Have you ever listened to a person talk about their spouse? Whether that spouse is there or not, it can be incredible to listen to or heart wrenching and awkward. You can learn a lot about a couple by listening to how they talk about their spouse.
One thing Katie and I committed to at the beginning of our marriage was to not make fun of each other. It is amazing to me how many couples will make fun of each other, especially in front of other people. Now I know what you are going to say, “They are just having fun.” And yes, people will laugh, but watch the person who is being made fun of and you will see a person who is dying inside. The reason is that it hurts. There is always truth in every joke.
One challenge we lay out to couples is to not make fun of each other for a week and see how it changes your relationship. You will be blown away by the difference.
The other thing that amazes me is how couples will vent about each other when the other isn’t present. I will hear guys say, “I can’t believe what my wife did”, and then lay in about her. She will do the same. It is now more prevalent on Facebook. I sit amazed staring at my computer screen as couples will put down their spouse for the whole world to see, listing things the other forgot to do, how they don’t care, they are late again, forgot to wash the dog, is still sleeping in, or just whatever is bothering them.
The other day someone asked Katie why she doesn’t vent about me. The person asked if she didn’t do it because I’m a pastor, and Katie said (and this is another reason I love my wife), “I don’t want to malign my husband. If he does something that bothers me, I tell him, not the whole world.” Now, this doesn’t mean that Katie and I don’t have friends that we vent to. We do, but it is a singular friend (not the same person for each of us). It is not plural and it is for the purpose of venting, and then that person can speak into our lives to show us the mirror of where we are dropping the ball and challenge us. Too many people vent about their spouses to lots of people, and the people they vent to simply ignite the fire more instead of challenging them.
As a man this is crucial because my identity is largely tied to what Katie thinks of me. If she is bashing me to friends about forgetting something, not making enough, working too hard, I will feel like she is nagging me, not proud of me, doesn’t respect me. And, this is the big one, I will feel like she is treating me like one of her kids. (That’s another post.)
One thing I have grown to appreciate about Katie from watching and listening to other couples is how she speaks about me. Many couples speak poorly about their spouses. I have listened to women berate their husbands in public or in front of their kids about what they make (usually not enough), how lazy they are, how they wished their husband was like someone else (usually the husband of a friend they’ve heard about), etc. I have watched women put their husbands down in front of their kids, talking to him and about him, treating him as if he is one of the kids. I’ve even heard women with three kids and a husband say, “I have four kids.”
What is ironic about this is those same women then wonder why their husbands act like one of the kids. What did you expect? You treat him like one of the kids.
Your kids will largely get their opinion of your husband, or wife for that matter, based on how you speak about them.
I love hearing Katie talk with our kids about how hard I work, how I provide for our family, how important it is for me to take them on daddy dates, why date nights are important with Katie. Through this I believe our kids will grow up with a good view of what a dad is and a good picture of who I am.
It is equally important for me to speak highly of Katie, how hard she works in our home, the little things she does to keep our house running, teaching our kids at home, how she looks.
The way I treat Katie and talk about her is how my sons will largely learn how to treat women. It is also how Ava will learn how to let a man treat her. My sons will learn from Katie how a woman is to treat them. Ava will learn from Katie how she is to treat men as she grows older.