Are you a married guy? (Most of this applies to the wives as well.) Maybe you’re familiar with the scenario where one of your friends messages you with something like:
Guy’s night at ______’s place, bring ______. We’ll be playing ______ and watching ______.
And you just stare blankly at the message. You have no idea if you can be there or not. You want to go, but you’re pretty sure you’re needed at home. But you’re not sure exactly why you’re needed at home. Should I say yes? No? What should I say?
Recently, I’ve been hearing a response to this that’s problematic. I’ve heard it from a few of my friends:
My wife won’t let me.
Guys, you know who you are – I’m calling you out on this. Man and woman were meant to come together as one flesh – but sometimes they can’t agree on something as simple as a guy’s night out. The idea that you need permission for something like that is a warning sign to address other, more foundational aspects of your marriage.
It takes a partnership
Marriage is a partnership, not a conflict. Yeah, this whole “you are one flesh” thing is a mystery, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t very real. You’ve got to deal with it every day. And one important thing to realize is that you are not subject to the authority of your wife. You don’t need her permission. Instead, you need to partner with her to facilitate a life that you’re both in agreement on. If something encroaches on that life, no matter how awesome it is, it’s gotta go.
I would encourage you not to see it as a matter of “my wife won’t let me”, but rather “my wife has the information I need regarding my home/family commitments and my schedule, please let me review this possible commitment with her and get back to you.”
Think about it. If you had all the information you needed to make a choice for a possible commitment, would you say, “hey, I’d like to be there, but I won’t let me”?
How to never say “my wife won’t let me” again
You and your wife are partners in the story of your lives. You both want to see an awesome future for each of you and your children as well. But you can’t have that story if you’re each going about it on your own. So how do you get to a place where you do away with the whole “my wife won’t let me” conversation?
1. Make sure you trust each other
This is the “if.”
Trust is like oxygen. It’s something that when absent, you can sense it almost immediately. And it’s absolutely essential for survival. The survival of your marriage and family, and your community as well. If trust has been violated, that must be addressed immediately. A trust violation is a heavy blow to a marriage. I heard someone liken it to a grenade detonating in your family. “My wife won’t let me” can be a sign of a trust violation.
Trust can be restored. Marriages, families, and communities can be healed. But this takes time, and it is beyond human ability. You literally need the intervention of a Higher Power to bring healing and restoration of trust. And if you think I’m talking about just any Higher Power, guess what? There’s only one Higher Power that has our best interests in mind, and is capable of healing and restoration of trust. And He already paid the highest price so that families can be restored.
This doesn’t mean that you’re not in an active marriage during that time of healing. But don’t expect to be at a place of fully restored trust immediately – respect the process, there’s value in that itself.
2. Define how valuable it is to you
This is the “why.”
The next thing you need to review is the value of the commitment before you. Is it just some obligation you got yourself into? Not good. Remember, saying “no” to that obligation is saying “yes” to your family.
The best way to know the value of something is to be clear about your own values. And this is a process that comes from a husband and wife talking and sharing their hearts and dreams with one another. There may be a lot of tough stuff in marriage, but I find it exciting and refreshing to get together and talk about what we value, what we want to see in our lives. I love to discover how much my wife and I value the same things, I get reminded of why we got married in the first place. It’s like falling in love all over again.
Whereas my wife and I used to do this about once a year (give or take a year), today we do this once a week. It took us a while to figure it out, but anything longer than that is a pretty long swim.
Maybe you don’t share the same values, maybe you don’t agree on the future. It’s better to acknowledge that than to pretend that that isn’t the case. But you obviously did agree on something – you agreed to share a life together. You said “yes” to each other. Start building your future from there. And if a guy’s night out is not in line with that, than it goes out the window faster than a bat with rabies.
3. Get all the details
This is the “what” (and the “who,” “when,” and “where”).
The next step is to clearly define the commitment you’re reviewing – what time’s it at? Where are we meeting? Nail down the “whats” as a service to you, your buddies, and your spouse.
I’ve been invited to times where the guys were going to be together, but were going to watch a movie that I was committed to not watch. Or times when the guys would be doing some light gambling, which is something I’ve chosen not to do. I don’t expect everyone to have the same values that my wife and I have, that’s not the point. The point is to dig deep enough to make sure you won’t be in a situation that would have you violate your own values.
4. Know (don’t guess) if you can afford it or not
This is the “how.”
The next step is to examine if you have the time, positioning, and resources to honor that commitment. Can you really make it to your buddy’s wedding in South Texas? Only by regularly reviewing your time, positioning, and resources can you know what’s available. I’m talking about budgeting your money and resources, but also things like your time and your space.
Many of us have unconsciously placed ourselves in the vicinity of the people we care about. This makes it relatively easy to get together for something like a guy’s night out. But if you don’t have the resources you need to honor the commitment, saying “no” is saying “yes” to the bigger picture for your family. Maybe it will happen next week, next month, or next year.
90 minutes, once a week, boom
The point is this – guys, get talking with your wives. Get in touch with each other. Don’t let a week go by without reviewing your short-term and long-term future together. Make sure that your future is subject to your values – if not, then this is where you make the corrective changes.
I recommend spending no less than 90 minutes a week on this, towards the end of the work week, during the day. Sound impossible? Start with 5, 10, or 20 minutes. Ask for help from your family and community. If more married couples were doing this, the world would get changed into awesome much faster.
What are some of the values that you share with your spouse? Let me know in the comments below!