Under the Influence

Never underestimate the influence of a woman. For good or for evil, her influence lingers like perfume over her husband. It is amazing the softening power that a gentle woman can have on a man. It is also amazing how an embittered woman can poison and corrupt the heart of her husband. But it is a very beautiful thing to witness a marriage where a wife’s influence on her husband has the fragrance of love and support and deep honor and respect. That man will walk with confidence, and will garner respect wherever he goes, because somehow that scent will linger on him.

And when it comes to a man who is driven, many times the fragrance on that man is pure fear. I wrote yesterday about the high cost of sacrificing your family for your work, but many times women are actually the influence behind this drive to earn more and to succeed. And the deep motivator for those women is actually fear… fear of not having enough, fear of being deprived, fear of their husband losing their job. However, it is actually a crippling force on a man to be driven by a wife’s fear. They will lose their vision, they will sacrifice too much, and they will eventually burn out.

What I have seen too many times is that women are actually glad that their husbands are working so hard. They wish that they were home more, but they are proud of what their husbands are doing for the family. They love their new home, and new car, and to get to shop whenever. So some part of them feels like it is worth the sacrifice. And here is the real deception: women feel like they can parent better then men. Truth be told, they feel like they can handle it all. They have the children from the moment they wake up until they go to bed and then their husbands come home. It is a feeling of self-sufficiency that drives this. Women like their husbands around. It is nice for a break, but when it comes to parenting they are doing just fine.

This dynamic seems like it starts from infancy. I remember with Noah, I didn’t want to let Matt do anything. I had this perfect little baby, and I just felt such overwhelming love and nurturing instincts, and Matt just seemed to do it all wrong. So I just did it all. But a few weeks into our parenting adventure, Matt finally sat me down and we had a very serious talk. “WE are the parents of Noah,” he said. “You don’t have to take care of Noah and then take care of me. WE are in this together. Let me be a part of the parenting.” I am so glad that I had a husband that fought for his place, because so many husbands don’t. They just withdraw, and then their wife resents them for not engaging with their child. However, she hasn’t made any place for her husband. From that talk on, Matt took over bath time and I just had to learn to let go.

However, for many women they have held on to that role as the only one who can parent correctly. So when a husband is driven at work, they don’t see it in terms of cost to their family. But here is a scary statistic for you. I read the other day that the percentages of kids that get into drugs and alcohol are actually significantly higher in families where the Dad is at home, but disengaged from his children’s lives, than in single parent families! I think that is because single mothers will fight to provide a male role model for their kids, or overcompensate to make up for the void. In two parent families, where Dad is there but Mom is doing all of the parenting, that void is never filled. They aren’t as purposeful in making sure that that void is being filled because their husbands are in the house but aren’t engaged as a parent.

So here is the honest truth for women: your children need their Daddy. You cannot be Daddy to them. They will suffer without the influence of your husband, and you need to stop enabling this vicious cycle by thinking that you can do it all by yourself. Until you get serious about your children’s need for consistent and quality time with their Daddy, you will continue to accept and even encourage his absence. But it is such a serious thing, and until you get to the point where you will give up your brand new car because your kids need their Dad, you are just as responsible in the breakdown of family life in your home.

This is where you have to stop looking to your husband’s job as your financial security blanket. It is Not! It is just an avenue for God’s provision for you. Your heavenly Father is the one who is taking care of you. And if your husband fights for better hours at work so that he can have more time with his children, it is going to take your support. It is going to take you letting go of your fear and trusting God that some things are worth fighting for. The chances are that he is not going to get fired, but that he may make less money… and this is where your influence is so important. I have said to Matt so many times, “I don’t care if we had to live in a tiny apartment, our children’s time with you is more important than money…”

I believe a man needs to be valued. He needs to feel that he is providing for his family, and as a wife, your encouragement, your faith, and your belief in him and in the vital role he plays in your children’s lives, will sustain him to be able to set appropriate boundaries in his work environment. Let the fragrance that you add to your husband be a fragrance of faith and not fear. Let your heart be steadfast in being willing to sacrifice whatever, but not your husband’s time with your children. I have heard many times that a woman sets the tone of her home, but you also have the ability to set the tone of your husband’s work life by what you allow to be perpetuated in your home.

I know that it is not ever God’s heart for a husband or wife to control each other and I am not at all advocating manipulation and control. Rather I am saying, be an influence for your family in the life of your husband and not an influence of fear. Include him, embrace him, and support his role in the lives of your children. Whatever the initial financial cost, I promise you that this investment of time and energy, and even extra income will be the best financial decision that you will ever make. Don’t forget, God loves families. He designed them and I think you will be amazed at the blessing that will come from valuing your family life more than money.