From my female perspective, men are a different race, very difficult for us more emotionally balanced females to understand. To prove this statement, I would like to bring to your attention one very irritating male quirk: they readily become obsessed with something—their jobs, a project (meaningful or otherwise), a sport or hobby, or any number of “I’m too busy” ventures.
I know that most of you ladies in our readership have assumed Mike is the perfect husband. I can’t imagine what gave you that idea. Here is a true story of just what a rotten fellow he used to be—emphasis on the word rotten. Now, 48 years later, he has finally become a bit embarrassed about the dead, stinky, nasty rabbits. He has never actually said so because saying so is not part of his persona, but I know. I can tell from his embarrassed grin when the word “rabbit” happens to come up in any context. He has grown, but he is still given to obsessions.
The year we married Mike was obsessed with rabbit hunting. He talked about it all week long and prepared for it for days. After the before-dawn-to-after-dusk hunt, he spent the rest of the week recovering.
I, being a new wife who had predetermined to be sweet, uncomplaining, and basically wonderful, tried to smile sweetly and tolerate his misuse of my loving self. But I’ll skip the part where I lost my determination on several memorable occasions.
By the day of the hunt Mike had already spent not just the previous three days getting ready, but also a good chunk of our very limited income making preparation for his rigorous day of hunting. He explained he needed an abundance of 12-gauge shotgun shells and several of every accessory the store carried pertaining to rabbit hunting.
On the chosen morning I just slept in, knowing that it would be a long, lonesome day. I had no children to care for or to distract me, we had no TV, and the Web and DVDs would not be invented for decades. He took our only car, and we lived too far out of town to walk anywhere, so I was stuck. Rabbit hunting was only in season during the winter, so there was no gardening or other outside work. I mostly muddled around and wished I had a book to read or something to study. I studied a lot during those days; I guess that is when my love for research started.
About an hour after dark he would stumble in the door half-frozen, smelling like blood, guts, and every filthy thing. He always—always—returned from the hunt with a blinding migraine headache. He never spoke as he handed me six or eight stiff carcasses. I knew by the motioning of his head he meant for me to do something proper with them. By that time the poor old rabbits had ridden on his hip for most of the day. They were ripe, foul, disgusting. That was exactly how I was feeling.
But I was a Created lady in the making and I was not going to let a small thing like being expected to skin and clean a few rotten rabbits deter me. (I would figure out how to make them taste decent and not make us too sick some other time.)
After two or three hunts I knew the scenario. He first took meds for his migraine and then had a long soak in a deep, hot tub. After that he was ready for a good meal, but only if I had finished cleaning the rabbits and gotten the awful odor out of the kitchen; otherwise he would gag and couldn’t eat. Looking back on these events, I realize I missed many opportunities to break him of his obsession by simply making SURE the nauseating stench stayed in the kitchen for days. Wisdom takes a while to develop.
For the next couple days, I would wait on Mr. Migraine hand and foot while he recovered, and then the process started all over again. Every year I was sure he would grow out of his obsession for rabbit hunting. Finally, it happened. That was when he took up . . . well, that’s another story.
Why am I badmouthing my husband about something he did 48-plus years ago? Well, memories might be old, but so am I, and they are still in my brain just as fresh as the day he handed his new bride that first batch of six dead rabbits. The weekly round of rotten rabbits deeply grooved the areas of my brain that control smell, gag reflex, hands trying to clean the foul creatures, studying recipes to cook them, etc. I smile as I look back on those crazy days; I smile when the word “rabbit” comes up and he tries to hide his embarrassed, guilty expression; and I smile as I write to all you SANE females. I want you to know you are not alone in your quandary of having a husband that is too obsessed to do what he should be doing when he should be doing it.
Let’s face it: most men are given to obsessions, for even if they are good obsessions, they are still obsessions. These obsessions come in many forms. Some are evil (I will not address these problems), but most obsessions are just an expression of the male’s will to conquer and dominate his environment.
Many men, deprived of an environment where they can meet challenges in the real world, resort to watching someone else conquer on the field of sports. They know the names and the accomplishments of men who played years ago. Who could possibly care? They do.
Some men like to fix up cars. Old cars, big trucks, fancy cars, weird vans, or even tractors. I’d be embarrassed. They’re not.
Other men like to train animals, usually horses. This seems more “normal” to me, but not much. It still seems close to childishness.
Some men are into hunting and fishing. The country boys where we live are mostly of this addiction, so it seems almost normal to me.
And then there are those men who just like to work. Work is a sport, work is a challenge, work is fun. They don’t necessarily want to run the company; they just like to see their contribution making a difference. They are movers and shakers. They have ideas and like to run with their ideas and make things happen in a big way, no matter how much they sacrifice. They see that what they do makes life better for a great number of people. Now, this kind of man seems stable to me. Alas, Mike was never in this particular category.
Have I missed your man’s obsession? Well, feel free to write in your own paragraph. I am sure there are thousands of other strange things that capture the minds and hearts of men. It is not as if your man has a disease and is abnormal. Almost every male I know is or has at some time been afflicted with this obsessive-compulsive disorder. This should ring a bell in your mind, a bell that says this is a natural man-thing.
The man-drive could have been put there for any number of reasons—good reasons. Survival has often depended on men being obstinately driven. Look how a man cuts firewood and stacks it for the winter, or how he gets a building project started and works night and day like life depended on it. It may be a farm combine that must be fixed to get the crop in, or just a motorcycle he is overhauling in the garage, but he is driven to ignore the clock and all things and people around him until he completes his job. It is the way of men, necessary in more trying and demanding times, but often out of place in our modern world. Today, men are forced into cultures where the man-drive is not so necessary, but that doesn’t make the drive go away. Of course, the Scripture teaches a man needs to learn temperance—from God, not his wife.
If God gave this drive to men, then he must have given females the means to have a woman-reaction that is both resourceful and constructive.
The big question is how do we as stable, hard-working, family-committed wives respond positively and creatively to what feels to us like an unhealthy male imbalance?
This judgmental feeling will often cause us females to take personal offense. In the natural course of things, we will cultivate feelings that cause us to criticize and exercise self-pity.
This article is written to remind us that we can and should change our stinking thinking regardless of the stinking things we get stuck with. We discovered in Create a Better Brain through Neuroplasticity that maintaining a positive attitude can keep us from becoming the Crazy Lady I described in Created to Be His Help Meet. Even women who do not love God or care about pleasing him know that it is no small matter to dwell on negative things. The brain actually changes physical structure when we dwell in bitterness, pity, and other negative thoughts. These negative feelings and emotions are responsible for releasing destructive hormones (neurotransmitters) that restructure the brain, making us mentally weak and emotionally unbalanced. Crazy comes from somewhere. The physical damage in the brain can be seen on a scan. Our husband’s obsession or even his selfishness is not what damages our brain; it is our response that releases the destructive neurotransmitters. Once the brain cycle starts, it is difficult to reprogram.
Unfortunately, when things don’t go as we want them to, it seems to be a common female response to use hurt (often profound hurt) with the end goal of causing our husband to feel shame and remorse as a way of gaining some control over him. This type of revenge will not win his affection or compliance, at least not the kind we desire. While our stinking thinking is slowly draining our brain, it is also killing our marriage one blow at a time. Regardless of his obsession or his sin, reject the negative, destructive responses. Just don’t go there.
Another common approach is anger. I’ve tried this before. I am talking about a real fit-pitching, foot-stomping, even rock throwing, “you get your act together or else” anger.
Or else WHAT? You don’t even want to go there. Nip this one too.
I’ve even tried winning him away from his obsessions with my sweeter side. It distracted him for a few minutes; then he was back to being focused on his chosen preoccupation. This tactic is creative and works sometimes, so it is always worth a try. Unfortunately, it never kept Mike from his rotten rabbits. It just made me more irritated than ever.
Then there is the idea to make him obsess over something that you want him to obsess over, such as starting his own business or ministry. Most ladies would love their husband to obsess over the family. Don’t hold your breath. Some ladies want their husbands to move to the country, get involved in the latest political crisis, or another dozen or so things we regularly hear in our letters. No matter how worthy your dreams, a man can’t obsess over your obsession. It is not in his nature. The sooner you learn that, the happier you both will be.
What’s a lady to do? Simple: get a life. It seems like the only remedy. The problem is that when he comes off his high, he wants you there to clean the roadkill, and if you are too busy to be his help meet, then what you’re doing is not good. Sad, is it not?
So, what is the answer? How does a woman stay loving, kind, and sane when her husband spends much of his life obsessed?
I sewed, gardened, canned, baked bread, taught homeschool, delivered babies, and a dozen other activities while my children were growing up, but still there were times when my brain just wanted more. I needed to find my own obsession.
I found an answer for me, but it would not work for all ladies. I worked with Mike, I learned to sort of enjoy his type of working and playing, and when I couldn’t be a part of his obsession, I studied. I love learning, so it became my sidekick. I went to the library and got books on many different subjects. Once I bought an outdated college course of tapes and books on the subject of business management and marketing. I studied like I was scheduled to take an exam on the subject. When Mike’s year-long obsession to learn to type and write a book on child training resulted in the publication To Train Up A Child, I knew the publishing game like I had been doing it all my life, so when we launched our first advertisement, the book became an overnight success. This is how I knew how to run a business when God opened the possibility of No Greater Joy Ministries. When I was studying it was just a diversion for me, but God can use anything you learn. Give it a try; you might find you love to learn! One subject all mamas need to pursue is diet and health. It is critical for the well-being of your children and later in life for you and your husband. I am my husband’s first doctor.
I have a friend who has ten school-age children who uses her free time to minister to other women over social media. She has a following of over 1,000 women, and she teaches them how to be godly wives. No, she is not a perfect wife (who is?), she doesn’t have a spotless background, and she hasn’t been saved for multiple years, but her heart is focused in that direction, so she is quickly headed that way. She is just what God likes to use to help others. She has a real gift for seeing truth and knowing how to serve others. What God is doing through her is beautiful to behold. Many marriages—and thus families—have been saved by her “side ministry.” I get endless good ideas from listening to her teach her “girls.”
There is another young woman we know who started a modest clothing business that she advertised on social media. She had already studied photography, which was a plus for her new venture, and then she wisely made a very small investment in wares. Now, three years later, she hires others to run her thriving business as she has become quite busy with a growing number of children. So, this afternoon, while she reads to her toddler and nurses her newborn in the comfort of her home, she is being blessed with a regular income due to a business she established when she was but a newly married young woman.
There are seasons in life. I don’t know where you are, but I do know that if your husband’s obsessions are driving you crazy and leaving you feeling frustrated and helpless, then this article is for you. You are not helpless, and you are wasting YOUR time waiting for him to get his act together. You are called to be a Proverbs 31 lady, and that doesn’t involve your man at all.
Now you know WHY God encourages us ladies to be a Proverbs 31 wife. This kind of wife works with her hands and is full of integrity; she is generous and kind, doesn’t use people to climb her ladder, and is an honest, hardworking businesswoman. Read the chapter and think about each verse; find yourself in it and go after what you can do best. While your crazy husband works, plays, or even ministers too long, too much, and too hard, you can enjoy becoming a successful and wise entrepreneur and see the fruits of your own hands multiply into ministry, business, or even politics. What will be your solution to your rotten rabbits?