Monday, January 3, 2011
I recently read an article that piqued my interest. It came to me via one of my free subscriptions in a little pamphlet titled, "No Greater Joy" and was written by Debi Pearl.
Just an aside, this publication and ministry can be controversial at times. So just so you know, I'm not here to endorse their style of parenting. I'm just here to tell you about the article. Some of the things I've read from this ministry have been really helpful and other things have not. So there. Glad I got that out of the way.
Back to the article. It is titled, Obsessions, and is all about men having obsessive tendencies. Let me whet your appetite.
"Let's face it: most men are given to obsessions, for even if they are good obsessions they are still obsessions...Some men like to fix up cars...Some men are into hunting and fishing...And then there are those men who just like to work. Work is a sport, work is a challenge, work is fun...I am sure there are thousands of other strange things that capture the minds and hearts of men. It is not as if your man has a disease and is abnormal. Almost every male I know is or has at some time been afflicted with this obsessive-compulsive disorder. The big question is how we, as stable, hard working, family-committed wives, respond to what feels to us like an unhealthy imbalance." She's speaking of "normal" obsessions here, not of sinful ones like pornography, by the way.
After that quote, she had me hooked. Men in general are obsessive by nature? I thought it was only MY man who was that way. I had no idea. For example: my husband is obsessed with football (especially the 49ers) and I mean obsessed. He knows just about every player on any team and he knows all sorts of random facts about each one. When he finds something he likes, he does it over and over and over again because, well he likes it. Sounds logical-to him at least.
Some of his obsessions are great like his love for Math and puzzles. Yet some are not great in my humble opinion. His sometimes obsession with video games...not so helpful. Good thing that is a thing mostly of the past. It rears its head now and again and I hold my breath until it passes. But I always just thought that my husband had the personality for being obsessive about things and that it was just who he was. I didn't realize that it was simply characteristic of men in general. The more she talked about it, the more I saw it. Men aren't all obsessive about the same things but, it does seem to be the way they're wired. And the more I thought about it, the more I relaxed.
So that got me thinking. So what?! Hearing somebody else say this put it all into perspective for me. I've often wondered about my husband's obsessions and I must admit I haven't always understood them. And sometimes I've been plain jealous of them. Why? Because they distract from poor little me...you know, me the one who wants attention all the time. Yep. And if they're distracting him from giving me attention, then they must be horrible, in fact even sinful at times. Ooooooooooohhhhhh....I better be his Holy Spirit and show him his follies. Because you know, he needs me and all. Am I not his helper?
This attitude is BAD. And you better believe there have been many times I've played the martyr acting like I'm so much better because I'm not given to fancies such as Sodoku puzzles (or the latest fad). But my husband's obsessions are what make him good at what he does contributing to him being a good provider and father. For example: I can't build anything to save my life. Yet my husband is incredibly good at fixing things, seeing how things fit together and building things, even if it's out of tinker toys. His obsession with logic puzzles help him in this area.
So what do we women do? If it's how they're made, they're not going to change. Debi makes a few suggestions that I thought were helpful. She suggests joining him as best as you can in his obsessions. Or if that simply won't work, she suggests finding a few of your own/or simply doing something else. I started thinking about it and you know, she's right. I really am not jealous of football. But that's probably because I've tried to join my hubby in his love for the sport by watching games with him and hearing about the latest news. This one was easy for me because I already had a natural inclination toward football even before I met him. But still, I've embraced his football-ness wholeheartedly (including season tickets to the 49ers-mostly that hurt my pocketbook which if you remember...I'm cheap so I really had to concede here). However, there are other obsessions he has that I just cannot share, like logic puzzles. I just don't think that way and I never will. So I've tried to do other things while he's in his mathy land...I read, bake, run and write. But I admit it, sometimes I nag him to do something else more "productive." Shame on me!
It's hard not to take these obsessions personally. It's easy to think they are tuning us out because they just don't want to be with us, which hurts a woman's relational pride in a big way. But if that's all they are, if they're really just being men, just being themselves, then are these obsessions really all that bad? Are they worth being all upset about? And really, do we really want our husbands to change? And if we do, what do we want that change to look like? Do we want our men to look more like us, like women? If you really think about it...No! We want them to be who they are. That's what attracted us to them in the first place, the fact that they weren't like us. We want them to be strong, silent (well not too, too silent), diligent, capable and rough.
We want them to be the mystery that they are.
For mystery is at the heart of marriage.
God even said it himself through Paul in Ephesians 5: 31-32
"Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh. This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church."
So I guess we can conclude this. Our husband's obsessions can be a mystery to us. But we can leave them at that. I guess that's the way it should be. We don't have to understand them but we must respect them. For they are a huge part of the man that we have been called to love, cherish and respect for the rest of our lives. And it's much easier to go with the grain than go against it.
"However, let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband." Ephesians 5:33
Easier said than done. I need to learn how to do this. But it's worth a try. Definitely worth a try.