Anticipate and Finish

I want to add a couple thoughts to my previous post about men taking responsibility.

The sort of seeing “all as his” that I mean can be seen in what a man anticipates. A friend of ours is really good at this, and here’s just one story. When his wife was pregnant he made a sandwich for her and put it in her purse. She didn’t think about packing herself a snack. She didn’t ask him to make a sandwich. But he knew that she would be gone for a while and that she was likely to get hungry. He’d observed her scrounging around for left-over food on a previous excursion, so he anticipated her need and provided. That kid in her belly didn’t become his responsibility only after the kid was born or only after his wife asked for help.

The “all is his” mindset can also been seen in how he finishes. The trope is as old as men have been coming Home from Work. The husband/father walks in the door and he’s tired. It was a hard day, stressful. He wants a break. Sure. But how is managing his household not his deal? It’s not time to check out. It’s time to check in, with his wife, with his kids. How is his flock? What do they need, and who is supposed to provide for them? It is not someone else. He could get mad that dinner isn’t ready at the expected time, but that’s because his expectation about what it means for him to be finished is incomplete.

His and Hers

One of the most difficult things to communicate to a guy/husband/father is that all of it is his. He has responsibility for everything, even if he isn’t the one who does all the work.

Marriage is a partnership with the husband as the head. That means that while the wife has work, and the two of them discuss who will take care of what, the wife’s work is still the husband’s to consider. It never becomes hers in a way that he is no longer concerned with.

The typical guy thinks about His work and Her work, and I don’t mean work designated for a male or a female. It’s easy for him to get upset when she asks him questions about her work, or when she doesn’t finish her work in the time he thought she should, because he thinks it’s carving into his work. This is precisely the (pressure) point. It is all his work. She is not messing with his work, she is doing some of his work, even if he wished it was more or different. If she has questions or concerns that she brings to his attention, this is not something other than his responsibility, even if he thinks he’s delegated a task to her.

A simple way to think about what is his: what if his wife died? He would need to know how to pay the bills, each kid’s allergies and schoolwork, what clothes don’t go in the hot load, and how many days in a row of chicken nuggets for lunch is actually unhealthy. What if she was in a debilitating accident? He would need to take care of all the previous things and take care of her.

He could get mad about it, but that doesn’t make it not his responsibility. He could abdicate, run away to the garage, his man-cave, time with the buddies, more of “his” work at the office, or actually just leave the family, and it seems some guys do.

Is it possible for a wife to take advantage of a husband’s big shoulders? I suppose. Is it likely that she would take advantage of this, while he’s listening to her and seeking to serve her for both of their benefit? I don’t think so. But such a situation is rare because, as I said at the start, it’s hard to get a guy to see it all as his.

A Head Regardless

Obedience and disobedience on the part of a husband does not make him a head or not a head. He is a head regardless, but he can be an obedient head or disobedient head. He can be a head who tells the truth about Christ in his sacrificial love, or he can be a head who lies about Him through selfishness, but silence is not an option.

~Doug Wilson, For a Glory and a Covering, 58