DISCLAIMER: Women are allowed to complain about abuse, addiction, adultery and abandonment to their friends, and they are are justified in doing so. This post is about complaining about small stuff like picking up socks and not fixing the sink.
According to Ginny at Ruth Blog, it is wrong to criticize your husband. And I agree.
Does this sound familiar? “My husband drives me crazy! How hard can it be to pick up a sock and put it in the laundry? I mean, it’s not like he’s actually busy–he hasn’t fixed the leaky sink that I mentioned two months ago, or mowed the lawn, or cleaned up that mess in the garage. And now that football has started, I never see him…”
I used to join in with this sort of talk. I considered it “casual complaining”–nothing serious, certainly. Sometimes I would even trot out my husband’s faults in an effort to sympathetically let a girlfriend know that her husband isn’t all that bad–all husbands “do stuff like that”. I hoped it would make her see that it really wasn’t worth complaining about. But that probably wasn’t the effect; my “complaining” ended up justifying her complaining.
Then something I heard (on the radio? at a seminar?) made me think about what I was doing to my husband. It was terrible–taking private faults and making them public; taking small lapses and making them seem big; taking a man whom I love and respect, and denigrating him, belittling him. And worst of all, I was doing it where he couldn’t even defend himself. Just terrible.
So I stopped. It wasn’t too hard, if I caught myself starting to talk that way. The problem was that often times I wouldn’t even notice what I was doing until I was already well into it. Now it has been many years, and I believe it has really made a difference. I found that changing my words changed my attitude; changing my attitude changed my actions; changing my actions changed his attitude; changing his attitude changed his actions. Win, win, win!!!
I really don’t think that women should say hurtful things about men who love them in public or even in private to other women.
I think the root problem is that sometimes women focus too much on how minor things make them feel, instead of looking at the big picture, and the way a man takes care of the most important things.
I guess I am thinking of myself, and how much I have focused on making decisions that would allow me to protect and provide for my future wife. It’s been a lot of self-sacrifice. Doing things that I didn’t feel like doing, things that were not fun for me. I think that men naturally focus on protecting and providing, like not letting a woman starve, or not letting a tiger eat her, or not letting her study English while running up tens of thousands in debt only to become unemployed. These things are more important to us than picking up socks, etc. – the minor things that might make a woman have bad feelings, but that would not make her starve or have to live in a high-crime area, or have her kids have to attend horrible public school.
Maybe we should be encouraging women to focus more on the positive things that men do, the big things, and fussing less on things that are minor?
Here is something that my friend Lindsay who blogs at Lindsay’s Logic wrote on her Facebook page about how she trained herself to be attracted to men who are good at husband and father responsibilities:
As Christians, we need to train our hearts and emotions so that they value the things we should value. I think a lot of people (especially women) tend to find excitement in certain things or attraction to the wrong kind of people and then they let their emotions lead them to make bad decisions.
For example, you might have a woman who falls in love with a bad boy because he’s so exciting and then she marries him and has a bad marriage. What she should have been doing is not just to stay away from dating bad boys, but to actively train herself to value godly characteristics in a man and thus to be attracted to things like loving children, being a hard worker, or having self-control. This will help tremendously in choosing a good husband, but also in building and maintaining a good marriage. If she marries based on good criteria, but is still attracted to bad boy characteristics (like thrill-seeking or arrogance or risk-taking or putting off responsibility), she will continually find her husband lacking in her eyes and have a hard time being attracted to him.
We all need a renewing of our minds to value the right things and be attracted to good and godly characteristics in our mates (or potential mates). This doesn’t happen automatically. It takes purposeful training to recognize good character and value it properly.
In my case, I had parents who trained me to value the right things. And we need to prepare our children in this way also so that they value godly characteristics. Of course, as a teen and young adult, I was sometimes attracted to looks initially, but I found that my attraction to a man dropped off immediately if I discovered that he had sex outside marriage, smoked or drank, or if he used swear words. Things like that which show bad character made me less romantically attracted to those men because I had learned to value good character. This is very important for our children to learn in order to protect them and set them up for success in life and marriage.
When men are trying hard to be good protectors and providers, criticisms about how we make women feel or about other minor things confuse us. We can’t do everything perfectly, and for some reason, protecting and providing seems to be more important than these other minor things that some women complain about. I would think that in most of the rest of the world, women outside the opulent West are more concerned about not starving, living in a nice neighborhood, having their kids attend good schools, and getting good health care. Maybe we are just so spoiled here in the West that we are disappointed by minor things?