Monday, August 16, 2010

Reluctant Husband Syndrome- Part 1



Often, I hear women complaining about RHS- otherwise known as Reluctant Husband Syndrome.

RHS is when the wife wants to adopt but the husband is, well, for lack of better words, reluctant.
It typically goes something like this... "I would love to adopt, but my husband (insert sigh) he just isn't on board yet".

I believe the reason our guys are reluctant to adopt goes a lot deeper than simply "not being on board yet".

So, I'd like to explore RHS in two parts. Because, I believe, there are always two sides of every story. :)

In Part 1, we are going to look at the wives responsibility and the roles she plays in the cause of RHS.

"What?" you say? I have nothing to do with him being reluctant. "HE is the one saying no, HE is the one who is reluctant- I am all for it!"

Just let me explain. You see, I know-because I have experience in this area. I know, because it was once my life.

As I have shared in the past, my life used to 'look' a lot different than it does today. I was not living my life to serve God- I was clearly living to serve the Kingdom of ME.

MY wants, MY desires, MY plans..

It was all about ME, ME, ME...

and I didn't even realize it.

I wanted it all- I wanted the good life.

But then God started speaking to me about the least of these...

God started opening my eyes to the needs of others...

and my heart began to change...

only I hadn't.

While I was touched by adoption, touched by children suffering in third world countries, touched by the things that break God's heart- I was equally as touched by the lure of the mall, the big house and the new car.

Basically, I wanted it all.
I wanted to serve God, adopt orphans, and STILL go on living the American dream.

Worked for me.

Or so I thought...

"No servant can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and Money." Luke 16:13

Now please understand I am not saying there is anything wrong with having nice things. As a matter of fact, I believe God wants for us to enjoy our lives and He wants to bless us with nice things. What I am saying, however, is when having these things stops us from being able to live our lives for God. When we put more of our time into obtaining things than we put into our relationships with God- it is wrong.

It is wrong when we don't think twice about paying $100 for yet another a pair of tennis shoes- but we drop $2.00 into the basket for mission funds at church on Sunday.

And it is wrong when we spend all of our time working to pay for all of the things we just had to have- leaving us no time for our family, let along time to serve God.

And, this my friends, is where I believe the Reluctant Husband Syndrome takes effect.

You see, our guys are good guys. They really are. They have this built in gut instinct to be protectors and providers. God made them that way and that is good. They love us- and the world has told them that in order to love us in the best way- they have to 'give us' everything.

And we tell them the same.

We praise them when they bring us flowers and we fall in love even more with them when they shower us with our hearts desires.

And our guys begin to believe the lie that in order to be good fathers and good husbands- they need to provide us with the fine things in life.

And we cheer them on as they trot off to work- to do just that.

They work and they work and they work to provide us with more and more and more.

We get our nails done, our hair done, and have a purse, shoes and necklace to match every outfit. We decorate our houses, take dream vacations, and eat out several times a week because we don't feel like cooking.
They carry the weight of the world on their shoulders.

And they cannot imagine carrying even more...

So when all of a sudden, we realize something is missing- we decide we want to do more.

We begin to dream of those precious little ones with big brown eyes trapped between four orphanage walls- and we decide to say yes- YES GOD!!! We will go!

And that is a good thing...

Only, while we decide to say yes to God-we are still saying yes to the all of the things the world has to offer.... and we find ourselves trapped by our lifestyle. We still want the new clothes, the high lights in our hair, pedicures, cute outfits AND a house big enough to hold it all- along with enough room for our family to grow.

And all the while, hubbie is at home trying to figure out how we can afford (or pay off) all of our 'must haves' along with the money to raise another.
So, when we discover our husband is not 'on board'- we cannot for the life of us understand why he does not have a heart for adoption.

So let me ask you-

What if you changed?

What if instead of blaming your husband- you began to show him by your actions where your heart truly is?

What if you quit complaining about the laundry, grumbling about cleaning the house and cooking the meals? What if you quit spending money on things that have no heavenly value and started being content with the material things you have?

Or better yet, what if you downsized?

What if you learned to live on less so that you could give more?

What if YOU changed- instead of expecting your husband to?

And what if- after doing all of that- your life started looking different? What if you started being different. What if taking some of that pressure off of your husbands shoulders made your marriage stronger? What if you started not just showing up at church because you were taught you were supposed to- but started praying together as a couple and started seeking the heart of God?

And what if, after doing all of this, your husband quit feeling so reluctant?

So go ahead, sit down with your husband, take his hand and tell him how thankful you are that he is a protector and a provider. Listen to his heart and listen to his fears. Pray together, seek God and search His word. Ask Him to show you- ask Him to make His will clear.

RHS part 2 coming soon.


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52 comments:

Lara said...

Amen, sister! I love what you have to say here!

Eve said...

Wow, a very powerful post about selflessness, and what it should look like. I look forward to reading part II.

Anonymous said...

Amen!! You are right on target, Amy!! My husband's willingness to adopt was totally tied to my attitude and I have counseled women with RHS in the same way you have just counseled/reminded all of us.

It's amazing what my man will take on when he feels confident in my attitude and willingness to be sacrificial and accomodating.

I think that in the same way, changes in US as Moms can translate to big time healing in our children too.

Thanks for another wonderful post!

Christina
preparedforrain.blogspot.com

erica said...

Love this post! Sometimes we all need to re-think our priorities.....

HS @ Our Debt Blog said...

As a husband, I'm just afrad I woudn't love an adopted kid. I don't know... there's just something about it I'm afraid of...

RACHEL said...

I needed this. While my wonderful husband is thrilled with our first adoption (in process,) I do know that I need to GLADLY learn to bear more weight in our family if he will ever feel comfortable taking on special needs or more than 3 children. What a perspective changer – the way I handle daily life will free him from worries that could hold back our future. Thank you for this.

The Siler Family said...

Wow.. AMAZING Post!

The Siler Family said...

Wow.. AMAZING Post!

Mom to 9 Blessings! said...

AMY - BRAVO! BRAVO! AMEN! AMEN!

WHAT IF???

Praying many will answer CHANGE ME FIRST LORD!

Love you,
Jill

Alison said...

EXCELLENT post!

K. Pirkle said...

I work as a RN parttime. My husband worked overtime for 1 yr after our 3rd was born so I could stay home. My selfishness however, made me complain to him about how hard I had it home alone with 3 kids. I wish I could go back and smack myself. I know he had such a weight on his shoulders. Then I read Created to Be His Help Meet by Debi Pearl and completely did a 180. I apologized, began thanking him for working so hard and taking joy in the everyday life of my children. 6 years later, we are so happy and he is on board for adopting. We have been trying for 3 years to adopt. lost over $15,000 to Guatemala and Vietnam when we were unlucky enough to start in two countries that closed. It is a miracle that he still wants to adopt. We are now starting Ethiopia. I wanted to adopt 2, he didn't, at first, but I prayed about it (not bugged him about it) for about 6months and he told me a few weeks ago, that he thinks we should adopt two also. Just the fact that he wants more kids, the fact that he is willing to keep trying even with all the money we lost and to desire two, is a miracle in itself. And both of us will admit that it all started with my change of attitude. I don't know if he ever would have considered adopting if I kept the same attitude I had before. Great post!

blessedfamily said...

it's as if you read my mind or heard my prayer last night!

Great, GREAT post!

JG said...

What a great message!

Freedom Hollow Farmgirl said...

Thanks so much for sharing this. Looking forward to part 2

Blessings,
Suzanne
freedomhollowfarmkiddos.blogspot.com

Jenny said...

Very good - very good! Have you read Radical yet? I loved the book.
Jenny
www.ourplansmultiplied.blogspot.com

Dardi said...

Wonderful insight! Thanks for putting it out there.

Mandy said...

I do agree that this is a big part of why a lot of men are unsure or totally against adoption. (not all, but many!) it was true for us. I didn't realize how negative I could be at times as a mom... I didn't realize how I pushed for more things, and how I was pushing my husband to be EVERYTHING to make me happy. I let it go! I try very, very hard not to complain about daily things - we have a great life! I'm following his lead now on moving into a bigger house (b/c I do think we need a bigger home so we can foster more children. We are limited here b/c of space and the legalities.) But, our hearts are different. We're not looking to build our dream home - but a home that will SERVE. It really changes everything when you stop trying to serve yourself! Then, amazingly, GOD starts to reward you like crazy, when you stop expecting it. :)

emily said...

What if??? Great post!!!

We drove to Nashville last week and home last night. I was so tempted to hop off of 30 at the CM exit and hunt you guys down. :)

Sometime!!

Deborah said...

Thank you for the post. It's as if your speaking directly to me. I too would love to adopt, however, my husband is "not on board". I am guilty of serving "the kingdom of me" and I have only recently come to the conclusion that I can't truely serve God while I'm serving myself.
I will continue to pray for the RHS going on in my house and change the way I've been living. Looking forward to your next post.

Anonymous said...

You are a wise, wise woman! Would love to hear your thoughts on why God would place adoption the hearts of BOTH the husband and wife, when it would be virtually impossible for them to adopt?
Our imperfect past may prevent us from this blessing all together. We are just believing that God is big enough to get us through all of the red tape one day.
Thanks for sharing and inspiring.

Amy said...

Hi Anonymous- please feel free to email me directly (my email is on the side of my blog). Because I don't know your situation- I am just curious if perhaps you think there isn't a way but there might be? Thanks! Amy

Amy Clemons said...

Great post....Amy. I love you're blog.

Denise :) said...

You communicate this beautifully and lovingly. Thank you for sharing! :)

Carrie Harden Friesenhahn said...

Wow, thank you! Were you spying on my husband & I 2 nights ago as we discussed this (RHS) and he said, "What's gonna give?" (meaning financially & time-wise) and I didn't have a single one of my shallow things (nice house, fancy cars, cute clothes, gym membership, our current kids' pricey clothes & private school, etc.) God really convicted me through your beautiful writing...changes are coming...

Lindsay said...

Thank you! Thank you for posting this! God is totally working on me in all of the above! You are a blessing Amy!

Stacy said...

That was awesome!
Thank you!!!
Stacy

BrandiB said...

I ABSOLUTELY love this post! When I first wanted to adopt and took it to my husband, he was reluctant....and I was bitter about it. I prayed and prayed about it...and my prayers changed from "make it happen, make him change his mind" to "whatever is Your will". It took a couple of months, but my husband out of the complete blue brought it up and completely agreed (he was scared about the financial end of supporting another person). Now we are over a year into our adoption journey and I have even quit my job to be a SAHM! Our lives look completely different than when we were "pushing for the American dream"..and it's great!

Laura said...

Preach it, sister!! Can't wait for Part 2!!

Thank you for your openness and honesty on your blog. It is so refreshing and REAL. Bless you, Amy, for blessing others.

Julie said...

Such a great post. I think because my husband and I had already gone through that process together - downsizing, budgeting, paying off all our debt, giving up all the eating out and shopping etc was one of the reasons he was so on board from the get go. Just had never thought about it that way!

Andrea H. said...

Okay Amy I might be going off a little bit in lala land but bare with me. I am talking from the aspect of larger families. Even more than 3 children. I once went to an Above Rubies retreat and one thing I have learned not just about adoption but adding more children is this: How are you as a wife behaving in the home? Are you nervous, are you whining, are you anxious or yelling at the kids. Are you cooking meals every day, is you house in disarray, are you totally exhausted when your husband comes home? How are you with your children? Are they behaved or are they walking all over you. This is what Nancy Campbell said to this lady after she said "my husband doesn't want anymore kids, what can I do". Really she didn't tell her what to do she had this lady evaluate herself and she got pretty quiet after this. Just my 5 cents.

Lorraine, AKA Forever Blessed said...

Amen, Amy, AMEN! So very true. Love your humility and honesty. You're exactly right about our hubby's getting freaked out about how to provide it all for us. Thanks for encouraging us all to live fully for Him, sold out to our One and Only, our All in All. Oh, and to the debt blog male reader...so proud of you for reading and commenting on an adoption blog, even if the thought of it scares you. God must have led you to Amy's blog for a reason. My husband used to worry that he wouldn't be able to love an adopted child as much as his bio kids. God proved him wrong...several times over. He held our Chrissie (from Serbia...went to Heaven May 19, 2010) in his arms and said, "Don't ever let anyone tell me I can't love my adopted children as much as my bio kids. This is true love. Pure joy." Tears rolled down his face as God showed him that he could love in a similar way that God loves us. If God calls you to adopt, He will equip the called, giving you a love for your child that you never felt possible. Trust Him.

Sophie said...

This is my story! How did you know??
When my attitude started to change I noticed my husband's desire, or lack of, started to change. His feelings started shifting. My reaction to how he responded to things became more loving and not critical, I prayed for God to change me first and praise His Holy Name He revealed things to me that I needed to change.

Debbie Doughty said...

Words of wisdom as always, dear Amy!

Dawn said...

(warning long comment)

Amy
You hit the proverbial nail on the head! You could be describing me in the RHS! My husband and I had talked about adoption as early as 15 years ago. We got busy with work, life and had 2 girls the old fashioned way. We casually talked about adoption again about 7 years ago. Then "I" made the decision a couple of years later that we should adopt from China. "MY" decision caused a lot of arguments, fighting, fussing and ultimately my husband just saying 'fine' do whatever you want to do, "I'll play my part". I was certainly playing mine doing the hair, nails, nice new car, not watching our debt, wanting, wanting, wanting.. Fortunately, for all involved, I believe God put a stop to those plans before they got too far underway.

Over the next couple of years, the idea of adoption never really left, it just suddenly seemed like it wasn't the right time--something always seemed to be in the way (mostly realizing I’d have to sacrifice something if we went ahead with the plan—time, money, my nice quiet suburban life), although in retrospect many seeds were being planted. During this time I found Christ again and really began to understand the message of the Gospel. My husband did too and all 4 of our family members were baptized in about a 12 month period (mom, dad, and daughters--12 and 9 at the time). We realized that our marriage needed work and began putting in the effort that would make it something that God designed it to be instead of the mess it had become. We also started working to get our finances in order -- including giving that is more in proportion with what we have been blessed with.

A couple of big things happened last November…our youngest daughter was baptized, my husband and I recommitted our marriage to God and God dropped a huge weight on my shoulders that said that NOW is the time to go forward with the adoption. And he put into my heart where our child would be from. Ethiopia.

I very humbly went to my husband that night and told him what I felt....and surprisingly enough he agreed—right then and there—with the caveat that he needed time to make sure that is what God was saying. We talked a lot over the next couple of months about changes that would have to be made. We talked about whether or not Ethiopia was where God wanted us to go. He spent a lot of time in prayer and consideration and he ultimately agreed that he was being called in the same way.

We are waiting for our Embassy appt right now to bring home our daughter Hanna. She is 12 and will hopefully be with us in October. I am so thankful that God once STOPPED what in theory was a good thing, but what in reality we were not equipped to handle at the time. Emotionally or financially.

We're not in the best place financially we could be --I'm still working, although it will be part time after Hanna arrives. We still have damage to repair from our "what's the problem with debt" days--but we have a feasible and workable plan to resolve that within a couple of years (Thanks Dave Ramsey). We want to give more, and we’re working on that too.

I still sometimes argue with my husband and forget how hard he works for our family and how much weight he bears…and he forgives me. I still have days when I’m drawn to the world more than to Christ..and HE for gives me for that and I’m convinced points me in the right direction again by sending me across something like Amy’s post!

We're not perfect Christians or perfect parents (and don't believe there are such things anyway). But, we are trusting in God's timing and that God is equipping us with what we need to do the job he's called us to do.

And even with my husband's history of RHS--my husband is now my rock when I have my down days and such a huge supporter of adoption and has never looked back or complained about anything since this process got started.

Gretchen said...

Amy,

Sometimes I think that you get into my head. This was just the thing I have been pondering this past weekend. I do not have a RHS man, but I use to when our walk with the Lord was not what it is now. Obedience in adopting our daughter last October has changed both of us. We are open to anything the Lord leads us to. But I have been thinking of ways to simplify our life. We have surrendered some, but what else can we let go of? Lots to ponder.

Thanks for the post (again!)

Erica said...

Perfectly put. AWESOME post!!! Amazing.

Emily said...

Thank you, Amy. Great post and fantastic perceptions! I have lots of work to do on myself :)

It Feels Like Chaos said...

Super post! We are in the process of adopting and I've heard the "what to do when my husband isn't on-board" question from several women and your answer is awesome -- all just so, so true!

Rachel said...

This was so good Amy. Thank you so much for sharing. I keep checking back for Part 2. God has really blessed you with an ability to share your heart (which I believe mirrors His!) in a way that is so accessible for other people. I know that there are so many people (myself included) who are blessed and challenged by what you write here.

Anonymous said...

WOW!!!!

annie said...

This is a great post.

However...

I find myself in a rare situation, being the "bread winner" for my family. I, the wife, work full time, am very thrifty, and have a passion for adoption.

It is my husband, stay-at-home dad to our 3 naturally born kids, who is the one that wants it all. Big house. A boat. HE'S the one who is not willing to give up the luxuries, or even the comforts, of life in order to rescue a child in need.

I understand that much of his RHS is due to the fact that he's the one staying home... and 3 would be come 4 or 5... and maybe he thinks that's too much to handle.

So, I am just praying for our situation to change. Maybe we can swap roles at some point. Maybe we can get out of debt and live on a part-time income. I don't know how God would do it, but I'm praying for the right change to happen.

I refuse to believe that God put this burning desire on my heart with no intention of using me/us to serve this purpose!

Any advice out there? Am I crazy?!

shanna said...

Wow...I have been a "lurker" on your blog for awhile now. I had to stop lurking and post just to say Thank-you. I really would love to adopt. I have been feeling exactly what you wrote about. God has placed it on my heart to "get rid" of all of the bills and to start living in a wayt that will serve Him. Thank you for writing about this and wording it so well!!

Holly said...

Amy!
How did I miss this post until now
I took off the month of December from blogging but this was written in AUGUST! Man! This literally brought tears to my eyes. I was scrolling through the most recent posts and you linked to this in your RHS part 2, so here I am.
This message must be heard!
I am planning to link back to this post on my own blog!
One of your commenters mentioned Nancy Campbell- Above Rubies...and her thought line is one I have had myself. How am I at home with the children the Lord has already entrusted me with? do I whine and complain? Do I honor the Lord and my husband with my time and our finances? Do I plan well for meals and household chores to be accomplished so that my husband doesn't come home to chaos? And how do I handle our homeschool? If I truly want to be blessed with more children, then I must be a good steward with the treasures the Lord has already entrusted to me. I mean why would Tony want to say yes to more children if I am constantly complaining about my job as a full time Mom and teacher?
Very very powerful.
I had no idea ya'll were moving to Guatemala! That is fantastic!!! We have some acquaintences from our home church who recently left home for Guatemala to serve orphans too!They have 13 biological children and have never adopted.
Not sure what part of Guatemala they are in though.
Your words, your heart have/has made such an impact on so many people Amy!
Thank you for sharing.
To God be the glory great things He has done and IS doing!
Love,
Holly

Holly said...

Amy!
How did I miss this post until now
I took off the month of December from blogging but this was written in AUGUST! Man! This literally brought tears to my eyes. I was scrolling through the most recent posts and you linked to this in your RHS part 2, so here I am.
This message must be heard!
I am planning to link back to this post on my own blog!
One of your commenters mentioned Nancy Campbell- Above Rubies...and her thought line is one I have had myself. How am I at home with the children the Lord has already entrusted me with? do I whine and complain? Do I honor the Lord and my husband with my time and our finances? Do I plan well for meals and household chores to be accomplished so that my husband doesn't come home to chaos? And how do I handle our homeschool? If I truly want to be blessed with more children, then I must be a good steward with the treasures the Lord has already entrusted to me. I mean why would Tony want to say yes to more children if I am constantly complaining about my job as a full time Mom and teacher?
Very very powerful.
I had no idea ya'll were moving to Guatemala! That is fantastic!!! We have some acquaintences from our home church who recently left home for Guatemala to serve orphans too!They have 13 biological children and have never adopted.
Not sure what part of Guatemala they are in though.
Your words, your heart have/has made such an impact on so many people Amy!
Thank you for sharing.
To God be the glory great things He has done and IS doing!
Love,
Holly

Jill said...

OH MY! This post ROCKS! I am just soaking in the wisdom that God has given you and thank you for SHARING it!
Jill

Ellie said...

I loved this post. and it equally pertains to "giving to orphan causes" as it does to adding children to your family. I'm taking this to heart - and being more thankful of my hubby - he is a good guy :)

Thanks for sharing this!

Jen said...

Such powerful conviction in this post. Am sitting here w/ tears in my eyes. Realized I gave up one our foster children because I was still living the Kingdom of me and chose not to let go of my golden calf of SELF. My hearts desire...that He would open the doors once again to be used fully for His Kingdom purposes....despite myself. Sorry for ranting...just convicted. Humbled. Hurting. As the sword of His Spirit cuts away a little more of ME. ~ Jen

Jamie said...

Great post!

My husband was scared out of his mind of adoption. He was "on board" in the sense that he agreed and he knew we were going to adopt, but scared.

I don't think he really was really for it until I became pregnant with our biological son. He was born two months premature and I almost died. There is no guarantee I won't have the same rare condition with my next biological pregnancy.

I think he knew then that God had slowly planted the seed before my pregnancy. He wasn't ready then, but after the birth of our son he knew that our future children were not in my womb.

I'm not saying that is why I suffered what I did. However, I do know God uses the most ugly things in life and he can create such beauty out of them if you submit to him.

We just brought our son home a year ago from Ethiopia. I couldn't leave our biological son, and my husband was the one who traveled to Ethiopia for court and for embassy and brought him home to us.

wheremyrtlesgrow said...

I am speechless. Your words spoke directly to my heart. This is exactly what I needed to hear. Thank you! The tears are coming and I have much to think about. We adopted our beautiful son 2 1/2 years ago and I have the "baby bug" again and want so much to adopt again but my husband is not in the same place. And I realize how little I have actually brought this in prayer to the feet of my Savior.
Thank you for your transparency, your heart, and living out the gospel.

Anonymous said...

Two years later, your post is very moving. And not so much about the financial aspects, but more about my desire for rest! I have such compassion for all the adoptive families I know, and my heart stretches and breaks at the truly incarnational ministry God has called you all into! I would love to follow His heart in the same way. Yet my husband feels we have as much as we can handle. And the truth is, we have enough with our three bio kids and our calling in ministry in Russia! Enough for me to handle at least! We need God to speak and call us, to show us what it is we need to give up in order to free up our energy to serve the least of these, to serve the orphans and widows, whether that's through adoption, or ministry among the many poor of our city. Please pray for us, that we would not be deaf to God's calling, to what He's already shown us through His Word. That He would help re-align my desires away from an easy life that claims we're already doing 'enough'.

Anonymous said...

HELP... I need a little confirmation that an adoptive family does not need to make tons of money, because every blog or story or picture I see it is in a huge home with perfectly dressed children.... how do people do it? My husband and I would love to adopt but they children, would not be able to get their own room, probably earn their own way through college, and live in hand me downs.... we have the heart and we could offer the love of Jesus Christ, but where do you get the money even to start?

Ashley said...

Finally, this is the answer, I have had this feeling of ..Gods about to do something great with/in me..but my husbands not there!...This is exactly what im doing wrong and it all makes sense now.