The Rock and the Rolling Stone

Before our wedding more than 20 years ago, my wife and I received a rose-petal bedroom ensemble from J.C. Penney, including a dust ruffle, valances, sheets and an overstuffed matching comforter.

After a decade and a half of use, however, our comforter began to get a little flat and the rose petals a bit faded. The day finally arrived when my wife, Penne, was willing to replace our favorite blankey. She pored over catalogs, pointing to pictures and asking for opinions. I hadn't seen her labor so painstakingly over anything since the birth of our last child. With trembling hands, she phoned in the order.

After a few days, a box arrived. Inside was a brand-new, overstuffed rose-petal comforter from — you guessed it — J.C. Penney.

So how does a rolling stone dwell peacefully together with an immovable rock? Very carefully. When I'm sensitive to her need for security, she's more responsive to my need for change.

If you haven't figured it out, my wife doesn't like change. My church office is 0.8 miles from our house, and whenever I need to catch my wife en route, I know exactly the path she'll take. I, on the other hand, love change. I've discovered 23 routes through our subdivision, and I seldom take the same one twice in a row.

So how does a rolling stone dwell peacefully together with an immovable rock? Very carefully. When I'm sensitive to her need for security, she's more responsive to my need for change. The apostle Peter exhorted husbands to "be considerate as you live with your wives" (1 Peter 3:7).

So what does that look like on a day-to-day basis? Take a look at these helpful tips I've learned from experience.

If it's in your power, don't make unexpected changes.

Due partly to my Chicago upbringing, I've learned to drive as though I'm being chased. When my wife is in the passenger's seat, you'd think she was having a heart attack. She stomps on an imaginary brake pedal and clutches the door as though she were contemplating an escape. My driving does not give her a sense of security.

Like our car trips, when I race through life in an unpredictable way, I shouldn't be surprised that she's reluctant to come along for the ride. How could she be comfortable not knowing if I'm going to stop, change directions, slow down or speed up? I may feel confident that things are under control, but she's not. Whether on the highway or in my home, why unnecessarily change directions?

Communicate your intentions clearly.

Prior to GPS, I'd often get about 50 miles from home on a road trip and ask, "Did we bring a map?" I guess that was my subconscious way of making a trip more adventurous. Whenever I put out the plea for directions, however, Penne responds by pulling out an atlas of the Western Hemisphere. She likes to know, at all times, how we're getting to our destination and wants an up-to-the-minute report on where we are.

Our day-to-day life is no different. Whether we're talking finances, vocations or vacations, I can offer her a plan and keep her apprised on the progress. I need the discipline, and she needs the security. So I try to communicate my intentions as clearly as possible.

Reassuring discussions work wonders. I also share my motives, as this makes it easier for Penne to buy into my adventures. Whether my intention is to spend time with other believers, stay in shape or satisfy a desire to explore and learn, explaining my reasons gains her support. Besides, if I can't articulate my motives, maybe I don't need to be on that adventure.

Make every change count.

When introducing changes, I only have a few "bullets" (or chances) to do it effectively. Husbands who lead their families willy-nilly through life empty their arsenal quickly and lose valuable trust faster than a teenager can drink a Mountain Dew Code Red.

As the husband of a wife that cringes when the "C" word is mentioned, I try to keep day to day as calm as possible. Though the world around us may seem chaotic, the least I can offer my bride is a room with pink flowers on an overstuffed comforter — a place where she knows things can stay the same.

Taken from Focus on the Family magazine, December 2007.
Article copyright © 2007, Phil Wood.
All rights reserved. International copyright secured.
Used by permission.

Phil Wood is the pastor of Fellowship Church of Carol Stream, Illinois. He and Penne have four children.