Earlier, I wrote about our calling as wives. While I was thinking about my calling as a wife I started thinking, "How am I fulfilling this calling?" Again it led me to challenge myself! So here I present my current challenge...The WIFE CHALLENGE: 5 Simple Steps!
Prov 31? Her husband called her blessed and praised her saying, "Many women do noble things, but you surpass them all." I pray that at the end of every day my husband goes to bed thinking, "Many women do great things, but my wife is the greatest!"
Step #1: Create an environment my hubby can thrive in!
But I have 3 kids 3 and under (including an exclusively breastfed baby who is pretty attached to his frequent meals) so let's be realistic here. Will my husband come home to a spotless house every day? I think it's pretty safe for me to say definitely not! But what can I do to make our home a little more organized, a little less stressful, and a little more relaxing? For this challenge you really have to think about your hubby's work environment. What does he deal with all day that you can make sure to avoid at home? For me, it's pretty easy to come up with a few major changes I need to make! My husband deals with fourth graders all day long. They run around, they scream, they are crazy. He has to discipline them all day long and it wears him out. He spends all day cleaning up paper airplanes, wadded up book pages, broken pencils, and every other type of clutter his students can manage to make. What can I do to make sure he doesn't feel that stress as soon as he walks through the door? How can I prevent these things from happening at home?
Let's be honest, there are some days I feel like I just cannot control my kids. Those days my first reaction is to call my hubby. "When are you coming home? The kids are being crazy. I need you to come home now!" And if I don't call or he doesn't answer, I attack him as soon as he walks in the door. "The kids are in their room. You need to go have a talk with them. Oh, and can you change Kason's diaper when you're done? I need to lay down. I can't handle this right now." So the first part of this challenge for me is to handle these discipline issues myself. I can do it, I am well-equipped with the powers God has given me. I just don't want to on some days. Some days I want to be lazy. Some days I don't want to be the "bad guy". But that's one of my jobs as my husband's partner. This is one job that he needs me to take care of so he can enjoy his time at home, so I will! (And on the rare days when I truly feel like I can't do it anymore and I just really do need his help, it is a must to give him at least 30 minutes to come home and breathe before giving him his discipline to-do list.) For the second part of this challenge I need to create a clutter free home. If he has to kick and trudge his way through a pile of toys to even open the door (which happens pretty often) I'm probably not creating an environment that screams, "Welcome home! Forget the troubles of your day and come on in!" It will not be spotless, but I can at least make sure the counter is free of dirty dishes, the majority of the toys are picked up off of the floor, and that the mountains of laundry that usually cover two of our three couches are taken care of. What are some challenges your husband deals with on a daily basis? How can you make sure he can leave those at work and not have to deal with them again when he comes home? What are some things your husband needs you to be able to handle for him, so he doesn't have to?
Step #2: Make sure my hubby feels loved, respected, and admired!
The first part of this challenge will be tough for me. Obviously I love my husband more than anything, but sometimes I just don't want to show it in the way he wants me to (Hello, five love languages)! My husband has been asking me for weeks to wake up early with him so we can have breakfast and some quiet time before he goes to work. But it is sooo early since he leaves at 6:30 and we have a great relationship so what good is an extra 30 minutes in the morning together really going to do? But, my hubby wants to spend some one on one time with me (something we rarely get) and I am always asking him to do something with me (even though I'd prefer we do it at night rather than at 6 in the morning!), so I will do my absolute best to peel myself out of bed, make some coffee, and enjoy some time with the man who loves me more than anything else in the world! Is there something your husband has been asking you to do that you just keep refusing? Consider the possibility that doing it for him may help him to feel loved and that he just wants to love you in return!
The second part of this challenge is the most important! When it comes to respecting your husband it is Rule #1! Let's face it, to a man respect means more than anything else ever will. I don't know many women who are flat out disrespectful to their husbands, but sometimes the little things make the biggest difference. This is something I really don't struggle with now, but at the beginning of our marriage I got caught in the "gossip" trap. I hate anything and everything about gossip. It is hurtful, it is destructive, it is rude. But when we first got married it just seemed so natural to share every thought, feeling, and intimate detail with my friends. The problem is, not everything that came out of my mouth was uplifting to my husband. What I say about my husband determines how everyone else views him. If he upsets me and I share it with my friends some will try to defend me even to the point of tearing down my husband. If he does something embarrassing he probably won't want me sharing that information with others. Something that I think is funny, could be very harmful to his self-esteem if I share it with others. Does every word that I say about my husband lift him up or tear him down? Do I praise him in front of others or do I mock him? Do my words show others how proud I am of my husband? Are my words loving and kind? Is he comfortable with what I tell others about him and about our relationship? Do not say anything negative about your husband (whether you are speaking to him or about him!) and make sure what you do say about him shows him and everyone else how much you appreciate him!
The third part of the challenge will probably be the easiest for most of us. Make sure your husband feels admired! Plan a surprise date night, cook him his favorite meal, watch the football game instead of Desperate Housewives. Make sure you spend some alone time together every day. Even if it's just sharing a glass of wine after the kids go to bed. Get romantical, get spontaneous, and get excited to spend time with him! And don't forget the importance of intimacy in your relationship. We all know if there's one way to make our man feel admired, that is it! Choose to serve your husband in ways that you know will make him feel adored by you!
Step #3: Encourage, Encourage, Encourage!!!
Never underestimate the power your words and actions have over your husband! You determine how he feels about himself. You play a major role in how he views his successes and his failures. You are the one he wants to impress more than anyone! No matter how "tough" our guys may pretend they are, we all know they are just big balls of fluff on the inside. We need to make sure these balls of fluff don't get replaced by stone. You know what I'm talking about. We need to make sure we are not causing our husbands to build a wall around their heart, and we need to be able to help them break down any walls they put up during the day with their co-workers, their boss, or because of a hard situation they had to deal with! Make sure you are keeping your hubby's spirit uplifted! Make sure he realizes the amazing call God has placed in his life! Make sure you are helping him tear his walls down, not forcing him to build them up!
Step #4: Quit fussing about all the little things!
This one hit me full force while I was making my hubby some pumpkin bread to surprise him. I opened the egg carton and there they were...all the old egg shells that my hubby apparently finds so hard to throw away so he just puts them back in the carton. I am such a germaphobe so you can only imagine how gross I think this is! But yesterday when I saw those egg shells, I just smiled. I smiled because it was a reminder that my hubby cooks me breakfast. It was like a little "Hello" from my husband while he was at work. It's silly, I know, but all I could think about was how much I would miss those things if he were gone. Putting the loaf of bread on top of the breadbox instead of in it because he doesn't want "smashed" bread. Leaving the bags of chips and cereal on the counter instead of putting it in the cabinet because he's just going to keep getting it out anyway. These are things that bug me, but what would hurt even more is if my husband weren't here. Find joy in those little things your husband does that drives you crazy! See them as a reminder of the man you love rather than things he does to get under your skin. There's plenty more of the things my husband does that I enjoy, and I will miss out if I focus on the little annoying things. And, honestly, I'm sure he doesn't particularly enjoy me leaving my hairbrush and straightener in the sink in the bathroom or when I leave the laundry in the washer for just a little too long and it starts to smell musty or the way I just don't want to cuddle since I've had little people climbing on me all day. If I don't want him to focus on my little annoying habits, I need to stop focusing on his!
Step #5: Sit back, relax, and just enjoy your hubby!
This is my favorite step because it doesn't require any work (well, manual labor anyway)! Let's be honest, sometimes sitting still requires much more work than running around does. When we are sitting on the couch at the end of the day I need to enjoy my time. I need to put out of my mind the laundry, the dishes, the things the kids did during the day that upset me. I need to be still and enjoy being with the man God has given me! I think this simple step has the potential for the most impact in our marriage. When was the last time you just enjoyed your hubby? When was the last time you took the time to revel in your marriage?
I can't wait to see what comes of my wife challenge! I already noticed a difference after one day. I got a huge smile when he came home to a clutter free living room and fresh pumpkin bread. And even though I did end up falling asleep 20 minutes after he walked in the door he just laughed instead of telling me he felt like I had abandoned him...that's a good first try! Please share your successes, failures, and inspirations you have had with this challenge! We could all use as many ideas as we can on how to honor, love, serve, and partner with our husbands!