"Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others."--Phil. 2:3, 4 My husband is one of the friendliest people I know. I don't know how he does it, but there is something about him that makes people just want to share their life story with him. It doesn't matter if he is in line at the grocery store or at home in the garage. Maybe it's just his smile. (Doesn't he look friendly?) I think our older son, Matthew, has inherited that same quality. He seems to be a magnet for other little boys.
The funny thing is, Daniel is more on the introverted side. Being with people for long periods of time wears him out. As a pastor, that is a large part of his job, which he does love, but I know that after church on Sunday, he has reached his limit. As his wife, I have learned that one of the best gifts I can give him is time. Not just time with me (check out my post on the gift of companionship a couple days ago).
There are a few ways we can give our husbands the gift of time:
1. Give him time to be alone.
Some guys need a lot of time alone. On the other hand, some guys would think it solitary confinement. For my husband, there is a certain look on his face that lets me know that he needs some time to just regroup. What I do is greet him when he gets home (working on this!), and then let him go to our room to sort through his mail and gear up for an evening with the family. He doesn't need a lot of time, but I do try to keep the kids (boys) from hanging all over him. Five minutes, and he is good to go.
Time alone can also be time and space to catch up on sleep, without requiring him to get up and help in the morning so we can get extra sleep. With young kids in the house, one of us has to be up! If I know he has been especially stressed out or busy, I try to bless him with some time to stay in bed a little longer.
At other times, he needs to have some extended time with God. Sometimes it's just a few hours. Sometimes, he needs several days alone with Him. I have learned that those times have usually paid off in spades for us as he gets with God and lets Him refresh his soul. My husband has done that for me as well, and this gift of time has been invaluable for each of us personally in our walk with Him.
2. Give him time to pursue his interests.
My husband's favorite place in the home is the shop in his garage. (We have never parked our cars in the garage. His power tools have taken up residence there.) For him, it is a relaxing place for him among the sawdust. As much as possible, I like to give him time (or force him to go and play) out there.
I know my husband works hard and is very responsible. Play is not often on his list of things to do. I need to make him get out and relax instead of saddling him with more work when he is at home. But let him go and play, whether it be basketball with the guys or video games or whatever. If he is otherwise actively involved in the home, letting him have some recreational time is a blessing.
3. Give him time to develop friendships.
For some guys, including my husband, it's just not natural to go out for dinner with other guys. There are things that I cannot give him, even though I am his wife. And so every month, the kids and I eat dinner alone so he can have that opportunity. Again, it has been something that has given him joy and refreshment. It has also provided a spiritual accountability for him that has been very healthy for him.
4. Lastly, respect his time.
I used to think "Daniel's home! Great! I can ask him to [watch the kids, pick up the groceries,...]." One last gift we can give him is this: Instead of assuming he will take the kids to soccer practice or troop meetings or ballet class, ask him. If he volunteers, great. But if he doesn't, we can be respectful simply by checking in with him first. More often than not, he says yes. But there have been times when he has other commitments. When I assume he'll do it, it puts him in a tough spot. Or he does it and feels resentful. By asking first, we show respect that his time is valuable.
In our culture, time is a valuable commodity. As moms, it's easy to want to hand him the kids when he walks in the door and get away for some time on our own. That's totally okay to do that. But when we learn to not just look out for ourselves but for his needs as well, we give them a gift that can bless him more than we know.