This was originally published at wholefamilystrong.com
I watched a video a few days ago, featuring two toddlers in a minor confrontation. One hits the other and runs away crying. Then he is chased down and hit back. Then that one turns and runs the other way crying. Only to be chased down and the cycle starts all over.
I can’t help but notice how many adults use the same tactics and logic in daily life.
She started it.
It’s not my fault.
What about her?
If she would…. Then I would….
It sounds like toddler logic to me. Demanding the other person grow up and act right so you can have it better. Assuming that they exist just to make your life good. Demanding that other people adjust to make you happy. Trying to be the boss and have a small slave army to follow you around and serve you.
Does it all sound stupid? Of course it sounds stupid. It’s a little entertaining when it involves people who are two feet tall, wearing diapers and swinging plastic toys. It’s less amusing when it involves adults throwing insults and demands.
Wait. In case you forgot who is writing this…. This is Erik. The formerly abusive husband who nearly lost everything. The guy who made it twenty years, purely on the grace and mercy of a wife who was desperately trying to have a family. The guy who pushed his loving, compassionate and generous wife to the breaking point. The guy who pushed her buttons until all she wanted in life was to get away from him. Yeah, me. I write to the other knucklehead men out there who just don’t get it. Not the ladies.
We were in a local restaurant a few days ago, watching a TV with the news running. They had a story about a man that barely escaped being shot by his own wife. She was arrested, he was telling his story. There was no sound from the TV, just the text on the screen and the video from the news crew.
After I made a comment about how miserable she looked, and how he probably earned it, the guy next to us sat up. “Boy, I hope you don’t end up on his jury. You already decided it was all his fault.” Yes, he was right. I made that assumption.
Want to know why?
It’s about one in a thousand bad marriages, where the wife is determined to cause problems and wreck the marriage. In the other 999, there’s this woman who is trying to have a home and a family, and this guy who is demanding everything on his terms. The wife is doing everything she knows to keep them together, while the guy is doing all he can to have it his way. Some are subtle, some are dangerous. A woman who is being loved and treated well doesn’t go after him with a gun. That happens after years of abuse in one way or another.
In almost every marriage, there are two people with slightly different agendas. There’s a wife, who thought she was marrying Prince Charming and only wants to enjoy life with her best friend in a happy home. Then, there’s the husband. The guy who thought he was getting married so he could have sex whenever he wanted. Something like that.
The problems begin when there’s a decision to be made. Compromise comes in. Someone doesn’t get their way. Someone doesn’t get what they want. Someone grabs a plastic golf club, the other grabs a plastic bat, and here we go…
In traditional marriage counseling, this is where I would start throwing out that standard foolishness. 50/50. Two way street. Compromise. His needs. Her needs. Submission. Right? Nope. Not here.
There’s a verse in that bible we carry around that says it’s my fault. As a husband, I have to jump this massive hurdle called Ephesians 5:25. The one that says husbands love your wives as Christ loved the church. The one that told me I was not worthy of being called a Christian or a husband without giving it some real thought. The one that put this whole marriage thing into perspective for me.
Do we all pretty much understand salvation? It’s the bridegroom, in an act of utterly selfless and self sacrificing love, giving up everything to do what was best for His bride. It’s Christ living and dying to save the bride. It’s about Him doing everything for us, and all we do is respond to that love. We get the promise of paradise by simply responding to His love.
That’s what marriage is supposed to be. The husband honoring his marriage vows to love, honor and cherish his bride. Forsaking all others. Laying down his wants, needs, desires, ambitions and even his life to do what is best for his bride. It’s him displaying selfless and self sacrificing love for her at every opportunity. It’s then about her responding to that love and giving herself to him.
It’s not about her submitting to a dominating tyrant who demands his own selfish way. It’s not about him being in charge and her following him as a broken person. Headship means source of life. Submit means adapt more than it means domination.
So, back to our toddlers. Toddler one wants the toy that toddler two has. In a perfect world, toddler two hands it over and continues playing with toddler one. They have a joyous and wonderful play date. Or, he refuses to share and they beat each other up every five minutes.
That plastic toy turns into the “precious” and must be kept at all costs. Right? Again, it’s cute when it’s kids. It’s not cute when it’s married adults.
I sincerely wish I could express the payoff better. Guys, if you aren’t taking all this seriously, you will never experience marriage like I do. After almost 25 years together, it just keeps getting better. She is my best friend. I have found my purpose again. My life matters. I don’t have to be superman for the whole world anymore, just her and the kids. All the pressure of proving myself is gone. The demands of life don’t carry the same weight as before. I am absolutely in love with this lady and she feels the same.
Selfish, toddler behavior will never experience that. Put down the golf club and go kiss your wife. Do it now. Don’t make me come in there.