I am now a very happily married 43 year old (as of 2016) mother of two, part-time pharmacist, Christian marriage blogger, and author of “The Peaceful Wife – Living in Submission to Christ As Lord.” This blog is a place where I share the things that I WISH I knew 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! I’m so glad you are here and welcome you to join me on this journey to become the wives and women God desires us to be. 🙂
MY METHODS WORKED GREAT AT SCHOOL AND WORK
I worked HARD in school and always expected myself to make all A’s and got a full scholarship to pharmacy school. Even finished a whole year early. I was a perfectionist which meant I focused on the things I felt were wrong and needed to be fixed, rather than things for which to be thankful. I knew what I wanted and how I was going to get it. When a decision needed to be made, I was quick to know my mind and heart and very quick to share everything I thought. I was also a people pleaser and wanted everyone to be happy with me all the time. I was outgoing, friendly, and 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 WONDERFUL START
Greg and I met when I was 15 and he was 16. He was my only boyfriend ever. We dated 6 years and then got married right after he graduated from college with a chemical engineering degree. I still had one more year to go. We got along so well when we were dating. I thought marriage would just be a continuation of our dating years. I was sure we would never have conflicts. My husband tended to be quiet, calm, patient and reserved even before we married. He was more introverted and I was more extroverted. I thought we would agree on everything. Or, to put that more accurately, I thought he would always agree with me.
AN UNPLUGGED HUSBAND
After a very rocky start our first summer of marriage involving a severe lower back sprain for me, disagreements on housing decisions, and job-search struggles for Greg – he became VERY withdrawn and would hardly talk at all.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. It turns out, we had very different expectations of marriage and we were not prepared to handle adversity very well. 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 full time in a minimum wage job each day, too). He was exhausted. He was inexperienced as a husband. 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 our unhealthy patterns took deep root.
HE NEEDS TO CHANGE, GOD!
I was extremely prideful 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.” Yep. It sure does!
For 14+ 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 Greg toward God and make him be what I wanted him to be. I was negative, critical, bossy, and condescending. I didn’t do a lot of smiling myself. I didn’t accept my husband as he was. I wanted him to change. And I wanted him to do things MY way.
MY BLINDING LIGHT EXPERIENCE IN DECEMBER 2008
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 thought that everyone thought and felt like I did. I thought that if Greg 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 our culture taught us, after all! I discovered that we are equal in value and worth, but we are very different.
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, humility, and most of all the work of God’s Spirit in me. I spent about 3-4 hours almost every day of the week for 3.5 years studying, reading, praying, and asking God to radically change my thinking. But after that time, respect and biblical submission were finally habits. I didn’t have to consciously do spiritual and emotional gymnastics all the time anymore to do the godly thing. I also discovered God’s design for femininity and God truly developed a peaceful, gentle spirit in me 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 God’s design for me and the blessings in His commands for wives. 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 am overflowing with thankfulness and praises for God!
MY PRAYER FOR OTHER WIVES
I pray that you will discover your power in your marriage and how obeying God’s commands for you in the Bible is the pathway to your own fulfillment intimacy, peace, and joy in Christ. All good things are in Him alone. God’s design for women and men in marriage is beautiful! 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. Many times, as we find the healing and spiritual life that Jesus offers to us individually, we also eventually begin to see His healing pour into our marriages, families, and every other relationship in our lives for His glory.
This blog will be most relatable for wives who tend to have a strong personality and whose husbands tend to be more calm and steady. If your husband is controlling or you are more passive – many things I talk about will still apply (God’s Word always applies) – but you may have to approach some of the practical issues from a different angle. For instance, where a woman with a strong personality may need to learn to speak less and give more space and time to her husband, a woman who has been overly quiet may need to learn to speak up more and be more assertive. There is a balance that is critical so that we are not passive but not controlling. I try to include guest posts from wives who have different marriage dynamics and ideas from women with other dynamics in my posts to create a balance.
NOTE – If you are in a marriage with severe problems – infidelity, abuse, uncontrolled mental health issues, active addictions – please seek godly, experienced help right away. I want everyone to be safe. I don’t have a history of being abused and I haven’t had professional training about abuse. I am not a licensed marriage counselor, therapist, pastor, or psychiatrist. I am not writing for those with severe issues. My posts about our walk with Christ would apply.
My concern is that sometimes women who have experienced abuse or who are not able to receive God’s love and their identity in Christ mis-hear me in dangerous ways when they read about respect and biblical submission because of the filters they have. It could be helpful to search for terms on my home page like: doormat, self-respect, identity, respect myself, or security. I never endorse abuse or sin against anyone. If you are truly in danger (men or women), please try to get the help you need. I encourage those with severe marriage issues to seek one-on-one, trusted, godly counsel.