I have been wanting to work this one out for a very long time. Hopefully, it helps you guys make sense of a few things.
Center. That perfect place where we all want to be. The place where everything is just right. Not too cold, or too hot. Not broke, but not bogged down with unreasonable money issues. Not skinny, but not fat. That kind of center. The place where everything is comfortable and peaceful. Yeah. That would be wonderful.
Personally, I have never been there for long. I pass it regularly, but never seem to really stay. I gravitate towards the extremes.
I quit smoking in May of 2013. I love the smell and taste of a cigar. Maybe one day, I could just have one and enjoy it. Maybe. As of right now, one would become ten by the end of the day. I tend to go “all in” like that.
Food is a similar issue with me. Most skinny people can eat a slice of pizza, enjoy it and move on to whatever skinny people do after eating pizza. I tend to have a piece. Then I have a piece. Then I have a piece. Then, if there’s any left… I will probably have a piece. That one enjoyable thing becomes a problem when it turns to addiction. Cigars, pizza, coffee, whatever it is. I feel like I know myself well enough to be conscious of things like this.
It’s either compete indulgence or complete abstinence. Not much middle ground. No center.
I have been pondering a concept that calls itself “riding the pendulum.” The idea that we seem to miss that perfect center while passing it on the way to another extreme. It shows up in hundreds of ways. The one I am focused on right now is in relationships between husbands and wives.
In an abusive or neglectful or tyrannical marriage, the pendulum has been swinging way out onto the side of the husband. It has held the relationship on his side, focused on his needs and desires. It has held the family and their lives at the mercy of the husband and his whims. Whatever he likes or doesn’t like has determined their daily life. Whatever he wants or doesn’t want has determined the course of their life. The wife has essentially no life outside of his decisions. No life.
When men understand that they are facing divorce, and suddenly wake up to her needs, the pendulum will make a rapid shift. Once the husband realizes his entire world is about to change, because of the position of this pendulum, he will usually swing it to her side quickly. Everything is suddenly about her. Suddenly, everything she needs and wants matters. Suddenly, he doesn’t seem to care about anything on his side. Great.
When the pendulum is pushed over there like that, it’s still about the husband. It’s still about his needs and desires. He is losing his toy. He isn’t happy about what is happening to him. Usually, even when it all seems to be about her, it’s still about him. When the shift happens like this, it is only a matter of time until the thing is fully swinging back to his side again.
Then it’s worse for her. Now, she has made commitments and decisions to work it out. Now she is even more beat down, emotionally, because she thought he had changed. She just fell victim to another conquest of the guy who doesn’t understand her value or how to love her. He just went into salesman mode to convince her to stay. She might be there, she might be working with renewed commitment, but it’s only a matter of time before she breaks again.
She will eventually figure out that he is just full of crap and leave. The problem is that most of us are full of crap like that. We don’t understand our wives and don’t really try. We are convinced that its all about us. We don’t understand why she gets upset and can’t just be happy that we are still here. We really are stupid sometimes.
So, in our daily abusive and arrogant mentality, the pendulum of our marriage is way over on the husbands side. It holds the marriage in a place where he is happy. When it’s that far off center, she might be trying to be happy, but she isn’t. When it’s way over there, we might feel that massive ego boost of having her in complete submission to us, but it’s killing her. When all of her needs and desires are neglected or broken down for years, she is a time bomb. Just wait.
We have to swing the pendulum to her side for the right reasons. Because we love her. Because she is an absolute gift from God. Because we stood in front of her and our families and made a lifelong commitment to love, honor and cherish her. Because we will never really qualify as a good men until we make her the most important person in our life. Because the purpose of salvation was to rescue the bride and do what was best for her. Because we are commanded to love her like Christ loved the church. Because she is worth it.
Ok. Why don’t we want to do it? Because we are afraid of giving up the man card? Because we will look weak? Because we will feel like we are in submission? Why? What reason keeps us (you) from making the switch and focusing on her needs and desires over ours? When we are commanded to love each other, isn’t she supposed to be first in line? Doesn’t everyone else’s needs and desires come after hers? Is there anyone alive who has the right to ask you to neglect her and focus on them?
Here’s where most guys give up. Even after they have made the initial effort to swing it all to her side. They can’t leave it there. They only swing it to her side to realign the universe and get it back to their side as quickly as possible. If it stays there too long, it is violently uncomfortable. It is crippling to their ego. It crushes their spirit. It makes them feel like a dog that is being trained. It is a brutal assault on their manliness.
Trust me. I know.
I went though it. I survived it. I held that pendulum completely on her side for almost four years. My needs and desires meant nothing. Whatever I wanted had nothing to do with any decision process. It was all about her. It was about figuring out what she loved and wanted. It was a time to to get my head on straight and get my focus back. Just like when we were dating, it was a time to listen to her and learn what she was like. It was a time to win her heart and convince her I was the man she was looking for. It was a time to get her to fall in love with me.
It was a difficult time for that whiny, crybaby ego of mine. It was brutal to my self esteem when my friends and family thought I was an idiot. Nobody thought what I was doing made sense. Nobody understood why I would voluntarily reduce myself to a servant and neglect my own happiness the way I did. But, it was necessary. It was a very hard time, but that was the time we both needed to get our focus back.
There are still times when we both have an opinion or difference and have to make a choice. If she wants one thing and I want another, I am going with her. Not compromise, not her submitting to my wishes or authority. Because I am more concerned about her life being good than I am about mine, we go where she wants to go. Not because I am a coward or spineless, but because I know something that most of you don’t.
Making her happy is what makes me happy. When she is happy, life is amazing. You will never experience life like I do as long as everything you do is based on your own selfishness. You will eventually find your center, but only after swinging it to her side and taking the time for it to find center gradually. The way she needs it to happen. At her pace, based on her needs. Not yours.
Get over it. Find center. Find her heart again.