Exodus 90 is not like parish programs that you attend. It's a spiritual exercise that you take up. An exercise that reorients your very way of life. Your participation in Exodus 90 will thus impact your wife and family. Share with your wife why you are doing the spiritual exercise and what Exodus 90 entails. It will be important for her to understand both the sacrifices she will have to make and the blessings she will receive on Day 91.
The following is an excerpt from the Exodus 90 Field Guide, entitled, "The Exodus Man and His Bride." All married men are suggested to read this section of the Field Guide Before starting Exodus 90.
The Exodus Man and His Bride.
“Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the Church and gave himself up for her” (Ephesians 5:25).
The reorientation to Christ that Exodus 90 makes possible for a married man will necessarily impact his wife and children. Because of this, a married man must prepare not just himself, but his family—and most especially his wife—for these changes. With proper communication ahead of time and a good measure of God’s grace, this ninety day spiritual exercise will lead to positive results, not just for himself, but for the whole family.
The preparation starts with proper communication. That means finding the right kind of communication, and discerning the right timing. If you inform your wife of the Wednesday abstention from meat for the first time at the dinner table, while her delectable pork roast and bacon-enriched mashed potatoes are sitting in front of you, your timing can’t be said to be good. To help with proper communication, we have provided a list of the five steps to proper communication with your wife before Day 1 of your Exodus 90 venture.
5 Steps to Proper Communication with Your Spouse Before Day 1
- Acknowledge and apologize for your past failures.
Let’s face it: we aren’t perfect, and we regularly fail in our duties as men. We know it, our wives see it, and our children sense it—yet we dodge acknowledging it. Take time to acknowledge the ways you have let down your wife and your children in the past years. Then, consider making a sincere and appropriate apology to them. This can lead to substantial healing and can greatly strengthen your marriage and family.
2. Share your why.
A sincere apology is often received best when it is accompanied by a resolution and a concrete plan to do better. With your why prayerfully written and Day 1 approaching, you have your resolution and your plan in place. Sit down with your wife and share with her the why you wrote down. Tell her your hopes for your family and the ways you want to become a better husband and father. Be specific about your search for greater freedom. Don’t overlook or take lightly the importance of sharing the specifics of your vision with your wife. This is a crucial part of your conversation.
3. Discuss the basics of Exodus 90.
Bring your wife into the practical details of the exercise. Show her the section of the Field Guide that lays out all the disciplines. Ask her if she foresees any of the requirements posing a problem for your family life. Talk about how each of them could benefit the family in the long term, connecting them back to why you are doing Exodus 90 in the first place.
Be sure to listen carefully to your wife’s concerns, and avoid downplaying the possible effects of the disciplines on the rhythms of home life. Be quick to acknowledge the difficulties they might present, and work together to find solutions that are in line with the spirit of the exercise and acceptable to your wife.
As an example, many families frequently watch television together, and Exodus Men are asked to give up watching TV, which could mean a disruption of a family activity. In such a case, your conversation with your wife should bring up possible alternatives, such as a family game night or family bike ride instead. Your wife will no doubt have some good ideas. She may have been waiting for a long time for a free Sunday to go on a family picnic, only to find that televised sports have consistently been in the way.
If your wife is less excited about Exodus 90 than you are, let her sit with the idea for a couple days and plan a specific time to talk about it again when she is ready. If you do this, be sure to intentionally follow up before Day 1.
4. Support your wife.
Some wives love the idea of their husband entering into Exodus 90. Your wife may have been waiting for you to do something about your spiritual lethargy since the day you waffled about where you would get married. On the other hand, your wife may have a harder time seeing the value in it. Here, your fraternity may help. Wives who are in full support of their husbands’ venture may be willing to share their excitement and understanding with other wives. Connect them for the opportunity to discuss concerns.
Pray for the men in your fraternity as each is discerning the best route for his family, and check in with one another along the way. Keep communicating with your wife throughout the ninety days about how the disciplines are impacting family life. Even if she is not enthusiastic in the beginning, over time, you may see a change of heart.
Many wives who are less than excited about their husband doing Exodus 90 are worried that it will take him away from them and their family. This is not entirely wrong: the disciplines do take the husband away from his family for prayer, exercise, and weekly fraternity meetings. At the same time, the disciplines give a man many opportunities to be present to his wife and family more generously. He is no longer checking his work emails or sports scores while “playing” with his children. He isn’t wasting one-on-one time with his wife each night by catching up on Netflix shows or playing video games.
This gift of presence that frees a man to give time to his wife and family far outweighs the time that he spends away from them. And when he is away, he is reorienting his life to Christ. He is more likely to listen to the words: “Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the Church and gave himself up for her” (Ephesians 5:25) and to be given the ability to live them.
5. Make a decision.
Exodus 90 is not for every man at every time in his life. At the end of the day, the decision is between you and God with your entire family’s spiritual well-being in mind. Scripture makes it clear that you are called to lay down your life for your wife and family. What that should look like needs to be discerned. If Exodus 90 seems like the best way to serve your family, take it up boldly. If God seems to be calling you to something else (possibly something even harder), then do that.
Spirit of the Law
While it is true that the best results will come when the disciplines of Exodus 90 are followed exactly as they are given, for married men, the good of the family must always come first, and for that reason, there may be a few exceptions along the way.
Here are two examples:
It is your wedding anniversary. In that case, celebrate the gift of the sacrament. Go ahead and have a glass of wine with your wife and enjoy a dessert at a nice restaurant.
Your wife wants you to watch the Winter Olympics (which only come around every four years) with her, as a young superstar is going for gold in women’s figure skating, and your alternative suggestions are not cutting it. This is a good occasion to sit beside your wife and watch on with shared enthusiasm.
The disciplines are meant to be purifying for you and beneficial for your wife. Though they may generate some inconvenience for her, they should not make her miserable. It is you who is choosing to take up this spiritual exercise, not her. Be attentive to how this exercise is affecting her and serve as the source of hope she needs along the way.
At the same time, do your best to stick with the spirit of the law and be open to new ways of sharing life that keep you in accord with the exercise. If you start to see a pattern forming of breaking the disciplines for the sake of wife and family, bring it up to your fraternity and seek their advice. You know your wife and family best, but sometimes a little fraternal third-party input can help a man see things more clearly.
Your wife is not your Exodus 90 trainer, and she should not be forced to hold you accountable to keeping your commitments. It is good that she knows this from the start. If your wife is constantly calling you out for cheating on the exercises, you’ve got a problem—and the problem is yours, not hers. Bring this up with your fraternity and seek the fraternal support you need there.
More important than following the disciplines, love your wife. From before Day 1 and into Day 91, be sure to communicate with her such that she can love and support you in a healthy way.