I receive a monthly subscription to a popular parenting magazine. Today, I was paging through the articles and came across the Question/Answer column. You know, the one where the moms write in their parenting questions and receive witty answers to their problems?
Only this one was different. Heading the column was a question that blew me away. But not nearly as much as the shocking “educated” response.
The question (paraphrased): “I attend a mother’s group regularly, wherein the prominent topic of discussion is husband bashing. Since I don’t have any real issues with my husband and he’s a good guy who really does a lot for me and our son, I’ve been unsure how to respond. But I want to bond to these women, so sometimes I just make stuff up. Is it wrong to do this to him, just to fit in?”
The answer (paraphrased): “Dear Mom – I guess the “right”or “correct” thing to tell you is that you shouldn’t throw your husband under the bus, or pretend your marriage sucks just to fit in with the group – I would liken it to caving to 7th grade-type peer pressure. But the truth is, in the real world – it’s fine to twist the truth for some adult conversation and female companionship. I’m guessing a husband who is confident in what he contributes to the family, will be willing to take one for the team and won’t care if you’re slagging him to your girlfriends about leaving socks on the floor.”
So here’s what I’m going to say about this and you can have your say in my comments.
I feel it goes without saying, but clearly disparaging your husband is inappropriate and wrong. I know this, because I’ve done it. And it has had sad and unfortunate consequences, that I have regretted deeply.
I’m angry that this is the advice women are finding in a well known and popular parenting magazine. And we wonder why we have a failed marriage rate of 1 in 2? What is more important than your relationship with your spouse? Your relationship with your Maker. Disagree if you like, but I believe firmly in God, spouse, children. In that order. And friends, you need to be taking sweet, loving care of those three. As much as you possibly can. This is your core. This is where you live your life. This is what matters the very most. And it should. And nurture that core more than anything else in your world. That means at home and out and about with friends. Nurture it.
I know firsthand how disrespectful behavior can hurt your spouse – and bad-mouthing your husband to a friend or a group of women does irreversible damage. It’s not about letting steam out – it’s about painting a picture that sticks with those to whom you have blathered, long after you have moved on from your own grievances. Over time, these people gain an image of your husband that is hard to repair. When all you do is complain or berate – what impression are you leaving behind?
Why can we not be the exception? Why, as women, can we not stand up and be the example? Why is that so hard? In a group of women slinging mud at what their husbands can’t do right – why are we not speaking up and building our spouses up? None of us are perfect, so you don’t have to paint rainbows and butterflies. But surely you can speak good words…kind words…about the person you married?
I am so sick to death of emasculated men in our society. What have we done? The whole, I am woman – hear me roar…blah! Guess what? I can list off 30 things that AB does better than me – and another 30 that I would prefer he do anyway. And I can frequently be heard saying things like “because you’re the guy, that’s why!” Why is it so terrible to have strengths as a woman and strengths as a man? Did God not make us different? Ok – whole nother’ post.
I can’t speak for you – but I married a wonderful man. Someone who works doubly hard to take care of our family, who loves me with a passion I still find hard to understand or accept all the time, who covers our children in love, kisses and affection every chance he can get. A man who cooks amazing food for us to eat, takes care of our yard, our pets, and on and on… He is not perfect, and neither am I. But our commitment to love, honor, and cherish is firm. Non-negotiable.
I spent a good deal of the first four years we were married completely caught up in myself. Selfishness was my Number #1. AB was my #2. Venting every chance I got and letting AB have it with both barrels when things were not up to my standards. This was all before we had children – and my, what a difference a day makes. Overnight, we were thrust into parenting on the other side of the world – and something clicked. We really needed to find a way to partner up. Be a team. And a lot of it? Was me. Most of it, really.
Good things happened and many things changed with the responsibility of being parents. But most of all? I learned to stop running my mouth. Not completely, because I still struggle with the typical nagging behavior I cannot seem to shake off. On the other hand, I am loathe to disparage him – and I am very uncomfortable listening to others do this to their spouses. It serves no purpose. Any issue I have with AB, I should be taking up with him first and foremost. Otherwise I am only hurting him, and myself. Why oh why, would I want to hurt the one person who takes better care of me than any other?
Listen, about disparaging? Not even to your parents or siblings, ladies. Especially not. That whole complaining to others. Here’s what happens: you will have forgiven him and moved on, but your family, who love you and want to protect you, will long be offended and will not have forgotten. Try cleaning up that mess…
Can I tell you something? It’s hard work – but please take care of your spouse. And if you think you already do? Do more. Live for the other person. If you each live for the other, what a happy marriage you will have. Speak kindly of each other. Respect each other. Listen. Love. Be kind. Use kind words. Hug, hold, touch. Be gentle. Have fun. Laugh. Serve one another. Commit to love. It’s a choice, you know? Make the same choice every day.
Every day you wake up, I choose to love you today, no matter what comes.
And for God’s sake…please don’t throw your husband under the bus to fit in. Does that even need to be said? Really?