175/365 days of blogging.
This blog comes to you from April over at Peaceful Wife. I have spent a great deal of time trying to mentor women in the church that hubby and I serve about being a submissive wife. April says it so well!
At some point, every wife who has ever tried to respect her husband thinks to herself,
“It’s IMPOSSIBLE to respect HIM!”
Then – the pride sets in.
“Yes, God said to respect my husband and submit to him as the leader of the marriage and family, BUT, surely He didn’t REALLY mean that. He didn’t mean MY husband and MY situation. He didn’t really mean for that to apply in 2012!
You know, I think I can see what needs to happen here, and if I just led the way, everything would be so much better. My husband isn’t a good leader. My husband won’t make decisions. He’s not trustworthy. My husband has this bad habit/sin in his life. My husband is irresponsible. My husband has a bad temper. My husband cares more about sports than he does about our children. My husband’s god is the tv/phone/computer.
My sins aren’t NEARLY as sinful as my husband’s sin. I am so much closer to God than he is. So I should definitely be the one to try to get us on track with God and where God obviously wants us to be. I can see so much better than my husband, and really – I can see better than God in this situation, too. I’m powerful enough and wise enough to handle this on my own, thanks. I’ll go tell my husband what to do right now! Then everything will be GREAT!”
(If you are in a marriage with a man who is physically abusive, an active drug/alcohol addict or has an uncontrolled serious mental health disorder – please get godly help ASAP! You may not be able to safely submit in these cases. And you are never commanded by God to submit when someone in authority is asking you to go against God’s Word.)
There is A LOT of misunderstanding of the word “submission” in our culture today. For more info, check out my post http://wp.me/p28uul-Ep
THE LIES WE EMBRACE
- If I just had a decent husband, I would be a respectful wife.
- If my husband was more loving, I could respect him.
- God just needs to change my husband and everything would be fine.
- I know better than my husband.
- I know better than God.
Our men don’t always deserve respect. We don’t always deserve love. We are all sinners and we all fail.
Our men NEED our respect desperately.We NEED their love desperately.
Our respect motivates their love. Their love motivates our respect.
When we feel unloved, we react disrespectfully. When they feel disrespectd, they react unlovingly.
(For more on this cycle, check out “Love and Respect” by Dr. Emerson Eggerichs. It is the book that caused the “scales of disrespect” to fall from my eyes. But there was so much I needed to know and learn about respect. I needed a “Respect for Dummies” book because I had NO idea what was respectful and what was not. That is what I hope this blog might be!)
Someone has to forego having his/her needs met, depend on God and meet the other person’s needs or the relationship will die.
The truth is:
- If I had a better husband, I would still be a disrespectful wife. My behavior comes from what is in my own heart and soul and my relationship with God and really has nothing to do with what my husband does or does not do.
- His love would help motivate my respect, but I can’t control him! I really need to understand this point. I can’t control my man. I can only control myself. My respect would also motivate his love. I have to focus on MYSELF and MY responsibilities. If I focus on what my husband “should” do – I am judging him AND making myself a helpless and powerless victim who has to wait on him to change. NOT GOOD.
- I need God to change ME and then God will do miracles in our marriage, maybe including changing my husband. But I have to look at my sin and what God wants to do in me.
- God gives our husbands a unique masculine perspective and wisdom that He does not give us. God ordained the husband to be the leader in marriage. (Ephesians 5:22-33, Genesis 3, I Corinthians 11:1-11, Titus 2:2-5). The purpose of marriage is to display a parable of the relationship between Christ and the church. The husband represents Christ (not perfectly, of course) and the wife represents the bride of Christ. God designed marriage to draw people, especially our children, to Christ! The gospel is maligned when we as wives steamroll our husbands and take over or treat them with contempt and disrespect. There is MUCH more at stake here than our little marriage and family.
- I would never say “I know better than God” – but that is how I used to live. I trusted MYSELF. I didn’t trust God. I didn’t trust my husband. I didn’t trust anyone but ME. I thought if I could have “control” that I would be safe. That was an illusion! I am only “safe” when I am in the arms of Christ, living in faith and obedience to His Word.
BUT IT’S JUST IMPOSSIBLE!
Yes, it is! We can’t do this in our own strength.
We HAVE to be empowered by God’s Holy Spirit in order to be the godly wives God desires us to be to:
- have a gentle, peaceful spirit that does not give way to fear
- respect our husbands
- empower our husbands’ leadership
- give up trying to control things ourselves
- give up our pride of thinking we know best, we know better than God, we know better than our husbands
- dig up idols and sin that we cherish more than we cherish our intimacy with God: our husband’s visual purity (if HE would stop looking at women/porn, THEN I would obey God), our anger, our pride, our un-forgiveness, our resentment (which is a huge stronghold of Satan), our disobedience to God’s Word
- be humble and see that the enormity of our sin is just as evil and repugnant to God and just as hurtful to our husbands as our husbands’ sin – or anyone else’s sin on the planet. I have just as much to be forgiven of as a prideful, unforgiving, resentful, disrespectful, idolatrous wife as a murderer, or an adulturer or a thief has to be forgiven of. I am a sinner. I need Jesus DESPERATELY. I owe him BILLIONS of “dollars” worth of debt because of my sin.
HAVE I GRIEVED THE HOLY SPIRIT?
If I am finding it impossible to obey God’s Word and impossible to look on my husband with genuine respect for the good things that are in him (I don’t have to respect sin, but there is good in every man) – I have to ask myself,
“Is there sin I am cherishing in my heart? Have I grieved God’s Holy Spirit and shut out His power from my life?”
The question is not “am I respecting my husband by my own definition?”
The question is,
“Am I respecting my husband by God’s definition and in a way that actually speaks respect deeply to my husband’s masculine soul?”
What does respect look like to my husband?
RESPECT IS NOT A MEANS TO HAVE CONTROL
If I use respect as a tool to try to MAKE my husband do what I want – I am obeying God outwardly but with evil motives for acheiving my own selfish desires. Yes, speaking respectfully makes it a lot more likely that my husband will be willing to do what I want – but if getting MY way is my goal – I am in sin. My goal has to be to obey God out of reverence for Christ and obedience to His Word.
THE RESPECT CAN’T BE FAKED
Husbands need REAL respect. They can tell if we are just being respectFUL instead of actually accepting and respecting who they are as men. If I am being respectful without actually respecting the good in him – I grieve my husband’s heart just as much as it would grieve my heart if my husband acted loving but really didn’t love me for who I am.
A GOOD PLACE TO START
I had to repent to God for any sin He has convicted me of and repent to my husband WITHOUT giving any explanations as to WHY I was disrespectful or controlling or uncooperative with his God-given leadership. If I had tried to explain myself – it would sound to him like I was justifying my sin and my apology would be negated.
Humbly ask God and your husband to help you learn to obey God and to honor your husband and bless your marriage. This is a LONG journey. It will take years for most wives to really “get it.” Be patient as you learn. It’s like learning a foreign language. But as you see your husband come back to life and his love begin to blossom again, and see the fruit of God’s Spirit in your own life (love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness and self-control) and you become the woman you have always wanted to be – you will see that it is so worth it! The intimacy you can have with God and your husband are incredible. I pray for God’s greatest blessings on your faith in Him and your marriage!