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“Do I Say What I Want – or Not?”

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From a dear wife.  I love her heart to please God and honor her husband.  A big “thank you” to her for allowing me to share her questions. 🙂

Dear PeacefulWife,

Since I found your blog, I have been reading it and watching you on YouTube (channel = “April Cassidy”) as well. I have learned much and try to apply it to my marriage. I can say that though I am new at this, I am reaping fruits already and it is very exciting.

I’ve always wanted my husband to be a strong leader in our home, but I realized that often, for little things, I always tell him no. I figured, maybe if I often say no, he won’t know how to be a leader. The other day, he told me: “Go take a shower; we are leaving in half an hour”. I wanted to say: “No. I want to stay in bed longer. Anyways, I will be ready in time.”

But, this time, I paused, I looked at him and he looked at me. I was surprised, as I found myself saying, “Sure”. And at the end I said, “I want to be ready in half an hour, just like you asked me”. He didn’t say anything, but I know him well enough to know he was very pleased.

Yet, sometimes, I am not sure. Should I voice my opinion, like this woman who told her husband she didn’t want him to go to Vegas, or should I pray that (God) would change his mind and not say anything?

Here are 2 incidents that happen to me last weekend and I would like to have your take on these:

1. My husband said he wanted to buy me new shoes because my sneakers were almost dead. I agreed. When we went to the store, he pointed me to a pair that I didn’t like. I felt bad because he wanted to be nice to me and I wanted to be submissive. I said ok to the pair, but let’s just go see other styles. Finally he found another style, a much nicer one and so did I. So, my husband told me to pick between the 3 pairs of shoes. I picked the one I liked the most and asked him if it was ok with him. He said yes. My question is this. I want to do what he says, but, I felt awkward almost buying ugly shoes. I am happy it worked out, by the grace of God. But,

Is it ok to say: “I don’t want this pair of shoes”?

2. For an unknown reason to me, my husband hates to tip properly when we go to the restaurant. Last time we went, he ask me for a certain amount for the tip. I offered to give more. I don’t know if I was going against his leadership. I just know that I didn’t nag him, but in a sense, my actions were clearly saying: “You give too little, I will do better.” Is it ok? Should I just let him tip how much he wants and just pray about it? I do that with other thing in the house. I don’t talk or nag (any more). I just pray and hope. It’s hard, but makes me feel much better.

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FROM PEACEFULWIFE:

(I am not an expert, a psychologist, a counselor or a pastor. I am an ordinary Christian wife. I’m going to share my ideas and suggestions -for whatever they may be worth. Ultimately, each wife must prayerfully decide what she believes God desires her to do in her unique situation.)

I LOVE how you didn’t argue with your husband when he asked you to get up and get ready. That was a blessing you gave to your husband to be cooperative instead of argumentative.

I think you bring up a very important point about whether to say what you want or not on different issues.  When we are first learning submission and respect, we sometimes swing too far one way, then over correct and swing too far the other way, and it can take some time to figure out where the right balance is.

Here are some of my suggestions to prayerfully consider.  This is not the only way to show respect. You don’t have to use my exact words.  But this will give wives a place to start and to get into the ballpark on the respect concept.

TELL HIM WHAT YOU WANT/YOUR PREFERENCE

When your husband:

  • wants to do something for you, to make you happy (buy you something, take you out to eat, take you on a vacation, etc…) 
  • asks for your opinion.  It is totally fine to say what shoes you prefer and what you desire!  He is buying them for you – he wants you to enjoy them.
  •  if you have very strong feelings about something – especially something that involves you or your children, respectfully, calmly tell him what you want or don’t want. Usually just once.

Being submissive is not about having no opinions, preferences or desires.  It is important to say what you want and how you feel about things.  You can absolutely share your wants and feelings (without demanding what you want or trying to force your will) in a way that honors your husband’s God-given leadership. 

If he already bought a gift for you, try to show appreciation and gratitude for his thoughtfulness and generosity even if it is not your favorite color. Criticizing a gift he picked out may make him decide to quit being generous with you. And you may find that you end up enjoying what he picked out if you give it a chance. :)  But if he hasn’t bought the item and is asking what you like – tell him what you like.

Husbands are not mind readers!  Most of them greatly appreciate knowing our perspective.  Our input helps them make the best decisions for our families.  It is not necessary for us to give up our voice.  We are going to change our approach (to suggestions and requests instead of orders and demands) and change our response when there is a conflict to show our faith in God to lead us through our husbands.  

Then, if he decides against what you want, then graciously accept his, “No” and trust God’s sovereignty.

***   If he is asking you to blatantly sin or condone sin, you must refuse. God’s authority and the authority of God’s Word trumps your husband’s God-given authority. So if he asks you to have a threesome, you can’t do that!  Or if he asked you to lie for him, or cheat on your taxes, abuse drugs or disown Jesus… You would have to firmly refuse. ***

THE TIPPING ISSUE

If your husband is feeling pretty well-respected and the two of you are relating well, you may say something sometime, when you are not at a restaurant, about

  • “You know, it means a lot to me when we tip 15%. I really love it when we can do that.”
  • “I really appreciate it when you tip 15%. I respect/admire a generous tipper.”

Then maybe drop it and don’t mention it again. And pray and allow God to speak to his heart.   Let God and your husband carry the weight of the consequences.

If your husband is paying, just thank him, and maybe don’t look at what he is tipping! Let that be between him, God and the waiter. You are not responsible to make him tip properly. He is a grown adult and he can make that decision himself.

By the way, if a wife approaches her husband by saying, “Do you know…” Or “Don’t you know…” Or “Why would you…” That can feel disrespectful to a lot of men.

 

WHEN TO NOT SAY WHAT YOU THINK:

(These are my suggestions to prayerfully consider – these are not rules and my words are not the gospel!)

– If your husband  has a decision to make for himself, let him ask you for your opinion before you share it.  It is best many times to show faith in his ability to come up with solutions to his issues at work or the frustrating handyman project.  Men often interpret unsolicited advice as disrespect.

Let him choose how he uses his time, how he relaxes, what he watches, how he eats, how he takes care of his health, what he wears, what time he leaves for work.  Let him make his own choices about his life.  He is a grown adult.  If you try to control his decisions, you will seem like an angry mother.  Men are NOT attracted to their mothers!  Allow him the freedom to be an adult.   He will face the consequences of his choices.  You will live with the consequences of your choices. (If he has an uncontrolled mental health issue, an addiction, issues with violence or is involved in infidelity, please seek godly help ASAP!!!!  I am not addressing those kinds of serious issues in this post or in this blog.)

– If he asks your opinion, then offer him suggestions, but show him you trust him to make a great decision.  ie: “Hmm… I wonder if X or Y might work.  I’m sure that you will definitely make the right decision.”   “Maybe X could be something to think about.  I’m not exactly sure what the answer is, but I have total confidence that you will figure it out.”   Offer your ideas as potential things to consider, not “the only right way” to do things.

– If your opinion is going to be full of negativity, criticism, pride, self-righteousness, condemnation and/or disrespect – those things do not need to be shared!  Pray and ask God to give you wisdom to share respectfully and to be very wise and to have discernment about what is actually important to share and what would be destructive.

If you have already shared your perspective about a decision, it is usually wise not to share it again… Unless you realize you left out very critical information the first time.  In that case, it may be wise to say something like, “Honey, I just realized that there were some important things I forgot to share about the decision we were discussing.  I’d like to mention these things, too, if that would be ok.”

If your husband has already listened to you and made a decision, explaining yourself more and questioning him will probably feel pretty disrespectful to him.

– If your husband asks the children to do something, please try not to contradict him in front of them!  If you disagree, talk to him respectfully and briefly in private.  Undermining his authority in front of the kids is very disrespectful to him and it teaches the children not to respect Dad’s God-given authority – or any God-given authority.  NOT GOOD!  Be very purposeful about trying to support what your husband says to your children unless there is sin involved or very serious and real danger.  Then approach him privately about your concern.  And thank your husband when he supports what you say to your children, too.  When you are united in front of the children, they will usually be much more respectful and obedient.  They know they cannot “divide and conquer” the two of you.

IN GENERAL

Say what you want respectfully, simply and usually briefly – without blame, manipulation, pressure, guilt or condemnation and then allow him the freedom to make his own decisions.

  • You are accountable to honor, respect and biblically submit to your husband.
  • He is accountable to God for the decisions he makes.
  • He will answer to God for his tipping habits, his obedience to God, his sin and his decisions.
  • You will answer for your obedience to God, your sin and your decisions.

It is actually a huge relief to realize that my husband will bear the responsibility for the decisions in our family, not me!

 

My husband is totally responsible to God for the decision he makes for our family, not me.  I tell him what I want and how I feel, then I have done my part.  He bears accountability for the rest.

What a huge weight has been lifted from my shoulders!!!!!

I almost always say what I want (if it is a decision that involves me) – unless it is something I truly don’t care about.  But I usually only say it once.  I don’t pressure, coerce or try to verbally force my way anymore.  And – I don’t seek “my way” now, I desire to seek God’s way and His glory.

FROM A CHRISTIAN MAN (I love this!!!!):

The Captain/First Officer model speaks well to this. A good First Officer will always voice her opinions, suggestions and advice to the Captain, so long as it is appropriate and there is time. If he acts on them, great. Otherwise, she obeys and carries out his commands. But unless there is a reason not to voice her opinion, a First Officer should generally offer it in a respectful manner. The key is to be respectful.

RELATED:

The Frustrating Quiet Phase

Control and Boundaries

Won’t I Lose My Voice if I Respect My Husband and Submit to Him?  Youtube video

Why Using Guilt to Motivate other People is Destructive

How to Ask Your Husband for Things So that He Wants to Say “Yes.” –  A Peacefulwife Youtube Video – MOTIVES are KEY in this approach.  If we are doing this to manipulate our husbands to get what we want, that dishonors Christ.  Our motives must ultimately be to honor Jesus and please Him.  I give some practical examples of asking for things respectfully.  But then we respond graciously if our husband says “no” and we don’t try to force or coerce our husbands to do things our way.  Our marriage and obedience to God are much more important than whether we get what we want on a particular issue.

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