Learning to Respect and Give up Control is a Process

Nina Roesner is the author of The Respect Dare.  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!

You are ALWAYS welcome to ask any questions you have and I will do my best to address them or we will find other Titus 2 women to help answer them.

With love and prayers for you and your marriage!

Peacefulwife

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

FROM PEACEFULWIFE:

It took me over 2 years to feel like these new mindsets and ways of interacting felt almost “normal” instead of awkward, exhausting and foreign.  It took my husband 2 years and 10 months from my repentance over my disrespect and control until all of his walls came down.

And please keep in mind – we both had parents with very stable, solid marriages and our parents were all believers in Christ.  Neither of us was abused or mistreated.  We had never had any other significant romantic relationships than with each other.   We waited for marriage to consummate the marriage.  We did a lot of things right – and I was STILL really messed up just from our culture and some ideas I got in my head that I had a lot more power and sovereignty than I really did when I was little.

So if you have serious baggage – it is going to probably take even longer to recover.  That has to be ok!  It will be baby steps.  Sometimes you will fall.  Then you repent and get up and seek to obey Christ.  Keep your eyes on Him alone.  Seek to please Him alone.  Be sure He is your focus and be willing to give Him ALL of yourself and allow Jesus to be the Master of your life from now on.   Seek His will, not yours.  Pray often.  Study His Word.  Repent of every sin.  Delight in obeying God.  Ask for His Spirit to fill you.  Realize you can do NOTHING apart from Him.

I spent a few hours per day those 2+ years studying, praying, trying to understand God’s wisdom and His design.  This is TOTALLY counter-intuitive, counter-cultural and not PC at all.

But doing things God’s way is SO worth it.  Being close to Him is reward enough.  We will trust Him for the results in our marriages.

If you notice you are disappointed or resentful – check your motives.  Are you only seeking to please God?  Or are you seeking to change your husband or make him love you a certain way?

Let me know how you are doing!  I am always glad to pray with you!

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

  1. Suzi Winspear
    August 10, 2013 at 7:43 am #

    I really needed to read this tonight April! Thank you for your post, it has given me much to reflect on and consider….as you know, my baggage is huge and I have so far to go….
    Suz <3

    • peacefulwife
      August 10, 2013 at 7:49 am #

      Suzi,

      It can be very overwhelming at times – especially when you stumble and see where you want to be – but the goal seems so far away. Our God is able, my precious sister! It is a long, long process. I didn’t have much baggage, and it took me a few years to feel like I was beginning to have a clue.

      This requires great patience! It is the process of sanctification – of God making us more and more like Christ. It does not happen overnight. It is a lifetime of learning and growing in Him.

      Sending you a huge hug!

  2. Kim
    August 10, 2013 at 7:51 am #

    I started the journey to respect, peace and submission a little over a month ago. At first I was awful at it, our situation is a bit different as we are apart most of the time ( my husband works away from home) we only see each other every 6 to 8 weeks for a few days at a time. I realized that I had become angry, bitter and disrespectful in my marriage, I felt that because I was alone most of the time and had to take care of so many things on my own that I had started making decisions on my own and without consulting my husband.
    I was miserable, and stressed out, so I started looking for ideas on how to make it better ( including divorce) I came across your blog and as I read it I found your link to the sermon on the Respectful Wife, I listened to it several times over three days. I knew in my heart that I had become THAT wife. I took a deep breath and started over, I was quiet again, in my head and my heart..I stopped yelling, and started being quiet and listening. I heard that my husband WAS helping, he WAS doing his job, I had stopped doing mine ( even though I was DOING a lot ). When I stepped back into my role and repented, I lost the anger. I could hear my husband again,
    I can’t thank you enough for your blog and you willingness to help us all become the wife god intended us to be. Your gentle daily reminders that this is a journey, that God has to remain first and foremost in our hearts, has re!stored the balance in my life. I am FAR from perfect, and I pray every day that I am able to stay on this path. Marriage is a gift from God, I am blessed with a wonderful man who owrks hard to provide, and who loves his family with all of his heart and soul, who loves and honors God everyday.
    Again THANK YOU, and God bless you

    • peacefulwife
      August 10, 2013 at 2:17 pm #

      Kim,

      Thank you SO MUCH for sharing your story! And PRAISE GOD for what He is doing in you! I am so excited for you. :). This is definitely a painful and difficult journey. But it is also the most incredible adventure. And as you trust God and obey Him, His peace and joy are SO addictive and His Word comes alive and sets you free. There is nothing I like more than to see God working like this in women’s lives!

    • Marie
      September 12, 2013 at 11:00 am #

      Kim,
      I can relate to your situation. My husband travels for work as well. Sunday evening to late friday evening. Because Im alone so much I make all the decisions by myself. I cant always reach him but I also stopped trying. I contemplated divorce as well since I was alone so much anyways. As I started to see how independent I had made myself of him I began to back off and wait to make big decisions untill he got home. Patience was never my strong point but doing this has greatly increased our emotional conection and deepened our communication. I have come to see how Ive made him feel unnessasary to our family and how my decisions were not always very good, his imput and perspective on things are usually very different than mine. I need him. Thats something I have come to realize as well. We need eachother. SO now I wait for his return or when we can talk by phone. This has completely removed his aggravations with me and the choices I make without him. Choices that affect us both in so many areas. I was completely disrespectful in doing this and now I see that. Gods ways are good :)

  3. Cathy
    August 10, 2013 at 8:24 am #

    I have not finished the last few dares because I am stuck on stages 6-11. I know God wants me to spend time with him to reflect and draw close. I can see that the Respect Dare is primarily about my relationship with Him. I keep getting confirmation that I need to spend time with Him to complete the last dares. So… what am I afraid of? Maybe… it’s the need to surrender all the I’s in my post!! Thanks for this post from Nina – it’s a journey.

    • peacefulwife
      August 10, 2013 at 2:15 pm #

      Cathy,
      Take the time you need! Listen to God. That is way more important than finishing in a certain number of days. You will have to face your greatest fears and decide if you really believe God and His Word or not. It can take some time to hash through those kinds of things!

      Much love!

  4. Nekiwa Smith
    August 10, 2013 at 12:57 pm #

    Thank the Lord for this article! The just showed me recently that my motives was not right because I was complaining. I know that I am not the Holy Spirit and only He can convict and change. That you for showing me that I am not to be a judger of my hubby but a friend and partner alongside our walk and journey together: )

    • peacefulwife
      August 10, 2013 at 1:23 pm #

      Nekiwa,
      I am so glad this was helpful! These things certainly do not come naturally! But God is able to help us and change us!

  5. Robyn
    August 10, 2013 at 3:12 pm #

    I like that you pointed out it will take time. For some women it is almost effortless. I’ve accepted that some (like me) are just more hard-core – and it will take the rest of my life to totally be healed and changed. I think once you accept that it’s really God’s will, you can relax in it, and the time factor becomes less of a focus.

    • peacefulwife
      August 10, 2013 at 4:10 pm #

      Robyn,
      There is a LOT of time involved in this – sanctification is a lifelong process. :)

      Eventually, the focus becomes totally God and His will and bringing glory to Him.

      It is amazing the way that being close to Him and abiding in Him makes obeying Him a JOY – even if there is suffering. I just have to smile when I think about Jesus. He is EVERYTHING to me! :)

  6. Lynne
    August 10, 2013 at 6:11 pm #

    Your blog is such an awesome ministry. I started making small changes when I started following you a while back, and the results have been amazing. While I haven’t done a lot of the dares due to our unique situation, I have been reading along. Thank you again for your ministry. Just reading the comments shows how many lives you have touched. God bless you!

    • peacefulwife
      August 10, 2013 at 10:47 pm #

      Lynne,

      Thank you for letting me know! That is such an encouragement to me. I praise God for working in your life. :) He is SO VERY GOOD!

  7. TorahCents
    August 16, 2013 at 9:49 pm #

    This was such an awesome article! I am not married yet, but even as an engaged woman I am finding it difficult to relinquish control. I don’t want to wait until I get married to learn these things…I want to start now. Thank you so much for this.

    • peacefulwife
      August 16, 2013 at 10:28 pm #

      TorahCents,

      I am SO glad you are working on learning this now! You will save yourself many nights of tears if you can understand God’s design from the beginning!

      Praying for God’s glory in your life and in your upcoming marriage! Let me know if you have any questions. :)

  8. Brooke
    August 17, 2013 at 10:27 pm #

    I have struggled with a desire to control anything and everything I can for many years. I think it stems from my battle with depression and anxiety, not being able to always control my emotions, I try to control everything else that I can. While my husband has been away at school I have been spending a lot of time reading God’s word, reading your blog, and praying that God will help me in this area. I have been able to let go of control in many areas and have found it to be very freeing but…

    I recently took a trip to visit my husband at school (half way across the country) and he revealed to me that he has developed intimate feelings for one of his classmates/friends. I have asked him several times to end his friendship with her because not only is it causing me heartache but it is incredibly dangerous for our marriage but he refuses to do so and says that I am trying to control him. He isn’t able to see the personal changes I have been making because he is so far away and his mind is very clouded because of his emotional attachment to this other girl. To top it off he has stopped attending church and is questioning his desire to live for God.

    We are only 22 years old and have been married for less than 2 years. I am back home now and I’m heartbroken. I don’t know what to do. I don’t know how to respect him while he is behaving this way. Any advice?

    • peacefulwife
      August 17, 2013 at 11:24 pm #

      Brooke,
      It is wonderful to meet you! :)

      There are multiple possible causes of anxiety and depression. Sometimes it can be hereditary or hormonal or due to circumstances or sleep deprivation or certain diseases.

      Anxiety and depression also result from idolatry.

      You may want to search my home page for “Spiritual Causes of Depression” and check out that post, if you haven’t yet. :)

      FOr me, being in control (trying to be in control) was an idol. I didn’t even realize I had myself above GOd in my own heart. I was trying to be sovereign and run my life and thought I should be able to control a lot of things, circumstances and people that I actually couldn’t control. That is VERY stressful – and it can definitely cause anxiety and depression. Most controlling women are anxious, afraid, depressed and lonely.

      FOr me, my pride (thinking I was always right) and my exalting myself and expecting my husband to do what I wanted and my looking down on him as if I was spiritually so much better than he was – repelled him and he shut down because he felt so disrespected.

      Your husband is in dangerous territory. :( At this point, though, it is possible that the more you try to keep him away from that girl, the more you may push him to her. I believe that I Peter 3:1-6 is your greatest weapon right now. I think God wants to get your voice out of the way so that your husband might be able to hear GOd’s voice. Your husband needs probably to not hear words about spiritual things, God and the Bible – but to see your faith, joy and respect and peace in action.

      And it will take God opening his eyes to convict him of his sin. You cannot convict him. You confronted him. That is your responsibility. YOu can follow Matthew 18 and bring someone with you to talk to him since he wouldn’t listen to you. But he may feel even more smothered and controlled.

      It may be wise to focus on being the godly wife God wants you to be and seeking to bless your husband and to respect the good things you do see in him and to be friendly and welcoming.

      How much longer does he have in school?

      How often do you talk to each other? When can you be together again? That long distance is not at all ideal. What kinds of things do you say to him when you are upset or anxious?

      If you haven’t, check out the posts at the top of my home page about disrespect, respect and biblical submission -as well as Respect and Sexual Attraction.
      I am right here if you want to talk!

      Much love,
      April

  9. s
    March 1, 2014 at 3:04 am #

    hi april, i am in the middle of the respect dare but have come to think about giving up as i have reached point 6 about expectations in my journey. it was so good to read this as as it described what i am going through at the moment. i have been falling back into old behaviour judging what i have been doing recently as it has been a year since my husband and i were seperated. there is heaps of baggage there so it is definitely not an overnight matter and i always want instant fixes. i must ask God to give me the grace that even if nothing changes in my marriage God has chosen me to be on this walk with Jesus and if its this hard for me who wants to be on this journey how much harder must it be for my husband who doesnt seem to have the support that I have found. I was not a good wife angry contemptable controlling and I was then surprised when he retaliated. Please pray for my husband.

    • peacefulwife
      March 1, 2014 at 6:18 am #

      S,

      This is a LONG, LONG journey – a hike across 3000 miles, not a sprint. It is like learning a new language – most wives take over a year or several years before they feel like they “get it” and that is if they are together many times. If you are separated, please expect this to take a year or more, maybe multiple years. This is an incredible opportunity to be alone with God, refine your motives and really focus on your walk with Him – which is actually what this entire thing is all about anyway! :)

      I hope you will check out my post today – it may be helpful.

      Praying for you both right now! For God’s will, His power, His glory, His purposes to be fulfilled and for you to allow Him to change you in any way He wants to and for you to trust Him to work in your husband’s life without your help as you seek to obey and please Him more than anything.

      Much love,
      April

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