By Gary Thomas
Men, are you married to an “invisible” woman? You might not think so, but does your wife think so?
When your wife walks into the living room and says, “Hey, can someone please turn down the television?” and no one responds or even acknowledges her comment, that’s exactly what she feels like — invisible. How about when you, as her husband, join in the complicity by not saying anything? When you fail to even challenge the children for not responding? Invisible.
Perhaps she listens to you talking to new acquaintances or business associates at a party, asking questions about their family or their life, and realises she can’t remember the last time you asked her how she was doing. Invisible.
A lot of mothers feel invisible — forgotten inside the very home in which they have invested so much.
Mothers deserve active affirmation
Much of this neglect comes not from a conscious choice to disrespect our wives, but from a passive “default mode” in which we fail to intentionally honour them. It’s common for us men to define our worth as husbands and fathers by what we don’t do: We don’t cheat on our wives, we don’t hit our children, we don’t swear at them, etc.
But women are different. If you want to make sure that your wife doesn’t feel invisible, you need to think about active affirmation. Wives and mothers desire expressed and demonstrated respect rather than the mere avoidance of disrespect.
Fathers need to model respect
It’s incumbent on us as fathers to help our children “get it.” When we’re with our children and our wife says something, we need to create a climate of respect.
“Children, when your mum has something to say, you need to give her your attention.”
If the children don’t immediately look up from the screen of their devices when their mum speaks, they should lose the right to finish whatever they are valuing above their mum’s words. It won’t take long for them to learn the lesson of active respect.
Here’s the most challenging part for men: Our children will look to us first. If we ignore our wife when she speaks, our children will ignore their mum. She’s the same person, after all, and we can’t cultivate respect for a person by modelling disrespect. We must create an attitude of reverence for the most important woman in our home.
Another way we honour our children’s mum is to affirm her role as a parent. While modern society is far more respectful toward women in general, it still demeans the role of motherhood. If a woman chooses to devote most of her hours to raising her family, she’s likely to be disrespected by those outside the home — many times even by her own sons and daughters. That’s why it’s often up to us as men to explicitly and intentionally create opportunities to praise her, affirm her and to demonstrate respect for the choices she has made.
Take Mother’s Day, for example. It’s not about giving her a day off once a year; it’s a reminder for all men about how your children’s mum deserves to be treated every day of the year. The best Mother’s Day gift is a decision to spend all 52 weeks teaching your children how to give her the respect and affirmation she deserves.
© 2018 Focus on the Family. All rights reserved. Used with permission. Originally published at focusonthefamily.com.