Friday, June 13, 2014

4 Game-Changing Words From a Father's Mouth

Husbands, love your wives [be affectionate and sympathetic with them] and do not be harsh or bitter or resentful toward them.
~ Colossians 3:19, AMP ~

My marriage is not perfect.  Two incredibly imperfect people came together 22 years ago promising to love, honor and cherish one another, through the good and through the bad.  Does anyone know what they are really getting themselves into on their wedding day?

You have surely heard me in the past smirkingly share what I tell my husband,
"We're lucky we have each other, because no one else would ever put up with either of us!"

When we lovingly said, "I do," my expectation was that we would experience a lifetime of adventure together.  Boy, does God have a sense of humor!  It has been an adventure alright, but not of the nature I had fathomed on our wedding day.  I could have never imagined all of the adventures of medical mayhem we have endured with 3 children. 

I cannot imagine having survived all of the heartaches or celebrated all of the victories without the partnership of my husband.  No one else could ever understand what's gone on in our household the way my husband does.

While I know some fathers who blame their wives for passing on the hemophilia gene, and other fathers who dump all responsibility for the medical care on their wives, my husband has been a visible representation of God's love to our little family.  When things are tough for me with the kids, he has developed the habit of uttering 4 game-changing words that turn the whole mood around.  Like water on a singeing fire, or air released from an over-stretched balloon, this phrase instantly disrupts the stressful tension pervading the atmosphere of our home:

"How can I help?"

He doesn't look at me in disgust, wondering why I can't keep it together.  He is tuned in enough to the situation that he knows better than to ask me if I do need help.  He doesn't walk away, dumping all responsibility on a fragile, fallible woman like me.  No, instead he comes face-to-face with me asking in sincerity, "How can I help?".

My shoulders instantly drop from their ratcheted position up next to my ears.  "It's that obvious I'm a mess?" I think.  "Thank God!" my heart breathes deeply.  I'm not alone in this.  I am blessed with an extra set of hands just when I need them.

Guys are "fixers" by nature.  When he utters those 4 game-changing words, not only does he honor and show love to me, he also empowers himself.  With one helpful phrase he transforms himself from a victim of the swirling chaos to an activated partner in solving some of the problems he sees around himself.  Genius!

I don't even know if he realizes the power he wields when he throws me this verbal lifeline.  Still, I'm so grateful that it has become his habit.  It's just one of the many things that makes the words "Happy Father's Day" seem so inadequate to show him how grateful I am that he's my partner in parenthood. 

Are you a husband feeling frustrated over how to help your spouse in any significant way?  Are you a wife feeling unable to articulate to your spouse how he can be engaged rather than pushed to the edges of your family's special needs journey?  The next time you find yourselves racing around in a flurry of stressful activity, remember these 4 game-changing words.  They could be the one tool that draws you closer as a couple.

PRAY:  Father, You are always there willing and able to help us.  In our stressful moments, remind us how to be there for one another.  Protect and edify our marriages as we raise these remarkable children.  Increase our love for one another, so we look more like Jesus and less like our selfish selves.

~ Barb Dittrich

For further reading:   Love & Respect: The Love She Most Desires; The Respect He Desperately Needs, by Emerson Eggerichs; Married with Special-Needs Children: A Couples' Guide to Keeping Connected, by Laura E. Marshak.

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