I sit in a pub near my hometown with a few friends, sipping good brew and enjoying much needed conversation with fellow dads and husbands who are in the trenches of raising families and navigating life. It’s been some time since we’ve had a chance to do this. All of us are moving 500 miles per hour, between our family schedules and work schedules, with little time to stop.
On the docket tonight — beer, wings, and The Magnificent 7. I guess you could say a stress reliever for us (along with the beer) is a no-holds barred shoot-em up modern western flick that’s just as good as the original. We all know we won’t be disappointed.
Our waiter is a friendly guy in his late 30s, maybe early 40s, who cheerfully walks us through each beer they offer and a detailed description of everything on the menu. He stops by often to make sure we’re okay. We talk football, The Magnificent 7 (which he gives a two-thumbs up), the World Series, and more with this guy. But at one point he says something that takes me back.
“Well, it’s great talking to all of you. Good thing you were able to get permission from your wives to come out tonight.”
His tone is condescending, as if our wives are the kind of women who restrict us or hold our freedom in the palm of their hands. I begin to think about his words and the way he said what he just said. Maybe that’s the way it is in his house? I wonder. Maybe he and his wife have an unbalanced relationship and he really does feel that he has to ask permission before doing anything. Maybe she feels that way toward him.
He’s right about one thing: I did ask my wife before I met up with my friends. I did make sure she was okay with it. I waited until she had a chance to look at our home calendar before I got back to my friends with confirmation that I could join them.
But he’s wrong about the why: I didn’t ask my wife because I had to get permission before going out with friends. I asked my wife because I respect her. I respect our family’s schedule. I respect our home calendar and all of the activities that we have going on with our children. In fact, as a husband and father, my wife and children take top priority. Their lives take top priority. So does our family’s life.
Seventeen years ago, when I promised to be faithful to my wife forever, I also made a promise to put her first and to have care and concern for her heart, her mind, and her thoughts. Later on when we brought children into the mix, I carried much of the same perspective into my parenting. That means that before I ever make a decision, big or small, I ask myself, “How will this make my wife feel? How will this make my children feel?”
It’s not about asking permission, or getting a pass for a night out, or checking in with a boss. If that’s the perspective you have, that’s toxic. The reason I ask my wife before I head out with my friends is respect. I respect her. I honor her. I care about what she thinks about things.
I didn’t respond to the waiter that night. I didn’t need to. I know the truth of our life and our marriage. And knowing that truth sets me free!
Originally published on Babble