Photo by Christelle BOURGEOIS on Unsplash
The wise woman builds her house,
but with her own hands the foolish one tears hers down.
Let’s imagine a fictional scenario together for a moment:
Maybe my kids and I have had a lot of head congestion in recent months. Lots of runny noses. Difficulty sleeping, coughing, etc… And maybe I decide that we must be allergic to dust. So I decide I want the wall-to-wall carpet completely torn out of the house and I want everything replaced with hardwoods. I truly believe that this is a critical health issue. Yes, it will cost a lot, and yes, my husband is working on a different expensive project right now, but it seems like it should be top priority to me. After all, it is our health, we are talking about. What could be more important than that?
I have been researching a lot. One night, as soon as my husband comes home from work, I say, “Honey, I think the kids and I are allergic to dust. That must be the reason why we are all sick so much. But I know exactly what will help! We just need to get rid of all of the carpet in the house by next week. Wall-to-wall carpet is the worst for people with dust allergies. I have picked out some hardwood floors for us, and I already got a quote from Lowe’s. Obviously, we will want to get the fossilized bamboo 5.5 inch solid hardwood for the downstairs. And Yukon gold hickory solid hardwoods for the upstairs. It will be $6,000 installed. They can come next Thursday. We’ll have to move the furniture ourselves into storage for a few days. That will be $300 plus the cost of a U-Haul. Or we could do a storage container in the driveway, whichever you prefer. And we’ll have to stay in a hotel for 3-4 nights. But I found a great hotel that would only be about $150 per night. You’re good with all that, right?”
Then, if my husband hesitates, wants to ask some questions, wants to put down his briefcase, wants to eat supper first, has other solutions, or other priorities, I get upset. “What? You obviously don’t care about our health or love your family at all if you aren’t on board with my plan right now!”
This was basically my approach earlier in our marriage. (It’s exaggerated slightly here, but not much!)
It is very tempting to look at a problem, do all of the research and thinking through things myself, and then suddenly present the entire issue and my solution all at once to my husband. I may think I am really helping him out so he doesn’t have to do any thinking or any research.
That actually doesn’t feel like “help” to him, turns out!
In fact, a husband may feel a bit “ambushed” by this approach.
Here are a few things I know now that husbands tend to appreciate:
- He may like to have some time to think through an important issue himself, too. I may have been thinking about it all day, but he hasn’t.
- He may have other ways of looking at things that shed a lot of light on the issue.
- He may have wisdom to share that I need to hear.
- He wants to have a voice, too.
- He wants to have a chance to research things and share his concerns and ideas.
- He wants to feel like we are a team.
- He doesn’t want to be painted into a corner where he has to agree with my solution or he is the bad guy.
- If you don’t agree to this right now, you don’t care about your family.
- If you don’t agree to this right now, you don’t love us.
- If you ask questions, you aren’t concerned about our health.
- He may desire a chance to humbly, lovingly lead.
These days, instead of springing a crisis and solution on my husband all at once, I am much more likely to approach him (after supper) like this:
- I’ve been thinking about X problem. I’m concerned it may be affecting our health. What are your thoughts?
- Then, for my particular husband, I give him time to think about things. He may need days or weeks to mull over something. And, in a situation like this, that is okay. It is not an emergency. (Now, if the toilet is overflowing, that is an emergency. It needs to be dealt with right away. Thankfully, though, many things are not emergencies.)
- I’ve been considering Y for a solution. What do you think about that?
- Here is what concerns me…
- What approach do you think would be best?
My husband may bring some new ideas to the table:
- I think I want to try changing the air filters to start with. Let’s see if that helps.
- What things lead you to believe it is allergies, not frequent colds and viruses making everyone sick?
- Have you tried any allergy medicine for any of you? Does that help at all?
- If the allergy medicine helps, maybe we can get some allergy testing done to see what the allergies actually are.
- I noticed some black looking mold on the ceiling in the kids’ bathroom. I’m going to clean it and paint over it with Kilz.
Most husbands would like to try the least expensive, easiest remedies first. If a $10 treatment works, why spend $6000?
A husband is not being unloving by responding this way. A husband who wants some time to process things, ask questions, and do some research does care about his family and their health. He is trying to lead in a godly way and be a good steward of the limited financial resources the family has. He doesn’t want to jump to a wrong conclusion. He wants to be sure the root issue is really being addressed.
There are a lot of things that could potentially be going on here. It’s wise to slow down and examine things thoroughly. Yes, we may need hard floors, but let’s be sure that is truly what will help before we make a hasty decision.
Of course, it is totally fine for me to also have respectful questions, requests, input, and suggestions. That is part of how we make decisions together as a team. If we can’t come to an agreement in the end (and he is not asking me to clearly sin), then I can choose to honor my husband’s leadership and pray and invite God to work in the situation and give him wisdom.
Husbands tend to appreciate having some time and space to think, make suggestions, ask questions, propose possible solutions, and look at things from a variety of angles. They tend to like to be involved in the problem-solving – especially if they feel respected and valued.
What a blessing to be able to respectfully share my concerns with my husband but also to let him be part of figuring out the solution. God put us together because we can help to balance each other out with our different perspectives and approaches.
It’s also important to remember that so many times, the issue and eventual decision aren’t nearly as important in God’s eyes as how we treat each other along the way is.
Let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband. Eph. 5:33
We’d love to hear about ways God has shown you how to approach your husband respectfully about important decisions.
Husbands, any suggestions?
(Note – If you need one-on-one counseling for a difficult situation, please check out Focus on the Family’s counseling service or Biblical Counseling. Thanks!)
17 Tips to Ask for What You Desire Respectfully
Supporting My Husband’s Leadership
My Husband Won’t Lead – Part 1
Ways Husbands Lead That Wives Often Don’t Notice
Signs My Husband Feels Disrespected and Unloved
How Satan Would Love to Destroy Your Marriage Through Your Thought Life
The Peaceful Wife – Living in Submission to Christ As Lord – there are several chapters on disrespect, respect, and how to honor our husband’s leadership in ways that honor the Lord.
I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry reading this….it hits home for me. I think as men we crave opportunities to fix or solve something, so we definitely feel slighted to not be involved in the decision-making process. But in our “modern” marriages, we often sense an attitude of: “anything he can do I can do just as well or better.”
I think it’s a pride issue, a Me issue, on both sides. Talking through difficult decisions would be the best way, but the selected solution can still leave one party feel unheard or defeated. I think some, but not all men, can show/carry the authority to not be questioned on decisions. For other men, It will be difficult with both small and larger problems and entrenched opinions.
It might be easier if we made decision-making a gameshow. We can sit in our contestant chairs, introduce each other like an emcee, and then be assigned the problem and talk through possible solutions. Once we have summarized our arguments/reasoning, we then write a name or solution on a card in our lap…Dave or Jane or fix or buy new. Let’s hope we have the same solution chosen by both spouses. Then we throw up some confetti and have a “Tell Them What They’ve Won” announcement (a long hug, etc.). Of course, before starting the game, one spouse could just say “whatever you think” or “I thought about what you said and you’re right”…followed by a long, loving hug. Think of the intimacy that would be created by two spouses feeling that all solutions are… Ours.
I appreciate your masculine perspective. Thanks so much for sharing!
You know what? You made such a great point at the end about how we can extend grace to each other. And, I love the idea of focusing on increasing intimacy by approaching things together. Honestly, the exact solution that is decided upon is often not nearly as important as the way we treat each other on the way to getting to an answer.
Hmmmm?!….can cringingly relate to this one! X x
Isaiah6510, I think a lot of us can relate to this. Obviously, I can!
Sadly I can relate to this. I don’t “ambush” him anymore but I do recall the time many years ago 2002 to be exact I really wanted to go to the Above Rubies Family camp. I approached him about it and explained we could get a scholarship. He really wasn’t that interested because it was six hours away and our children were still rather young but I was determined. I even got a friend and her husband to talk to him about going because they were going too. Well he ended up changing his mind but I felt guilty about it and apologized. He told me he felt overuled but we will go to the retreat. Thankfully he had a great time at the retreat amongst like- minded families and went each year for awhile.
But honestly I learned my lesson and vowed never to do that again. Thank you April for this very encouaging post.
Thank you so much for sharing. I’m so thankful that you were able to learn from that experience and didn’t use that approach again. I’m glad this was a blessing. <3
This is so true. Not only is is ambushing and not helpful to the husband, but many times I get myself into a tizzy by thinking and worrying about the situation for days before bothering to talk to him about it because I feel I should have a solution before bringing it up. When I stop myself and go to him first, he usually talks me down, makes me worry less, tells or shows me “he’s got my back” and helps make things SO much better.
That is a great point! Yes, it is easy to get very agitated and worried if I think I have to have everything all figured out and have all the solutions on my own. I have experienced this, too, where my husband can help me see from a wider perspective and help me realize that I may not have anything to worry about. I love that about your husband telling or showing you that he has your back. So precious!
Wow! God has spoken to me time and time again through your blog, for which I am so grateful! It’s as if you post in alignment with what I am struggling with, how do you know?
My husband had stated multiple times how he was worried about our son having a runny nose and ear infections quite often. Wanting to fix it, I did lots of research which led to me being convinced that removing dairy from his diet would help. Nothing wrong with at least trying it anyway. I basically ambushed him in the same way that you described in your post. I told him all the ways we would replace the calcium in milk with other nutritious foods, showed him all the research backing up my claim, and thought he would get excited at looking up dairy-free recipes on Pinterest. Wrong! (Surprised?)
I loved the Scripture you quoted at the end about The end result not being as important as how we treat each other. I just get so trapped by thinking my intentions are good, which leads me to believe my actions are justified….
This has been so helpful, thank you! Your blog is a blessing.
I can’t even count the times I have done things like this with diets to try to help the kids. Yep.
I truly didn’t intend to ambush him. I was just so focused on what seemed like a great solution – and didn’t really have the ability to see his perspective on my approach in the past. But this is pretty close to what I would do. Yikes!
I’m so glad that God can use my many mistakes and the wisdom He has shown me to be a blessing to my sisters.
Thank you for sharing!
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