If men are honest, we’d like to understand our wives, we try to, but we are often left scratching our heads as to what they need, what they want and what they are trying to say. While men love to stay in the world of logic and avoid emotions at all cost, women stay right at home in emotions. For men, it rarely makes sense and if you ask women, they will tell you it doesn’t have to make sense.
Over the last month, as we’ve shared with people what is happening in our adoption, waiting to bring Judah Mamush home it has been hard to describe the agony of what it feels like. I told one guy that we’ve discussed putting Katie on a plane so she can go to Ethiopia to be with Judah Mamush until he passes embassy and he said, “Josh, you need to stop trying to control things.” I said the same thing to a couple of Mom’s and they all looked they were going to cry.
While the last month has been hard for me, it has been different for Katie. In that time, I’ve learned a lot about my wife and the heart of a mother that hopefully will be helpful to other men (whether they have kids or not).
Here they are:
- A mother feels differently than a father. While this is true of men and women in general as I said earlier, when it comes to parenting it is even more true. A mother feels the loss of something different than a father does. I miss Judah. I can’t wait for him to be here, to play soccer with him, teach him to ride a bike, to do things with him. Katie longs to hold him, to snuggle him, hug him and tell him that he is loved. To give him a feeling he has not had in his life, a feeling of safety, of belonging.
- Be honest with your wife about your heart. While men often get labeled as callous or insensitive because we don’t cry or feel the way a woman does, it is important to be honest with your wife about your heart. A wife always wants to know what you are feeling, what is running through your head and heart. When we left Judah Mamush on our last day in Ethiopia, he was on the ground screaming and crying because he didn’t know if we were coming back, he only knew we were leaving. He doesn’t speak English so we couldn’t say, “We’re coming back.” Katie is on the verge of losing it and I did everything in my power to pick him up and not cry. I couldn’t even talk or else I would’ve cried. I am almost crying retelling this story. As we left and over the last month, it has been important to my wife’s heart to know of my heart, to know how it hurts, to know my longing as a father for my son. To not be the man and just bottle it up and with tough upper lip. That’s why a wife thinks her husband is insensitive, because he holds back.
- Distance is easier for men to handle. Men can handle distance in relationships because of how we handle emotions. We are able to compartmentalize things, get busy and forget about things because we are laser focused and don’t multi-task our emotions. I can go a whole day and not think about something that Katie has thought about all day while doing 15 other things. This can create a sense for women that their husbands don’t care or don’t feel. That isn’t it at all, it is just that we push it to the back of our minds so that we can do other things. If I thought about Judah the way Katie did, I would never get any work done. She can think of him, teach our kids, have coffee with someone, make dinner and still think of Judah and post something on Facebook that isn’t related to Judah.
- Hold a woman when she cries, don’t ask questions. This has been one of our rules in marriage from day one. Katie has told me, “When I cry, just hold me and don’t ask why.” This is just solid advice for a husband, but even more so in the moments of parenting when you as the father can’t fix a situation or do anything about it. I can’t make the Ethiopian embassy go faster or look at our paperwork. I can’t send Katie on a plane to Ethiopia to bring Judah home any faster than it is going and that is frustrating.
- A mother’s heart is a mystery. While I’ve learned some things, a mother’s heart is a mystery to me and will remain so. It feels and responds in ways I can’t even imagine. It longs in ways that I don’t. It aches in ways that don’t even cross my mind. It is a mystery, and yet, as a father and husband I am grateful for it. It forces me to feel in important ways. I can easily be tough and not emotional, but walking with Katie through this time, meeting Judah and holding him and then the agony of having to say goodbye to him has taught me a lot about being a father and the love God has for me.
My hope with this post was to honor my wife and the beauty and power of her heart as a mother. But to also help men know how to best honor, love, care for and support their wives and the hearts that beat in them. To encourage them to be a mystery, to have emotion and to handle things differently from men.