A few weeks ago, Yvonne flew to San Francisco for an annual meeting for her job. This wasn’t her first trip away from home, but for some reason, this particular trip affected me more than the others.
While some husbands would enjoy the “free-time” away from their wives, I didn’t. I honestly dreaded going to bed alone every night.
I learned some valuable lessons during her time away. This trip actually gave me a taste of what Yvonne deals with each and every week.
San Francisco is in the Pacific Time Zone which means that Yvonne was 3 hours behind me and the kids while she was on her trip. While some may just glance over that sentence, I ask that you think about what a difference 3 hours can make. While I was putting the kids on the school bus in the morning, she literally had just went to bed. When the children and I were eating dinner, she had just finished lunch. When the kids and I were getting ready for bed, she hadn’t even eaten dinner yet.
She called or texted when she could. Sometimes it was a 20 second call when she was going from the conference room to the bathroom. One night in particular, I waited up as long as I could, because I really wanted to talk to her on the phone. She called and it seemed after a minute, she said “I am exhausted and I need to go. I have to pack.” I thought..”I’ve waited up just to talk to you, and now you can’t talk?”
Then it hit me. I was experiencing what she experiences many times a year.
See, I’m thankful that my position with Soul’d Out affords me more time at home, but I’m still gone 180 days a year. That’s very hard on the ones that are left behind. 99.9 % of the time, it’s Yvonne and the kids that’s at home.
There have been times that after a late concert that the Concert Promoter or Pastor wants to treat the group to a late dinner. Then there were those days that I was in a different time zone that Yvonne had fallen asleep waiting on me to call. And, if I was totally honest, I’ve even gotten harsh with her if she asked the next day “What happened last night? I didn’t hear from you.”
I expected (almost demanded) her to understand. How uncaring of me. From her point of view, it was “HE SAID HE WOULD CALL AND HE DIDN’T.
I believe that if couples attempted to see life from their spouses’s point of view, there might be more compassion and understanding in our marriages. I think we all need to “Walk A Mile” in our spouse’s shoes. Meaning, do our best to see situations as how it appears to our spouse. If it’s the case of a promised phone call, Call, no matter what. Let your spouse know what’s going on. If you are like Yvonne and I -over communication is better than NO COMMUNICATION.
Let’s be honest, it’s real easy to become focused on ourselves. We are told by the mainstream media, liberal groups and some social status’ that “you should be independent” of your spouse. You should have separate bank accounts, social media accounts and “having your own life” outside the marriage, sadly is the norm. By the way, we DO NOT have separate bank accounts or social media accounts. Marriage (to some) is just a word, not a partnership.
However marriage takes two. Actually three. You, your spouse and God. We don’t have the capacity to love, to understand and to care for our spouse as we should without God’s wisdom and direction.
Mark 10:8 “and the two will become one flesh.’ So they are no longer two, but one flesh.”
Come together. Work as a team. Focus on viewing your spouse’s world from their standpoint.
So, by “Walking A Mile” in your spouse’s shoes, you can condition yourself to view situations, life experiences and words that you speak from your spouse’s point of view.
The life our family leads is beyond blessed. We have the opportunity to travel a lot, see parts of the world we may not otherwise be able to and meet interesting folks. I dare say anything negative about the life The Lord has blessed us with living. The reality is our life is filled with ups and downs, just like yours. It is filled with challenges, much like yours, that keep stretching our humanness and pushing us to be the husband, wife and parents God has called us to be.
Bryan is certainly home more now than he ever has been during our courtship and marriage. I, for one, love it. Being able to be at home more was the overwhelming reason he chose to make a career change several years ago and for that I am grateful. I want to be clear that I never pressured him to do that and while I would love for him to be at home all the time I would never ever ask him to come off the road or be unwilling to support what God has called him to do. It is tough though at times. He misses alot of things that many husbands and fathers take for granted. The day in and day out happenings to the extra special anniversary, birthday or trauma moments that every man wants to be a part of with their family.
I have always traveled for work. It is sporatic and usually based around conferences. The company I am with now is based in San Francisco, California. That’s a long way from home. So, when I go, I usually am gone for almost a week due to how far away it is, travel days and multiple time zones. That is challenging. We’ve had those kind of challenges before when Bryan would do the West Coast tours. There were times he was gone for 28 days. Granted I was only gone a week but during that time Bryan has an appreciation for what I go through when he is gone. I also understand being away from him and the kids, doing the things that are required and expected of me and trying to stay connected with him and the kids at home. It’s a juggle to say the least. There were times I called on my way up an escalator to the bathroom and I only had 2 minutes. But I called. Honestly, the great thing about it was Bryan was so understanding. He didn’t get annoyed or upset if the call lasted 30 seconds. He was happy to hear my voice. Here’s the other thing- you have to be okay with swimming against the stream. The crowd is going here or there and you have to be okay with excusing yourself and saying “Na- I’m gonna head up to my room and FaceTime with my husband and kids.” It’s not the popular choice that’s for sure. I’m just to the point that I don’t care. Let people think I’m whipped or old fashioned. I’m okay with it. You don’t judge me and I won’t judge you is my motto. Bryan is very much the same way. He will stay on the bus to do our devotion and pray with me rather than go in to eat with a group of people after a concert. I can’t tell you how many times he’s prayed with me and one or both of us is standing in a public place. It’s awesome. I know I come first; our marriage comes first. It makes me feel important, loved and valued. So, while traveling, I try to do the same for him.
I am fortunate. I am well aware. Bryan always listens to me when I vent or I’m lonely for his company. I always try to never sound unsupportive or whiney about missing him or the washer being broke or whatever challenge the week holds. There is a difference in whining and being honest. Being honest means you don’t salt and pepper things with guilt or blame. I start out by saying “I don’t want you to fix this situation. It’s not your fault. I need you to hear me as my friend.” That takes the natural instinct men have “to fix” every situation out of the equation.
My point is that we no sooner can empathize with another’s misery or pain than feeling it in some form ourselves.
Be quick to listen. Listen without the intent on responding. Listen to understand and try to put yourself in their situation (Walk A Mile In My Shoes!). Problem solve on how you can positively impact the situation. If there is a situation coming up that you know is difficult for your mate, be proactive. Think of things you can do to make a difference. For instance, Bryan has a sneaky little way of putting cards or notes or scraps of paper in my luggage, purse, makeup kit or pocket of my travel backpack. I LOVE them. It brings little moments to my night or day that he shows me he is with me, he loves me and can’t wait to be with me again. You may think this sounds ridiculous. Well, if you do… think about the time before you married your spouse.
Did you do little things to tell them how in love with them you were? Do it again. If you’re the one thinking “I wish my spouse would do that”…. let me say to you. YOU do it! Do it with hope. Do it without expectation. Do it because you own 100% of your participation. No matter the outcome.
Although, I would be willing to bet your mate will appreciate it and maybe…just maybe reciprocate.