We’ve been married now for 16 years, but it almost never happened.
It was only months before our wedding when Heather came extremely close to canceling the venue, rescinding the invitations, and breaking my heart. It was the night she found out I was an idiot.
I didn’t try to “hide” my idiocy during our two-year courtship, per se. I simply learned to conceal it behind a thin veneer of charm, wit, and Tommy Hilfiger Cologne. But on that night, I slipped up and revealed the full depths of my stupidity. She had been visiting my family in Las Vegas for a nearly a week, when on the 2nd-to-last night of her trip I had planned an outrageous evening that included miniature golf, bumper-boats, go-karts, an arcade, tour of The Strip, the Stratosphere rollercoaster, PIZZA, the Stratosphere Big Shot, and 15 of my wildest friends.
There are a few things that you’ve got to know about Heather. First, though she is an adventurous thrill-seeker, she prefers planning her adventures rather than spontaneously combusting into action. Second, she’d prefer an intimate gathering of a few friends over a large party with large crowds. Third, she’s not an idiot. Even in her younger years she was much more level headed than I. Lastly, unbeknownst to me, Heather was just diagnosed with Anemia (an illness that results in extreme fatigue) due to a lack of iron in her diet.
Here comes the idiot part:
Late into the evening I remember Heather pulling me aside as we exited the Stratosphere’s elevator. It was 1:30 in the morning. “We’d better hurry,” I said, like an idiot, “or we’ll never make it to the World’s Largest Gift Shop!” She grabbed me by the hand, pulled me close, looked me in the eye and said, “I’m so tired. Do you think we might be able to head back to your parent’s house and get some sleep?” What was said next has been recorded in the memory bank of my beloved Heather, has been repeated at family gatherings for many years, and will likely be etched onto my tombstone. With my pulse racing, eyes darting, and adrenaline flowing I said, “Hey babe, better get used to it! Marry me and this will be what your life is like every day.”
In that moment Heather fell apart! I had pushed her to her breaking point – emotionally, physically, mentally, socially, and spiritually. Years later I would find out that she lay in bed that evening contemplating how to break off the engagement.
So, what happened? An angel named Melvin knew exactly what to say to his precious daughter to keep her from overreacting. She called him early the next morning to hear wise counsel and comforting words. These same words I have been using with Heather and my two daughters ever since:
“Everything is going to be okay.”
Sometimes a woman needs to hear from a trusted voice, “It’s going to be okay.” She poured her heart out to her father, expressing her concerns for the future and the idiot to whom she was engaged. He calmly reminded her that she had just experienced a very long and busy week, in an unfamiliar environment, with many people she didn’t know, all while dealing with Anemia. He reminded her of the many wonderful times with Josh, feelings about Josh, and redeemable qualities of Josh. Then Melvin beautifully stated, “regardless of your decision, we trust you, and stand with you. And remember, no matter what you choose, everything is going to be okay.”
This was not the last crisis Heather would face. Yet, in the future I would be called upon to calm her fears, answer her concerns, soothe her pain. When Jonathan was admitted to Sunrise Hospital. When the landlord brought evicted us. When the doctors said the words – emergency cesarean. Upon the death of her brother, the loss of her mother, and the diagnosis of her father, it was my job to calmly put my arms around her, hold her tight, and whisper the words.
“What can I do to help?”
It is notoriously stated that women are not always looking for solutions. Most of the time they simply want us to listen. However, this is not always the case. Melvin very keenly began laying out Heather’s options. “Would you like to come home early? Would you like me to get your mother? Would you like to me to bring my shotgun?” In essence he was saying, “I hear you and I can help you.”
It could be that your wife simply needs a little bit of help. So ask, “What can I do to lighten your load?” However, I would avoid using the word load if you have a particular fear of the laundry room. Seriously, look at her 168-hour schedule and help her eliminate that which is unnecessary and accomplish that which is indispensable. She may just be overwrought, overworked, and overrun. She may just need a man to step up and ask the right question.
“I will lead you through this.”
There is a reason she knew she could go to her father. He has always been her gracious and benevolent leader. She knew that he would lead her unselfishly. She knew that Melvin would not shirk his responsibility and pass the phone to Martha. He would lead her as he had always done.
Perhaps our wives are waiting for us to take the lead. Perhaps she is falling apart because she’s simply not sure where to go or what to do next. Could it be that God gave you to that woman in order to lead her to safety, prosperity, and security? I find it sad that too many of us have abdicated our responsibility of leadership as husbands and fathers. I know that I fail in this arena far too often.
Melvin was a good teacher and a wonderful father. But in actuality, I hear these phrases from another wise and loving Father. When overcome by doubt I hear the voice of God speaking to my heart, “everything is going to be okay. Will you trust my plan?” When stressed out by the overwhelming demands of life I hear the voice of God, “come to me. I know you are weary. What can I do to help?” And when I am stuck without a clue of proper direction I hear, “do not fear. I will lead you through this too.” I suppose we can learn from the example of God, our Father.
What are your thoughts? Where am I going wrong? Where do you agree? What have I missed? Please comment in the thread below and I will attempt to answer each.
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