I’ve been married to this man for over 43 years. We have had quite a rollercoaster ride with many high highs and some difficult low lows. Our relationship has grown to be stronger through it all. I have learned that it is easier when just one of us is going through a rough patch at a time, but what about the times when we are both struggling?
I want to absorb all the attention and push for support of what I’m going through, figuring my problems take priority. After all, I need someone to take care of me and help me through this. That’s his job. Right?
The man is the provider and the protector, and the woman is the nurturer and the caretaker. You may disagree, but I think these roles are intrinsic. But while I expect my husband to fulfill his part, I am often slacking on my part.
Right now I am living with a herniated disc, which prohibits me from doing everyday tasks like cleaning and meal prep. My husband works long hours at a stress-filled job dealing with other people’s problems. He then comes home to a wife that pretty much sat around all day. He fixes dinner, waits on me hand and foot, mows the lawn, and takes the dog out just about every hour. This is not healthy for him and it makes me feel awful.
So what’s a broken-down, loving wife supposed to do for her over-worked, stressed-out husband? I’ve got to figure this out.
Yesterday I was rewriting a chapter in my novel where two of the characters were talking about the poor way they dealt with each other when they were both grieving over the loss of family members. Each one was so focused on their own grief that they didn’t take into account how the other one was feeling. Here’s an excerpt:
As they walked Taylyn broached the subject of her parents’ death, and how she felt over the course of the years. She shared, “When I saw how you dealt with your grief, I felt I couldn’t grieve. I had to worry if you would come home when you went out drinking. I felt alone and abandoned. It took me coming here to realize I never fully grieved.”
As they walked further down the path, they were both able to share more deeply how they had both been affected. By the time they reached the stream, tears were streaming down their faces and they held each other tightly.
Beth ended up apologizing to Taylyn, explaining, “I realized too late that I was too young at the time to have been a good parent. But I would never take it back.”
It is so important to communicate. Expressing how we feel is only half of the equation. Communicating involves listening and trying to understand how the other person feels.
Here’s another approach:
Jesus knew that the night before Passover would be his last night on earth before leaving this world to return to the Father’s side. All throughout his time with his disciples, Jesus had demonstrated a deep and tender love for them. And now he longed to show them the full measure of his love.John 13:1 (TPT)
Jesus proceeds to wash the disciples feet and then instructs them, saying:
So if I’m your teacher and lord and have just washed your dirty feet, then you should follow the example that I’ve set before you and wash one another’s dirty feet. Now do for each other what I have just done for you.John 13:14-15 (TPT)
In relationships we often find ourselves with dirty feet — poor attitudes, illness, pain, anger, bitterness, tiredness, unforgiveness, hurt… The list goes on. We aren’t instructed to point out how dirty the other person’s feet are. Or even complain that we should have our feet washed first. We are called to serve each other washing away all the dirt that clings to us in this world. Expressing the “full measure” of our love.
I realize the only way to do this consistently is through the strength Jesus provides. When I find myself too self-concerned, I need some Holy Spirit power to override my natural inclinations. My husband is worth my attention, even if I can’t do more to physically help.
Have you been in those kinds of situations? I hope this helps.
Grace & Peace,