A few weeks after Jim and I began dating, we were still feeling very vulnerable and cautious in our relationship. It was at that point that a quarter entered the picture. Jim described his heart like a quarter a little boy has. Sometimes the little boy pulls the quarter out of his pocket to show it, but then puts it back in his pocket for safe keeping. I remember Jim telling me “Rebecca, someday I would like you to have my quarter to keep forever.” We both understood that “quarter” meant his heart.
It was a few weeks later (our relationship moved fast) when Jim pulled out a slim, flat, blue box with the words “U.S. Mint” on the top. He handed it to me. I opened it to find two shiny new quarters. Based on our earlier conversation, I knew Jim had given me his whole heart. Jim told me that he actually had no trouble giving me his heart, and it came easily and naturally. I remember fighting back tears as I handed him one of the quarters to show him, that I too was entrusting my heart to his care. The other quarter I have kept until this day.
We are now eleven years and four children deep in our marriage. And I still keep my husband’s quarter safe. I do not take the keeping of his heart lightly. Our challenges on a daily basis supersede the simple crisis that popped up during our courtship days. My husband kindly bears the brunt of the burden of the care of me and the children.
It is a tough world for the only money-maker in our home. There are people my husband works with who are demeaning, irresponsible, egotistical, lazy, cranky, and negligent. Such people he is around every day for 9-10 hours. Besides the difficult people my husband engages with on a daily basis, he, like most working folk, has a job that is stressful. There are problems and crisis that pop up even simultaneously. My husband’s days are full of deadlines, schedules, classes, and meetings. Even at home, he is bombarded with phone calls in the evenings and weekends, and required to settle company concerns at a moment’s notice. Such is that nature of what my husband does. I do believe, it is a common type of life most employed people have.
My day is also full. I am greeted with a whining baby first thing in the morning. He tends to be cranky until after his morning nap. My children are not always pleasant. They argue, complain, and can be disobedient. Even when the children are cheerfully obeying, we are busy. My days are full of tending to children, housekeeping, cooking, planning, schooling, laundry, and the business of the home. I can get tired and ornery. Just like those who go to work, my days are stressful, even though my stresses and concerns are different from those with jobs outside the home, the topics of concern are just as meaningful to me as though I was paid for my work. It is easy for me to become self-focused on my needs and the troubles of the home that I neglect to have compassion on my hard-working husband.
But I have found it easy to set my selfish feelings of the day aside when I think with compassion toward my husband. Love is self-sacrificing. My husband sacrifices every day of his life by working hard and giving his hard earnings to feed, shelter, and care for the needs of me and the children. His sacrificial love for our family is something I truly cherish. I get to enjoy the days at home with my children because my husband works hard. Even those rough days I have at home, are probably better than one of his easy days at the office. I wouldn’t trade the moments I am able to share with my little ones for anything in the world. I am truly grateful for my husband’s job and his willingness to give me his earnings to spend on electricity and groceries.
Besides working hard to provide for our family, my husband takes our emotional and spiritual needs seriously. He is responsible for our hearts, and he knows it. There are days I save certain issues for him to deal with after he gets home from work. For a time, he gave our eldest daughter her reading lessons because she wasn’t putting forth her best effort for me. She seemed to do better for Daddy. He also helped potty train our littlest girl, who simply became too lazy to take the time to go potty when she needed. Somehow, Daddy was able to get through to her when mommy had no effect. My middle child wears glasses, she doesn’t like them, but it is necessary. Often our baby boy needs a bath in the evening. My husband is quick to volunteer with that task while I clean up from dinner. It helps for my husband to get involved in asking her about them when he gets home from work. So, when he gets home, there is no putting up of his feet watching TV. He is busy, just like me, until every child is in bed for the night. And then, there is me. I am a woman…emotional…hormonal…and well complicated. My husband loves me dearly and does his best to help me sort out my heart and re-focus ton the Lord.
My husband also has jobs around the house that he does. He mows the grass, fixes broken things, moves heavy things, repairs and remodels as needed. He has come home many an evening to do manual labor on the house until dark.
So, after taking the time to reflect on all my husband does and the burden he bears in life, I can easily find gratitude and compassion for him. He is tired and emotionally spent from a days work. He needs a place he can be at ease I feel very strongly that I am to be my husband’s safe place.
I am cautious about addressing my concerns. Not that I do not share my opinions and timidly hold up the wall. But that I am gentle with my words and careful about timing when I do discuss heavy topics with my husband. The moment he walks in the door from work is never the time to bombard him with my concerns, difficulty I have had with the children, or a crisis that came up. That can all wait until he has taken a few long breaths…usually after dinner. I am not saying this is how it is ALWAYS played out in our home, but I do put forth a conscious effort to give him some peace after he gets home, and time my conversations for when he is relaxed. Sometimes, I have waited a few days until he is through a stressful situation at work.
I am not my husband’s critic. When Jim is with me, he should feel free and open. He can be vulnerable with assurance of my support. He shouldn’t be on edge, wondering if he is going to do something to upset me. He shouldn’t have to worry about everything he says in case it might hurt my feelings. He shouldn’t feel my critical eye with how he disciplines the children, eats, organizes his day, or addresses a situation. My husband needs to feel at ease and at home with me. There are times I fail in this matter, but with every passing year, I am learning to allow my husband to make his own paths with my support. Perhaps I will eventually be consistant in relinquishing control of his choices and methods.
I make myself available for companionship. Jim and I curl up on the couch together nearly every evening after the children are in bed. I don’t pull out my knitting, a book, my phone, or the laptop. We might watch a show we both enjoy or a NASCAR race. It makes no difference. I am there, strictly for snuggling. I don’t mind curling up on him and doing nothing for a couple of hours at the end of the day. Being a warm companion is crucial to being my husband’s safe place. My world and his are joined. Although we both have tasks throughout the day that we must do, our hearts are all knotted up together and we look forward to being together the end of each day. I want my husband to long for that time snuggling with me. It is when he is with me that he does not get criticisms, conflict, or reproach.
I want him to be at peace with me. We have had brief seasons of tension, and neither of us like that, and work at making those moments of tension as brief as possible. I am not a perfect, supportive, devoted wife, but I value my position as my husband’s safe place and I guard that role. I struggle with submission, but the point is that I struggle. I do my best to give my husband preferrance. Sometimes that comes easily, and other times it is difficult. But i know, he loves me, and also seeks what is best for me, even if I disagree as to what that might be.
I speak highly of him. I never degrade him in public or private conversation. My husband knows, at least I believe he knows, that I do not ever paint him in a bad light even when chatting with my closest family members and friends. In fact, very much the opposite. He is a fabulous man. So, I honestly have nothing bad to report about him. I love everything about him…even his quirks are very dear to me. The husband of the virtuous woman mentioned in Proverbs 31:23, “Her husband is known in the gates when he sits among the elders of the land.” I believe no man stands a chance of success if he is not promoted first by his wife. No wife does her husband favors if she complains and makes fun of him. I find much of my inspiration from women like Clementine Churchill and Elizabeth Bunyan. Women who truly sustained their husbands through difficult and complicated years. Because of women like them, we have men like Winston Churchill and John Bunyon.
Now, one might ask if I have a bit of an old-fashioned mentality in such devotion to my husband. Perhaps that is the case, but it is my mentality about the untily of marriage that is probably the motivvation for my adoration of my husband. I believe marriage should have a mutually supportive role, adorned by a selfless love for each other. I don’t see my husband as alone, and he doesn’t see me as alone. We are one…one unit…one person. Just last night, a leaf ended up at the bottom of our sheets. I made the comment that it must have gotten stuck to “our foot.” My husband got a kick out of that, but truly, his foot and my foot are pretty much a part of the same unit in my mind. We don’t peruse our own agendas and goals. We are as one single being working together for one goal. And that goal is to bring God the most glory we are able through our lives, love, and oneness in marriage.
And if anyone were to ask where my safe place is. Most certainly it is with my husband.