After screwing up the lives of my wife and kids, I got to witness our older daughters go through divorces. They blissfully married these wonderful guys, who ended up doing the same stuff I did. The difference? These girls decided that they didn't need to wait 20 years to get rid of them. They were both divorced within two years. They, apparently, learned from my wife that they didn't have to tolerate an abusive or neglectful meathead. Now. I am not saying that just because a guy is a selfish, immature, spoiled rotten toddler that you should run to a lawyer. But. I am not telling you to stay in an abusive or neglected position either. My girls figured out, quickly, that it wasn't getting any better. I am proud of both of them. I am just as proud of my wife. She took enough crap from me and decided she didn't want any more. I still have the divorce papers. She was dead serious. It was over. Twenty years of being dragged through life my an angry toddler was plenty. If we didn't have two young kids at home, she wouldn't have even hesitated. My kids bought me enough time to get things worked out. Not fixed, but in motion. So, back to the advice....
She asked for one piece of advice I would give to a young bride. At the point I jumped in, only women had responded. Here's my letter.
Anyone else noticed that only women have responded so far? Know why? Because you, ladies, are alway more concerned with the relationship. So. As a man. Here’s my advice. Sorry, can’t do just one.
Make sure you both understand what it means for a husband to love his wife as Christ loved the church. If he understands that, he will be the best husband you can imagine.
Stay friends. Do stuff together constantly. Have fun together.
Don’t tolerate immaturity. He’s a big boy, expect him to act like it. Don’t coddle him. Selfishness is bad enough on a two year old. It looks really ugly on a 40 year old.
Be very careful about most marriage counseling. It almost always puts the weight on the wife.
Go into marriage with your eyes open. This fantasy is about to get real. Make sure you really know each other.
Last. Be willing to take advice from those parents of yours. If they love him, awesome. If not, find out why and listen.
I blog for husbands and fathers. I made every mistake and want to help them. I believe God wants better for his girls that they know.
Try this one. http://erikmatlock.wordpress.com/2013/04/09/plan-b/
No responses yet. But it's only been about half an hour. Not patient by nature.
So. Some advice for the young couples? Gladly.
Our pre-marital counseling in 1989, involved sitting at a pastors house for three short sessions. I don't remember anything but bad coffee. No useful advice. No sage wisdom. No cautions. Nothing. He pretty much sat there. He watched us talk about getting married. Said nothing useful. We were two immature kids. Obviously drinking and smoking pot heavily. Obviously not prepared to be responsible for anything. Already living together. I was 19, she was... Uh. Well. She is perpetually 29. So she was... Well. Not old enough to understand what marriage was really about.
Later. Our marriage counseling involved a lot of talk about how we treat each other. About our responsibilities within the marriage. About bonding and loving and dishes and laundry and whatever. It was all about stuff that was just going to become her problem. You could have swapped me out for a house cat and the counseling would have had the same results.
"Now I want you two to go home and show mutual respect to each other. Love each other. Both of you do your part to make this marriage strong." The wife, honestly listening, agrees to whatever she has to do to be a good wife and make the marriage work. The cat is busy licking it's butt. Or something equally stupid. The husband is almost always let off the hook because he expects HER to step up first. If she does it, he might do it. That's crap. But that's standard counseling. 50/50 spilt of responsibility. Mutual respect. Do your part. Whatever. It doesn't work. All counseling eventually concedes that the real work of the marriage will fall to the more responsible person. Well, who do you think that is? Who normally changes diapers? Raises and disciplines kids? Takes care of the house? Manages the house, money, bills, groceries, meals, laundry, etc? Well?
Ok. Now. Who normally takes responsibility for a job that they would have even if they were single? Who grills meat? Who can laugh to tears over a fart joke well into his senior years?
So who is the more responsible one in the marriage, almost every time? The wife. Almost every book we have ever read, almost every counseling session, every marriage conference.... Dumps most of the weight on the wife. I believe this has gone on long enough.
To that young bride. Expect more. Don't settle for a loser. You won't change him. Of he's a self absorbed, immature, toddler now... it won't get any better. Watch how he treats his mother or sisters. You won't get any better. And, if he expects momma to constantly wipe his butt, he will expect it from you, too. Really.
Guys. Men don't take failure lightly. We cry over football games. We go into depression over lost money on investments. We become superheroes when we realize we are going to fail. We can't fail we must win. We are conquerors and competitors by nature. Why does that apply to everything but our family? Why is it acceptable to fail as husbands and fathers? Stop it! It's not ok to let your wife carry the weight of the family. Step up superhero. Do the right thing.