I have what women in my real life have often categorized as “issues”. I prefer to think of it as thick skin, or a roll with the punches attitude, but whatever you want to call it, it can mostly be summed up as the ability to shake the dust off and move on. I believe in sticking to principles and keeping one’s vows, but other than that, I wear things loosely. It makes for fewer hurt feelings.
So I cringe when my Christian sisters refer to emotional “needs’ in the context of Christian marriage. What does that mean exactly? My body needs food. My soul needs God. But what does my irritability need in order to be soothed, and who should provide it? What does is required to extinguish my anger?To wash away my sadness? To the extent that my husband can give me anything to salve those feelings, should he? Prioritizing my emotions does nothing more than plunge me deeper into a sinful dependence on my emotions as a compass, leading me to perdition.
Oprah taught us that our feelings are a perfect gauge of whether or not we’re getting what we really need. Scripture gives us principles to live by, and life has taught me that following feelings is destructive to ourselves and those around us. What it takes to soothe my irritability today may cause it to flare up tomorrow. Feelings are fickle, so I can’t think of any reason why meeting the needs of his wife’s emotions should be on the list of priorities of a husband.
This topic and the term “emotional needs” has always intrigued me so I followed with great interest the conversation at Empathological’s on the subject of emotional needs in marriage and the responsibility or lack thereof that a husband has to meet his wife’s emotional needs. Not much talk there about whether a wife should meet her husband’s emotional needs. I suppose because men are emotionless. Alte’s recent post is proof positive that this is not the case, but maybe men’s emotions are important, just less important.
I submit that everyone’s emotions are unimportant in the grand scheme of things. This is a modern heresy I know, but I’m going to say it anyway: Your feelings are your problem. You own your reaction to your mate’s actions, especially when the rightness or wrongness of those acts is ambiguous at best.
He doesn’t say thank you when you prepared his dinner? Poor baby. When was the last time you thanked him for paying the mortgage of the house you sleep in? Seriously, get a clue. Life is full of stuff, and duties and obligations. I know that please and thank you are the magic words. I taught them to my kids also. But is it necessary for a person to say thank you for routine, repetitive thing that are a part of daily life? If he says “thank you” for the scrambled eggs you cooked this morning, does this guarantee that he’s going to have full access to your affections tonight? I doubt it. It takes all day to stoke the fire. Women are like slow cookers you know*. Somehow he’s supposed to do that while simultaneously doing a job he’d rather not so that his family can eat.
I’m kind of jaded. I admit it. I’ve seen a lot, and the little things aren’t as big to me as they are to other people. Even so, can I just admonish you to grow up, put on your big girl panties, and be more grateful and less critical? You will be shocked how much more manageable your emotions are when you’re not focused on whether or not they’re being properly stroked.
This will sound harsh but it needs to be said. Stop being so needy! And learn to show some appreciation for what you have, for goodness sakes.
* I don’t really believe that since I’m more of a pressure cooker, but “they’ say it, so it must be true, right?