May 22: Do unto Husbands: (Communication part 4)

DSC_0553The golden rule is the cute nickname that we have given Matthew 7:12. “Therefore, whatever you want men to do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets.”

A little later in Matthew (22:37), this is brought up again with even stronger language,

“Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’”

Now both of these are great ideas. They are theoretically profound, and we can see an occasional application to our lives. But we like to leave them out there at a little distance. We do not love to bring them all the way into our lives, into our homes, and into our petty little problems.

This series on communication has been an effort to bring these broad, sweeping statements into the places in our lives where we might be tempted to think that Scripture does not directly speak. Today I’d like to bring it into the very big issue of petty domestic strife.

Many of us are homemakers – we have embraced our calling to be wives and mothers who prioritize the home. Now the temptations that we face in our daily lives are sometimes to not value our work, or to wish we were elsewhere. But other times, and far more often for women who are completely sold on their role in the home, our temptations are to value our work too much, and to wish everyone else was elsewhere. Here are a few examples, meant to be extreme, that should communicate what I mean.

Let’s say your husband just cannot remember to use the hamper. You find his socks strewn. You find pants with a belt still in them crumpled on the floor. So you decide that this is just really not responsible behavior. You show him the hamper plan again, with strain in your voice. Then the next day, there it is again. Socks on the floor in the hall. So you feel completely justified in popping off, “How can you not see this? How do you not realize that I am picking up after you? I already am cleaning up after the kids all day long, do I have to follow you around too?” Chances are pretty good that your husband will feel pretty bad. Shoot. He totally spaced that again. You go off on a binge of feeling unloved and under appreciated.

You feel like he is using your time without paying attention. He is simply counting on your efforts, and not even taking the time to notice what it is costing you. Well lets flip this around to a situation where a husband responded in exactly the same kind of way. Let’s look at a place where you might be using his work a little absent mindedly, not noticing what you are doing. Lets look at what it would be like to be treated the way you regularly treat him.

You walk into the kitchen to find your husband pulling outdated food out of the fridge. You know – that end of a block of cheese that turned into an eraser. The wilty lettuce. The bag of leftovers that didn’t get eaten. The sour cream that has a little black spot in the lid. Lets say he is pulling all these out and lining them up on the counter. Every time he finds something else he sighs profusely and looks at you with despair. Then he points at all this waste and says, ” Do you think that this is why I work so hard? So you can waste my paycheck on food that we won’t eat? Do you think I have nothing better to do with this money than sit around and see how you waste it? Try a little harder, honey. I mean, come on! This is probably almost $10 worth of wasted food! Why would you do this to me? What were you thinking when you let this sour cream go bad? huh? Where you just not thinking of me at all? Were you assuming that I just LIKE to go to work so it doesn’t matter what you do with the money?”

Now I hope that this is appalling to you. Because you know as well as I do that there are 400 million reasons that you could have forgotten about the existence of the sour cream, and none of them were malicious. Sometimes thing like this happens. Sometimes we miss stuff. Sometimes you were so busy taking care of children that you completely missed the fact that you meant to make a salad. This is the kind of  normal waste that has to happen around life, just the like the socks on the floor are the normal kinds of small mistakes that go down where people live.

Lets say you finally got the house together – and it took a lot of work. And you might be sore tomorrow. Then your husband doesn’t notice anything. And you feel all upset that he doesn’t care. Or even worse, he notices the few things that you did not get to. Well – how do you respond when he brings home a paycheck? Do you immediately talk about what you can’t afford? Do you ignore it totally and just press on with your life? Or do you thank him for his hard work? Do you encourage him? Do you look for the little things that he does for you and enjoy them? Or are you always pointing at what hasn’t been done? When he gets paid do you say, rather stinkily, “finally.”?

Now of course we could go on all day about this kind of thing. For every common annoyance there is a flip side. There is a way in which you are probably doing the exact same thing. Find the way in which you are doing it, and correct that. Take the beam out of your own eye before you bring up the socks in his. Look hard for the ways in which you expect him to value your time in a way that you do not value his. And then let go of it. Let go of your time, your work, your priorities.

The happiest marriage in the world is not happy because there was nothing to resent. It is happy because the giving,  forgiveness, love, and respect  that are cultivated are like citronella plants to the mosquitos of  bitterness and resentment. When you are loving the Lord God with all your heart, and soul, and mind, loving your neighbor as yourself just rolls out naturally. We are all fallen. We all fall short. We will never run out of things to resent each other for, just as God will never run out of things to forgive us for. So love God with everything, and see your neighbor as exactly what he is – just like you.

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37 thoughts on “May 22: Do unto Husbands: (Communication part 4)

  1. This post is spot on. Thank you so much for bringing this verse into a whole different light…one that is much needed to be shared. THANK YOU!

  2. Years ago, a lovely friend once instructed me on this very thing. She suggested to take it a step further and actively turn my bitterness at the sight of the un-replaced toilet paper into prayer for my husband. It got to the point that I was giggling each time I saw the empty roll, thinking… I wonder if he’s just doing this now so I’ll pray for him. But it worked. My anger subsided and I found it replaced with sweetness for my husband. I’ve used this exercise on many things that I have found irritating. It makes life much more enjoyable. Thanks for the reminder. 🙂

  3. Whoa – so convicting!! Along these same lines, I have been led lately to try to institute some sort of family “celebration” on payday – to thank God and Daddy for providing that money that is so easily taken for granted, and seen as “not enough”. Unfortunately, most of my best ideas involve going out to eat or spending more money, which is obviously not the best idea. I’d love to hear if anyone out there has this tradition, or has any great ideas for implementing it.

  4. Rachel, I felt a physical pain in my chest whilst reading this. In a good way. Thank you for writing this little series on communication! Its application has already brought a new sweetness into our home. More time for laughing and jolliness when you’re not fussing about your ‘needs’ all day. Write a book on marriage next? 🙂

  5. I agree. Write a book on marriage next. This also touched me deeply. There are going to be some changes around here…

  6. Sarah, thank you so much for such a good idea! I have been really struggling to find ways to turn my life-long resentment habit around. I’ll start with this today. May God bless you and keep you..

  7. I really apreciate your blog, thanks for the cool wasted food example… he never gripes at me about that, yet Im always grilling him for multiple things around the house! I apreciate this.

  8. Thank you, Thank you, Thank you – my attitude needs some work! The sermon at our church this week was on being “poor in spirit” and what that really looks like – this is coming along behind and keeping me in line!

  9. So timely. I wish I didn’t need these posts as much as I do, but I’m sure glad to be able to read them. Thank you!

  10. I am so thankful for this post. I have a bad habit of not completing the laundry in a timely manner. You know, the clean mountain of laundry on the bed that gets pushed back into the baskets three nights in a row because you’d rather go to sleep than fold it and put it all away? One day, I felt like the Lord showed me something rather life-changing…how would I feel if my husband brought his work home with him several nights a week? I mean what could he possibly be doing 40-50 hours a week that keep him from finishing his work AT work? See where I’m going here? Then the same applies to me. What am I spending/wasting my time on throughout my “work week” at home that excuses my work not being finished before he gets home in the evenings? I started keeping a little productivity journal and was shocked at just how much I could accomplish if I consistently look to be productive and get as much done in my “down time” as possible. If we take joy in serving our family at home, knowing it glorifies the Lord, it becomes easier to overlook the “sock in their eye”. 🙂

  11. Thanks for this post, Rachel. I don’t (usually) have too much of a problem with this with my husband, but I can hear the HS prompting me to pay attention with regard to my kids.

  12. Wow I read this right after a nagging incident. I had to read it to my husband, he laughed so hard. I love the praying idea. Thank you so much for your blog and words of wisdom.

  13. I’ve found it helpful for years now to think of my job as a “paying” position. Of course I don’t recieve a paycheck, unless you count the grocery budget. My question regularly at the end of the day is , “If I had a “boss” would he be pleased with my work or would I be getting a pink slip?” Of course we have a Father in Heaven who sees us, I am speaking in more of a practical sense. Keeps me motivated and appreciative of what my husband does while away, and grateful that he doesn’t fire me (or even complain) for a job poorly done when I am being less than productive at home! Thank you for these posts even after 14 years of marriage a fresh perspective is like health to the bones.

  14. Man, these last few posts have been so convicting and fitting! Thanks for sharing, Rachel!

  15. Sheesh, this post felt like a day in the life at my house and in my heart. Thank you for reminding me of the flip side of my judgments of my husband.

  16. Good one, Rachel! I remind myself how much I appreciate my husband’s long-term patience and forbearance with me over my little collection of shortcomings with these words: “Kirsten, you ain’t no box of chocolates yourself.” Nothing clears the mind like having a laugh at your own foibles. Thank the Lord for Grace–where would we be without it?

  17. You are so right! You’ve made me view things a little differently. I used to think that my husband was just trying to bother me…chewing loudly, leaving clothes on the bathroom floor, not rinsing his dirty dishes, etc…. But, really, he just was tired from work or not thinking to hard about what he was doing. I love my husband. And, I’m glad that I now have a different way of looking at things. Thank you.

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  18. Thank you for faithfully speaking the truth in love, spurring this wife and mama on in love and good deeds…all because of Jesus! 🙂 Please…keep it coming!

  19. I love this post! I had to write down several notes to make sure I remember these things! Thank you!

  20. On the flip side, if cleaning out the fridge more often, and using leftovers more frequently, were my husband’s requests, wouldn’t I be dishonoring him if I neglected to do it?

  21. “the giving, forgiveness, love, and respect that are cultivated are like citronella plants to the mosquitos of bitterness and resentment. ”
    You certainly know your way around a metaphor 🙂

    Love your creative way of getting right to the heart of an issue.

  22. Thank you for sharing this wonderful post! I very much needed to hear this. And, you gave such a great analogy. I’m going to purpose in my heart to turn my bitterness into prayer for my husband, like Sarah suggested.

  23. This is very well and direct. When this issue ever comes up in my life the response I have always given is, “I’d rather clean up my husbands mess every day, than to not have him around at all. I love my man and he works hard to provide.

  24. May seem a strange, a man on this ladies’ site, yet I am here out of awe for my wife, mother of four, in need of words for what my heart feels. Her main “Love Language” is “Words of Encouragement” and mine ain’t. All you kind folks are helping to fill the gap for this tenderhearted cowpoke.

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