A man wrote this comment about his relationship with his wife: ‘I did not reveal myself to her. I stuffed many of my thoughts, emotions, and needs that I feared would lead to rejection if I voiced them’This was cutting her off’I believe this was an abdication of my responsibility. I have known for many, many years that honesty and openness is God’s way but had not really come to terms with it until recently.’
As a man, you likely agree that not every emotion you feel’for example, fear, inhibition, or intimidation’is good. You probably realize honesty and openness is God’s desire but struggle to obey. Haven’t you wondered if Adam ever said ‘I’m sorry’ to Eve. Think about it. There he was in the Garden, listening to Satan tempt his wife, and he did nothing to interfere, to keep her from giving in. And the rest is history.
As one prominent psychologist noted, ‘Adam was there and he was silent.’ I wonder if Adam ever spoke to Eve about his shame. And I wonder if we men have inherited his silence.
You don’t have to give in to the temptation of silence. Share yourself with your wife. Come to terms with the fact that the silence that fills your home is like a fog and obscures you from her. But you can begin to clear the fog. Give her the opportunity to receive what you say with trust and grace. It might be scary. But you can do it.
At some point, almost every man feels incompatible with his spouse. During those times, most men secretly wonder if they should’ve married someone else. They harbor that secret from their wives for fear of hurting them. But truth be told, from time to you’re your wives probably entertain similar thoughts.
The real news here isn’t that people sometimes wish they’d married someone different; it’s that they’re misdiagnosing the issue at hand and the challenge it requires of them. Everybody goes through difficult periods in marriage. At times everybody feels like throwing in the towel. And if you want to know the truth, everybody’at least in one sense’did marry the wrong person!
While teaching a marriage course at Notre Dame, a professor used to give his students one absolute: you always marry the wrong person. ‘It’s a reversible absolute, though,’ said Hauerwas, ‘You always marry the right person. The point is we don’t know who we are marrying.’
Professor Hauerwas is right. The knowledge you have of your spouse on your wedding day is unavoidably incomplete. Furthermore, both of you will change and develop over the course of your lives. Consequently, neither person knows exactly what the promise they’re making to one another will entail. The promise is bold, challenging, and ripe with reward.
Therefore, rather than ask if you’ve married the wrong person, try asking how you can learn to better love and care for the person you’ve married!
In his book Men’s Secret Wars, Patrick Means suggests three questions to help men identify whether or not they’ve moved beyond parental expectations. They are as follows:
1) Did my father communicate to me that I was loved?
2) Did he let me know he was pleased with who I am?
3) Was his blessing unconditional?
To me, Means’ last point is the most important. When as a parent you tell your son, ‘I love you if and when you do this or that,’ you’re putting conditions in place that could haunt him for the rest of his life.
The amazing thing about the grace of God is that you’re accepted with no strings attached. Christ took care of all the conditions. By embracing Christ, you’re freed from all your mistakes and shortfalls. But it also means you’re freed from your having to measure up to the false and unrealistic standards of others.
Consequently, you’re free to pursue your God-directed destiny’to follow your God-given dreams’knowing you have a loving Father who encourages you along the way. Every man was created by God to stand straight and tall, to look to God to find His true identity in Christ.