Quite often we don't see people how they really are. We look at them with our own biases.
For instance, before we get married we tend to see our husbands (then our fiances) through rose-coloured glasses. We may notice that they do annoying things, but we think of these as "cute quirks" that they will likely grow out of.
Then, once we're married, those glasses often fall off and we start noticing all the things that are wrong with our husbands.
But we have other lenses, too, and we need to be aware of them so that we can make sure we're not being unfair to our husbands.
1. The Father Lens. Did you have a close, loving, supportive father? If you didn't, that likely left a hole in you. My father, for instance, left me when I was two, and I've always had rejection issues. For the first few years we were married, whenever we were feeling particularly close and snuggling, I would find "you're not going to leave me, are you?" coming out of my mouth instead of "I love you." I was programmed to assume that this relationship wasn't going to last.
And that can lead to a lack of trust in your relationship, which makes transparency hard, intimacy tricky, and happiness difficult. What we tend to do is to push our husbands away before they push us away. We get defensive, and believe that everything that they bring up that is negative means they're going to leave us--as opposed to the fact that they just want to work on something.
So we assume the worst. We think that when he's being insensitive it means he genuinely doesn't care, as opposed to maybe he's just being lazy or preoccupied. And so we start attacking him and accusing him of things that he has no intention of doing and aren't even on his radar screen. And yet what's happened is not that he's doing anything in particular; it's that we have read too much into things because of our own prejudices.
2. The Bad Relationship Lens. Often our lack of trust is magnified if we've had really bad romantic relationships or marriages in the past. I have a friend who was abused in her first marriage, and is now married to someone who loves her dearly. But she has a hard time believing it. He says that he often has a nightmare where he's lying in his coffin, about to be lowered into the ground, and she's standing above it, saying, "See! I told you you'd leave me!". That's the only way that argument can end, because he can never prove to her that he is going to stay.
3. The Pathetic Man Lens. In our culture men are thought of as incompetent when it comes to relationship stuff, housework stuff, and parenting stuff. We are the wise ones; they are the dolts that we put up with for some reason. And it becomes in vogue to make fun of men for how they can't share their feelings, or can't do laundry, or can't play with a baby.
The problem is that many men CAN share their feelings, CAN do laundry, and CAN play with babies. They just may do it differently than we do. But because our lens tells us that he is pathetic, we assume that when he launches into his version of it that it's wrong, and we berate him for it. Not a good way to build intimacy!
4. The He's Always Right Lens. This one perhaps is not as common as it used to be, but it's still out there, and it goes something like this. God has called me to submit to this man, and He has made this man head over our marriage. Therefore, what my husband says I must obey, because my husband is right. Nope. God is your final authority; not your husband. We must submit, yes. But God never asks us to do that without thinking for ourselves. And if your husband isn't close to God, and isn't leading your family close to God, then you need to pick up the slack and do those things on your own.
If your husband asks you to do something in the bedroom that you feel is wrong, you don't have to do it. If your husband is addicted to pornography, it's okay to confront him on it. Submitting does not mean letting go of our wisdom or our discernment.
5. My Kids Are My Main Concern Right Now. The other lens we often use is to see everything in terms of the kids. If our husbands want a night away with us, we wonder how that will affect the kids, and why doesn't he love the kids as much as I do? Our children are our main priority, and we give them the majority of our time and attention, and we wonder why our husbands don't seem to do the same thing. We assume that we must love the children more. Actually, our husbands might have the right idea. What children need is to feel that their parents have a stable relationship; if you put the children first, you're sacrificing their stability.
6. The Men are Evil University Lens. For several years after I was released from my indoctrination program at university, I believed that all men were evil to a certain extent, and women were superior. This isn't the same as believing all men are buffoons; it's actually more harmful. We learned that "all sex is rape", for instance, and that makes it very hard to figure out how to handle intimacy in a marriage.
So those are the different lenses that we can see our husband through, and assume things about him that he hasn't done at all. So here's my assignment for you this week: figure out what lens, or lenses, you have. If we can see what our biases are, it's easier to identify them. And then, next time you find yourself getting upset with your husband, or ticked off about something, ask yourself this question:
"Is he really doing something very wrong? Or am I assuming something about the situation?"
That's a good practice to get into in marriage: start with yourself when there's a conflict. And you just might find that those conflicts magically disappear!
Please share your thoughts with us! Go to your own blog and write a Wifey Wednesday post, and then come back here and enter it in the Mr. Linky. We'd love to hear what you have to share about marriage!
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Labels: divorce, intimacy, marriage, wifey wednesdays