Friday, August 22, 2008

Windows and the ways of men....

(Sisters, this is one of those posts that seems really preachy. It was not intended to be! Please do not accept this as delivered in the spirit of criticism--I promise I do not mean it that way. I just come across that way sometimes when I write, and frankly I am usually talking to myself OR an rebuking weaknesses and temptations that are common to most if not all humans, including myself. Pray over whatever you read here and see if it applies, see if the Lord has wisdom for you here. If not, then ignore it.)

My handsome men before their trip in the mountains.

My beautiful Sisters!!!

I am sorry for my absence recently, but have been deep in thought, prayer, and activity.
Little Man and TWS have both been under the weather, though Little Man seems to be done with it. I think I probably have it too, but it is nothing for me to complain about--mild and ignorable. (though if TWS was not feeling so bad, i probably would be looking for a little sympathy from him lolol).

We installed two new egress windows in the babies' rooms (babies--they are 12 and 9! lol). This is something that I have wanted to do since we moved in here. These new windows are triple paned, argon filled, and work like a dream! The Lord is so kind to us in many ways, including us getting these windows.

I helped TWS put these windows in, which is always fun. He is very patient and he is just so handy and capable! He makes me feel like I am actually ASSISTING, not just "being a good helper for daddy" lolol. He sometimes sent me to the garage with a board so I could use the chop saw (SOO much fun!) to cut it to size. Most of the day I just followed him around and wrote down measurements, but I still got to help :-).

I have to praise the Lord for the sweet man that TWS is....this weekend was one of those "warm in the sun, cold in the shade" weekends. We had to make many trips between the house and the garage. Many times when we would go to the front door, TWS would pause and let me just stand in the sun for a few minutes, being warm and relaxed. Then we would go in the house. All weekend he was encouraging me to go stand in the sun! I am so grateful to the Lord for his thoughtfulness!

Anyway, because the rooms are in the daylight basement, the previous windows were high, smaller, and the new windows were big enough that they needed to be below the dirt line. He did all the heavy digging, had to reframe in part of the windows, and even had to deal with the electrical wires and pipes in Precious' room. This is where the Lord blessed us AGAIN. TWS thought he might get partway through the project and either need to rip out giant areas of sheetrock and/or call an electrician. HOWEVER, thank the LORD, there was a ton of slack in an electrical line and we were able to just nudge it down farther into the hole it already was!

Because the windows were below the dirt line, we had to dig out the dirt and place something in there. TWS used treated lumber and made what looks like little decks outside each window. They were SO pretty that I told him that I could just see little planters of flowers on each side! Precious is excited to put seed out so she can do some bird watching right outside her window.

There were some ideas that I would like to share. One thing I want to encourage EVERY woman to do is to find something that she can do with her husband. If he likes cars, learn how to work a wrench. If he likes old tools, then have him teach you how to grade them for worth (TWS and I used to go through ebay and he would ask me "what would you rate this one" and I would go down the list of characteristics for each level of collectibility--I got to be ok at that, and it was fun!). I know he might have hobbies that you would not pick yourself, but you get to spend time with him, and it seems to be something that many men enjoy. Frankly, the men are probably not going to learn to sew or knit with you lolol. SO, it is generally up to us to learn to appreciate the things they appreciate. I know that TWS likes to brag sometimes on me because of that very thing (he thinks it is cool to tell the guys at work that he got us "his and hers" pistols for our anniversary one year, and that I actually liked that!).

(You can also use their talents for your benefit lolol. If they enjoy wood working, and you enjoy sewing, see if they will build you are beautiful sewing table or quilt rack or something. They get to do what they want to do, but for you, and you give them the praise that most men crave!)

So even if a hobby that they have is something that you could not care less about, see if your sweetie would be willing to get you started in learning about it. You will be broadening your mind in any case, and you might find out that you REALLY ARE a car chick, or have a knack for something. For example, TWS is into bow hunting and took me to try archery one time several years ago. I discovered that the Lord had given me great talent in that, and I was state champion the next year. I am probably the LEAST likely candidate for it, as I have only one good eye, and it is terribly nearsighted (therefore I have no depth perception). I also get super stressed when people watch me do some things, and getting the shakes when you are trying to hit a target the size of a dime at about 18 yards with something the diameter of a green bean is REALLY unhelpful. But the Lord blessed me with that talent. I like to think that it is BECAUSE I am so ridiculously unqualified to be a good shooter that He knows I cannot take pride in myself in this in any way. I chuckle at the thought of the Lord saying "Hey, let's let the blind girl shoot...". This way I cannot be proud of MYSELF because it so OBVIOUSLY is the Lord.

(My first, and right now only, Robin Hooded arrow. This was many years ago.)

I digress....Then you get to spend time with your sweetie in other ways than intimacy, "hey hon, here is supper" or (in an exasperated fashion when he steps through the door after work) "TAG, you are so INCREDIBLY it. Take the baby, and I am going to go take a bubble bath...". You can be your husband's FRIEND as well as his helpmeet and wife. :-)

Now your sweetie might want "guy time" too--and maybe working on cars or something is his way of bonding with his buds. That is fine! Or maybe he has to de-stress in the garage after a hard day at work, withdrawing to his "mancave". That is perfectly normal for men as well.

However, you can probably find times when he might be more open to teaching you a bit about whatever interest him. Verbally praise his knowledge and ability and ask him to teach you. Most guys REALLY like to be appreciated for the "manly" stuff they do, and pretty much all guys like to "peacock" in front of their mates, showing off their knowledge and ability. Tis a wise woman who recognizes that in her man and encourages him. He will come to look for praise from her instead of from other people (including other women), because he knows he can trust her and that she appreciates him.

This is also why we must never cut down our husbands ESPECIALLY to other people--EVER! Every husband has quirks and struggles (as does every wife--we are all human). However, those are private UNLESS it is something abusive or immoral.

Do not tease him in ways that undercut his masculinity, even in jest. In each man, there is still a little boy who wants to know that he can cut it. Just picture that when tempted to overlook your husband or to criticize him to someone or to tease him. You might have defenses or habits built up that makes you critize or tease unkindly--drop them NOW as they have no place in your mind or marriage. :-)

In fact, get rid of all bad talking about ANYONE. When someone is critical of others, even if they praise me to my face, I do not entirely trust them not to talk about me behind my back. There is a difference between getting counsel from a third party ("I do not know what to do....they did this. Should I let my children play with theirs?"), sharing hurt feelings ("She did should I react?"), etc and bad mouthing people behind their back ("She is such a slob....he is such a jerk....").

I thought of the Proverbs 31 woman's husband who praised her but NOT by belittling other women. He said "Many women do noble things, but you surpass them all.". Notice how he did NOT say "Other women are useless shrews, but you are good". No, he built her up by recognizing other women's worth and then saying she surpasses even women who do noble things.

There are two lessons here: one is what I mentioned earlier--bad mouthing others is NOT the way to praise someone, because you set yourself up as untrustworthy with someone's dignity when you do that.

Secondly, people know that we are being false if we do not recognize the worth in others, but praise them. It actually gives MORE weight to a praise when someone says "Yes, other people are excellent woodworkers/homemakers/students, but your work surpasses theirs.". At that point they feel that we are honestly evaluating their work, not just saying that because we are their mom, wife, or friend. There is a song lyric WRITTEN BY A MAN (Rodney Crowell, sung by Keith Urban) that says "I want to stand out in a crowd for you...a man among men.". He did not want to stand out as a man among mice (weak, useless men), but, to her,as a great man among other REALLY good men. Men want a competition, not a gimme.

Now, we have to be careful not to "appreciate" people too much! I honestly cringe when married women go on and on about movie stars, etc. We have to be careful not to lust (yes, women can lust too!), AND to be careful not to accidentally give our husbands the idea that we are setting them up against "James Bond" or "Indiana Jones". Even if they do not get the idea that they are not our heroes, it is still unfeminine and unlady like and ungodly.

Just like it is not cute or endearing to hear a husband talk about the "front porch" of a swimsuit issue model, it is not cute or endearing to hear a wife praise the masculinity or patoot of another man. This, I think, is the fault of women the impression that it is funny, cute, or acceptable for a woman to drool or gush over men who are not their husbands (especially in lustful ways). In the Old Testament, there were two sisters, if I recall correctly, who drooled over the virility and handsomeness of men they saw in paintings. Needless to say, these two sisters were condemned for that action.

I think we do not even realize what we are doing! I think it is a societal thing, but one we Christian women must renounce. It might seem harmless, but it hurts the integrity of the family, the brotherhood of believers, and the soul.

Back to a hardened, critical spirit.....If your heart is hardened for some reason, picture your husband as a little boy standing there, desperately trying to see if he is good enough. Frankly I think just about every man, no matter how successful or independent, still has that little boy part in them. Every time he casually mentions getting a carbeuretor to work, or just happens to point out a new project in a magazine he is thinking of starting, or when he offhandedly remarks about something at work that he fixed or an argument that he won, he is probably looking for affirmation of his masculinity from you about it, just like how we want to be affirmed as desirable, pretty, noble, etc.

If your husband had a harsh or absent father who never gave praise, *OR* if he was overindulged to the point where he never HAD to "man up" (and therefore does not know if he can), he will be especially sensitive to the slightest whiff of derision or condescension or DOUBT from you. The more macho a man acts, GENERALLY the more insecure he feels (not always, some of it might be cultural or societal). A man who is not desperate to discover his worth is one who can find the worth in others as well, including you. A man who CANNOT accept any help at all is one who probably still has doubt in their own abilities--their pride prevents them from accepting even reasonable help.

Also, many men get feeling the years slip away and need more praise when they are starting to realize they are not young bucks anymore. It SEEMS that was going on with Mark Spitz, the retired swimmer, this week. Now, I did not read the whole article, and I am not sure how accurate the reporter was, but online it was reported that Mark Spitz was saying that he could have kept pace with Phelps' gold medal, world record swim if they were both swimming in their prime.

Let's take the report of him saying that with a grain of salt (as it might be a misquote or misconstrued) BUT let's explore why he might say that *IF* that what it seemed at face value. Mark Spitz was a great swimmer. WAS a great swimmer. I mean, I am sure the man could still swim circles around me, BUT he is not competing in the Olympics anymore. But at some point someone sought him out this week and asked him about it. I think that was probably not the most tactful thing to do, frankly, and we wives can take a lesson from that. As wives we should not remind our husbands of their "advancing age" or any other weaknesses--our men are not stupid, they know how old they are. They feel the aches and ebbing strength. Our job is not to remind them that they are over the hill, but to remind them that they are still *MAN* enough to climb it.

So back to Mark Spitz. *IF* he did say what he did, and mean it the way it sounds, it sounds like he is missing the hunt, the chase, the praise and the affirmation. Our husbands do too. If they are unappreciated at work, if they are unappreciated in society, they look for ways to find appreciation and to prove to themselves that they can still "cut it".

So give your husband the appreciation he is looking for. Make him your hero.

If he brings up a challenge he is considering that is dangerous, risky, physical, etc, then affirm his ability to handle that challenge. Assure him that you KNOW he is masculine enough to undertake it, as opposed to pointing out all the risks and how you are afraid he will not be able to do it (too old, bad knees, it is too dangerous, heart problems, gout, whatever). Build him up. It might never get out of the "I bet I could...." phase for him. In fact, he might not actually WANT to do it....he just might want to hear that he COULD if he wanted to. He might just want to know that he can, and he needs you to tell him that.

Now, we, in our fear and caution, might instantly start saying all the reasons why they should not even attempt such a thing. I do that sometimes. But we need to bite our tongue and/or find a way to build them up WHILE addressing legitimate concerns ("Hon, I know you are strong enough to hike up that mountain--that is not even a question. But there have been a great deal of bear attacks this now a good time for that sort of thing?").

Besides our fears are probably unfounded. The Colonel is definitely over 60, has aches and pains and such, but is right now hiking through Yellowstone backcountry with several men in a fishing expedition. He has had several of these hikes planned throughout the years, and most with men much younger than he. But he not only holds his own, but is built up by doing so. Colastie is wise in recognizing that the spirit in him is alive and well. We live so much longer now, but men (and women) age DECADES before their time when they act and are treated as aged instead of as vigorous. I have seen 45 year olds that were "older" than the Colonel. Is the Colonel 30 anymore? No. But he is still strong and capable because no one is telling him he isn't.

So ladies, praise your dh often and thoughtfully. You may start to notice subtle cues that he is looking for some praise from you, so give it to him. Do not act surprised ("wow, for a clumsy guy, you did a great job"lol) but rather like it is par for the course ("that car sounds great....of course that is not a surprise, you are always brilliant with making a car run, it is one of the things I love most about you..."). Praise their ability and provision.

Look for ways to build your sons up as well. Little Man is realizing that he is growing into a man, but is still a child. So he talks to me in his regular voice, but talks to "the men" in a VERY deep voice. It is adorable, but it would be wrong of me to point that out to him and make him feel foolish (he is not being foolish, he is developing into a man). He is trying to fit in with the men, is striving to be one. He has to do that by acting like a man, being businesslike when they are around, holding back tears if he is hurt, carrying his own weight, being involved in decisions. It is hard (he is my baby!), but I need to recognize that and praise that ("Wow, boy, you are getting SO are getting to be such a man").

(TWS and Little Man a couple of years ago doing manly whittling)

Do NOT be false with your praise, of course, but find ways of mentioning the traits that you want built up in your children and husband. People will do more of what they are praised FOR, instead of stopping what they are condemned about.

One more thing...your husband might need different types of praise at different times. Sometimes he might need EFFUSIVE praise, GUSHING praise "Oh honey, thank you SO MUCH for this present! You are entirely too kind to me!". Sometimes he might need "duh" praise that conveys to him that you expect excellence from him because he is excellent, and that if anyone doubted that for a second, they would be blind: "Well of course the deck looks beautiful--you are a master craftsman. You always do exceptional work.". This is excellent type praise when they feel insecure about something.

Sometimes praise things that have been done for a while "You know honey, I just keep thinking about how great the car runs now since you fixed it. Thank you so much.".

Now, again, do not be flip or ridiculously overabundant ("Wow, what a masculine way you brush your teeth! WOW, you turned that page with the most incredible display of brute strength!") with your praise.....he needs to know that you are not just being a cheerleader, but rather a thinking woman who can recognize worth when she sees it ("You know, I am thankful that God blessed me with a man who can keep an engine running. It makes me feel safe.").

Wow, I do go on so, don't I! :-) Well that is what happens when I do not post for a while...all of my thoughts just sort of explode onto the screen lolol. I only meant to do a quick post as to not let y'all think I was not going to blog anymore, then to talk about the windows, then I just sort of blabbed all over the place! Y'all are patient as can be if you have made it this far!

In any case, pray over what I have said and see if the Lord is leading you to praise your man specifically in some way. Pray that the Lord shows you what your husband and your children need from you. It is not your job to tear them down or remind them of their limitations or failings--the world does that every day. It is your job to be a cup of cool water for their souls, to show them the Lord's work in their lives and yours, to show them their worth in the Lord, and to enable them to develop their talents and abilities that the Lord gave them so that they can use those in His service.


Lady-in-the-Making said...

WOW!!! WOW! AND WOWWWWWW!! What an EXCELLENT post!!! This is incredible. I was very convicted by this even though I "know" what a wise wife does to edify her husband. Wow. Thank you so much for this!

arrowsparrow said...

I praise the Lord if I said anything wise! I got to thinking while I was typing "WOW people will find this long and boring and preachy!". lolol
Thank you for your kind words!!!

coffeecravingirl said...

Ditto those wow's!! Just wanted to let you know, I read your archives...great blog..loving it. You are thought provoking (as always), insightful, encouraging, and inspiring. I see a lot of likenesses in your posts and my mother's on her blog. (not saying you are older, though! lol)

coffeecravingirl said...

ps...what is a GRIT?

arrowsparrow said...

In this case, it is not a "GRIT" but a "GRITS"--girl raised in the south. There are some funny books about the ways of southern women out there, including GRITS Guides. They are fun to read!

coffeecravingirl said...

Oh, thanks!
(Isn't Grits also a southern dish?)