You might be wondering what “joy” has to do with “respect”, but I think that for most men, being respected within their own home leads to joy for them. Men love to fix problems, they like to be the One Who Saves The World From Destruction, and they like to look good whilst they are doing it!
But here is the rub, right? Most mothers I know spend much more time reading, researching, speaking with other mothers about parenting, observing children of different ages than Dad, who may be off at work all day. We want to share what we have learned with Dad, and some of our ideas can be different or strange to him. So what is Dad’s role in all this and how do we make him feel respected?
I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately, about how some families have a structure where the roles for “work” are fairly rigid (ie, the mother takes care of the house, the father works outside the home) and how some families have more fluid roles between mothers and fathers…..So how do we balance these roles in relation to parenting, homeschooling, and all the while providing our spouse with some joy through respect? A tall order in many ways!
We are coming up on 18 years of marriage, so I would like to think I have a few things to share on this.
- I think one thing is to have respect for your spouse in front of your children. Yes, we probably all disagree in front of the children, but I think providing an overall attitude that Dad knows what he is doing is beneficial. He may do it differently than you, but that doesn’t mean he is wrong. If you don’t like what he is doing, can you talk about it later not in front of the kids? If that is possible!
- I think it really is okay to say, “Go ask your father.” :) I know that sounds corny, but think how many decisions you make in regards to your child all day long and give Dad a chance too!
- What are the top things that irritate your husband? Does it drive him crazy to come home to a house with toys everywhere? Does he need some quiet to transition to being home? Some things are just inevitable when one lives with young children, but at the same time, instead of just brushing these things aside, perhaps take them under consideration and see if you can meet some of Dad;s needs or even wants even part of the time. Happy Dad!
- Okay, ahem, how is your intimacy? Men connect emotional intimacy through the physical. That part of your life really should be a priority. Enough said. :)
- Do you have a rhythm for your weekend? A lot of mothers comment that they love having Dad home, but the weekends are a bit crazy. If you could sit down together and plan out what needs to happen on a weekend that might really help. For example, if you need time alone when that will happen, if Dad needs time alone when that will happen? Do you plan anything fun together as a family?
- Dads don’t go through the same hormonal swings we do with pregnancy, birth, lactation. I find many Dads, especially first-time Dads, really do miss their wives a bit as they adjust to parenthood. Do you ever get to spend time with just your spouse? Even if it is early in the AM, or later in the PM, it is worth cultivating that intimate time! It seems like some mothers/fathers put their relationship last when they have small children (and babies and toddlers have such serious needs to be met), but as your child grows it seems partners should be able to talk after your children go to bed! And finish sentences!
- Does Dad have a part in your homeschool? What strengths and talents does Dad have that he could teach the children? It is really fabulous to hear small children who think their Dad is the strongest, fastest, smartest.
- When does Dad interact with the children and care for them? Dads need to be around for the little things in order for children to trust them with the big things. That in itself builds respect.
I know this post sounds hopelessly old-fashioned, but one day your children will be grown up and gone. At that point, I really want you and your spouse to be looking across the breakfast table at each other in love.
Marriage is such a wonder and a joy. I have no doubt that my Beloved Creator made my husband just for me. I hope you feel the same way about your spouse as well!
Live in Joy Together Today,