Learning to Respect and Give up Control is a Process

Nina Roesner is the author of The Respect Dare – a book I LOVE that is extremely helpful to wives who want to learn to respect their husbands and learn more about how to approach marriage in a God-honoring, Christ-glorifying way.  She gave me permission to post this article.  I think it will be EXTREMELY helpful for those of you who are starting on the respect journey and who are learning to allow your husband to lead instead of controlling things yourself.  This is a marathon kind of mentality, not a sprint.  It is a long process of learning and we will be human and make mistakes and then we’ll learn from those mistakes and do better.  I love her description and I experienced these stages myself as I was learning.  I pray this will be helpful to all of you as you walk this journey, as well!

———————–

Respect Dare

I’ve Tried Respect & it Hasn’t Worked…

First of all, I fully understand your situation.  You’ve applied respect for a while, maybe even a couple of years and “nothing has changed.”  To encourage you this morning, I will share what we’ve seen in the hundreds of marriages from the wives who have taken Daughters of Sarah® or done The Respect Dare.   Bear in mind this process can take months or years, even decades, depending on how much a wife is willing to trust God and submit to His authority, and obey His Word.

I will tell you that God did not allow me to start ministry and did not use me to impact others until I got the submission and respect piece right.

What if God’s plan for one of your children was to minister to drug addicts in prison, and to do that through a living testimony of having overcome these issues himself?  Would you accept and embrace this?  I know even as I pose this question to you, that there is probably few mothers, myself included, that would enthusiastically enjoy watching my son “create his testimony” as while he did that, it meant a life of drugs and crime…

But, Christ’s ministry was to have a wonderful teaching and healing ministry and then have nails hammered through His hands, and die on a cross as a sacrifice for a sinning world.

And you and I put him there.

What if one element of your ministry is to endure the shortcomings of fellow journey takers on a daily basis?  What if one of these journey takers is your husband and through relationship with you, you are to model Christ’s lack of condemnation while he figures out his own walk with God?  Just like Adam in the garden, he even blames – but one day, he won’t, as he grows in the Lord, the Lord’s strength and character will appear in him, just like it has in you and others of His followers.

In the meantime, God has learning for us, as well – we cannot control our husband’s walk, but we need to not judge him, either.  I judged my husband, too, but what God showed me was that I was sinning and not loving while doing that.

We also learn perseverance, which is what mature faith is made of.  What if God wanted you to learn perseverance?

I think He wants us all to learn this.  DEEPLY.

Few things like marriage provide a context through which we can learn at this level.

Did I do things I didn’t want to do out of respect?  Yes.  Did they really matter?  Not in the long run.

Did it cause me to die to my pride?  Yes.  And it is still ongoing, unfortunately.  As my 16 year old son likes to say, “Know the hypocrites – they are us.”

You are on the right track.  Beg God to reveal Himself to you.  Right now, the enemy may be influencing you if he has stymied your growth – and he’s slowing your husband down, as a result of interference from you, too.  He has his own journey, at God’s and his pace, not yours.  Ask God to help you love him as a brother on the journey, and be his friend while he travels.

Women tell us over and over again that they go through several stages in “getting to the other side” and I’ve found this to be true in my own situation.  To the best of my ability this morning, I’ll write these stages out, in the way we see them appear.  I might be missing a few things, but here goes!  The stages go something like this:

  1. Discouragement, desperation to try anything to make things change in her marriage
  2. Quiet – a cessation of communication which does two things:
    1. Creates silences so our husband can hear more from God and less from us (thereby causing the experience of a kind of “relief” of sorts, but not as secularly defined)
    2. Creates opportunities within us for God to reveal to us the hideous nature of our hearts, as we are typically starting from a place where we are prideful in thinking we do not “sin as much as our husbands” – we do, even though they may not be “as big of sins” in a culturally defined way, but they are still sins, and still would separate us from God, without relationship with Christ
  3. Quiet with tongue biting and focus on being “agreeable” and “respectful” with continued cessation of communication which teaches us how much we really do need to control what we say, and begins the process of “controlling our tongues” and eliminating criticism and judgment (judgment is a sin), developing more respectful and mature communication behaviors
  4. Edifying communication – where we begin to say words that encourage those around us, even when dealing with problems, mistakes, or concerns
  5. Observations of blessings – where we begin to SEE our husbands and those around us the way that God does, precious in His sight, travelers on the same journey
  6. Expectation crash – where we realize two things, often spaced far apart:
    1. That our husbands haven’t grown as much as WE would have liked them to
    2. That we’ve been “doing all these things in an effort to change our husbands” and not to obey God (the “wrong motives” talked about in James)
  7. Anger at God – where we complain that “we’ve been doing all these things” and the marriage has stayed the same, or our husband’s haven’t changed (sometimes we start lapsing back into old communication patterns at this point)
  8. Awareness of our sinful attitudes about our marriage in light of what Christ did for us, and how that ties into obedience to Him in our marriage, and coming to wrap our identity up in what God thinks of us, as opposed to people – secularly called, “self esteem” but really is a secure sense of identity in Christ that changes everything – our worth is no longer determined by what others think
  9. Repentance (confession of sin with a contrite heart and changed behavior) of our attitudes and judgment toward our husband
  10. Acceptance of forgiveness from God for our sins
  11. Deeper recognition of the preciousness of our husband and ourselves to God
  12. Cycle back through steps 2-5, sometimes 6, depending on the depth of experience of 8 and 9
  13. Recognition that our husband is just a brother on the same journey, which facilitates our ability to be a better friend to him
  14. Depending on satan’s attacks and our own sin nature and selfishness, reoccurrence of the above, but deeper relationship with God if we are still pursuing Him, which results in shorter and shorter cycles such that we are able to “journey with our friend” and enjoy our marriage, have it be a “safe place to fall” for both of us
  15. Arrival at “the other side” where we can SEE ourselves in any of the above, and lean on God to get out of the wrong places, and rest in the right more quickly, based on our deep relationship with Him
  16. Communication with husband that is more of a partnership, rather than a place where needs are constantly focused upon, and a majority of the communication is edifying – this area constantly needs to keep growing, and a lack of effort here will cause an attitude of discouragement

Hope this helps!!  We’ve seen this over and over again, and if we’ll just persevere, there’s blessings on the other side!  Unfortunately, many women give up way too early.  I did the above for about 10 years, and find myself going now through 13-16, but am thankful and hopeful at what God is doing.

Thanks for the opportunity to write it all out.  Please feel free to comment if I’ve missed anything, or if you have something to add.  Dare you to share and be an encouragement for others today! :)

Glad you are on the journey with us.

Love to you,

~Nina

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30 Comments on “Learning to Respect and Give up Control is a Process”

  1. Santosha
    June 30, 2012 at 11:25 am #

    Very thought provoking post. I’ve been married just over 2 years, no kids yet, but we are going to start trying next April, and I feel like I really want to get a good grasp of this by that time. I know that’s asking a lot of myself and my husband (he sounds a lot like yours from Respected Husband), and to tell you the truth, this day’s post was intimidating and discouraging. But it needed to be said, and I needed to hear it. I just feel like I’ve hit a road block, and I’m resisting my own attempts to become a surrendered respectful wife. Maybe its Satan using whatever doubts or objections I have to relinquishing control, or maybe its me not leaning on God enough and expecting too much encouragement and positive feedback from my husband when it is too early in the process. I started my peacefulwife journey 1 month ago. I’m sure its a combination. How did you get past your hurdles if there was no female going through the same struggles that could lend an ear? None of my friends are taking this path and I’m afraid to confide in my family. They just wouldn’t get it. Did prayer with God alone really cut it?

    • peacefulwife
      June 30, 2012 at 1:13 pm #

      Santosha,
      I’m so glad you asked these questions! They are GREAT ONES!
      First, let me say how very proud I am of you for starting this journey already. You are WAY, WAY ahead of the game compared to me. I didn’t come across these ideas until I had been married over 15 years. So I am extremely excited about what God will be teaching you and about all the growth and strength your marriage will enjoy as well as how many heart breaking, lonely, stressful times you may be able to avoid by being willing to obey God so much earlier than I did.

      You are exactly right that expecting encouragement and positive feedback from your husband is not going to work early in the journey. Before I learned about respect and biblical submission, if I read a book about marriage, I was all gung ho about it and would change things immediately and expect my husband to be a new man within about 8 hours of my changing things. This is not a quick rise to the top of the mountain! It is a long journey. Sometimes, Laura Doyle’s idea in “The Surrendered Wife” about not even talking to your husband about surrendering, or submitting either for 6 months could have a lot of merit. When you are first learning, if you try to explain this stuff to your man, it is VERY easy for it to come out sounding extremely disrespectful. And once you’ve made these things habits, you’ll realize there is nothing to explain -you’ll both just be so much more blessed and joyful.

      I actually became a bit of a recluse myself for probably 3 years when I was beginning my journey. I am NOT saying that is how all wives should do this. I think most wives do better when they are in a Surrendered Wives circle or a Respect Dare circle of wives or have a few strong Christian female friends for support, or even better, have an older godly woman as a mentor who has been married 15-20 years or more and can point you toward Christ. I dropped a lot of my friendships and stopped talking to my family much during the time I was learning because I was not confident I could talk with them without being disrespectful of my husband the way I had done before. I had to learn to actually have some wisdom and discretion instead of just saying all the negative things I used to think about my wonderful husband.

      When I wanted encouragement or a pat on the back, I would re-read my books. I studied CONSTANTLY. Probably an hour or more a day. I read The Surrendered Wife over and over every single day for 3 months before it really started to sink in and become “normal” behavior for me.

      Thankfully, for me, my husband was extremely supportive and forgiving when I realized how disrespectful I had been. And he did begin to respond somewhat even that first week or two, but as he saw months and months and then a year and then 2 years under my belt – he began to become increasingly confident as the head of our marriage and home and began to feel safer sharing his heart with me and trusting that I wasn’t the old me anymore.

      I did a TON of praying. A LOT of writing and journaling my thoughts. I wrote out or typed out my struggles and wrestled with them with God. And I would ask my husband if certain things were respectful or not. I used to want him to applaud me, or send me wonderful emails back when I would send him one telling him how much I respected him. And I did get discouraged sometimes when I didn’t see the big response I wanted to see. But I knew that I was on the right path. I knew that this is what God wanted me to do. And I was committed to learning to respect my husband and follow his leadership no matter what it took. I wanted him to feel like the most respected husband on the planet one day. I also did a lot of listening to praise music and writing down things about God, my husband and my life that I was thankful for. When I felt really lonely and distant from my husband, I would go to the books I was studying about respect, godly marriage, “For Women Only” by Shaunti Feldhahn, “The Proper Care and Feeding of Husbands” by Dr. Laura – and I would study. Learning more about how my husband thought and felt made me feel closer to him, even if it wasn’t him telling me about it. And I also started covering my head with a scarf when I would pray, in obedience to I Corinthians 11, as a sign of my respect for my husband’s authority over me. Sometimes if I felt like he was distant, I would wear the scarf on my head while I did chores and I really felt a lot closer to him, thinking about his authority, protection and covering being over me.

      I learned to drop my expectations of my husband, and be delighted whenever he did something for me.

      But I do think that having this little community on a blog would have helped me greatly! And I think that if you can find a wise woman at church or even online to get encouragement from, that will really help a lot, too. And I am always here and am happy to answer questions as best I can and encourage you along the way. At first, things were really hard for me to get a clear grasp on, and I just didn’t get it. I just didn’t understand. It was a HUGE spiritual, emotional and mental mind shift for me. Some days I did better than others. And that is ok. You don’t have to do this perfectly, just be committed to obeying God and honoring your husband. Your husband will see your overall good intentions and probably have a lot of grace to offer you. And as you practice more and it becomes more natural and doesn’t feel so awkward all the time, you’ll relax more, he’ll relax more and you will wonder why on earth you ever lived any other way!

      Lord,
      I lift up this precious wife and her husband and future children to You! Draw them both near to Your heart. Open their eyes to all that You desire to teach them and show them. Help them to find Your path for them. Make their marriage a stunning thing of beauty that draws everyone around them to Christ – a marriage that richly showcases the very great mystery of Christ and the church! Tear down every stronghold of Satan in this home and marriage. Let Your Spirit have full control and reign here. Bring great glory for Yourself through Santosha and her husband.
      Amen!

  2. Adam's Eve
    July 21, 2012 at 4:55 pm #

    This is such a great post! I’ll need to remember this process.

    • peacefulwife
      July 22, 2012 at 10:03 pm #

      It’s a lot longer and more involved than we wives would like. But this is how it usually goes!

  3. Adam's Eve
    July 21, 2012 at 4:56 pm #

    And actually, my husband and I just watched the movie, Fireproof. I can totally see these steps playing out in the movie.

  4. Caitlin
    November 1, 2012 at 7:06 pm #

    NICE! I’m a newer wife – 6 months, and your blog is a huge blessing. Thank you.

    • peacefulwife
      November 1, 2012 at 7:12 pm #

      Caitlin,
      Thanks! I am so happy to hear that. It’s an answer to prayer for me when God uses a post to bless other wives. I am glad to meet you!

  5. Tam
    July 9, 2013 at 6:33 am #

    Ok so I’ve been cycling through steps 2-6 for about 18 months now. I was getting so frustrated. Why isn’t this working?
    Well it is working, just in Gods time not mine. He is sifting my heart.
    As I take a moment in the cycle, I am now armed with the knowledge that this is normal emotional gymnastics and not a failure. As I approach step 8-9 again this time my eyes are on Christ and pray that next time the cycle will be shorter because I have learned – not that my husband should learn to treat me better rather that I’ve been trying to change him in my own strength. Idolising him and then criticising him for not being A God to me.
    It is a relief to hear that you and Nina are familiar with these steps. And that you know the other side. I rejoice for you and your families. You are Rubies. I hope to be one too.
    Love Tam

    • peacefulwife
      July 9, 2013 at 6:56 am #

      Tam,

      Yes – it is NORMAL not to have linear growth and to cycle. If your motives are to change your husband- you will continue to cycle in those first few stages. Your motive must be to put Christ first and to seek to please and honor Him alone – no matter what your husband does or does not do.

      If you find yourself disappointed in your husband – that is a big flag (for me at least) to check for idols.

      Much love!

  6. Sarah
    April 15, 2014 at 1:31 pm #

    I am so so grateful for this post today. I have been going though the crash in 6b and finally fessed up to the fact that for the past 6 months I have been trying respect as another manoeuvre to get my husband from whom I am seperated back. I am honestly grateful to God for giving someone that I love enough to do that for but at the same time I was praying to God to get stuff. I have been in a lot of pain over the past few days as I have no longer been able to hide my true motives from myself. I read this blog daily and always focus on the time that it takes other people’s husbands to change and compare that to my own circumstances. Today’s post is another of God’s gifts to me of which there have been many as I said to myself what is the point of praying. I have to want to pray to obey God first cos he is God and leave the consequences to him and that is where I am at today. And I echo what has been said about this blog being a support. Always when I feel like giving up I read something which helps me feel the presence of God. I have learnt things that have a wider reach than just my marriage. Thank you to God, April and all who are brave enough to comment for being on this journey. God is bigger than all my worldly challenges.

    • peacefulwife
      April 15, 2014 at 8:14 pm #

      Sarah,
      I know this is SO painful, but I am so excited about what God is showing you right now! This is where things get good between you and God. When I see a wife get to this point, I know she is going to give God total access to her heart and will be willing to truly begin to trust Him and love Him above all else. I am praying for you!!!

  7. Marcia
    April 15, 2014 at 3:30 pm #

    Right there with you, Sarah. I just went through (or am going through) the cycle – realizing how angry I am at God, awareness of my deep sin, repentance, and acceptance of His forgiveness. It kind of feels like a scary merry-go-round at times, then like a ride in a row boat on a peaceful lake. “Pain is the touchstone of all spiritual growth.” We must be growing :)

    • peacefulwife
      April 15, 2014 at 8:16 pm #

      Marcia,
      Thank you for sharing!!! These realizations and this deep soul searching is critical to tear out all the sin and to be able to rebuild your life on Christ alone. Woohoo!

  8. Rose
    April 15, 2014 at 4:03 pm #

    Once again…just incredibly good information…I am right there, after 18 months of marriage, in the roller coaster of this mess…loving him, then disappointed, accepting him, then trying to change him….very frustrated with myself! This caught my attention…” I will tell you that God did not allow me to start ministry and did not use me to impact others until I got the submission and respect piece right”, I know I want so much & want it now, but I can definitely see that God has work to do in me…and then just everything about “enduring the shortcomings of fellow journey takers on a daily basis” , such a test of our faith & trust in Him…why is it that all of this is more prevalent with us wives?!! thankful for this site!!

    • peacefulwife
      April 15, 2014 at 8:18 pm #

      Sharon,
      Yes, God did not allow me to have a ministry until I got those pieces right, either. Praise God for that!!!!

      I love Nina’s explanation. It is very helpful and comforting as we walk this road together.

      Much love!

  9. daisymae
    April 16, 2014 at 11:13 am #

    I have to say that I have seen a change in my husband this week. The first day after quitting his job,he was happy but then he went back to being grumpy and angry. Now a week later, he seems very content. He has tested me a few times to see if I am really going to stop controlling.

    The difference this time is I am changing me. I am focusing on me being obedient to God. I am learning to control myself. I am learning to find my peace. I am no longer trying to be the perfect wife and show respect through my seething inward emotions to get my marriage to be better. I had to give up on that mess. That doesn’t work.

    I had to look at him differently. He is a human just like me. He has his life to live and I have mine. I can be a helpmate to him. I can encourage him. I can’t make him be the perfect husband. But, I find that he is a lot more perfect than I realize when I stopped looking at him and starting looking at me.

    • peacefulwife
      April 16, 2014 at 7:54 pm #

      Daisymae,
      Wow! I love love love what God is doing in your heart! Isn’t it amazing how Hod can change our perspective and attitude!?! :)

  10. Trisha
    May 3, 2014 at 7:55 pm #

    I have learned so much but I wish I would have found this info sooner. :(

    • peacefulwife
      May 3, 2014 at 8:49 pm #

      Trisha,
      We ALL wish we found this information soon! I know I do, too.

      Praying for you!

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