I write this blog specifically for women – that is my calling. I believe God’s Word gives me the authority as an “older woman” (I am 40 now, and have been married 19 years this May 2013)) to teach other women to be godly wives and to understand and live out respect and biblical submission in their marriages in Titus 2:2-5. These are not things that can be forced or coerced, they must be freely given out of a wife’s desire to obey God. I desire to help women learn to completely submit to and reverence Christ and live with Him as Lord.
I do not intend to teach men or to set myself up as any kind of authority over men. However, men are welcome, respected and honored here – as are women.
HOW LONG DOES IT TAKE FOR A WIFE TO BECOME GODLY, RESPECTFUL AND COOPERATIVE WITH HER HUSBAND’S LEADERSHIP ONCE SHE SEES THE PROBLEM?
From the day God opened my eyes to my disrespect in December of 2008, It took me over 2 years of constant daily prayer and hours of study of over 30 books and hundreds of conversations with my husband to really understand respect, biblical submission, godly femininity and God’s design for women and marriage.
This is a long process – it is like learning a new language. Wives can’t suddenly understand it all overnight. We all need the grace, mercy and forgiveness of Christ and of our husbands. This is a total overhaul of everything we think we know about God, ourselves, godly femininity, godly masculinity, God’s design for marriage and being a wife.
It usually takes many months or years for wives to really “get” all of this stuff and for it to become normal – she HAS to have the power of God working in her and it is extremely counterintuitive and countercultural – so it takes time to tear down the ungodly structures in her soul and to rebuild. Some wives take many years to understand and work through this process.
I have an outline of how this process usually goes here.
WHAT CAN A HUSBAND DO TO HELP EXPEDITE THIS PROCESS?
- Praise her when she does show respect and tries to give up control, even when she doesn’t do it perfectly at first.
- Have patience. mercy and grace – she wants to learn to meet your needs, but this is a slow process.
- Give lots of verbal reassurance of your love and support.
- Pray with her – this helps wives feel so much more secure and safe in following their husbands’ leadership.
- Research how VASTLY different men and women are.
- Tell her gently, if she is ok with it, when she comes across disrespectfully. I like Dr. Eggerichs’ method “Honey, that felt disrespectful, did I just come across unlovingly?”
- Realize that almost all of her disrespect is unintentional and that she actually really does not intend to hurt you.
- See that when she seems disrespectful, she is probably feeling unloved, overwhelmed, afraid, insecure and has taken her eyes of of Christ.
- Focus on the concept of God’s sovereignty and where a person’s responsibility ends and God’s sovereignty begins. That is usually a concept that is totally foreign to a controlling wife. She seriously probably believes, and has since childhood, that everything depends on her making it all happen or it will be a disaster on the order of the Apocalypse.
- Know that your most powerful tool to help her grow in spiritual maturity is your own spiritual growth and being Spirit-filled yourself. It is the fruit of God’s Spirit in you – your love, tenderness, gentleness, patience, faithfulness, kindness, thoughtfulness, forgiveness, mercy, grace, goodness, joy, faith in Christ and self-control that will make it as easy as possible for her to respect you and honor your leadership.
- Understand that respect and submission go completely against a woman’s own feelings and wisdom and against her sinful nature. Submitting to someone else is TERRIFYING at first. It has nothing to do with your abilities to lead or your character – and everything to do with her ability to trust God and put her faith totally in Him to lead her through you.
- Be willing to describe your perspective and to tell her the things that hurt you and the things that build you up. She may be more receptive if you say you feel “unloved” or “hurt” instead of “disrespected.” Disrespect doesn’t really compute for wives.
- Please don’t try to force her into submission or respect. These are gifts she must give freely out of her obedience to God.
The core issues I believe are often at the root of a wife’s disrespect and control are:
- She disrespects God and tries to control Him. She has usually several idols: being in control herself, feeling loved (by her husband), making God and her husband and everyone around her do what she believes is best. A wife’s respect for her husband and her level of honoring his God-given leadership has almost NOTHING to do with him and almost everything to do with her respect for and submission to Christ.
- She truly believes she knows best – better than her husband and better than everyone on the planet – and that her way is the only “right way.” This is MASSIVE pride. Often, as women, we even believe we know “better than God.” We often live as if WE are sovereign, not God – and we truly think that we are responsible for things that actually belong to God. It is extremely stressful to live like this and to try to MAKE everything work out “right.” We often think we are the exception to God’s design for marriage and that we “have to take over” because our husbands “can’t” or “won’t” lead.
- Because of her pride and because she believes she rarely sins and because she has herself set up as an idol – she tends to hold on to unforgiveness, bitterness and grudges. Bitterness, resentment and contempt can destroy any marriage and cannot coexist with respect for our husbands. This is a HUGE sin, that many women don’t even notice in ourselves – but we can’t live in God’s power when we are cherishing sin in our hearts. This is why we don’t have the fruit of God’s Spirit. This is why we are usually anxious, fearful, stressed, overwhelmed and lonely. Our control and disrespect repel our husbands and loved ones and keep us from the very love and intimacy we want the most.
- FEAR – big time FEAR. The more her husband obeys Christ and is a safe place for her – the easier it is to overcome her fear.
Each wife needs God’s Spirit to open her eyes to her sin. People cannot open other people’s spiritual eyes. I do think it is important for husbands to gently, humbly, prayerfully address their wives’ sins at times, but ultimately it takes conviction from God’s Spirit to work real change in people.
You are welcome to ask for prayer in the comments.
“Love and Respect” by Dr. Emerson Eggerichs. 2. Sacred Marriage by Gary Thomas
“For Men Only” by Jeff and Shaunti Feldhahn (“For Women Only” is an extremely helpful book for wives to be able to understand a masculine perspective.)