Surrendering the Burden of Controlling My Husband – by Shannon Popkin

I am so excited to have Shannon write a guest post today as we celebrate her new book releasing this month! I hope you will check it out – it has been such a blessing to me. If you tend to struggle with wanting control, this is the book for you, my precious sister!

—————-

This post was taken in part from Shannon Popkin’s book, Control Girl: Lessons on Surrendering Your Burden of Control From Seven Women in the Bible, published by Kregel Publications, 2017.

I often use the word “providence” when I tell about the day I first heard my husband’s name.

I was moving into my new apartment, and my only two friends in town—Chris and Jamie—had brought a meal over to welcome me to Milwaukee. As we ate, Chris shared a story from his day.

Chris was a Christian education pastor and had received a call informing him that the fourth grade boys’ teacher had quit. But after the call ended, immediately the phone rang again. This time it was Ken Popkin calling to say, “I’d like to teach Sunday school. Maybe fourth grade boys?” Chris said he just happened to have an opening.

We all laughed about the providential timing of the calls. Then my new roommate, who also went to the church, mentioned, “I know Ken Popkin from the singles group. He’s really good-looking.”

As I lay in bed that night recalling the events of the day, I whispered into the darkness, “Well, at least there’s one good-looking single guy in Milwaukee. And if he’s willing to teach fourth-grade boys, he’s got to be a good guy!”

I think God was listening to my thoughts with a big grin on his face that night. Because two years later, I wore my white dress and walked down the aisle into the arms of the Sunday school teacher of my dreams. (And yes, he is quite handsome.)

My heart swells every time I consider all the details God arranged to create that bit of foreshadowing. He prompted the back-to-back phone calls on that very day, arranged the dinner guests, and inspired the conversation—all as a teaser for the new girl in town.

Losing Control

Five years later, I didn’t doubt my decision to marry Ken, but I did doubt the extent of God’s control over the details of my marriage (among other things). I wouldn’t have said it that way, but my behavior and attitudes sure did.

My new husband, who had first brought me such joy, was now causing me deep frustration.

We had just moved to a new town, and I was feeling so lonely and anxious to get connected. Then one night, a young couple from down the street invited us over for dinner! I was almost giddy, sure that they were going to be our new best friends.

Ken was less than giddy. Not only was he less social than I, he was also exhausted. Ken is a driven, self-motivated kind of guy who gets up at four thirty in the morning, leaving him little leftover energy for Friday nights.

After a lovely dinner with our neighbors, they led us to the living room. Our conversation progressed nicely, but I noticed Ken wasn’t saying much. I glanced down to where he was sitting, petting the dog on the floor, and I noticed his hand, limp on the dog’s back. And his head was drooping at a strange angle.

Oh no, I thought. He’s asleep!

From where the neighbors were sitting, they couldn’t see Ken’s face, so I crossed my fingers and hoped they would think he was just oddly staring at their dog. I tried to hold their attention by talking faster and with more animation. But then someone asked Ken a question.

I nudged him with my foot, and his head yanked upward. He made some unintelligible remark with slightly slurred speech. I was mortified.

The neighbors laughed good-heartedly and said, “You must be exhausted.” So this beautiful evening, with these people who were now not going to be our new best friends, came to a screeching halt. They showed us to the door, and we walked down the sidewalk toward home.

In that space of about five driveways, I packed a lot in.

“Unbelievable! You humiliated me! From now on, mister, you are guzzling coffee before we go anywhere!” I spat the words into the darkness, pumping my arms with disgust. My husband lagged behind, saying nothing.

As I lay in bed on that night, recounting the events of the day and listening to the soft breathing of a man who was working so hard to provide for our family and lead us well, I was filled with regret and sorrow. This is not the sort of wife I wanted to be. I felt ugly and ashamed.

God’s Perspective on Control

In the heat of the moment, control always beckons to me with logic, clear and strong. It says, “You’ve got to do something! It’s all up to you! What if he falls asleep every time you’re invited somewhere? You’ll never make friends! Everyone will shun you! If this is ever going to turn out right, you’ve got to take control!

But lunging for the control—which always seems to slip from my grasp—never brings the peace and security I’m hoping for. In fact, it just makes everyone (me included) miserable.

Do you ever wonder what God thinks of our frustration, our anger, and our disrespect toward the husbands He has given us? Do you ever consider His perspective on our fretting, fearful, control-craving hearts?

I do. I picture God’s grin fading that night, as He listened to my sharp words, echoing off the sidewalk. And I picture His heart longing for me to find the peace that comes only from surrender. Though I wouldn’t have heard it, I imagine God whispering something like this:

Shannon, Shannon… These neighbor friends, whose opinions you’re stressing over? They’re going to move away soon, and in time you won’t even remember their names.

But that man you just emasculated? He’s building his career. He’s tired. So sure, he fell asleep. Does it really matter that much? He is a good, faithful husband. He is a kind, dedicated daddy. He is my gift to you. A life partner. Sure, he has weaknesses. But why don’t you let me handle those?

And this habit that you have of trying to control him? That’s what I’m working on in YOU! Do you think that this evening in your neighbors’ living room was out of my hands? I keep adding situations to your life that you can’t control, hoping that one day you invite Me to take that burden of controlling everything off you back. It’s a burden I never wanted you to carry.

Providence

We usually only use “providence” to describe the moments God causes details to fall into place the way we’d like. It’s heartwarming to remember the way God brought our marriages together. But has control slipped from God’s hand when marriage is hard?

No, not at all. When I think back to my early marriage struggles (like the one I described), I’m actually thankful. What if God had allowed me to persist with the illusion that I could control everything? I would have gone stomping through life as a Control Girl! Instead, God used the strain of marriage—two people trying to merge their lives—to confront me with the ugliness of my controlling heart.

Trying to control my husband is disrespectful and creates tension. It makes things worse, not better. But when I lay down the burden of trying to make everything turn out right, I find peace. When I surrender the outcomes to God, I find security. And when I turn to God with the things that seem to threaten my happiness (even a husband who falls asleep on neighbors) I find hope, comfort, and joy.

Friends, God is in control and we aren’t. If we convince ourselves that the reverse is true, we only make everyone (ourselves included) miserable. Won’t you lay down your burden of control today? Whether it’s a husband, child, situation, or outcome that you’re trying to control, God invites you to surrender that burden to Him.

He’s in control, so you don’t have to be.

Comment below for a chance to win one of three copies of Shannon’s book!

shannon-popkin-bio-3x4-incover-control-girl

Bio

Author and speaker Shannon Popkin loves to blend her gifts for storytelling and humor with her passion for God’s Word. Shannon is the author of Control Girl: Lessons on Surrendering Your Burden of Control from Seven Women in the Bible. Go to ControlGirl.com for free downloadable resources.

Shannon is happy to be sharing life with Ken, who makes her laugh every single day. Together, they live the fast-paced life of parenting three teens. For more from Shannon, please go to shannonpopkin.com, or connect with her on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or Pinterest.

 

The Respect Dare, Day 31 – “Watch Me!”

260864_3541-2

Better to live on a corner of the roof than share a house with a quarrelsome wife.  Proverbs 21:9

YIKES!

I don’t think that any of us want to be labelled a “quarrelsome wife”  – but I have to admit that I sure was one at times in those first 15 years of our marriage.

I was quick to anger, quick to speak and slow to listen, unfortunately. 🙁

I was so task-oriented, that I didn’t just slow down and enjoy my husband or savor the journey.  Now I know, that is NOT at all how I want to live my one chance at life!

HOW MEN BOND

Do you know that men enjoy having peace in their lives?  Sometimes quiet is just the thing they need to recharge their souls.   Men do not usually emotionally bond with words or by talking face-to-face like women tend to do.

One of the ways men like to bond most is to do “shoulder to shoulder” activities (Shaunti Feldhahn “For Women Only” and Dr. Emerson Eggerichs’ “Love and Respect”).   They often like to bond just by being together doing stuff.

Try just sitting quietly in the same room or out in the garage or in the driveway a few feet away from your guy as he works on a project sometime this week.  Don’t try to initiate conversation.  Just enjoy being with him.  Get him something if he asks for it.  Or surprise him with a cold glass of tea and a snack.  Sit on a stool or in a chair and just savor being with him, enjoying watching him work.  Smile at him if he looks at you.  Know that you are feeding his soul and nourishing your marriage.

RESPECT DARE #31

1. What can you do to be more relationship focused and to enjoy your husband more?

2. Think about what your husband loves to do – maybe he has invited you to go and you have always turned him down.  Do something he enjoys with him this week if at all possible.  Fishing, basketball, watch him work on a project, help him with a project (if he suggests it), go with him to a game or race.

3. How can you show your husband that you are “his number one fan” as Nina Roesner suggests in The Respect Dare?

4. How are you doing with not being a nagging, quarrelsome, contentious wife?  What do you believe God would have you to do about this if you have room for improvement?

SHARE:

You are welcome to share your ideas of things to do with your husband, or how to show your husband you are on his team.   How do you plan to turn down the negativity, arguing, complaining, nagging, criticism and negativity.

The Respect Dare, Day 31 – "Watch Me!"

260864_3541-2

Better to live on a corner of the roof than share a house with a quarrelsome wife.  Proverbs 21:9

YIKES!

I don’t think that any of us want to be labelled a “quarrelsome wife”  – but I have to admit that I sure was one at times in those first 15 years of our marriage.

I was quick to anger, quick to speak and slow to listen, unfortunately. 🙁

I was so task-oriented, that I didn’t just slow down and enjoy my husband or savor the journey.  Now I know, that is NOT at all how I want to live my one chance at life!

HOW MEN BOND

Do you know that men enjoy having peace in their lives?  Sometimes quiet is just the thing they need to recharge their souls.   Men do not usually emotionally bond with words or by talking face-to-face like women tend to do.

One of the ways men like to bond most is to do “shoulder to shoulder” activities (Shaunti Feldhahn “For Women Only” and Dr. Emerson Eggerichs’ “Love and Respect”).   They often like to bond just by being together doing stuff.

Try just sitting quietly in the same room or out in the garage or in the driveway a few feet away from your guy as he works on a project sometime this week.  Don’t try to initiate conversation.  Just enjoy being with him.  Get him something if he asks for it.  Or surprise him with a cold glass of tea and a snack.  Sit on a stool or in a chair and just savor being with him, enjoying watching him work.  Smile at him if he looks at you.  Know that you are feeding his soul and nourishing your marriage.

RESPECT DARE #31

1. What can you do to be more relationship focused and to enjoy your husband more?

2. Think about what your husband loves to do – maybe he has invited you to go and you have always turned him down.  Do something he enjoys with him this week if at all possible.  Fishing, basketball, watch him work on a project, help him with a project (if he suggests it), go with him to a game or race.

3. How can you show your husband that you are “his number one fan” as Nina Roesner suggests in The Respect Dare?

4. How are you doing with not being a nagging, quarrelsome, contentious wife?  What do you believe God would have you to do about this if you have room for improvement?

SHARE:

You are welcome to share your ideas of things to do with your husband, or how to show your husband you are on his team.   How do you plan to turn down the negativity, arguing, complaining, nagging, criticism and negativity.

A Wife's Little Victories as God Changes Her Heart

1167176_54598022From a dear wife, thank you so much for sharing!!

Since the argument, I have been praying and applying the principle of being respectful towards my husband and it really does work. Maybe a part of it is that after an argument we are both usually more kind and careful to act in the right way too…which is positive also because it shows we both still really do care…

On Valentine’s day decided to get my husband a small gift and a card – which he liked…we went for a swim together and that was nice, as the day came to an end and there was no little gift for me,  I tried to be logical about it telling myself it didnt matter if he got me anything and I was able to stay kind and composed thru the day but as soon as my head hit the pillow my eyes just started to well with tears and I couldn’t help it I cried quietly for probably an hour.. my husband kept asking what was wrong and if i needed a hug (if he was angry at me he would normally ignore it or not be as kind about it) but I just said I was fine and it was okay he didnt need to hug me. I did that because i knew if i said something it might cause an argument as he would feel criticised and also late at night is never a good time for us to talk about these things.  (From peacefulwife – I believe she could have graciously accepted his hug and thanked him for checking on her.  But I appreciate that she didn’t want to cause a conflict.)

In the morning my husband came up to me and wanted to know if i was okay. I then told him that i felt sad that i didnt get any flowers.  (From Peacefulwife – i like how she shared her feelings simply and without blaming him).  He was kind of surprised but did not see it as a problem at all. He said, for our anniversary next week I will definitely get you flowers. He didnt say it under duress either. You are right when my husband feels respected he is definitely more willing to meet my needs. And I do feel I need to be true to myself – first to examine my ‘needs’ and if it really is a something i need that only my husband can meet to share it respectfully with him. I felt that even though I was sad it still came across respectfully and that made all the difference. (from Peacefulwife – yes!!)

I think i am learning that: If i can overlook an offense, accept and anticipate that my husband will snap at me when he is stressed over seemingly minor ‘mistakes’ and respond with grace and a calm composure, speak my needs to him respectfully and preferably in a ‘light/fun’ way, join him in some of the things that are important to him – We will have a much happier marriage and just these past few days have shown that.Y

Yesterday at church my husband forgot some papers and wanted me to rush home and get them. He sort of asked me in a bit of a frazzled way and I could tell the girl I was speaking to was kind of like ‘oh dear ok..’ but stayed calm said, “Yep, sure,” and went home to get them. Then he called me up and i was aware that probably other people were around when he spoke to me, he was like ‘where are you!!??? DO NOT stop to get anything at home, take the papers and come right back’. Before, i might have said with a ‘tone’ ‘I AM ALMOST BACK! ARE THERE OTHER PEOPLE AROUND? YOU DONT NEED TO TALK TO ME LIKE THAT, STOP PANICKING’ etc…and this would flare him up.

But i remembered from our last incident that this is the way he is in these situations so i just listened and said ‘yep sure i am only 30 seconds away so i will see you soon’. It was so much better and later he was the one that told me about how he got into a bit of a panic. It  happened numerous times last week too. I was helping him with a project for work and he started to get all stressed and worked up. I stayed calm and said ok so this is what you need me to do ‘and started writing it all down’. and it turned out fine. That calms him down too. Also at lunch yesterday with friends he shared something little i didnt really want him to – about how he thought I didn’t react well with doctors at the hospital once – but instead of trying to set him straight (probably for the first time) i just smiled and looked at him (remembering this is just a small mistake i can overlook). And then our FRIENDS were the ones who were like kind of coming to the rescue and just helped ‘move the conversation on’. It was so much better than us arguing in front of them! And i didn’t FEEL offended i could truly just let it go. Later on we were sitting on the couches all talking and I noticed my husband was playing with my hair as we all talked, i thought how sweet he is such a ‘man’s man’ but is not embarrassed to play with my hair in public.

I heard something in a sermon too recently. If you add fire to fire you get an even bigger fire. But how can you put out a fire? with water. That is why in these situations i need to diffuse them with water (grace, calmness) and not more fire (stress/anger etc).

I definitely feel God drawing me to himself lately, i think i have had a real grieving period with facing my infertility but He  has been constantly wooing me. I think you are right i need to spend time with God for the purposes of enjoying him as my Creator, listening to the love messages He has for me (both in his word and in nature), continuing to teach me how to bee a good wife, daughter, friend… seeking His will in specific situations and also seeking wisdom for situations i may come across that day.

I will also pray that God will help me put the desire for children in a proper perspective. One thing i have been thinking about lately and finally found the answer yesterday is was there anybody in the Bible who was married, struggled with infertility, pleaded with God for a child, and did not receive a baby in the end? And the answer was no. Sarah, Rebecca, Rachel, Elizabeth, Hannah. Their infertility was not permanent although they had to wait for a very LONG time (eg. 100 years in some cases). Although that doesnt mean that God OWES me a child or that i will definitely have one… it was encouraging to me to see that God more used these times to work in the lives of these couples and for them to learn to trust him fully.