So… here it is a hefty 5 days into the new year and I have another opportunity to write, so I will pounce on it with the ferocity of a starving man on a Christmas ham. Opening wit aside, I come bearing a bit of a warning;
WHAT YOU ARE ABOUT TO READ (if you’re a guy) MAY BE IRRITATING, UNCOMFORTABLE, OR POSSIBLY CONVICTING…
but hey… at least I waited an entire 5 days into the new year before I posted something like that! Truth be told, I have a laundry list of bloggable (?) topics I have been keeping in my phone, but given the sermon topic this weekend and the response to it, I thought this would be a great fit for the week. So… on to the meat of the matter:
I have heard in many conversations with men of varying demographics this particular statement, that pretty much grates my nerves (and possibly garners the occasional violent thought), when referring to their wives;
” I know I could have done better”.
Yep, true statement, heard it from the mouths of men and it is a stunner. I, personally, do not get this! Better than what? Better looking? Wealthier? Better family pedigree? I’m not sure the answer to those questions from the minds of the men speaking, and I am not without understanding that some things are said in haste and with lack of forethought, but I would offer that no matter what, that kind of statement is over the line and has no place in the husband’s vocabulary.
You may be wondering why this statement bothers me so much (or of course you might be searching your closet for a blunt object with which to bludgeon these men) and I would say that that curiosity deserves an answer. This statement merits this kind of response because of its root nature; selfishness. It screams out that “my marriage is about me and what I want and what I deserve”, and that is a horrible way to walk through life and most certainly a wretched existence in marriage. I think for men that make this kind of statement (oh, it has cousins, it’s like a whole dysfunctional statement family) there is a motivation of self serving comfort, or at least a desire for it.
Now, before we get too far into this post I have to make sure that I emphasize my own selfishness and the fact that my marriage has indeed suffered for that selfishness at times, days where the “honey do” list gets the back seat to a Clint Eastwood marathon, or days I have pretended to sleep in while listening to the chaos of the house and just not wanting to engage. These things have come with cost, and at the same time have been used to refine me a bit.
And therein lies the answer… and the root of the problem. We have a perspective issue. We believe, and for the most part are culturally reared to understand, that marriage is about the joy and pleasure of self, that it is something that exists to feed us. Then we are told that if it stops feeding us, we are then cool to get divorced and move on a try again… and again… and again (having a divorce under my belt… I have indeed lived through this great delusion). We have to grow and adopt a new perspective and then fight to keep it. Marriage is not about us, it’s about the other, and it’s about God’s refining process in our lives.
So to those men I say; NO… you can’t do better! You cannot do better than a woman who calls you out of your comfort zone and demands that you be the man, husband, father, you are called to be. Yes, she is going to need you to step up and be a man of character. Yes, she is going to need you to stand and lead your family in a Christ-like manner. Yes, she is going to need you to grow and stretch and be uncomfortable at times. She, that wonderful bride that God gave you, is a tool of His refinement in life. What an incredible gift! What could be better than that, than a woman who would cause you to rise to be more those things than you were before? Not much in my book.
Here is the kicker… Ephesians 5 gives us a clue (as does 1 Peter 3) as to the keys to marriage that works and lasts. Two key words SUBMISSION (hers) and SACRIFICE (his)… oh look how cute, hers & his matching “S” words… that paint a picture for us of what makes it happen. We men are called to live in sacrifice, not selfishness, that we would grow marriages and families that build up, and not break down. We are to be refined by our marriages, not just take from them until they are left dry and we are to pour out into our wives, that she would be presented before Christ without stain or blemish.
Recommended bible reading for this stuff- Eph 5, 1 Peter 3, Proverbs 31 (because you help enable that)
Recommended books – The Four Pillars of a Man’s Heart by Stu Weber (good character building)