Husbands, Hold Your Wife’s Hand
It is both awkward and encouraging the feedback I have received over the past few years for the writing I have done during my beloved’s illness, homegoing, and absence. I especially rejoice when I hear that the things I have written have served another in a time of hardship. It remains my intention to use what I have written in a book in the future. That said, I still believe that the most vulnerable, most insightful, most helpful thing I wrote all along this journey was this brief tweet:
I wish I had held her hand more— R.C. Sproul Jr. (@RCSproulJr) May 4, 2012
That is likely my deepest regret, that I did not hold her hand more.
It’s not, of course, that I never held her hand. It is likely, however, that I didn’t as often as she would have liked. Holding her hand communicates to her in a simple yet profound way that we are connected. Taking her hand tells her, “I am grateful that we are one flesh.” Taking her hand tells me, “This is bone of my bone, flesh of my flesh.” It is a liturgy, an ordinary habit of remembrance to see more clearly the extraordinary reality of two being made one. It would have, even in the midst of a disagreement, or moments of struggle, communicated, “We’re going to go through this together. I will not let go.”
It would have also reminded us both of that secret but happy truth we kept from each other, that hidden reality that is equal parts embarrassment and giddy joy: that we’re just kids. Bearing children, feeding mortgages, facing adult sized hardships never really changes what we are inside. Holding her hand was like skipping through the park. Holding her hand was winking at her, as if to say, “I know you’re just a kid too. Let’s be friends.”
On the other hand, holding her hand more would have communicated to us both my own calling to lead her, and our home. Hand holding is a way to say both, “You are safe with me” and “Follow me into the adventure.” It would have reminded me that there is no abdicating, no shirking, no flinching in the face of responsibility. And as I lead it would be a constant anchor, a reminder that I lead not for my sake, but for hers.
Holding her hand more also would have spoken with clarity to the watching world. It would have said, “There’s a man who loves his wife.” It saddens me that so many only learn this after their wife is gone. Perhaps most of all, however, I wish I had held her hand more so that I could still feel it more clearly. I wish it had been such a constant habit that even now my hand would form into a hand holding shape each time I get in the car. I wish I could fall asleep feeling her hand in mine.
I know all this, happily, because I did hold her hand. I received all the blessings I describe above. I just wish I had received them more. It cost nothing, and bears dividends even to this day. If, for you, it’s not too late, make the investment. Hold her hand, every chance you get. You won’t regret it.