When I first heard Jennifer Lopez’s new song, “Ain’t Your Mama,” I was highly entertained by the commentary I read on social media and the different opinions about her lyrics. There were many women cheering her on and just as many wagging their fingers about how we should celebrate being there for our husbands. As a 40-year-old married woman, I have to agree with Lopez, but not for the saucy reasons people have been giving her cyber high-fives. It runs deeper than that. I had to decide that in order for my husband and I to have a healthy, functional marriage, it is imperative that I remember that not only am I not his mother, I am also not his Savior.
The last three months of 2015, my husband was in the hospital more than he was out, battling with a serious illness. While it is easy, even natural, for me to try to be his everything, make sure he follows doctor’s orders, make sure he takes his medication, make sure he eats, I had to accept that this is not ultimately my responsibility. No matter how much you may want something for a person, the person has to want it for himself- that includes being healthy.
It is not our job as married women to monitor grown men as if they are our children. It is not our job as adult women period- whether we are wives, mothers, daughters, sisters, etc.- to mother and smother and nag an of-age man into submission. While we may think that we are being a good wife, mother, sister, daughter, friend, etc., we are really doing the men in our lives a disservice by coddling and infantilizing them. We must allow them to grow, to make mistakes, to learn their lessons, and even to crash and burn. By allowing them the freedom, and respect, to make their own choices without trying to be their Messiah, we help them to become the men they are meant to be. As wives, we become the “helpmeet” that God tells us to be. We must get over any “Messiah Complex” that we may have, and to embody the deeper message behind Lopez’s, “Ain’t Your Mama.” It is the one that encourages us to support and honor our spouses as persons who can act- or not act- for themselves.