If there's one book that I think every married couple on the planet should have, it's Love & Respect by Dr. Emerson Eggerichs. From a biblical standpoint, it supports the Scripture, "Nevertheless let each one of you in particular so love his own wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband." (Ephesians 5:33—NKJV) Did you peep how the Bible says that men should love their wives and women should respect their husbands? That's the entire premise of the book in a nutshell—wives feel honored by being loved by their husbands while husbands feel honored by being respected by their wives. Much like love languages, the problem with a lot of relationships is women are giving men what they want to receive and vice versa. But I promise you ladies, ask any man if he would prefer love vs. respect, an overwhelming majority would go with what's behind Door #2. In fact, if I were to list the top five complaints that my clients have ever had concerning their relationship, one of them would definitely be that wives don't feel loved enough and husbands don't feel respected (esteemed) enough.
And what does that have to do with the title of today's message? I'm sure many of you remember Sanaa Lathan's character Andrea in the movie The Family That Preys. While that chick was off the chain on so many levels, the one issue that most applies here is she was making most of the money and totally disrespecting her husband because of it. Meanwhile, Chris (played by Rockmond Dunbar) wasn't a bum or anything. He was actually a contractor for the same company where his wife was an accountant. Plus, he had dreams. Big dreams. Ones that eventually ended up paying off…BIG TIME. In the meantime, though, Andrea was makin' bank, he wasn't and it was taking all kinds of tolls on their relationship (yes, I know her affair didn't help but let's stay on topic, shall we?).
Hmph. I can name five couples off the top of my head that I personally know who are in this same boat in real life. And since it's that many, I know there must be at least a few readers who can relate to this situation too. It can be frustrating. It can be draining. Sometimes, it can make divorce seem like a much more appealing option (check out "What Some People Regret About Their Divorce").
But before you make a drastic life change, I hope that the following five questions can help you to figure out if there is possibly another route to take; especially if one of your dreams was to remain married to your husband for the rest of your life.
Did You Know What You Were Getting Yourself into from the Jump?
There is someone I know who's basically been the sole breadwinner of her marriage since she said, "I do". When you grow up in the entertainment industry (which I did), it's pretty common to know of husbands who are "in the arts" and not pulling a paycheck (or at least a steady one) while the wives are the ones who are holding the bills down. How does someone find themselves in such a predicament? Good question. I'm not exactly sure what it is, but there is something very…alluring about artists. I don't know if it's their talent, the spotlight they stand in as they perform or what, but it has a way of seducing you to the point of sometimes losing all common sense. Anyway, years and years later, this woman's husband continues to not have stable employment while she works a couple of gigs to make ends meet. Also, for years and years, he's made the promise that once he "hits it big", she can quit. At this rate, it looks like she will retire well before that happens.
You know, another woman I know once told me something that is oh so very wise. She said, "Be careful about telling God rather than asking God who your husband is. You could end up regretting it." (Check out "What Should You Do If You Feel Like You Married The Wrong Person?") The wife I just spoke of? I remember her falling for her now-husband. She was so enamored with him that, while she was well aware of the fact that he was almost obsessed with being an artist while his work ethic was shady, at best, because she wanted him so bad, she overlooked that. You know what that means, right? He didn't hoodwink or bamboozle her. She simply married a man who has never really made provision a priority.
I oftentimes say, marriage doesn't "fix" matters; if anything, it magnifies them. So yeah, if you're with someone and you're the financial supporter of the house, their dreams or both, the first thing you should ask yourself is, "Did I go into this relationship fully aware that it was going to be that way?" because sometimes, our spouse is merely being what we accepted from day one. And, if we want that to change, we first have to take responsibility for not requiring more in the relationship from the very beginning.
Is Your Husband a Dreamer or a Dream Implementer?
Whether you know what you were getting yourself into or not, I'm certainly not saying that you should surrender to things remaining this way. After all, it's one thing to be with a dreamer. It's another matter entirely to be with a dream implementer. What's the difference? I once worked with a couple who, quite frankly, the husband was a spoiled brat. Because he was such a mama's boy while growing up, he basically acted like it was his wife's job to fund his dreams and ambitions. First of all, that's a wack way of thinking, whether it's on the husband's or wife's part.
It's not another grown person's responsibility to make sure that you live your best life. Your spouse is there to support you, not enable you.
Anyway, because ole' boy didn't get this memo, if he lost a job…whatever. If he misspent money…whatever. If his dream changed half a dozen times in one year…whatever. He felt that she should keep "having his back" until he figured it out. This guy is a dreamer. A lazy and entitled one, at that.
A dream implementer is different. His dream comes with a mission statement. His dream comes with a plan. His dream comes with short- and long-term goals. And, if he needs the financial support of his wife in order to make those dreams happen, he presents his idea in such a way where it's an investment into him and the marriage overall. His dream also has a clear timeframe. What I mean by that is, if he wants to quit a good paying job in order to start his own business, he will make sure his wife knows how long he is planning to rely on her financial support—and you can best believe that it won't be indefinitely. Matter of fact, a lot of dream implementers will even work a part-time gig, just so that some sort of income can be coming in on their behalf. Why? Because as an adult, they are not comfortable with someone else solely providing for them for a long period of time, even if that individual happens to be their wife.
Is Your Marriage a True Partnership?
A healthy marriage consists of two people who see their union as a partnership. One of my favorite definitions of partnership is "joint interest". JOINT. INTEREST. It's one thing for a husband or wife to come home and tell their partner what they are going to do next with their life, all the while assuming that since their spouse vowed "for better, for worse" and "for richer, for poorer" that they should automatically be on board. It's another matter entirely for that same husband or wife to come home, share their dreams and then ask their spouse how they feel about the idea and if they think it is something that is doable at the time. The latter couple are the kind who respect that their marriage is a partnership.
There's a couple I know who's been married, shoot, for at least three decades now. They are both anesthesiologists. When they were in medical school, they were brokety-broke-broke. And so, the husband worked and paid to get his wife through school. Then, when she graduated, she worked so that he could earn his degree. This means that there was a season when both of them were sole breadwinners. This was able to happen because they mutually agreed that it was the best idea for them.
No good husband is going to be "cool" with his wife funding his dreams if she isn't fully on board. Mind you, I didn't say always happy or thrilled, but she will be down for the cause. If you are currently the financier of your husband's ideas and goals and there's some real bitterness and resentment going on, could it be that you don't feel like there is a "joint interest" in what he's trying to accomplish?
If that is the case, I recommend you bringing that up to him. And, if need be, that the two of you get into some counseling so that you can figure out how to get on the same page.
Are Your Wants and Needs Met in Other Ways?
For better or for worse (pun intended and not intended at the same time), it's becoming more common for wives to make more money than their husbands do. I recently read a study that said 38 percent of women make more money than men. Some of my clients fall into this demographic. But you know what? Most of the wives don't complain to me that their pay stub is higher than their husbands. No, their bigger issue is, if they are going to be making more income, they would like their husband to "make up for it" in other ways. Cook more. Help with the kids more. Plan dates. They especially would like this to be the case if their husband is working less hours or, the difference in pay is because he is working to get his dream off of the ground.
Personally, I think if there was one word that could be used to describe what a lot of wives would like to feel if they are financially supporting their husband's dreams, it's "appreciation". And a great way for husbands to show their appreciation is for them to know what their wife's wants and needs are and then be proactive about meeting them.
After all, it's only more work to come home and then feel like you have to nag or even beg your spouse to help out (or help out more). But if you feel like you're being taken care of in other ways than monetarily, the financial sacrifice won't seem quite as…strenuous.
Do You See “Light” at the End of the Tunnel?
I know some husbands who, basically since I've known them, they've been at home, "building their dreams" while their wives have been making sure the family doesn't get evicted in the process. I don't know how any man can feel good about himself with his household running this way. If we're going to bring the Bible back into this, I say that based on the King James Version of I Timothy 5:8 which says, "But if any provide not for his own, and specially for those of his own house, he hath denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel" (which connects to Genesis 3:17-19).
Yet, even outside of the Word, a part of what comes with being an adult is being self-sufficient; if a man is relying on his wife for food and shelter for years on end, he is not living like an adult should. Adults are who should be married. Right?
If you're a wife reading this, a year of your man getting a vision or enterprise off of the ground is one thing. Ten years is something else. If you've just begun the journey of financially supporting your husband's dream(s), remember that love is patient (I Corinthians 13:4) and nothing happens in a day. If it's been years, whether your husband realizes (or acknowledges) it or not, you are being taken advantage of. If he were single, he'd have a job, right? Being married doesn't mean he should throw caution to the wind and just do…whatever. When he married you, he signed up to have your back as you have his. He also signed up for you being a top priority; his dreams shouldn't have you pressed and stressed all of the time. That's not loving you. Not. At. All.
I started this article off with something that I heard R&B singer Monica say on T.I. & Tiny: Friends & Family Hustle not too long ago. She was speaking in the context of marriage, in general. I thought it was fitting because, to have a man who is a dreamer—more specifically, a dream implementer—can be a beautiful thing. A respectable thing. Just make sure that your man loves you enough to where he's not taking your support, your understanding and/or your resources for granted. If he's got timeframes, if he's meeting your needs, and if he's holding you down in the process, he isn't. You'll look up and realize that it was all worth it in the long run. On the flip side, if he's not doing any of this, again, call a therapist because it's costing you more than you should ever have to pay—for his dreams or otherwise. Simple as that. And you can, pun intended, totally take that to the bank.
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