First of all–again, brilliant. You guys are brilliant. I’m always blown away by the depth of wisdom and insight you share. Notice I didn’t say “shocked”–just very, very impressed.
I do want to continue the discussion but take it down a slightly different trail. Ali was the first one to say, “Hey, why isn’t anybody defending Kate?” A couple more people alluded to the same thing–“it can’t be all her fault.” And then Lisa R-p said that she was trying not to be offended that all the focus was on Kate respecting her husband when respect should be a mutual thing. I agree. I like the word mutual.
Lisa went on to say that, “focusing only on the behavior of the woman without expecting accountability to the man for the same, changes the focus of this discussion to be about power and control vs. respect, compassion, and partnership.” I see what Lisa is saying, but I disagree. And Lisa, maybe you can help me out here. When you say “power and control,” do you mean for the wife or for the husband?
Let me see if I can explain the thinking behind yesterday’s one-sided post (because, yes, it was one-sided).
Here’s my deal. I’m not my husband. I’m me. In any relationship of mine, there is only one person whose thoughts and actions I can change. Me. Do I believe husbands should love and respect their wives? Absolutely. Do I believe that Christian guys have an even bigger responsibility/obligation to lead their family in a godly way? Absolutely. Would life be easier if some of these men would step up and quit making us women do all the work in the relationship? Absolutely.
Of course, that would require us giving them the reins, which we aren’t about to do. How many of you want your husbands to be the “spiritual leader” in your home but balk any time he tries to “lead” you in any way? (My hand is raised HIGH in the air here, if you couldn’t tell.)
Side note (but totally related): Not a whole lot of guys read my blog (that I know of). A post exhorting guys to love and respect their wives is going to fall on deaf ears. Or rather, no ears. 95% of my writing/speaking is done with a female audience in mind. So, a one-sided post is pretty typical. I could write a post to all your husbands, but how in the world are you going to trick them into reading it? And even if they do, what are they going to say–“Who in the heck is this chick, and why in the world should I listen to her? Besides, she sounds like a complete nag.”
Let’s talk about mutual for a minute. In theory, I love the 50/50 concept. Meet in the middle. I go halfway, you go halfway. Compromise is key!
But somebody tell me how you go about finding that middle ground. That magic, mysterious place. That masking tape line in the sky. My half of the effort is over here, and yours is over there. You do your part, and I’ll do mine.
Who decides where the tape goes? Who decides what’s fair? Do I do one kind deed, then you do one in return? You show me some love, then I’ll show you some? Who goes first? What’s our response going to be when the other person hasn’t done his part (as I perceive it)? Am I going to purposely fail to do mine? Then how will we ever get back to the elusive 50/50 instead of spiraling downward toward 4/4.
Who goes first is a biggie. That’s basically the message I’m trying to get across. Yes, mutual love and respect is the goal. If there’s currently no love/respect coming from either party, someone has to go first. Chances are, it’s not going to be your husband. After all, he’s sitting around watching TV and playing video games. You’re the one gleaning spiritual enrichment from blogs.
I’m suggesting that Kate missed her chance to go first. Would she have been guaranteed that her husband would’ve reciprocated with love and faithfulness? No. But her odds would’ve been better.
I miss chances to go first every single day. You know why? It’s no fun. Especially without that guarantee.
But here’s why I’m striving for that I’ll Go First mentality in all of my relationships: I’m accountable for myself. As a follower of Christ, my goal should be to live in a way that pleases Him regardless of how anyone around me chooses to live.
I’ve seen miracles, friends. Times (in my marriage and otherwise) when I took the high road and turned the relationship over to God (i.e., prayed A LOT) and was stunned at how He worked.
There’s never an excuse to be bratty and stinky. Try killing your husband with kindness (and prayer). You might be shocked at the results.
Now, I knooooow some of you are in tough, tough, TOUGH marriages. I will never advocate becoming a doormat and taking the abuse. I know there are some situations out there far beyond the scope of my psychology degree. Oh, wait. I don’t have one of those. If you’re in that kind of a marriage, please get help. Seriously. If you have no idea where to turn, e-mail me, and I’ll do my best to find someone who can help you.
So basically, it boils down to this: my philosophy is that change always starts with me (this sound eerily similar to a campaign slogan). In any life situation, I need to first make sure that I’m doing my best, trying my hardest, making sure my attitudes and actions line up with God’s Word. Then I can focus on my husband’s shortcomings.
In my own personal experience, after almost 12 years of marriage, I’m still working on my own dumb stuff. But seriously, I’m thinking that by 2011, I should be just about perfect. Watch out, Gabe! Here I come!