Is it Important to You or Important to Her?

By | February 4, 2016

birthday-cake-380178_1920One thing I love about my husband is that I can talk about his shortcomings and he doesn’t lose confidence. Sometimes I roast him like crazy in front of his friends and the only reason why he doesn’t like it is because he thinks it makes me look bad. So here goes another roast…sorry, honey, in advance.

I consider myself a cool wife. I don’t really nag (well, at least I try not to). When we first got married, it didn’t even bother me that he left the toilet seat up consistently. He could leave his dirty laundry around and I wouldn’t say anything. So when he started complaining that I always left the armrest in the car up when he wanted it down all the time, I told him, “Well, I don’t bother you about leaving the toilet seat up. Maybe when you leave the toilet seat down consistently, I’ll leave the armrest in the car down.” (He wanted the armrest down because he always leans on it when he gets in the car. Because I always put it up when I left the car, he would always fall into the car because he expected the armrest to be down for support.) So that’s when he started putting the toilet seat down. Sadly, I still leave the armrest up.

So my husband is really dedicated to his work. It’s a good thing he is because he is a pastor. If a pastor doesn’t like his job, then believe you me, everyone at church can feel it. The hard thing about being a pastor family is that your business/work life is so tied to your social life that when a church decides they no longer desire your services, it feels like they don’t want to be your friends anymore. For a pastor, he can just go find another church, but for the family, they have to find new friends completely.

So, enough venting about that. That hasn’t happened to us anyways. My husband is so dedicated to his work that he often forgets about important family dates and schedules very important church events on our important family dates. For example, his first year working as a pastor he scheduled a board meeting on my birthday. I’m a cool wife. I’ll take a hit for God so I was just like, “Okay, that’s fine.” I didn’t give him grief about it, but I expected him to come home at least by 9 or 9:30 pm. He knows it’s my birthday, right? Yes, he knew it was my birthday but the man walks in at 11:30 pm! I was pretty upset. I was so upset that I didn’t even get up off the couch to greet him. So then, he got mad at me for not getting up and saying hi. Yeah, I don’t let him forget that one. So I told him that he was not allowed to schedule anything on my birthday anymore. I might be cool, but I will not be taken advantage of.

So he’s been pretty good, but this year he scheduled a retreat on our daughter’s birthday. Yes, he would only be gone in the morning, but still, it’s our daughter’s birthday. Do you really want to start giving her the message that her birthday is not as high priority as your work? We aren’t doing a big party or anything so at least the family can be together all day on the day that he is normally off work.

Once after church a bunch of people were sitting around in the pastors’ office. We were talking about our upcoming mission trip to Belize. As we were talking about it, my husband gets this look on his face, “Oh, it’s our anniversary during that time,” he says. I just smile. The dates are already set and he has already arranged that he is the pastor going. The senior pastor gets this concerned look on his face and he kind of motions towards me and says to him, “So, maybe you should talk to your wife about this?” hint hint, privately. My husband kind of just shrugs, “No, I can go.” Again, I’m a cool wife. It didn’t even bother me that he just kind of shrugged it off. (We both forgot for a second that we had already discussed that it was okay that the dates were on our anniversary. After the pastor suggested we talk about it, we knew there was nothing we could do about it, so that’s why he just shrugged it off.)

Now, before you put judgment on our marriage, my husband is home a lot more than most working men. As a pastor, his schedule is very flexible so I see him around the house a lot. Of course, he has office hours a couple days a week, he is always on call and much of his work time is in the evening when I need his help the most, but I can’t complain that he isn’t there for me. I’m the one who is always bugging him to go to mission trips and stuff. He is an incredible supporter, spouse, and father. It’s just that these important dates don’t seem to be important to him. When Dr. Laura Schlessinger used to do her radio talks, someone called in complaining that her husband was always doing all these nice things for her all year but would forget it on important dates. He was always buying her flowers, giving her cards, etc. but on Valentine’s Day or her birthday or anniversary, he would forget. Dr. Laura told her to be thankful for what she had and I agree with her.

So let’s say that I put my foot down and tell him that he can’t do stuff on important family dates. If he were to tell people, “Oh sorry, I can’t do a board meeting that night. It’s my daughter’s birthday. It’s important to her so let’s schedule it on another night,” “You know, it’s my wedding anniversary that weekend, would it be possible to schedule our trip on a different week? It’s important to my wife that I be here,” or “My son’s kindergarten graduation is this week. Can I reschedule our elder’s meeting? It’s important to him that I be there,” I think people would think, “Oh, he’s a considerate father who wants to please his family.”

However, changing the statements to, “It’s important to ME that I am there for my family on their special dates,” puts on a totally different meaning.

I know some parents who have never been apart from their children on any national holiday let alone their birthdays until this past summer. Their oldest daughter is in high school! Now, those are some parents who really love their children.

Then, on the other hand, I know a dad who forgot about his daughter’s high school graduation. She walked into his room wearing her graduation regalia. He looked up from packing his suitcase and realized that he had to be on a flight during her ceremony and so he took a picture with her so it wouldn’t seem like he wasn’t there, but he totally wasn’t there. He was on a flight to a business meeting. Yeah, as much as I know that he loves his children, that’s a hard hit for any kid. The daughter was totally cool and laughing about it though. She’s a good daughter with a strong identity who is willing to overlook something that might have been devastating to another teenager.

So I’m a cool wife, I’m not too much into special dates, but I still need some acknowledgement. Like this past birthday, I didn’t need some grand dinner or anything. I just told the hubby I wanted MaangChi’s Authentic Korean Cookbook. Of course, I had to tell him three times over the course of four weeks to make sure that it got here in time, but that doesn’t bother me. I don’t expect anything I didn’t explicitly ask for. That saves us both a lot of fights and hurt feelings.

Now that we have kids though, I think it does change everything. I don’t mind being forgotten. I’m from a family of seven kids. My parents forgot to pick me up from my community college class once and I waited outside for several hours. It wasn’t until dinner when they realized I wasn’t there. I wasn’t mad. That’s just reality in my family. Of course, they were super apologetic. However, I don’t ever want my kids to think that I have forgotten something that is important to them. I want them to know that in our family, we celebrate each other. So I kind of mentioned to my husband that she is only 3 so it’s not that big a deal to her yet, but as she gets older, it will be. It’s important to her, but I want her to know that it’s important to him to be there for her. When I made this passing comment to him, he stopped and looked at me, “You are absolutely right. I won’t do that again.” I could tell by the look on his face that he realized that she needed to know that it was important to HIM that he is there for her and that from now on it would be important for him to be there for his family’s special dates.

That’s what I love about my husband. He might make mistakes every once in awhile, but he is humble enough to change with grace. So, this is not completely a roast, right, Honey?

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