You know how people without children often have loads of solid parenting advice? I like to call this the Peanut Gallery effect. I’ve been a mom (pregnancy to present) for over eight years and I’ve got plenty of on-the-job experience with this. No one knows the heart your child needs like you do. It didn’t occur to me that there’s a similar phenomenon where unmarried people (i.e., me for a good amount of my life until recently) judge and advise the married. For instance, I may have looked at how one married friend treated her husband and thought she handled it wrong. I may’ve even mentioned what I’d do in her situation. To her, and on behalf of all married people who’ve received such input, allow me to apologize. No one knows the heart your husband needs the way that you do.
As I’m typing this, my poor sweet Superman is laid out in the bed after a long day’s work in a city quite a distance away trying to come back from nausea and a headache. He came home, kissed us on the head, and went straight to bed. As I brought him water, offered to get him anything he needed, and caressed his clean-shaven head, I realized that what he needs from me in this moment is absence. He needs solitude. He needs permission to sleep and do what he needs to do without feeling guilty about neglecting family responsibilities. That’s what I’m giving him (and if I’m not mistaken, he’s now OUT like a light).
Past, unmarried me might’ve thought that actions such as this show wifely neglect. How short-sighted is that? How is listening to your husband’s need and then responding to it neglect? Obviously, the answer is that it isn’t. It’s the opposite. Please, don’t allow the naysayers to sway you. You know your marriage. He knows your marriage. God knows your marriage. Unless there’s domestic violence, emotional/psychological abuse, or something else dangerous going on, nobody else gets a say in your marriage.
“Lord, grant that I might not so much seek to be loved as to love.” ~St. Francis of Assisi
St. Francis brings forth a whole lot for reflection in that one sentence within his renowned prayer. This month has had a lot of conversation (so far) about the beautiful sacrament of matrimony and how to practically live it out. This quote is a perfect summation for what we’re called to do. I have to try to show my love for Superman more than I seek Superman’s signs of his love for me.
Trust your wifely instincts, my fellow Catholic wives. You are perfectly suited to provide exactly what your husband needs. Today mine needs rest and permission to disappear. Tomorrow, he might need an ear or a shoulder or a warm embrace. Whatever it is, I will make sure he gets it. I’m perfectly designed to read his needs and provide them; and so are you for your husband.
Please don’t listen to the world. I mean, in reality, listening to the world is NEVER a good idea. We’ve been given a wonderful guidebook in the Bible and excellent examples in married saints (like St. Joseph, St. Monica, Sts. Zelie and Louis Martin, Sts. Priscilla and Aquila, and St. Gianna Beretta Molla, for example) and those celibate saints who had much to say on the topic of marriage (St. John Paul the Great, St. John Chrysostom, and St. Valentine (who witnessed to the beauty of marriage)). If we’re listening to anyone other than ourselves on how we live out our marriages, let it be them.
Have you stopped to think about the heart your husband needs from you lately? Maybe it’s a listening heart. Perhaps it’s a service heart. You know what he needs, though. May you find it easy to provide it to him.