I have a secret…..One that you might find hard to believe. I know that you have read the Peacefulwife’s Blog and contemplated her posts about Christian submission, love and respect in marriage, and modesty, but I know you have wondered what kind of whip must I be using to get her to do these things. The Respected Husband must have some pretty major dirt on the Peacefulwife to get her to do these things. People that know me are probably saying, “I know he is pretty quiet. You hardly hear him raise his voice. He probably is the type that really is a tyrant at home, though. ”
I think you would find it hard to believe that I have never asked the Peacefulwife to do any of the stuff she advocates so strongly. In fact, I probably was a little annoyed at times when the Peacefulwife would want to do some of these things. In retrospect, most of the time it was my own ignorance that would bother me. I know I had the same questions that some of you may have. What would other people think? Won’t they think I am an abusive husband or something? Nobody does that anymore? That’s so old school thinking, that doesn’t apply today. Is she going to embarrass me? Aren’t people going to think she is a little ‘different’?
Several years ago, the Peacefulwife asked me if it was alright if she started wearing long skirts most of the time. I didn’t have a big opinion on it. I didn’t really understand what the purpose was, but if it made her happy it was alright with me. It was odd at times and in different situations, but she wore nice skirts that were pretty and didn’t seem too old-timey or out of style.
I think it was sometime after she completed reading Love and Respect by Emerson Eggerichs, I decided to look up and find her a book that was similar. In doing some internet research I kept seeing a book called The Surrendered Wife by Laura Doyle popping up over and over. So I decided to order her the book from Amazon. Truth be told I think I ordered her about three books that were similar in subject, but this one immediately stood out to her. As she read that book she kept saying, “I have been doing this all wrong.” She began to ask me questions multiple times a day about when I did this did you feel respected or was I disrespectful when I did this or said this. Most of the time, I was not totally sure if I felt respected or disrespected. It seemed like I had become accustomed to or it was the ‘norm’. I hadn’t really thought about whether it was the right or wrong way to approach an issue in a long time. It was easy to see that a lot of these things had become accepted because that was how it had been for the first 15 years of our marriage. It also was pretty much the same stuff that we have let become the standard when people talk about their marriages at work and other places. Seems respect for our spouses and our relationships has suffered on both sides of the fence.
Over the next several months, the Peacefulwife read large sections of The Surrendered Wife every day, many parts over and over. I thought this must be the biggest book in the world. I know she is a fast reader. It didn’t seem so thick, but the print must be really tiny.
Throughout that time I noticed a lot of changes beginning to take place. The Peacefulwife asked me to start keeping track of the finances. Something I didn’t mind doing, but something she had taken care of since we had been married. I also noticed that she started telling me things that she was interested in and then she would let them be. She was fully relying on my decision on these interests and if I didn’t immediately give her a decision I didn’t hear about them again. I didn’t have to put up any fences to give myself time to think on these things for once. I didn’t feel rushed. I didn’t always get to even have input on these decisions before. Sometimes it was, “This is the way it is going to be, do you understand?” Other times she had consumed herself with a decision all day and when I didn’t immediately have the answer she was looking for it just wasn’t worth arguing about.
The Peacefulwife often had been a pretty tough standard to feel adequate to. I often felt diminutive to her in her decision making and very much so in spiritual things. Every decision was painted so definitively black and white that I must be a little “off” to have any thought of the gray part of the decision, even if I thought we needed to allow a little grace for this or that. But all of a sudden, during this time frame she began making sure I decided everything. And at times, I can promise you it was everything.
I didn’t really know what was going on. I knew she had been reading in The Surrendered Wife, but I really didn’t know what was in the book. I also had seen other fly-by-night books that she had read and I had been the guinea pig on some of those as well. At this point, I didn’t know what was going on. All of a sudden I was having an ever increasing load on my shoulders that I had never had. It was as if the Peacefulwife was unloading all of the weight that she had carried for so many years. Some of the weight was put under my care, but most of it really didn’t need to be carried around in the first place.
The Peacefulwife seemed happier than she had been in some time. She had some spark that I hadn’t seen since we were first married. She was better able to concentrate on what the kids needed and she kept the house better than it had been before. She seemed to get what I really was thinking now. She seemed to understand that I think like a man and probably always would.
I was a little alarmed by all of these changes. I hate changes and things that are outside of my logic-oriented brain. I was still a bit skeptical about these new changes and whether this was a fad or just a momentary upswing that would not last. Strangely, I had a large amount of decision making added to my plate and yet it felt kind of neat. In an unusual way, though, I felt an unbelievable sense of responsibility to take all of my family’s interest to heart to make every decision. It wasn’t that I didn’t do that before, but that with the knowledge that my wife had put her complete trust in my decision I was compelled to make sure that the decision was best for all of us. I really have come to the point in making decisions that I do not even consider my own interests anymore.
The Peacefulwife also began encouraging me daily, almost every few hours. I would get emails with long lists of things that she respected about me and how she approved of my leadership over our family. I would try to send some responses back, but this is an area I have failed in many times. She had sent loving emails before during our marriage. The problem was that I would get this great email at work and then I would get home. I would feel like I needed to go outside and check the address again because I must have come home to the wrong house. If the message of the email doesn’t match real life you begin to turn it off.
One huge change occurred this time though. It didn’t matter what my wife was doing when I came home, she would stop everything and come give me the biggest embracing hug and tell me how much she missed me. She would have dinner well under control and then she would give me a few minutes before supper was ready. She intentionally gave me a few minutes to make the conversion from work husband to home husband. The kids seemed happier to see me come home from work and also welcomed me with a great big “Welcome home, Dad!” when I came in. I am not real sure what she did to get them to do that, but they didn’t seem threatened or have any noticeable wires attached that I could see.
Back about 10 years ago, the Peacefulwife had Lasik eye surgery. Her vision before was so bad that she would have a hard time finding her glasses if she took them off. After the surgery her vision changed from 20/800 to about 20/15. The change was so severe and immediate she can remember seeing her doctor’s faceless blob have the features drawn in until she saw a real life portrait. In much the same way, it was as if she had had another surgery where her vision changed to only see my best, to only appreciate my gifts, and to be blinded to any false expectations or negative feelings about me.
So, you are thinking that the Peacefulwife basically cut off her feeling mechanism. That is what it would take to make such a drastic change. Fortunately, this change only opened up our communication to levels we had never seen. Not having to battle with the negative barriers that were there actually allowed us to talk openly and in a way that let us make sure that I was close enough to understand her feelings. I also noticed that her example seemed to make me look at the positives in her as well. When my negative baggage disappeared from our relationship it helped me look beyond my wife’s faults as well.
Another change I saw was in the Peacefulwife’s spirit. She often had her quiet times just about every morning, but it was like the tone of her bible study and prayer time had changed. I often felt like she took all of my negative traits to God and asked for him to change me. It was almost as if she was saying that “I have tried enough to change him, why don’t you take a stab at it? See if you can have any more luck?”
During this time, though, it was different. It was like she had accepted me for once in her prayer time. She thanked God each day for all of my strengths and asked God to use those strengths in a powerful way. She also put her trust that God would be in control of her life and our marriage. She had decided that letting God have control allowed her to trust in my ability to lead our marriage.
It wasn’t until about 3-4 months after the Peacefulwife had been working on these things that she told me she was practicing what she had discovered in The Surrendered Wife. I know there were a lot of things that she did that I probably didn’t even notice or even had a clue about. I knew she had spent day after day reading the book and had parts underlined and starred two or three times. I think she discovered that this really made our marriage click and we were stronger than we had ever been. I will be honest and tell you that she was not perfect. She had times when she stumbled occasionally, but she would get right back up and work even harder to correct her mindset. It was a learning process for her and she continues to learn. I can also tell you that I was not always the perfect test subject either. I probably was not as consistent as I needed to be in stepping up to leading our marriage. I am sure I didn’t always match the Action=Result expectation. It still is a learning process for me as well.
I asked the Peacefulwife what was it about The Surrendered Wife that caused her to make such a devoted change. She explained to me that the book shined a light on how prideful she had been. The book really convicted her for actions that she had held a firm grasp on. The book explained in example after example how controlling her actions really were in our marriage. It also gave her very specific examples of the right approach to a lot of marriage issues and how those approaches would change her relationship for the better. The book also described that by surrendering control to your husband you would be able to have an unfathomable freedom and peace.
So, before my wife started being a surrendered wife, I loved her and that did not change. After my wife became a surrendered wife, I have been able to have an effective marriage that makes each of us thrive at our best. I fell in love with the Peacefulwife because she was a go getter, ready to tackle anything, perfectionist, extremely capable, intelligent, beautiful, saved, and extraordinary woman. Some of those qualities attributed to issues we were having in our marriage. After the Peacefulwife became a surrendered wife, she is still all of those things, but I would describe her as empowered to enjoy and prosper our marriage. Her example has encouraged me to try to be a better husband, to try to learn her language better, and to learn to help her work through her feelings.
As I started this post, I told you that I never asked the Peacefulwife to do any of this. I must admit one tiny little thing I asked the Peacefulwife to do, though. After we have seen the differences taking this approach could make, I told her I thought this would be something other marriages could get a lot from. We didn’t know what the forum would be to try to get this message out. We looked into several things and several different approaches before a friend suggested that she try a blog. Hopefully, there will be something that she posts about that will make your marriage a little better too.