If you’ve ever listened in on one of our Tuesday night conference calls, you may have heard me singing the praises of Cesar Millan a.k.a The Dog Whisperer. Michael and I think Cesar is a genius when it comes working with dogs and we’ve used many of his techniques on our own dog with great success. The reason I’ll bring him up on our calls, however, isn’t because I want to talk about how to handle a dog but because the way he teaches people about their dogs crosses over into marriage.
Hold on now…I am not saying that we’re dogs. Though I believe there’s much to be learned from the animal kingdom and Cesar showed me one such way last Friday.
Cesar’s ability to rehabilitate what he calls “Red Zone” dogs is what put him on the map as a trainer. Last week, he was working with a woman who has a mobile dog grooming business and while she’s great at handling dogs, there were three that she needed his help with. The one that sticks out most in my mind for the purpose of this post is one which was very fearful of having his ears cleaned and medicated. Whenever the groomer attempted to help the dog, it jumped and squirmed and yelped and bit and scratched…whatever it could do to try to get away despite the fact that it was tied up, muzzled and not being harmed.
How did Cesar help this dog? By staying with it. Did you get that? Staying with it.
Okay…stay with me here (pun intended). When a Christian husband begins to lay down his life for his wife the way Christ called him to and bring healing to her heart, there are going to be times when she vents to him about the way he’s treated her throughout their marriage; old wounds that he hasn’t yet healed for her. And this venting can come out in many ways: yelling, crying, silence, arguing, etc. In the past, her venting would be met with the same responses from her husband and the two of them would get nowhere except to sink further into disharmony.
Now, however, this Christian husband has learned to become a safe place for his wife when she vents because he stays with her. He doesn’t get defensive, he doesn’t raise his voice, he doesn’t ignore her or walk away, he doesn’t “bite back”. He listens, he apologizes, his voice is calm, his eyes welcoming, his arms wide open to receive her.
Can I just tell you, that at the end of Cesar’s time with this particular dog, because Cesar had stayed with him, he was calm and happy. His tail was high and wagging, he was nudging Cesar affectionately and wanted to be next to him, not run away the moment he was off leash.
Husbands, listen to your wives. Become a safe place for her heart. Show her that no matter how much she vents, you’re going to be there for her, bring healing to her, stay in it with her. It will be hard sometimes and messy and ugly and that’s okay. Because when it’s over and her tears of hurt and frustration are spent, and she sees that you’re still there in front of her willing to be in relationship with her, loving her as Christ has called you to, she’ll fall into your arms with tears of love and happiness over the man of God that you’re becoming.