Abuse,  Family

Esteem me

People assume we have time for all sorts in this current situation of ‘lockdown’!  With the number of Teams Meetings and Zoom Parties, you would think that everyone was jobless and desperate for attention; but one thing we certainly have time to do is ‘think’. From reflecting on the past to preparing for the future, there is a lot of thinking going on in these times, well at least I am doing a lot more thinking than usual.  I have good days and not so good days, as the pressure of being forced to stay indoors for my own protection is getting to me a little.  I am home with my spouse and our children.  We have a lovely home with a decent sized garden, in a safe neighbourhood; yet after many weeks in this situation, it seems I am beginning to dwindle in my appreciation for the blessings I have. I’m not usually ungrateful, but my relationship with my spouse has hit a few bumps during this lockdown.  I wish we had exchanged heated words over something – at least that would have brought out some emotion and make-up sex would have been awesome afterwards. Rather we have just functioned – and not perfectly.

He doesn’t want to share what he is going through and this is making me feel inadequate as a wife.  Before I got married, I got my identity from God and myself.  My parents and siblings are amazing but I knew who I was as an individual and I didn’t need anyone to agree or disagree with my perception of myself.  I was confident in my pros and cons and I accepted me for me.  I thought marriage was supposed to celebrate all that and take me to the next level – and it did, for a while… Then life happened, and we let life get in the way.  I realised that I expected my spouse to appreciate me and long for me when we were apart, but that was not the case.  He had been very romantic and sweet while we courted, but it seems that once I said ‘I do’, that was a box ticked off his list.  As confident as I am to outsiders, his ignorance of me has made me doubt my self-worth.  Some people would call this a form of abuse, but that is such an awful word.  You hear ‘Abuse’ and the images that the mind generates are not pretty. I see my situation more like an underlying issue in our marriage; but as Covid-19 has shown us, underlying issues can still be dangerous to the health.

My spouse and I were listening to a Preacher a few days ago and he asked “What does the bible mean by cares of this world?” The things we do for survival, was my response. You know, have a job, take care of the children, pay your mortgage, take care of the parents, those kinds of things, and the little extras like fancy cars and holidays.  Nothing wrong with that but we can sometimes get bogged down with sorting out the urgent, that we forget what is important.  These cares are a ‘big deal’ for him (I realised this after we got married), and he puts a lot of energy into taking care of his responsibilities – which is great! But he does this at the expense of ‘Us’.

A couple of weeks into the initial lockdown, I woke up one morning feeling ‘just ok’. I had a few things I needed to get done on that day, including writing an article for Dishusbandmata! I had to read through two reports which had come to me very late, but I was still hoping to meet my deadline.  I had schoolwork to get through with my elder child and the little one just generally needed attention.  I had to cook twice that day, there was a need for laundry to be done as I had ignored it for a while, and well, you get my drift.  My spouse had his deadline so he just ignored everything and everyone around him (except to eat), and just got on with his business.  By 10:30pm, I had only dealt with one of the reports and I hadn’t started this article.  One child was in bed and the other was still fighting sleep on my back and I was exhausted.  I was almost tears when I said out loud “God I’m trying here, I’m really trying, can’t I get a break?”  My spouse heard me, looked up from his workstation, and laughed at me.  I was confused.  “What’s funny?” I asked.  “Why are you laughing?”  He laughed louder, shook his head and continued with his work.  I felt useless.  I felt foolish.  I felt worthless, all in two seconds.  He is my spouse, together forever was our promise, and in my moment of weakness, he laughed at me.  I was already feeling like a terrible Mom for not being able to complete the assignments the school sent for the children, and not getting the soup right, and not ticking all the boxes on my to-do list, but that laugh sent me to bed with hot tears.

I was still crying when I woke up the next morning trying to have my quiet time. “Why did you allow that?”, was my question to God.  What lesson could I possibly learn from being laughed at by the one human being who should be in my corner through thick and thin?  God was silent, so I drifted into some thoughts. I thought about the lengths many men would go through in order to secure a wife and indeed to obtain that special favour from God, but how quickly we forget to esteem each other in little ways, every day.

Over these lockdown weeks, people have asked questions and attempted to re-evaluate their priorities and determine what is truly important.  I gathered some courage to rock the boat in my home by having a serious discussion with my spouse.  It was not a conversation I was looking forward to and I sincerely prayed that I would find the right words to reach the ‘koko’ of the matter. I’m happy to report that with the support of good friends and spiritual guidance, there has been visible improvement!

What have you done lately to make your spouse, or child, or loved ones feel good about themselves?  Some people have had pay cuts, lost jobs, buried family members, developed anxiety issues, and are dealing with all sorts of negatives that have a way making one feel like your life has been worthless, even when there are tangible blessings around you.  Whether it’s your husband or wife, parent or child, sibling or Pastor, let’s encourage someone today by appreciating them and Esteeming them.  Say something nice and mean it! Our self-worth should come from God and ourselves, but it’s also nice to feel highly regarded by those we hold dear.

Keeping it real

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