In the heat of the argument she reaches for something on the shelf to throw at him. The “D-Word?” (No, I’ll save that for later, that’s the trump card.) Instead she finds a nice smooth stone that fits in the palm of her hand. “This will do the trick,” she thinks, then she hurls something at him that basically says “I do not respect you, you are not honorable, and you are not successful.” Ouch!
“What we were talking about again?” He thinks to himself as he feels the sting of her words and reaches deep into his pockets to find just the right thing to throw back, “Well, it doesn’t really matter what we were talking about … it’s ON now!”
He finds the old faithful comeback which more or less means “You don’t know what you’re talking about, you annoy me, I don’t find you attractive, I don’t love you, and you are just like your crazy mother.”
Tears, and CUT. Perfect, it’s a wrap! Let’s do it again next week.
What’s all the fighting about?
This scene is played over and over in so many homes. Sometimes it starts over money (if it’s a two income family the wife is probably mad at the husband for spending money on something, and if it’s a one income family the husband is probably mad at the wife for spending money on something.) Sometimes there is just not enough money (for vacation, saving, remodeling, paying bills, etc.) so they blame each other. Money equals security and control.
Other times it’s not about money at all, but about time and workload. The husband probably has a hobby that he cares a lot about (too much?), and the wife is probably annoyed by how much time and money is spent on the hobby. Sports, TV, hunting, fishing, golf, motorcycle, playing drums, guitar, video games, music, reading, working in his shop, or just hanging with the guys playing cards, anything that he wants to do for fun and relaxation is a potential problem.
From her perspective it is rejection. She thinks it means that he would rather do that thing (whatever it is) than be with her. She feels like “he doesn’t love me.” But, that’s only part of it, she also feels used. After all, she works all day, too (whether in the home with the kids, or outside the home at her job) and then in the evening there is dinner, housework, laundry, kids, pets, etc. She can grow very resentful if she starts to see herself as a servant to her husband while he gets to come home and enjoy some relaxation. On the other hand, he can grow resentful if he starts to see himself as a disappointment in her eyes and it seems like all she ever does is complain.
It plays out like this; while he is doing whatever it is that he likes to do, she interrupts and reminds him of what he really ought to be doing.
I’m not going to try and cover all of the reasons why husbands and wives fight with each other. Bottom line is that people are selfish and sinful, so there will be reasons to have problems and arguments. Having problems does not mean that life has to be miserable, though. There are some basic concepts that will keep marriages happy and healthy.
Give Them What They Want
Husbands want respect, and wives want love. It’s almost that easy.
Husbands want their wives to love them, too, but the way they will recognize love is when their wives show them respect and honor. When they believe that their wife sees them as a good man, a good husband, a good father, a man of wisdom, someone who is strong, someone who does what they do well, someone who can be trusted, then they will believe that they are loved by their wife.
Wives want their husbands to love them. They want their husbands to show them affection and kindness. They want to feel safe and secure, and they want to know that no matter what happens their husband will be there to make it right. She wants to believe that their husband is willing to give his life for hers. She wants to believe that her life is worth his devotion.
(let me admit here that I know more about the husband’s perspective than the wife’s. Duh.)
ALWAYS Give Them What They Want
The Bible calls it mutual submission. Always put the other person’s desires before your own. Think of their opinions and ideas as better than yours. If they want something, then you are more than happy to give it to them. If I want to do something, and they do not, then I am more than happy to not do it. Yep … every time.
But, how does that work? Either one person will dominate the other, or they will both just sit there and never do anything, “Whatever you want … no, honey, whatever you want …” How can mutual submission work? Shouldn’t the man be in charge? Someone needs to be in charge! If momma ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy!
Mutual submission only works when the submission is mutual. (Duh!) And, you go first. You can’t wait for them to do the right thing before you are willing to do the right thing. I submit to you first.
The way it works in our home is pretty simple. Kim and I want each other to get what the other wants. If one of us say “I want Indian food for dinner,” the other is happy to have Indian food for dinner. That’s the end of it. But, what if the other says, “I thought we would eat the roast that I put in the crock-pot this morning.” or, “I’m not feeling very well and I don’t think I can eat Indian food tonight.” What would we do then? In the first case we would have the roast. It’s already cooking, so no one is going to be so selfish that they don’t appreciate what has already been done. And, in the second instance, we would compromise. Either we would pick up some Indian food and also something else, or we would save Indian food for another time.
That’s the long way of saying you have to learn to trust each other. Say what you want, but always be willing to let the other person have what they want instead. The person who speaks first should get what they request most of the time. The goal is to give the other person what they desire, it’s not a race to speak first so that you get what you want. The goal is to love my spouse, not to get what I want.
Christ and the Church
We can learn a lot about the true nature of marriage if we turn the metaphor of “The Bride of Christ” around. One of the ways to understand the nature of the Church is to see it as His bride. The wife is to be like the church and the husband is to be like Christ. There are many things to be learned from thinking about this, and I want to touch on a couple of them.
Husbands, this part is for you
Husbands are to love their wives like Christ loves the Church. This means he has to die for her. His life will be a life of sacrifice and provision for his wife. He will give his life as a ransom for her, so that they can build a new life together. Think of the cross. That’s pretty heavy.
Wives, this part is for you
Wives are to submit to their husbands like the church submits to the LORD. Wives are to honor their husbands, respect their husbands, follow them, trust them, and give themselves completely and without reservation. They are to love their husband more than their own parents and more than their own life. Wow. That’s a little overwhelming.
With Ephesians chapter 5 (That’s where the whole “submit” and “love” thing comes from) someone is always trying to make sure that someone else hears the part that applies to them. The temptation is for the husband to read the wife’s part OUT LOUD to her, making sure that she sees and underlines the word submit. And, the wife wants to print the husband’s part, stapling the word LOVE to his forehead. No. Read the part that applies to you. You go first, remember.
It’s All Worship
If you ever start to feel like you are being taken advantage of, that you are being treated like their servant, like you work all day to provide for your family and when you come home it’s never enough. Nothing is ever good enough, and you are nothing more than someone’s sugar daddy, or the 1st Community Bank of Give Me a Break!
If you feel like you’re a maid, a nanny and Cinderella the servant girl, managing the house so that Mr Selfish Pants can come home and look for creative ways to disappoint and ignore you. If you ever feel like you are selflessly giving while they are selfishly taking, then remember this, it’s all worship.
Everything you do in your life is part of your worship of God. Men, when you sacrifice your desires for the desires of your wife it is a sacrifice unto the LORD. Ladies, all the work that you do as wife and mother, when done in love with a grateful heart, is a very pleasing offering unto the LORD. Seriously, this is no small matter, our vocation as husbands and wives is some of our most sacred worship.
Love and Respect
I might not have been at your wedding, but I’ll bet you promised to love each other. I’m going to end this by giving you a simple self-help test. Open the Bible to 1st Corinthians chapter 13, read verses 4-8 but replace the word “love” with your name.
“____is patient, ___is kind. ___does not envy, ___does not boast, ___ is not proud. ___ is not rude, ___ is not self-seeking, ___ is not easily angered, ___ keeps no record of wrongs. ___does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. ___ always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. ___never fails. ”
Let me know how you’re doing. Remember, you go first.
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