honoring my husband in our egalitarian marriage
Last week I had the opportunity to help my husband film a video for work about how couples honor each other. It was fun to spend time together working on a creative project. We were able to interview several couples in different stages of life on how they honor each other. My favorite couple was this adorable husband and wife who have been married for 56 years. They had so much wisdom and real-life experience. They didn't have stock answers or cheesy sentiments. You could tell just by being in their presence that they have lived and grown and have truly become one flesh. It was great to see their perspective after so many years of marriage.
I'm not trying to hate on newlywed couples, but sometimes their perspective on marriage is just so limited...and naive. We've only been married (almost) seven years but we've lived through some things. Several moves across the country, two babies, schooling, being broke (like 25 cents in the bank broke), and so much more. We're no longer the same wide-eyed 22 year olds that thought marriage would be awesome and fun and super exciting! And it is those things, sometimes...but it's a lot of other things too: compromise, mundane chores, learning to work as a team, choosing battles.
I started thinking about how I honor Alex. Sometimes I feel like the worst wife ever. I can be pretty impatient and selfish and controlling. And my expectations are sometimes too high. I've had to learn over the years that sometimes I need to just keep my mouth shut and hand over the reins to my husband. Being in the church world I've also struggled with this view that I should be sweet and quiet and that I shouldn't worry my pretty little head about decision-making. I should let my husband lead and I should just submit.
Well, you know what? That just doesn't work for us. I think if Alex had to make all the decisions for our family he would have a nervous breakdown. And so would I. Alex has a lot of strengths and I've learned what they are over the years. I also have a lot of strengths and Alex also recognizes them. Our marriage is very egalitarian and we like it that way. I think for a while we both felt the pressure to conform to a complementarian marriage...because it was more "Christian," but we realized that with our God-given personality types it just wasn't going to work for us.
I have to say that since we consciously started changing our views on what a "Christian" marriage looks like our relationship has really improved. I don't feel the pressure to do all the "womanly" things and he doesn't feel the pressure to "be the man." We can just be who we are regardless of our gender. We can share roles and responsibilities fluidly.
So how do I honor my husband? This is something that's been on my mind lately. I try to honor him by showing him respect no matter what. When he does a great job and when he makes mistakes. He's my husband and he deserves my respect. I try to honor him by listening to his ideas without mocking him. I'm kind of a cynic and sarcastic remarks come easily to me. I'm trying to curb those comments as much as possible. I try to honor him by building up his self-esteem. Too often these days wives are ranting about their idiot husbands. It hurts my heart. I want my husband to know that I think he's smart and handsome and funny and that I love him. So I try to remember to tell him those things every single day. I try to honor my husband by speaking highly of him to our kids. I want our kids to love and respect their father, so I don't want to be that mom that says, "I can't believe your dad did this!" in front of them. If I'm irritated with him they don't need to hear me criticizing him harshly. I try to honor him by remembering his strengths and encouraging them. I also try to honor him by remembering his weaknesses and encouraging him to improve in those areas. I try to honor him by helping him reach his full potential.
As I said before, it's not like we've been married very long, but we have learned a lot about marriage in the short time we have been together. We've also learned a lot about each other. By God's grace we have built up our marriage. We still have a ways to go. I mean, last night we had the dumbest argument over ice cubes. Yeah, I know. But the nice thing about where we are now is that we were able to wake up this morning and laugh about our dumb argument, rather than continue to hold a grudge. We're learning to honor and love each other.
Wives, how do you honor your husbands? Husbands, how do you honor your wives?