Healing Begins with Recognition of a Problem
(To fully receive the full benefit of this reflection you need to scroll back to last week and read it. This is the second in a series of three related reflections.)
One of the hardest things for a man to do is to accept the fact he needs help. He is conditioned his entire life to believe that he can fix his problem. I had to be brought to the reality I was not getting the job done in my marriage and I needed help. Once I accepted this truth, God began to show me that my responsibility toward my wife went beyond providing for her physical needs. If I was going to love her as Christ loved the church, I would have to venture into a place I did not want to go. I would have to enter into the land of feelings. In my clueless mind, this territory was reserved for women. Real men would not go there.
My first journey into the land of feelings came when I read Dr. James Dobson’s book, What Wives Wished Their Husbands Knew about Women. My wife purchased the book and placed it in areas where I was most likely to see it. I discovered it in a basket in front of the great white porcelain throne I visited each morning. It was always on the top of the pile of magazines. When I opened it and began to read, it was like my wife and Dr. Dobson had collaborated. It became clear that wives had needs deeper than their physical needs. They had emotional needs.
I had never gotten beyond the basic physical needs of my wife to her deeper emotional needs. It was not that I refused to meet them. I did not know they existed. Her cries to have these needs met were seen as signs of possessiveness and childishness.
After I read Dr. Dobson’s book, I began to see the flaws in my idea of the perfect husband. Most importantly, there were things I needed to learn, and I became willing to learn them. This began a journey into the emotional needs of my wife.
Later, I read Gary Smalley’s book, If He Only Knew. Many times I wanted to toss it in the trash, but a small inner voice told me I needed to hear its truths. With each page, it revealed another area in which I had fallen short as a husband. It introduced me to the basic differences between men and women. It helped me to understand that my wife and I could look at the same picture and come away with two completely different thoughts. It helped me to understand why for me a trip was something to conquer and for her something to be enjoyed. It showed me why she needed for me to listen to her without always having an opinion. It made me realize she sometimes needs a shoulder to cry upon without an accompanying lecture. It let me know how important it is for her to know her opinion is appreciated. With each page, I was confronted with a new need I had failed to meet.
From these two books, there were two lessons that stood above the rest. One dealt with the importance of my wife believing she was the most important thing in my life. In my heart, I had always felt she was the most important. My actions sent another message. I began to see the source of her insecurities. It became clear I was going to have to work diligently to make her believe what I had always known. I had to make her believe she was the most important thing in the world to me.
This was not a short term assignment. I could not establish her importance to me and forget about it. It was an ongoing task. Each passing day, I needed to let her know she was first on my list of priorities.
(Conclusion next week.)