"Great job, Sweetie! Thanks for putting that back!" I sang in my best "mom" voice. "Thaaaaaaanks, Moooooom." came the intentionally overly nasal retort.
I stopped in my tracks. Something wasn't right. I turned to find my husband with that look on his face. That yep-you-just-talked-to-me-like-one-of-the-kids look.
Of course, I don't make a habit of talking to my husband as though he's one of our children. Not on purpose, anyway. But, I find that sometimes I look at him, think of him, and treat him as though he is. I somehow decide in my mind that I am the leader of the family, I know how and when things should be done and that he, along with my children, should follow suit. Rather than embracing the inherent differences in our male and female perspectives, and respecting his God-given authority (do not read authority as dictatorship, friend!) I shirk and resent them. And the whole family suffers.
Intimacy with my soul-mate suffers. After all, who wants to be romantically involved, or discuss deep personal dreams and ambitions, with one of their children?? Our children suffer because the balance of the household is thrown off. And my actions and words, however unintentional, undermine their respect for their father, and his authority in the family.
So, what can we do about this? How can we make sure we treat our husbands as husbands, when it can be so tempting to lump them together with our kiddos?
1. Remember God made you a wife first, mother second. Unless you are a single mom, your role as wife comes ahead of your role as mother. We've all heard the adage that the best thing a mother can do for her children is to love and respect their father. And vice versa. If you struggle with putting your children ahead of our husband (which is so easy to do because of their very real needs), sit down and evaluate your priorities. See what you can adjust in your thoughts, actions, and words to show your family that your husband is your highest human priority.
2. Avoid saying anything, even in jest, that emasculates your husband, or undermines his authority to anyone. The common joke often told "I have 4 kids: 2 girls, a boy and a husband." comes to mind. While at times we may feel that way, as managers of the home and primary carers of the family, even joking about things like this can go a long way to destroy respect and intimacy. The phrase, "There's a nugget of truth in every joke" also comes to mind.
3. Date your husband. Even if you are unable to actually go out somewhere, do little things around the house to stoke the fires of emotional and physical intimacy. Love notes. Favorite snacks. Snuggles. Stolen kisses.
4. Make time for grown up conversations. When you are alone with hubby, try to avoid always and only talking about the children. Talk about each others hopes, dreams, plans, etc.
As the manager and engineer of the household, and household climate, we have ample opportunities, and responsibility, to create an atmosphere of love, intimacy, and emotional safety for our families. And a loving, balanced, marriage is one of the best ways to foster such an atmosphere.
Do you struggle with treating/thinking of your husband as just another child/person you have to take care of? What helps you keep/regain the balance of nurturing your husband and being his partner in marriage and parenting?