I refuse to be anyone’s “dirty little secret.”
I don’t care who you are, or what you do. If you are married you will introduce me to your wife, or I won’t trust you and we won‘t have much of a relationship. If you don’t introduce me to your wife, I’ll do so myself.
I did something out the ordinary this week. I chose to intentionally thank a man for consistently introducing me to his wife whenever we run into each other. Why? Because men don’t do that anymore and I really wish they would. I always introduce my husband when we are out together, and he does likewise.
We are a unit, and I want people to know that.
I used to assume everyone operated that way. As I get older, I’ve learned not to assume those things anymore.
I went to an office wedding several years ago and I brought my husband with me. I wanted him to know the people I work with, and I wanted them to know him. The saddest moment of the night was when a man I regularly joked around with at work, chose to ignore me in front of his wife. This wasn’t a simple case of the room was so full he didn’t see me, and while I won’t go into the details, he went out of his way to keep the two of us apart. Even my husband noticed.
Red Flag Alert: If a member of the opposite sex trips all over themselves to talk to you when no one is looking and ignores you in front of their spouse, RUN don’t walk to the nearest exit.
For some reason I suddenly felt dirty. And then it hit me, I have a family member who was a notorious womanizer. I also recognized that the shame I was suddenly feeling did not belong to me and I was able to give that back to God and find a solution.
Now, I’m not saying the man in this story is a player, and I’m not saying he isn’t. I am saying I that I was allowing him to treat me one way at work and another way in front of his wife and I needed to change that. His actions left me no reasonable choice but to change mine.
I found a way to politely ask what was up and I listened to his explanation. I then informed my office friend that I will always make a point of seeking out his wife and speaking to her at events. This is a non-negotiable item.
I’ve also learned in life not to make false threats.
It isn’t enough to set the boundaries. I have to keep them.
Another party came and he tried the same thing. Keeping my word, I grabbed my husband and walked over to my office friend’s wife and introduced myself and my husband. We spoke briefly and left the party shortly thereafter. I made a point of talking to her every time I saw her.
I’d really like to say that my boundaries helped build a healthy work relationship with my friend. But they didn’t. What my boundaries did do, was build my own esteem and worth in my eyes, and my husband’s.
I don’t have anything to do with said gentleman today. I actually resented being the one who set the boundaries that should have been there all along, and that took too much of a toll on the relationship.
Avoiding men altogether isn’t the answer, although I did try that route for a while.
Today, I watch and I listen and I trust my gut..
- Does he introduce his wife to people he’s talking to or does he leave her standing there?
- Is he publicly affectionate? – Putting his arm around her, communicating they belong together.
- How does he look at her? Does he look at her?
- What tone of voice does he use when he speaks to her?
- Does he speak well of his wife or does he put her down and complain? (my mother taught me that a man who speaks poorly of his wife to other women is fishing. — don’t take the bait.)
- A good married man will never compare you to his wife in such a way that you come out on top — if she doesn’t “understand him” and he’s telling you that you do, that isn’t a compliment — it’s a deadly trap. Don’t fall for it. Understand that he is a snake —
- A good man will praise his wife in your presence.
- A good man will talk about her and let you know she exists.
- The Holy Spirit speaks volumes to our heart when we are open.
- Past experience can be a good teacher sometimes as well. It’s from those trial and error days of being naive that I’ve learned the most. Those times when I didn’t listen to my gut and got in hot water have taught me to trust myself more often.
My husband follows the same walk — we are a unit. I love it when he introduces me, sends calls to voicemail whenever we are on a date or in a conversation. I love the way he looks at me, the way he puts his arm around me in a crowd and includes me in his life and with his friends. I love the way that he communicates the fact that I am his, and he is mine.
I love the trust that grows from those seeds.
Question: What actions do you and your spouse take to communicate to others that you are one?
This post written by Deana O’Hara, for Redemption’s Heart. January 20, 2010