marriage spiritual

What Your Husband Really Needs from You

2:37 PMHeather

Oh, Downton Abbey. How I love thee! Your lovely British accents. Your complex and multidimensional characters. Your plot twists (although, please--no more about the hospital...snooze fest. We Americans don't want to hear any more quibbles about health care). And, perhaps my most favorite element of all--the incredible quick wit of the Dowager that makes us rewind each episode a million times to be sure we miss not a word.

But there is one thing that I'm afraid you have done, perhaps unwittingly. It's rather easy to do. It has, in fact, been quite the fad and fashion in entertainment.

You have fallen into the great big trap of making the patriarch look a bit like a buffoon. 

As of late, Lord Grantham has been usurped by the younger generations. He has been made to look outdated and unwise. He, at times, as seemed tolerated and ever so subtly belittled by the rest of the family who seem to know much better than he. There seems to be a bit of patronizing of the patriarch, or so it seems. The level of respect for him appears to be slipping.

Here's the problem. 

It may make for good entertainment, but there is a danger lurking beneath the surface.

For we live in a culture of male bashing. We live in a society that seems to emasculate the father figures by making them appear stupid, incompetent, outdated, uninformed and unable to lead well. It's usually done with a laugh track and the joke is at the expense of the dad. Or, the father figure is lacking altogether. The majority of all Disney films, for instance, have no father figure. And Disney television shows--forget it. The dad is usually portrayed as a bumbling idiot.

As the mother of two teenage boys and the wife of one awesome husband, I see something more sinister beneath the surface. And it really bothers me.

Where have all the good men gone?

Not the actual men. Because there are, indeed, millions of remarkable men in the world who are worthy of the utmost respect as excellent role models.

But, the problem is that, like teenagers, males in general get a bad rap far more than they deserve. They are fighting against a stigma that says they aren't able, aren't capable, and aren't worthy of respect.

Here's one thing that I think our husbands and our sons need from us. 

They need us to champion them. They need us to not only praise them and applaud them and cheer them on to their face, but they need to hear us champion them to others, as well. They need to overhear us express our respect and admiration of them, rather than have us express our criticisms.

They need us to believe in them. They need to hear our voice being FOR them in a world that is often against them. They need us to be counter cultural, and even when they have dirty laundry to air, might we choose instead to keep those failings between us and them? Instead of laughing it up at their expense.

They need us to stick to a cardinal rule that my husband and I learned about in a couple's class we took together while dating.

Thou shall not dishonor one another.

Which, by the way, we should also do for our daughters and other family members.

We dishonor our loved ones when we share their failings and make fun of them or bash them to others. When we take the shortcomings that happen within our home and we shine a spot light on them outside of the home. 

Now, to be sure, there may be a time you need to seek the counsel or advice of a confidant when it comes to things in your family. But sharing these things in confidence for the sake of resolution, building up and encouraging your loved ones is far different than airing them at a table of girlfriends for the sake of a good laugh.

The rule of thumb we learned in that couple's class is to not say anything about your partner behind their back that you wouldn't say if they were right there. Ask their permission to share a story that may put them in a negative light. Remember that the tone in which you speak of your family becomes the tone in which you think of them. 

Our husbands need us to be their biggest fans, just as we want them to do for us. They need us to be president of their fan club. To speak life and encouragement to them. To spur them on toward love and good deeds, as the author of Hebrews says. To cherish the gift that they are from God and to rightly treasure that gift. And when things get tense or hard, to work toward resolution with them or with the help of trusted advisers, rather than using it against them by making them look bad in front of others.

It's the old "don't tell your mother about every fight with your husband" rule. Because this causes all sorts of bad impressions and hard feelings and puts your spouse in a bad light. And when you share all their bad moments, it makes it hard for others to embrace and relish all the good ones. 

Bottom line, none of us want our shortcomings to become social media posts, or the topics of conversations with a litany of outsiders. When we do mess up--and we all do--don't we want to be treated with grace and kindness and to be reminded that our mistakes do not have to define us? Instead of continually giving life to the mistake by reliving it to others, again and again. 

Isn't that what the cross was all about? If God chooses to forget our trespasses against him, then we would do well to not be in the habit of instant replays every time our husband or children fall short. 

The Bible says to build one another up and not tear each other down. 

So how about we put that into practice by building up our spouses to others? And do the same for our children? Shouldn't we leave the problems to be resolved between us and them, and avoid inviting others to participate in that conversation, unless we are seeking counsel or advice?

This may seem oversimplified. True, I have a husband who is deeply committed to our covenant marriage and who is faithful and true to me in every which way. He makes it really easy to be married to him. Not everyone is so blessed, I know.

But I do think we would be wise to remind ourselves and each other. 

We are built for community. We are wired to live together and God's great desire for our fellowship is unity. Over and over and over, we are told in Scripture to be each other's cheerleaders.

Look, here's the thing. It's rather hard to be on the same team when we are booing for our own teammates. 

So how about it? What if we challenge ourselves today and this week to intentionally speak words of affirmation TO our husbands? Our sons? Our daughters? 

And also speak words of affirmation ABOUT them to others? Make it a habit to look for opportunities to build up your spouse and children to others. I don't mean bragging or meaningless flattery to tickle their ears or build their egos. I mean sincerely applauding them when the opportunity arises to convey that we love them. 

In a world of naysayers, I'm talking about being the voice that says:
           Way to go! 
           I believe in you. 
           I see how hard you're trying.
           I'm praying for you.
           I love how you did that. 
           I love to watch you play. 
           I saw how you kept at it when things got hard.
           Can I tell you one thing I admire about my husband?

When our loved ones know we've got their back in every scenario, and in every conversation both WITHIN their presence and AWAY from them... then they feel truly loved and respected. And trust can grow deep roots.

I know this to be true, as I have the distinct honor of being married to my biggest cheerleader. He's my strongest advocate. He offers constant encouragement. Because I know he believes in me, it makes our home and our relationship my refuge and safe place.

And it makes me feel secure. And fearless. And eager to return the favor.

Because I think he's pretty awesome, too. And I don't mind saying so. Every chance I get. 

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