Several marriages that are close to me have either divorced or separated recently and it has started me thinking about a lot of things. Things that I have observed both in my own marriage and in other marriages. Things that should and shouldn't be in a marriage relationship.
One thing, though, has stood out to me in particular. It will probably not be a very popular thing, either, but I truly believe it has a lot of merit.
And here it is: too often wives expect their husbands to be perfect. They want to be catered to and loved and spoiled and for hubby to do the dishes and change the diapers and take them out on dates. I don't really have issues with that, as I pretty much expect Joel to do all of that for me, too. What I do have a problem with, is that these same wives think they shouldn't have to do anything that would make their husbands happy. Or, better said, they feel that husbands shouldn't have the same types of expectations of wives as the women do for their men.
Perhaps it's the women's liberation, feminist, I am Woman, hear me roar type of stuff. Perhaps women feel they are already doing so much for their husbands and families (and they probably are) that they shouldn't have to worry about exactly what their particular husband needs from them. Perhaps I am totally out of line. If I am, you can go ahead and stop reading right now.
A few years ago my mom lent me Dr. Laura Schlessinger's book, "The Proper Care and Feeding of Husbands." I read it and agreed with much of what she has to say. It was on my coffee table one day when I had some friends over. One of them picked up the book, snorted and said, "What about the proper care and feeding of wives? That's what we really need." That friend is now divorced. I am not in any way saying that her attitude brought about the demise of her marriage, but I can't help wondering if it was a contributing factor.
In the troubled and ended marriages that I spoke of earlier, I noticed some of the wives placing 100% of the blame on the husbands. He doesn't show me enough affection, he's addicted to his work, he's not paying enough attention to me, he this and he that. I have great difficulty with it all. I am by no means perfect in my marriage. I recognize when Joel isn't putting me first and I get upset/annoyed/angry/hurt about that. And I let him know. But I also try to let him know how wonderful I think he is and how grateful I am for him and for all he does for me and the kids. And I try to realize that if I want a happy husband who wants to do for me, I must also do for him.
President Hinckley said once, "The greatest factor in a happy marriage is an anxious concern for the comfort and well being of one's companion." Yes, he said it in the Priesthood Session, and perhaps the men need to hear it more than the women, BUT he did not say women are exempt. Women should have just as much "anxious concern" for the "comfort and well-being" of their spouse as should any man. And I think that showing gratitude for all our husbands do is the first step (even though we often feel they don't reciprocate or understand all that we do).
So, no matter how annoyed I am at Joel for coming home at lunch today and messing up my sparkling kitchen by cooking fish and rice instead of just making a PB&J, I am grateful for him. Grateful that I don't have a husband who comes home for lunch and demands that I make something for him. Grateful that he cleaned up the kitchen for me seven hours later. Grateful that he went to work today so I can even have a messy kitchen in the first place.
You may feel that I am living in the dark ages, and maybe I am. I really believe all I've said to be true, though. It takes two to tango, and we can only control our own actions. So, rather than complain and whine about all hubby isn't doing right, figure out what you aren't doing right and do something to improve. It will go a long way towards fixing his own issues. I'm sure of it.
Edited: I got a phone call this morning from someone dear to me who is currently separated from her husband, wanting to know if I was talking about her. I wasn't, and I appreciate the call. We had a really good talk. I'm afraid that others reading this might feel the same way and I wanted to clarify that all of the divorces I am talking about happened while I was serving as RS President. Because of that calling I had occasion to talk to the women involved and to know more than I would ever want to know about the details of the marriages in question. If you have never confided in me about your marriage then I am not talking about you. Hope that helps people rest a little easier!