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Wifey Wednesday: A More Holistic Approach to Life

It's Wednesday, so it's time for some marriage thoughts!

I'm in the middle of writing a "How Women See It" column for the Canadian Promise Keepers magazine about the family/work balance, so that's what I've been thinking about a lot lately.

And here's what I've come up with: there really is something to that "Men are like Waffles, Women are Like Spaghetti" thing. Men are compartmentalized. When they're at work, they work. When they're at home, they rest. Women, when they're at work, are thinking about work, and laundry, and when the next doctor's appointment is for Jenny, and how Junior is going to get to the soccer game. We aren't compartmentalized.

My friend Paul Henderson, who scored the famous 1972 goal in the Canada/U.S.S.R. hockey series, uses this analogy when he speaks at marriage conferences. He can be in the living room having a rip roaring fight with his wife, but then she'll walk into the bedroom, and his hands will start to wander. All over her. And she gets mad. "What are you doing?!" She'll yell. "We're fighting!". And he'll say, "We were in the fighting room. Now we're in the sex room. So I thought you had moved on!".

I think oftentimes men don't put in the effort at home that they do at work because they are compartmentalized. I'm not just talking about cleaning the toilets or replacing the toilet paper rolls. While these are annoyances, they're not the big issues. I mean this: at work they make plans. They think about when the next promotion is coming, what new products we need to push next year, what my salary will be in a year after the bonus. They think ahead.

But home is to relax, and so they don't want to work. They come home and they want to play. So they often leave the hard stuff, like discipline, or decisions over which activities the kids are going to be involved in, or worrying about what friends the kids have, to their wives.

One thing I talk at length about in my book To Love, Honor and Vacuum is that home life has changed significantly lately, so much so that it's much harder to make the traditional family work in our current culture. You have to really make an effort. Two hundred years ago there was no divide between work and family. The family toiled together and either prospered or starved together. The kids worked alongside the parents. Now it's so separate that it's made it harder, I think, for men to find their bearings in their homes.

So what do you do as a woman when you're husband doesn't seem to take as seriously as you do some of the issues your children are having in school, with peers, or even with obedience? What do you do when your husband won't spend the necessary time with your kids that you know they need?

Here's an idea: make the kids work. We often expect our husbands to play with the kids, but they may not be into that. But they are into accomplishing tasks. A friend of mine was over 40 when his children were born, and he isn't comfortable getting down on his hands and knees with trucks. He's a contractor. But this summer he's been laying hardwood floor in their home, and his 6-year-old son is having the time of his life helping. They don't get a lot of one-on-one time together, but in work, they somehow seem to gel.

I know some men may turn their kids away because it makes the job take longer, but try to encourage your husband to take the kids when he needs to run to Home Depot, or do something else. Men work, they don't play with kids. So get kids involved. That's the way men used to relate to kids, anyway: they mentored them as they learned to work, too. It's only in our culture that that's been taken away.

And here's another tip: if your husband doesn't seem overly involved in the home, try to use strategic planning to your advantage. Many men spend hours strategically planning at work. Why not at home? Take some time when it's just the two of you. Maybe go out for dinner, or go on a hike, and bring a notebook along. And ask what he wants his family to look like in 5 years. In 10 years. In 15 years. Now ask how you're going to get there.

What tools do you need to accomplish that? Are you on the right road now? What needs to change? What should we be doing differently? If you want a son who will come to you for advice at 16, what should your relationship look like when he's 6? Start asking these questions, but don't answer them. Let him answer them. And maybe, if he starts thinking about these issues, you just might find that he is more purposeful at home, too, because he'll see that home is not just a place to relax. It's a place to be meaningful.

What about you? Do you have any marriage advice you'd like to share? Here's how to participate: just copy the picture at the top of this post, go write a blog entry with the picture on it, and then come back here and enter the URL of your post. I'd love to hear from you!

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At 1:16 PM , Blogger Sandra said…

I love your posts and this one had me laughing out loud and also fervently nodding my head.

I often times get frustrated with my husband because I feel that he's just not that interested in the family going on's and I realize it's not true, he loves his family but he just has a different way of looking at things. I guess for him he feels he's working to provide a good life for us and that is what his focus is on, THAT part and nothing else.

You gave out some great ideas and made great points. Thank you :)


At 9:04 AM , Blogger Susanne said…

I came over from a link that Sandra had. What an excellent post. I could totally relate and have been so frustrated many times and what you said makes total sense of it.


At 7:22 AM , Blogger Cherish said…

I always enjoy your marriage advice, but this post really hit home. Thanks!

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About Me

Name: Sheila

Home: Belleville, Ontario, Canada

About Me: I'm a Christian author of a bunch of books, and a frequent speaker to women's groups and marriage conferences. Best of all, I love homeschooling my daughters, Rebecca and Katie. And I love to knit. Preferably simultaneously.

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