In his book, How to Have a New Husband by Friday, best-selling author Dr. Kevin Leman writes of The ABCs Every Man Needs:
Acceptance, as I see it, is loving our husband despite his faults or failings. How easy it is to put labels on our men. We dub him as a “workaholic”, our “other child”, or “lazy”. Then, every time that label has a chance to prove itself, we let it pounce on our minds and drive the nail a little bit deeper into our attitude toward him.
And yet true acceptance models behavior and thought patterns that say, no matter what idiosyncrasies and annoying habits you possess, I will love and respect you anyway. It speaks a loud and clear message to your man that his deepest failings and most shallow habits won’t be enough to lose your love.
I believe that acceptance is birthed through compassion for one’s faults and patience for one’s imperfections. Great, you may say, but how do we get there?!
For me, compassion and patience are produced by seeing the world through my husband’s eyes, even if for just a glimpse. Understanding the harsh realities of his circumstances or rejoicing in the triumphs of his greatest moments. To be blunt, I put myself aside for once.
Belonging. Isn’t that what we all want? To belong? To feel we have a safe place to run to when the world is crashing in on us. A private club all our own, where the door is always open. I think that is what a family is suppose to feel like. More importantly, I think that is what a spouse is suppose to feel like.
He needs to feel that he belongs to you. Quite frankly, your husband doesn’t have anything else to really belong to. Sure, he goes to work, but he doesn’t belong there. He may work out at a gym or play basketball on Thursday nights with the guys, but he doesn’t belong to them. He only has himself – and you.
Now, take your husband, then add a job, a busy life, and several kids to the mix. You tell me where your man fits into that paradigm. Does your guy know that he belongs to the family? That he’s needed? That his role as husband and daddy are important, and that you can’t imagine life without him?
~ Dr. Kevin Leman
How many fathers go through the daily motions of being Dad but all the while feeling like they are on the outside looking in? Somehow, amidst the chaos of raising small children and striving to provide for the family they love so deeply, they turned into spectator. Peering in through a glass box where their wife and kids have a life of their own, he no longer feels wanted. No longer truly needed. The kids have filled a gap in his wife’s heart – a gap that he was suppose to fill – and now he simply watches from the sidelines.
It’s a crazy spin cycle of marital destruction. A man that feels unnecessary and a woman that eventually feels alone.
In their book, The Politically Incorrect Wife, authors Nancy Cobb and Connie Grigsby discuss the common trend of women placing their children in higher priority than their husbands.
As a result, the structure and hierarchy of family life has been turned topsy-turvy. Homes become child-centered, and dads are often on the periphery looking in.
Not surprisingly, husbands often feel shunted aside and out of the loop. The marriage relationship is placed on the back burner, while the parenting relationship becomes all-consuming. Many women, feeling that they are more gifted in parenting, frequently take the lead and relegate their husbands to the role of assistant.
But don’t think our husbands are the only ones affected. By focusing priority on our children, I believe we are setting them up for failure. The world of mom is nothing like the outside world that awaits them. And as much as we may dread it, we can’t keep them from that outside world forever. One day they will have their own homes, jobs, spouses and children. We won’t be their #1 forever. And for the sake of their future relationships, they shouldn’t be our #1’s either.
When a woman holds her children in higher regard than she does her husband, she is giving them an exaggerated sense of their own self-worth. They come to believe that they are more important than Dad and frequently see themselves as more important than others.
I think Companionship is the easiest of Leman’s ABCs. As mentioned earlier, acceptance can require major changes to our behavior and thought patterns. Bringing a sense of belonging can involve a major shift in our family hierarchy, repositioning Dad from the sidelines to MVP. But companionship is as simple as spending time together, doing things that you both enjoy and yes ladies, sometimes even doing things that are of no interest to you but hold value to your man. Whether it’s sporting events, bird-watching or eating pancakes on the front lawn, take the time to be a companion to your husband.
When all is said and done, kids need to see that Mom and Dad, albeit imperfect, are taking on the world together…and not even they can thwart that. It brings a sense of security that models marital commitment and success. It shatters the glass box and unifies the family unit. It says to the children, “I love you, but I love your father more”.
Can you say that?
This Father’s Day, much like last year, I’m hoping these thoughts and encouragements will challenge each one of us to step into our husband’s hearts and minds, even for a moment. That we would all try and experience life from his point of view on a day that’s dedicated to him alone. For if we can see his needs in a new way, we have a much better chance at genuinely meeting those needs, resulting in a marriage that does more than just withstand time.