Open Letter To My Daughter (2)

by Judy Bowles

Dear Daughter,

This second letter to you has really been a tough one to write but not because I’m at a loss for words - anyone who’s been married as long as your Dad and I have should certainly be able to give some kind of advice, but the subject is so important! Teaching a young wife how to love her husband is a weighty matter (the subject - not the husband!), but its something we older wives have to do, so here goes again....

I’ve been trying to think back over these 30 years of marriage and analyse the smooth times and the times when the going got rough and what made them that way. Of course, we had our ups and downs with money (too little) and sleepless nights (too many) which made life difficult, but the real problems came when some fundamental principles were neglected. I think I can boil these down to 3 major points

On the first point, I can clearly remember a Family Relations lecture at Ambassador when we seniors were told “Any improvement your mate might make from the day you are married should be counted as a BONUS”. Well, I figured your Dad was pretty perfect anyway, so I didn’t take a lot of notice of that - for a while. And then I started to find all kinds of things I wanted to change - starting with his awful sleeveless jumper! Did that cause problems when that went “missing”! But it really isn’t fair to try to turn our men into something they are not - home certainly doesn’t become a refuge from the world if they can’t relax in their favourite old clothes and be loved for just being themselves. Its been said before that the only person we can change is ourselves - to attempt to change others is at best an exercise in futility, and at worst will cause resentment. Its very easy to either become blinded to, or take for granted their good points, and just pick up on the things that annoy us. You’ve heard the saying that “familiarity breeds contempt” and that is so very true in marriage. Our husbands should be our best friends and we need to nurture that friendship. Keep courting!

Secondly,.the thought of being “merely” a homemaker and a support to your husband is looked upon with distaste and pity from many in society today. But if you think that isn’t a worthwhile role, ask Andrew as an architect the importance of a strong support! Many women have been brainwashed into thinking they have to carve out their own career and “be their own person” in order to taste success and find fulfillment. That’s not to say you can never ever have a job outside the home. You have a good brain and I know you have enjoyed the mental stimulus of having a job before the little ones came along, but Andrew’s career must always come first.

The strong supporting role is where we women really excel and can use our natural talents to the full. You’ve probably realised by now Andrew can only do one thing at a time. This used to frustrate me terribly when we were first married - I thought your Dad was just being lazy. If I could manage to wash out the bath, have the dinner cooking in the oven, the bread rising, the washing in the machine, amuse the baby and also plan the weekly shop all at the same time, why couldn’t he? Over the years I’ve realised that his mind is one-track and focused - almost tunnel-vision, and this is a great strength when used properly. Combine the male and female minds, and you have a great team. You and I can take the burden of everyday living off their shoulders and allow them to get on with their burden of being the breadwinner. Not having to worry about clean shirts and a meal on the table in the evening means they can concentrate 100% on the job at hand. Coping with the detail of life comes second nature to us and its a very practical way of living the Give way in our married lives.

You might be thinking that “where’s the glory in being the cook and cleaner”? It can be a hard grind, but then so can Andrew’s work in the office. Ever heard the saying “Behind every great man is a woman”? Mr. Armstrong often commented that his wife was 50% of his work, and I think that holds true for most successful marriages. I know that I get a real thrill and a great deal of satisfaction from your Dad’s successes - whether they are in composing music or computer programming. Its all part of being that complementary ”help” or “counterpart” that God designed us to be. (He wouldn’t compose much on an empty stomach!)

You and Andrew communicate well as a couple and I’m sure he appreciates your input and advice. We women have our own particular and valuable insight into all kinds of matters. But where a final decision has to be made - let him do it. It if really bothers you, pray about it, but don’t fight against his role as the head of the home. If you are finding this hard, here’s a bit of advice from personal experience. Analyse what you wear on a regular basis. Does it tend to be jeans, sweatshirt, t-shirts, the unisex kind of clothes? If so, try wearing skirts, dresses, something more feminine. It had quite an effect on my mind (Dad and I weren’t nicknamed Fire and Brimstone for nothing!). Remember - his success is your success!

Lastly - show you love him in his language. This took a long time to sink in for me. OK, I finally realised that men and women think differently, but love is love, isn’t it? Well, yes and no. We tend to look for the “little things” that show us that we are loved - the small acts of consideration, the little surprise gifts, a compliment - again, the detail in life. Men also need to be needed and admired but are more physically orientated - and this is a primary reason God gave us the sexual relationship in marriage. By being a warm, loving and responsive wife, you are telling him in the way he best understands that you love, admire and need him. This physical relationship can be such a powerful bond between a husband and a wife, because its something very intimate that ideally has never been shared with anyone else. That gives great strength to your marriage - you don't easily give up on a marriage when you are close to someone in such a special way.

We need to preserve and improve this special side of our relationship, realising again that it’s all about the Give way of life, from both husband and wife. Not letting the “sun go down on your wrath” is especially applicable in marriage - i.e not flouncing off to the spare bedroom in a temper! The world can be a harsh place in which to earn a living and provide for a family, but we wives have the power to make the home a warm and welcoming sanctuary in which our husbands can feel special, appreciated, needed and loved. Much of what went wrong that day in the factory or the boardroom can be put right in the kitchen and the bedroom. And that’s real job satisfaction!



PS - just one "detail" of married life that I really must pass on - Don’t tell him you’ve dented the car until he’s had his dinner!