Sure, it's easy to be biblically submissive when your husband's in the Nice Guy category. But what if he's just mean? Or ornery? Or annoying? Or super strict? And he's nothing like me? And well, on some days he's a lot more like the spawn of Satan himself?
This is a question (in various forms) that keeps coming to me by women who are reading My So-Called Life as a Submissive Wife, or who have heard about it but haven't taken the leap to read it, and I think it's a legitimate one that I thought might be helpful to address here on my blog. (Though I do wonder why one would marry the spawn of Satan - but hey, demons do have a reputation for being beautiful when you forget about that whole red tail, demon horns thing...)
It's also not the first time I've heard the argument. An editorial review about the book seemed to imply at the end that sure, it was easy for me to be biblically submissive to my husband because he's Mr. Wonderful, and not every woman is that lucky.
My husband is wonderful - but he's not perfect. And there are many moments or days I have found myself during our 15 years of marriage and counting that I've wanted to scream, or pull my hair out, or just tape the toilet lid down already (especially at 2 in the morning when you might in your sleep-induced thoughts think someone put a bidet in when you weren't looking but no, you have in fact just fallen in because someone else neglected to put down the lid)!
And let's be clear - in this jerk category, which this post is about, we are not including legitimate, real abusers - men who physically and/or emotionally abuse their wives. They deserve a special category all their own (and actually Spawn of Satan really could fit there).
No, we're talking about jerk behavior. A husband who says thoughtless things, and when you tell him you're hurt, he doesn't seem to care. Or a husband who refuses to call when he's running late and rolls his eyes at you when you voice your displeasure (cue sarcastic or caustic remarks) when he finally walks into the house. A husband who refuses to pick anything up or a husband who insists everything stay picked up, like you live in a museum - and you're the one who doesn't see what the big deal is.
We're talking husband behavior that drives you crazy. Husband decisions you don't respect. Husband issues that make you want to take a long vacation and never come back.
We're talking about husbands who act like jerks.
Who wants to be submissive to those guys?
In the last four years or so, since going through the Proverbs 31 experiment, and now more recently, the Biblical Submission experience, I feel like I've had a chance to go to marriage college. Because I've finally learned something I wasn't willing to admit when I was first married.
I can't change my husband. But I CAN greatly influence him.
No - I'm not talking about manipulation. Anyone can manipulate to get your way. But that usually doesn't help for the long term. Usually, manipulation only gets you as far as the small-minded thing you're trying to get accomplished, and the problem with manipulation is you find you have to do more and more to get what you want - and eventually, even you get tired of that.
I'm not talking about manipulation. I'm talking about godly motivation. I'm talking about influence. For better or for worse.
See, I can't change the things my husband does that aggravates me or frustrates me or drives me crazy. I can't force him to do what I want him to do or be the man I think he should be. But I can work on myself. I can be responsible for my own actions. I can be more intentional about my behavior and my attitude. I can be more intentional in my relationship with God and my understanding of how important that is when it comes to being a wife.
What I've found is that as I've worked on myself, as I've pursued living out my wife life the way God's called me to live it - and not how I think I should do it - I've changed for the better, and some of the things that my husband does that used to drive me crazy, doesn't drive me crazy any more. And an even nicer unexpected benefit? There are things in his life, in his ways, in his behavior, that he has also changed.
Maybe this is because my attitude has changed...
or maybe it's because I'm not so insistent to always get my way or I'm not so resistent to hearing what he has to say, or wants to do -
or maybe, just maybe, it's simply because I've stepped out of the way, and God's stepped in and worked on my husband's life the same way He's working on mine.
So let me speak to you, the precious wife who has woken up today with a pounding "my husband is a jerk today" heartache. Or maybe it's a stomach ache. Or a severe headache from all the crying and "woe is me'ing."
Someone today wants you to roll up your wifely welcome mat and go home. Someone today wants you to say "if he's not going to try, then why should I?" Someone today wants you to give up.
Sometimes I think the enemy loves to convince us that as women, we have little to no influence when it comes to our husbands. But I think that's a lie. I think God designed it for wives to be amazingly influential when it comes to their husbands - I'm talking about positive actions, encouraging words, that will speak to your husband's heart where he needs to hear it most.
God can use you to be the wife He's called you to be, and when you let that happen, I believe you will see your husband become the man God's called him to be for you.
It doesn't happen overnight. It doesn't always happen as fast as we'd like it to. But I believe it does happen.
Don't give up on your husband. I don't think biblical submission happens overnight either. I think it's best when we take baby steps, and it happens out of a heart that's willing, not begrudging.
Ask more questions and actually care about his opinion or thoughts; look for ways to be kind (even when you don't think he deserves it); ask him to make a final decision on something - and then respect him enough to not try and change it.
I don't think God leaves us as individuals to wind up the same as when we first start out married. I think He calls for us to change - not necessarily to be the image of our SPOUSE - but the image of our SAVIOR. And when we start looking at our relationships that way, I believe things can change. For the better.
So yes, there may be more days than less right now where your husband seems to be a jerk. Maybe all that's needed is a change in the equation.
2. On the left side, write out every single thing your husband does that drives you crazy. That makes you mad. That frustrates you. Take time to think about each of these things.
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