a few weeks ago, I heard a talk given by a leader in my church, Linda K. Burton, titled, “We’ll Ascend Together.” The talk focused on how men and women can lift each other up and help each other grow, especially in a marriage. I loved what I heard and it reminded me of how I learned to speak kind words about my husband to others.
Several years ago I was at my in-laws home on a Sunday night hanging out. The kids were off playing, my husband and his brothers were in the other room doing their thing and my sister-in-laws and I were sitting around the kitchen table chatting. Somehow we started talking about what they all thought when they found out Tim was bringing a girl (me) home to “meet the family.” We all started joking about how they couldn’t believe Tim had actually convinced someone to date him, let alone come home with him. The conversation continued and although no one was intentionally trying to put him down, we were.
At some point, my mother-in-law walked into the room. She didn’t say anything, but I instantly felt a ton of guilt. This was her son we were laughing about, and I could tell she was disappointed in how we were talking about him. Not only was he her son, but he was my husband, this awesome guy who loves me so much, and I was not respecting him one bit.
I felt horrible.
I didn’t say anything to anyone, and the conversation moved on to something else, but I left that night completely changed. I made a commitment that I never wanted to feel that way again. I promised myself that I would never put my husband down in front of others, that I would only speak kind words about him.
In her talk, Linda Burton said this:
It must be difficult, at best, for covenant men to live in a world that not only demeans their divine roles and responsibilities but also sends false messages about what it means to be a “real man.” One false message is “It’s all about me.” On the other end of the scale is the degrading and mocking message that husbands and fathers are no longer needed.
These words remind me of a video that went viral last year around Mother’s Day. Maybe you saw it. People were interviewed for a crazy job with tons of hours and outrageous things to do. In the end it was revealed that the job was something lots of people do everyday, be a mother.
It was a nice message, but every time it popped up in my social media news feed I thought, “What about fathers?” I’ve never seen a video go viral that was about all that a father contributes to his family. I feel like my husband has a pretty tough job. He has the weight of having to provide for and protect our family, which is no picnic. Motherhood is hard work, but so is fatherhood. I liked Linda Burton’s words because she was giving some credit to men and all that they do. I appreciated that.
The talk pointed out that husbands and wives, are not meant to “compete” with each other but are meant to “complete” each other.
We are here to help, lift, and rejoice with each other as we try to become our very best selves.
As I have practiced trying to only speak kindly about my husband, I have realized that he does help me be my best self. He’s not perfect, I’m not perfect and our marriage is far from perfect, but he does help me make up for a lot of my deficiencies.
I love these great questions given in the talk that we can ask ourselves to evaluate how we are treating our spouse or anyone we love:
- When was the last time I sincerely praised my companion, either alone or in the presence of our children?
- When was the last time I thanked, expressed love for, or earnestly pleaded in faith for him or her in prayer?
- When was the last time I stopped myself from saying something I knew could be hurtful?
- When was the last time I apologized and humbly asked for forgiveness—without adding the words “but if only you had” or “but if only you hadn’t”?
- When was the last time I chose to be happy rather than demanding to be “right”?
I realize that we all face different situations in life. No matter what our circumstances, none of these things are easy to put into practice. I am far from a perfect wife. I have a long way to go, but from my experience I know that striving to do our best in how we treat those we love the most will make a difference in our relationships.
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