I love my husband's shoulders. I'm not talking about just his muscle mass or physical strength...(although I do love his muscles!). But what makes my husband's muscular shoulders even sexier than they already are is the way he carries the weight of our family on them. Not perfectly, not without getting weak and weary sometimes; yet faithfully and lovingly and with integrity.
There's many a blog these days about the hard-work of motherhood. Mine is one of them. And its good and right for the hard work of motherhood to receive support and appreciation.
So, all of you stay-at-home moms out there, deep in the trenches of motherhood every waking minute, and all of you working moms who put in many hours a week at your profession and then come home to all the duties of motherhood on top of that - sister, whichever you are, I am RIGHT THERE WITH YOU.
Our work is hard. Amen?
But sometimes I wonder, "Have we forgotten about our husbands?"
As a disclaimer from the start, this blog may not speak to everyone. For some of your families, (and some of my closest friends), the wife has a profession that she loves that pays her well enough to be the sole or primary income...this blog won't necessarily represent your story exactly, but the message of having your husband's back certainly applies. And for others of you, your husband didn't carry or still isn't carrying the weight he should have for your family, and that has hurt you beyond words....if this is you, I am deeply sorry. I would love to have coffee with you as a friend, reach out to you in love, and figure out how I can help you with the extra burdens you now carry.
And others of you might be unmarried so the spousal relationship I am speaking of here wouldn't represent you right now...but supporting the men around us...I hope that can resonate into your life.
So all that being said, this blog speaks most directly to women in similar shoes as I am, in that the husband is the primary income-maker.
As hard and often unnoticed as our work is, we need to support our husbands in their work too.
My husband carries the financial weight of our family almost solely. He carries 100% of our health benefits. His work enables us to live in a nice home and eat good food and wear warm clothing. About 90% of the time when he leaves the house early in the morning to head to the fire station, I am just barely rousing myself awake in my bed. But he is already off to work, which he loves indeed, yet which is also extremely taxing physically, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually. And he does it because God created him to do it - it's his passion. But he also does it for the 5 people still sound asleep in his home. And I don't want to take that for granted for a second.
And then when he comes home the next morning, he keeps on working hard for us. He mows grass, builds shelves, reads a million books, gives a thousand horsey rides, listens to a hundred jokes, washes cars, unloads dishwashers, fixes everything that is broken, makes annoying phone calls for all the "stuff" we adults have to take care of all the time, parents children, runs kids to appointments, and so on until about 8pm, when the man finally takes a break for a couple hours before sleeping and repeating the process.
I know this isn't just my awesome husband's routine. I'm not writing this as a means to brag about my husband. I'm writing this about your awesome husband too. He carries a very heavy weight. A good and right weight, but heavy nonetheless.
Last night I was sitting with some girlfriends over wine and lavash, and a couple of my friends were sharing about the heavy burdens their families have been struggling through for the last couple of years. As we talked, I just casually mentioned the weight that our husbands must feel. Interestingly, for everyone seated around the table last night, our husbands earn our primary income. And yet, in addition to providing housing and food and clothing and insurance, our husbands also must bear all the same weight that we bear. And that's heavy. As we sat there with our lavash, we all agreed that the weight our husbands carry on their shoulders is likely far more than we will ever really know.
And that's okay. We shouldn't feel sorry for them. God created them to carry heavy weight. When God created Adam, God told him to rule over the whole earth, discover it, conquer it, subdue it. That's hard work. Exciting and adventurous for certain. But a heavy responsibility nonetheless. Then Adam had to name all the animals. What a job! Then after they fell into sin, God didn't alleviate the responsibility from Adam's shoulders...rather it got harder. It now takes more toil and hardship to get the job done. Heavy weight. For us too, yet our husbands need our support. And I think there's a few things we can keep in mind.
God made men's shoulders to carry heavy weight.
When God shows up in Gideon's life, (Judges 6...read it!) Gideon indicates that he feels small and helpless and maybe even worthless. But God shows up and calls him "Mighty Warrior."
Um, excuse me? Gideon isn't a mighty warrior. He is young man who feels small and helpless.
But God instead speaks into him who he really is. God says, "Go in the strength you have and save Israel out of Midian's hand. Am I not sending you?"
The strength Gideon already has? So that must mean that God made him strong in the first place, right? Indeed, God knew that Gideon already was strong, even though Gideon felt like the burdens upon him and his people were way to heavy to deal with. God called him up out of his situation and into the truth. God was placing weight on Gideon's shoulders because He knew Gideon was strong enough to handle it.
God made men to be protectors and providers. Our husbands can handle this weight on their shoulders because God already made them strong.
God is with our men as they carry heavy weight.
But it's not just that God knew that Gideon was strong. Also, God promised to be with him and give him victory. Girls, let's keep praying this for our husbands every day when they are at work. Let's pray that whatever battles or burdens our husbands face everyday, God will fight alongside them. For truth, justice, peace, love, righteousness, goodness, life. God made our husbands strong for certain, but our husbands still need a mighty God to come alongside them and lead them. We don't need to pray that God will take away the burden from our husbands...we are guaranteed on earth that we will have burdens and struggles. But we can and should pray that God will lead our husbands through it.
One time, when the Aramean army was going to attack the Israelites, Elisha the prophet could see hills full of horses and chariots (angel armies!) all around them, and said to his ministry partner, "Don't be afraid...those who are with us are more than those who are with with them." (2 Kings 6:16) How awesome...Lord, as my husband carries more weight on his shoulders than somedays he knows how, show him the angels that fight alongside him and for him.
God made us to help our husbands.
Friends, I know how hard it is when your husband comes home from work. Amen sister, I struggle too. In fact, more than struggle, I fail at this transition time. Probably most of your husbands come home as you are trying to cook supper and the house is a wreck and you are exhausted and your kids are climbing the walls. Yes indeed. My husband comes home at breakfast but everything else is exactly the same. Usually I try to be quiet for about 30 minutes while my kids talk non-stop to my husband about their days, and then I talk non-stop for another 30 minutes. So an hour after my sweet husband gets home he can finally change out of his uniform, go to the bathroom, have a cup of coffee, and most days, I finally remember to say, "Oh yeah...how was work?"
I'm pathetic. And he is patient.
But friends, let's try to not dump everything on our husbands when they get home. They've been carrying a heavy burden all day too. They've been problem solving and fixing and maintaining and trouble-shooting and team building and negotiating and putting out all sorts of fires (figuratively or literally). And they've been doing it for us. Our husbands don't spend most of their waking hours at work in a selfish manner...they do it for us. And they do it because God has called them to it. And they do it for their children to have new bikes and school shoes and maybe even college someday.
We need to help our husbands, sisters. Little things. Big things. Let's be the help-mates we were designed to be. Ever since I started staying home full time a year ago, I've been praying that God would help me see ways to help my husband. Now, I'm only 10 years into this marriage thing and still have infinite amounts to learn. But what I've learned I'd like to offer to anyone else that struggles here. (And note, everything on this list is what God has told me to work on...by no means have I mastered any.) So, for what it's worth, here are a few things I'm learning about being a help-mate to my husband as he carries the heavy weight of our family:
1. Help with his tasks.
The lawn has always been Paul's thing, but honestly, it's a struggle. Long story short, our soil is terrible, our grass won't grow, it's cost us thousands, and will cost us more. The man wants his children to have a nice yard to play in, and it's a weight on his shoulders. Certainly not the biggest weight, but a weight still. So, as a tiny way to help with that stress, today I mowed it, and I'm calling the landscape companies. Such a little thing. But it's a help. I should have done it sooner.
2. Let him work extra hours.
When our husbands get asked to put in extra hours at work, if at all possible with the family schedule, let's say yes. Let's say, "Thanks for working, honey!"
Because again, his work is God's call on His life. God made him to work. And he isn't doing it to be selfish with his time or to avoid coming home...he's doing it for his family. Sure, him working extra hours means you putting in extra duties at home...but it's a team thing. You're still both working toward the same goal of providing and caring for your family, and you're on the same team. It's not you against him. It never can be.
3. As much as your monthly hormones will allow, try to be emotionally consistent.
I am so losing at this one. We are female and our hormones run amuck all month long. Plus, many of you are still pregnant or trying to be pregnant or post-partum or nursing or weaning and your already crazy female hormones are even crazier. Or, many of you who read this are more of the menopausal age and your hormones are extra crazy too. And for the rest of us, we are sleep-deprived women. But, lets just try. There have certainly been times when I know my husband dreaded coming home from work because of the wicked wife he would be coming home to. I ask myself frequently (unfortunately after the fact), "Was I really the wife Paul wanted to come home to this morning?" I make my husband guess too often which Rebecca will be home when he gets there...the crazy out of control mad rushing Rebecca, or the fun, chill, relaxed, level-headed Rebecca. But I don't want to make him guess. I want to be a help-mate to him by being emotionally consistent. And I want to get better at asking myself which Rebecca he wants to come home to before he comes into the house instead of after.
4. Don't always be "too tired."
Your husband needs you to be willing to enjoy each other after the kids go to bed. When a man's wife is always "too tired" that just adds to the weight on his shoulders. Let's be our husband's help-mates in that way too. Did you know that when a husband and wife are intimate with each other it actually relieves stress? Interestingly, sex outside of marriage tends to create more stress, while sex inside of marriage tends to relieve stress. Fascinating. Help your husband relieve stress.
5. No matter how tight money is, don't make him feel like he isn't making enough.
The weight on his shoulders is already so heavy, friends. When we complain about not having enough money, it just adds the weight of guilt or feeling insufficient onto his already full shoulders. I'm not saying that you shouldn't be honest with him if you're struggling to pay the bills. Obviously he needs to know. But rather than complaining about it or being all meltdown dramatic about it (which was me for 7 of 10 years), it's better to just ask him if he can work some overtime hours, or let him know that doritoes and mountain dew can't make the grocery list this week. Talk to him about money as his help-mate, not his guilt trip.
6. Listen to him. Alot happens during a man's day at work. Alot happens during my day at home too, but it's not fair or right of me to go on and on about all the details of our day, and then finally, with only a minute left before running out of the house, to say, "Oh hey...how was work?"
The man has things to talk about and experiences to share and wisdom to bestow and I need to just chill out and fill up my coffee cup and shut my mouth and listen to my man. Lord, help me listen to my man.
7. Thank him, thank him, thank him. Thank him for going to work, for working hard, for providing grocery money and insurance. Thank him for fixing the car and blowing the snow. Thank him for being your protector and provider.
Thank him for carrying the weight of your family.
Our husbands have a heavy weight on their shoulders indeed. And as we look at them in that light, with all the weight they are bearing for our sakes, we start to see how much they look like Jesus...How much they are becoming like Him as they lead our families and make sacrifices for us.
And the thing is, the more we acknowledge this and build him up, and encourage him, the more he'll enjoy bearing the weight of your family on his shoulders. He'll be more likely to rise to each new challenge because he knows he has a woman whose got his back.
And the more like Jesus he'll continue to look.
And from time to time, rub his shoulders. Because they are carrying heavy weight. And that's sexy.