Friday, August 19, 2011

Protect Her from Herself

I don’t know if you’ve ever noticed, but women are better worriers than men are. Compared to us, they’ve elevated the art of worrying to a high art form. Some have even gotten so good, that if everything is going good, they’re able to worry about not having anything to worry about.

Okay, maybe that last line was a little facetious. But, that doesn’t change the fact that most women worry more than most men do. It comes from a difference in the way we think. If a man is faced with a problem that he can’t do anything about, he puts it on the shelf, until he can do something about it. Women, on the other hand, have that thing following them around all day long, taunting them.

I learned this lesson early on in my marriage, when I was independently poor and self-unemployed. The bills would come in and we had a particular place where my wife would put them. I’d come home from working and she’d say something like, “The electric bill came today.”

“Okay,” I’d think, “the electric bill came. It’s not time to pay it, so I can put it on my mental shelf.” So, that’s what I did. There were only two problems with that. First of all, we might not have had the money even when it was time to pay the bill. Secondly, to my wife, it looked like I was ignoring that bill.

Much later I found out that the stack of bills I left sitting there, waiting for money to pay them, was causing my wife problems. In her mind, that stack of bills was growing like a monster, taking over the home. We didn’t have a stack of bills, we had a mountain. Even worse, her husband (me) was ignoring that mountain that was taking over. HEEEEEELLP!

Moving ahead several years in our personal saga; we found ourselves living on the road in a motorhome, traveling and ministering. We’d had several good financial years, where the bills got paid and there was money for things like clothes that didn’t come from a second-hand store. But, let me tell you, living on the road ministering isn’t any way to get rich. So, we were once again struggling financially.

This is where I used some wisdom. I talked to my wife about it and we agreed that I wouldn’t tell her how much money we had or didn’t have. The only time I would say something to my wife about our finances, was either when it was really good, or when I would say, “Only spend X amount of money at the grocery store today.” Other than that, I kept it to myself.

The result of that was that my wife was able to live, without worrying about our finances. Even though we could pretty much count on not having enough money 29 days or more out of every month, she didn’t know. That meant that she didn’t have to worry about it.

Now, let me give you some advice here. Don’t try and do the same thing, unless you have both of these things well in hand. The first one is that you need your wife’s agreement on this. Otherwise, you’re not protecting her, your treating her like an immature child. That’s not going to win you any brownie points (or any other types of points either). The second one is to make sure you take care of things, so that she doesn’t have any reason to worry.

If your wife finds out that you’ve been keeping things from her and not taking care of them, it will be Fourth of July all over again, with a spectacular fireworks display. On the other hand, if you do take care of things, when she later finds out about the problem, she will have reason to feel that her husband takes care of her and protects her.

That’s the feeling you want her to get out of all this. Not that you’re being macho. Not that you’re being dishonest. Not that you’re hiding things from her. What you want is for her to feel secure and protected. Do it right, and she’ll feel that way.

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