I am now a very happily married mother of two and part-time pharmacist. I deeply desire my life to honor Christ. I have a huge passion for marriage and want to share the things that I WISH I knew before I got married and when I was a newlywed in 1994. Of course, many times we have to learn things the hard way - but I hope that my experiences might help you learn more quickly than I did!
WE HAD A GREAT FOUNDATION
We started dating when I was 15 and my hubby was 16. He was my only boyfriend and we dated for 6 years before getting married. We were both Christians, both were raised in Christian homes and both of us have parents who are still married and set good examples. There were no major problems, abuse, addictions, threats of divorce or anything awful in our families or our own marriage. We were committed to each other and to God. I had quiet times every day. We went to church every Sunday. We loved each other. We knew divorce wasn’t an option when things got tough. We never even would use the word with each other.
I DIDN’T UNDERSTAND GOD’S DESIGN FOR MARRIAGE WELL EVEN THOUGH I HAD READ THE BIBLE AND THOUGHT I WAS OBEYING GOD .
There were so many things about femininity, marriage, career, parenting and the roles of husbands and wives that I just accepted “as is” from our culture and never really questioned. I thought I WAS living as a biblical wife. I had read God’s instructions about marriage many times. I read “wives must respect their husbands.” (Ephesians 5:33) and assumed I was doing fine with that.
When my husband would very rarely insist about something, I would eventually concede to him, knowing he had God-given authority in our marriage - but only after a lot of arguing my case, trying to get him to change, and explaining how I was right and my way was much better and more biblical than his. I was not a cheerful follower.
I thought my husband usually agreed with me and everything was fine. I would try to get my husband to lead – the way I wanted him to, of course! I pushed him for quick decisions and would become exasperated when he didn’t know what he thought immediately like I did. I expected him to be another ME. I didn’t realize he needed time to process what he thought and felt about big decisions and how differently his brain was wired from mine.
I often felt so lonely in our marriage, stressed, overwhelmed and worried. I constantly tried to figure out how to MAKE things happen the way I thought they should. I carried the weight of the marriage on my shoulders and felt spiritually, emotionally and financially responsible for decisions in a lot of ways and I did not have much peace.
A DOMINANT WIFE
I was a dominant wife – a control freak. I was the dominant identical twin growing up – so that talkative, leadership role just felt pretty normal – even though it wasn’t healthy. It was all I knew! I shared ALL my thoughts and feelings – holding nothing back – just like I had with my twin sister.
I was always outgoing, friendly and decisive. I became a pharmacist and that probably only increased my OCD tendencies to take over and handle things myself in our marriage, too. I never turned off the “patient counselling” mode from work. So I told my husband what to do a lot. I had always felt very overly responsible for myself and everyone around me. (I didn’t grasp God’s sovereignty very well - only my responsibility – so my trust was more in myself in many ways than in God).
MY METHODS WORKED GREAT AT SCHOOL AND WORK
I worked HARD in school and always expected myself to make all A’s. I was a perfectionist. I was super critical of myself and had little grace for myself - or anyone else. I knew what I wanted and how I was going to get it. I was driven.
I thought I knew best about just about everything - for myself, for my husband, for other people - and really, I thought I knew better than God even though I never consciously said that. I thought people needed my advice and help. I was rewarded for all my efforts in school and in pharmacy with wonderful grades, full scholarships and customer service awards. But why didn’t my winning approach work with my husband?
A PASSIVE HUSBAND
My husband tended to be quiet, calm, patient and reserved even before we married. After a rocky start our first summer of marriage with me badly spraining my lower back the week after our honeymoon, housing issues, various conflicts and job-finding problems for my husband, he became VERY withdrawn and would hardly talk at all. He didn’t smile. He didn’t look at me. He often wouldn’t even touch me or say good night to me that whole first summer.
I didn’t understand what happened to the guy who was so wonderful, responsible, capable and loved me so much for the past 6 years. He became increasingly passive and I felt that meant I “had” to take over.
The truth was that he was overwhelmed, confused, not sure what to do with me, trying to find a job to support us, trying to get a house ready for us to live in (working on it until 1am 6 nights a week with his dad for the first 3 months of our marriage after working a 40 hour/week job each day, too). He was exhausted. He was inexperienced as a husband. He was inexperienced as a leader. He had never seen me act this way. I was hysterical for the few minutes he was with me each day. He thought he’d leave me alone and I’d be better in a few days – that didn’t work.
We stayed together. Things got better after the work on the house stopped. But we both had serious scars that affected our marriage for many years. Our unhealthy patterns took deep root.
WE WERE VERY UNPREPARED
I was extremely arrogant before we got married. I thought we wouldn’t have conflicts – that we were ABOVE the problems other couples had and that things would be the same wonderful way they had always been for the 6 years we dated. You know, there’s a verse about that in Proverbs – “Pride comes before a fall.” And I learned – it really does!
Apparently, I was extremely spoiled, selfish and spiritually immature – but I didn’t know I was. I felt alone and like I had nowhere to turn or go to for wise advice. I tried to tell my husband all the details about how awful I felt every day. I thought if he knew the depths of my pain he’d care and love me again. I felt utterly rejected and unloved.
My husband really did still love me. But we didn’t know how to handle all the crises that were happening and had no idea what the other needed.
There were MANY times that were much better in our marriage. But FYI – house renovations and severe prolonged sleep deprivation and/or major injuries can be a BIG trigger for marriage problems!!!
HE NEEDS TO CHANGE, GOD!
For 15 years I prayed that God would change my husband. If HE would just be more loving and step up more as a leader – things would be great! I didn’t see my prayers being answered. I felt like I was trying to drag him toward God and make him be what I wanted him to be. I was negative, critical, bossy, and condescending. I didn’t accept my husband as he was. I wanted him to change. And I wanted him to do things MY way. I was angry with God. I was praying for God’s will! How could He not answer me? I didn’t realize that if I disrespected my husband’s God-given authority over me – my prayers weren’t going to be heard – especially with all my pride.
MY BLINDING LIGHT EXPERIENCE
Then I read “Love and Respect” by Dr. Eggerichs. The “scales of disrespect” (as Dr. Eggerichs calls it) fell off of my spiritual eyes as I realized that I had actually been sabotaging our marriage. ME. My own disrespect had forced my husband to withdraw from me to protect himself. I felt like I was looking at a marriage report card where I had expected to get at least an A if not an A+ and I only got about a D-. I was devastated – and repentant.
I had never realized that men needed respect the way women need love. I thought he thought and felt like I did. I thought that if he was hurt in our marriage, he would tell me, like I told him. I thought his needs were identical to mine. I thought we were the SAME. That’s what feminism taught us, after all!
I began to understand my husband’s masculine needs and his world view. I was shocked to discover how differently he saw the world and how differently he thought. I discovered God’s design for marriage, for godly femininity and masculinity.
I resolved to learn everything I could about being a godly wife. I told him in late 2008 that he was going to “feel like the most respected husband on the planet” one day. He laughed. In a good way.
A LONG JOURNEY
I began praying for God to change ME! I began thanking God and my husband for the good things in him. I truly humbled myself – by God’s grace! And things started slowly changing.
I quit running ahead and stopped trying to take over. I learned I DID NOT know best. I learned my husband had valid, wise ideas that often took us to a much better place than my way would. I learned God’s ways are so much higher than my own. I learned that husbands and God have a much different time-table from mine – and that is ok.
It took a LOT of studying, prayer and humility and the work of God’s Spirit in me. But after about 2 years respect and biblical submission was finally a habit. I didn’t have to consciously do spiritual and emotional gymnastics all the time anymore to do the respectful and submissive thing. I also discovered God’s design for femininity and truly developed a peaceful, gentle spirit that does not give way to fear! ME!?!? What an amazing God we serve!
I was shocked when I started really obeying God that I had so much deep, new peace unlike anything I had ever experienced and bubbling over joy every day. I began to understand my identity as a woman in Christ. Wow! I felt beautiful, feminine, empowered and like I was becoming the woman I always wanted to be! I didn’t have regrets in my marriage anymore (except for in the past). I knew what my husband needed and I knew how to give it to him! For many years I would BEG him to tell me what he needed and he didn’t know. So I thought there was nothing I had to give him that would bless him. I knew I needed his love, and I felt like he didn’t need me at all. It was SO exciting to find out I DID have valuable contributions for the marriage that would meet his masculine needs! WOOHOO!
I LOVED learning about respect and biblical submission. The heavy weight of the world was lifted from my shoulders. I wasn’t afraid, anxious, worried or overwhelmed anymore. I felt cherished, adored, loved, protected, and enjoyed learning to rest in God’s love and my husband’s love and just be still. My life had changed so much, I was and still am overflowing with thankfulness and praises for God!
THE BIRTH OF TWO MARRIAGE MINISTRY BLOGS
Last spring, my husband said, “You HAVE to share what you have learned with other wives.” He had seen the changes last for a long time, and he knew the changes in me were here to stay. So this January I began to blog! I LOVE it! I pray that God might use me to speak only His truth and that others might find hope, courage and faith by my example.
Now MY husband calls himself the “Respected Husband” and blogs about marriage!?!?!?!? www.respectedhusband.wordpress.com THAT BLOWS MY MIND! I have seen God do so many miracles! Nothing is impossible with His power and our obedience! I can’t wait to see all the God and my husband have in store! Every day feels like such a romantic adventure – I never know what new answer to prayer or wonderful surprise awaits me from my husband and from God.
MY PRAYER FOR OTHER WIVES
I pray that you will discover your power in your marriage and how giving respect and admiration to your husband and allowing him to lead you is the pathway to your own fulfillment intimacy, peace, joy and romance – both with God and with your husband. God’s design for women and men in marriage is beautiful! His ways are BEST! They are so much better than our own. We are different by His divine design to complement each other. God’s commands bring freedom and joy. The Bible is extremely relevant to us today in 2012. I pray that you might find the same joy, peace, sense of purpose and fulfillment in your spiritual walk with Christ and with your husband that I have found!
JESUS IS THE LOVE OF MY LIFE! 7 minute video