Not too long ago – a month, maybe? – I read an article by fellow blogger, Greg Trimble. That article was Dudes… Stop Breaking the Hearts of Your Tender Wives. As I was scrolling through a motley variety of comments, I saw one that I just couldn’t resist: some well-meaning brother commented that Mr. Trimble should write a companion post, Chicks…Stop Breaking the Hearts of Your Tender Husbands. Mr. Trimble, in turn, said he would leave that for a woman to write.
Someone told me recently that I tend to take on too much. She was right. But I couldn’t help it. I thought, I can write that! I responded on that comment stream, “I’ll do it!” And Mr. Trimble said, “More power to ya!” Or something thereabouts. And excited little ol’ me opened up my computer to go and…
…nothing. This overly verbose, educated, experienced woman who always has something to say about absolutely everything was at a loss for words. Not that I don’t know how a tender husband’s heart is broken; I know far too well. Not only have I broken his heart multiple times using all the tried-and-true methods, I may have invented some. But for some reason, nothing eloquent landed on the screen. I was a total blank. This girl would obviously not be preaching about anything.
So I’ve been on sitting this for about a month, waiting for inspiration, the right words, the persuasive tone and charming syntax that people enjoy about me. Not a normal situation for me; I can address anything at anytime and really quite bamboozle people with my words. And I have a lot to say! So when I can’t say it, I become super frustrated.
Late yesterday afternoon, as the heat was finally a bit more tolerable, I took a walk. Going down our charming little riverwalk led me to the newly installed labyrinth in our community. If you’ve never walked a labyrinth, give it a try; it’s a great way to calm your thoughts, be mindful and centered, and find some mental peace and quiet in the midst of the normal clutter and chaos of daily thinking.
As I slowly paced myself around the intricate path of the labyrinth, I did find myself thinking about this subject, and wondering what I could say that would dazzle and inspire and help women to truly be better partners, companions, helpmeets to those tender husbands (who really just need to pull up their big boy pants, right?). I could talk about avoiding emotional affairs, or not making them responsible for our personal well-being, or I could quote Proverbs 31 (I hate that woman sometimes) about seeing to the needs of our family, or 1 Peter about having a gentle, quiet spirit. I could harp on the need to be respectful and deferential, submissive and obedient, “as unto the Lord.” I could talk about how we, more often than we like to admit, use sex not as a point of intimacy and bonding, but as reward, punishment, and manipulation.
I’d actually planned to write a litany of how I had, as I mentioned above, broken my husband’s heart, time and time and time again, in the ways I just mentioned and then some.
But as I walked that labyrinth, I started thinking about Namaste. For those of you not caught up in the yoga community (another post for another time), namaste is a Sanskrit term that has become as overused, misused, and even abused in contemporary culture. Its literal translation is I bow to you. My yoga teacher interprets that as, “The Divine within me recognizes and honors the Divine within you.” And as I walked, I realized that we break his heart when we fail to recognize his divinity. No matter how we do it – and, ladies, we all know just how to best break our tender husbands’ hearts, don’t we? – we do it because we stop seeing the divine within him.
If I, as his wife, am always mindful that yes, there is a divine, immortal being wrapped up in that suit of flesh – a suit that is, yes, aging, and tired, and hungry, and grumpy at times, and prone to misread my own intentions…if I, as his wife, am mindful of the fact that he is a son of God – as much as I am a daughter of God, I am going to be far more careful to, as our Savior reminded us, do unto him as I would have him do unto me:
- Do I want him to put me before his job? Maybe that load of laundry can wait.
- Do I want him to trust me to do what I say I will do? Turn off the nagging.
- Do I want him to confide in me his deepest, darkest secrets, his griefs, his frustrations? Confide in him before you call your girlfriend.
- Do I want him to praise me to his friends? Cut the trash talk.
- Do I want him to overlook the times I fail? Forgive and forget and always extend grace.
- Do I want him to see and treat me as a goddess (metaphorically or literally – no matter)? It’s a two-way street, honey.
Every successful human relationship comes down to implementing that Golden Rule, and marriage is the absolutely most important relationship anyone can have. But familiarity so often breeds contempt, and quite often, our husbands get the short end of that stick. And because marriage is, as our rings symbolize, a circle, we get what we give…and, if we don’t give, we don’t get.
My marriage nearly ended a few years ago because I didn’t recognize my tender husband as a son of God, and thus, the heartbreaking I had inflicted on him over the years had very nearly destroyed me. I can’t help but think that maybe that’s why he, himself, once a vibrant and glorious witness to the Savior, is no longer. But because God’s tender mercies are so infinitely glorious and generous and gracious, my sight was restored and my marriage continues to heal. I now see him as a son of God, as beloved as Jesus Christ Himself, and every day I pray that my love for, and words and actions toward him would cause him to see the light of Christ within me and, once again, within himself.
Ask yourself this: when you look at your tender husband (and, for all their macho bravado, they really are tender), who do you see?