Monday, September 24, 2007
It’s that time of the year again. No, I’m not talking about the glorious brilliant colors gracing the maples or the fresh red apples or even the Sunday afternoons spent cheering a favorite team. It is bow hunting season – the time of year my lifetime lover anticipates all year long. He goes out in the dead of winter to look for tracks and other sign of the big bucks in the woods. In summer he goes stir crazy because the ticks prohibit his exploration of his beloved woods. By the beginning of August he’s about ready to wear a hole through the contoured map of the area, but somehow he manages to wait those excruciatingly long days until the season opens in September.
So now the anticipation is over and the journey has begun. He will spend his Saturday and Sunday evenings sitting in the tree stand searching for his prey. It brings him great pleasure and even though I don’t completely understand the allure of hunting, I don’t begrudge him this hobby.
To make this journey a bit smoother for our marriage, we have a few “Hunting Harmony” rules around our house. (By the way, these rules might work for any hobby or pursuit that takes your husband away from home for extended periods of time).
1. For the months prior to the season, my lifelong lover invests his time and energy into our relationship. I also think ahead because I know it may be unrealistic to have company or go on big dates during hunting season. So, we focus on our relationship and put in extra time before the demands of fall are upon us. My husband tries very hard to give generously of himself when he can and we call this “building up equity.”
2. Part of building up equity is balance in the relationship. For a long time, I didn’t really have much of a hobby or outside interest. So, he was gone doing what he loved but I was sitting at home doing nothing. He encouraged me to get out there and find something to do that I enjoyed. If I’m willing to be the “single parent” home with my kids for several nights a week, then he should be willing to do the same for me. (Now I get out regularly to scrapbook, tutor, go to my writer’s guild, or to Girls’ Night Out).
3. Communication is the key. For a while, I had irritations about the time my lover spent out of the house, but I always smiled and told him “Do whatever you want to do” even though I didn’t really mean it. I’ve discovered that resentment grows when it is left inside to fester. I’m learning (not totally there yet) that I must let my husband be aware of my needs and desires because he’s not a mind reader (although he is very discerning and wise). If he’s been out two nights this week already and I’m feeling overwhelmed, an honest confession will keep him home and preserve our relationship.
4. Many women enjoy the same sports or interests as their husbands. I’m sorry I don’t care for hunting because I believe that time spent together recreationally as a couple is so valuable. Even though I don’t think I could participate in some parts of the sport, I am willing to try to experience the sport through my husband’s eyes. I will sit in a blind (perhaps not all day – sorry guys I get too bored) and I will help package meat (no butchering for me though). I will walk through the woods with him to look for sign (maybe there’ll be more time for that when the kids are older and we can get out of the house).
5. The most valuable treasure I’ve taken from my husband’s “other” love, is a glimpse into his masculine heart. Not all men are like him, but his hunting is a way of fulfilling God’s commands for mankind. He is subduing the earth and ruling over it with kindness and wisdom, with prowess and respect for God’s creation. He sits in the woods for hours on end with no one’s company but God – what could be more marvelous? His heart for God is revealed in the true reason he hunts – finding peace and purpose in the sanctuary of the woods. Understanding his heart puts it all into perspective for me.