Week before last, I explained how communicating with my wife was similar to some characteristics of air traffic control radar. A well-known (to me) PhD psychologist had some additional thoughts on the subject. This psychologist summed up the issue as this: women grow up deeply believing that if a man loves them, the man will know what she wants, what she means, maybe even what she is thinking. But I repeat, I need a radar to do all that! The psychologist went on to say that in contrast, men grow up thinking, what is the big deal? Why don’t you just tell me? And I agree, if you don’t want me to have to get the radar out and interpret the returns or lack thereof, or filter out the clutter, why not just come out and say it?
I thought I would share some recent thoughts on animals, applied once again to marriage. To begin with, as far as the cat goes, I say that one of the things that we need to examine is our priority list (and the cat says its meow or never). Even if we have not given it any thought, or written down our priority list, we all have one. Since actions speak louder than words, we demonstrate our priorities by how we spend our time and money, as well as by what we do with our emotions. I think a proper priority list would go like this: God, spouse, kids, other family, job, and the cat. As I shared in the article on my dad, my greatest regret in life is that I did not spend more time with my kids as they were growing up, not that I should have spent more time and effort at work. I shared that the cats were at the top of the priority list for my grandmother when I discussed the perfect marriage, and I have wondered where our cat ends up on the priority list. The bottom line is that the spouse should be at the top of the list – my number two (as pastor Chuck Lewis says).
It seems a lot of issues in marriage boil down to a chicken and egg sort of thing. That is, which comes first, the chicken, or the egg? In my recommended resources page, I list two books by Willard Harley. One book discusses what he believes are the top five needs of a woman and the top five needs of a man (they aren’t the same needs). So which comes first – does the husband make efforts to meet the wife’s needs, so that she will make efforts to meet his needs, or is it visa versa? If that is what my thought process is stuck on, I can remain stuck, as we both wait for the other to make the first move, the first efforts. The answer is that we both have to decide to make efforts to meet the needs of the spouse, regardless of the spouse’s actions or inaction. The good thing is that even if we feel we are making the first move, our efforts usually do get rewarded and spur reciprocal efforts. You have to give a little to get or take a little. To quote pastor Chuck again, it has to be two-way (in order to benefit both).
Then there is the story of the chicken and the pig, which is often applied to work situations. You see, one morning the chicken and the pig were discussing what they could do for the farmer who was so kind and treated them so well. The chicken suggested that they provide the farmer with a delicious breakfast – ham and eggs. The pig replied that this would be easy for the chicken, as he would only be involved in the effort, easily providing some eggs. The pig pointed out that he was committed – for him to provide the ham called for sacrifice. So I ask myself, in my marriage do I want to be a chicken – involved, not working for improvement, maybe waiting until something better comes along? Or do I want to be a pig – committed, willing to change, willing to speak up to my spouse early, committed to making a positive difference for the two of us? My only problem with this decision is that my wife sometimes questions what I’m really demonstrating when I say that I am just trying to be the pig.
Think about it – do you need radar to communicate with your spouse, or does your spouse need radar to communicate with you? Where would your spouse show up on your priority list? Do you wait for the other to make the first move, or do you act? And are you involved, or are you committed?