Why couldn’t my husband give me the affirmation that I needed?
- Posted on Jun 10, 2011
By the time you’re in your fifties, you’re supposed to have gained some wisdom. Lord willing, even some godly insight. I certainly was supposed to—I lead Bible studies and speak to women all over the country about having a closer walk with God. But every deep thought, every spiritual insight I’d ever had, seemed to fly out the window that morning when I went out for a jog.
There she was, with her perfect figure, riding past effortlessly on her bicycle, flashing me that megawatt smile. “Morning, Beth!” my lovely neighbor said. I managed to puff out a return greeting as she whizzed past.
Now, don’t get me wrong: I don’t begrudge any woman her God-given beauty. It’s just that sometimes I’m amazed at those who can look that gorgeous wearing spandex shorts but not a stitch of makeup. I’m certainly not one of them. Mascara, blush and lipstick have been some of my closest friends for many years now. I know we’re supposed to be content with what we have, and I feel just fine about my looks…just so long as I know exactly where my Velcro rollers are at all times. I know I have no right to complain; I’ve been blessed with my wonderful husband, Keith, for over 30 years now. But that particular morning, I guess I just wanted a little affirmation from him.
That’s why I pulled out all the stops after my jog. I cleaned up, fixed my hair and makeup, and put on my cutest jeans and a new sweater. I was almost like a school girl getting ready for a date. I’d go downstairs, Keith would look up from reading the paper or whatever he was doing, and he’d say, “Look at that knockout I married!”
Only problem was that when I went downstairs, Keith was glued to a fishing program on TV. He didn’t look up. Not even once. And trust me, I gave him every opportunity. I found at least half a dozen excuses for walking in front of the TV screen.
Keith was more knocked out by the bass the fisherman was holding.
I’m being unfair, I told myself. After all, how could I expect Keith to know his lines from a script I hadn’t given him? I’ll help him out. “Does my hair look alright?”
He didn’t even look up. “Uh-huh.”
“Do you like this sweater?”
Communication is the key to a good marriage, right? So I’ll just come right out with it. “Sweetie,” I said, “What do you suppose you’d have done if you hadn’t married me?”
Correct answer: “My life wouldn’t have been the same! You’re everything to me! Where would I be without you?”
Keith’s response: “I don’t know. I guess I’d have married my old girlfriend.”
That did it. My dramatic exit would’ve been a lot more dramatic if Keith had actually looked up from the television set long enough to see me go. Yet I still expected him to realize how badly he’d goofed, chase after me, and beg my forgiveness. He didn’t.
I went out on the back porch and sulked. I might as well accept it. The romance is over. I’m old and I’m not beautiful to my husband anymore.
“You are to me.”
I could hear that strong, reassuring voice deep in my soul.
No, Keith hadn’t followed me onto the porch and told me what I’d been dying to hear all morning. It was God speaking to my heart. He was the one who’d come after me. I was headed in the wrong direction, telling myself a bunch of lies and wallowing in ridiculous self pity, but God still came after me. Even though I hadn’t been pursuing him at all, he’d pursued me. What in the world had I been thinking? I should have known better than to put my self-worth into the hands of another human being, even my husband’s.
When I went back inside, Keith seemed oblivious to the drama the two of us had just acted out in my head. He was still glued to that fishing show. I couldn’t help but laugh at myself a little bit. Lord, it would have to be a fishing show, wouldn’t it? I’d been fishing for compliments and come up empty. I thought about the story of how the apostles had been out fishing all night long and had caught nothing, and how Jesus came along and told them to cast their nets out again. They were tired and didn’t see the point, but when they pulled those nets back in again, they were so full they nearly broke.
Lord, thank you for reminding me that you are the only one who can really meet my needs—all of them.
I looked at my handsome husband and thanked God that Keith hadn’t played along with my little game. I’d tried so hard to be attractive to him, but there was nothing at all attractive about a woman desperate for a compliment, and I was glad Keith wasn’t the kind of man who’d tell me whatever I wanted to hear, setting up a never-ending cycle of my relying on him for affirmation.
I knew Keith loved me and honored me, and he often said all the sweet things a wife craves—just not on cue.
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