This week marks the beginning of mom’s groups and Bible studies in our neck of the woods, which I’ve noticed means it’s the start of another open season on husbands…
There’s an insidious little game played by women around the country. I call it the “my-husband-is-stupider-than-yours” game, though you may know it by another name. It goes like this. A group of women are sitting around, talking about life, and someone shares her frustration that her husband slept through the baby’s teething screams last night. Everyone sighs in sympathy, and somebody comments about how if men had to bear and nurse the babies, the human race would die out. Then another mom pipes up with a tale about what a wimp her husband was last week when he succumbed to the cold that she and the kids had come down with the week before—he stayed in bed all weekend and expected to be waited on hand and foot, while she pressed on, sneezing as she went. “That’s nothing,” someone else adds, “my husband totally forgot our anniversary and went on a fishing trip instead!” Suddenly everyone is telling their stupid/lazy husband story, and you find yourself racking your brains for something to top the insensitivity of your neighbor’s husband. And suddenly the little careless thing he did this morning—leaving the lid off the trash can so the toddler got into it, or whatever—takes on a melodramatic significance. If you don’t stop yourself, you start trying to assemble a list of grievances against your husband.
Now, I’m not going to tell you that your husband has never been stupid or insensitive. Mine has, and I have, too. In fact, I’m pretty sure that most husbands and wives have done something phenomenally stupid or selfish to their spouse at least once over the course of a marriage. But I am going to challenge you, along with myself, to see this horrible little game for what it is. You’ve moved from sisterly encouragement to baiting each other into keeping a record of wrongs. And why in the world would anyone think that publishing her husband’s stupidity to the world is a way to impress her friends? As I commented to my husband after a recent encounter with this “game,” I can’t even imagine a group of guys sitting around and bragging about how stupid and lazy their wives are. My husband confirmed that most guys would rather have their friends think that their wife is great. I generally come away from these my-husband-is-stupider sessions wondering why in the world all these women chose to marry losers.
I don’t know if this is the best way to react, but when I find conversations turning this way, I try to think of something really nice to say about my husband. If the group is comprised of women who don’t really mean to be slamming their husbands, that might be enough to stop and redirect the conversation in a positive direction. If I’m feeling bold, I flat out say, “I know sometimes it’s hard to respect my husband. This isn’t helping.” If the group has a habit of talking this way, I have had to quit going.
(As an aside, I think there are times for sharing frustrations and asking for prayer from one or two really good friends who are not going to let you get away with just whining but who are going to give you Godly counsel, pray for you, and hold you accountable not to harbor bitterness. Sometimes you don’t even need to give the details, just to send a quick text or email saying that you’re feeling mad or hurt and need prayer for forgiveness. I struggle particularly with this when we’re sleep-deprived with a newborn—everything blows out of proportion when I’m trying to survive on two hours of sleep.)
Is it open season on husbands where you live? How have you fought back?