Monday, November 19, 2007

Strong Fathers, Strong Daughters

I’m reading a most excellent book this week given to me by my loving Mother. I’m going to try to give his book to everyone I know that has a daughter to raise. There are lots I have to share in this book but I just wanted to write down an excerpt from the book:

“After we were married I quickly decided that some of my husband’s habits needed changing. For one, he exercised too much. For another, he spent hours at home catching up on work. In both cases, he left me feeling lonely. So I developed a plan.
For the first ten years of our marriage, I studied him (I’m a scientist after all) and identified what I thought he needed to change. I compiled a hefty unwritten list. Then over the second ten years of our marriage, I worked to help make those changes one by one. His “need” to exercise all the time? Nope, I don’t think so, not with four kids and a busy household. His workaholic bent? Not in my house. If he had time to listen patiently to all his patients (many of whom were my friends) during office hours, then he certainly had time when he was home to put the phone down, turn off the computer, leave the medical books on the shelves, and talk to me.
I won some battles and I lost some. Finally, for the third decade of our marriage, I’ve thrown in the towel and decided to leave the man alone. And now I feel embarrassed about all the pushing and prodding I did, because it all seems so selfish. I repeated phrases that you’ve probably heard countless times yourself, like “I need you with me more”; “I need more help with the lids”; “I want you to communicate better with me”. Most women have these thoughts, and they grind away inside us. We want our lives to be easier and we think “If only he would do this, then my life would be so much better. If only I could get him to understand this, my life would be so much richer.
Fifteen years ago, I scolded my husband for being selfish. That didn’t work. Saturdays he had a routine that irritated me. He would walk in from the garage, the metal on the bottom of his bike shoes clattering against the tile on the mudroom floor, and ask, “Do you care if I go on a bike ride?” It was a ridiculous question because he equally brightly clad biking buddies were standing in the driveway waiting for him.
Ten years ago, I pleaded with him to stay home and help me run the kids around. That didn’t work. Five years ago, I told him, quietly and lovingly, that he would enjoy his life so much more if he didn’t enjoy his selfish desires. That didn’t work either. Now, when Saturday morning rolls around, I simply say, “Have a good ride.” And we’re both happier.
When a man wants to ride his bike, he rides his bike. He is who he is, and - guess what? – he’s more than enough. He is a good man – a very good man. What I thought I “needed” from him, I had already. What I gave up was my obsession with changing him. My husband knew how to separate the wheat from the chaff. Women can lose sight of that.


1 comment:

Sean Ryan said...

Jeff I read that and thought of this:
To everything there is a season,
a time for every purpose under the sun.
A time to be born and a time to die;
a time to plant and a time to pluck up that which is planted;
a time to kill and a time to heal ...
a time to weep and a time to laugh;
a time to mourn and a time to dance ...
a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing;
a time to lose and a time to seek;
a time to rend and a time to sew;
a time to keep silent and a time to speak;
a time to love and a time to hate;
a time for war and a time for peace.

ecclesiastes 3:1-8