Well, Helllloo! Here we are again in another month and another Stop the Madness Monday entry where I will be attempting to encourage you to turn away from the thoughts that will drive you MAD in MOTHERHOOD and embrace God’s truth instead. This month we are addressing our marital relationship and taking a look at how we might bless those Stud Muffins!
WHAT NOT TO DO: Treat your husband like he’s less than royalty.
Stop the Madness: You don’t have to wash his feet while feeding him grapes and wearing a toga, but you should be letting him know that you absolutely adore, respect, and appreciate him. Tell him you’re proud of the man he is! He is your prince. You’re crazy about him, so tell him!… And tell your kids too. They need to see a healthy picture of relationship and know that mommy and daddy are always on the same team.
Our current family phase is what I like to call “Survival of the Fittest”. One of the thoughts that stays permanently in place in my mind is that one day, he will come home and find me tied up and being used as a human trampoline, while the girls stuff their little faces with whatever junk they may have found in the pantry while watching Barney – a forbidden show in our house… Just say no to the big purple dinosaur! The other image is that of me curled up in a ball on the floor mumbling things – after being used as a human trampoline and voluntarily turning on said purple dinosaur – eagerly awaiting the kind people in white coats to take me off to a far away land of peace and quiet. Ya feel me??
So, if our family life phase is ‘Survival of the Fittest’, it makes sense that my marriage phase is (now more than ever) ‘Intentional and Purposeful’. The Stud and I have to make EVERY EFFORT to pour our love into each other these days. When we were younger without kids, it was easy. I thought he was ever so dreamy, and he thought I was the bomb diggity and we would show all kinds of appropriate levels of PDA and call each other on the phone just for fun and we openly (and obviously) adored one another. Now, most days we’re tired, sore, distracted, busy, forgetful… we’re responsible and hard working parents! And as parents, we need to remember that while we do have to rotate the pots from time to time, our relationship with each other should never just sit on the back burner.
If you’re like me, you delight in seeing the joy on your kids faces when you give them a gift or take them somewhere special or even just doing silly everyday things. It’s like an instant soul boost. It’s refreshing. It’s encouraging. It’s daily *hopefully*. It’s so easy. But what about those Stud Muffins we married? Is that joyful, blissful, blessed look something you see on his face everyday? It seems much more common to leave out the man, the grown up, the provider. It is so easy to forget to please him too. Try to hang in there until the end and take my words as encouragement, because trust me, at the end of a physically and emotionally long day with busy, needy, kiddos; the last thing on my mind is tending to the needs of the Stud Muffin! I am constantly learning how to bless him and with each phase of life, the methods may shift, but the goal stays the same.
This is such a challenging thing because men are exactly like us women, in that they are all completely different! In general, their needs and desires are very similar, though… and simple. Love, Respect, and Affirmation. If you give your Stud Muffin those 3 things, you will see that smirky little kid grin on his face more often.
Ok, here goes…
LOVE – Lets go back to the notion that all men and women were uniquely created by God as He was simultaneously working on a comedy routine and made us (men vs women) with completely opposite needs! The category of LOVE is not exempt from this little factoid. And no, God wasn’t drinking when He chose to do it that way, and He wasn’t trying to be funny (well, maybe He was… who knows!) but He was being very intentional. You have to do a little homework to find out exactly how to bless your husband with your LOVE. A great tool to use to figure him (and yourself) out is the 5 Love Languages assessment. You can take the assessment online and read the book to figure out what each one means, but they are pretty self explanatory.
Gary Chapman points out that there are 5 categories (LOVE tanks) in which we are able to give and receive love. They are Words of Affirmation, Acts of Service, Receiving Gifts, Quality Time, and Physical Touch. What I find absolutely fascinating is that the way I would choose to express love is NOT my Stud Muffin’s preferred way of receiving…. and vice versa! The Stud is a giver, so he thought buying me things showed me his LOVE, but really I was looking for quality time together. I am a doer, so I thought I was showing him my love by doing acts of service, but what he would have preferred was physical touch (imagine that!). We spent a lot of time and effort running ourselves ragged until we realized this and began filling up the right tank! Now here’s the kicker… The tanks change with different seasons of life. It’s not a one and done kind of assessment. So if you have never taken it, or it has been a couple of years (or a couple of kids) since you have taken it, TAKE IT AGAIN!… and talk about it with your Stud Muffin!
RESPECT – I recently had a conversation with some close friends about leadership and RESPECT in their homes. I realized that, while I am not always great at going above and beyond to show my husband RESPECT and allow him to lead, he is worthy of it and deserves it. My Stud is a hard worker, a provider, a goofball, a wonderful father and husband, and a great man of God… Notice perfect was not on that list and he is STILL called by God to lead our family. We are all only human; mistakes happen, bad choices happen, redemption happens. If your husband is trying to lead, are you respecting his efforts in doing so?
So what if you’re in a relationship where your husband is not leading your family in the Bible sense? What if your husband says terrible things to you, ignores your children, lives his life like a young bachelor? How do you RESPECT him? How do you allow him to lead you if he’s living in sin and/or ignorance?
– – – 1st… You can pray for him. YOU can not make him change, but God can.
– – – 2nd… You can look for any little way to show him RESPECT; i.e. give him the freedom to pick out the kids clothes, a big way is to live in the ‘ask, don’t tell’ frame of mind. Don’t tell him you are going to do something, ask him what his thoughts are. It is so hard for us SAHMs to remember that our husbands are also parents. Even though we keep the house from tipping over and rolling down the street day after day, our husbands are also capable human beings.
– – – 3rd… You can be the spiritual leader in your family by encouraging him to be the household leader. Sometimes we have to step up and be the spiritual leaders in the home, but still allow the husbands to be the ‘leader’ overall. My in laws are a great example of this. As wonderful and godly of a man as my father in law is, they both will tell you that quite often Linda was the spiritual leader in the family because she was the one most present while he was working. She loved, submitted to, and encouraged her husband into being the overall ‘leader’ that God calls men to be. For some of us that is harder to grasp and master if we don’t have a great example to follow and if the husband isn’t understanding or knowledgable of the role definitions. Even those who DO have an example to go from, get it WRONG from time to time. Every situation is different and that’s why I believe it’s important to pray and have those very difficult conversations to define YOUR family roles with each other.
Remember that your husbands are not your children. Think about how that might make him feel if you were to imply that he was another child for you to care for and clean up after. Even though it is so unbelievably hard to do sometimes, we should find joy in serving our husbands. We should not force our ways of handling our kids on the grown man that we married. So, I beg of you, please do not refer to your husband as a child – especially to your friends! I used to grit my teeth when The Stud would come home from work and squeeze past as I am making dinner to get to the fridge for an ‘appetizer’. It would drive me crazy, thinking that after my crazy day and nearly successful efforts in the kitchen he is going to ruin his appetite and not want to eat this dinner I am slaving away making!You know what? Not once has he ever left more than a couple of lima beans on his plate due to a pre-dinner snack. I started looking at the situation with fresh eyes and thought maybe he burns more calories and really needs that pick me up, or maybe he had a lite lunch, or maybe he’s just hungry and can make that decision all on his own… without my ‘permission’. So, I changed my attitude about it and actually started offering him a snack if I knew it would still be a few minutes before dinner would hit the table.
The important thing to remember about showing RESPECT is that it often goes hand in hand with being supportive and submissive. Oooo… That’s not a word commonly used in our post modern culture, but I do believe that God calls wives to be submissive to their husbands. Being submissive does NOT mean to lie down and let them kick you around, but to allow him to LEAD. Just as we are called to be loving and submissive, men are called to be godly leaders and to lead their family as Christ led the church. Unfortunately, most marriages don’t get this right 100% of the time and that’s OK… As long as we are striving for it.
AFFIRMATION – This is the tool used to show your husband that you appreciate him, that you notice him, and that you’re proud of him – 3 things that are sure to float his boat! Have you ever thought of how powerful your words are to your husband? How he desires your AFFIRMATION and your approval? It’s true! He really cares about what you think about him. How open are you with your encouraging words to your Stud? I remember when My Stud and I were newly dating he would make a terribly loud cat call sound whenever I would come into his view at church. I would feel my face instantly heat up and I would want to duck behind the nearest plant or person until all the eyes looked away. I was embarrassed by the attention, but certainly notby him! One day, I thought about how it might be perceived by him or others and realized how hurtful that could be. So, I again changed my attitude and embraced my loud, goofy, amazing Stud for who he is and I started running towards him and even sending a cat call his way every now and then! Look for little ways to AFFIRM your Stud on a daily basis : Thank him for taking out the trash or cutting the grass, kiss him in public, ask him about his day and listen to what he says, tell him the ways he is a great dad, thank him for being an amazing partner, don’t nag and complain to him, tell him that Adam Levine has got nothing on him – tell him he is the sexiest man alive! Buy a pack of post-its and leave him notes of gratitude or encouragement… Buy two packs and give one to him to leave each other LOVE notes too! A dry erase board works great for this too!
So, what can you do to bring back some of the romance you shared prior to preschool pandemonium? Do something right now! Send him text, call him, go snuggle up on the couch with him, kiss him in front of the kids, go tell your kids how awesome their daddy is. Pull the marriage pot back to the front burner and watch it sizzle.
That about sums up my thoughts for this purpose, but there is SO.MUCH.MORE.GROUND.TO.COVER… What are YOUR thoughts??
Click here for a list of ideas on how to LOVE, AFFIRM, and RESPECT you husband.
“The husband should fulfill his marital duty to his wife, and likewise the wife to her husband. The wife does not have authority over her own body but yields it to her husband. In the same way, the husband does not have authority over his own body but yields it to his wife. Do not deprive each other except perhaps by mutual consent and for a time,so that you may devote yourselves to prayer. Then come together again so that Satan will not tempt you because of your lack of self-control.”
1 Corinthians 7:3-5