I saw a discussion on Facebook about marriage. One woman was asking for advice because her husband has the bad habit of playing video games all night, beginning as soon as he walks in the door from work. She was upset because he doesn’t spend time with her or their children, and they never go to bed together. She was lonely. And, she wanted to know what she should do about it.
It didn’t surprise me that someone asked about this issue. What did surprise me is how many women responded who were in the same situation. And, what bothered me even more was the advice they were dishing out.
“Take the video games away from him except on weekends,” one said. “If that doesn’t work, smash the games.”
“Make a routine,” another advised. “Every day is something different after work, and then on Sundays, after some family time, allow him to play.”
It didn’t sound like a discussion about a husband and wife, but a mother asking for advice for dealing with her naughty child.
I could write a whole post about men who are addicted to gaming and other pursuits that cause them to shirk their commitments to their families. I could write an entire book about how clueless some men are when it comes to being a responsible father and husband. But, this post is to the wives.
Stop treating your husband like he’s eight years old.
I have an eight year old son. I am constantly trying to teach him how to be. I tell him to chew with his mouth closed. I ask him if he used soap when he washed his hands. I limit his screen time and I dole out punishments and I try each day to teach him how to be a civilized human being. More than that, I try to teach him how to be a Christian. How to speak with kindness. How to sort his laundry and put away his socks. How to wash his hair and why we shouldn’t talk about poop in public.
It’s appropriate and good for me to do those things because it’s my job. I have been appointed by God to be Sawyer’s mother, and I take the responsibility seriously. I am in a position to teach him how to be a productive member of society, how to be likeable and capable and responsible.
But, my job as a wife is completely different. I know it’s hard not to nag. It’s hard not to point out all of the ways that our husbands could do better, be more, accomplish this or take care of that. It’s hard not to nitpick and mother them. It’s hard for me. Especially when I’m already in Mama Mode all the time with the three kids. If I’m not careful, I’ll find myself speaking to Chad the way I would one of the children. And, bless him, he usually overlooks it. But, I’m wrong if I ever consider it my duty to make Chad obey my wishes as if he is a little boy. I’m wrong if I speak about him to others like he’s an incorrigible child who needs to be grounded.
If we take one step back, we’ll see, dear wives, that what’s at the heart of mothering our husbands is pride and arrogance. We think we know what is best, and we want to lay down the law as if our husbands have underdeveloped brains or no common sense. It’s not our job to keep our husbands in line. And, truth be told, nagging and nitpicking and punishing and withholding good things from our husbands doesn’t work. It just breeds resentment and widens the divide between us.
I know that many of you who are reading this are thinking that you wouldn’t treat your husband like a child if he didn’t act like one. I get that. I really do. But, as long as we are slipping into the role of being his mother instead of his wife, we are only perpetuating the cycle.
All those Facebook memes have got it wrong. You aren’t the adult trying to deal with a stubborn child. You are a full-grown, feeling, thinking woman in a partnership with a full-grown, feeling, thinking man. It doesn’t really matter if we feel like our husbands behave in childish ways. If we approach them like they’re men, if we hold them to the high standards of manhood, especially godly manhood, then we are much more likely to get a manly response instead of a childish one.
And, in return, I hope that our husbands will hold us to the high standards of godly womanhood. Because Christian marriage works best when we are acting as iron sharpening iron, instead of being so focused on our own wants and needs and desires that we cut each other off before we can make each other better.
So, pray for your husband. Let God change him. Let God change you. And, don’t settle for the unsatisfying job of trying to be a second mother to your man. You will wind up feeling frustrated and rejected every time. Let God work in your husband’s life, and be a faithful partner and friend, showing him that you respect him as a man rather than sending the message that he is nothing more than an incompetent child in your eyes.