"Your job is to speak out on the things that make for solid doctrine. Guide older men into lives of temperance, dignity, and wisdom, into healthy faith, love, and endurance." (Titus 2:1-2)
"Also, guide the young men to live disciplined lives. But mostly, show them all this by doing it yourself, incorruptible in your teaching, your words solid and sane. Then anyone who is dead set against us, when he finds nothing weird or misguided, might eventually come around." (Titus 2:6-8)
Let me start this by stating the obvious. I'm not a man, nor will I ever be. I have no desire to be a man and I'm so eternally thankful that God looked at me and said, "You know, I think she'll make a fantastic woman." And PS, I am pretty sure he also looked around after making Shaun and said, "This is the one. She's the one he needs. And man, will she ever need him." But that's a different post. Sorry, I saw that shiny opportunity and just had to jump on it. ;)
If being a woman is tough these days, I have to say that I think it's even harder to be a man. Turn on any kids' show or TV sitcom and you'll see what the world thinks of men. They're all hilarious, slightly stupid (in some cases very stupid), bumbling idiots. Dads make zero decisions and are only occasional "babysitters." They mess up constantly and they would crash and burn through life without their brilliant wives. As a society, we are screwing this one up royally. We are raising our little boys to be bigger versions of their little boy selves rather than teaching them what it truly means to be an actual man. And every single person is suffering for it.
If we want to raise our boys to be men, it starts with honoring and respecting their fathers. Like it or not, your children have a father given to them by Jesus himself. If he is not in your life currently (and even if he shouldn't be), that's okay. You can still respect him by not badmouthing him to his children. You can still pray for him and his spiritual walk every day. And just so you know, I'm not talking out my butt here. I have an ex-husband that I'm not overly fond of and with whom I have a history that I won't be sharing here. We shared a son. And while my husband of fourteen years adopted him long ago, I still refuse to badmouth his biological father to him (and trust me, I have plenty of useable material). I will not do it. He knows the basics of why our relationship ended and that's enough. I pray for him regularly, that when my son is one day ready to reach out to him, that bio dad is in a place spiritually and emotionally where it can be a good thing for them both. I pray for protection of my son's heart and wisdom for them both to know whether any sort of relationship is a good idea.
If the father of your children is still your husband today, you have a slightly easier job ahead of you. There are a ton of things that you can do every day that speak the language of respect to your husband while also setting a good example for your children. Show them that their dad is your priority. When he speaks to you, listen completely. Let him be in charge now and then. Don't take over the moment things look like they're getting tough. And, unless his decision could be harmful to someone (think accidental exposure to allergens or something), don't go against what he said with your kids. Talk to him about that decision later. Thank him for working hard for your family. Tell him you appreciate how hard he works every day. Don't just take him for granted on this. Cook dinner. Make that dish he loves and serve it to him. Send him a text, tag him in a meme on Facebook, add a picture together on Instagram. Pray for him and with him. Let the kids see it. Let them see you loving your husband by holding his hand, sitting together on the couch, going for walks hand in hand, playing games together with the kids, shopping together. The list goes on and on. Everything we do every single day says something. All of those little, seemingly insignificant moments add up fast.
And if your husband isn't into any of the above, figure out what works for him. Every guy is different. Every guy hears "respect" differently. You know your man, what will say, "I respect you" the most for him? Because respect is often a number one priority for men. Having it, feeling like his wife has his back, leaves him the space he needs to be the better man God is calling him to be. Growth happens on God's time, not ours.
I always feel like I have to explain myself with these posts. I'm not saying that you are responsible for your husband's attitude or his happiness. Those are his choices. But there are still things you can do yourself in your own relationship. Think about the things that you'd do for your best friend. Are there any ideas that you can apply to your relationship with your husband?
One final thought if you're still with me before I pray for us about this one. If we want to raise responsible, world changing, respectful kids into adults, we need to be giving them responsibilities. Moms, teach your boys how to do chores, how to guard a girl's heart, and how to hold a door for others as they enter a building. Dads, demonstrate guarding a girl's heart every day by doing that with your wife- their mom- and any daughters you may have. Choose your words wisely. Build her up. Tell her she's beautiful. Tell her you appreciate the million things she does without thanks every day. Ask for her advice on the things that are her strength but your weakness. They need to see it to do it.
Show them that real men do dishes and help with dinner. Show them how to really step up and lead by being a leader that serves his family without question or complaint. Demonstrate real love to them, the kind that loves them, and everyone else, without conditions. Yell less and listen more. Get off your phone and play with your kids because they don't stay little for long and soon, they won't want to hang out with you.
Let me end with a prayer for us:
Today, I pray that we can approach our marriage relationships with a fresh set of eyes. Help us to see our husbands as the partners and friends you've created them to be. Help us to demonstrate respect for our children so they can grow to be respectful men and women themselves. Give us great ideas and the motivation required to show respect to our husbands. And Lord, may our husbands receive our efforts well. Please let no woman walk away from this post feeling anything but encouraged and uplifted. Give her "ears to hear" what I'm desperately trying to share here in my own imperfect way. Help us to step up and be the parents you've designed us to be on the teams you've designed for us. Thank you for loving us.