The Domestic Husband (Guest Post)

a guest post by Ezra, somewhat of a follow-on to my post about our daily routine

What should a husband’s responsibilities be in the home? One popular answer is that men and women should have (on average) equally difficult and equally lucrative jobs, and thus their responsibilities in the home should be equally divided. An opposite answer, which also comes from the world, involves the husband exercising selfish authority over his family, viewing his wife as the servant, and never considering assisting her in her domestic duties. Both of these are far from biblical. The second one involves the stronger selfishly abusing his power over the weaker in pursuit of worldly gain; the first merely insists on equality between them in the same selfish pursuit.

But assuming that a couple recognizes this, and wants to honor Jesus with how they manage domestic responsibilities, sorting out who does what in the home may still be difficult. In divine wisdom, God does not typically give us exact regulations for our particular life situation; rather, he gives us the precepts of holy living and the wisdom to work them out in a particular culture and family. This process of working out how to follow God’s law in a particular context glorifies God because it deepens our understanding of his law and thus him. This process should sanctify us, increase our worship, and bless those around us if we approach it rightly. Following are some biblical truths which have helped me sort out my domestic place as a husband:

1. The Bible gives no direct commands on this issue. It does not say, “Husbands, assume one third of the domestic duties in your home,” or anything close to this. It does not endorse a Leave it to Beaver style of family, or an ancient agrarian style, or any other particular brand. However, it does speak loudly about honoring the created differences between husband and wife in the practice of family.

2. Wives are to be workers at home (Titus 2:5). As with many verses, this one wisely gives a general principle instead of a specific application. Rather than try to define how much a woman can be away from her family, it simply gives her what is to be her primary role in the family economy: running the home. From this I understand that I don’t need to feel guilty when I come home and find that my wife has had a tough day with the kids. Sometimes I have the harder part, and sometimes she does.

3. Men are to lay down their lives for their wives like Jesus did (Ephesians 5). So what do I do when I come home and find that she had a hard day? The exact application varies, but generally, my heart toward her burden should be the same as Jesus’ heart toward mine. Can I take the kids for a while? Can I change a diaper? Can I wash the dishes? What does she hate doing most? What helps her to re-charge? Do I know her well enough to know how to help her rest? We don’t wash feet anymore in our culture. We “wash dishes and clean toilets” (John Stott, The Message of 1 Timothy and Titus). And we as Christian husbands should be quicker to do this than anyone else, considering the One we are supposed to be acting out.

Note also that what helps your wife most will vary with their personality and situation. Some will be best helped by you affirming how valiantly they have fought the good fight that day. Others would just be relieved if you take the kids outside while they are cooking dinner. Knowing your wife is key.

4.This kind of knowing happens about 1/4 by observation and 3/4 by communication. This means that in order to effectively practice loving your wife, you need to regularly ask her what would best help her. Everyone’s situation is different. I view dish washing as a Task. However, my wife is quicker at it than I am, and having been with the kids all day, would sometimes rather that I give them the bath or get them ready for bed while she cleans up from dinner.

5. Screen time can be unprofitable (1 Corinthians 6:12). It has become a “thing” in our culture for the man to have a designated time of day, typically right after work or right after dinner in which he focuses on TV, gaming, or the internet. While this is not explicitly sinful, it is usually not profitable either. Screen time is an escape, but it is not real rest, and it does not prepare a husband mentally or spiritually to serve his family. We need to deal honestly with screens and other escapes which may be robbing time from the families God gave us, and thus from God himself.

6. However, it is essential for both the husband and the wife to have time for prayer and the Word, and it may also be necessary for one or both to have additional time for themselves.These times are things that a husband and wife should plan with each other, being anxious to ensure that their spouse has the time and space for practicing spiritual disciplines and maintaining sanity. Until recently, for me this meant that I would disappear shortly after getting home from work, and then emerge for dinner. Now, I try to spend that time in the morning before breakfast. For Kyleigh, this has meant both time in the morning before she wakes up the girls, and also time during their afternoon naps. In addition, sometimes Kyleigh has needed to have a morning or afternoon to herself once or twice a month. These things will look different for each couple, and may change often. Again, loving communication is essential.

Now, a word of encouragement. I am really just learning all of this. I have been very convicted several times in the past two years about how selfish I have been in the economy of my family. I did not support my wife, especially in her postpartum depression, with anything like a consistent, Christ-like practice of love. I was often very selfish in my attitude toward her when her struggle sapped the energy from her which she would have used to be my wife. Yet, God used those times to teach me about serving my wife and about putting her needs first, including in helping with domestic work.

Then, at one point, while we were visiting one of Kyleigh’s relatives, that relative remarked very seriously on how good it was to see a husband involved with his family and not leaving the responsibility of the children all on his wife. I remarked that this was Christ’s work in me. A little sliver of the gospel.

But understand, it was a short visit and I hadn’t done anything big. I hadn’t broken up a big fight or heroically tackled a leaking diaper. I think the biggest thing I did was help my older daughter, a toddler, eat a small bowl of ice cream. But I was present, engaged, and mildly helpful, and this seemed remarkable to our host.

Brothers, the “traditional” model of family is often used as a cover-up by unbelieving husbands who would rather not serve their families much beyond delivering a pay check. Likewise, the secular egalitarian model is often lived out by men who, at best, grudgingly take up their 50.0000% of the domestic responsibilities (not a cent more!), and do not show their wives honor. And beyond this, our society is filled with families where the division of domestic responsibilities is a matter of selfishness rather than servanthood. Serve your wife from your heart, and the world will often take notice, to God’s glory.

Post Script: the principle here is that a husband should be involved in his family as both a leader and a servant. However, the risk is that in laying out this principle I may incur a false sense of guilt in some men. Consider: a man who works long, exhausting hours to put bread on the table for his family need not feel guilty when he has little energy or opportunity to serve them domestically. A man in graduate school (like me) need not feel guilty when his wife picks up chores that were his in order to give him more study time. Conversely, however, a man whose wife is sick or depressed, or for some other reason is particularly burdened or afflicted, may find that he needs to lay his life down for her in extra measure by taking all of the domestic responsibilities possible onto his plate.

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2018: Garden

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garden bounty – just a small portion of our harvest! I forgot to keep a tally of how many salads we made, but it was a lot.

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Many thanks to whoever planted these peonies. The rest of the garden is almost entirely Ezra’s work, but these peonies were here when we moved in.

IMG_20180628_185421half of a peapod harvest. It was so hard not to just eat them all whenever we were outside.

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Drying peas for seed

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Fava bean harvest

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Garlic drying

30 Things About Ezra


In honor of Father’s Day and Ezra’s 30th birthday this month, here are 28 things I wanted to share about him and one thing from each girl (not in any particular order):

1. will eat almost anything you put in front of him (excepting pickles, canned tuna, and olives).
2. But prefers variety, flavor, and adventure in his food.
3. And is very good cook.
4. understands the nuances of grey areas and is balanced in his views.
5. poet
6. discerning, especially reading between the lines and understanding where people are coming from.
7. sees the big picture
8. gardener
9. seafarer
10. longsuffering
11. serious about fighting sin and pursuing holiness in his life and in helping me do so.
12. informed by scripture, not culture or social media.
13. servant (up there #3 about cooking? Most of the time he spends in the kitchen is actually doing the dishes for the messes I make and he never complains).
14. wise counselor (see #4, 6, 12!)
15. not easily provoked (I’ve never heard him come the slightest bit close to losing his temper)
16. content
17. lifter of loads
18. “stories” – Ellie (meaning she likes it when he reads to her)
19. resourceful
20. optimistic
21. has a massive sweet tooth… but tries to reign it in for me. 🙂
22. thorough
23. “Gives a great twists in the air.” – S
24. creative with art and word, on paper and verbal storytelling (mostly bedtime stories!)
25. takes sleep seriously
26. looking to invest eternally more than in temporal things
27. but balances frugality with quality
28. discontent with stagnant relationships
29. patient teacher
30. dependent on God in prayer & worship

We love you, Ezra, and are so thankful to have you as father/husband/friend and are looking forward to walking this next season of life with you wherever God leads us!

Thankful…


…for my mother-in-love coming to stay with the girls so we could get away just us for the first time since having kids.
…for Ezra doing almost all the planning so I could really just relax and enjoy without feeling like I had a must-do list.
…for getting to try all the food at Pike Place Market I always wanted to try but we had always packed a lunch so never got to.
…for the easy, happy first year of marriage.
…for the two hard years in the middle.
…for this fourth year of growing and reconnecting.
…for the laughter the girls bring to us.
…for the ways parenting brings us closer together.
…for all the adventures we’ve had, from our back yard to Mexico to Japan, chosen and unchosen.
…for our hopes and dreams
…for all the times he does the dishes, prays with and for me, rescues me from stress or botched recipes, supports me through PPD, surprises me, gently points out my sin, and is patient with all my fallings short.
…for anniversaries and all the other celebrations we get to have.

“The LORD has done great things for us and we are glad.”

Happy Birthday, Ezra

Ezra’s birthday is coming up and I wanted to give him his own post… not to highlight milestones like I do with the girls but because I want to publically praise God for him and share some of the ways he supports, challenges, and encourages me.

One of the things I continue to be amazed at is how he has been just what I have needed in the craziness of the last three years with all the moves, changes, and PPD, and the specific needs and challenges that has brought and the girls have. I honestly don’t know where I would be without him – especially with PPD he has been one of the clearest ways I see God’s help and grace, in the way he has supported me physically (taking the girls night or day, doing dishes, cooking dinner, helping me think through things to de-stress and calm down) and spiritually (praying with and for me, reminding me of scripture and hymns, seeking counsel with and for me, offering me hope). He’s put up with a lot of moodiness from me in the last year and is so gentle and gracious about it.

He watches the girls so I can do things like go to ladies’ Bible study and play oboe for my friend’s music appreciation class (and once they were on the same day; I felt like I had the day off!).

He always has solid, balanced, biblical wisdom for me and others, which I especially need as it’s so easy for me to be black-and-white and rule-oriented instead of being gracious and seeing what the Bible puts forward as nonnegotiable and in what areas we have Christian liberty.

His devotional life  – watching and listening to him pray has been a challenge to me to not let my prayer and Bible reading become just a check in the box.

His diligence in preparing for seminary – studying Greek and some counseling in his spare time to not be overwhelmed when he officially starts, and his making our family a priority as we look ahead to a different lifestyle when he goes back to school. And on top of that, all the yard work and gardening he does!

The way he shepherds our family, teaching and explaining scripture to S as well as doing the same for lifeskills, and the way he plays with the girls – I love hearing them laugh and shriek with him. They both adore him and I love to see that. And for our recently-begun weekly prayer times just the two of us.

Ezra, I’m so thankful for you and I’m glad we get to celebrate you together this year!

 

Reflections on the Past Three Years


{two days before Ezra proposed}

It’s been three years since my parents told me there was someone interested in me. As I sorted through my stuff in preparation for our move this summer, I went through all my journals, lingering especially long on the ones from those three years.

If I had known how hard those three years would be, I may have said no… But if I knew the future to know how hard they would be I would have also known how beautiful they would be. So I would have said yes without hesitation.
Because I did hesitate. I didn’t know if I was ready to be in a relationship that might lead to marriage within a year. I didn’t know if I wanted that, especially if I wanted it more than staying in Dubai or counseling at Csehy.
But I finally concluded that God would make clear which was for me, so I agreed to begin a courtship with Ezra. That’s what we called it, but really you could call it all sorts of things: we wanted to get to know each other with prayer and counsel in order to determine if it would be wise for us to marry. It was eight months of long emails and Skype calls. Sleepless nights of prayer and soul-searching. Long runs and walks sorting out thoughts. Late nights talking with mom and dad. Did I really know what I should do with my life? Did i really trust God and Ezra? Did I want marriage to Ezra over Dubai?
But the light of clarity grew, and in December we were engaged and over the moon.

Engagement wasn’t easy either. The distance was even harder than before, there was so much to be done, and the sleepless nights didn’t end as I wrestled with trusting God about marrying a sinner and all that might entail. I struggled lot with fear, both of sin in either of our lives and of injury or death.

And then came marriage, and it has been easy compared to our pre marriage relationship, though not without trial, especially since Miss Munchkin came along, bringing a new sort of sleepless night. And then there was her reflux, which is a beast and makes sleep harder and slower in coming.
With S came postpartum depression, and with the new year came lots of traveling for Ezra.

But I wouldn’t have changed the last three years. They have shown me my sin is deep. Have taught me that God is sovereign and that the cross means even the worst of that sin is forgiven. Have demonstrated that He hears our prayers in our struggles and will help us conquer sin. That this life is just a shadow.
That He is faithful and loving and good, and gives good gifts, like Ezra and S and our friends and family, and stars and clouds and birdsong.

There have been difficulties, but even more, there have been blessings and surprises.
I knew Ezra was pretty amazing when I married him, but I didn’t know just how he would love, serve, and care for me and S, even when he’s away, and I didn’t know how exciting it would be to watch as he grows in leadership at the church and work.
I knew we had friends and family that loved us, but I didn’t expect so many of them to give of themselves in counsel, love, and help throughout these last years.

I don’t expect the next three to be any easier, especially as we leave the community we have here in just a few short months. I couldn’t have asked for a better church to be at as we navigated the first year and a half of marriage and months of parenthood.
But I’m so excited to see what He has in store for us, and pray I will remember to look back and see His work in the past and let it give me hope when we can’t see ahead.
I can’t believe I almost said no and missed out on all of this. God always knows exactly what He is doing!

One Year

We celebrated our first anniversary on Sunday. It’s gone by so fast and has been so wonderful, though crazy, with traveling for two months, moving, and having a baby. I’m so thankful for Ezra and his humility, servant heart, and the way he looks out for me physically and spiritually. God has been so good to us in the last year, both when things were easy and when they weren’t.
Here’s to 60+ more!