Blame it on culture, ignorance, naivety or anything that comes in your mind. When I got married, I expected my husband to behave in the same way he did when we were dating back in college days. Very gentle, patient with me even when I didn’t get ready on time (I fail many times in this area), accompanying me at all times even to those places that made him feel uncomfortable, and dropping everything he was doing at the mention of my request to bring me something from the store.
“So again I say, each man must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.” Ephesians 5:33
I saw him as this perfect creature whose love was unconditional, and one who would never hurt me whether in words or deeds till death do us part. Yes, I had very high expectations of him and what he could do for me (not what I could do for him). I wanted him to love me, even when I didn’t respect him.
I have to say it was pure bliss the first few years… until the kids came along! This perfect man that I thought would never get impatient with me or throw hurtful words at me started being weird (or else I thought) and not loving me unconditionally even when I screwed up. I expected him to be perfect and never complain even when I was inconsiderate, messy, rude, disrespectful or careless. After all, aren’t men supposed to be “gentlemen?” Strong, energetic people who absorb everything the world throws at them and not even show their emotions? At least that’s how I perceived it from the society where I grew up.
“The truth does not change according to our ability to stomach it.” Flannery O’Connor
I tell you what, that faulty mentality had to shift at some point…and it did through a heated confrontation! One day as I got home from work I opened the door and the house was a complete mess! Toys everywhere, some diapers in the hallway, soiled clothes on the floor and dark patches of spilled juice on the carpet. At the time our sons were 18 months and 3 years old. The sight of a messy house made me rave with anger and fume at my husband for not being responsible enough to clean up after the kids. “How dare you! Who lives in such a messy home?” He is not very good at multitasking but at the time, he was in the kitchen cooking for the boys and washing their Sippy cups, plates and bottles. His face was sweaty and weary, and mine was seething with anger and scold. Huh! What a scene!
As you can tell, it didn’t go well that night. Although my husband was outright with me about my irrationality, I didn’t get his point of view at the time. After all, is he not supposed to love me even when I am being a jerk? He said, “Are you kidding me?”…
When you see empty plates on the floor, it shows the boys are well fed!
When you see soiled clothes on the floor, it means the boys took a bath and were changed!
When you see toys on the floor, it means boys played and had a great time!
Mmmh…how true! Days later, when alone and meditating… His words penetrated deep in my heart and allowed me to see how inconsiderate and ungrateful I was. My obsession with cleanliness which dated back to the days when we were dating wasn’t applicable in our married-with-three-young-and-active-boys lifestyle. I had to unlearn, disregard and flush what was holding me back from becoming a grateful and loving wife.
Education consists of mainly what we have unlearned-Mark Twain
The experience opened my eyes and allowed me to appreciate my husband at a deeper level. I was able to see the awesome father he is to the boys, and a responsible man he has been over the years. I was able to routinely examine my expectations of him and assess how I react to certain situations. And yes, it’s hard work: A lot of hard work but keeping our marriage healthy and happy is worth it all.