I’ve been thinking about this marriage thing. (That’s actually not too unusual considering I’m in marriage ministry.) I mean really thinking about it and trying to figure out a solution - a solution to an age old problem that seems to affect every couple at one time or another, especially when the children are young.
Once again I listened to a tired mother complain how she works all day long and then comes home to fix dinner, clean-up, bathe the kids and put them to bed while her husband sits on the couch watching television.
What does a woman do? It can drive you to the point of wanting to walk out the door. I know that’s how I felt, and I only worked part-time. That was the beginning of some big issues between my husband and me that almost destroyed our marriage.
Aside from the point that most men are not wired to do the domestic thing (there are a few exceptions, of course) here are some ideas to make home life a time that you both share. I’m not promising you complete change or overnight success. You have to teach most men how to handle housework and babies and give them lots of positive reinforcement for a job well done, or at least, attempted.
- First of all, find a time where you can both rationally discuss what goes on in your household. Don’t do it when you’re tired or have PMS or can find no positive thought about your spouse. Remind him that taking care of small children and a home is equal to two full-time jobs (in hours with lots of overtime), plus you are working a full-time job on top of that. (Better yet, leave him alone with the kids for a weekend so he can appreciate all you do.) Write out all the chores that need to be done around the house and figure out who should do what. Let your spouse pick the ones that he doesn’t mind doing as much.
- Don’t be afraid to ask for help. We women mistakably believe that if our husbands really loved us they would help us. Well, they may love us but they are never going to WANT to help. You have to ask for it, maybe even a couple of times or more. I repeat, don’t be afraid to ask for help, over and over. If you do it with the right tone of voice, it won’t sound like nagging.
- Give out lots of positive reinforcement, verbally and physically. (Don't ever criticize how he does his chores.) You may want to point out that the more he helps you, the more time and energy you will have for him – to do, you know, what he wants to do (have sex). This is the best positive reinforcement you could give your husband. You will certainly feel a LOT more like having sex when he helps around the house and with the kids. Not only will that allow you more time to yourself, but having a husband help, especially with the children, also fills a deep level of emotional intimacy for women. Once he understands that he should be more willing to complete his chores. (It may take a while for him to grasp this idea so hang in there and keep rewarding him.) I always tell my husband the most romantic thing he can do to get my engine running is to wash the dishes without me asking him to do so. Even after thirty-three years of marriage I sometimes have to remind him of this.
After beginning this article, I watched a movie with Rick where the husband was a workaholic and never seemed to be there for his family. It occurred to me that that is the nature of the beast. That is how men were created to be - focused and committed to their work. This goes back to Adam when God passed a judgment on him that he would toil the ground to take care of his family. That would consume his life. Eve’s judgment was to take care of the home and the children. Her desire would be for her husband (part of the judgment), and he would be wrapped up in his work until she got the point home to him that he had to be a part of the family. We sometimes have to seek drastic measures to get our husbands to understand. This stage in marriage is a very difficult period of adjustment and is the most common time for couples to divorce when they are unable (or unwilling) to fix the problem.
I don’t believe that God passed this judgment on Adam and Eve to set the course for marriage, rather He gave them these roles so they would have to seek His help when these roles collided.
More to come on "This Marriage Thing"