"Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it;"
Eph 5:25

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Mostly, We're Just Afraid

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Husbands are an interesting sort.  We want to be respected.  We want to lead.  We want to snap our fingers and have everything happen. It's nice to want things, isn't it? 

We want these things, but many of us are reluctant to use our God-given position to get these things.  Sometimes it's a matter of inexperience, sometimes laziness or complacency.  But mostly we're just afraid.
We act all tough and confident on the outside, but on the inside most of us are just scared, insecure little boys, crying, running and hiding.

What are we scared of?

We're afraid of making bad decisions.

Even though we couldn't wait for the freedom that comes with being on our own, we had it oh so much better when someone else was making the decisions.  Some of us aren't calm under pressure; additionally, the decisions we have made in the past have not worked out well.  So we shrink from decisions, or pass them to the next person in line (our wives).   

Q: Dad, can I have ice cream?  
A: I don't know.  Ask your mother.    

We're afraid of disappointing our wives.

There is nothing that breaks a husband's heart more than the knowledge that he let his wife down.  We want to be the hero who rides in and rescues the princess.  When that doesn't happen we put on a brave face but we weep in private.  Then we try to fix whatever we broke.

We're afraid of showing weakness.

We want to be the big, strong man.  We don't want to appear weak.  Ever.  We want to be the knowledgeable one; we want people to think we know what we're doing when nothing could be further from the truth.  In most areas we are feeling our way through inch by inch. 

We're afraid of our wives' reactions.

This is a biggie.  We don't make decisions or make requests because we're afraid of what you'll think of us.  The prospect of you thinking we're freakish, sinful, or otherwise a horrible person send us jumping through internal hoops and living, as Thoreau wrote, lives of quiet desperation.  We desperately  desire things that will never come to fruition because we feel the need to guard our hearts against you, when you are the one with whom we should be the most free and open.

We're afraid of the final "no."

Q: Will you ever do (x) or (y) for me?
A: No. Never.

In a husband's mind this strikes a devastating blow that is often impossible to overcome, especially when he holds in his heart a desperate desire for something.  When a wife gives the "no, and that's final," it removes all hope for whatever that want/need/desire is, and he is in danger of spiraling into a deep depression.  So, to guard ourselves against such an answer, we hesitate to make requests or open a difficult discussion (argument?) yet again.  By and large we would much rather never bring it up again and live desperate lives, finding solace in other things.

Is this true of every husband?  Certainly not, but most of it is true for me and I suspect for many, many other husbands.  We aren't horrible monsters.  We aren't stupid, insensitive, depraved, or unwise. 

Mostly, we're just afraid.

10 comments:

  1. Dear Thomas
    I want to thank you for this honest and very brave post! I want to show my husband your post for I can see a few things you mentioned that he struggles with as well. From a woman's point of view, I just want to tell you that the biggest gift a father and husband can give his family is just to love them well with your whole heart; honestly, boots and all!
    Thanks again for a great post.
    Mia

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    1. Thank you for your comment. I believe every husband has at least one of these issues floating around inside him. It is my prayer that husbands will recognize themselves in these examples and work their way through the fear factor.

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  2. Your insight makes sense! I think I shall ask my husband, "If you knew I would still think highly of you, no matter what you asked of me, what would you ask of me?"

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    1. That's a great question to ask. I'm not sure I'd be brave enough to answer it.

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  3. Lots to consider here, thanks Thomas!!

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  4. I would find it much easier to admire and respect my husband if he ever admitted to ANY fear or weakness. It's OKAY to be afraid; as humans we have weaknesses. Pretending everything is fine when, obviously, it is not fine not only annoys me, it has caused great damage to our marriage. Pretending, to avoid a possible conflict, is never helpful. Plus, it says to me that it's not okay for me to be transparent, fearful or weak, that he not only isn't okay with this in himself, he's not okay with it in me, either (or with me addressing any of this). Thus, we lead painful, surface lives. It's human to be afraid but, it's not okay to be afraid and never face your fears. Fear is something we all have in some area of our lives (or many areas) but we are called to persevere and grow to be like Christ, letting the Holy Spirit empower us to change. We are called to live in the supernatural- we do our part and God does the rest. I don't want to be at the end of my life and see how much of God's blessing I missed because I was afraid to allow the Spirit to help me look deeply inward at what I was lacking and the lies I am believing. We need to be honest, first of all with God and with ourselves. After all, He already knows; to avoid looking at ourselves leaves us in self-deception.
    I appreciate your blog and your honesty.

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