“An Old Wife’s Tale” is a humorous non-fiction piece about marriage, and it is not your usual perspective: There is no male bashing in this piece. Here’s a teaser,
(photo by Casey DeCotis)
Marriage. It’s blissful and painful, magical and mind splitting all rolled up in ‘til death do us part’. Yes, I’m a woman, but this is not a piece on male bashing or on what the husband’s are doing wrong. This is addressed to the wives who hold more power over the happiness of their marriage than they know.
For starters, let me explain a basic truth of men and women. Men need respect. Women need love. Wives, if you respect your husbands they desire to love you. Wives who feel loved desire to respect their husbands. When this circle gets broken it feeds itself, morphing into two separate lines which move farther and farther from each other until eventually becoming parallel.
Did you know that wives do not have the right not to respect their husbands if they are not feeling loved? I know some of you just gasped deep enough to suck a few letters off of the page, but hear me out. As a wife you are called to honor your husband. This is not an ‘if-then’ statement. It is your vows in action under the covenant of marriage. The problem arises when wives treat their marriage as a contract and not a covenant.
In a contract, “if” one party shrugs their responsibility “then” the other party has the right to suspend their responsibilities, even to the point of legally breaking the contract on grounds that the contract was not fulfilled. Marriage is a covenant. It is a lifelong promise to remain faithful and unified as one flesh separated only by death. Are there exceptions? Of course, but this piece is addressed to the majority and not the circumstantial.
In my observances of my own marriage and the marriages of others, there are five major flaws that wives consistently do which have long term, detrimental impacts on their marriages. They are categorized as belittling, not being a helper, withholding sex, poor communication, and pride.
Alright, let’s break those down. Belittling is an insulting action which cuts your husband at the core. It goes against everything you are to be as a wife. By belittling your husband you are stating, “Not only do I not respect you as my husband, but I also think you are stupid as a person and I am better than you.” If you just shook your head in agreement, let me pose a situation: You are standing in a group of people and your husband has just asked you to get the keys. You return empty handed telling him you couldn’t find them in the bag. Your husband says, “I’ve got to do everything myself. Women are useless,” then walks away. How do you feel?
First of all, most husbands are way too courteous to treat their wives like that in public, the way that most wives easily do. If they did, imagine how much worse you’d feel if suddenly all the husbands chimed in and began wife bashing on your behalf? Doesn’t this sound like a typical conversation when wives get together?
How many wives complain that their husbands won’t help out with the chores or the children and then tell them that they are doing it wrong and push them out of the way to do it ‘right’? Are we really that much smarter than our husbands? How do they perform at their jobs without our help, being as stupid as they are? What happened to excitedly listening to his advice and coaching when we were dating, hanging on his every word, and lovingly expecting him to ride in on his horse and sweep us off our feet? Too accurately, we’ve probably stabbed that man to death and buried him six feet under.
Wives are helpers, remember? That whole deep sleep, rib thing, in the Garden of Eden. Why then do wives degrade their husbands and insult their intelligence? Just imagine how you’d react if your husband spoke at you and belittled you the way you do him. I doubt you’d respond as kindly as he does.
Speaking of being a helper, are you? Wives, I am about to get old school on you. At your root you were created to be a helper to your man first and foremost…not his mama! If you are a stay at home mom, you are responsible for the home. While your husband is off at work, you do the shopping, the cleaning, the laundry, and care for the kids. This is a typical trade off.
I hear women complain that while they sit at night folding laundry their husbands sit uselessly by watching television in the recliner. The only problem I see is that the wife is still working instead of spending time with her husband. Yes, I said it. See, hubbie is out working all day long. He doesn’t want to come home and do your job too. I mean, how would you feel if he called you from work complaining that you weren’t helping him make sales calls, manage personnel, or lay tile? Again, I’m certain your response wouldn’t be as kind as his is when you give him the silent treatment, yell and complain, or withhold sex because he won’t help you.
Which leads me to my next point: be fruitful and multiply. Having sex is a crucial part of your marriage. The kind of sex you had during the first year of your marriage, not this bi-monthly “favor” that you are doing him by letting him have some. And you like to be romanced, don’t you? What about your husband? So does he, just not the way you think. Husbands remember how you were when you were dating, when you held hands, played hard to get, and behaved like you were actually attracted to him.
Why not text your husband that you’re thinking about him and want to mess around that night? Do you think he’d notice that girl at the office if you were flirting like that? Be dressed up when he comes home once in a while, hold his hand on the couch, or make out after the kids go to bed. Remind him that you think he’s sexy and you are still attracted to him. Don’t leave him to initiate all the action and then act annoyed, because I promise you some woman out there thinks your husband is attractive and unlike you, she’s not afraid to show him.
I know you many not always be in the mood, but sometimes my husband isn’t in the mood to talk when I am, but he still does. And I don’t know about you, but I have never had sex with my husband and when it was over thought, “Thank God that’s finished. I had such a terrible time!” I have always enjoyed myself. Many times when I’m not in the mood I remember that, and it changes how I feel and act immediately. But really, I find the more I flirt, the more I genuinely want to have sex with my husband, the closer our relationship is.
So now, let’s talk…how about poor communication as the next topic. It goes something like this: “But, he should know…” or “I shouldn’t have to ask/tell him. I dropped enough hints.” Listen, point blank, your husband is not a mind reader. And he isn’t selfish or insensitive on the whole, anymore than you are when you don’t meet his needs that you may not be aware of.
See, when you find yourself moving into this school of thought, you have to decide either he loves you or he doesn’t. If he loves you, then you can assume he wants to be a part of your life, be helpful, and see you happy. So if he does anything that contradicts these thoughts then there must have been a miscommunication, because he loves you. If you answered no, you don’t think he loves you, than you need advice from someone much smarter than I am.
For the rest of you, wives, you need to talk to your husband as if you love him and he loves you. I mean, would you speak that way to your girlfriend? Would you set such high expectations on her? Would you get as angry with her if she let you down or hurt you, as you do with your husband? My guess is no. My advice is to lighten up. This man is supposed to be your best friend, and at best many husbands feel more like you’re their parole officer than their wife.
Communicate what you feel with respect and love. Don’t nag and yell or tell him where he’s fallen short. Instead, tell him how you feel and ask him to help find a solution with you. Respect his right to be a human being independent of you and embrace his strengths and his weaknesses. In all reality, your husband probably thinks differently than you, does things differently than you, and processes things differently than you. Instead of competing with him, learn from him and grow with him.
To truly become one flesh, you have to believe that he fills areas where you are lacking and you do the same for him. If you don’t, then you believe that you are a complete human being by yourself and you have all the answers to all life’s problems, in which case you shouldn’t have gotten married. And this type of thinking is the basis of the last detrimental flaw I’ve observed in my marriage and the marriages of others, and that is pride. Pride is at the center of everything I’ve written about and it will fuel the fire of discord in marriage.
The bottom line is wives have so much control over the happiness of their marriage and unfortunately many of them do not use that gift to their advantage. I mean, who wants to spend ‘til death do us part’ counting down the days! Marriage is a blessing. It’s a lifetime partnership through good and bad, learning and growing, and supporting each other as equals. Wives, love your husbands. Respect your husbands. Honor your husbands. Remember those women who have lost husbands to death who would trade with you in a heartbeat the next time you are picking his socks up off the floor. Think of those single moms who would give anything to have a husband who interfered with her bedtime routine to let the kids stay up late. But most importantly, think about your husband the way you did when you first met him, and make an effort to be that woman that he fell in love with.