Let me just preface this post with the following disclaimer-
"I hereby declare to be the most inept, unqualified woman on the planet to give any other woman advice about anything, unless it involves removing a stain." *
Now that all the lawyer stuff is taken care of, I will move on.
I have been joyfully married for nearly 13 years. (Joy lasts. Happiness is fleeting.) I love my husband. I love being married. But, some days I just don't know what is going on. Some days I act more like a child than an adult. I can throw a really good hissyfit and don't make me have to raise my voice!
Yep. I'm human.
That's why I wanted to share what I have learned through Bible study, devotion, prayer, good godly counsel, and just plain ole' trial and error, but mostly error.
Here is what I know DOES NOT work for a happy marriage (not all of this is from experience)-
Whining, complaining, bossing, fake crying (you know what I mean, you girls who can turn on the tears like I turn on the sprinkler system), attitude, manipulation, the silent treatment, the lecture, the "My Daddy never treated me this way!" and the pout.
Let me back up for just a minute... Beep. Beep. Beep. (That would be me backing up.)
When I say what doesn't "work," I don't mean what doesn't work for you to get what you want. I mean what doesn't work for the marriage, for glorifying God, and for being obedient to His Word.
You see, being married is not about YOU. It's not about him either. It's about Him.
If you go through life trying to act a certain way or look a certain way in order to get what you want, you will most likely be extremely unhappy and you'll wear yourself out trying. We are not to be the wife we should be to get something in return. We are to be the wife we should be to glorify God and God alone.
(I'm not going to throw out Bible verses to look important or holy. I just don't want you to think I'm pulling this stuff out of a hat.)
"Work with enthusiasm, as though you were working for the Lord rather than for people. Remember that the Lord will reward each one of us for the good we do, whether we are slaves or free. Ephesians 6:7-8"**
In other words, whatever you do, do it as unto The Lord. Whether you are cooking macaroni and cheese, writing out the bills, or scrubbing the commode, do these things as if you are doing them for God.
Because you are. And because He is the only one who can truly reward you. Sure, your husband may say "thanks" now and then or show his appreciation with a hug, a card, or a helping hand.
But, what if he doesn't?
Does that mean you are to stop being the kind of wife God would have you to become?
I hate to break it to you, ladies, but you are the only person you can control, and you even have a tough time with that! You aren't responsible for your husband's behavior and you are certainly not responsible for punishing him for it.
You know what I'm talking about. Remember the time he forgot that he had agreed to keep the kids so you could have a Saturday out with friends? Remember how you just happened to forget to wash his work shirt for Monday's meeting?
So, let's just agree that we are responsible for our own behavior. After all, when we see Jesus, are we going to answer for our actions or that of others?
I would also like to address the topic of "submission." Did I hit a nerve? Good. We're getting somewhere.
When God said that a wife is to submit to her husband (1 Peter 3:1), He did not intend for her to be a servant as the world sees a servant. You see, the world is your enemy, not your friend. Just as you would never take any advice from an enemy, don't take any marital advice from the world.
The world likes to tell you-
"You don't need a man. He is there for you, your little puppet to treat like a child in order to get your way. When he acts like a child, you should scold and degrade him and tell him that he should act like a man. He can't tell you what to do! No one can tell you what to do! Oh, and you can have children, work 14 hour days, keep a perfect figure, bring home the turkey bacon and fry it up in a pan."
Let's just virtually cut out that little phrase above and tear it into tiny pieces. If you live your life trying to live up to those standards, you will be miserable indeed. I promise you.
I am certainly not implying that you cannot "have it all." Just be sure that the "All" includes God's Plan for your life.
To my understanding, (*see disclaimer) submit in the Biblical sense is compared to a military soldier submitting to the authority of his commander. The commander is in charge. Someone has to be. Can you imagine the chaos that would ensue if there were two Commanders-in-Chief in our country? You think Congress causes turmoil. Imagine two people of equal power and equal authority running a country. Nothing would get done.
Submitting to authority is also something we do willingly and respectfully, unlike "obey" which has consequences. (Children are to obey their parents.)
A good commander respects the ability and opinion of those under his command. He also delegates. Did you see that? Delegates. Your husband may not be the lazy, good for nothing wimp you think he is. He may just respect your abilities and trust your decisions so much that he would rather you be in charge of some duties in the household.
I didn't say TAKE charge.
And remember this- Your husband is also under the Authority of God, although it is not your place to tell him that. (1 Corinthians 11:3) It isn't up to you to inform your husband that he isn't a "good commander."
Important to note- This post is for those in a Christian marriage. If you are a believer and he is not, you really need to seek the guidance of a pastor or Christian mentor. While you are responsible to honor and cherish your husband, you cannot follow his leadership if he is asking you to sin against God.
And, of course, if you are in an abusive relationship, or if your husband is abusing your children, leave. You have to. God loves you and does not want you or your children to be harmed. Get help and get out.
For the rest of us, the bitter truth is that we are to live as godly wives to be just that- godly wives- not to get something in return. But, as you seek God's Will for your life and live out His Plan for the right reasons, you will see the fruit of His Labor. (Not that of your own- we can't do it without Him!)
The most important thing you can do is to pray for your husband.
Not like this, ladies-
"Dear God, please remind Tom to pick up his socks. I am so sick of doing it. He just doesn't appreciate me. And, God? Could you help him pick out my birthday present? I really hate those character pajamas he buys. I want him to be happy, God, but, please help him be the man he should be so that I can be the wife I should be. Amen."
How about this one-
"Dear God, please show me how to be the wife that you would have me to be.
I want to honor and cherish Tom just as I promised at the altar 15 years ago in front of Mama and Daddy, my cousins, and that bratty, I mean sweet little ring bearer we had. (I need to work on forgiveness too, God.)
Help me be the wife I should be because I promised You too, God, at the altar 15 years ago. I pray that Tom will seek your guidance for our family. Give him discernment and wisdom. Help me to love him as much as you do, unconditionally.
Thank you for giving him to me. I am so blessed. Amen."
** Ephesians 6:5-9 is Paul's instruction to slaves and masters in his time. I am not labeling women as slaves or husbands as masters. This text is also used in reference to employers or to any service or work we do for others. Please read the chapter in its entirety.
Upcoming post- "Jesus was the first Women's Liberator!"