January 22, 2010

it begins at home

I wanted to post today about the March 4 Life going on in Washington D.C. however there is another topic on my heart that I think deserves today's attention. If you do want to read previous posts I have on abortion and the right to life simply click on one of the titles below.

Stepping Up My Fight for the Unborn

Why We Practice Natural Family Planning

I Think I've Seen it All

One Step Closer

But back to today. I just stumbled upon an article written by Catholic mom and the editor of Faith and Family magazine, Danielle Bean. Her words struck me to the core. The article is titled Love, Honor and Take for Granted? and I encourage each one of you to read it. It highlights the fact that many women have a defensive response when it comes to doing nice things for her husband and it talks about the mocking of men not only in our culture but in our very homes. Here is an excerpt that particularly struck me:

One cultural consequence of this mockery is that many women, even those in happy marriages, are fond of comparing the men in their lives to children.

"He's my biggest baby," I often hear moms joke about their husbands.

"Really?" I want to ask. "You mean you have a child who cleans the gutters and makes sure your health insurance premiums are paid on time? A child who promised before God to love and honor you, in good times and in bad, in sickness and in health, till death do you part?"

I am forever championing the cause of modern day mom-heroes. I do my best to encourage young mothers in the trenches by telling them that devoting their lives day in and day out to the service of their families is ultimately a great gift to God.

But I'm not sure anyone does that for Catholic dads who might be struggling with the financial stresses of raising a family, co-workers who challenge their faith, and a secular world filled with temptation.

Even as we wives and mothers demand recognition for every successfully changed diaper and cleanly swept floor, I think we could do a better job of offering that same level of recognition to the men in our lives. I worry sometimes that we women are so busy patting ourselves on the back that we fail to appreciate the contributions Catholic husbands and fathers make to our families, to our Church, and to our culture.

Oh, how true. How often, as women who "do it all," do we look at our husbands and assume them to be children that we have to "keep our eye on." Our culture, with the likes of Oprah leading the way, tell women that we are the ones who truly give of ourselves and never have a break. It is okay for women to want recognition for the often mundane tasks we do, however when this comes at the expense of our husbands, no one comes out as a winner.

I have seriously and with great purpose began to reflect on what it is that I do and the support that I am for my husband. And when I really think about it I find that I, too, have fallen into the trap of sitting back and thinking only of myself. How often is it that I put forth the effort to accomplish something I want to do, yet how often do I make things difficult when it's something Michael wants to do? How often do I allow myself to be served - no matter how tired or broken my husband may be - without thinking of what it is I can do for him? And the last one that gets me - how often do I truly and with purpose pray for my husband? These are all questions I have pondered deeply and the answers aren't much to cheer about.

What started me thinking about the lack of support I give my husband is finally recognizing the little things he does for me. Not only that, but I have realized that men feel an incredible and often unrecognized pressure to make sure their family "makes it." Where my focus, as a woman, is often on the day-to-day tasks of maintaining a peaceful home and providing for the well-being of our children, my husband is constantly faced with the external and worldly battles of keeping our family afloat both materially and spiritually. Where I can turn off the TV and take my daughter to the park for solace from this broken world, my husband has to face it head on each and everyday.

Along with reflecting on how I have failed in supporting my husband, I have made some firm purposes of amendment. Nothing huge, but it matches what he has done for me. I don't want to get too specific only because I would rather my husband recognize my actions than simply the words I put down here.

And to Michael, who is probably reading this while on a little break from the pressures of work: You are truly my hero. What you do for our family and the integrity you possess is a witness of the love Christ has for His bride, the Church. Just as He died for her, you die for us every single day and I want you to know it doesn't go unnoticed. I know that you were meant to be my husband because you show me how to be better in the ways of loving others. It is because of who you are that I see my path to Heaven. I know I am far from perfect, far from loving like you love, but I promise to keep striving to be the wife you deserve. I love you.