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

Thursday, October 24, 2013

I'm A Failure.

By today's worldly standards I am a failure as a man.  According to current societal norms a man must:

1. know how to use tools and be good at fixing things,
2. take pride in a perfectly manicured lawn and garden,
3. own a large home with at least an acre of land, preferably more,
4. drive a large truck,
5. hunt and fish, and
6. be well versed in all sports.
Image courtesy of freedigitalphotos.net

There are other requirements, but I think you get the picture.  There seems to be an idea in today's culture that a "real" man does all of the above, and if he falls short in any of these areas he is deemed "less than" by many whose opinions shouldn't count but do.Thou shalt be good with tools.

Being a husband does not automatically make you a whiz at fixing stuff.  Many, many times even with complete instructions we can make a mess of the simplest project if we don't have a natural "fix-it" gene.
Things we are capable of doing might not meet the high standards of others.  (ie. I can build a table, but it won't be considered fine furniture.)

Likewise, there is no biblical requirement that I can find which defines the size and type of house and property a husband is required to own.  In my experience, owning a larger property would require more maintenance thereby decreasing the amount of time and resources available for more important things like, say, God, my marriage and my family.

That is why I reject this worldly view of manliness.  I wasn't blessed with athletic ability; instead I was blessed with arthritis that flares up at the wrong times.  I don't do well in humid temperatures or in cold seasons.  I am a cook and a bargain shopper.  I fix what I can and I use my contact list to find qualified people to do the rest.  I do what I can with the resources God provides, and the other things are placed on a waiting list.

What I do will not always meet or exceed high standards according to the world, but when I do it out of love for my wife and family and to the glory of God, I am being the man God intends for me to be.Can I let laziness get the better of me?  Of course.  There are jobs that I put off because of the energy it takes to complete them, or because I selfishly don't feel like doing them.  And let's not forget the "ewww" factor.

I'm making these points not to justify my behavior or lifestyle, but to make it clear that the world view that has been instilled in so many people is misguided.  I want to assure husbands of all kinds that they are leading well as long as they themselves are led by God through the Holy Spirit.

So, if you are a husband who, like me, isn't part of the mainstream tough guy, testosterone overdose, beer-guzzling, 4X4, football playing (I'd need crutches for sure), wood cutting, gator hunting "manhood club," there is good news.

The Bible is God's perfect Word for our lives.  In it He gives us our marching orders and nowhere within it did He say that husbands must be cast from a certain mold to lead their families.  The Bible is filled with all kinds of husband.  Some are strong, some quiet, some artistic.  Some tend sheep, and some don't.  Some build great cities, and some live in very humble conditions.  Some lead great nations, and some lead their families, often in directions they don't wish to go.

All in all, I'd have to say the worldly view is wrong.  All that matters is that you first and foremost follow the Lord's leading.  Submit to Him and lead your wife accordingly.  Do your best and leave the rest to Him.


Monday, October 14, 2013

The Introvert Husband

Are you an introvert or an extravert?

I'm an introvert, but because I have a career that requires me to speak and perform in front of large crowds I am force to be extroverted for my job.  It's strange, I know, but we all do uncomfortable things when necessary, don't we?

Being introverted and being a husband don't easily go hand in hand, especially when the husband is called upon to be the head and leader of the household. There are a few unique issues that have to be overcome when a husband is introverted.

1. It's difficult for us to assert our opinions.  When we express our opinions, you can be certain there was a fierce internal battles before we ever decided to say anything.  Answering questions is even harder because of the possible reaction of our (self) perceived stupid answers.  The possibility of being ridiculed for the way we think is enough to keep our mouths shut.

2. We only open up to a few people over a lifetime.  There are so few people whom we consider "safe" that hardly anyone really "knows" us.  We have one, maybe two friends.  That's all.  An introverted husband may not even count his own wife as a member of his inner circle.

3. We take the word "no" very personally.  It takes a great deal of inner strength to ask for something, so when the answer is "no," it is difficult to gather the courage to ask for anything else.

4. We need down time.  Alone.  We get lost in the solitude of a hobby or an activity - television, reading, computer games.  How we choose to relax is important to us.  We need it to be okay to do what is necessary to decompress.

You might ask why I'm sharing this?

As a husband who fits the description above, I wanted to give some insight into the mind of a classic introvert.  Also, I wanted to explain a few things concerning how such a person might lead a marriage and family and how a wife might help him.

While it's difficult for me to assert opinions and make demands, I do make it a priority to lead in my own quiet way and not in a demanding way.  I have my own particular style of leadership which doesn't fit the typical mold, and I depend on my wife to respect and submit to me as the head of our household and on my children to obey me as their father.  When they don't I sometimes retreat into myself and fail to exercise my position as husband and father.

I understand that I can't force someone to respect me.  That is why I depend so heavily on them to do what is right as I lead us according to what God has placed on my heart. Under the circumstances it would be easy for my wife to usurp my authority and lead the family in my place.  I trust her more and find myself more willing to open myself to her when she submits to my leadership and doesn't try to take it from me. 

Saturday, October 12, 2013

My "AHA" Moment

I was a typical husband in many ways.  I wanted my wife to be happy and I wanted our children to be pleasant, obedient, and well adjusted.  I thought I was doing everything right.  I was a caring, generous person who made sacrifices for my wife so she would be happy.  I hardly ever said "no" to her, and I almost never asked anything of her.  Life was good.

Then I had a life altering "a-ha" moment one day on my drive home.  I was thinking and praying for direction.  I wanted to know where my marriage was going and where God wanted me to lead us.

I kept coming back to the same answer.  Intimacy.

God wants my wife and me to experience intimacy.  He wants us to know each other completely, inside and out.  He doesn't want us to hold anything back from one another.  He wants us to enjoy the pleasure and safety of being ourselves without the fear of feeling rejected or belittled.  He wants us to be naked without shame literally and otherwise.  I should be able to share everything with my wife and not think twice about it.

Up to that point I had not been very open with my wife.  I thought I was living with her in an understanding way (1 Peter 3:7), but what I didn't realize was that my lack of leadership had removed the shield of protection from our relationship.  I thought that I was supposed to ignore my needs and desires in order to do what was necessary to make her happy at all costs.  I believed that my role as a husband was to please my wife and nothing else.

What I didn't realize was that by ignoring so many of my own needs I was endangering my marriage.  I was opening myself up to temptation by not mentioning some of the things that were very important to me.

I should have conveyed my vision for our marriage and established myself as the head of our home in the very beginning.  I should have insisted of certain things that would ensure that we were heading down the path of true marital intimacy, real oneness (not just sex). I should have figured out that by owning the headship in our relationship and leading my wife through the Holy Spirit I would be insulating us from harm by removing much of the temptation most husbands experience.

I needed to change.  I needed to handle things differently.  I had to learn to think and act in a genuine manner, not going along to get along, especially when it interfered with the vision and direction God gave me for our marriage.

That's when I began to slowly and gently lead our family in a different direction.  I began to assert my needs and wants as important items to help us experience the one-flesh relationship God wants for us.

It's a long, slow process.  We are making progress.  Granted, there are some areas in which we will struggle more than others, and there are a few things that I let slide for so long that I might not regain those areas of leadership.  These are the things Satan will use to tempt me; because I did not insist on these thing when we were establishing our marriage in the beginning, I must be vigilant to resist these specific temptations, likely for the rest of my life on Earth.

I pray that husbands everywhere understand that to live with their wives means not only pleasing them, but also protecting their marriages from harm.  Sometimes this means hubbies need to be assertive when it comes to things they need in order to keep them from temptation and ultimately protect their marriages.

Be strong, my brothers!

Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good. (Romans 12:21) 

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Top Ten

Publishing a weekly top ten list is a great way to make increase the awareness of the resources available to married couples who are looking to improve their marriages. Over these past few years I've developed a long list of bloggers who regularly publish excellent articles for husbands and wives who need help.

However, reading the blogs and compiling the Top Ten list every week is a time consuming proposition that takes time away from my wife, my children, and my own blogging.

So, I'm going to change things up a bit on Genuine Husband. Starting today I will publish the Marriage Blog Top Ten list on the first Saturday of each month.

Some weeks my picks will be more husband-oriented and sometimes more for wives. Sometimes it will cover topics many churches are afraid to talk about. Always it will be a collection of posts from solid, Bible-based marriage blogs covering topics that are important in God's holy covenant of marriage.

So, without further ado, here are this month's top ten (numbered only for convenience.) Happy reading!

1. The Warrior Wives
All Puffed Up On Marital Knowledge - "Sometimes it is possible to get puffed up on knowledge without ever putting it into practice."

2. The Struggles of an Ephesians 5:24 Woman
The Five Senses of Being His Wife: Sight - This blogger speaks difficult truth to wives.  I'm looking forward to the rest of the series.

3. The Forgiven Wife
Back On Track - Regaining ground about body image issues.

4. Pearl's Oysterbed
Complacency Can Be Dangerous - <-- But grace and mercy is wonderful.

5. Sex Within Marriage 
You Don't Have Time for Sex? - then you're too busy!

6. Rock His World
How To Initiate Sex Even If You're Shy - Great tips for the shy gal!

7. Project Happily Ever After
What Is Marriage Like? - Answer the question and you could win $50.

8. Mystery 32
Pucker Up! - A challenge for all of us.

9. One Flesh Marriage 
Religion is Hurting Your Marriage - A great review and commentary of the Jefferson Bethke's book Jesus > Religion.

10. The Generous Husband
A Letter to My Newlywed Self: Age 24 - What advice would you give yourself if you could?

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Making Godly Decisions For Your Marriage: 4 Steps

Photo courtesy of freedigitalphotos.net
Decisions, decisions ....

Husbands make a lot of decisions every day.  Some are quite easy. Should I get the french vanilla cappuccino or the mocha latte? Others are more difficult. Should we buy the house or stay in the apartment? 

If there's one thing I've learned about making decisions as a husband it's that I am often the least popular guy in the room.  Sometimes my decisions don't earn me the applause of my wife and family.  However, as the head of the family I must lead my family and care for them even if they (and I) don't like it.  

What should a husband do when faced with a difficult decision?

1. Pray

Always the first step, prayer will help clear up any indecision.  God will let you know which path to take if you listen and allow the Holy Spirit to nudge you in the right direction. Listen and follow that still, small voice.

Whatever you ask in my name, this I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask me anything in my name, I will do it (John 14:13-14)

2. Study

There are many resources out there to help you find the answer to virtually any question.  If you need to learn more before saying yea or nay, by all means research and learn about the pros and cons.  Ask people, go to the library, Google it.  Do the necessary background work to make an informed decision. 

Let the wise hear and increase in learning, and the one who understands obtain guidance, (Proverbs 1:5)

3. Decide

When you have asked God for guidance and you have learned the facts, make your decision and let no one dissuade you from it if you are sure it Has the Lord's blessing.

Let your "Yes" be your yes and your "No," no, or you will be condemned (James 5:12)

4. Act

No decision will be of any use unless you put it to work in your life.  If you make a decision to move to a different town but stay in your house, your decision will mean nothing. Make sure you act on your choice and do so with the confidence that you have done your homework and prayed.

And every work that he undertook in the service of the house of God and in accordance with the law and the commandments, seeking his god, he did with all his heart, and prospered (2 Chronicles 31:21)
Husbands, it won't always be easy. You won't always be popular.  But if you lead your household in prayerful submission to God, your paths will be straight and your decisions will be blessed.