(This is a chapter that was not included in the book, Wife School. For those of you who have not read Wife School, Jessica is the story’s protagonist and Matthew is her husband. In a way similar to how the authors of Charlotte’s Web, The Velveteen Rabbit, and The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe used toys and animals to speak profound truths, I have used a genie to convey wisdom in this story. This chapter happened in Wife School before Jessica entered her “transformation” stage.)
Matthew didn’t get up on time and now, I have to take the garbage down. The boys both have their first soccer game tonight and Matthew is going to bowling practice instead. And he hasn’t mowed in nearly two weeks and I’m embarrassed in front of the neighbors. And as if that’s not enough, our small group at church meets tomorrow and Matthew says he doesn’t have time for a small group. Obviously, he’s got his priorities wrong since he seems to find plenty of time to watch NFL football.
Brandon and Josh have left for school and Matthew is trying to scurry out the door to go to work. Handing him his lunch, I follow him to his car. “Are you sure you can’t miss your weekly bowling game tonight, Matthew? I know the boys want you at their game.”
Without looking at me, he walks toward the door. “Jessica, there are twelve games. I will see plenty of soccer this fall.”
“What about the yard, Matthew? When will you mow?” He continues his approach to his car.
“Soon, soon,” he says.
“And I have to call Jamie back to tell her if we can come to small group. You know, I think we should—….”
Matthew interrupts. “We talked about that, Jessica. I told you there’s not enough time in my life right now. I can’t add one more thing.” He gets in his car. No good-bye kiss. No eye contact. No nothing.
As he pulls out of the garage, I slither back into the kitchen. Why does Matthew have to get all heated up when I’m only asking questions? I mean, I was just talking to him about our schedule and normal married life. I hate it when he withdraws and acts offended, when I’m only trying to help.
“Hello, Young Jessica,” I hear the Genie say. “Would you like to sit outside and have our discussion in the beautiful fall weather?” I notice the dishes are done and there’s Marsala Chicken with green beans and a gorgeous salad on the counter. Having a genie must be how Princess Kate lives every day.
Getting comfortable on the patio with our Raspberry herbal tea, I wonder what the topic will be today. Maybe it will be “how to handle temperamental husbands who get upset easily” because Matthew certainly decomposes over the smallest things.
Genie begins. “Many women fall into a habit that causes their husbands to withdraw. Often, they are unaware of it and are then surprised when their husbands pull back.”
Matthew withdrew and pulled back this morning, but I’m pretty sure it wasn’t my fault. He’s just touchy and has some mood issues.
“After marriage, women often drop into ‘Commando-mode’ or ‘Mother-mode’,” says the Genie. “They notice the husband making mistakes or making choices they don’t agree with, and they feel it is their constitutional right to tell the husband what is wrong and what to do. Wives don’t see this as being in ‘Commando-mode’ or ‘Mother-mode’. They see it as being helpful.”
Of course, it’s helpful. Men’s minds are on some other planet and who else is going to steer this ship?
“Men may admire a woman who runs an orderly, organized house, but he doesn’t want her as his commanding officer.Men lose affection for wives who fall into this common role, as well as withdraw,” says the Genie.
I am merely pointing out what needs to be pointed out.
“Women begin bossing men around almost as soon as the bags are unpacked from the honeymoon,” says the Genie. “To be fair to women, there is a normal, downhill stream working against women, which is a tendency for women to be contentious and controlling. To override this natural tendency to tell their husbands what to do, women must soak their hearts in the Creator’s Word and in prayer. Only those two sticks of dynamite are powerful enough to overcome this normal downhill tendency in women.”
Eh….contentious? He’s saying that giving many reminders and suggestions is “contentious”? Obviously, this Genie doesn’t know what the word means.
“Men want their wives’ suggestions and input,” he continues, “but they don’t want a boss or another mother. Nothing kills marriage affection faster than a woman with constant instructions. Examples of women going into ‘Commando-mode’ might include if he should cancel a recreational activity for another activity (like cancel bowling for the children’s games), when he should do his household responsibilities (such as mowing), or what groups he should sign up for, (even if they are profitable ones).”
Wwwwwwait a minute. That was a direct hit. What’s up with that? Matthew has so many things that bug me and here I am, trying to be helpful and fix them, and then I get told that I’m in “Commando-mode”. Unfair!
“You know what you need to do when you make a mistake like this, Young Jessica. We have discussed this many times. I’ll let you think about it while I go to Burma and buy a new flying carpet.” And he disappears.
I do know what I need to do but I SO hate it. Hate. Hate. Hate.
I pick up the phone and dial Matthew’s number.
“Hello?” he says.
“Matthew, I want to ask you to forgive me for the way I acted like a drill sergeant this morning. I know it is a bad habit and I know it is wrong. I am going to try to change. Will you please forgive me?”
My heart is pounding in my ears. Saying “I’m wrong” is in the same category of difficulty as being nice to the mother of the kid who is bullying my son.
Softness, though, is apparent in Matthew’s voice. “Jessica, that’s nice of you to call and of course, I forgive you. Thank you. I appreciate the apology.”
I want to choke. I want to cry. I hate being wrong. I hate humbling myself before Matthew and asking forgiveness. Nothing seems harder than this.
“Okay,” I say, trying to move past this uncomfortable subject. “I’ve got some delicious Marsala Chicken for dinner.”
“You already whipped up dinner? Impressive,” he says.
We hang up. What I thought was merely giving Matthew a few pointers to help our family’s life run more smoothly is really my wanting to control Matthew, wanting Matthew to operate according to my expectations and timetable. Not only is that wrong, but Genie is teaching me that men lose affection for commando-wives!
Aghhh! Always something I need to change!
I guess I won’t be posting this little mistake on Facebook. I only like to put my good stuff there.
Author’s note: In I Peter 3: 4, the Scripture discusses “…the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight.” The Greek word for “gentle” is “praeos” which means “mildness of disposition, gentleness of spirit, meekness”. The Greek word for “quiet” is “hēsychios” which means “quiet, peaceable, tranquil”. The struggle women have to soften their hearts before God is the true battle. Fight this battle in prayer to empty yourself of your strong, controlling nature. I Peter 3 is one of my favorite passages for wives as we have a huge propensity to be the opposite of “gentle and quiet”! This war in a woman’s heart for control is life long. Prepare for battle.
Recently my husband was very sick for an extended period of time. My true motives were to protect his health, but I fell into a pattern of asking, “Did you take your medicine?” “You need to rest.” “Aren’t you standing up too long?” He liked the fact that I cared about his health, but there was a fine line (which I crossed) when I fell into “Commando-mode”. A wise woman must be discerning.