Here is a recent conversation Dale and I had while laying in bed one lazy Saturday morning:
Dale: Can we pick up kolaches this morning?
Me: Ehhhh. I’m not really feeling it. I think we’ve been doing a really good job in not eating out lately.
…a few minutes of silent pondering and strategizing later…
Me: How about this. You can pick up kolaches if you go to Lowe’s, pick up pea gravel, and swing by the Binfords to pick up the pavers.
Well, no need to say that that did NOT go over very well. Poor guy just wanted some kolaches on his day off and I was going to make him grovel (or gravel?) and beg for it.
Dale and I have been married for 3 years. Not enough time for anyone to trust us with handing out free marriage advice…but just enough to assure you that marriage is indeed awesome and precious, but very hard work. Envision the two of us building an Egyptian pyramid…Dale with a fork, and me with a meat thermometer. We want something grand…but we have all the wrong tools.
Maternal instinct is God’s tool to women (and mama bears, to the woe of innocent campers), but He kind of left us hanging in the “wifely instincts” arena. You won’t find a drop of wifely instincts in my universe. Not in the furthest realms. So when it comes to caring for my husband out of my own will and intelligence, my natural method is to pull out those maternal instincts I do have, and mother him and squash him into my control and reign.
You see, being a godly wife fights against everything that rages inside me and everything the feminist world around me urges me to be. My mind screams, “CONTROL,” when my heart cries, “SUBMIT.” And then there are nasty e-cards like these that tell you that thinking lowly of your husband is just normal, appropriate, and even hilarious:
The most useful marriage advice I have ever received is, “You are not your husband’s mother.”
I like to treat Dale like he is my kid. I like to get on him for picking the green beans out of his fried rice or going to Raising Cane’s when we’re on a budget. I want to bug him to have regular quiet times and be on the computer less. None of these are bad things to warn him about, in fact he would probably appreciate my help, but the trick is not mother him. My mind likes to dwell on his shortcomings despite his godliness, just like I have a tendency to do about everyone else. But unfortunately for him, he is just always within range of my brutality.
What this means to me is a few things:
1) It is NEVER my job to discipline or punish my husband. Usually this comes in the form of withdrawal or withholding affection. The purpose of discipline and punishment is to prove a point indirectly, and is great for kids, who need an extra “kick” on top of verbal instruction. However, this is affirmed nowhere in the Bible for wives. Instead, the Bible says, “The wife’s body does not belong to her alone but also to her husband. In the same way, the husband’s body does not belong to him alone but also to his wife. Do not deprive each other…” (I Corinthians 7). I need to learn to trust the Spirit to be his primary instructor and then walk along his side as a fellow sinner in need of God’s grace.
2) In helping my husband be the man he wants to be, nagging him and making him feel like a child is demeaning and is NOT my job. “Wives, submit to your husbands as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior.” (Ephesians 5:22-23) and Peter directs to wives:
“But let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God’s sight is very precious. For this is how the holy women who hoped in God used to adorn themselves, by submitting to their own husbands, as Sarah obeyed Abraham, calling him lord. And you are her children, if you do good and do not fear anything that is frightening.” (1 Peter 3:4-6).
Other translations say Sarah called Abraham “master.” Feel a little squirmy? Do I sense a little sweat building up on your brow? These are the type of verses the world uses as ammo against us, but let us fight by clinging to them and obeying them instead of shrinking away…
So if I want to be godly like Sarah…doesn’t that mean Dale is my lord and master and I am to obey and submit to him? Wow, that just looks wrong and borderline unbiblical. But if that is to be desired this means 1) I NEED THE SPIRIT like no one’s business if I am to TOUCH the hem of godly wife-ness here and 2) talking down to Dale is in no way okay.
Well, these last three years have taught me to NOT do these things. I have said such nasty things to Dale and acted in such insulting ways to him in the last three years, but he has responded in incredible patience and wisdom. And I have so much to work on. I don’t yet have the gems of wisdom to tell you what the secret of perfectly communicating with your husband is, if such gems exist…but I hope this has encouraged you to love your husband just a tad bit better as a wife, his lover and partner in life. We are given such a precious role in our husbands’ lives. Let’s not waste it on tearing him down.
(If you are curious: By God’s grace, the Holy Spirit kicked me in the butt and we got kolaches.)