I’ve been an IT guy by trade for my whole life. I have had a chance to work with a whole bunch of people that I call a friend. One such guy, I consider a very close friend, even though I’ve moved on. He was already married when he and I first started working together. He and his wife had become parents for the first time before I got married. In the run-up to my wedding, he gave me some advice that has stuck with me. “Always make sure to love on momma, because if you don’t someone else will.”
At the time, that seemed odd to me. I mean, after you have a baby, that’s when the gravy train arrives right? Everything is wonderful and you have a family together. It’s all diapers, funny pictures, and birthday party’s right? The train that arrived was the reality train.
I always try to encourage couples that are just married to wait a while before having children. Not because I don’t like kids, if you have read any of my past blogs you know that I am pretty pro-child. I encourage couples, especially younger ones, to take the time to enjoy life as just the two of you. Enjoy the time that God has given you to get to know each other, to learn to communicate well, and to do silly carefree things together that you will not be able to do later. Not to be a killjoy, but life changes after children.
As a man, I think I was more prepared for life as a father than I was for life as a father and a husband. I have worked with children my whole adult life. Maybe because I am on the same brain wavelength as them, I have always been able to handle kids. What I was not prepared for, was how my relationship with my wife would change. I don’t think I was mentally prepared for the changes my wife would go through. I had to change, and being the stubborn hard-headed man that I am, that was not always easy.
My wife dealt with some things that all mothers do after giving birth. I was not sensitive enough to understand that at first. I failed her at first, because in my attitude of “you’ll be fine,” I failed to see that she was dealing with some things that needed my attention, my reassurance, and my love. I needed to remind her that even though life had changed for us, that we spent more hours covered in various substances that my daughter produced, and that we barely slept, that she was still the beautiful girl with the bubbly personality that I fell head over heels for.
One of the saddest things that I see happen is couples have a baby and then are divorced within 2 to 3 years. Not trying to be Dr. Phil, but the root cause every time is selfishness. Selfishness with our time, selfishness with the affection of our bride, or selfishness with the strongest weapon in our arsenal: our love. Let’s be really honest with ourselves men, most of the time, it’s the man doing this. Marriage and fatherhood revolve around the same thing: self-sacrifice. It is no longer about just you. Too often, I see men who try to have their family and have their own time on the side. While it is important to take time for yourself occasionally, it is also impossible to have a successful marriage or be a successful parent when all you think about is your time. “Your time” ended when you pledged your life to your bride. Your time became our time. That fact only increased when the kids got there.
I don’t have the answer for divorce. I know that as a Christian man, the epidemic of divorce in this country makes me fight that much harder for my marriage. No marriage is immune to the ravages of divorce. How many of those marriages that end after children are due to lack of love and support in the home, which leads to infidelity? I would wager a good portion. Where one ultimately commits the sin, both are responsible.
My friend’s advice is still as true today as a few years ago. It is important as men to make sure that our wives know that we love them. It is our duty to provide for our families, but it should be our joy to love them. In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. After all, no one ever hated their own body, but they feed and care for their body, just as Christ does the church— for we are members of his body. “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh. (Ephesians 5:28-31)”
Women love to be loved by their man. Love is much more than sex. Love your wife. Fight for her. Lead her. Pray for her. Make her miss you when you are gone.
Make sure that you are fulfilling her need for affection. In a world that no longer values faithfulness, if you do not, someone will take your place.