So the writer’s conference was just days away and I was still unsure if I would be able to go. Remember now that Jeff had accepted an invitation to help some family members that live 4 hours away. My child care options were running out. Even if Jeff did stay home he would still need to enlist help so the kids could be in two different places.
It came to this…I really wanted Jeff to stay home. I had lamented to him about this soon to be missed opportunity but never really actually asked him to change his plans for me. I guess I thought that he just would. I guess I thought he would just say, “Hey honey, no problem. I will call and say I can’t make it out this time. I really want you to enjoy this conference. Cheer up, we will make it work!”
But no matter how much I complained about missing this conference he did not once offer to just stay home and skip his trip. He was feeling more obligated to his relatives than to me. So now I was having a different kind of pity party…[insert crying] “My husband doesn’t value me! My husband doesn’t listen to me. And if he is listening than he just doesn’t care!!” [more loud crying].
Someone please tell me I’m not the only wife who has gone through this.
These are the thoughts that really break a wife’s heart. When she believes that her trusted protector and provider is not looking out for her and she is on her own and needs to fend for herself. That he would not forsake all others and be there for her when she needs him.
We have had many struggles in our marriage. Most of them can be related to poor communication. The message is just not getting through. Or worse, we believe a false assumption. I knew these thoughts I was having could really take me down a bitter road with my husband and my tender heart could not handle that. And I didn’t think my marriage could handle that either. I pondered my options…
1. I could choose to be bitter and quietly plot revenge.
2. I could throw a major fit; a tantrum of sorts, until I got what I wanted.
3. I could try again to tell my husband how I’m feeling and this time clearly explain what I want and need.
I have witnessed many women throw the dumbest fits simply because they wanted something but never actually asked for it (me being one of those of course). They were waiting for husband to just do it or give it or say it…whatever it was. They were being helpless victims. It is very cruel to blame our husbands for our unhappiness when we really did not give them a fair chance in the first place, that fair chance being an honest mature conversation.
I eat my words every time I tell my 7 year old daughter, “Fiona, you must stop freaking out and just tell us what you want. Please believe that we want to help you and always will. The world will not respond kindly to a helpless victim. Just say how you are feeling and what you want.”
Why is it so hard for her to just ask for what she wants? Does she think that I can read her brain and I’m just being cruel by not giving her what she wants? Sometimes I do know what she wants but I want her to learn that I do not respond to tantrums and fits. I respond really well to an optimistic request. I tell her …
“Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened.” -Matthew 7:7-8
So here is how it went with my Jeff. We were climbing into bed and I said,…
“Darling, you need to hear these really dumb thoughts I’m having.” I told him all reasons I didn’t think I was worth the sacrifice, money and effort of my family on my behalf.
Jeff responds, “Well those are dumb thoughts honey. But I’m just not sure how we will be able to get you there.”
“Ahhrrrg! Well it’s pretty obvious to me Darling! You need to say home!” (no, I didn’t say that. But I was thinking it!). Instead, I said…
“Would you please stay home and take care of the kids so I can go to this conference? Please call your family and tell them you can’t come because Bri has a thing”. It felt awkward. It seemed weird to have to ask this of him.
Jeff’s response – “Ok. I’ll call them. You can go.”
I was tempted to think, “He isn’t doing it right. He didn’t say it nice. He didn’t smile. It seems like he’s mad”. (Oh our poor husbands. Am I right ladies?)
He knows my love language is Words of Affirmation. If you don’t express it with words then I don’t believe you. And as you can see he uses few; and takes the shortest and most direct route. Jeff wasn’t too surprised when I said I was needing a cheerleader. I told him that asking him to stay was a big deal for me. I needed him to say some encouraging words like, “I want to stay home so you can go. I’m excited for you to go to this conference.” So I told him I was going pee and when I got back he could tell me his cheerleader thoughts. Knowing my Jeff, I wasn’t expecting much. But when I returned, I opened the bedroom door to the sound of the Nebraska Cornhusker Tunnel Walk music playing loud on the iPad…for me! I laughed so hard! He didn’t say anything but the look on his face and his choice of “cheerleader thoughts” expressed through epic football introductory music was enough. He was cheering me on…in his own way.
And an epic battle was fought and won between my two ears. There were no victims 😉
(A Note From Jeff) As her husband and friend, my wish is for my wife to be the best she can be. But like most husbands who are used to getting in the front seat of life, I need to be told over and over and over what Briana needs. I am so good at asking for what I want, I forget to listen to my wonderful wife and what she really needs. Each person that reads this will think of ways that you have experienced something like this in your own life. If I can give a little piece of advice ladies, don’t be afraid to ask for your husband to bless you in any way he can. We live for it, we want to be your hero, but we can’t if we don’t know what burden we can carry for you. If you’re lucky, we will do it half the time.
pray with me
Dear Lord, Please help us think the best of our husbands. Speak love and patients when our hearts are freaking out. Help us guard against a victim mentality and just ask for what we need. Help us to ask with confidence and not criticize when they don’t respond the “right way”. Help us guard against quiet bitterness and obnoxious fits. Amen.
What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don’t they come from your desires that battle within you? You want something but don’t get it. You kill and covet, but you cannot have what you want. You quarrel and fight. You do not have, because you do not ask God. –James 4:1-2