As a guy, passivity takes many forms and will plague your life in every area. But it is especially a killer to your marriage. The dictionary definition states it plainly:
“accepting or allowing what happens or what others do, without active response or resistance.”
As it concerns the relationship with your wife, being passive means to choose not to engage when you could engage. It is a lack of paying attention to your wife. You have no clue how to dial in to her pain. You have no plan for her growth or nurturing. You allow your marriage to play out with no strategy or goals. Things just…exist. Like a lazy river, the shores define your path and there is no paddling required.
I can sniff out passivity in a guy within five minutes. Why? Because it used to define my own marriage. As my own daughters have entered womanhood, I have spoken with them many times about red flags in a future husband. Being passive is right at the top of my list. My girls know this one well. In fact, we were having a conversation as a family about my writing a book on the topic of marriage. My youngest chimed in with her idea for a title. “Hey Dad,” she says, “you should name your book Conquering Passivity: A Marriage Handbook for Jack Wagons.”
What is it about my forgetting things? I make a mental note of something and, within two minutes, the thought has gone into a black hole, only resurfacing once I am past when I wanted it recalled. I was working at a local coffee shop and remembered I needed to get a gift certificate for someone from that vendor. “Don’t forget!” I told myself. It was even on my task list. And then I was driving back and, “Dang it!”, I did not get the gift card. Ugh!
I recently had the privilege a couple of weeks back of preaching at my church and I chose to dive into Psalm 103. This guy David can write in ways that majestically express my own heartfelt emotions – they just never come out so poetic.
I have had the same pair of glasses for some years now. I wear contacts every day, so there is not the need to stay current every few years with a fresh pair of lenses.
Drifting in marriage happens, but my marriage never drifts into anything of value.
And without the daily maintenance of texts of scripture and the Holy Spirit, my drifting will always leave me with a sense of frustration and emptiness. Frustration because I don’t understand how I got “here” again; emptiness because the pursuit of my agenda always leaves me wanting more.
One of the most difficult aspects of my marriage is offending my wife and then having to make it right. Transparency here: I do not like being wrong with my wife and it kills me when I hurt her through selfish words or actions.
When I am pressed to make things right with my wife, I can often try to so quickly get to the what of a restored relationship that I can often overlook and marginalize the how. Meaning, how I get to that restored relationship. In the end, my attempt at an apology does not restore. My wife may say “OK” to my “Hon, I am sorry.” but we end up no closer to restoration than before.
God designed men and women differently and I am grateful for that. And though I am not out to stereotype us guys, there are certain tendencies that I see in us that are generally true.
For example, I tend to see a problem and want to fix it. And I have had to learn some awkward lessons with my wife when she tells me something that is going on and I immediately jump in with three potential solutions, all of which will remedy the trouble at hand. The real issue, though, was that my wife just needed someone to listen to her. Oops. Read that one wrong. I have learned some helpful lessons from that.
Why is it my spiritual growth seems so confusing or ambiguous at times? Is it because God enjoys being mysterious, like playing a game of Marco Polo, where I blindly wander and shout out, “God, what are you doing in my life?” and hoping He says something like, “You’re getting warm!”
Photo by Maja Petric on Unsplash
The problem is not on God’s end though it seems easier to just ascribe blame. The issue is that I am viewing God’s growth plan for me through the wrong lens – my own. If the primary way of instructing believers is His word, which it is, then it would be to my great advantage to take the time to figure it out so that I can see the bigger picture of how God desires to grow me.
My wife and I recently had the opportunity to head to Denver to see our kiddos, grandkiddos, and celebrate the first birthday of our youngest grandson. I L-O-V-E this grandparent gig. My two little dudes are da bomb. And when I go there, it is constant activity until they go down for their naps or head to bed for the night.
My oldest grandson, who is 2, asked me multiple times, “Gampa, go with me to pway room to do puzzle?” And off we’d go to do his 24-piece Pete the Cat puzzle or 24-piece something-involving-a-furry-caterpillar-and-a-big-moon puzzle. Why do I know the exact number of pieces? Because we did each of them at least 10 times (exaggeration effects not in use).
I don’t know how much you follow various sports hype, but there is one that I have followed off and on about Lonzo Ball. Ball was a freshman phenom point guard for UCLA last year and opted for the NBA draft. What became more of an overshadowing story were the antics of his father, LaVar Ball.
Let’s just say LaVar has a propensity to talk. About himself. A lot. And about the amazing athletic abilities of his three sons. He has used his notoriety to make bold claims in promoting his kids as well as saying he could have beaten Michael Jordan in 1-on-1.
Please. Be. Quiet.