In an earlier post I recommended the book Baby Wise, by Gary Ezzo, and I also warned that I would post a word to husbands. I’m picking that up here. To get this in context you may wish to check the post this month on Baby Wise.
My daughter-in-law, Ruth, pointed out to me that many young mums get trapped in the application of practical guidelines. An insecure mum, for example, could follow a set of guidelines rigidly, even excessively, without thinking of them as ‘guidelines’ at all. This can be inappropriate and even absurd at times. I have seen older women at times try to suggest a change in routine to a younger mum, only to be met with the protest, “But the Dr said…” or “the health nurse told me to…” or “the book I read it has to be done this way”. While there are some procedures which must be followed in detail, there are also many things which exist in principle, and the guidelines are simply that – ‘guidelines’.
A new mum’s best ally (at least in theory) is her husband. Then, of course, her mum, mother-in-law, friends and so on can all make wise contribution. Since dad is usually on hand, even in the wee small hours as mum struggles with some issue or other, the husband can be his wife’s greatest asset. You will note that I said “can be”, since many husbands are known for sleeping through their wife’s toughest hours, or being dismissive when their wife calls for their assistance. My dad called such people “knuckle-head” – I guess because the only way to get anything into the head is with some knuckles.
Anyway, in a perfect world, where husbands are actually useful, not the other kind, the husband can and should be his wife’s greatest ally. This is especially valuable when the husband cares enough about his wife to help her think through the issues. If a wife is getting caught up in the practice of a principle she may need to review the situation, with the help of ‘hubby’, to sort out the practice from the principle. If a mum is burdened by maintaining a particular routine, as if everything depends on her sacrificial diligence, this is a good place to review. She can be helped to understand the principle at stake, and to be reassured that the exact detail of the practice can be more flexible than she might expect, especially if the principle is still intact.
I have observed a tendency in women at times to be very faithful to the rules and regulations. Men tend to be more willing to test the rules. While this leads men to break the law more often, it also causes men to look for the principle, rather than the practical guidelines. A woman is more reliable in following instructions and is more faithful overall in getting things done (generally speaking). But a woman is also more prone to being caught in routine and inefficient patterns, without successfully thinking through the bigger picture issues or principles involved (generally speaking). The husband’s alternative way of looking at the wife’s challenges empowers him to bless her with re-tuning her thoughts and practice, so the principle is served but the pressure of the practical application is minimised.
OK, I know what some husbands are going to say. “What if she doesn’t want to listen?” Many a wife misses the blessing that is hers through her husband, because she feels put down by his advice. This can come both from her own pride and insecurity, or the husband’s arrogance and uncaring attitude. If both husband and wife are attentive to their own weaknesses, and work together as a God-given team there is much to be gained. If they pull against each other they will both suffer, and their whole family will suffer too.
Husbands – take up the challenge to be a blessing to your wife. Once you have navigated the aligator infested waters of your attitudes and her vulnerabilities, you can move toward a mutually rewarding cooperation that blesses you both.