This morning, after posting what I did for Monday, I read an article entitled “For some people, optimistic thoughts can do more harm than good“. The bottom line is that a cleaver study showed that giving someone a positive message that was somewhat more positive than they saw themselves helped them feel better about themselves, but giving them a positive message that significantly differed from their self-image was actually harmful to how they felt about themselves.
So, telling her she is very friendly, when she is not very friendly, will very likely make her feel even less friendly than she already feels. Same with what you say about how she looks, her intelligence, her ability as a mother, and so on. What’s more, if she decides you are lying to her, then everything you say becomes suspect.
So it seems my comment that you can “nudge her in the right direction” was spot on – we need to nudge, not shove. Figure out how she wrongly sees herself, and gently nudge her from that towards the truth.
I had one of you ask “What should I do when she doesn’t think she is worth it?”
This is all too common in a world where women are devalued, or valued only for how they look or what they “put out”. If your wife really feels she’s “worth it”, she’s in the minority.
To see herself as having value your wife will need to see herself differently. You can’t force the change, but you can nudge her in the right direction by what you say and do. Telling her she’s important, beautiful, valuable, and so on is good. Do it over, and over and over. She’s heard the opposite many, many times, and you’ll need to speak the truth many times to outweigh all those lies. More important than your words are your actions; your actions must show her your words are the truth. Show her she’s valuable by asking, and listening to, her advice. Show her you see worth in her by often putting her first. Stand up for her, promote her, brag on her, and show her as much love in public as you do in private.
The article Why Group Norms Kill Creativity says the people we spend time with influence our thinking – even such things as being “liberal” or “conservative”. I have seen evidence our opinions about marriage are influenced by those we spend time with. I think things influenced by “peer pressure” include what we think we should to do to be a “good husband”, what makes a woman a “good wife”, signs of a good or bad marriage, and what should be expected sexually.
So, is your peer pressure positive or negative? Are your friends moving you towards being loving, generous, and giving, or are they pushing you towards being selfish, stingy and lazy? What about your wife, how do her friends modify her thoughts about marriage and what she should be like as a wife?
The kind of changes I’m talking about happen gradually, which makes it difficult to see how individuals or groups are influencing us, be it for good or bad. Think about the individuals and groups you spend time with – what are their attitudes about marriage and sexuality? If you can’t limit your time with those influencing you in a wrong way, how can you reduce their impact? Can you find others who will balance the bad influence?
On the other side, what kind of peer pressure are you putting on others? Make a commitment to providing positive influences, including for marriage and sexuality.
I know, if there is any light in the room, you want to look at your bride during sex. I get it – but what if your eyes are blinding you to things you could hear and feel? If you shut your eyes, you might become aware of subtle sounds and movements your bride makes – hints about what she is feeling, how aroused she is, and what she wants. If you do less looking, you might be better able to feel and move with her.
Another possibility is that you have missed gradual changes in her sexuality over the years. By depriving yourself of your usual first line of information, you might become aware of something you have been missing.
As it warms up (for those in the northern part of the world), her wanting to be close to you can be negatively impacted. You can make closeness more likely by being sure you not smelly or sweaty. A fan can also make closeness a lot nicer – a ceiling fan over the bed can be a great investment.
It seems science has found a way to prove revenge doesn’t make us feel better – even though we think it will. (See Revenge is sweet but corrosive)
Of course we all know getting revenge on our wife is a bad plan, but I suspect many of us find ways of doing it we can deny to ourselves. (Or am I just projecting?) Do you ever say no to something because she said no to something completely unrelated a few days ago? Do you drag your feet, or delay making decisions, to punish her for things she has done to upset you?
Your secret revenge isn’t making you feel as good as you think, and it’s injecting negative things into your marriage. You, and your marriage, would be far better off in the long run if you either gently confront her on things, or let them go without comment or action. Which is right for any given situation depends on you, on her, and one how big the “offence” is.
In many ways I think single mothers and their children are the widows and orphans of our day. Regardless of who was more wrong (husband or wife) and how you feel about divorce, the kids are innocent victims. What’s more, most problems single mothers face hurt their kids at least indirectly.
So, my Father’s Day suggestion to you is to find ways to help single moms and their children. How can you make life better and easier for these folks? Are there things that you, your family, or a group of men from your church can do to help out? What about all those things many women need a man to fix? If you do it for a single mother, either you fix something she could not afford to fix, or you save her the money she would pay to get it done.
Add your ideas as comments on-line – I’ll start with a couple:
One church I attended has a “single mom car fix clinic” every other month. Among other things they did oil changes, fluid top off’s, and brake work for free. Seasonally they did AC charges or radiator flush and refill. On jobs they could not do, they gave a good idea of what was needed, along with suggestions of places where the ladies would be treated fairly.
When I was doing landscape for a living a single mother in our church moved into a house in late winter. I watched her yard and started to cut it when it showed growth. I put it on my regular schedule and did the yard weekly – without telling the woman I was doing it. Several months later she came home at lunch and caught me – she later told my bride she did not have the money for yard care ($100 a month, for 9 months of the year then and there), and thought God was keeping the grass short for her. My take is God was keeping it short – using me to be his hands.
When I was a teen our church had a fix-up weekend for a single mother in our congregation. The youth group showed up, along with more than a dozen men. I don’t know what all was done inside (plumbing and electric among other things). Outside a tree was removed, many overgrown things were cut back, and the entire house was scraped and painted.
Teach your children to respect your privacy when you’re in your bedroom with the door closed. Around here we say “if there’s no blood or fire, don’t knock.” Of course there are other valid reasons to bother mom and dad, but the kids should know a closed door is not to be taken lightly.
Once you ensure bedroom privacy, make a point of retreating there with your wife from time to time. It’s amazing what ten minutes of laying together talking can do for you. Or ten minutes of silent hugging. Or a quick massage. And if you train the kids to leave you alone…
BTW: A friend who had a “fire only” rule (he said with three boys blood was common) was once interrupted (during sex yet) by a lot of door banging and yelling. When he opened the door, he only got out “Where’s …” before he saw the smoke! (The only real damage was to the mood!)