Becoming An Empowered Wife: No. 3
Hello my friend and welcome back to my series on becoming an Empowered Wife.
It has been a little bit of time since I've had the privilege of writing to you all. My son Troy is officially out of the newborn stage and that has presented a different set of challenges in my life, navigating busy babyhood, as well as my toddler. My free time, which I previously allotted for online work, has been filled with doctor's appointments for my sons, dentist appointments for myself, and extra workouts to continue to heal from my two pregnancies. To be honest, I've been dropping into bed exhausted at the end of each day, uninterested in working on content, and if I have an hour to myself during the day, I often choose to nap or read a fiction book rather than work.
But today I felt like it was time to get going on the next part of the Empowered Wife series. This book is truly transformative, and I hope all of you take a chance to read it! Today I wanted to break down a mini-skill/suggestion that Laura writes about in her book, and that is to FIND THE EVIDENCE!
So what does Laura mean when she encourages us to "find the evidence?"
Well, the "evidence" would be instances, actions, words, or any signs your husband gives you or the family that he loves you, that he is a GOOD man, and that he cares for you. Acknowledge this evidence to yourself, and use it to propel you forward towards positive connection and appreciation in your marriage. As Laura says, you are not a stupid or foolish woman. You married your husband for REASONS. And those reasons are probably still there: you just have to look for them.
The purpose of this exercise is to realize that your husband is not doing everything in his power to slight you, to be awful, or to be careless. Finding the evidence shows us that there is much we can be grateful for about our husbands, and that maybe we have less to complain about and be resentful for than we may realize. This skill causes us to step back and appreciate our husbands when we may be trying to find reasons to complain instead.
You may not remember how you behaved when you were newly in love or recently engaged, but women in this situation often share similar characteristics: they have rose-colored glasses on and can only see the wonderful things about their men. Sometimes this is to her own detriment; maybe she willfully ignores evidence that her man is a dead-beat, dishonest, or unfaithful.
But for others, those rose-colored glasses lend us less severe consequences. A husband's dirty dish in the sink could be enough to start World War Three with his wife, while a new boyfriend's dirty dish in the sink could go completely unnoticed thanks to those rose-colored glasses. A husband late to get out the door? "Clearly, he doesn't respect my reputation by making us late to the event!" But a new boyfriend, late to get out the door? "Oh, he's just laid-back. What a cutie!"
In short, when you are looking for reasons to say "yes" to a proposal, you are probably looking for good evidence.
Your new boyfriend is a hard worker, makes you laugh, and knows how to comfort you when you are down. You see the evidence that he cares for you by filling up your car, paying for dinner, and trying to get along with your family. What a FABULOUS BOYFRIEND! But a husband doing these things? Uh... isn't that just par for the course?
Aren't husbands just SUPPOSED to pay the mortgage, get your oil changed, and pick up after the kids? Aren't they supposed to try to get along with family and comfort us when we're down?
Well yes. He is beholden to these responsibilities in the same way you may be beholden to looking after the children, breastfeeding, washing laundry, or doing whatever chores are in your wheelhouse. Marriage and lifetime commitments involve a give-and-take relationship by which we can coexist peacefully and efficiently.
But does this mean that we can overlook these things? Does this mean that once you say your vows, the hard work your husband does to make sure the mortgage is covered suddenly doesn't matter anymore? Does it mean that the effort he puts into being kind to your bratty sister isn't a still sign that he cares about you and your family?
The point is that becoming your husband doesn't take away from the fact that these are all signs and evidence of his love for you: that he is trying to make you happy. Just because some of these things are expected does not make their accomplishment less valuable.
Am I saying to lower our standards? That we are supposed to bow down to our husband for taking out the trash or doing or doing the bare minimum of picking up dirty socks? Not exactly. But I am saying that you should RECOGNIZE these actions as signs that he LOVES you. This exercise isn't even about verbally telling him that yous ee these things.
It's about taking note TO YOURSELF of all the things he does that show he is a good man, an involved father, and a loving husband.
And why is it important to note this evidence to ourselves?
Well, the way we view our husbands in our minds absolutely reflects upon every single minute detail of how we interact with them. You will smile more, relax more, and feel more comfortable around a man that you know is good, loving, and worthy, and this will absolutely transform the dynamic in your home.
Is there no evidence that your husband is a good man, or are you just not really paying attention? Are you conflating the evidence to the contrary?
Honestly, it's much simpler to look to the evidence that our husband falls short, that he isn't as effective at childrearing as you are, or that he doesn't NOTICE things like you do. You could realize that he hasn't initiated sex in a while and think that's evidence that he thinks you're unattractive. That pile of socks on the bedroom floor? Evidence that he doesn't care about the time you take to pick up after him! Is he trying to hang out with the guys on the weekend? Well, that's evidence that he'd rather be anywhere than with you!
I know this all sounds ridiculous, but I also know that many of us slip into this. These may be familiar thoughts!
Finding the evidence that your husband is a GOOD man and a good husband does not mean that there is no evidence to the contrary. It simply means that instead of chewing on and digesting the bad evidence constantly, you are welcoming the positive evidence. And you know what? The areas he's failing at become a lot less important when we fixate on the things he is doing RIGHT.
No man is flawless.
You will find evidence that your husband falls short if you look for it. It's there! You don't need to prove that he's not perfect. Safeguarding our marriages and our connection often involves taking a protective view of our spouse, even to ourselves. "Finding the evidence" protects your flawed husband from your critical eye, instead lending him grace and love. Choosing to see his positive actions and characteristics in a light of appreciation will no doubt have a positive influence on your marriage and dynamic.
And the crazy thing?
There is nothing too small to be considered evidence.
Take my life for example!
- I know Husbear loves me because he always calls me when he's in a drive-thru to see if I would like coffee too.
- I know Husbear loves me because he works hard so I can stay home full time and never complains that I don't bring in income.
- I know Husbear loves me because he slogs through YouTube comments so that I don't have to deal with trolls.
- I know Husbear is a good father because he genuinely enjoys being around our sons.
- I know Husbear is a good family man because he includes us in his leisurely activities.
- I know Husbear loves me because he plans for our retirement and has gotten life insurance set up, health insurance squared away, and any paperwork I need done, he takes care of.
- I know Husbear loves me because he gave me the side of the bed that I wanted.
I could write a novel, but you get the idea.
Even if you are married to the most unaffectionate, quiet, or simple man on the planet, I guarantee he is doing something to show his love for you or your family. Does he pay the bills? Does he mow the lawn? Does he pour your coffee sometimes? Does he call the plumber or hire the electrician when he needs to? You may not think this is "showing love" but it is.
The truth is that becoming an empowered wife means that you do not overlook these "small" things. Because this book is NOT about changing your husband: i's not about manipulating him, or trying to get him to see your point of view. It's about changing your OWN heart, your OWN perspective, and your OWN mindset.
Try viewing your husband's two hours with the kids as evidence that he cares about your rest instead of thinking "it's not babysitting, he's their father and SHOULD do that." It doesn't matter if he should or shouldn't help you take care of them: just be appreciative that he IS taking care of them so that you can relax. Take it as evidence that he loves you and loves your family and leave it at that. Go enjoy yourself!
What I've learned about the empowered wife is that so much of it is just about letting myself be happy: learning to be more relaxed, appreciative, and open to my husband's love and loving actions. It's helped me to stop feeling so bitter and uptight about every small flaw in my husband and has instead led me to view him through a warm and welcoming lens.
For a real-world recent example, I’ll share a quick story.
My husband and I took turns taking naps the other afternoon. We both needed to catch up on sleep and rest after a long stretch of work for him, and baby care for me. I decided that I would take a walk with the boys during his nap, so to prepare, I plugged my wireless headphones into an outlet in our room to charge with a specific cord.
When it was time for the walk, I remembered the headphones were in our room where my husband was already sleeping. I crept in quietly to retrieve them only to discover that they were missing and he had a white noise machine plugged into the cord I was using to charge them. Immediately, I felt frustrated. I was in a dark room and I had no way to find my headphones, and maybe they weren't even charged all the way because he had used the cord for the machine instead! I wanted to find bad evidence so badly.
But thankfully, my new skills kicked into gear and I said out loud to myself, "No Caitlin. He THINKS about you. Where would he place them for me?" I went looking, and sure enough, he had plugged my headphones into the charging station near the kitchen, knowing that I would be needing them during his nap. They were ready to go, I felt loved, and I had a great walk.
Truthfully in the past, I may have seen my headphones unplugged and not even have tried to search for them, assuming that he had just tossed them somewhere in the dark room, not caring about my needs. But because of the empowered wife skills, I was able to remind myself of the truth: my husband thinks about me. I didn’t need to think the worst of him. He is thoughtful and not selfish. An opportunity to be frustrated that he moved my things without telling me became a moment to appreciate his thoughtfulness. Instead of thinking "he should have told me he moved them, because what if I couldn’t find them before leaving and everything got delayed!?" I thought, "NO. He cares about me." And that was the truth.
Laura Doyle writes in her book that our husbands are good men because we are not stupid women: we didn't marry someone evil, and we must have seen SOMETHING in our husband when we married him. Finding the evidence that our husbands care about us, think about us, and do love us, isn't about trying to get us to live in total delusion. Rather, it's about acknowledging the good qualities that we married him for, thus, returning us to that happy honeymoon state that I promise will have a positive effect on your marriage.
Because the real kicker in all of this?
When you spend so much time reflecting on the fact that you are loved, cared for, and cherished by your husband (even if it's in ways that you don't expect, like having him set up your life insurance) you will become a happier woman and a happier wife. And when a man finds himself married to a happy woman? He wants nothing more than to continue to foster that happiness.
Don't be surprised if you find yourself getting extra cups of coffee brought to you in your favorite chair, or if you have to deal with LESS paperwork or annoying utility bills when you begin acknowledging the efforts your husband goes to for you and your family. You can verbally thank him for these things of course, but if you're not ready for that step, simply taking note to yourself will have a positive effect on your marriage. I guarantee it.