R-E-S-P-E-C-T, What Every Wounded Warrior Needs
R-E-S-P-E-C-T, What Every Wounded Warrior Needs
I can overlook a number of transgressions that my children make- forgetting to brush their teeth, leaving the table without asking to be excused, putting a new roll of toilet paper on upside down… but one thing I cannot tolerate is disrespect. I have a zero tolerance policy, especially when it comes to them dis-respecting my husband. Roll your eyes at me and we’ll have words. Roll your eyes at him and I’ll ground you on the spot. I don’t play around when it comes to the children showing disrespect and that’s why I’m calling my actions shameful and incredibly hypocritical.
As the wife of a wounded warrior with PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder) and TBI (traumatic brain injury) I am becoming accustomed to the strange philosophies, statements, concerns and arguments that come out of my husband’s mouth. Through my therapist and a great deal of time in prayer, I’ve learned how to remain calm and rational even when he isn’t. Arguing never helps and disagreements often lead to arguments so every word must be thought through carefully. When he wants to argue that the sky is orange not blue, I know how to work my way through the conversation. Tonight I messed up royally. Tonight my husband shared with me what he thought needed to be done to tweak some of our transportation details for an upcoming vacation. I tried to explain to him that our arrangements were just fine the way they were but in his need to be right, he argued with me. Then in my need to be right, I argued with him. I was the one dealing with our arrangements. I knew the details. He did not. His explanation of why they needed to be changed was completely wrong. I could have just said, “OK, honey. I’ll look into that.” But, no! I had to remind him that I knew what I was doing and he did not. I didn’t have to use those words. He heard them anyway. My condescending smile and way-too-sweet tone showed him that I did not respect him. I would not even entertain his thoughts. I knew better. I knew better. Our argument ended in him storming off mad, mumbling under his breath and me shaking my head, internally blaming his brain injury for yet another ruined evening. I waited a few minutes for him to calm down and then I went looking for him to ask him why he was still avoiding me. Exasperated, he told me that he didn’t appreciate my condescending looks. Right on cue, I put my hands on my hips, tipped my head and raised one eye brow. Yep, that was the look. I shook my head and tried to convince him that I was right and if he’d just listen to me, he’d see why. That didn’t go over well so I walked away, shaking my head, feeling that TBI had stolen another night from us. I set off to clean up the kitchen while mentally re-hashing everything that had just occurred. I like to mentally validate myself when there isn’t anyone else around to do it for me so I enjoyed my one-sided conversation with myself…. until God joined me.
The presence of the Holy Spirit was immediately convicting. As I thought about my husband’s wrong viewpoint I thought about my wrong attitude. Why did I have to be so condescending? I disagreed when he had accused me of that attitude earlier, but suddenly it was crystal clear. I was being disrespectful. How could my husband feel that I loved and respected him if I stood before him with my hands on my hips looking down at him like a child? As wives of wounded warriors we often feel like we’re in the role of a mother. Depending on the injuries our husbands have we may even find ourselves bathing them, cutting their food, getting them dressed, handling their finances, organizing their personal affairs, reminding them to take their medicine, etc… Some days we see their injuries more clearly than we see their hearts.
Oh LORD, help us to see our husband’s hearts. Help us to remember that no matter what our circumstances may be, you’ve allowed these men to be our husbands and therefore they are the head of our families. LORD, thank you for the gift of loving them, respecting them, and caring for them. When we get bogged down with caregiving responsibilities, help us to see their hearts. Help us to remember they are men. Help us to remember that they deserve to be respected in their homes. Help us to not focus on our circumstances but rather to focus on You and to love our husbands out of our love for You. Help us to respect our husbands out of our respect for You.
In tears I made my way to our bedroom where I found my husband. Completely confounding him, I curled up into his arms crying and asked him to forgive me. I knew I had been disrespectful and that he deserved better from me… and I told him so. He forgave me and asked me to please let it go. Five minutes later, it was forgotten and the whole family moved on with our evening. Like many of you, I’m new at being a caregiver to a wounded warrior. I face new trials, new temptations, and new weaknesses. That also means I will face new victories through Christ who gives me strength. Now that I have recognized my tendency to look down on my husband when his mind doesn’t work quite like mine does, I can be prepared to fight it off in the future. I can pray that God will give me new eyes to see my husband’s heart. I won’t be perfect. But with God’s help, I will make imperfect progress, my husband will once again feel like the king of his castle, and our children will see love and respect lived out in front of them between two parents who love God and love each other.