In an effort to "keep it real" here, this is another post on the heels of an amazingly crappy situation where I am not so proud of myself.
I've run this past Joe first to get his blessing because while I definitely want to keep my posts authentic, I also want to protect my marriage and family. I want to find a balance between giving an accurate presentation of life while also being respectful of my husband and careful to not paint him in a negative picture.
With being a part of the Launch Team for the Women Living Well book by Courtney Joseph, I am reading a ton about being my husband's helpmate.
Many women are rolling their eyes or have already tuned me out at the phrase.
I am by no means a Norma Rae, but that term kind of turns my stomach a bit too.
I picture a subservient, 50's housewife in her dress, frilly apron and heels, baking cookies and making a roast from scratch while dusting and organizing a bake sale for the PTA. Nothing wrong with that per se...if that's what you choose.
And I have seen the verses in Ephesians about wives submitting to their husbands used and abused far too many times.
But, in Courtney's book, I am learning that it is often WORLDS harder to submit, or support my husband than it is to take the lead. Submitting doesn't have to mean being weak.
Taking the lead is easy for me.
That leaves Joe absolutely no room to be the leader of our family.
So he doesn't lead.
And then I get resentful that he isn't leading.
Then that causes problems.
And we enter this ridiculous, vicious cycle.
And when there are problems in one area of our marriage, there will most definitely be problems in other areas.
Last night was a beautiful example of that.
Joe is handling our checking account and bill paying right now. I used to do it, but it got to be too stressful. Long story short: It is not one of my areas of giftedness.
With that task comes the responsibility of keeping us in line as far as spending.
To me, that means I hear "No" a lot.
And I hate to hear "No."
I'd like to think I am diligent in trying to be a Godly woman in a lot of ways, but as soon as I hear "no" or "not right now" I turn into a 3 year old toddler who had her lollipop taken away.
Right on down to the stomping foot, snotty nose, clenched fists, and yelling.
I'm a tantrum-er.
So, in an effort to stay within budget, and to continue my hobby of furnishing our home with nice things, I scour Craigslist and Freecycle.
I found a great dresser on Freecycle that is only about 20 minutes away. F R E E.
That's definitely in the budget.
I excitedly told Joe about my find last night, only to have him grimace and roll his eyes.
Well, that immediately made me want to put my fist through the wall. (I go 0 to 100 in 5.2 seconds.)
Not only does he not love when I volunteer him on his day off, but the gas it will take to go get the item kind of nullifies the "free" part of my find.
And even though I understood that...I was still furious.
So I pouted and fumed and stomped around...maybe slamming a few doors and drawers in the process.
I told myself all the ways Joe was ridiculous and unsupportive and constricting. I prayed out loud about my frustrations and being tired of penny pinching and being frugal.
And I did all this in our BEAUTIFUL, LARGE home, surrounded by our 6 gorgeous, healthy children, and driving to the store in our NICE, FULLY LOADED minivan.
In fact, while I was driving, I had to turn down the radio because a commercial came on about starving children.
Surely I don't want to be bothered about that because I'm carrying on to God about a dresser I want. That I plan to use as decoration. Or to put the MASSIVE amounts of clothing that my children own in.
Yes, I'm embarrassed right now.
I cried and lamented some more and then when I got home, I was planning on giving Joe the silent treatment for the rest of the night. I went in the house and found him in the living room.
And I walked over to him and said, "Thank you for being so careful and watching our money."
And I wanted to look around at who had just spoken.
That is NOT what I had in my heart to say.
But thank God...literally...that I didn't say what I wanted to.
Let me stop for a minute and explain that this is no reflection on Joe. We watch our spending (or rather HE watches our spending) because we want to be smart. We lived too long with spending on what we wanted and then worrying over what we needed. Silly.
Over the past several years, we have worked our BUTTS off to pay down thousands of dollars in debt and clear up our credit substantially.
Joe works HARD and makes a great living. We have LOTS of extras and we have never gone without.
So, to treat him like we're one paycheck away from living in a cardboard box is a wild exaggeration. But that doesn't stop me sometimes.
And I realized...again...that it really doesn't matter how well I think Joe is doing at "leading" or being a husband...what matters is ME and my actions.
I have no control over whether or not he rubs my shoulders when I have a headache or hugs me when I say I've had a stressful day. My actions don't depend on whether or not he swoops in with flowers and a pizza saying. "I know it's been a tough day, so I brought dinner home." (Although he is very good about keeping me in fresh flowers.:)
I can still choose to speak to him respectfully. I can still let my actions tell him I love him even if I'm frustrated with him.
I can choose to have a conversation about the areas I'm struggling in rather than throwing a tantrum.
I know all these things...now putting them into practice....yeah.....that's the tough part.
But I'm finding (although this shouldn't be rocket science) that the more I speak to him respectfully and listen, the easier it is for us to communicate. Surely his isn't an easy job. He has the full load of stress on his shoulders to support our family financially.
When he looks at our beautiful children, he sees not only their amazing, smiling faces, but 6 mouths to feed, 3 sets of eyes with glasses (and surely 3 more...), 6 sets of teeth that will most likely need braces, 12 feet that need shoes at an alarming rate, 6 kids who want to participate in activities...and those activities seem to cost more each season, 2 bottoms that need diapers and wipes, 1 million gallons of milk, a home that needs paid for, heated and electricity, a van and a truck that need gas, and a wife who wants all kinds of things for the home. And a Coach bag.
And I'm sure he just wants to crawl in bed and pull the covers over his head sometimes.
And...you may be thinking..."So....it's all up to me to make him feel respected? What about all the times he..."
Yeah, I'm thinking it too.
I hate it.
I hate that I can't make my affection and respect contingent on his actions. There are times when I feel he is downright cold to me. (And I am to him as well.) Why do I have to do the right thing regardless of what he does?
Because I cannot control him.
But I can control myself.
And in the end, even if he's being a butt head, my life will actually be easier if I don't stir the pot by being a butt head back.
Eloquence, I know.
And hopefully he'll find a blog post somewhere telling him how he should rub my feet unasked or surprise me with organizing an evening out--even getting a babysitter (usually my task).
Until then, I have my part to do.
And stink to high Heaven as it may sometimes...I'll do my best to do it.