amazing Ninja Marriage Skills that only comes with years of experience.

  2. “Find out what’s important to your husband” is super important. And vice versa. Women are not all fundamentally the same in the preferences, nor are men. So yeah, choose what’s important to your family together. Keeping a tidy house may not be super important to either of you.

    And I LOVE your final point:
    “Alternatively, talk about your decisions together and come to a decision together. Sometimes you defer to him. Sometimes he defers to you. If you consistently hit a gridlock where only one person can ever make the final decision, it’s not a sign of a godly marriage. It’s a sign that you need a good counselor.”

    I have one friend I’ve said this to, but I think you put it more succinctly. If you’re constantly hitting gridlock (like everyday/once a week) there’s a high probability you’re making mountains out of molehills (every decision is of utmost importance) or you’re both being controlling and/or selfish. That can be cloaked with spiritual overtones at times, but sometimes it’s just plain selfishness.

    • Most of the time when I mention that a marriage doesn’t necessarily need one person to be the leader, I get the response, “But what happens if you can’t agree? Who makes the final decision then?” How often does that happen, really? If it’s pretty often, then you’re right, Danielle. There are issues other than spiritual ones at work.

      — SJ

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