Shelley and I talk often about redemption. We try (as best we can in the face of adversity) to stay eternally optimistic that everyone’s story can lead to redemption. We trust that change is possible. We get emails every week from husbands and wives who want a glimmer of hope and to know that somehow, on the other side of this pain, God might use it. Use them.
Accommodation for too many wives has become the norm. I sometimes wonder if the biblical concept of submission gets twisted into and applied as accommodation. The idea being that in order to be a ‘good wife’ I have to accommodate my husband and his needs. Which, in theory, doesn’t sound all that bad. If there is reciprocity in fact it could make for a really sweet relationship! But what ends up happening is that the accommodation becomes license to live dysfunctionally.
It shows up in so many ways. Accommodating by having sex when there’s no real intimacy, by acquiescing to irresponsible trips or purchases that hurt the household finances, by overlooking emotional abuse because there’s no physical scars. It also happens around the kids. I can’t tell you how many stories I’ve heard from women in their 50’s and 60’s whose husbands were so tangled up in the barbed wire of their own ego, that the wives ended up basically single-parenting and making excuses for why dad wasn’t present or engaged. They were willing to sacrifice on behalf of the kids, which is amazing, but along the way ended up giving him license to shelf his responsibility to his family.
Taking it a step further, it happens on a micro level in my office. I’ll see wives who’ve become so desensitized to it that they take care of making the appointments, they supply a pen and paper for him to take notes and they remind him that he has homework. It’s painful to watch.
Now don’t confuse accommodation with codependency. I’m not talking about wives finding some identity in this. Although that may happen, I’m simply speaking to the unhealthy and dysfunctional pattern of doing life that too easily becomes the norm.
If you can see that your wife has grown accustomed to accommodating, I urge you to take a stand against it. Be the one to call attention to it and go out of your way to ensure she doesn’t have to. She’ll probably thank you in the long run.
Rebuilding trust is so difficult. But we sometimes make it more difficult, in fact even take steps backwards, when we forget who trustbuilding is for. Men will often say to their wives, “I just want you to trust me again” or “I hope one day you can trust me” but the essence of what they are saying is unfortunately self-centered. What they are really saying is, “I hope one day you’ll be less angry so I don’t have to deal with it” or “I hope one day we don’t have to talk about this anymore so I don’t have to feel guilt and shame”.
Too often we forget that our work in the aftermath of betrayal is to restore dignity to our spouses. One facet of that is restoring trust, which translates to a sense of security and feeling protected. When we become myopic and selfish we begin building trust for our own convenience and to lighten our own burden. What our wives need is to see us bear the burden with courage and to build trust for their sake.
Granted, it is understandable and isn’t wrong to want your wife to be less hurt, angry and beyond the conversation about the past. But, in the meantime, you pave the path for her to get there by sacrificing your own comfort and convenience. So as you pursue trust building, remember to ask who you are building trust for.