A few days ago, before meeting for our couples’ group, I bought two pieces of bread: one with pork floss, the other… with pork floss. (Floss is love. But not the point.) When I got to the second floor, my wife was aghast.
“You can’t eat that.”
“You’re watching your weight. It’s not good for you. You’re not eating it.”
Grumbling to myself, I set the two pieces of bread aside. (They were promptly eaten, by the way, by another couple in our group.) Inside, I knew she was right. She usually is. And when she isn’t, sometimes, she makes this cute aegyo face where I can’t stay mad at her… but that’s another story.
In a world where media is constantly bombarding us to fulfill our innermost desires and cravings, blessed is the married man whose wife cares so deeply and intimately for him that she will speak up even when it is difficult, to remind him of what is truly important in life. And it isn’t pork floss bread.
You know how people say that wives sometimes know more about their husbands than husbands know about themselves? I think it’s true. Scary true. If you subscribe to the Johari window concept, which is a technique used to help people better understand their relationship with self and others, wives are experts at Window 2, the blind spot. They know things about you that you don’t know about yourself. And it is that reason–among many other reasons–that husbands should appreciate their wives. Because she could use it against you, but she doesn’t.
Our wives can teach us so much about ourselves. Among them are the following things:
1. They can teach us the value of communication and keeping in touch with our emotions. As men, we’re often raised to keep our emotions in check; we believe that men who are “emotional” are weaker, more impulsive, and more subject to failure. Well, several studies have shown that men who don’t suppress their emotions may, in fact, be strong. In the context of marriage, wives can help us learn to express our emotions. (Whether these are expressed in healthy ways, however, is always something to keep in check. Wives aren’t perfect, and if husbands express their emotions in self- or co-destructive ways, it would be wise to seek professional help.)
Also, we know it doesn’t hurt to communicate, and, when done in an unselfish way, it also doesn’t hurt to share. In the course of marriage, husbands can learn how to communicate more effectively with their wives.
2. They can teach us the value of caring for our household. Marriage is a two-way street. In a world where many wives earn more than their husbands, and men’s roles in the household have expanded to be more than just breadwinners, wives teach us why it’s important to come home on time, participate in the goings-on of the household, play an active role in the raising of the children, and set the direction for the family.
In many ways, my wife and I were polar opposites. My wife is an organized, task-oriented go-getter, while I’m a creative free spirit content with letting the wind take me wherever it could carry me. (Which wasn’t very far.) My wife, however, is my biggest champion. She uses her skills–and beauty, but that’s a different story–to help me lead my household in ways that cater to our strengths. Thanks to my wife, I understand my responsibility in leading this family and household, and actively do so.
Husbands and wives are a team, and marriage is a team sport. If you don’t work and play together towards your goal, you both lose.
3. They can teach us the value of living for something greater than ourselves. To be honest, I think many men, in their goal-oriented, task-filled workday, prioritize things differently than women. (I know I do. Or did.) Men work towards career success, and are so laser-focused on that goal that they neglect other areas of their lives to make it happen. But, as they say, no one ever lies on their deathbed thinking they should have spent more time at the office.
John Eldredge says men need three things: a battle to fight, a beauty to rescue and an adventure to live. I love that. (Although I initially hated Wild at Heart.) Husbands have the beauty by their side, and they live that adventure together. In the Disney film Up, protagonist Carl is reminded by his wife, Ellie–in a message beyond the grave, ooh, spooky!–that even though their life seemed otherwise ordinary, it was still an adventure, and they lived that adventurous life together.
Wives help draw us out of our Rat Race mentality and remind us of the bigger things at the end of the day. The worship and honor of God. The caring and appreciation of our spouses. The intentional casting of vision into the next generation. The building of legacy.
As I type this, my wife is sleeping beside me. I often wait until the last possible moment to wake her up, because I know how tired she is from the previous day. She takes care of two kids–three, if you include me–but I know that if I don’t, we’ll be late and it could all snowball into a horrific day. She’ll handle it with grace, and I’ll handle it with humor. What an adventure we live.
I know that about us because she taught me that.