Wife: What are you wearing to your boss’s party this weekend?
Hubby: My black suit.
Wife: Has it been cleaned since the last time you wore it?
Wife: What did you get him for his retirement?
Hubby: Just a stare in return tells me I’ll be hitting the mall tomorrow.
Hubby: And I signed us up to bring a dish.
Wife: (Sarcastically)Don’t worry the Secret Elf will take care of it after everyone goes to bed. She always does.
How many times is this scenario repeated, all the while the seed of resentment is planted AND the habit of enabling is started? Women are wired to be care givers and multi-taskers, and we want to take care of things. When I think about the tasks at home that tend to be primarily handled by women, the list is long: laundry, shopping, cooking, cleaning, gift buying…..the list goes on and on.
And don’t even get me started on the children responsibilities. Lunches, snacks, school forms, doctors’ appointments, playdates, social studies projects, teacher appreciation week, new baseball pants, field trip driver, math homework, haircuts, Meet the Teacher, Taekwondo gear, new jazz shoes, school supplies…..and that’s just this week. But we give an “Oh honey, thanks so much for taking him to practice!” to Hubby when he does it. And we hear the children say “Thanks Dad” for every little thing. WHAT ABOUT MOM?
So should we be angry at the men in our lives for all the things we handle? Or is this simply a communication issue? Are they even aware of all we do behind the scenes?
The Bible’s book of Proverbs paints an ugly picture of the dangerous way we could come across to our husbands:
“Better to live on a corner of the roof than share a house with a quarrelsome wife,” (Proverbs 21:9, NIV).
Or, in another version:
“Better to live alone in a tumbledown shack than share a mansion with a nagging spouse” (Proverbs 21:9, The Message).
Ouch! Corner of the roof? Tumbledown shack? Is our version:
“Better to stay in your home office with the door closed watching the game than come out and here me sighing or slamming things on the counter because I’m frustrated.”
Yet another version uses the term contentious to describe this wife. To be contentious is to be characterized by argument. Shut the front door! I have to admit…sometimes that’s me! Could we be pushing our men AWAY from us instead of TOWARD us with our nagging? I do NOT want to be the woman whose husband would prefer to live alone in a tumbledown shack than to live with me.
But how do we communicate our needs without complaining? How do we stop being the Secret Elf without sending him to the corner of the shack?
Multi-Task for Good, Not for Credit
Add to the situation the fact that because we are amazing workplace women that dazzle with our skills in multiple environments, people often assume we can handle it…..ALL of it. And we usually can. We bring home the bacon, fry it up in a pan, serve it with flair, to a dinner party that we planned and pulled off with Martha Stewart finesse, and oh did I mention it was a specific type of organic turkey bacon that is very hard to find….. Awesome! As long as we are doing it to serve others and not to be a martyr who needs the credit. Ohhhhhh! But it feels good to be needed.
NO! Is a Word We Can Say Sometimes
And then there’s another challenge. Let’s learn this word. “No! No, we can’t host the small group this weekend. No, I can’t be on the neighborhood association. No, I can’t volunteer in the nursery at church.” Some of us don’t like saying “No.” We keep taking things on because we truly want to help. Wait. Is that prideful? We do WANT to help AND we know we could do a great job. But how much is too much?
Is Our Pickiness Telling Him Not to Try?
And let’s be honest. We like things done a certain way. Some of us may even tend toward perfectionism. We like things done THAT way, so it’s easier to just do it ourselves. Hmmmmm. And just PERHAPS when he does jump in and take care of something we give the slight vibe that we could have done it better, more creatively, cheaper, or faster. Uh oh! Let’s go back and review that corner of the roof and tumbledown shack verse.
What Is His Love Language?
Sometimes, the challenge may be in HOW we ask Hubby for help. Gary Chapman’s 5 Love Languages are fascinating and can really make a huge difference in what a spouse hears us saying. When we speak to Hubby in HIS language he hears us and responds, just like when we speak to a new friend in their native tongue.
It’s All About Communication
At the end of the day, it seems to be all about communication. According to Biblical counselors, there are ways to communicate the pressure of responsibility we’re feeling without being contentious.
- *DON’T become bitter or resentful about the situation by letting it go unaddressed.
- *DO these 7 things to bring peace and grace into the situation.
- PRAY. Ask God to show us HIS heart for the situation.
- Too many times we rush in with our self-sufficiency. SNAP! Stop Now And P God loves us. He is always there. He sees it all, even before the thought has left our lips as words. Let’s consult Him and wait and listen.
- Work with Hubby to SCHEDULE a time and place for the discussion that’s good for us both because no one likes an ambush they are not expecting.
- And it shouldn’t be our bedroom. Let’s find a neutral location that is breezy. And we can always use the mafia’s technique and have it be in a public place so we are on our best behavior.
- Specifically SHARE how we’re feeling.
- “I feel ____ when _____.” Sometimes we might not even know how we are feeling or why. By simply breaking it down into this simple statement, we sort through our own emotions AND present it to him so he can understand it. If we don’t even know why we are upset or disappointed, how in the world can Hubby know?
- ASK for what we want or need from him.
- Be specific. Hubby can’t read our minds so we should be specific, patient, and kind. This man in front of us is our partner in everything and often he has no idea what we expect of him. Tell him!
- Brainstorm TOGETHER on ideas about how to improve the area of concern.
- Guys LOVE to solve problems! AND Hubby has his own set of gifts, skills, and areas of expertise so let’s slow down and let him use them. We don’t have to have all of the answers all of the time. We are not at the office.
- Agree on a SOLUTION to try.
- We are a team. Now we are acting like one and the ideas, potential solutions, and grace are flowing. This partnership is what we crave.
- Notice the progress and give him FEEDBACK in HIS love language.
- We are all human. We like to know when we do something that pleases another. Tell Hubby when he rocks it. And remember what HIS love language is and speak to him that way. He will hear it and appreciate it.
With careful communication and self-control, we CAN avoid being the enabling elf without becoming the contentious wife. We CAN improve communication in our relationships and achieve an efficient balance of responsibility in our households. We can use all of our gifts that we individually bring to the table as a team in an amazing combination. After all, God brought us together with this man in partnership for a reason.
Let’s slow down and let God and Hubby remind us that it’s not all on us. They are there too. And we love them both.