Better to live on a corner of the roof
than share a house with a quarrelsome wife.
– from the book of Proverbs
In marriage, it becomes a necessity at times to address things that are happening that you are uncomfortable with, or things that just make you downright crazy. I’m guessing – because this hasn’t happened to me yet. I still feel like Rob is as close to a perfect man as I have ever known and I’m not kidding. To be sure, there have been times when he didn’t do exactly what I would have done, or said something in the moment that probably wasn’t the best thing to say – not to me (yet) but in situations where I am present, but I am not really one to harp on it or be bitter about most things. The way I see it, there is only so much space in my soul for anger, outrage, and fury that it’s already taken up by things that actually need those reactions to deal with them. My husband is not one of those things by a long shot and never will be no matter what he does or doesn’t do.
But quite frankly, I’m not like most women. (You can read that as prideful or an attack on women, but please keep reading to see my heart in this.) At least many of the women I know have long lists of things their husbands do that make them crazy. And for that matter, lists for each of their kids that also make them crazy. In short, you have a lot of crazy women out there with lots of mental energy spent on keeping lists. And it shows. Statistics show it. Watching the evening news shows it. Women are on the edge. Women freak out. Women feel entitled to some idealistic life like they are the lead female in a Jane Austen novel and that all the men around them are nincompoops who just need a good woman to smack them into line. I’m tired of this. I’m tired of our society that collectively throws the book at men and makes them feel inferior. Just like I was tired of the society that makes women feel inferior. There is no winner in the game of who is the better gender.
And so, we come to the part where I wonder out loud what it takes for wives to be content with what they have. Now, before you go to the extreme cases – which, not ironically, quarrelsome people tend to do – like men who beat their wives or emotionally abuse them, let’s just take an average marriage in which many of us find ourselves. You might read a Huffpost blog that gives you a list (because we really do love us some lists) of the things that you need to let go when it comes to your husband. He’s not a mind reader. You can’t give him the silent treatment and expect him to be all Sherlock Holmes and figure out what you’re not saying to him. He isn’t going to necessarily understand your wants and needs, nor will he successfully guess at them nevermind navigate around them.
But the real answers to finding ourselves as – let’s face it – enemies with our husbands lies deep within US, not him, not his faults and not his lack of overall grasp of the female mystique. Our war was started long before we even said I do.
In many ways, our tendency for quarrels with our spouses is similar to the parable of the unforgiving servant. You can read the text in Matthew 18. The basic summary is that a servant is forgiven all his outstanding debts to the king, but then goes out to all the people who owe him money and demands payment on the spot. I think we lose track of our own account and think that we are just so perfect and that everything should revolve around us. Or if you’re not a total narcissist, maybe you are so wounded and self-deprecating that you’ve resorted to projecting onto your spouse all the failures that you don’t want to deal with in yourself, or have ceased to even admit in yourself any more. Maybe your heart has been so deceived and you spin on this axis of entitlement and failed expectations, that any good parts of your marriage ricochet off of you like you have a forcefield that only allows negative energies to penetrate and increase the size of the spinning axis you’ve become. Every little disturbance creates an explosion and there’s no way this scenario ends in anything but personal destruction for you, for your spouse, for your kids, friends, family, and anyone who happens to be in your path. (This concludes the almost scientific sounding portion of my blog.)
Stop spinning. Stop absorbing the negativity. How do you do it? How do you get to a place where you see yourself as forgiven of all debts AND see your spouse as forgiven and complete in Jesus? Is it possible to not just tolerate and coexist, but to be intertwined, functioning as one body, one entity, whole and glorious together?
If you have a roof you can get up on, I encourage you to do so. I mean it. Plan to take your husband up on the roof (make sure your kids don’t see how you do this if it isn’t exactly safe) and take the time to apologize for your quarrelsome attitudes toward him. Don’t make excuses. Resist the temptation to continue to berate him for how he has failed you. Don’t bring up past grievances or current deep wounds. Tell him how you read this blog and that you saw your need to repent – to God for abusing His favor and forgiveness, and to him, your husband, your ally, your soul, your oneness. Tell him how you want to stop spinning. Tell him that he can pray for you to stop spinning and that together you can create a force to be reckoned with, but apart, you will only be headed for destruction and chaos. Tell him that you chose him once upon a time, and that you are choosing him again today and every day to come. Tell him that you don’t want to drive him to live on the roof alone any more, that if being in the house makes you quarrelsome, you will live with him up on the roof for all your days.
And then maybe play him this song and make out. But don’t fall off the roof and sue me.