When I first began reading the Gospels in the New Testament I was struck by several things: Jesus didn’t heal everybody; He was willing to say ‘No’ in a way that would be considered rude today; and He often fled from the masses ‘ he withdrew to rest.
The popular image of Jesus as a passive guy who couldn’t say ‘No’ and who catered to everyone’s beck and call is wrong. He argued, used strong language, said ‘No,’ and walked away. When it came to taking time for Himself, He provided an example we’d be wise to follow.
Men have responded pretty well to the current mindset in our culture that suggests men need to be more involved at home. You probably do housework, change diapers, shop for groceries, play with the kids, date your wife, and help with homework. But having adopted this mindset, many men feel guilty about taking time off for themselves. I don’t mean a ski trip to Colorado. I’m talking more about just taking a few hours here and there to regroup.
Often husbands will stay with the kids while their wives get together with the girls, but they don’t plan similar events for themselves. Do you think your wife needs a break and you don’t? That’s a big mistake.
Friend, if ‘all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy,’ it’ll also make him an increasingly dull husband and father. Take care not to let this happen to you.
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.
Men, establishing personal boundaries is imperative to your spiritual freedom and vitality. These boundaries should be intentional and thought out ahead of time; while in the midst of temptation is no time to attempt to put them in place. They should be determined by and measured against God’s word. And finally, boundaries should be appropriately and strategically customized to your unique life situation and struggles.
These are some general guidelines for thinking through how you create and apply boundaries. But what concrete expression might they take in your life? Perhaps a few examples would be helpful. Perhaps your boundaries may include:
‘Blocking the pay-per-view option at the hotel front desk.
‘Refusing to make low-blow putdowns during marital disagreements.
‘Saying ‘no’ when asked to do things on weekends that don’t involve the whole family.
‘Never being alone with a woman who isn’t your wife.
‘Turning the channel when there’s too much skin and too little clothing on TV ‘ even if it’s only a commercial.
‘Refusing to keep self-destructive secrets from your wife.
‘Never making a significant financial or family decision without first consulting your wife.
Guys, formulating and committing to personal boundaries forces you to take honest stock of your life both practically and spiritually. It means counting the cost of what it’ll take to build a solid spiritual life, and adjusting your expectations to match the reality of being God’s man.