Love Your Wife More?
Ted Cunningham, a pastor, speaker and author, made the audience of around 1,000 people in Dallas gasp. Audibly. He wasn’t particularly dramatic about it, and I’ll admit that I didn’t think much about his comment at the moment. But there it was – and people did have some strong reactions.
Ted told a sweet story about a conversation with his five year-old daughter who asked him a rather innocent question.
“Daddy, who do you love more? Mommy or me?”
Even as you read the question, you’re likely forming an answer of your own. Something a bit vague, but reassuring. Affirming of your love for both. Not too specific…because it seems like kind of a loaded question the more you think about it.
To a man it likely seems like one of those no-win propositions. The old dilemma of answering your wife when she asks, “Does this dress make me look fat?” Of course, there’s no apparent “right answer!” Reply the wrong way and there could be a really tough time explaining why you said what you said. Dismiss the query and you might crush a heart. How in the world do you answer a question like that?
Despite the apparent conundrum, Ted’s response to his daughter seemed quite reasonable to me. In fact, I thought it was a fine response. It wasn’t particularly shocking – but there were verbal reactions of “Oh my!” from many in the auditorium. And it was mostly women, it seemed, who took exception to his words.
“Well…you’ve got to know, sweetheart, that while I love you a whole lot, I love your Mommy even more.”
In the minds of hundreds in the audience, a rush of thoughts. I could almost hear them.
“Wait a minute, Ted. Are you telling me that you love your wife more than your child? C’mon, man, that’s not what your girl wanted to hear! You’ve crushed her heart.”
Or perhaps, “Yikes, you mean I CAN love my wife more than our kids?”
How did you react when you read Ted’s candid, albeit somewhat unexpected answer to his little girl? Did his response startle you?
Truth is, in every family there are relational priorities. For many couples, the children become the central rallying point for everything – “it’s all about the kids,” you know. That’s what we often hear. It seems that is an approach to family life that is most valued in our culture.
And while it is a commonly accepted norm to make the kids the focus of all our attention and efforts, I think that is wrong and short-sighted.
I’d suggest that the healthiest things for a family man to do is to take Ted’s advice: Love your wife more than your kids. And let your kids know why.
Here’s a radio recording of that moment when Ted caused a lot of folks to gasp. I’d suggest you listen to the entire discussion to catch the context of what Ted was trying to teach, but if you’re in a hurry, start around the 13-minute mark.