We had one of the worst fights of our marriage recently. Funny thing for two strong-willed, type-A personalities living under one roof, but we actually rarely have verbal fights.
But we sure had one recently. Harsh words were flung back and forth across the living room. Words meant to accuse. Words meant to wound, and make the other feel guilty.
And I was front and center the main instigator of the fight.
My husband had asked to go on a week-long mission trip to New Orleans to help rebuild the home of a family whose home was destroyed in Hurricane Katrina. More than five feet of water flooded their main floor and devastated the entire structure. The family hasn’t lived in their home since then.
Our fight was over the fact I didn’t want to “allow” (yeah, I’m all kinds of submissive wife around here) my husband to leave us for a whole week.
His request was simple: He felt called to go serve with the team of Knights from the Order of Malta (my Hubs became a Knight of Malta last October) in their efforts to finish the reconstruction of this house so the family could move back in this spring. He doesn’t ask for much, but he really, really wanted to go on this trip.
My response: How the blippity blip could you possibly think of leaving me alone with three babies for an entire WEEK? Don’t you know that I’ll (more blippity blip) lose my mind?!?!?!?
I finally relented and said he could go to New Orleans, but friends – the honest to goodness truth is I gave in with the worst attitude. I did not submit with love and respect. I did not volunteer for a week of solo parenting with good will in my heart. I was a sulky, grouchy, scared out of my mind wreck who was pretty determined not to ever let him forget my sacrifice and make sure he felt horrible and guilty and shameful for leaving me alone.
His mission trip was two weeks ago. And I’m not gonna lie. It was the longest Sunday to Friday I’ve had in a long time. We all missed him horrendously.
On the second to last day I was alone, I packed up the kids and escaped the world of single parenting to my parent’s house about two hours away. The kids adore time with PopPop and Grandma so it was a much needed distraction for all of us. While my mom was cooking dinner, and I was standing in the kitchen bouncing the baby and chatting with her, I started complaining all over again about the Hubs leaving his ministry at home to go serve somewhere else.
And my mom’s response was like cold water on my hot and heavy pity party.
“You BOTH are serving.” My mom told me. “Your service makes his service possible. When you were little and your Dad was active in the pro-life movement, I was always the one to stay home. But that made it possible for Dad to be involved in ministry.”
I promise my mom has no idea how much her simple comment impacted me. But it was like a knife in my heart.
Because when I was seven years old and my mom was staying home by herself with my four younger siblings, I got to attend some of the pro-life rallies and events with my Dad. He took me because my mom couldn’t go with him.
And it was at one of those pro-life events that I had a profound spiritual experience and gave my heart and my life to Jesus. Truly, it was that experience that solidified the direction my life has taken as a Christian thus far.
I never ever realized that it was my mom’s sacrifice of staying at home with little kids that made it possible for me to have that life changing experience of Jesus.
With that realization in mind, my perspective on my husband’s need to serve outside the home changed. I now realize that his service and positive example of the Faith in action deeply impacts our sons. His good example could change the direction of their entire lives for the better.
I NEED to let him serve. And in my own way, I need to serve with him.
Even though his service might be more exciting or more visible, my service in the home is equally important and equally effective.
It’s hard to be the quiet one. It’s hard to be the one left at home, sometimes even feeling left behind. I’ll learn – slowly, probably grudgingly – but I’ll learn to do it. For the sake of my marriage and for the sake of my sons, I’m committing to let my spouse serve.
And to serving with him.
P.S. If you’d like to learn more about the Knights of Malta, which is one of the oldest religious orders within the Catholic Church, you can read the history of the Order here.
And just for fun, here are some pictures of the Hub’s investiture into the Knights of Malta last October. Our new baby was almost two months old back then – we were so blessed the whole family was able to make the trip to Washington D.C. for this special event.
I always knew I married a Knight. But now? Well, now I have proof. ;0)