We live in a world of Me, Myself and I. Millennials – myself included – have been taught that our personal happiness, comfort & success are of the utmost importance. We’ve been taught to say no when something is inconvenient or uncomfortable, to value ourselves over others, and to steam roll over people who stands in our way of, well, anything we want. This mentality is ruining our families. We all know that divorce rates are higher than ever, but even in families where parents stay together, many of us are set up for a lifetime of unhappiness.
Don’t misunderstand me, I absolutely value my own happiness – it’s important. But, one thing I know for certain is that most of us have a very shortsighted vision of what happiness looks like, and how to achieve it.
My grandfather used to say that the most valuable gift a father can give to his children is to love their mother. He was right, but this proverb applies to a mother loving her children’s father, too. Children need to feel secure in their homes and bear witness to love, because without love, we are nothing. Love is happiness.
Straight forward, right? Except it’s not. Not for a generation of people always looking for the easy way out. Not for a generation of people looking to empower ourselves at the expense of… anything.
Not enough PTO? Find a new job. Haven’t gotten that promotion yet? Don’t work harder, just quit. He left his cloths on the floor again, after you repeatedly nagged him about his terrible domestic habits that make your life impossible … Leave him – obviously.
It’s human nature to be selfish & lookout for ourselves (I have a two year old, I know) – we don’t need an entire genre of self-help books to encourage our bad behavior. Because then what? We end up alone, sad & resentful that nobody in the entire world can live up to our standards. Ironic, that when we think the world revolves around us, we alienate ourselves, becoming more like black holes than beacons of light.
Scripture offers insight (currently unpopular amongst many; but hear me out). Women are to submit to their husbands. Before you stop reading, realize that this concept can actually be very empowering to women. Just as women are directed to submit to their husbands, men are ordered to cherish their wives. It takes one party to swallow their pride first. Maybe you pick up his dirty laundry without tweeting that your husband is a giant slob. Maybe you happily serve dinner without the narrative surrounding your impossibly busy day with the kids. Maybe he does the dishes tonight, and tells you to relax, that he knows you had a long day, too. If your house is anything like mine, these “sweet nothings” don’t come easily, but once they get going, the entire mood shifts. You see, submitting, or respecting, and cherishing one another go hand-in-hand. The effects are cyclical. But it requires that you think first about somebody else’s feelings.
I’ll be honest, sometimes I use this technique selfishly. I want something, so I use a little strategy called “sucking up”. My husband doesn’t care, because it means I’m not being a pain in his butt. In a surprising twist, I’m complimentary, kind & not nagging. Guess what happens then? He listens to me, he holds my hand, he makes me happy. How terribly self-indulgent of me! 😉
Now, how wonderful for us, right? But think about our kids. A healthy parental relationship is the foundation of a happy family. They get to understand what it looks like to love & be loved. Not just what they deserve out of a relationship, but how to make someone else’s life better. They will feel protected by the strength of their family, rather than threatened by it’s volatility.
My goal as a mother is to provide unwavering love & support to my children, a job that I’m much better at with a partner. Therefore, I must focus on him, first.
Colossians 3:18-21: “Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as it is fit in the Lord. Husbands, love your wives, and be not bitter against them. Children, obey your parents in all things: for this is well pleasing unto the Lord. Fathers, provoke not your children to anger, lest they be discouraged.”