boy-disappointed
Being a Husband,  Being a Leader

Here’s the Biggest Problem in Our Marriages

Breakfast

Sometimes my wife has time to make me breakfast. But not every morning. Today, she made breakfast – but for herself and not me. How selfish of her, I thought.

The more I thought about it, the more irritated I became. And it seemed justified, too. Would it have taken her any extra time to just make a little more of what she was making so there would be enough for me? Why didn’t she even ask?

But she couldn’t have asked, and I have no idea what the circumstances were because I was still asleep.

She gets up before 4:00 AM every day. Once awake, she does her quiet time, gets ready for her 6:00 job, and gets our daughter ready.

All this while I snooze away. I justify that, too. She gets up at 4:00 AM, two hours before her work day starts, and gets the baby ready. I get up at 5:00 AM, two hours before mine begins, and I take the baby to the sitter. It’s all even, right?

I mean, it’s not that I don’t want to get up earlier, I just have this inability to get up that early. This is what I tell myself (I set my alarm for 4:30 with the best of intentions, but inevitably go back to sleep. I’m working on it).

Keeping score

See how I’m “keeping score”? In my mind, if we both do an even amount of work, it’s fine.

Maggie has been really into “Fixer Upper” lately (who hasn’t been, am I right). So when she has a few spare minutes, she’ll spend some of them relaxing and watching it on her iPad. Other times, she listens to it while cooking or doing laundry.

On rare occasions, she sits down and watches it while I am washing the dishes. And I’ve noticed when this happens that some resentment will begin to build in my mind. Why is she relaxing while I am over here doing chores after working all day? She hasn’t even offered to help!

But guess what, husbands and dads.

It’s not 50/50

If you ever find yourself thinking about this situation, the truth of the matter is that the work that gets done around the house is not a 50/50 split. It probably isn’t even a contest. When I think about who does the most day-over-day, week-over-week, month-over-month – I am perfectly aware that my wife does much more around the house than me.

Loving and serving like Jesus

Even though in the moment I am working and she is resting, it isn’t even close. But let’s say it wasn’t that way and my wife literally sat around all day doing nothing. Or maybe she isn’t able to do much of the housework due to illness (my wife still probably does more of the work than me even when she is sick, for the record).

Another news flash: it’s not even about who does the most work. If we are focused on ensuring that the work part of it is split evenly, we’re not even playing the right game. It’s as if we were in the parking lot of Game 7 of the World Series. We have tickets but we’re too busy standing around arguing about whose jersey is nicer to go in and watch the game.

In our marriages, the big picture we are missing is that we are called to serve our wives and love them as Jesus loved His church. And doesn’t he know a thing or two about serving people who don’t deserve it, or can’t help themselves? When our love toward our wives and kids is not condition-based, we become living examples of that same love.

I deserve respect… Right?

The biggest problem in most marriages is that one person does most or all of the work while the other is disrespectful and selfish, right?

If that’s what you’re thinking, you might be right. But the guilty party probably isn’t who you think it is.

When it comes down to it, I start to be resentful, irritated, and grumpy because I feel disrespected by my wife or I feel that something’s “not fair.” This is what happened with this morning’s breakfast thing in my house.

It’s the same behavior my brother and I exhibited toward each other when we were seven years old:

Mom, he’s on my side of the seat!

Mom, he isn’t doing his chores!

Mom, why didn’t he get in trouble? He did the same thing!

Mom, why didn’t I get a toy and he did?

Mom!

Mom!

Mom!

Can you believe an adult would act this way? Can you believe that adult might be looking at this screen right now?

Does an adult husband and dad who thinks this way toward the one person he loves more than anyone deserve her respect?

Becoming the leaders we’re called to be

In reality, most of our wives probably do respect us. I know mine does, even though I often don’t deserve it. If I did deserve it, I’d choose to be doing things like praying with and for my family more often. I would choose lead the way in seeking our family’s calling. I would choose to bring my family to the Word, every day.

I would choose to constantly choose seek out ways to serve my wife, even when I am dead tired or stressed out. I would choose to come home from work refreshed, restored, and ready to give her and my daughter all of my full attention.

The good news is that it’s possible. We must pray without ceasing for God to change our hearts and make us into the men he wants us to be, and that our families need us to be. We must devote ourselves to learning God’s word so we can teach it to our families.

We must stop thinking and reasoning like a child, and choose to let God conform us, set the example, and raise the bar when it comes to being a father and a husband.

I'm a 32-year old living in Gilbert, Arizona (that's in the Phoenix metro). I love Jesus, my wife, and my daughter and am doing my best to choose the three of them instead of myself - one choice at a time. I enjoy learning about Jesus, writing, photography, coffee, donuts, and good conversation. My personal website where I share my photography and design projects is joshsmithaz.com.

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