A guest post by The Restored Wife:
I remember scoffing at the idea that my husband would EVER “rule over me” or control me in any way! I didn’t like the idea of being what I thought of as a second class citizen in my marriage.
I had a post recently here on April’s blog where I shared how that worked out for me. My husband felt so emasculated and discouraged, he completely gave up. We both made many mistakes, eventually leading to divorce. We were actually remarried March 1st, 2016 (praise God) but only after a long, painful journey in which I learned the importance of submission – not in the horrifying way I always thought it would be, but in the way God intended.
Here is an example of a situation where my husband’s leadership works when we disagree:
Our living room furniture is in awful condition, so we decided to shop for new furniture last month. We have VERY different taste so I was dreading the idea of ending up with couches I don’t even like! We sat down and planned out a budget for new furniture, and my husband asked me what color I wanted. I told him I thought gray would look best with the existing walls and decorations, and he actually agreed with me on that part. However, when we went shopping the first day, he was drawn toward couches that didn’t match my taste at all. I asked what he thought about taking some photos that day, then going home and looking over them before we made any decisions, and he agreed.
In the past, I would have demanded this instead of asking him. It makes a big difference to him that I ask respectfully, and generally he goes along with my suggestions when I do this.
That night we looked through the photos both of us had taken with our phones. I told him I didn’t like the overstuffed/oversized look of most of the furniture he picked. I didn’t yell or attack him; I just let him know that the style wasn’t what I had in mind. I asked him what features he liked most about those particular couches, and he actually didn’t care at all that they were the overstuffed kind – he was more worried about the fabric (we have pets) and how easy it would be to clean! Once I realized where his mind was, we got online and found some options that had:
(1) the gray color
(2) the same type of fabric
(3) a more streamlined look.
He was still worried that the couches I liked would be uncomfortable, so we went back to the store the next week to sit on them and try them out. We were able to find a set of couches that met both our requirements, and even though he made the final choice, he was very concerned about making sure I was happy as well.
That’s a small thing, but in the past it would have been a huge fight. I would have insisted we get the furniture I wanted without even understanding (or caring) why he was picking something else. I would have refused to even hear his opinion… I might have even insulted him by saying something like “Furniture is something the woman picks out, not the man.” None of these things would have made him feel respected and it would have driven a larger wedge between us as neither would have felt heard.
Instead, as he has become secure that I trust him to make the best decisions for our family, he seeks my input MORE than he ever did before. He wants me to be happy and is careful to make wise choices.
Not because I’ll make life awful for him if he doesn’t, but because we’ll get along so much better if he does. Before I submitted to him as the leader of our family, I would have never known he was trying to make my life easier by selecting a fabric that was easy to clean – I would have yelled and screamed to get my way and he never would have mentioned WHY he wanted the couches I didn’t like.
Submitting was so foreign to me at first. I had no idea how to be happy in a situation where I thought I would never get to voice my opinions or make decisions. But the only thing that really changed is “how” I share what I think and how my husband reacts to it. He thinks of things that never even cross my mind and I learn so much from him now that I allow him the space to share without feeling like I’ll dismiss or attack him. It’s a difficult mindset shift but I have received nothing but blessings since I allowed myself to trust God’s plan for our marriage.
In God’s design, the husband and wife have equal value and worth. Both have an important voice. Both feel listened to. Both contribute all of themselves. Both feel loved, honored, and respected. We are not the same, but it is our differences in body, mind, and spirit that attract us to each other. It is our differences that allow us to function as a team and as one. We have different roles, but we have the same goal and we are equally valued and precious in the kingdom of Christ. We both have equal access to God and we are both co-heirs with Christ.
A godly husband and wife would both seek to be selfless, humble, generous, thoughtful, considerate, understanding, and compassionate when they are making decisions because of the Holy Spirit working in them. They would want to attempt to reach a win/win solution. There should be teamwork, calm discussion, and collaboration. It is only after such steps are taken for each spouse to understand the other and to honor the other and to try to reach a solution both husband and wife would like – that if they still can’t agree, the wife would then choose to honor her husband’s leadership and trust God to lead her through him. Sometimes decisions may have to be made quickly, without time for discussion – if there is an emergency. Some situations don’t have compromises. But both spouses ideally would be seeking to do what is best for the family and seeking to be selfless and should desire to do what is ultimately best in God’s eyes for everyone in the family.
Many times, the actual decision isn’t as important as how we treat each other during the decision-making process.
The Pendulum Effect (avoiding the sinful extremes of being too passive and too controlling)