Ephesians 5:33b: And the wife should respect her husband.
Respect is his primary need, his deepest desire.

I Put My Followers First

Monday, August 09, 2010

If You Want The Job Done Right . . .

For many wives, one of the most difficult issues to resolve in marriage is that of doing more than she should just because she feels she can do it better. After all, "if you want the job done right, you have to do it yourself". I am not speaking of those things for which we do share responsibility within the household or as parents. I am speaking of those things that are our husband's to do.

Do not be surprised if you cannot even think of the things that are his - and his alone.  Recognizing the divine division of duties between husband and wife is a lifelong learning experience.  The purpose of this post is to stimulate your awareness within your marriage.  Are there times when you take over?  Do you or have you disrespected your husband by pushing him aside to do "it" yourself?

Is there a point at which the things we do to help, actually enable him to avoid taking responsibility?

Are there things that we know we can do better, quicker, more efficiently so we take over even when it is inappropriate?

As we learn to respect our husbands, it is imperative that we learn to step back, step aside, get out of the way, relinquish the reins and let him lead.

I am married to man with physical disabilities. His right hand has been severely affected by a stroke and he has little control over its movements. His right leg has also been affected and it encumbers his mobility, including stepping up stairs or maneuvering out of seating. His speech, reading and writing were devastated by the stroke.  It has been nearly impossible to relearn those skills.

I am frequently fighting the urge to take over and do things for him.  In countless instances it would be horribly disrespectful of me to step in and take over.

It has required an extreme amount of restraint on my part to stand aside and let him take the lead. It is especially difficult when it poses an inconvenience for me - annoying when it takes him so much extra time - irritating when I can't get a chore out of the way and move on.

I do feel blessed, though, over wives in more normal circumstances. I know that it is in my husband's best interest for him to accomplish most things on his own.   How difficult it would be if it were not so obvious!

But, do let me confess. It is one of the hardest things I have ever been called upon to do.

I do have an example to share.  As I'm typing this, he is sitting at the end of our bed sorting his daily medications into nifty daily organizers. We each have three of them to set up. My contribution to this effort ended when I had purchased the containers. He had never seen such a thing before I married him. When we were first dating I had occasion to watch him open every bottle and place the pills on the counter in a pile. He had done this every day - morning, evening and bedtime - for seven years. He was the most compliant patient in our pharmacy!

Anyway, we had to pause a movie on DVR to "do our medicine".  I finished mine quickly and moved to the computer room to occupy myself while I wait. I can hear him in there; struggling, huffing, sighing, and getting frustrated. He loses count, he can't get a pill in the right compartment, he loses track of which pills he's "done" and which he hasn't.

He gets concerned when the bottle nears empty and if the next order needs to be placed and paid for. He pauses to consider the remaining days and the cost. His understanding of numbers, counting, calculating - all were affected by the stroke. It is a frustrating task for him and for me. Why? Because with little difficulty, I could take over and manage it "like that".

But I can't.  I won't.  Early in our marriage I did and I saw the humiliation recolor his face.  It is a horrible sight - to watch a man be stripped of responsibility.  I love this man too much to degrade him.  I honor this man too much to disrespect his place in this world.  Besides, I am his help meet.  I am here to help him accomplish the goals that God has set before him.   I am not here to take over.

I am so blessed, so privileged to review the few years we have been together and to recall the trials, the tasks and the tests that he has conquered. If you were reading my blog this past March, I shared the report of the day that my husband learned to mow the lawn. I still smile from ear to ear when I review that day.  There have been hundreds of moments of triumph, success and conquest.  All he ever wanted was "to be in charge" and every time I can surrender that to him is a triumph for us both.

Sometimes God sends extreme circumstances to assure that we have no doubt about the lessons we have been given.   In my case, God sent a lesson that shook up the status quo and made sure that I had my chance to be the one who does everything around here - lest I ever try to take over again.  

The cast ended high up his arm, near the arm pit.

Last October my husband needed to have surgery on his left hand - his only working hand.  Actually, it was his wrist.  To stabilize the wrist for healing, he was put in a full arm cast.  The left hand - upon which he depends for every detail - was incapacitated.  Immobilized.  Unable to bend forward, backward or across his body.  He was unable to feed himself. dress himself, shave himself, go the bathroom by himself . . . .

 Mobility restored! "I'm able to eat on my own"

I look back on those weeks of recovery as a lesson for me.  I learned just how difficult my life could be if I had to do all the jobs "my way".  The experience earned for me that last full measure of restraint and patience upon which I draw almost every day.

I once had a plaque that hung on the kitchen wall in my home.  I should recreate it and display it again - with a slight modification:

Dear Lord,
Help me keep
my eyes open,
ears open
and my big mouth shut
and my nose out
of other people's my husband’s business –

There is so much to be said on this subject of getting out of the way, submitting and relinquishing.  There are so many experiences divinely designed for him within his God-given role as leader in our marriage.  

Do you struggle to get out of the way so that God's purposes can be fulfilled in your husband?    


Amy Mantooth said...

Thank you for this great post! This is such an important yet hard lesson that we all need to learn. I have just in the last year realized how I was taking over. I was not just taking over actual tasks, but making important decisions for our family without asking my husband.
I have learned that if I even simply ask what he thinks BEFORE I decide and act, I am allowing him to lead our family. I have complained in the past that he just wouldn't lead our family, and I compared us to others. Then I realized that I needed to get out of the driver's seat so that he could!
My husband responds much more lovingly and meets my needs more, without even drawing his attention to them, when I respect him enough to make decisions for us and trust him enough to get a job done.

Anonymous said...

I appreciate your insights and words on this subject. Speaking for myself, there is an integral part of my identity (as a man) that ties strongly to what I can "do." It's a facet of masculinity that's worth exploring for any man. There are ways in which this drive does and does not serve my life. I believe it's partially innate but it's also been mixed with some unhealthy lessons I acquired in my youth. Overall, having a wife that can understand and have compassion for my history, and my "natural hard-wiring" is truly a treasure. I'm married to a very capable woman. I realize that my wife can do many things more efficiently than I, and that she believes strongly she can (haha). Yet, when she allows me to perform in my respective areas of ability and goes further to compliment me (gives respect) on those things, well, it is more valuable to me than a dozen date nights.

Karen said...

Very good...I needed to read this today...

Can I get an Amen?