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

I Put My Followers First

Monday, June 28, 2010

Superior to My Husband

I was raised in a highly competitive family.  I learned to wager pennies in poker when I was quite young and later to shoot hoops with Dad to retain my allowance.  And I was good at it.  I was watching and rooting for competitive sports for as long as I can remember.  To say that I am competitive is an understatement.

I see most challenges as a competition and doing so was praiseworthy.  To conquer, to achieve, to come in first, to come out on top and to dominate the competition was paramount.  By such victories was love compensated and by such defeats was disgust dished out.  As an adult it became a quest for a better paycheck, a better office, or higher standing among my peers.

So when I was asked recently if I ever feel superior to my husband, I had to take a deep breath and consider my answer carefully.  

See, my husband is physically disabled.  He struggles to walk and to talk.  He had about 100 words in his vocabulary when we first met and every word that he has learned since then has been a might mighty struggle.  Many times he misuses, mispronounces or misses words completely.   He has the use of one hand only and that not being his first dominant hand.  He lost use of his dominant hand, his right hand, due to a massive stroke.  He cannot write without excruciating effort.

What would you say to me if you found me standing over, berating or otherwise dominating my husband?  How would you feel to stand in the same room as I chide him for being less than a man - intellectually, physically, emotionally?   What if I simply teased him about his inadequacies or laughed at him because he couldn't do a simple thing - like mow the lawn or walk through a door?  If I told him he walks funny or talks funny?  What if you found me sitting with my girlfriends and telling them of how he doesn't put his underwear in the hamper or he leaves his socks on the floor when he takes them off?  Would you wince if you heard me say that my husband acts just like one of my children?

How would you feel if you watched me behave as if I were superior to my husband?

When I became aware of every man's desire for respect, I did not have far to look for all the proof I needed.   My husband is a man, no different than any other in the desires of his heart.  He wants to be respected for all the noble pursuits of every man.

Have I? Would I?  Could I? Do I?  Do I ever feel superior to my husband?

I am learning not to.  I am getting better at it every day.  For him and for God, I want to be a submissive wife.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

My Husband's Pride

My husband, Bruce, was getting ready to leave for work one morning (early this week) and I was just waking up. 

I had just come back from the bathroom and climbed under the covers again when he came to the doorway and said "Oh good. You're awake. We can pray before I leave today." We haven't been very regular in our commitment to pray together morning and night.  When it's been important to me - it has not been for him and vice versa.  Apparently, it was his turn to try again  

We married just five years ago and I have told him many times that I married him because (1) he prays (2) he listens for and expects an answer (3) he does what is expected of him. "He prays" is the number one quality on my list.  I never resist telling him about that one. 

I do not do very well with telling him the other things because he has a tendency to get a bit prideful and as a recovering alcoholic that is a dangerous thing!  But, I did tell him (that same morning kneeling at the foot of our bed) that I am still as impressed as I ever was with his courage in the face of adversity, his determination to achieve, his unfailing honesty and his commitment to work. 

Later that day, when he called from work on his break, he shared that he did not have a worry in the world - which he usually does. He felt confident and secure in his job for the first time that I can recall.

I'm suspecting that I should not fear telling him that I admire him because, apparently, it does strengthen his resolve and does not "give him a big head".

I think I'll share this card with him and not be so worried about his pride "getting out of control".  After all, that is an issue to be resolved between him and his Father in Heaven.   My assignment is to be his helpmeet; to respect, to encourage, to commend.  

Finish The Race

Word to the Wives ~ ~ An instinct burns in every man to achieve something before leaving this world. The regard and respect of others seems to motivate that desire to achieve, while disrespect and disregard can smother it. Recognize, respect and commend your husband for his achievements no matter how big or how small.

The cover of this card is a painting by my uncle.
Robert Gilbert

21 x 14
$550.00 Available

Friday, June 25, 2010

Things Are Tight

I got out and about a bit today. This is the first time that I've returned to . . . my office . . . where I worked before I got laid off. It was like a morgue in that building. The street was quiet, the hallways empty, and only one co-worker at his desk. The bustling and the buzzing had gone silently still and the air was thick with emptiness.

When I walked away and waited for the light rail afterwards I looked around at the usually bustling platform. Where once there were state workers waiting to hustle home the seats were taken by people returning from the Department of Health Services; their hands clutching the manilla envelopes concealing forms that would either lead to assistance or send them into the streets to live among the hundreds of faceless bodies already overflowing homeless camps.

Things are tight, the economy is unstable and our futures are uncertain. It is enough to cause intolerable stress; the kind that will break a marriage to pieces. As a wife, I find myself reaching for my husband's hand more often or laying my head against his chest to hear the sure sound of his heart beat. He is a stabling influence for me.

I should let him know that

"I know that things are tight right now.  
It gives me peace to know, my husband, 
that you will get us through this."  
Word to the Wives ~ ~ God gave your husband the desire to protect and provide. Encourage him as he continues to press forward.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

When Doing Nothing is Worth Everything

One of the most difficult things I have had to accept in marriage is my husband's need for me . . . to be nearby, next to him, shoulder-to-shoulder. But - surprise, surprise! What IS first and foremost in his mind is NOT physical touch or intimacy.

His desires my presence. That's it. It IS really that simple.

I have been giving a lot of thought to my husband's need for shoulder-to-shoulder time. He is happiest when I am with him. Go figure. Me? Yes, me. He wants me. Apparently, the opportunity to spend time with me is the reason he married me. He thought that my entering into this marriage covenant was my commitment to spend time with him. Hmmm.

Same for you? Really? How about that! Who knew?

Then why do we always give so much attention to other, less than top priority, action items in our marriage?

Me? I focus on cleaning the house, earning a paycheck, fixing a good meal, finding the right clothes, being neatly groomed, wearing his favorite perfume, playing the right "mood music". Anything, everything, and whatever I can think of that should make him happy.

We all do it. Every wife I've ever met has a list of things that she is convinced will make her husband happy if she does them. Some women get really good at fulfilling the list and wonder when their husband will ever be happy with their efforts.

Others get so discouraged by their own presumed failure they just stop trying or only give a half-hearted effort or no effort at all. Sometimes we simply get fed up trying to do all the things we think are needed without achieving the desired results - that we give up. We simply give up and find ourselves sitting across the desk from a divorce lawyer.

I am not saying that all those things are not worth our time, energy or effort. I am simply saying that we may have our priorities skewed. Are the things that we think are important to our husband truly important to him? In the same order? Or are we missing the mark?

I challenge you to try a little experiment. A simple experiment. When you and your husband are both at home, stop whatever it is you have been doing for one hour. Search out your husband and just sit with him. If he's watching TV, sit silently through his show. If he's working on the car, pull up a chair and watch him, silently. If he's working in the yard, working out, reading the paper, staring out the window - whatever.

Sit with him and let him open a conversation, if any. He can actually sit there and do nothing. Doing Nothing is okay with him. Make doing nothing okay with you for just a little while.

I'll wager a guess that you will not get this right the first time. We women have such a hard time "doing nothing". Keep trying. It is so worth it. Just make sure that when you are "doing nothing", you're doing it with him. Then it becomes something and that something is worth all the effort it takes to do nothing at all.

Most of the cards that I offer at Your Husband's Deepest Desire in the "Friendship" category are all about spending time with your husband - just the two of you. They are most importantly about spending time with your husband doing the things that he loves best, in the way he loves best, at the time he loves best. The "Friendship" category of cards are all about forfeiting yourself to fulfill his desire for time with you.

No one ever said that you can't actually enjoy what he is doing! That is why I created the Stadium Seats card. A stadium may not be your favorite place to hang out for a few hours but, if it is his, you might offer to spend that time with him: shoulder to shoulder in stadium seats. This may be a time when "doing nothing" is worth everything is his eyes.

Not up for doing nothing in stadium seats? Browse the other cards in the "Friendship Category". You may find something that signifies doing nothing that just may mean everything to him.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

No Fear!

The story you are about to read is true, but the names were changed to protect the innocent.

My friend, Jane, has been married to John for over twenty years and the children that they raised have left home. Their marriage was stagnant. They didn't argue but the sparks were gone and they were distant, one with the other.

For six months before my story begins John and Jane had not lived in the same house. When they did reunite the distance between them did not disappear. They returned to the same old patterns. He went his way and she went hers. Their conversations, few and far between, were exchanges of information and requests for accommodation.

"Would you pick up a pack of cigarettes for me when you're out?"
"Are you ever going to mow the lawn?"
"Your daughter called. She's doing well in school."
"Your son called. He can't find a job."
"I left you something for dinner in the frig."

John had practically moved into the computer room where he spent hours on social networks, watching television and smoking the cigarettes Jane would not permit in the rest of the house.

Jane drifted through her days, each one a mirror image of the days before. She would go to work for eight hours, stop on the way home to pick up something ready-to-eat and settle in front of her television for the evening. Some nights she would get out and visit homebound friends. Some Sundays she would attend church, alone.

As I began to design the Respect Cards at Your Husband's Deepest Desire, I would show them off to my friends. Jane was usually distracted but cordial. Soon, though, she began to become interested.

When I had designed a few cards for the "Shoulder-to-shoulder" friendship category, I saw a brighter spark of interest. I challenged her to choose at least one card from that category and give it to her husband. She chose eight and took them home!

Weeks went by and she did not leave a card for him. She was scared. I finally sat down and asked her why.

I discovered that the fear of the unknown was holding her back. She kept playing the "what if" game with herself. From "What if he rejects the message?" to "What if he expects more of me?" Bouncing about between the unknowns had completely immobilized her.

I finally lost patience and (as a loving friend) basically demanded that she stop living outside the moment. She was afraid of the future "maybe". I challenged her to be in the now and reject the fear. My husband has a saying that I love and I quoted it for her.

"Be in the Now. Be in the now right now and stay focussed. And you know what you get? NO FEAR!"

I wish you could see the hand gestures he uses when he says it. I repeated his words and shared those animations with Jane and she took the challenge!

We plotted and planned what she would do with the card. Finally, in spite of her fears, Jane left the card where John would find it. The card was one that Jane considered to be "safe" - with a message that carried no promises but was honest about her feelings.

Jane spent the day battling the fear of "what if" that kept creeping into her thoughts. That evening when Jane got home she sat down, alone, to watch her favorite television show. It was a "girlie" show; one that she knew John did not like.

And then, unexpectedly, John came into the room and sat beside her on the couch, shoulder to shoulder. He laid his head upon her shoulder and silently watched the show with her. He dozed off and on but woke to watch the part that he knew was exciting for her. He shared her excitement with her. A second show started and they settled in, shoulder to shoulder, to watch. They both dozed off.

When she woke, she disturbed him as she got up to go to bed. He asked if she wanted him to come with her. She said yes.

Jane told me how amazed she was by his actions - his reactions to her message. She could hardly contain her delight and her happiness.

One card, one message, one event and Jane was learning the truth of what Emerson Eggerichs taught in his book Love and Respect.

"Men are different. They share their experiences by sharing an activity. This is what your husband wants to do with you."

The weeks of fear, anxiety and what-ifs were forgotten. She had seven cards to go!

I keep remembering the outcome of Jane's dilemma. She finally conquered her fears, accepted my over-the-top challenge and her husband's response was nothing short of miraculous. What was especially uplifting was the antsy anticipation and sheer delight she eventually took in the journey.

I pray that every wife (and husband) could enjoy such a journey in her marriage.

Monday, June 07, 2010

Your Husband Asked Me

Dear Friend -

I was talking to your husband this weekend. He asked how I was doing since I got laid off from my job.

I told him that I had started a greeting card business and I was making some progress getting the word out. He was disinterested but pretending to care. I could only guess that he was picturing me sitting with disheveled hair and still in my pajamas late into the day at the dining room table piled high and cluttered with stamping supplies, doo-dads and lace making hand-made cards.

Then I said, "I create cards for wives to give their husbands."

Your husband successfully kept the smirk off of his face and his eyes never completed their roll. But he did begin to step away.

"The cards have a message of respect . . . to help women learn the language of respect . . . how to show respect for their husbands."

Your husband stopped, dead in his tracks and focused on what I was saying.

He blinked. Then, this man of confident countenance softened and wistfully, wishfully asked, "Would you show them to my wife?"

No, sorry, I can't tell you who I was talking to. I won't name names. It would not be fair to your husband or to you, his wife. Neither of you need to have your cover blown. His request was not meant to be a confession. It was an expression; an expression of his deepest desire.

To outsiders, you marriage is "perfect". Your love for each other is so obvious, your friendship is the envy of others around you. You adore him and he respects you.

But it was clear that your husband feels that something is missing. I'm familiar with his desire. It is the desire of my husband too. Despite all of my husband's faults and failures he still desires my respect. It would appear that your husband desires yours.

Check out my cards. See if there isn't one that would assure your husband that you really do respect him.

And - I would also invite you to join me in The Respect Dare™ E-Course with author, Nina Roesner. It is 9 weeks of community and encouragement. We walk through the book as she challenges us to make positive changes in our marriage and shows us how to improve intimacy with God. (It might remind you of "The Love Dare" as depicted in the movie "Fireproof".)

I don't happen to feel that a marriage needs to be in trouble before we learn to strengthen it. Based on everything I have seen in your life I can only guess that you feel the same way. You don't wait for disaster to strike before you get prepared. It is much easier to prepare than it is to react in case of emergency.

Tuesday, June 01, 2010

I Am Not a Nag

I've been reminded at least half a dozen times in recent days that my husband does not read my mind. No, he did not tell me this. He did not know that this has been on my mind. He cannot read my mind.

Some of the videos that I've been watching by Mark Gungor and Nina Roesner have been making the point that for a wife to get a man (husband) to do anything, he must be asked more than once. And then this morning, on Facebook, The Respect Dare posed this challenge:

Frustrated with your husband because he doesn't know how to give you what you want? Be specific. Stop expecting him to "just know." Save that for your sisters, your mom and your girlfriends. Men (in general) relate differently than we do, so spell it out - "Honey, I would like you to just listen to me right now, without trying to solve this. I just want to talk and feel heard." "Honey, will you take out the trash?"

Ask more than once? Isn't that called "nagging"?

The phrase "I will not nag" translates, for me, to "Never ask more than once".

And now at my ripe old age someone comes along and I find out, "Surprise! Nagging does not equal asking more than once."

Please understand. This comes as a complete contradiction to a particular decision I made as a child. I will not nag. That was the decision. I WILL NOT NAG. It has been written thousands of times on the invisible chalk board in my mind.

It is funny that I would make that decision as a child and never forget it. I never forget it but I do not always succeed. Of course, I nag. But then I beat myself up for it. After all, I know how bad a nagging wife can be and do not want to be a bad wife.

The "nagging wife" is fodder for comedy, tragedy and horror shows. Product advertisements and TV commercials have often relied on society's recognition of the "nagging wife" to capture the audience attention and pitch their wares. We've never been able to get away from it.

The nagging wife is seen as the antithesis of the happy wife. The "happy wife" does not have to ask for anything because she married a man who does read her mind. We've seen a few of these women in cinema and literature as well. I can only think of June Cleaver at the moment, but I am sure there are others.

Only recently has it come to my attention that the whole "nagging wife" stereotype should be eradicated, blown up, and destroyed.

The "nagging wife" is actually doing the right thing in the wrong voice. Nina Roesner, author of The Respect Dare, offers this advice:

Mark Gungor from "Laugh Your Way To A Better Marriage" has a delightful monologue on the topic as well.

This is all good information that boils down to one clear directive:

If you want your husband to do something - Respectfully ask him - more than once, if necessary.

What's Your Alternative?

Do Not Forget to Appreciate Him!
Consider Today's Featured Respect Card

Can I get an Amen?