Tuesday, November 17, 2015

my husband's boyfriend

It's hunting season. You know what that means...husbands across the nation got tons of stuff checked off of their honey-do lists in September to "earn" themselves the right to leave their families for a while. That shelf you wanted hung in September? He might be more likely to do it now. That basement stench you wanted him to check into in May? He's on it. That loose spindle on the stairs? It's now solidly in place.

In the past, I have struggled to be happy for my husband's hunting trips because OY VEY, I was at home by myself with two wild boys after being at work all day while he enjoyed himself and slept. (Insert feelings of anger, jealousy, bewilderment, resentment, etc. All of which were wrong, by the way.)

This year and last, hunting season hasn't been as taxing because my volleyball season hadn't just ended (leaving me exhausted in every way) and I haven't had to go and be "on" at work while also being overwhelmed and tired at home. Not to mention the fact that we have a new baby in the house and she keeps me swooning over her cuteness. Cuteness covers a multitude of sins. (Not that she has many, as you may have read yesterday.)

That said, this year I was jealous of something else that I never would have suspected: Brad's boyfriend. 

You heard me. I have used the term "boyfriend" to (ah-hem) affectionately refer to Brad's hunting buddy. 

Please allow me to explain the term before also explaining that I have toned it down a bit on my terminology for his friend. Here's why this situation is VERY SIMILAR to two dating teenagers:

1. When he calls, several things happen. First of all, immediate smile the size of a 12-pointer. Then he gets a shiny, sparkling glint in his eye, as if he is already anticipating the punch line to a joke or a harrowing hunting story. It's similar to the sparkle you might find in the eyes of a 17-year-old girl who looks down at her ringing phone to see that "Blue Eyes and Dimples" or "Bae" (I'm gagging over this terminology) is calling. He also starts moving around to work off the excited energy, and the volume of his voice increases while talking about plots and ruts and moon phases. (It's an entirely different language, I tell you.)

2. Nightly phone calls and hourly texts.

3. Their relationship seems to be built on a profuse amount of inside jokes, sarcasm and an irrational love of something that's irrelevant to most people. (In this case, it's bowhunting.)

His boyfriend's wife also noticed these weird relationship quirks, so I don't think I was WAAAY off base in joking about their relationship. 

However, beneath all my jokes was also a bit of hurt and jealousy. Does he get that glint in his eye when I call him? No. Because I'm calling to tell him that so-and-so has just peed the bed AGAIN or that such-and-such is broken. Do we talk this much about hobbies and fun stuff? No. Because newborn exhaustion is in full effect and we had to talk about real stuff like, "Let's pay that hospital bill. YAY!" and "What do we have going on tonight?" (We sometimes could not even think about what was happening tomorrow night because we couldn't keep up with today.) Do we have any jokes? No. Nothing is funny when you have a newborn in the house, two crazies jumping on the couch while you're trying to talk, and a daughter who is not allowed to join your family.

I was jealous, feeling hurt and left out because I was at home with three kids while he was going to breakfasts and lunches with his buddy (a few buddies, really). This also happened to take place at one of the busiest times in the life of a church, which was extremely unfortunate, because I just missed my husband. Period.

But then I went to a meeting at church and learned two things that took the sting out of his relationship.  

1. Most men are struggling to be authentic with other men. It's hard for men (all of us, really) to admit when they're having problems with their kids, their marriages, and their jobs. 

2. Most men do not have other men in their lives to "spur one another on toward love and good works." (Hebrews 10:24). 

Lucky for him--and for me--Brad had the sort of relationship with this hunting buddy/buddies in which he could share his struggles as a dad, husband (I am often hard to love. Shocking, I know.), church leader and Christ follower. His buddies could listen and understand his struggles in ways I never could, and in turn they could help him through them. He could even say, "My wife is a crazy person," and his buddies would understand, nod their heads and say, "I'm sorry, man." I am certain that his buddy/buddies would also point out areas where Brad is lacking grace, wisdom, humility, and discipline (or a myriad of other things) in order to spur him on to love and good works. 

So after getting over my own jealousy of his great relationship with someone else and realizing the hidden perks of my husband having a "boyfriend," I dropped the terminology like a bad habit and thanked God that Brad has people who will listen and understand, then speak up because Christ's love compels them to do so.

In fact, as much as I hate to admit it, our marriage is probably even stronger and better because of their relationship. Because, really, Brad is a pretty cool guy and I love being married to him, and I'm not as crazy as I may seem on the blog and I think he's not mad about being married to me, either. 

(But seriously, back off my man, Travis.)