It's kinda been a theme around here lately. And although I'm no spring chicken when it comes to being married, I'm no old-timer either and I have LOTS to learn and be reminded about from time to time. A few years ago my mentor in San Luis Obispo gave me her copy of the book The Proper Care & Feeding of Husbands by Dr. Laura Schlessinger. Her advice to me at the time was to read it through once and then to keep it and pick it back up every other year or so to be reminded. It's not like she thought this book was IT or anything but that it held some great truths in it for women especially in light of our post-modern society. I hadn't read through it in awhile but then a friend and fellow blogger, posted a book review on her blog about the book (thanks Jenny!) and I was reminded to dust it off and take a look.
So I've been re-reading it and there was a whole chapter on a husband's needs, desires and feelings and how women so often expect their husbands to validate their feelings but they're not the least interested in how their husbands feel about things. If you stop to think about it, there's more truth than you would have originally thought. And most men are much quieter than their wives so their needs can go unmet for a long time if a wife isn't careful. This chapter struck me a lot because I think Dr. Laura is right on here. How often do I expect my husband to just talk to me and socialize with me (a need I have since I've been with the kids all day) without remembering that he's been on his feet talking all day!!? And he doesn't even like to talk all that much. I could think of many other examples in our daily lives and I even try to be aware of what my husband needs on a daily basis. Whew! I was tired even thinking about it. But where to go from here? Am I superwoman? I've got three crazy little boys that need everything, a baby kicking in my belly and a house to run. What about me?!
And then this morning I read an amazing post on the Femina blog from Nancy Wilson, who is wonderful, insightful and challenging and it was titled Needy Women. Here is an excerpt from her post this morning: "We women are easily distracted by our own needs. This is easy because, after all, they are ours. And I don’t know how many times I have heard women say that their husbands are not 'meeting their needs.'....If you consider the purpose of marriage at the beginning, God created woman because the man had needs. He needed a helper. Woman was created for the man. So as wives consider how they can meet their husbands’ needs for help, it’s funny how their own needs will be met. When we are doing what God has created and called us to do, we actually become what He created us to be. When we give ourselves away, we find ourselves; when we give, we receive; when we empty ourselves, we are filled."
So simple, yet so profound.
We all have different men. Some are firefighters and deal with crazy schedules, high pressure situations and long shifts. Others are businessmen who fear the economy turning as it will affect their job. Some may need more rest than others after work or some, like doctors, may be dealing with life and death all the time. The point is to know your man. Know his ins and outs. Listen to him. Try and anticipate him. You'll always be learning about him but try and stay one step ahead. And be teachable when God wants you to step it up or to learn something new. It's NOT oppressive to make him your number one priority (after the Lord) on this earth. God's made us women and designed us to love being a helper to our husbands. As hard as it can be sometimes, it's where we're meant to be. I got a fresh reminder just yesterday.
Steve and I had a late night last night. It was the night before his first assignment was due for Grad school and even though he had already spent many hours on it prior to finishing the last little bit last night, he was a bit stuck and discouraged. It's hard to know exactly what a professor wants when you can't just walk up after class and ask them! And evidently this professor doesn't care to respond to email. But anyway, I had wanted to go to bed around 4 o'clock that afternoon and so after the boys went down I was pretty tired. But, in the moment, God quickly transported me back to our days at Cal Poly when Steve was working so hard to get done and I was already graduated. I can't even remember how many nights I stayed up with him and just sat by him, so that he'd know he wasn't alone. And to think of it, I would want that too if it were me. So, I figured here we go again and somehow I was strengthened. Something we say to each other often is "It's just you and me." And that's what it was. Just us. I did some work and some ironing. I sat there. I got him ice cream. And I stayed until it was done. That was his need. Did I need sleep? You betcha. But God always promises that He'll provide. This morning I read this in Romans 16:25 "Now to him who is able to strengthen you according to my gospel and the preaching of Jesus Christ." When I read that, I smiled. I needed those words. I don't need to worry about my needs so much. God's providing those. But He has made me to do my best to know my husband's needs and to respect them. It's there, being obedient to what I'm called to do, that I'll find my rest.