I learned a very important lesson about marriage even before my wife and I got married. She was living in Texas and I in Southern California. She came to visit and meet my parents for the first time. I was excited to show off my hometown and my parents were elated that it looked as though I might be moving out of the house at some point in the future. My then girlfriend however, got a glimpse into how she would be treated as the future Mrs. Mark Vander Ley.
She returned to Texas and we continued our nightly phone calls. She gave me the news in her characteristically straightforward manner. “If you treat me the way that you treat your mom, we will not be getting married.” She saw the way that I treated my mom during that visit and was not impressed. She wisely knew that a son who disrespects his mother is a son who disrespects his wife. I am thankful that she called me out on this behavior before we got married. By the time the wedding came around I had made some growth. I am still working to model for my boys, the level of respect and honor that their mother deserves.
Another lesson came when my wife and I served as mentors for a young married couple. Like in many cases I learned much more from this relationship than the young husband I was mentoring. One day we decided to hold each other accountable for serving our wives in unexpected ways through out the week. This might mean emptying the dishwasher, taking out the trash, picking up around the house, or making breakfast. Basically, it was getting off my “duff” and doing something without having to be asked.
This experience softened my heart towards my wife. The accountability of this young married man helped me to put my wife first. He helped me to step up and lead through service. I still struggle with selfishness in this area and have plenty of room to continue growing. I am hopeful however that my boys will get the message of “let’s go help mom.” I am convinced that they will learn to respect their mother, and women based on the example they see.
I hope that dads will humble themselves and follow the command to, “love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her.” Ephesians 5:33