A man’s love for a woman helps to perfect his own character.*
Waller R. Newell
The wife must see to it that she respects her husband.+
Over the years I’ve talked to hundreds of men about their relationships, both with guys alone in my therapy office and when they come with their wives. Many of these men have told me how much better off they are because they are married. They tell me their wives had a tremendous impact on their lives. Research supports this idea as well. Married men have more wealth and live longer and have less depression than single men. They even have less car accidents and emergency room visits.
Lou is one of those stories. He told me of the influence of his wife, Jen, on his life, when I interviewed him in my graduate work. He was one honest fellow. Honest, because he’s one of the few people I’ve talked to, in and outside of my therapy office, who told me he was selfish. I don’t hear that too often. Of course, we all are, but here’s a guy admitting it! How delightful.
“Yeah,” he says, “I divorced Jen out of sheer selfishness. I just wanted to do my own thing, you know. I was a hellion before she met me and after we got together I settled down a bit but the rebel in me was crying to get out. I couldn’t be a rebel and be married to her. So I dumped her.” His reason? He told me he couldn’t live that kind of life around her. Jen didn’t lecture him. It was just he felt too guilty around her.
He said he remembered one day after his divorce when he was buying groceries by himself and was standing in line at the checkout counter. In front of him was a family with mom and dad and kids out grocery shopping together. He had one of these ah-ah moments. “I saw this happy family laughing and just being together and I saw in my mind’s eye my wife alone in that tiny apartment with my son and I realized how selfish I’d been. They were suffering because of me. It was like God was telling me I needed to go be a husband, be a dad. The selfish life was boring. Lonely. It wasn’t what I imagined. I went back to my wife. I was very grateful she took me back. Her counselor and her friends and family told her to dump me. She never lectured me. If she had I would have walked away and called it a day. It’s because of her I’m alive. I’d be dead by now with that life-style. She always believed in me. She civilized me.”
He emphasized that. It wasn’t her chiding. She didn’t do that. She didn’t criticize him. He said…it was her goodness, her example. It made him want to make her proud of him.
Love gives a man the strongest motive to overcome and avoid bad behavior, so as to make himself admirable and worthy of affection in the eyes of his beloved.
Waller R. Newell
Hey, guys: are you living a life worthy of your wife’s respect? Hey, gals: does your husband know you believe in him?
Lou told me those months after they reconciled and remarried were the best of his life. He was there with Jen while she struggled with cancer until it finally took her life, just a year after they got back together. He then became a single-father. But by then he could handle it. He’d left selfishness at the door and became the man he knew he should be, one that would make Jen proud.
*Newell, W. R. (2000). The Chivalrous Man. What Is A Man? 3000 Years of Wisdom on the Art of Manly Virtue. W. R. Newell. New York City, Regan Books: 1-286. (Quotes are from page 3).
+Ephesians 5:33 (NASB from www.biblegateway.com)