Looking back at 2010, I could write a book on all the things I learned that were rooted in that year. But I didn’t learn these lessons until 2 or 3 years later when I started Celebrate Recovery and started looking back into my past. I really want to keep each year grounded within that year though: what did I walk away with at the end of 2010? What did I bring into my third year of marriage?
In 2010 I read the book For Women Only by Shaunti Feldman. If you haven’t read it, I totally recommend it, although it isn’t for the faint of heart. This book is not going to tell you all the things you need to fix about your husband, or all the things that he is doing wrong. No, this book is a mirror. This book will show you your own reflection. Where are you the problem in this marriage? What is your part in this marriage? What do you bring to the marriage? This book helped me to look at my marriage from my husband’s perspective and recognize some places where I was being disrespectful and hurtful without even knowing it.
Shaunti talks about how as women we often assume our man wants the same thing as we do: love. But through her research she found that men would rather be unloved rather than disrespected. The only problem is; I didn’t know how to show respect to my husband. I knew how to show him the love that I wanted to receive from him, but I had no idea how to show him I respected him without saying, “Dean, I respect you.” Is that how he feels when he says, “I love you” to me? It just feels wimpy and not enough. It wasn’t that I didn’t have respect for him, I did. But how can those words possibly convey the deep respect I had for him?
I started to recognize that it wasn’t so much about finding ways to show him respect, but instead, targeting the ways I was being disrespectful and then working through my issues attached to that action so I could break the habit. Most of these areas weren’t things I would look at and say, “I was being disrespectful” but the book helped me to see my husband’s perspective.
For example, I had been complaining about how tired and overworked I was. I couldn’t keep up with the housework and a full time job and volunteering at church. I needed help. Dean started to help out with things around the house, like loading the dishwasher. But instead of recognizing his desire to help me I recognized the fact that the bowls were in the “wrong” spot. I reloaded the dishwasher. Instead of thanking my husband for his hard work I remained silent and inwardly stated, “Uggg, now I have to reload this because the bowls aren’t where I usually put them…” and I hoped that Dean would see me reloading the bowls and take special note of where they were “supposed” to go. But what my husband saw was a little different. From his perspective he heard that I needed help and he helped. And then all the hard work he did for me (because he loved me), I undid, and acted as if he harmed my cause rather than helped it. Ouch. I mean, when it comes down to it, do the bowls really have to be in a specific spot in the dishwasher? And why couldn’t I just accept his help for what it was- an act of love and provision?
I could argue efficiency all I wanted: 1. The bowls get a more direct spray from this location 2. I can fit more into the dishwasher this way so there aren’t any left over dishes in the sink.
But what my actions were really saying to my husband was:
“Your efforts were not good enough for me.”
“Your efforts were harmful to me.”
“The time and energy you put into helping me is not valuable to me.”
OUCH! And even worse, I think I truly believed those statements! In my mind I didn’t believe it, but when I was living daily life I was definitely acting like I believed those statements and as a result I wasn’t able to see the love my husband was showing me. The more unloved I felt, the more disrespectful I became, which resulted in me feeling more unloved because of my inability to recognize the love he gave, and the cycle continued.
Suddenly, I was seeing that I was doing this all over the place and I desperately needed to revamp my thinking:
- The Trash
Current Response: “When you take the trash out can you at least put a bag back into the can?”
He Hears: “Your efforts are not enough for me.” OUCH!
Revamp thinking: Oh nice, I don’t have to lug that leaky, stinky, garbage down three flights of stairs and….through the parking lot? …across the street? Now that I think about it, I don’t even know where the dumpster is… All I have to do is put a new bag in the can! Nice!
New Response: “Hey baby, thanks for taking the trash out…where is the dumpster anyway? I feel so spoiled that I don’t even know where it is.”
Current Response: “I know you know where it is, but I’m just going to plug it into the GPS anyway; just in case.”
He Hears: “I don’t trust your ability to get us there.”
Revamp thinking: Why am I so scared to get lost going to a new place? This seems to be more about me and my insecurities and fears and less about his abilities. Do I think he can get us there? Certainly! Will it be on time, though? Will it be the fastest, most efficient, way? Does it really matter? Do I trust in my husband’s ability to drive us to this place? Yes, ok, so make it a reality, trust him with this.
New Response: “Do you know where we are going?”
“Cool.” (Does NOT take out GPS to plug in address)
- The Rent
Current Response: “Did you pay the rent yet?”
“No, it’s not due until the 30th.”
“Ok, well I just don’t want you to forget.”
He Hears: “I don’t trust in your ability to remember and follow through on something you said you would do.”
Revamp thinking: He said he would pay the rent, do I trust him to do so? Yes, but what if he forgets? I’m just trying to be helpful, and I don’t want to have to be the one that has to interact with the land lord in the event that he forgets. Why? Because he said rent would be his responsibility and if he doesn’t do it then it will become my responsibility. Aren’t you wasting energy and making it your responsibility now by nagging him about it and worrying about it? Oh….Ok, I’m putting my trust into practice.
New Response: “Where would you like me to put the rent invoice?”
“On the desk.”
*places rent invoice on the desk and lets it go*
There are so many more examples, but those were the ones I vividly remember. I am so thankful for my husband who stood by me as I learned how to trust, submit, and show him respect. It wasn’t easy, not because I didn’t trust him or respect him, but because my control issues and fears had a way of creeping in and taking over. If you find yourself making the same comments as me, read For Women Only! It’s so helpful!
However, let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband.