It is not often you hear the term “bonehead” as it relates to a species of fish found primarily in brackish, shallow water. Most often the term is used in reference to someone regarded as unthinking or “stupid.” If I may, married men can pften be classified in that category. There are many times we do or say things that might be accurately defined as boneheaded.
In 1 Samuel 1 we read an account of Elkanah and his two wives Peninnah and Hannah. Peninnah was fertile and had given birth to several sons and daughters. Hannah, on the other hand, was infertile and did not or could not conceive. As the story goes, Peninnah would torment Hannah about her barrenness and it hurt Hannah deeply. So much so that she “wept and refused to eat.”
Of course Elkanah was, like most husbands, concerned but bumbling when he tried to approach the issue with Hannah.
Hannah, why do you weep? And why do you not eat? And why is your heart sad? Am I not more to you than ten sons?
Now that’s what I call a bonehead question – “Am I not more to you than ten son?” Of course you’re not you bonehead! You are not now, nor could you ever be, a replacement for her grief of not being able to conceive.
How often is it that we (men) venture down this road of boneheadedness and then wonder why our wife is upset with us. We give them a Vegamatic for Christmas and then wonder why they are not jumping for joy. We give them a “honey, it will be alright” when what they want is a hug and an empathetic heart on our part. We divide our attention between them and the television, when they yearn for our full attention – just once.
Relationships are complicated matters. I’m sure Elkanah meant well, but he was far afield from what Hannah was feeling in her heart. He said what he thought would bring comfort to her, but instead was really telling her to get over it and move on, we have each other.
I cannot begin to tell you how many boneheaded comments or actions I have managed in my 25 years of marriage. I continue to be amazed that my wife doesn’t just slap me along side the head at times. Nevertheless, I have learned that marriage is work. Hard work. Just because I have done the “job” for 25 years does not mean that I have mastered the relationship. Naturally, there are some men out there who feel quite the opposite and that’s fine. However, a growing marriage is ever-changing and I must change with it or find myself on the outside looking in. Being boneheaded might be an excuse, but it is not a valid reason for my insensitivity and lack of meaningful participation in the relationship.
Ultimately, things worked out for Hannah. She did conceive and bore a son named Samuel. That is not always the case in our relationships. Things may not workout. Decisions we make or actions we take may necessitate that the results or consequences run their full course. Then, as men, is when we need to put our boneheadedness aside and seek understanding and unity with our helpmate.
Father, help me to be open-hearted and not boneheaded when it comes to my relationship with my wife. We are gifts to one another.