A Reader Writes:
Can you offer any insights on how hard it is to manage kids and husband (essentially another kid)? I would appreciate your insight.
— A great fan struggling with her husband
Since I do not know the details of what is going on in your marriage, I can’t speak about specifics, but perhaps that is just as well. I think that maybe the most valuable thing I can offer you, or any woman who struggles with her husband, is a bit of generalized advice anyway. And here it is:
Take care of him.
It sounds simplistic and maybe even a little bit silly, but I really do think the most important thing any woman can do for the health of her marriage, her family, and ultimately herself is to take care of her husband.
Taking care of him means first of all not demeaning him. You refer to your husband as essentially another kid, but is that really fair? Do your kids work jobs and pay the bills? Do your kids change the oil in your car and keep your health insurance premiums paid? Did your kids vow before God to love you for richer or for poorer, in sickness and in health, for better or for worse, till death do you part?
I know that it’s socially acceptable to mock men and demean dads. In popular commercials and sitcoms, the father character is more often than not a complete buffoon and the women are depicted as their all-knowing, always-right moral superiors. Real marriages, however, are made up of two flawed human beings trying (and sometimes failing) to love and serve one another.
Did I say serve?
Why yes I did. I’ve said this before and gotten a bit of flak for it, but why should it be controversial for me to suggest that wives should take care of their husbands? How did we women become so twisted in our thinking that many of us now consider the very idea of doing nice things for someone we have taken a vow to love forever as somehow absurd? How is it demeaning or beneath us to take care of someone we profess to love?
Take care of him. You know him better than anyone else and you know the things that matter most to him. No matter what else is going on in your marriage (exceptions made of course for abusive situations or mental illness) you cannot help but improve your marriage by taking care of your husband. Yes, it can be hard. That’s why we need the graces of a sacrament to do these simple yet heroic things: Make his favorite foods, make sure his laundry is caught up, ask him about his work, notice and thank him for all his contributions, make an effort to spend time alone with him on a regular basis … and I guarantee that you both will benefit from your efforts.
He is not a monster, this man that you married. He is a man, with human needs and human weaknesses who can’t help but respond positively and look for ways to be your hero when he sees and feels your heroic, heart-felt love and devotion. Take care of him.