3 Fatal Mistakes in Marriage; from a Man’s PerspectivePayton Foeller
Ladies, ladies, ladies. I work in the seed corn markets. (If you don’t watch New Girl pardon the cheesy intro, if you do you probably get the reference). My name is Alex, and I am that guy that Payton is always writing about. Bless her heart, right?Believe it or not, I am not an expert on women and the lives they lead. Instead, I thought I’d take a break from the norm and talk to the guys for a second (but ladies keep reading so you can nod and smile in agreement). Mano-a-mano or something. Bro-to-bro. If you happen to be drinking a red bull and are headed out to “get lit” or something let’s talk.
Marriage is awesome. There’s good food, lots of fun conversations, and it beats the heck out of sitting at home all the time watching Netflix and eating White Castle – most of the time, anyway. But there are definitely some things that can make marriage less fun. And if we’re being honest, at least half of those things come from the “husband” part of “husband and wife.”
Let’s look at some things we can all agree to stop doing right now and make our marriages happier and healthier.
Ever hear that phrase “guys are waffles, girls are spaghetti”? No? Well lucky you. It’s a really stupid way of saying “men tend to compartmentalize, and women tend to consider things more fluidly.” Compartmentalization is a long way of saying that we, as guys, tend to organize our lives into sections (Hence the “waffles” thing. Dang. Now I want maple syrup). It’s actually a really neat gift that God has given most of us. It’s what allows us to come home from work, flip a switch, and enter husband and dad mode. My frustrations at work don’t have to follow me home. We can do a lot of good for our families with compartmentalizing the right parts of our lives so that they don’t cross over in an unhealthy way.At the same time, the gift comes with a lot of responsibility. In the same way that we can keep parts of our lives separated, it’s easy for us to do the same at home in a way that isn’t healthy. In fact, compartmentalization is the root cause of many marital problems including addiction, money management, and communication breakdown. If we’re not careful, we can start to view our relationships with our wives and children as no different than the “compartments” of our tasks at work. Very slowly, we can start to see vital relationships with our families as nothing more than another item on our long list of things to take care of today.That’s dangerous. And it’s stupid. My wife is an incredibly mysterious, sexy, intriguing woman. She challenges me and makes me better. She laughs with me and provides me with a confidant closer than any friend I’ve ever had. How much sense does it make that I would treat her like any other person or thing in my life? If you answered, “No sense, you great big dummy” then you are correct. Now look in the mirror and make sure you’re not doing what I just described, and if you are, say the “No sense, you great big dummy” thing again until you understand.
Make a specific effort to treat your family like the unique gifts they are. Remember how you’re a waffle? Try to access the spaghetti-like quality when thinking of your family. Your wife is a goddess sent from above to keep you in line and complete you. Treat her like it. And nothing less. Your children are gifts of God that teach you about unconditional love and make you work to leave a legacy worthy of remembering. Treat them like it. And nothing less.
I’ll paint you a word picture: You’re sitting at home watching TV. If you have kids, probably Phineas and Ferb or something like that. Nothing too important. And your wife starts a sentence with “So today we were at the mall and . . .” – and that’s all you can remember until . . . “Hey! Did you hear a thing I just said?!”We often think that we can do two things at once. We can’t. We’re not geared that way. Look what happened when Adam tried to multitask gardening and spending time with his wife. Eve wandered, ate an apple, and now snakes hate us and we’re all dying (this interpretation of Scripture brought to you by The Message translation, and heavy satire).
But seriously, what on Earth is so important that you can’t stop one thing and listen to your wife or child speak? The relationships we build at home have the capacity to make or break us. Our job is to prioritize [not compartmentalize] them in any way that we can to God’s glory. Mute the TV. Put down the phone. Close the book. Listen, talk, play, and soak up the greatest blessings God has given you. Everything else can wait.
“But Alex, competition is good! It brings out the best in people. And aren’t we supposed to win our wives over? How can you win without competition?”
Yes, win your wife over. Take that metaphorical football to the house daily and make the most of your pre-planned metaphorical touchdown dance. But be careful not to place the goal of winning above actually winning her.We are properly taught to compete and work valiantly. But if we’re not careful, the means can become the end in a hurry. Actions void of love breed a lot of discontent in a marriage. I can work my 8:00 – 5:00 work schedule till the day I die. I can make sure the trash gets taken out, the lawn stays mowed, and the fridge stays stocked. But if I come home and hold it above Payton’s head, our marriage is going to suck. By the same token, if I come home and my response to hearing about her rough day is to tell her how hard my job is, I’m probably not doing any favors for either of us. If my true intent is to do these things because I love her, I wouldn’t compete with her.That kind of competition isn’t good. It doesn’t build up. It makes us try to keep score – and in case you were wondering, that’s kind of no-no. Instead of competing about whose life is harder, empathize with your wife. Listen with the intent of understanding, not solving. When she’s ready to let you help, you’ll know, well, if you’re paying attention that is (see point #2). Until then, be her rock and safe place to pour out. You’ll both be better for it, I promise.