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“Why Should I Have to Submit to My Husband in the Little Things?” – Part 1

 

Happy Mother’s Day to all the Moms. 🙂

I am praying for extra comfort, courage, strength, peace and joy for those battling infertility, those who long for children but can’t have them for some reason and those who have lost a child.

FROM A WIFE (with her permission):

Hi April,

I’ve been lurking on your blog for a couple months now and have learned a lot about being a Godly wife. I haven’t been able to get this post out of my head though and I would like to share my thoughts.

It’s the little things that are harder for me to handle.

I am fine with my husband having the final say in the big decisions. I understand that he will answer to God for the way he has led me. I see the purpose of having one person ultimately in charge. I know God has wisdom in making him my spiritual leader. I am completely willing follow him if he had a dream he wanted to pursue. I think it’s because I can see the purpose behind the sacrifice in all these situations. (I’m not saying it’s always easy to practice, but I am at peace with my role in these instances).

But where I struggle is matters of personal preference. It’s the where we sit in the theater or what color to paint the walls type of decisions that always trip me up.

I can’t seem to work out why he should automatically get his way in these situations based solely on his gender.

Honestly, in your example about the husband getting angry because his wife wanted to sit somewhere different than he did; he comes across to me as spoiled and demanding – like a child pouting because he didn’t get his way. I’m sure there is history there so I am not judging that specific couple. I am just saying I don’t see it the same way you do. (God help me, I am trying to though).

It is in the issue of personal preference where submitting to him can seem so dehumanizing at times. It seems like he is saying that all his wants and desires have more value than mine do. That “might (authority in this case) makes right”. Is it just the case of rank having its privileges?

I know that I shouldn’t have to understand in order to submit. But in my flesh I can’t see that this is a valid form of submission. It seems prideful of a husband to demand all his preferences above his wife’s. Will this not just feed his ego? (“Absolute power corrupts” and all?) I have such a hard time when I believe something is “unfair”.

What I have been spinning around in my head is that maybe it’s just about what works in marriage instead of what’s “fair.”  My husband is actually pretty good about taking my wants into account, when I’m not demanding my way, at least.

He told me once that it is his job to look out for me, but he can’t do that when I am looking out for myself – that I am taking his job away from him.

I know fighting and demanding my way doesn’t work. In the end, I always cave (because he is incapable of it) and he still gets his way but so much damage has been done in the process. If I submit, he is more willing to consider what I want and even if he says no initially, he may reconsider later if I don’t fight him. Oh, it hurts my flesh so much sometimes but it is healthier for both of us in the end.

So is it just a matter of practicality? Is it just the way we are wired and that I should set aside what is fair for what works? Or is it deeper than that. I feel like I am missing something.

Any insights would be appreciated.

FROM PEACEFULWIFE:

At the end there, you actually explained why God’s wisdom works best in marriage quite well. Nicely done!

It is the little things that get most of us tripped up. We can get so focused on the little issue and how “right” we believe we are about it, that we inadvertently make the tiny issue bigger than our obedience to God and bigger than the unity of our marriage.

FICTIONAL EXAMPLE (based on the couple I described in the post this reader is referring to):
If I want to sit in the front on the floor during a children’s play and my husband wants to sit closer to the back. I share what I want in a pleasant, polite, friendly, positive and kind way. He shares that he would still prefer to sit in the back. I know my husband well enough to know that for him to sit on the floor for a long time would really hurt his legs, back and hips. Maybe he shares why he doesn’t want to sit on the floor, maybe he doesn’t.

Now I have a choice.

  • I could make this into a big issue.
  • I could demand to sit in front on the floor.
  • I could try to force Greg to do what I want to do.
  • I could refuse to care about what he wants or prefers and force my way.
  • I could pitch a fit.
  • I could make a scene.
  • I could yell at him, humiliate him or make fun of him about what a baby he is being that he doesn’t want to sit on the floor in the front.
  • I could argue.
  • I could complain.
  • I could hammer him and hammer him until he does what I want him to do.
  • I could tell him, “Go sit in the back by yourself. I don’t care what you do. I’m sitting in the front on the floor with our daughter.”

Then when Greg caves in and sits uncomfortably on the floor with me, I have VICTORY, right?

(Well, I doubt Greg would cave in to that particular demand, and I certainly wouldn’t expect him to sit on the floor for all that time, knowing about the knee injuries he has had. It would be very selfish of me to try to make him sit somewhere that would be painful for him.)

The more likely thing that would have happened earlier in our marriage would have been that Greg would have refused to do what I was demanding for him to do, I would have gotten very angry and he would have shut down and unplugged even more.

What many wives don’t know is that when they demand their way, refuse to bend or cave on small issues, they can, at times, destroy the intimacy and unity of their marriages and set a very ungodly example for their children.  I pay dearly in intimacy and unity in our marriage when I become inflexible, completely determined to have “my way” no matter what the cost and I tenaciously “stick to my guns” on the smallest of issues.

My husband may think to himself, “Wow. If she won’t cooperate with me on something so insignificant, if she won’t follow me or trust me on this, if she won’t place any value at all on my needs, my desires or my opinion here – there is no way she will trust me or will be willing to follow me in bigger things that actually matter. I have no voice in this marriage. I feel insignificant. I don’t mind her sharing what she would like to do – but it is so humiliating for her to cause a scene in public like that when I have legitimate reasons for wanting to sit towards the back.”

(Gentlemen, you are welcome to comment and let us know what you believe would be going on in a husband’s mind in a situation like this.)

Not to mention, if I refuse to defer to my husband’s leadership, even on small things, Titus 2:5 says that I malign the gospel of Christ.

What could possibly be worth that?

What real difference does it make if we don’t paint the wall the color I like the most? What real difference does it make where we sit for the play?

Jesus instructs His followers:

Jesus called them together and said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. 26 Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, 27 and whoever wants to be first must be your slave— 28 just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” Matthew 20

– Why not rather be wronged? Why not rather be cheated? 8 Instead, you yourselves cheat and do wrong, and you do this to your brothers and sisters. 9 Or do you not know that wrongdoers will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor men who have sex with men 10 nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. 11 And that is what some of you were. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God. I Corinthians 6

If those in authority are to be humble and servant hearted – wouldn’t the same words apply to those who are following? And if we can bring more glory to Christ by suffering or by being wronged – then isn’t that the more noble road to take, rather than pushing our own agenda and demanding what we want for ourselves?

1 What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don’t they come from your desires that battle within you? 2 You desire but do not have, so you kill. You covet but you cannot get what you want, so you quarrel and fight. You do not have because you do not ask God. 3 When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures. James 4

Why do I want what I want? Am I seeking God’s glory or my own glory? Am I being selfish (which is not of God) or am I seeking the kingdom’s greatest good?

Am I saying we have to be doormats? Not at all. It’s good for us and important for us to share our hearts, our needs and desires respectfully, humbly and with a sincerely friendly demeanor. And, for some couples, the husband may be fine with a compromise – he sits in back, she sits up front. But, if we do not get what we want, we must decide upon what our ultimate goal in this life is to be. There WILL be times we may need to gently, humbly, carefully, prayerfully, respectfully confront our husbands’ sin or harshness. Husbands are told in I Peter 3:7 that if they do not treat their wives with honor and understanding, their prayers will not be heard. Husbands obviously can sin, just as much as wives can. So, there will be times we must live out Matthew 7:1-5 and Matthew 18:16-18. But – there are also times to extend grace and there are times when the exact outcome of the decision just isn’t that important in the eternal scheme of things.

Rev. H. A. Weaver says:

The world’s definition of freedom is – the ability to do whatever I want.

God’s definition of freedom is – the power and ability to do God’s will.

 For Part 2, please click here.

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