By Kali Dawson, Crosswalk.com
There's an old hymn that says: "prone to wander, Lord I feel it, prone to leave the God I love." (Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing)
We live in a world that teaches us to wander. Many of us have trouble starting something and sticking to it. We get bored easily, and we are constantly moving on to the next thing.
My husband is a car guy. He loves talking about cars, driving cars, fixing cars, buying cars, you name it. It used to drive me a little bit nuts in the beginning because cars are not my thing. But over the years, I've learned to talk about them (or at least listen to all the neat stuff he has in his brain to tell me about them or whatever he wants to show me that he's working on). If you're lucky enough to marry a car guy and have the guts to sit through endless car conversations, one thing they will teach you is this: You don't need to throw a car out. You can always restore or re-build it, and if you have the patience, make it even better than it was before! And let me tell you, boy, does he have the patience! He's working on a 1981 Mustang Coupe right now, and it's beautiful. He puts time and effort into it whenever he can to make sure it runs perfectly.
And I know that when he reads this (because he always reads my work), he will agree with me when I say that he also puts time and effort into making sure I feel loved, beautiful, safe, secure, and respected by him as his wife.
As a car guy, he understands the value of putting time and effort into the things that matter to him. He understands the importance of paying attention to detail and that if even one small thing is off, it can ruin the way his car runs. The same goes for his marriage: he pays attention to my feelings and checks in on me. I'm sure there are times he doesn't want to because he knows I can be a tsunami of emotions, but he asks me if I'm okay because my husband knows that my feelings are a vital part of who I am as a person and an essential part of our relationship as husband and wife.
I mentioned before that we live in a world that teaches us to wonder, but throughout all these car talks over the years, my husband has taught me the value of starting something and sticking to it—the value of working on something instead of wandering away from it and onto the next thing. And if we're honest with ourselves, when things get tough and the rubber hits the road: we are all prone to wander, just like the old hymn says. And wandering with your eyes, thoughts, and heart in a marriage are all swift ways to show disrespect to your wife without even realizing it. Let me show you.
Scenario One: Wandering Eyes
Your wife has had multiple kids. She doesn't feel that confident in her own skin, but you always tell her she's the most beautiful woman in the world, and you're so glad her tummy housed all your little babies. But you're out for a walk on the beach one sunny afternoon, and your eyes start wandering towards every other woman around. Your wife pretends she doesn't notice even though she does, and it wrecks her a little bit inside each time it happens.
As a woman, I feel most respected when I know my husband has eyes for me. One of the ways I feel most respected by him is when he makes sure that his wife is the main attraction regardless of who else is around.
Scenario Two: Wandering Thoughts
Your wife is telling you a story that is incredibly important to her. You're not all that interested in what she's pouring her heart out about, so you respond and, look at her, nod on occasion and also occasionally check your phone. Your wife pretends she doesn't notice because she's used to you not giving her your full attention, so she continues with her story. But she does, and it wrecks her a little bit inside each time it happens.
As a wife, I feel most respected by my husband when I know he's giving me his full attention, just like he did when we were dating and he was trying to impress me. I know that he gives his full attention to other things throughout the day and that there is no reason his thoughts should wander when I'm trying to have a conversation with him.
Scenario Three: Wandering Heart
Your wife has been telling you that she feels like you're married to your job instead of her. Your job always comes first. As a result, she feels like she is in second place. You reason that you have to make a certain amount of money so that when work calls, even if you're on a date or she needs you, you're out the door. She knows you love her: but she feels that you love your job, your title, your promotions, and the applause you get at work more than you love her.
As a wife, I feel most respected when I know my husband's heart is in the right place. I know that when he's burning the candle at both ends trying to make more and more money, his heart is wandering away from the kids and me. Just as I feel disrespected when work interrupts our time as a family, so do my kids. We always make more money, but our moments as a young family are precious and priceless.
Oftentimes, as husband and wife, neither of us is going out of our way to be disrespectful. But it happens. Just as our hearts are prone to wander from the good that God has for our lives and fall back into old habits and old ways of thinking, so are our hearts prone to wander in marriage.
One of the worst possible ways our thoughts can wander in marriage is when we are in a rough spot with our partner, and we start thinking that maybe things would be better with someone else. I used to tell my husband when we were newly married and would argue over our differences: "If I can't make things right with you, I can't make them right with anyone." The next person will have their flaws and quirks. Just like I do.
If eyes, thoughts, and heart have been wandering from your wife: I can guarantee you she's noticed, even if you haven't. I can also guarantee that she feels disrespected as your wife and may even be acting disrespectfully towards you because of your wandering. She may be resentful of you because of your wandering. She may be ready to give up because of your wandering. Because when you married her, you promised to love and cherish her all the days of her life - not anything else. Do what you promised to do in the beginning. Love and cherish her, put her first, and she will feel like the most respected woman in the world.
"He who loves his wife, loves himself." -Ephesians 5:28(b)
Photo credit: ©GettyImages/jacoblund
Kali Dawson graduated from St. Thomas University with a B.A. in English and a Minor in Journalism and Communications. She is a School Teacher, Pilates Instructor, and Mama of two young children and a beautiful 2020 baby. She is married to her real-life Superhero. When she's not holding small hands or looking for raised hands you will find her writing fervently about faith and family. To read more, you can find her on Facebook at Faith, Family, Freelance.