Wednesday, 6 June 2012

Confessions of a Newlywed: Things I Wish I'd Known Before I Got Married - Part 2

In my last post I talked about my Mom, and how she modeled the picture of a strong independent woman for me. Today myself and my husband Chris write about how my independence had the potential to confuse roles and expectations we both had going into marriage.

 In a marriage (at least in ours) both the wife and the husband have a desire to take care of the other. We do this in different ways, both big and small. For instance, this evening I baked muffins for Chris's lunch, and he mowed the lawn.... these are things that when done, bring the other person pleasure. Chris loves sweet treats, and I hate mowing the lawn, and am SO grateful to not have to do it. In a small unspoken way when we do these things what we are saying to the other is "I  want to show you I love you, and I want to take care of your needs"

Problems may arise when we come into a marriage with certain expectations of how we might take care of the other. When we are not able to fulfill the role we have set for ourselves it can leave us feeling inadequate, and even unworthy. One way I realized I was not allowing Chris to take care of me was in small ways - things that I had always done for myself that he had always perceived as the husband's role. I had never needed to ask for help, so why would I now? 

I've asked Chris to share a little on this topic....

So first things first, I would just like to say that I believe that women and men equal. I don't have some crazy 50's ideal that women need men to navigate life for them or anything weird like that. That being said I also believe men and women are different in lots of ways.

When we got married I had a few ideas in my head about how things would work. I expected that Melissa would leave any of the fix-it stuff around the house for me to do and that she would be cool with me just doin' my own thing. I was excited to learn what it would be like to take care of someone else. Little did I know that this would be a learning curve in our relationship. One time before we were even married I came home to Melissa and her mom taking out a desk that was mounted to the wall in the hallway. There were heavy chunks of wood, and I wasn't even sure they had all the tools for the job. I was impressed they took it down but I also thought "why didn't they ask me for help?". I remember times where the simplest questions like "Do you know what you are doing?" or "Maybe we should call someone?" were blows to my self esteem. I remember thinking "Why doesn't she trust me?". There have also been times where Melissa has wanted to get other guys in our family to fix things around the house that I know I can do. This may seem like not a big deal, but at the time it felt like she was taking parts I expected were my role as a husband and giving them to other people. I think that there are certain roles men need because it is part of who they are and how they are wired.

There is a flip side to this. I have to remember when to ask Melissa for help. I believe as a husband I can tend to take on the world for my wife and make sure she feels like a princess. I have to remember that we are in this together, and that it is easier to build something when you have two sets of hands doing the work. Especially when we are talking about a lasting, healthy, and life giving marriage. Melissa needs to feel valued- it's not just assumed. I have to make sure she knows she is an integral part of our marriage. This goes for me as well. Just like Melissa needs to be asked for help, I need to feel like I am taking care of her needs. As John Eldredge says in his book 'Love & War' "Men need to feel like heroes".

I didn't know these things would come up in marriage. Some of these things I didn't find out until months into our marriage. This is stuff I believe every married couple needs to talk about: Roles and expectations. Since Melissa and I have begun learning that she wants a marriage where she can be led, and I want a marriage where I can lead; That she needs to feel valued and loved and I need to feel respected and that my opinion matters, our marriage has gotten stronger and steadier. We are learning how to communicate expectations and revise what we do, and it has been a blessing on our marriage.

This post was the third installment of a new series Confessions of a Newlywed. I hope you'll track along with me, as well as some guest posts as we explore the topic of marriage.

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