My wife is a wonderful mother, friend, and confidant. Over the years, I’ve witnessed her fix boo-boos, comfort crying babies, and make each child feel special. She is always attuned to the kids’ needs and to mine. In addition, she is the go-to person when her family has a problem, a dedicated volunteer in our community, and a mentor to women and girls. I definitely hit the jackpot when I met her.
She has inspired me to not only be a better father, but also a better human being. During our 15 year marriage, I’ve learned many things from my wife. Here are a few of the most important.
1. The importance of grace
When our children misbehave, I’m quick to dole out punishment. My wife, on the other hand, takes a gentler approach. While she is not opposed to disciplining the children, she is willing to extend them some grace. One the children’s punishments is “Job Jar.” When they break a rule, they have to reach into the jar and select an extra chore to complete. Among the slips of paper that contain hard labor, there is one slip that reads “GRACE.” If the children, pull this slip, their transgression is forgiven. The kids are always thankful when the find “GRACE.” I’ve been on the receiving end of my wife’s grace so I’m more than willing to extend that same grace to my children and others.
2.The importance of routine
I’m the type of guy who likes to do everything off-the-cuff. I live for new adventures and I enjoy exploring the unknown. My wife is the opposite. She likes stability and routine. Although I’m not ready to completely abandon my swashbuckling ways, I’ve come to appreciate her way of thinking. We have strict routines for our children and they thrive in this environment. The routine makes them feel safe. They know what to expect everyday and what is expected of them. As a work-at-home dad, my days can be quite unstructured. But I’ve discovered that I’m most productive when I apply some routine to my workday by waking up at the same time, following a schedule, and making concrete plans. My wife is more than happy to make sure I maintain this routine.
3. The importance of talking
Despite being married for 15 years, my wife still isn’t a mind reader and it’s unfair for me to think that she is. The only way to be sure that she knows what I want or how I feel is for me to tell her. Whereas I’m content with monosyllabic communication, my wife needs more than that to feel connected to me. My words help to build intimacy and trust. Therefore, I strive to do better. I’ve actually progressed to responding with whole sentences. As a consequence, I also communicate better with my children. I’ve had some great conversations with my daughter because of the lessons I’ve learned from my wife.
4. The importance of extended family
The African proverb says it takes a whole village to raise a child, and it’s true. My wife has taught me that our village is our extended family. Growing up, she spent almost every weekend with her aunts and uncles. She learned from them, laughed with them and was encouraged by them. I had the same experience, but I was content to see my family only on holidays at at family reunions. My wife helped me to develop closer bonds with my extended family by inviting them over regularly. Although I was initially annoyed by it, I finally started to enjoy my relatives. Our families provide a much needed safety net in a world full of disappointments and a cheering section when you need it the most. And the free babysitting is a fringe benefit.
5. The importance of friends
Since I graduated from college, it’s been hard for me to make new friends. I was comfortable with the notion that I didn’t need any friends until my wife intervened. She pressed me to call my old buddies and schedule time to hang out with them. I thought she was just trying to get me out of the house, but she was really making sure that I had a group of guys that I could rely on. No matter how great your spouse is or how close your relationship is with your kids, you need friends because your family can’t and shouldn’t meet all of your needs. When my wife and I were struggling in our marriage, I was glad that I took her advice and reached out to a few close friends who supported me during that difficult time. I would have been lost without their help and friendship.
6. The importance of intuition
My wife will periodically say to me,”Something is bothering [insert child’s name].”
“How do you know?” I ask.
“I just feel it,” she says. She is never wrong.
Early in our relationship, I ignored her when she made these claims. Now I seek her advice and intuition whenever I have a big decision to make. She’s kept me out of bad business and personal relationships because something didn’t seem right to her. Although she can’t always explain what’s wrong, I always heed her warnings. A woman’s intuition is real and I’ve learned to trust and respect my wife’s.
7. The importance of trust
In my lifetime I’ve experienced pain, abuse, and abandonment. As a result, it was hard for me to trust anyone. My wife was the first person to break through my protective shell and give me the confidence to trust another person completely. She achieved this task by revealing her vulnerabilities. She showed me all the ways that I could hurt her and trusted that I never would. That took courage and I admire her for doing it. I also thank her for showing me how to do the same with her.