Ah, Mother’s Day! Images of rest, being waited on, gifts, sleeping in, a break from the daily duties … is that the way your Mom-holiday usually goes???
Maybe your husband forgot or ignored you on Mother’s Day last year? Maybe this wasn’t the first time either. What can you do besides feel sorry for yourself, be angry for a few days, or gripe to your friends about your insensitive man?
The week after Mother’s Day 2018, two women in their thirties, moms to four and five children respectively, told me their husbands completely ignored Mother’s Day. One explained his lack of any action toward his wife by saying, “I never saw it modeled so I don’t know what to do.” His self-defense is probably partially true, but frankly, an I-can’t-help-it excuse is especially weak for a Christian husband who has been called to model sacrificial love. I’ve met this husband. He is a good man who studies the Bible and seriously wants to please God.
Wife number two was told by her man at the end of last Mother’s Day, “it doesn’t matter because it will be Mother’s Day again next year.” Another dismissive insensitive I’m-off-the-hook comment. This husband thinks it a silly holiday foisted upon us by greeting card companies. Again, some truth in that assessment too; although the origins of this holiday had nothing to do with Hallmark but with a Christian woman who wanted to help others practice the Fifth Commandment and honor mothers.
The bottom line is if it’s important to his wife to be appreciated and honored in some way, her desire should trump his opinions about the value of this holiday. Every husband’s responsibility before God is to love his wife as God commanded and live with her in an understanding way as his uniquely created woman.
Can you tell I wanted to shake both of these men for not trying harder to please their wives who I know are really great moms and wives?
In my mommy years, Dennis did a really good job reminding the kids to say Happy Mother’s Day and he always made sure they got me something that day. Usually, it was a stop at the local garden center for a plant. And my children always brought home handmade gifts from church. I appreciated the thought, intention, and model before our kids to honor with gratitude all my work.
Problem was it often felt like a token to me.
And truthfully it was through no fault of my husband’s. To really honor me for the thousands of thankless hours, thousands of sleepless nights, and thousands of losses over two decades of full-time-mommying could not be adequately accomplished with one small collective gift. I was longing for the kind of appreciation that can’t happen this side of heaven. And I bet you are too.
I needed a reminder that God sees, remembers and will reward one day. I needed to “give thanks in all things”, even as I wished for more, knowing He sees and will reward one day.
Forgetting or doing little for Mother’s Day is a common marriage dilemma for many wives and it speaks to the greater issue of “husband training.” It’s a concept which sounds all kinds of wrong because every wife knows this fundamental principle: we aren’t supposed to change our husbands. Right?
Yes, this is true. It’s not our goal or purpose as wife to change him. And truthfully it’s not in our power to do so. Many of us have discovered when we try to change him it never works.
However, we are supposed to help him. God declared it in the Garden. Educating your man to know what you like and don’t like is part of that work of helping your husband. Wives can and should help their husbands know how to love them as a unique one of a kind woman. His wife. In terms of Mother’s Day gifts for example; I am not a fan of red roses, but I do love tulips and peonies.
All of us wives, and I was one of them, have this romantic idealistic dream that their man who was so attentive and devoted in the dating and engagement days will continue that level of attention after marriage. We expect him to pay attention to every word we speak, every hint we drop and figure out how to help, please, and give gifts at the correct time without us having to tell him.
In all marriages, two changes happen after the wedding.
First, the contest to win your love and acceptance of his proposal is over. For better or worse the pressure he felt to prove himself to you, to win you, has lessened. During courtship, you too were responding with great affirmation to show how much you liked and loved him. Both of you were on your best behavior.
Second, he has discovered disappointment. Even on the honeymoon, he found that his attempts to please you weren’t always met with approval. You probably had arguments which have continued. The confidence he had when you were dating that he knew you and was your hero is now diminished or gone.
Once children arrive a new level of complexity comes with them. Your needs grow, his bewilderment grows, and challenges skyrocket. Even if your husband has been a dad before, he’s never been a dad to this baby with you as his wife.
Here are some tips to help him and guide him to success on all special occasions; Mother’s Day, birthdays, anniversaries, Christmas, Valentines, and other days special to you two alone.
1. When you aren’t angry and disappointed, meaning not the day of or day after, ask if you can go for a walk or get coffee together and talk. Explain you want to share how you feel about an area in your relationship so he can understand you better and you can both grow. Be sure you tell him you want to understand him better, too. Use this time to express how his excuses made you feel. Remind him you know he is a good man and you know he wants to do what is right and be a good husband. Say it by faith if you don’t feel it because this is true for most husbands. You can talk about how he can improve if he asks, if the conversation goes that way. Your goal is to help him understand it’s not a gift per se, but the appreciation of being thought about and cared for in a tangible way that speaks to you.
2. Ask for another date for just the two of you a month or two weeks before the next special day. Again say something like this: I have something I want to talk about with you, when would be a good time? Likely he will want to know what the topic is. He will feel nervous or anxious at the unknown. So tell him: I want to talk about how you can win and be my hero on Mother’s Day or my birthday. Can we go out for dinner or go for a walk and talk about this? Most husbands want to win with their wives. They just need help so he will probably agree.
3. Make notes for him. When you have your date, give him a cheat sheet you’ve created. On it, list the flowers you like and those you hate. Spell out what kind of gifts you like for which occasions. Ask him if you can randomly add ideas to the list so he can choose one of several and then you will be surprised if being surprised is important to you.
Ask if you can go on a shopping date to show him a necklace, jacket or a piece of wall art you’d love to have. Or explain to him that words matter most to you and what you’d treasure is a card with a paragraph of the reasons he appreciates you.
My oldest daughter has succeeded in this in her twenty-year marriage to a man who did not have a model of being a husband nor is he by nature a gift giver. After years of being repeatedly disappointed, she began to help him know how to win. And with time he’s become excellent with gifts for her and has also learned to rally their seven boys to shop for their mom.
Help your husband know you. As you discover more about who you are and who you are becoming share all of that with him. It’s a lifetime of learning for both husband’s and us as wives too.
Start a conversation soon with your husband about these things. Let him know you want him to win and, in the end, you will win too.