I’ve always been a social butterfly. I never understood why my parents would tell me that school was my job. Clearly, it was for making and hanging out with friends. In my marriage, I am the one that likes to invite people over. Or wanting to accept invitation to people’s homes, or throw a party, and Big T would always say no. “I want it to be just our family.” He would say to me. Ugh, I would think. It’s not that I didn’t/don’t like our family. I just LOVE having lots to do, and people to meet and talk too. So against his wishes, I would volunteer us for things, or invite people over. (Chances are if you have eaten at our home there was a HUGE fight before/after you came, because I didn’t check with Big T to see if it was a good night to have someone over. (Since with him it was never a good night) So I would just take it upon myself to make the decision to invite someone over.
You see…I’ve spent the last 8 years of my marriage, telling Big T that I want him to lead our family, but secretly wanting him to lead only when it was in line with what I really wanted. Being joyfully submissive has never been strength for me, I would say, I’ve been more reluctantly submissive, and sometimes just straight up defiantly unsubmissive. I didn’t understand that if I CHOOSE to joyfully serve my husband there are blessings to be had in obedience. All I wanted was to do it my own way.
Since moving to North Dakota some things have come to the light that have made it very clear that I am not capable to choosing my own way. I clearly need to be lead, and if I wanted to continue to live in the manner that I was living in then I was going to lead myself right up to a divorce. It wasn’t until it got THAT bad, that I decided it was time to make a change. I didn’t like the way I was leading me, or what was happening to our family. So I decided to take a leap of faith and allow my husband to do what he was always meant to be and that is the head of our household.
When I was refusing to listen to Big T and his wishes of me just spending more time with the family, I would get into this place of feeling that my home and my family aren’t good enough. But I was choosing to be TOO busy to do anything about it. Clearly my standard was not the Bible, for had it been, I would have realized that I needed to spend more time with the family like my husband was requesting, and I needed to give up the control to him so that I could enjoy the blessings that God had in store for our marriage.
Through my choosing to put others in front of our family that meant that Big T did a majority of the housework. In the last 8 years, I have never once had sole responsibility of our home. I am very blessed to have a husband that likes to tidy up around the house, and who likes to cook. However, I was starting to take this blessing and turn it into an expectation. I would be so busy outside our home that when Big T would mention that I needed to get caught up on the laundry I would go into a tyraid.
Doesn’t he know that I am busy?! Shouldn’t he just see the slack and do it?! Goodness…and if I did end up having to do housework I would punish him come bedtime, clearly I was too tired from all my housework to be a loving wife. Oh how ugly this can make a wife. How was I expecting my marriage to thrive when I was choosing to not listen to my husbands’ needs and then punish him for expressing them?
Just recently I’ve been shown that this is not what God has in mind for my marriage. He has something much better in store of us, that is- if I would do my part. Doing my part means that I need to joyfully serve my husband in every area and make him desire to come home and see me. To get started on this, I decided that I would talk to Tom and see what his top 3 things are for me to be doing. Clearly, I can’t be superwoman, but surely I can handle mastering 3 items that would make Tom feel loved and appreciated.
One night while *he* was cooking dinner. (See, I really have an amazing husband!) I asked him “Tom, if you could only pick three things for me to do well, what would they be?”
Without batting an eye he said “Keep our home. Be engaged with our children. Take care of yourself.”
Um…wow. I was a little taken aback by how quickly he responded. This must have been something he had been thinking about, and wanting to tell me for a long time.
I was looking for more specific items, for example: rub my back after dinner 3x/week. These items were so broad, and so…well, HARD. But I was determined to do them.
It wasn’t until I set my mind to doing these items that I realized how much I have been just going through the motions of keeping a home! Goodness, I clean only when things are a disaster, and do laundry, only when we have nothing to wear. I keep our home out of necessity, not out of service to my family.
Thankfully, I stumbled upon this blog and gleaned some amazing tips from Darlene on how to keep my home, and serve my husband joyfully. I will admit that today was the FIRST time since we have moved to North Dakota that I am scrubbed the bathroom floors. Ewww…I know…we’ve lived here almost 6 months. I am determined to not let those things slide again!
Being engaged with the kids is a constant struggle, but it is something that I am determined to do more of. That means more cleaning on downtime (when the big Littles are at school and the little Littles are napping) and less cleaning while they are home. It also means that it’s time to find areas that they can assist me in the keeping of the home.
Last night I did a 10 minute clean up with the kids, and was AMAZED at how well it went, and how nice the house looked afterwards. There is hope yet.
The last item on his list was one that I should have had him clarify. I naturally assumed that he meant “take care of yourself” to mean, I need to look HOT at all times. So I stepped it up at the gym, working out like a freak (which I LOVE, so isn’t really sacrificial), and I started following fashion blogs and learning to do my hair and makeup. It wasn’t until a couple of days ago when I confessed that I was exhausted from trying to stay put together that Big T informed me that I take care of my appearance a little more than what Big T would expect of me.
Flabbergasted, I said “but you said to take care of yourself as something you want me to do. “
“Jenny, I meant take care of you emotionally. I know you thrive off of Bible Studies and getting together with other ladies. I want you to do those things too, but I want you to prioritize our family first.”
Whew-while this seriously relieved me of the stress of trying to always look amazing for him, it also meant that I have to do something that doesn’t come naturally to me. It’s not natural for me to place my family above my friendships. I know this is a very sad statement to make, but I just always assume that my family will be there, and my friends need me.
Well, here’s to turn back the clock to being a helpmeet to my man, to joyfully serve my family, to be involved with my children and to stop checking off the number of activities we do/volunteer for, and people we have over for dinner and start relishing in the time we just spend together enjoying our family. The Grimms are going old school.
Have you ever experienced a life changing realization like mine? Would you mind sharing?