I was flipping through a book by John Grey a few years ago and I read an idea that has stuck with me since. He was talking about dating, and he brought an example from Abraham Linclon.
Some years after his first wife’s death, Lincoln married a woman named Mary Owens.After the wedding, when he carried Mary to the front door, she refused to enter. She said, ” I refuse to live in a house with a dirt floor!” So Lincoln got to work right away getting wooden planks so that she would have a place she was happy in.
John Grey’s comment is amazing. You know what he says? “The sad thing is, the very worst thing, is that Lincoln’s first wife could’ve had a nice floor, if only she’d have asked”
When couples are dating and fall in love, they shine with this special sparkle. He buys her flowers, she bats her eyes and says thank you. He opens the door for her, she bats her eyes and says thank you. He buys her dinner, she bats her eyes and says thank you!
Of course, she does things for him too. But there’s a certain male/ female mechanism that’s in place during a courting, where the guy is fully in his role of provider and protector and the girl is the gracious receiver.
This brings out the best in a man! He feelsl fully actualized, taking care of a woman.
Fast forward a little while. Women, caretakers that we are, (and I mean that in a positive sense) tend to start giving more and asking for less. Devoted wives clean and cook and tell their husbands, “its okay, I can manage.” We want to be good wives and we’ll push ourselves to the limit to do a great job. And I ‘m not saying this is wrong, but there’s a certain fallout that we’ve gotta be aware of.
You see, the less you ask of a man, the less he gives. The less he gives, the less manly he feels, the less manly he feels, the less womanly you feel and soon you have a definite dimming of that special spark.
Part of what I described is a natural progression. And there’s so much give and take in a marriage. There’s flux in our roles and its not black and white.
But one thing’s for sure. We’ve got to realize that we’re not doing anyone a favor by being a martyr. When we work to the point of exhaustion, when we build up resentment because we think we have to do everything, we’re in a lose/lose situation.
We end up being tense and unpleasant to be around. Not only that but we may be missing out on who our loved ones can really be if we give them the opportunity. It’s like a little cloud of acid rain settles on us and we leave a bad aftertaste in our interactions.
Martyred women lose their sparkle. Women who feel taken care of have energy that fuels them so that they can give even more and better.
A long time ago, my friend told me something and I was sure she was right. She said it with great earnestness.” Rif, she said, early in a marriage you set a pattern in your relationship. And that pattern never changes.”
But now I know better. Much better. I’ve seen my relationship and hundreds of others go through metamorphoses and transitions and complete overhauls. It’s never too late!
Think of a time when you really need help; when you typically find yourself battling resentment. Then the do this 4 step process
1. take responsibility for not asking for help before, when you needed it
2. let your husband know far in advance when you’ll be needing his help – sweetly
3 ask for help – sweetly
4 thank him – VERY sweetly
The above formula is not just for husbands.
Maybe you’re single feeling so alone. Follow the 4 steps and ask for company. Don’t forget step 2 and ask in advance. That’s the best way to ensure that your friends can be there for you.
Maybe you’re preparing for Pesach and the kids are acting like they don’t know a holiday is coming. Follow the 4 steps and ask for help.
When we take responsibility for our happiness we start to realize just how much is available. The world can flow right past you unless you consciously draw it to you.
More Practical Tips…
Dress nicely. You’re a completely different person when you feel good and look good. Your dignity will remind you that you’re a Queen fulfilling a mission and you’re deserving of help and support.
Express Gratitude in generous doses. Really be grateful for everything done for you and let your loved one know that in many different ways.
And this is the most important. Don’t have expectations. You may ask and get a no. You may ask and not get the help you wanted.
You may have to ask (with the 4 step plan) many times before you see results. Change takes time, lots of time, and it happens slowly like your sink filling up from a leaky faucet. That’s normal.
Have faith in your loved one that they can be there for you. You only have to ask.
Remember too, that the change we’re looking for is not in others, it’s within ourselves. So that we shine as radiant, confident, cared for, women.