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The Messy Housewife and the Man Who Changed Her

By Dr. Gary Smalley
Smalley Relationship Center Betty was not the world's best house cleaner. Her home was not what you would call clean before they had children, and with three little ones running around, she had nearly given up on their home ever being clean. Like what happens in many marriages, her husband, Tod, had a different temperament. He was incredibly neat and clean. Tod even kept his workshop, where he spent time on his hobbies, so clean a person could safely eat off the floor.

Tod was so frustrated with his wife's sloppy ways; he spent much of his time berating her for being a poor house cleaner. She would always be messy and could never change. Tod told her stories about how their house would soon become so messy that their children would catch incurable diseases and the County Health Department would come out and shut them down.

Tod was not placing high value on his wife. By painting a picture of his wife with no window of hope or door for changing, he literally boxed her in to viewing herself as the "world's messiest housekeeper" that he thought she was.

Remember all relationships involve choice. What if, instead of doing this destructive dance with Betty, Tod decided to honor his wife? What if Tod began by choosing to note every time Betty did something well and by periodically reviewing those praiseworthy actions? "Betty is so affectionate to our children." "Betty is a great cook." "I appreciate how much time Betty puts into caring for our family."

Next, Tod could look for opportunities to honor Betty verbally—however difficult that might feel, at first. "Betty, that meal was delicious. Thank you for cooking dinner tonight." "You made a wise decision when you sent Emma to her room. You are a wonderful mother."

If Tod really believes Betty is a person made in the image of God, as the Bible tells us, then he will take care not to demean her or to devalue her in any way. If Tod loves and honors his wife, he may find that over time, Betty will feel more motivated and begin to keep the house cleaner. But even if she doesn't, Tod can know that he is doing the right thing.

We honor others when we see them—and treat them—as incredible gifts of God. Each of them has immeasurable value as a unique, divine creation.

Love each other with genuine affection, and take delight in honoring each other. Romans 12:10

© Copyright 2005 Smalley Relationship Center. Used by permission.


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