The Real-Life Wife
by Shontell Brewer
I remember the feeling of sinking. Not literally, but it may as well have been because I was so overwhelmed with being a mother that I seemed to forget that I was also a wife. I completely forgot that I was a wife first. My husband didn’t say much each day as he came home to piles of clean laundry overflowing his recliner, toys strewn about, and the house not smelling like dinner was just about ready. I didn’t need him to say anything specific to know he was frustrated. And I certainly didn’t need anyone to tell me I was failing. I had that endless running ticker tape of lies running through my head like it was 24-hour breaking news.
I was tired of having to look my husband in the eye after he had worked a very long work day, and I seemed to have accomplished nothing except keeping the children alive and safe. So, I prayed. I didn’t ask God to make me the Proverbs 31 woman. I asked Him to give me time to get dressed in the morning. I wasn’t aiming for the quintessential ’50s TV wife as much as the wife who had a presentable home and a plan for dinner—even if that plan burned a little while she was diaper changing. I needed a win. I honestly felt that if I didn’t have a breakthrough soon I was going to quit. I don’t mean I was going to leave. I mean I was going to stop trying altogether.
This little voice in the back of my head kept whispering that God had a better way. That way is named Grace. I don’t mean grace extended from my husband. With a six-year-old, a set of Irish twins ages two and three, and a burgeoning belly of about six months along, I was being handed grace left and right from my husband. I mean grace offered to myself. Once I identified this initial struggle, I was able to come to the place where I realized I could be doing more. I knew I couldn’t do everything, and I was so deep in my little frenzy that I couldn’t even prioritize my steps. So, I asked.
One night, once the kids were in bed and we were settling into a TV show, I asked my husband if we could chat. I confessed what he already knew. I told him I wanted to do better, but it was going to take me a little bit to get the hang of this job of being a wife, a mother to all these kids, and a homemaker (what that meant was still blurry to me.) I said, “Pick three.” I wanted him to name his top three things he wanted done by the time he got home each day. What would make him feel the most loved, noticed, and like I was trying to intentionally give him his well-deserved spot back? His answers shocked me.
First, he let me know unequivocally that he did not agree that I was failing as a wife, mother or as a general human. In fact, he couldn’t understand how I was alive myself at the end of each day. Then he mentioned three things I never would have chosen, because I’ve already proved I’m over thinking everything so much that I can’t even prioritize well. He asked that I have his recliner clear of laundry. He asked that I have dinner going or at least set out and ready for him to help with when he got home. And he asked that I stop wearing yoga pants. I laughed right out loud at that last request and asked for money to go buy new maternity clothes. He whole heartedly agreed, and I took myself shopping.
It took me only a week to get into the swing of these three new requests. I felt like a new woman because I was visibly accomplishing things in my day. What’s more, my husband noticed immediately. It took some nudging from God, but I was able to climb out of my rut and begin a new routine that was rooted in my desire to show my husband that he mattered. Sure, what I wore helped perk me up a bit, but my new-found confidence came because I chose to take back my priorities. My message came across loud and clear to my husband: I reminded him that I love him, I choose him, and I want to honor him as I promised to all those years ago in my vows.
Maybe we don’t need to overthink being a spouse. Maybe we just need to start by asking that risky question: how can I show you that you are my highest priority?
Shontell Brewer is a wife, mother, teacher and associate pastor with Foursquare International in Reno, Nevada. Her blog, Nonsense at Its Finest, can be found at shontellbrewer.com.
We’d like to hear from you. Please share your comments below or like us on your Facebook page. Be sure to check back each month for more articles and products available at your local Christian bookstore.