My husband amazed me this morning. He got up at 6 a.m. and made pannkakor, authentic Swedish pancakes for my breakfast. First, it isn’t my birthday or our anniversary or any other special day that I can think of. Second, I didn’t know he could cook. (Beyond his holiday almond Roca, of course.)
I saw a letter this week that was written by Mic King. He lost his wife to cancer after 32 years of marriage.
Mic admits to being a “bonehead” for most of their marriage and taking his wife for granted.
Thankfully he had a change of heart before it was too late.
“Dear husbands, I know you might be trying really hard to show love to your wife. I also know it may not be translating to her in the way you are hoping.
“Maybe she’s still telling you that she needs you to focus on her more, or spend more quality time with her and the family. Marriage requires a whole lot of self sacrifice, and it is sometimes downright exhausting. The thing is, wives know when you are simply checking a box.
“After you do your part, you want to say, ‘Leave me alone, I put in my time.’ But that is a little bit selfish and a lot foolish for overall happiness. She can tell that even though you are present, you aren’t really with her. God gave women the incredible gift of emotional intelligence, and they have this gut instinct that is sometimes freakishly accurate.”
Mic wisely points out that sometimes husbands don’t know when their wives are deeply unhappy. There can be a huge difference between the emotional barometers of spouses.
“But maybe, just maybe your optimism is just thinly masked denial. Apathy. Giving the bare minimum might feel easier, but you will reap some pretty small fruit.
“The question is, why do we end up feeling apathy about our marriages? It is a human condition to become accustomed to the good gifts God gives us, and we tend to take things for granted. Not only that, people are messy and they get annoying and difficult to live with.”
Mic goes on to make suggestions for ways a husband can better meet his wife’s needs: look her in the eye when she talks, really listen, put down the phone. Show her care and kindness.
“Don’t complain about her. Marriage is a reflection of how God loves the church, and so what I am saying is this: you need to attend to her heart and give her yours. Jesus loves us when we are unlovable, and may we learn to do the same. There will be days when we just feel empty and mad. Days when we want to just give up. But in this kind of suffering and loving in the dry, cold places, we grow.
“Can we love perfectly? No, but we can rest knowing Jesus fills in all of the cracks and crevices of our broken attempts. He is good and faithful, so don’t lose heart.
He closes by sharing that after decades of failing, he realized that it was pretty simple. “I finally figured out how to treat my wife, but now I don’t get the privilege of having her with me. Maybe my words can help you wake up. Don’t take what you have for granted.” (You can read Mic’s letter in its entirety at www.nittygrittylove.com.)
“Women don’t even need very much, because they are pretty tough, tougher than most men. They just need to know they are loved and appreciated.
And sometimes they need pannkakor before church. Yum!
Sylvia Peterson is a former co-pastor for Bald Hill Community Church and an author. She and her husband are chaplains for the Bald Hills Fire Department. You can email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.