I’m writing to women (as I usually do), because I am a woman. It’s not that I think these things don’t apply to husbands, I just find it more natural and fitting to speak to my sistas. To the five or so men who read daily, do with this what you will.
When my babies were babies, I’d sit and nurse them while watching television and movies that I’d never let any of my children watch today. Nothing terrible, mind you, just not kid friendly t.v. I justified holding my itty bitties while watching because…
…”They’re not old enough to really pay attention.”
Whether that is true or not is not the topic at hand. It’s just an example of how I viewed my behavior (or the lack of importance with which I viewed it) in front of my very, very young children. Although I was a devoted mother from day one, I sometimes acted [verbally] like my children simply weren’t around.
I’ve never been much of a sailor, so I’m not referring to curse words or profane speech. But just as I saw little need for a towel when exiting the shower, I also failed to cover up my grumbling.
[Grumbling over dirty socks...left by their father]
[Grumbling over trash...left by their father]
[Grumbling over money...spent by their father]
[Grumbling over...oh, you get the idea....
As they grew a little older, especially as they started to speak (this is when we all realize we're in trouble, right??), I became startlingly aware of my destructive speech. I'd rarely expose my frustrations [verbally] to my husband, but speaking them into the air not only gave them power but also revealed what was in my heart. I didn’t want to be that woman, and I really didn’t want to be that mother. So, I committed to stop.
It took a second separation to refine what I truly believe about marriage. For instance, pre-separation, I rarely wore my wedding ring unless I was planning to leave the house. Now, it hasn’t left my finger in the past six months. My wedding vows gained significance, too…especially the for worse and until death parts. And something hit me, round about month four, that I’d never really thought about before. I promised to love and honor Papa Bear til my death. My vows weren’t conditional on whether or not he chose to honor his. My vows extended [gasp] through separation and would have extended, to a large degree (and because we have children), even if we had divorced.
In all honesty, I was a better wife [verbally] to Papa Bear over the past several months than I was before our separation. But it didn’t start out that way. It [the separation] started with me on the kitchen floor throwing a massive fit in front of our [very much paying attention] children. I was tired, abandoned, scared…and I was dead wrong.
I scraped myself off the floor, riddled with the fear of the Lord, and I made my way back to the bathroom. Then and there, I committed to my ever-present God and to my then absent husband that I would absolutely honor Papa Bear until my death, especially in front of our children. And that, I came to find out, didn’t mean simply avoiding the negative words. It meant putting on a smile and confessing…
“Mommy and Daddy love you soooo much.”
“Yes, Daddy is just like Superman.”
Allowing myself to love and remember…
“Oh, look how cute you look today, you look exactly like your Daddy!”
“Mommy was always shy, you get your bravery from your Daddy.”
And never forgetting…
“Everybody draw Daddy a picture so we can give them to him today!”
After some time, speaking good words was no longer just a practice of righteousness. My words, just as they’d done when they were evil, sank deep into my heart and both revealed my soul and defined it.
If you want to beat the devil, don’t love when it’s warranted. Love when it’s absolutely not. You may never receive unconditional love from your husband or any other person, but you are a recipient of it.
Freely you have received; freely give.