The 10 a.m. Metro train had just pulled out of New Carrollton station and my friend Marcia* and I – stay-at-home moms – were standing in the aisle, holding on tight to our kids – 7 total between the two of us. On this temperate July day in 2010, we had decided to take them into DC to the Hirshhorn Museum. My husband was already at work in the district, and hers was in Eastern Europe on business.
Initially, I didn’t give it much thought when Marcia’s phone rang. But I could soon tell from the lilt and excitement in her voice that her husband was calling, and I remembered it had been several days since they had been able to talk. I was amazed by what happened next.
Handing the phone to her kids, she said, “Daddy’s calling! And he can’t talk long, but tell him thank you for working so hard and for making it possible for us to enjoy this special day.”
In turn, each one of her four kids greeted their dad with enthusiasm, thanks, and a happy, brief recounting of what was going on in their lives.
The entire conversation lasted about 5 minutes. And as we slid into the underground tunnel, I was gobsmacked by the deep conviction I felt.
When was the last time I had thanked my husband for his hard work and for making our lives at home so comfortable?
There is an acceptable and shameful practice in our society today of badmouthing men. It’s often subtle. You know how it goes. “My husband just doesn’t know how to _________,” or “Men just don’t get it” – whatever the ‘it’ of that moment is. These conversations are always tinged with an air of female superiority, and you don’t have to know much about the nature of God to know He wouldn’t approve.
God created man in his image, in the divine image he created him; male and female he created them.
– Genesis 1:27
I’m as guilty as any woman of this. I’ve made sexist comments about men that I wholeheartedly regret. Especially now that I have two sons who are among the greatest treasures of my life, and I rely on my husband night and day to help me understand the way these boys think!
But the larger issue here is that the insidiousness of ingratitude threatens to tear apart the foundation of marriages. This works both ways of course, but a woman’s affirmations to and thanksgiving for her husband can go a long way toward bridging a gap that might be gradually growing between them.
And saying, “thank you,” when we don’t feel like it, or when we also want to be acknowledged for our contributions is hard, yes. But divine help is offered to us.
In her book, The Power of a Praying Wife, Stormie Omartian says, “You have to know that whatever has crept into your relationship so silently and stealthily as to not even be perceived as a threat until it is clearly present–such as making idols of your career, your dreams, your kids, or your selfish desires–can be removed. You have to trust that God is big enough to accomplish all this and more.” (p. 19-20)
So what are my idols? Comfort? Free time? Fear and worry? A desire for recognition or accomplishment? Books, TV, Facebook, etc. – entertainment of any sort?
An idol is anything that I prioritize ahead of honoring God. And I know from experience that if I’m not putting my relationship with God first, then my marriage – which is a blessing from God – will suffer.
I see most clearly when I regain the right perspective: God is the Maker, Sustainer, and Giver of all good things. And when I listen to Him and give Him thanks, my heart is transformed from stone to flesh, and I can be the loving wife I want to be.
*Not her real name.