Would you mind if I gave language to something I think I'm not alone in? Maybe it'll help another dude. I have been a husband for almost 14 years and a Dad for 9 years. And I've realized something…
I am a better father than I am husband.
But, why? Lately I've spent some time trying to think this through. I've asked the Lord to open up my eyes and heart to see into how I relate to my family in a new way. I don’t always like what I have seen, but I am not afraid to be honest about things I am not proud of. Maybe me sharing my journey will help you understand yours. Here are some of the reasons I think I'm a better Dad than husband:
1. Short term challenge. Most men like a short term challenge. Something that has a start date, an end date and a clear objective. This makes them feel motivated to win. I have about 18 years with each of my kids. BUT….research shows that I have 7-9 years to shape their core personality and values. That is not much time. I feel the weight and the pressure. I know I don’t have long, so I better throw myself into it and not miss this chance. And that is what I have done as a Dad. I have worked to be intentional and tuned in. I want an “A” in the fathering class. And that is all good. But the result has been a subtle sense that “Tricia can wait…I’ll tune back in to her later.” And it is dangerous and wrong.
2. Instant pay out. Kids produce and respond quick. Pour in and they pour out. Make a small deposit and they love you big….all in your lap and hugs and kisses and joy…over a lollipop and 10 minutes of play time. And because of my selfish nature, I like the fast payback system that kids operate in. I feel better fast. Not proud of it, but I think it is part of the issue here. I need to pour more deeply and significantly into Tricia for her to want to climb in my lap. ;-)
3. They don't hurt me— or remember that I hurt them. We tend to treat our kids better than our spouses, don’t we? I think it comes easier because they don’t hurt us or let us down as often. There isn’t history like we have with each other as a couple. Trust is high, doubt is low and we aren’t as relationally cluttered with our kids. I have always felt that I let Tricia down more than the kids, so sometimes I fall into the trap of thinking “I will never please her, let me just go where I seem to win…with the kids.” Again, not good, but certainly tempting.
While all this (and more) may be true reasons that I lean toward being a better Dad than I am Husband….they are warning signs and not something to be proud of or get stuck in! Because, if I’ve gotta choose one…
…I need to be a better Husband than I am Dad!
- Tricia is my second earthly treasure after Jesus.
- We have the history and the future. She was here before these screaming eagles and she will be here after they leave.
- She knows me and loves me more than they ever will.
And having a thriving love relationship with each other is (after Jesus) the absolute greatest gift we can give our kids. Telling kids that marriage matters means nothing. Showing them means everything.
(Which reminds me of another blog I want to write about child idolatry.)