Bedtime Lessons

The other day my husband made our bed. While this gesture isn't noteworthy in and of itself, my reaction to it is.

To give you some background, Barry grew up with a mom who made his bed every day. When he joined the Air Force and had to make up his bunk, he paid people to do it for him (or so he says). Then he married me, a compulsive, neurotic bed-maker.

Our system works well for us. As long as I can make the bed every morning exactly how I like it, life can go on.

Over the past 32 years, Barry has learned not to touch the daytime pillows I've carefully, precisely arranged: one white pillow on the bottom, a taupe-and-white striped one on top of that, and a dusty blue one on top of that. Our sleeping pillows remain in a closet during the day.

It's a control thing; a therapist probably would have a field day with me. But it makes me happy. Because life is often messy and out of control, knowing I can control how my bed's made lets me maintain the illusion—or delusion—that I can control the rest of the chaos. Obviously, God's still working on this with me.

But I'm getting better. A few years ago, I went to Atlanta to speak at a women's retreat. My husband worked out of town back then and usually worked on the weekends I traveled. This time, however, he decided to return home—and I panicked.

Unable to stand the thought of my bed lying disheveled for an entire weekend, I asked my daughter who lived nearby if she'd pleeeeeeeze go over Saturday and Sunday to make my bed. She called me a lunatic—but agreed to do it.

By God's great mercy, the whole time I was in Atlanta, I concentrated on the women at the retreat and actually forgot about my bed until driving home from the airport. When I walked in the door, my husband greeted me with a big grin.

I didn't think much of it until I walked into the bedroom and saw the bed was made.

"Did Laura come by this weekend?" I asked. He said he hadn't seen her.

Then it struck me: My husband must've made the bed! For me! I was stunned. Just as I was about to say something, Barry said, "I know how you are—"

Now whenever anyone starts a sentence with "I know how you are," what follows is never anything the other person wants to hear.

"I know how you are, so I slept on the couch," he said.

That statement should've brought me to my knees in repentance, but it didn't. Not then, anyway.

But it did start me thinking about all the ways "I am" that might make living with me difficult. Like all the rules I have about which towels or pillows can and cannot be used.

Or all the times my husband has folded the laundry or put the dishes away, and I've come behind him and done it "correctly." How many other wives are guilty of the same? No wonder men often give up helping around the house.

Over the years I've learned the quickest way to shut a man down is to correct him (especially in public) or offer unsolicited advice or re-do something he's done. Men greatly fear appearing inadequate or incompetent. So, rather than risk my disapproval of how he would've made the bed, Barry slept two nights on the couch.

Thankfully, God gives plenty of opportunities for his children to change how we are. Since that time, I've relaxed some of my "rules," and I think (I hope) I'm easier to live with now.

The other day I had to leave home before Barry even woke up. When I returned, he'd made the bed. I noticed right away the pillowcase edges faced in, not out, the blanket wasn't tucked in, and the top sheet wasn't turned over. But I didn't say a word—and I didn't change a thing!

My world didn't spin out of control. I didn't die. I thanked my husband, and he smiled.

What lessons has God taught you about living with a husband? How can we women be more encouraging toward the men in our lives—such as our husbands, sons, or coworkers?

Read more articles that highlight writing by Christian women at ChristianityToday.com/Women

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