One of the things that God taught my wife and I early in our marriage is to celebrate the unique perspectives that each of us bring to our relationship as a man and woman Here are some real-life examples of how this has played out for us.
When we were learning how to be parents , Bea allowed (and encouraged) me to be “fully man” in my parenting. . .
I can still remember the gleeful laughter of our toddlers when the kids and I would pile up all the couch cushions from around the house onto the floor in our living room. I would toss them into the air and let them SAFELY land into the pile of cushions. Bea would stand in the kitchen doorway watching nervously, but allowing me to “be Dad” with the kids.
We were at a couples retreat when during a discussion time, Bea mentioned to me something like, “I find you most attractive when you are wrestling with the children”.
WHAT!?!?!?! I had no idea! (I remember a day or two later when I walked in the door after a day in the office and I loudly exclaimed, “HEY KIDS! LET’S WRESTLE!”)
One year, my men’s accountability group decided to take our kids on a week-long ski trip to Colorado. Here was a week with the kids with “just dads”.
Each day, the kids would be in lessons until about 3:30 when we dad’s would meet up with them and we’d ski together for the last 1-1.5 hrs of the day. One of the early days, I remember seeing Bethany run down the mogel hill (without poles of course, and squealing with delight) without me even able to keep up with her. I watched her little “pink snow suit” way further ahead of me than her mother would have allowed. Yes, we remained totally safe, but I remember thinking that “her mother would never allow this”.
On Thursday of that ski week, one our guys had his sister bring her young children to ski the day with us. As we were getting bundled up to ski out of our cabin, this young mother asked all the children, “Has everyone gone to the bathroom?” What a blessed motherly reminder, but we guys looked at each other with the look on our face that said, “Ooops, none of us ever said that this entire week!” We love moms!
Bea and I often have conversations with other parents about the healthy tension between the mother & father parenting dynamics. Moms often bring a strong propensity for compassion, care, nurture, etc. Dads tend to bring a propensity for equipping, challenging, coaching, etc. God made us this way and that’s why His plan is for both man & woman to be parents.
This dynamic is also at work beyond parenting.
I have always enjoyed playing competitive tennis. Early in our marriage, I was a fierce competitor and would way too often get angry at myself for errors, stupid mental mistakes, or for not playing up to the level of my expectation.
Some of this was shaped by my childhood and teen environment, playing sports. I remember attending the sports banquet when I earned my varsity letter in high school. The athletic director of a nearby state university was the speaker at this banquet and said to us, “You show me a good loser, and I’ll show you a loser”.
Well, Bea was a positive influence on me when she would come to watch me play tennis. She once saw my bad attitude start to swell during a tennis match and quietly asked, “are you having fun?” I almost raged back at her…but I held my tongue…and actually it got me to thinking…and it helped a great deal with me changing my attitude (Some might say that I lost my “killer instinct”, but I’m not sure I was ever good enough to have a “killer instinct”…truth be told!).
Some time later in our marriage, Bea began to understand how valuable it was (is) for me as a man to exercise the “competitive nature”. So, when I would come home after a tennis match, rather than ask “did you have fun?”, she began to ask “how did you do?” Do you understand the huge difference?
“Did you have fun” could be laced with “I hope you enjoyed your little time away from reality & responsibility”, “I don’t understand why you enjoy this…I tried playing tennis and hated it”, “When do you think you’ll grow out of this?”, etc. (She never meant any of these things, but I “could” have easily interpreted them that way…understand?)
But “How did you do?” (especially if she really means it) is laced with “I celebrate the God-given instinct within you to go out and conquer something”, “I’m glad that you’re an athlete even though I boxed up all your trophies several years ago and replaced ‘em with avon bottles” (true story), “Are you getting better?”, “Is your game improving?”, “Are you going to play any tournaments this year?”
Do you see the point here?
There’s huge value each of us bring as man/woman to our relationship. Celebrate the different perspectives and allow yourselves to be stronger together than separate.
I have so much to continue to learn from my wife as I see her in action at work, at home and in her spiritual life.
Talk to me: What do you think? Let me know your thoughts in the comments.
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This post is from David Sheets. David is founder of Marriage Matters USA. David has been married to Bea for 41 years and they have 2 children and 6 grandchildren. He has served in church ministry for 41+ years in music, worship and marriage ministry. David is a certified facilitator of Prepare|Enrich and SYMBIS (Saving Your Marriage Before It Starts) assessments. After leading a thriving marriage ministry at McLean Bible Church in Washington DC, David and the board of directors developed a strategy to make this powerful, agile ministry available to church planters, churches and other target groups. Email David here.
Marriage Matters USA facilitates the development and growth of marriage ministries by delivering Christ-centered leadership training and providing partnership opportunities among churches to enable them to more effectively enrich marriages in their community.