What about our show?

Is your hubby doing Exodus 90?  Are you counting down the 90 days with white knuckles? I feel your pain.

My husband did Exodus 90 in the fall with his men’s group. It was hard for him. It was hard for me.  However, it was also very fruitful for the both of us.

I have with spoken with many “Exodus 90 Wives” and I’m hearing some of the same comments from many, so maybe we can learn from each other.  Here’s what I learned:

I. Discipline is a key virtue for men

I have learned over the years that existing as a Catholic husband and father in this world takes a huge amount of virtue, especially discipline. Each time my husband leaves the house, turns on the TV or goes online, he wages war with a hyper-sexualized culture.  It takes self-discipline – a lot of self-discipline – to guard his eyes, to keep his thoughts pure, to avoid conversations that aren’t respectful, etc.

Exodus 90 is like a training ground for those battles that he must fight everyday to maintain his purity, the sanctity of our marriage and the holiness of our family life.  Practicing self-discipline builds… well… self-discipline.  All the sacrifices required in Exodus 90 gave him an opportunity to flex those self-discipline muscles.  That helps him win those battles that he faces each time he engages the culture.

If I complain and make it difficult for him to make those sacrifices, it’s like me asking him to wage battle without training or armor.  If I want a holy husband, I need to let him “train”.

II. But what about our “special TV time?”

I was a little surprised at how much his sacrifices were a sacrifice for me, too. To be honest, at the end of the 90 days I felt a little lonely.  But it only makes sense.  Scripture says we are no longer two, but one.  We learned from the first two “rounds” of Exodus 90 that when he chooses to sacrifice something that we normally do together (like a special evening show after the kids are in bed) then I am recruited into his regimen of sacrifices. 

I’m happy to come alongside him and support his spiritual endeavors.  But we learned that when he chooses to sacrifice something that we normally do together and that we find bonding, that we need to replace it with something else that is also bonding.  No more evening show?  Then let’s take a walk together each evening, have a cup of tea together on the couch when the kids are in bed, etc.  And husbands – might I suggest you let your wife choose what that activity is that would replace the sacrificed activity that she is missing? 

III. You don’t have to do Exodus 90 with him

There is nothing inherently masculine about sacrifice.  We are all called as Catholics to have times of fasting and sacrifice.  But it was important to me to let my hubby have this spiritual exercise as something that he could do with his men’s group with a special masculine bent.  My girlfriends are important to me and their friendships are life-giving in a way that is uniquely feminine.  I don’t think there’s anything wrong with wives doing it alongside their husbands, but I also think it’s sometimes better to let their husband have this as a uniquely masculine activity.  We need more men in Church.  We need more men in love with Christ. Men need an opportunity to be uniquely male in their love for Christ.  For my guy, Exodus 90 gave him that opportunity.  Ask your husband how he feels.  Would he prefer to do it as a couple, or individually?  Maybe for some husbands they would find it bonding to have the whole family accompany him in the process.  Or maybe not.

IV. Manly men are awesome

I have been interested in the topic of what John Paul II calls “The Dignity of Women” for years now.  It’s not easy being a woman in today’s world.

But if we’re honest, it’s also not easy being a man – a Catholic man, that is.  Have you heard the media’s latest catch phrase, “toxic masculinity”?  Masculinity, as well as femininity, is a gift from God and a way that we image our Creator.  It’s part of what makes us holy.  True masculinity is also true holiness, so “toxic masculinity” is the same as saying “toxic holiness” which of course is an oxymoron.

I don’t know about you but if anyone called my femininity “toxic” I would be none too happy.

Exodus 90 was a way for my husband to strengthen his love for Christ, to tap into his masculine need for adventure and rigor.  Rising to a challenge is something that the male heart longs for.  I saw a renewed spiritual zeal in my husband after this program.  The fact that it requires a “Navy Seal” level of sacrifice was exciting for him and he relished the challenge, especially since it was ordered towards God.  Win-win.