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“Ok, fine, let’s go.”

 

After stubbornly and repeatedly asking if we could leave, Tim finally consented.  A few minutes earlier we had been laughing, dancing, and finding our seats.  We never make it to church on time, so today was a pretty big day.  But somewhere in between walking through the doors and getting our butts in the chair Tim had accidentally found a new button, and pushed it hard.

 

We all have buttons, some we know of, and some we are learning about.  And today Tim and I both learned that if we push this button I get extremely uncomfortable, and if you keep pushing the button I get pretty mad.

 

Tim had kept pushing the button.  So we got up and we left church before it began.  Awkward…

 

“Do you want to explain what just happened”

 

I stared out the window.  I had no idea what just happened, how could I explain it to him?  What I did know was that he had said something that made me mad, therefore this person was the enemy and I wanted to run away from him.

 

Unfortunately I’m also in love with this person, so though one half of me wanted to run away, the other wanted to stay put.  Part of me wanted to hurl insults at him and the other wanted to brush the entire stupid incident under the rug so that I didn’t hurt his feelings.

 

We made it home and I went to my safe place: the bed.  Whenever I’m upset I ALWAYS want to curl up in bed, shut my eyes hard, and wait out the hurt.

 

With eyes closed I felt Tim lay down next to me.

 

“Hailey, what is happening?”

 

Here we finally began to talk.  Maybe yell a little, but not scream.  I explained the best I could why I didn’t like what he said.  I told him that saying it was one thing, but then not dropping it was totally different.

“No, you don’t understand, I wanted you to see that you have good ideas Hailey.”

 

Yes.  This is correct.  My husband had been giving me a compliment and it had made me extremely uncomfortable.  When I told him I didn’t like this, he wanted to explain his reasoning, and re-explain, which meant he was still talking about what made me uncomfortable.  This made me mad.

What a horrible wife! You literally have the nicest husband in the world and you are mad at him, what is wrong with you?!

From here our conversation falls into a pattern of “no you don’t understand”‘s and “but I told you that”‘s.

 

Finally God took the reigns and showed me what was happening.

 

“Tim.  what you said upset me.  But that’s ok.  We apparently stumbled onto a new button today and we’re trying to process through that.  It’s ok that what you said upset me, it has nothing to do with you, there’s something I need to figure out.  This situation does not speak to who you are as a husband at all.”

 

I almost couldn’t believe how much my words were making sense as I said them. It hadn’t dawned on me until the moment I spoke this that the only reason Tim was “pushing this button” was because he desperately wanted to be a good husband to me after the weekend I had.

 

It was a stressful weekend with unforeseen bumps.  bumps that Tim could do nothing about, even though he tried, because he’s amazing.  He had been patient, and supportive, never leaving my side, helping me process, filling my glass of water while I graded, vacuuming while I prepped for Vibrant, walking the dogs when I had a migraine.

But not being able to actually “fix” the heaviness in my heart tore him up.  He was desperate to put a smile on my face.  And in his attempt he had done the opposite, and it crushed his genuine heart.

 

How do I know this is true? Because, in true Tim fashion, one tear slid down his cheek.  And he then he told me all the things God had opened my heart to understand.

 

We both cried, and snuggled, and agreed that we were so happy we had fought.  It had been too long since we had fought.

“I like the way we fight.  We aren’t trying to tear the other person down.

Tim was right, but I confessed that I always want to tear him down, that it is a challenge not to hurl insults at him, a challenge I will sometimes lose, and a challenge I win because of the leader I have in our marriage.

 

***

 

I talk to women about their significant others all the time, and Christian women are often voicing a common concern: I don’t know if he can lead me spiritually.

To this I have to ask, what is a spiritual leader?

 

The church puts a lot of pressure on men to be the spiritual leader in the household, and I think men feel that pressure.  But what does it mean to be that leader?

Tim doesn’t tell me to go to church, or to read the bible.  He doesn’t make us do bible studies together.  He isn’t making sure I pray every day.  He himself isn’t always going to church.  He isn’t always reading his bible.  He isn’t always praying.  He plays video games and watches sports.  He plays sports and loves to listen to podcasts about almost anything.  He doesn’t listen to sermons, he listens to Freakanomics, and This American Life, and Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me.  (Tim says I need to add that he listens to Radiolab… I don’t know why).

Tim is a quiet man.  He isn’t the first to respond to a question at bible study (usually I am…) and often he won’t respond at all, unless he really thinks it’s necessary.  He doesn’t hold any leadership positions at work or church.

Tim makes huge blunders sometimes that I have to confront him on.

 

I am the more assertive partner.  I talk a lot.  I’m an extrovert.  I walk in front of him a lot (gasp).

 

I am often aware that by all appearances, it could look like I am leading my husband. 

But Tim is my leader.

 

Tim leads in the best possible way: through his daily actions.

 

Tim is patient with me, he serves me, he makes me feel safe, and he makes me feel loved.  Tim celebrates my successes.  He asks me hard questions when I doubt or walk in depression.  He challenges me to think through my forming opinions.  He isn’t afraid to tell me his opinion on my actions.  He doesn’t say hurtful words to me when he is angry.  He doesn’t leave me when he is angry.  He tells me I’m beautiful, ALL the time.  On my good days and bad days he is equally good to me.  He shows me how to know God is good, always.  He helps me to be open to His plan, to be patient, when he knows I’m trying to hurry things along, to bend them to my desires.  He cleans the apartment for me when I’m busy grading.  He lets me sleep in the car on the way home from work after an exhausting day.  He lets me binge watch my favorite TV shows when we could be watching sports.  He also turns the TV off and tells me its time to do other things.

 

Tim is my leader. through all of these actions and more, he makes me feel safe, which helps me to grow strong.  Since being married to him I am more confident than I have ever been.  I am more willing to take risks than ever before.  I am closer to God now than I was when I was without him.

He makes me want to be patient with him, to serve him, to make him feel safe, and to make him feel loved.

Tim leads by example. I am grateful that God gave me an amazing husband, and I challenge everyone to begin asking, what does it mean to be a leader?

 

Today my leader walked out of church before the service began.  Sometimes, what we see on the outside, is not telling of the lion that lives within.

 

 

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