I am in the process of reading two books; both are challenging my self perception and my attitudes regarding how I relate to my family. I don’t want to be lazy with these books. I want to mull them over, embrace the ideas and apply them to my life. It is so easy to read a book, say, “that was great,” and fail to apply any of it. What a waste. That happens far to often with me.
Our Bible study has been reading Love and Respect. The basic premise is that women desire love above all things and men desire respect. Oftentimes, what causes marital strife is the spouses’ failure to give their partner their love/respect.
I love Ben, and I greatly respect him. I am blessed to have a husband who is easy to respect in so many ways. And yet, I am beginning to realize how much I fall short, and how, though I do respect him, I fail to truly give that respect through my attitudes and actions.
When I step back to look at myself, I realize how easy it is for me to be controlling – to think that my way is best and try to micromanage. And I’ve never really stopped to think about it, but I think I probably get my way a lot of the time. Ben is very gracious about not criticizing me and pointing out my flaws in this area. I know I must drive him nuts at times, yet he bears with me. Ben is the head of the house, but I am coming to see that I don’t really honor him and show him respect and appreciation for his role because I am so busy running my agenda.
It’s not as though I am actively doing this. I am not trying to be manipulative in order to get my way. I don’t actively think about getting my way, but I think I live with the mindset that things should be how I want them. I don’t think I really strive to partner with Ben, and that makes me sad. When one is single, she can have life as she wants it, no compromise necessary. But I’m not single and haven’t been for some time. Don’t get me wrong; this isn’t an area of contention in our marriage. We’re both pretty easygoing and adaptable, and I think that smooths a lot of marital bumps. It’s just that I realize for the first time that by wanting things my way, even if I don’t voice this and it’s primarily internal, I’m not respecting Ben. I am sending the message that if my way is best, then his way is not. It’s mostly the little, and often unimportant, daily things. That’s what most of decision making is. It’s not like we sit down nightly to do major decision-making.
Perhaps I don’t usually come across as disrespectful in this manner, but I am certain I could be more respectful. Learning to bite my tongue and resisting the urge to micromanage will go along way to improve our relationship and make Ben feel more respected.
The book talks about 1 Peter 3:1-2 which refers to winning your husband with “chaste and respectful behavior.” The author says “if you’re in conflict [you should] remain respectful and quiet as you distance yourself a bit instead of preaching, lecturing, or criticizing” (p. 220). This will draw your husband to you instead of pushing him further away and will allow you both to work through the situation. I can certainly take a lesson from this advice. I don’t think I ever really learned how to have an arguement, and I think I can be very immature when we have disagreements. I want so much for Ben to understand me, to get what I’m saying, and yes, to see the light and agree with me. This desire motivates me to run my mouth and get a bit pouty in order to get my way. In order, I suppose, to persuade Ben to give in. I am not skilled in coming to a decision through compromise, and I’m certainly not gracious about bending to Ben’s headship when a decision can’t be reached.
I’m afraid I am just foolishly childish sometimes, and I don’t want to be that. I need to see beyond my own little world and really strive to be more than I am.
I guess this is enough for now. I didn’t even touch on the other book I’m reading, The Mission Of Motherhood. I’ll be back with part two, and perhaps three or more as I continue to read and think about what I am learning.