When we got married in December of 2002, Katie was a guidance counselor and I was a youth pastor. I remember being so envious of her having the summer off. That first summer, we had one child, and by the second summer, we had two, and we never really stopped. I remember thinking, “The stay-at-home summer life must be nice! Sleeping in, going to the park, hanging out around the house with the kids. Sounds like a sweet gig.” Until, I had the opportunity to experience it for myself.
We were in a rough season. Our marriage was falling apart, I had stepped away from ministry, and we hoped to move to Charleston. One of us securing a job was the green light to making it happen. Charleston represented a fresh start and when Katie got a job, it meant that I would be staying home for a season. With three kids under five. While transitioning in a new city, looking for a job, and being in a tight spot financially with a struggling marriage.
It’s hard to imagine someone’s life experience until you’ve walked a while in their shoes. I’d heard about how stressful, challenging, and difficult it was to stay at home. I thought I was being encouraging and understanding, until I got to experience it myself. Definitely one of the toughest jobs on the planet. And all the stay-at-home moms said…
It was seven of the hardest months of my life. I had always said I was a family man, but I think that season was God’s way of saying, “let’s see.” The perspective that God gave me in that season changed everything about the way we approached parenting—and more importantly my understanding of what it felt like to be Katie.
“Shared responsibility and similar tasks can make it feel like you are on the same page. Until you realize you’re not.”
Because you know how it feels to be a husband or a wife, it’s easy to assume your spouse is having a comparable experience. You’re both working hard and doing your part to manage the house, care for the kids, go after God, and stay on top of ‘all the things.’ Shared responsibility and similar tasks can make it feel like you are on the same page. Until you realize you’re not.
Perspective has a Latin root meaning “look through” or “perceive.” All the meanings of perspective have something to do with looking. When you first met your spouse, your perspective about him or her, what you saw in them and perceived of them is what drew you together. But from that moment on, building and maintaining a healthy relationship is more about seeing things from their perspective than your own. You have to fight against the feelings and culture of the great theologian, Toby Keith, “It’s all about me, all about I, all about number one, oh my me my.”
In describing how this relationship best works, Ephesians 5:21 says it this way, “Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.” The word “submit” literally means to put yourself under. When you posture yourself “under someone” it demands a change in perspective. How can I serve them? What are their needs? How do they feel? Taking on that posture brings clarity to the question, “What does it look like for me to be a good husband/wife?” It’s beyond just helping around the house, caring for the kids, and working hard. When I feel like I’m crushing it in those areas, and thus, being a great husband, Katie has graciously reminded me that those behaviors are called “being an adult” not a “loving husband.” Ha. Winning in marriage is largely about your perspective.
“I thought I was being encouraging and understanding, until I got to experience it myself.”
Best Gift for Valentine’s Day
Can you remember the last time you had a change in perspective? Maybe there was a neighbor or coworker who got on your nerves. Then you heard their story or got to know them. You learned something about them that changed your perspective and gave you grace for the relationship and respect for all they have been through. For some reason, it’s easier for our perspective to change for strangers than it is our spouse. We assume we know them. How they feel. What they are going through and what they need. What if the greatest gift you could give them this Valentine’s Day was a change in perspective? A desire to put yourself “under them” in hopes that you may serve and see them differently. I’m confident it will serve you well and may bring about your best Valentine’s Day yet!