We've been watching Ken Burns' fine DVD series about World War II, "The War." At one point, Burns points out that the young soldiers used language they never would have dreamed of using at home. That fact, coupled with lack of confidence in their superior leadership, caused the soldiers to come up with colorful slang to describe their circumstances. So acronyms like "SNAFU: Situation Normal All F----ed Up" and "FUBAR: F---ed Up Beyond All Recognition" came into usage.
Somewhere after I turned 30 until about 45 I put my nose to the grindstone, put blinders on and buried myself in my work, thinking that work and money would meet my family's needs. I disregarded my role as spiritual leader and my marriage and relationship with my sons became like a long, drawn-out war. Gwen describes knowing how terrible things were, but deciding to hunker down, battle it out, keep a "stiff upper lip" and to keep on doing the right thing despite what I was doing. She says she would go out of our home determined to act "normal" and come home to a "mausoleum" (after all, I had "buried myself" in my work). I was spiritually dead. Although Gwen wouldn't use such language, our home life became a SNAFU.
"The War" describes what was then called "battle fatigue," with symptoms like numbness, depression, excessive irritability, guilt, nightmares, flashbacks, and overreaction. Army planners determined that the average soldier could withstand no more than 240 days of combat without going mad. But, by that time, the average soldier was probably dead or wounded. Gwen and I have been married 30 years now. For most of those years she was involved in combat with my arrogance, pride and my flesh nature. She did exhibit many battle fatigue symptoms and it's a wonder she didn't go mad.
It pains me now to think that Gwen and my sons lived that way. It pains me that my leadership was so misguided and my sense of right and wrong was so warped. It pains me that my judgment was so poor. If I had it to do over again, things would be so different. I know now that my values were warped (Some might say FUBAR). If I had it to do over again, I would've realized that building my spirit and those closest to me was more important than building my business or my bank account. As it turns out for me, none of them were built up.
Now for the hard part. Some of us (yes, maybe even you) have yet to recognize that our wives may consider our marriages to be like a long, drawn-out war. Some of our wives feel like prisoners of war. In that war, our enemy is not our wives, but as the saying goes,
"We have met the enemy and he is us"
For some of us, it's time to wave the white flag, call a truce and begin negotiations to surrender. Only pride and ignorance are stopping us. If you don't know, ask her.