From a wife I began talking with this past summer – she has been actively working on learning to obey God’s Word to respect and submit to her husband for about 5 months at this point, I believe. There were some very difficult and challenging times, especially the first few months … THANK YOU for sharing!!!!! I pray this might be an encouragement to other wives.
For wives reading this, shaking their heads still insisting that God’s message of submission isn’t for them, take it from one with an unbelieving husband. It isn’t about how much smarter I may or may not be over my husband or that I am more spiritually mature because I read my Bible and he doesnt. It is about trusting God.
I am not sure if my husband has accepted Jesus as His Savior yet, I don’t think so at this point. But there is a gigantic change in both of us. He sees it in me, I see it in him – and the cycle of respect and love is helping run our marriage and our home more smoothly. I know that my family and some friends may be shaking their heads because I have been deferring to my husband for plans and decisions involving our family. It is just not part of our culture now (to respect and submit to our husbands). But it doesn’t matter because my primary ministry is my husband.
I see in him a harder drive to do well at work and to provide for the family. There is an extra umf in him- even in doing work around the house. He even helps without my asking for help. I don’t have to let him know when I am tired – somehow he senses when I am overwhelmed and he insists that I relax and he does the laundry or dishes (or gets our boys to do it).
He has surprised me with so many things these past few months that I feel like I am in a dream.
It all started with me FINALLY taking a GIGANTIC step of faith in God’s design for marriage – even with an unbelieving husband. It has almost cost me friendships (yes, even with Christian friends). And right now, because he does not agree with me going to Bible study, I do miss that face-to-face intimate fellowship you get in Bible study. But I am doing online studies and though I don’t have that face-to-face fellowship, I am still in God’s Word.
Like I said, I’m pretty sure he has not accepted Jesus as his savior yet but on Christmas eve, as I filled the house with Christmas music (I have been doing this all December), he said,”I love you, Jesus. But right now, all this Christmas music is just a little too much.” (Did you get the first sentence?)
Also, he surprised me with a charm bracelet for Christmas with little head charms for our boys (personalized w/ their names), a heart charm with his name on one side and I love you on the other, a MOM charm and… a cross charm. Many people who knows my husband will tell you he isn’t the most romantic person in the world- but when we were dating he was very romantic. After marriage, it kinda got a little lost somehow- the same way the wife he married got lost after marriage (he always used to complain that I changed when we fought). Now, things aren’t perfect – but by the sheer grace of God, our marriage is better than ever.
This wife is reaping some amazing rewards in her marriage and her walk with Christ from her willingness to obey God and do things His way. It took many months to get to this point – and some very painful dying to self. Men are designed by God to respond to respect and their wives’ trust and submission by becoming better men, by having a heart to serve and usually by showing more love. Each wife’s experience with learning and implementing respect and submission has its own timing and rhythm. Some husbands respond quickly. Some are very confused. Some balk at the changes their wives start to make at first – but later love it. Some are more deeply wounded and untrusting and it takes them longer to trust that the new changes are for real. Some may never respond with love to a wife’s respect – men do have free will, after all. Although most eventually do respond to their wives’ changes and to God’s power working in the marriage to some degree.
Ultimately, I respect my husband and submit to him out of my love, reverence and submission to Jesus – NOT in order to change my husband or “make” him love me. I set my heart on Christ – not on “feeling loved” by my husband. I get the energy and power to do this from God’s Spirit working in me.
For me – feeling loved was often an idol in my life – that became more important to me than Jesus at times in my marriage. When I have idols in my heart – whether it is my own being in control, having my way, expecting my husband to be Christ to me, or feeling loved – idolatry NEVER satisfies. I can expect to be dissatisfied, discontent, unhappy, empty, frustrated, lonely, clingy, needy, worried, anxious, afraid and miserable when I put other things or people in God’s rightful place in my heart – or when I am cherishing sin or living in disobedience to God’s Word. God is going to make sure that idolatry, rebellion and sin don’t satisfy me. He will only allow me to find satisfaction when I put Him in the place of worship in my heart. When I seek Him first with all my heart, I experience the fruit of His Spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness and self-control. (Galatians 5:22) I have to want HIM more than a strong marriage, more than my own way, more than anything!
Respecting my husband and cooperating with his God-given authority in my marriage is a lifetime commitment I make to Jesus – to live for Him – not knowing ahead of time what the outcome will be, but trusting Him no matter what comes. It is a walk of faith. I must put Jesus squarely FIRST in my life – by a long shot. I lay down my life, my desires, my will, my plans, my wisdom and my goals. And I seek Jesus’ presence, His love, His Word, His glory, His will, His wisdom and His approval. He will reward me in my relationship with Him and in heaven for my willingness to obey His Word even if my husband never loves me as he should. My job is to make sure I am abiding in Christ, clinging to Him, seeking Him above all else and living in obedience to Him. My job is to seek to be a godly wife and mother and to honor Jesus and trust Him with the timing and results – that it will all be for His greatest glory and my ultimate good and my husband’s ultimate good.