My dad picked flowers for my mom the other day and I don’t mean he picked flowers out at the florist. He saw wildflowers out in the field, actually picked them and took them home to her. Isn’t that just sweet? What makes it even sweeter, in my opinion, is that after 39 years of marriage when Dad sees pretty flowers in a field, he still thinks of his Sweetheart. He picks them and brings them to her, just to see her smile.
You may recall my post When Momma Ain’t Happy, where I described three wooden bunny figurines Momma had when I was a kid. Each bunny held a sign: “When Momma ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy!” “When Baby ain’t happy, nobody sleeps!” “When Daddy ain’t happy, nobody cares.”
What I didn’t mention in that post is how my mom altered the Daddy’s sign just a smidge. She marked through “nobody” and wrote in “Everybody.” She didn’t like the connotation that Daddy wasn’t important or that his needs and feelings were the least of everyone’s concern. Regardless of whether she was happy, Momma wanted Daddy to have the respect and attention he deserved as the head of our family.
Lately, the Daddy Bunny around my house just hasn’t been happy, which is strange. Since the day we met he’s been the most easy-going, phlegmatic person I know. He’s like a duck; stuff just rolls off him. He isn’t easily angered and doesn’t demand his own way, which is the opposite of me. Even in the midst of fussing or commotion, he is willing to quietly wait for the noise to settle rather than yell over the chaos (like I do). Our personalities complement each other and we have always enjoyed one another’s company… until recently. Lately, I ruffle his feathers with just a word and he frosts my cookies with a simple glance. We used to go for a drive and it was all “Peaceful Easy Feeling”; now it’s “Witchy Woman” and “Desperado.” (For those of you non-Eagles fans, I know that metaphor was lost on you and that saddens me.)
So after months of arguing at the drop of the hat, usually about nothing, I finally had enough. I stopped and actually thought about what’s been going on and asked myself, what the heck has changed? Is it him? Is it me? Fifteen years and a couple of babies later, The Love of My Life has somehow become the most irritating person I know. Why have all those “cute” quirks become annoying habits that render immediate fixing and why do I feel like I’m the one who needs to fix them?
While I know I do not bear the sole burden of my husband’s happiness, I realize my words, actions, and care for him has a lot to do with how he feels. Truly, when Momma ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy. Becoming a mother changed a lot of things about me, mostly for the better, but in some ways let’s just say I’ve digressed. My husband used to be the center of my world, bless his heart. Now, he’s still the center but there are a couple of little people I have to go through to get to him, like a miniature Great Wall of China. Being Momma is the highest honor and blessing but I’ve got to be honest with y’all: it’s hard work. Though no one’s fault, there simply comes a point in the evening when this momma just wants to clock out and sit down. (Am I not allowed a 15 minute coffee break? Hello?! Labor Laws!) While I can somehow muster the energy to get the kids fed and bathed, I find myself completely spent by the time Daddy Bunny gets home and needs my attention. And sometimes, in that moment when there’s yet another person needing something from me instead of offering to help me, it’s easy to think (with teeth gnashed and hand on hip), “He’s a grown man; he can take care of himself. I am too busy working and taking care of these little people HE helped create. I’m tired! Give me a break already and Get.It.Your.Self!”
Exhaustion unlocks the door for Frustration who swings it wide open for Disrespect.
Oy Vey. I am ashamed to confess this has been my attitude since the birth of our son—he’ll be two in March—and that it got worse last summer when The Hubs brought home That Stinkin’ Dog. (I’ve not introduced you to Zoey yet, but just know she’s a Mastiff-thorn in my side.)
Although I’ve been aware of my attitude and quietly trying to resolve it in my heart, The Lord recently gave me an opportunity to taste my own medicine: I bore witness as another person blatantly disrespected my husband. It. Went. All. Over. Me. Have you ever had that feeling? Kind of like, “I can talk about my family but you better watch what you say about them!”? As I listened to the disrespect and condescension being hurled, I realized my own guilt. Is this what I sound like? Is this how God feels whenever I speak to my husband—His child—disrespectfully?
“…And the wife must see to it that she deeply respects her husband.”
~ Ephesians 5:33 (Living)
Heaven help me.
Seriously. Heavenly Father, help me. How do I respect my husband in everyday real life, even when I’m tired and frustrated? What does it look like and why is it important? Give me Your wisdom and power so I may obey You in this area.
Y’all have got to know that I do not come to you as a wife who has Arrived in this area; I come to you today from the thick of it. I come as a sister in Christ needing solidarity in my own heart that I’m not the only one who struggles with this. Although volume after volume has been written on this subject, I feel led to share my struggle with you, as well as the ways God has impressed upon my heart for me to submit to my own husband, that we may encourage one another as we become more like Christ.
This process hasn’t been cake, so take a deep breath with me. Here’s where my dialog with the Holy Spirit begins…
First things first—get over yourself. Submit to Me and then to him.
“The wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere.”
~ James 3:17
“Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.”
~ Ephesians 5:21
“You wives, submit yourselves to your husbands, for that is what the Lord has planned for you.”
~ Colossians 3:18
Girls, let’s be honest. Some of us cringe at the “S” word. But God’s wisdom is submissive. Jesus was submissive. Why do so many of us take issue with this word?
An evangelist friend of ours explains submission by breaking the word into two parts; “sub” as in under or beneath and “mission,” meaning task or job. Now before you go thinking that means we’re “beneath” our men, “sub” in this context refers to a sort of support that comes from the base or bottom of a structure. (Think sub-flooring.) It basically means we lift, encourage or support our husband’s work or “mission”. We’ve got their back, so to speak, in their endeavors.
Many a lady has misunderstood and misinterpreted the concept of submission. Take a look around the feminized world and you know it’s true. In our quest to prove we girls can do anything a man can do (and do it better), we are missing the blessings that submission brings. This is exactly what Satan wants and just what he did to Eve in The Garden. “You’re not less than Adam, you’re smarter than him. You can be like him, probably even better. In fact, you can be like God if you want. Eating from that tree won’t kill you; that’s just what God wants you to think so you’ll stay subject to Him. Go ahead, take a bite. You don’t need someone telling you what to do. Prove you can make your own decisions and be like God and Man.” (Jessie rendition of Genesis 3:1-6)
“The woman was convinced. How lovely and fresh looking it was! And it would make her so wise! She ate some of the fruit and gave some to her husband, and he ate it too”
Translation of the original text implies Adam was by Eve’s side the entire time she chatted with The Serpent, but he apparently just stood there. So Eve, being a competent woman, made the decision independent of her husband. She took control of the situation and her husband, too.
Is it any wonder we battle the same feelings today? The need to control our environment is part of our sin nature. So when God was handing out The Curses, He cursed Eve with the exact opposite of control.
“Then God said to the woman, ‘You shall bear children in intense pain and suffering; yet even so, you shall welcome your husband’s affections, and he shall be your master.”
~ Genesis 3:16
No control over childbirth, over whether or not it happens for us, when it happens or the pain that accompanies it. Yet, our heart’s desire is for affection. We want to lead but our husbands have been granted authority. This is our Curse.
Understand that respect is important to Me and to him.
“’If I am a father, where is the honor due me? If I am a master, where is the respect due me?’ says the Lord Almighty.”
~ Malachi 1:6
“You shall have no other God’s before me… I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God…You shall not misuse the name of the Lord your God.”
“Give to everyone what you owe them; if you owe taxes, pay taxes; if revenue, then revenue; if respect, then respect; if honor, then honor.”
~ Romans 13:7
Do you know what a man’s greatest need is? (Nope, it’s not THAT.) Psychologists, scholarly experts, God’s Word—surprisingly, all of these agree. A man’s greatest need is for respect.
In an article by Shaunti Feldhahn she states, “Men said they judge themselves—and feel that others judge them—based on the happiness and respect of their wives.” Really? My attitude of respect and level of happiness has that much of an impact on my husband? Yes! That’s how God made him! If God demands our respect and man is made in the image of God, it should not surprise us that a man feels his manliest when he is shown respect.
We’re Rocky fans around here. We own all five sequels—on VHS, thankyouverymuch. Rocky IV is one of our favorites (the one with the Russian) and one scene in particular really drives home this point for me. Apollo Creed has just been killed and Rocky is faced with the decision to fight the Russian himself. He believes it’s something he has to do as a man, but his wife Adrien vehemently disagrees. Out of fear she screams, “You can’t win!” Rocky’s head and heart drop.
Though his spirit is crushed, Rocky heads off to Siberia to train for the fight. Weeks later, after battling inner demons and questioning his abilities, Adrien shows up in Siberia, parka donned, and grants her husband the blessing of her confidence. In true Rocky style, he kicks it into high gear and his workouts intensify. He is ready for the fight, both physically and mentally. *Spoiler Alert* He beats the Russian (because He’s Rocky, after all) and wins the hearts of everyone in the arena. Would that have happened without the support of his wife? Probably not. Being in that ring and fighting a stronger opponent isn’t what made Rocky feel his Rockiest; Adrien coming to Siberia is what did it. Even Hollywood knows it took that pivotal moment to change the course of his work and the outcome of his battle.
Your marriage is a direct reflection of your relationship with Me.
“’For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.’ This is a profound mystery—but I am talking about Christ and the church.”
~ Ephesians 5:31-32
“You flood the Lord’s altar with tears. You weep and wail because He no longer pays attention to your offerings or accepts them with pleasure from your hands. You ask, ‘Why?’ It is because the Lord is acting as the witness between you and the wife of your youth…”
~ Malachi 2:13-14
Like the magnifying mirror in my compact, my relationship with my husband reveals everything about my love for God. All the tiny imperfections I overlook become huge and obvious when viewed from that side of the compact. My bossiness, controlling nature and haughty thinking reveals that deep in my heart, I want to be the god of my life just like Eve did. Even the unspoken thoughts I entertain affect the attitude of my heart, which directs my actions. Basically, the way I think is the way I feel, and the way I feel is the way I act. It’s a slippery slope.
“For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of.”
~ Luke 6:45
You look more like Me when you’re serving.
“Rather, He made Himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled himself by becoming obedient to death—even death on a cross!”
~ Philippians 2:7-8
“The Lord God said, ‘It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.’” Genesis 2:18
“She will not hinder him but help him all her life.”
~ Proverbs 31:12
Simply put: Marriage isn’t about me, my happiness or my convenience; it’s about my spouse. It’s not what can I get from him; it’s what can I give to him? How can I, his Helpmate, actually help and not hinder him in his journey of becoming more like Christ?
Just as Dad brings Momma flowers, Momma brings iced water and a picnic lunch out to the field when Dad’s bailing hay. They purposely do things they know the other likes. It is a way they show their love and respect.
“Wanting to be cared for by a loving man and to create a home for him is not a goal that has been trained into females and imposed on their collective psyche by an old-fashioned society. The feminine desire has far deeper roots. It is something God gave Eve.”
~ Elizabeth Baker
The attitude of my heart must be that of a servant—not a maid—like Jesus, The King who stepped down from His throne for me. I can show respect with the simplest things: Serve his plate first at dinner. Tidy the house before he comes home. Turn down the bed and leave a note on his pillow when he gets in late. Make him a cup of coffee in the morning. Let him drive, even if I am in fact the better driver. It may not be much, but do something to let him know it’s good to have him home. Submission will take a bit of effort and time, but so does my relationship with Jesus—and I have never regretted time spent on Him.
Stop talking and start listening…to him and to Me.
You may look at the story of Adam and Eve and think, “If Adam would’ve just spoken up maybe we all wouldn’t be in this mess!” But I wonder…was it that Adam stood silent or was it that Eve wouldn’t let him get a word in edgewise?
“The hardest thing in the world for a godly woman to learn to do in her marriage is to keep her mouth closed.”
~ Chrystal Evans Hurst, Kingdom Woman
Amen and AMEN! Because I am SO loud and perfectionistic, it’s very easy for me to take over my husband’s responsibilities. (If you want something done right…) I am an outspoken, Type-A leader and I tend to unwittingly take charge of things. Kind of like Eve, I usually think I know best. (I’d like to think I’m not bossy, I just know what everyone should be doing—but let’s face it, I’m bossy.)
“Wives, in the same way be submissive to your husbands so that, if any of them do not believe the word, they may be won over without words by the behavior of their wives, when they see the purity and reverence of your lives.”
~ 1 Peter 3:1
Without words. Those who know me know this is extreeeemely difficult for me. Just look at the length of my blog posts—I use a lot of words, people. But girls, this isn’t the most effective way to reach men. Men want us to Get. To. The. Point. Already. And believe it or not, they want to be heard, too. They may not be Chester Chatterbox, but given the opportunity and timing they will usually say something. None of us married a man we had never spoken with; he had to say something to get you to the altar! Men don’t usually dive right in to heavy conversations about their feelings and they typically don’t want it coaxed out of them either. The best way to know his heart is to listen to what he does say when he says it.
“Listening…means taking a vigorous, human interest in what is being told us. You can listen like a blank wall or like a splendid auditorium where every sound comes back fuller and richer.”
~ Alice Duer Miller
Kay Arthur writes, “Words are powerful. They can either build others up or destroy them.” In those moments of Mommy Exhaustion it’s easy to toss around phrases like “I feel like a married single parent,” or “He’s never home when I need him,” as if my husband simply doesn’t care or I’m some sort of martyr for bearing the God-given responsibility of caring for our children and home. And how awful that I would speak such negativity to others (sigh), but I have. Girls, I’ve been in our circles and I know what we say when we think it’s safe. The truth is I should always speak highly of my husband, even if he’s the most annoying human being in my life at the moment. How will others respect him if I can’t?
“Her husband has full confidence in her…”
~ Proverbs 31:11
“Her husband is respected at the city gate…”
~ Proverbs 31:23
Momma always said, “If you can’t say something nice…” If I’m angry at him, I should tell HIM, not everyone else. And if I do need counsel, I should find an impartial person who knows there are two sides to every story and who will simply listen and offer sound, godly advice. If you don’t have someone like this to call on, go to a professional counselor. There is no shame in that. Many pastors offer counseling services and there are countless Christian therapists to choose from. Even if your husband doesn’t go, talking things over with a godly counselor will help you gain perspective.
Let it go. Even if you can’t trust him, trust Me.
Some of you may say, “But Jessie, you don’t know MY husband! If I didn’t make all the decisions there’s no telling where we’d be!” You’re right, I do not know your husband or his heart, but I do know My God. Submitting to our husbands is an act of faith in our God. Even if I can’t trust my husband, I can trust God. He loves me AND my husband far more than I can fathom and He never fails.
“My greatest expectations must be of God—not my husband.”
~ Bunny Wilson
Whether society likes it or not, God has set up a divine order that He won’t repeal to appease the feminist movement within our hearts. Have you ever worked somewhere without a chain of command or assigned order? Probably not because that would be chaotic. Satan purposely seeks to stir things up and reverse God’s order because he knows “God operates in the context of unity” (Evans). Satan’s goal is to disrupt God’s organizational flow chart for the home because “whatever he can divide, he can dominate” (Evans).
“Now I want you to realize that the head of every man is Christ, and the head of the woman is man, and the head of Christ is God.”
~ 1 Corinthians 11:3
When I take control of the situation I’m telling God His order of doing things isn’t right. I’m also telling my husband he isn’t smart enough, strong enough, good enough, whatever—to handle it. We wives rationalize and justify our leadership because “I’m so much more ______ than he is.” We forget God designed marriage and the family and He is pleased with it. God doesn’t make mistakes. If my husband wasn’t capable of leading our family, God would not have given us to him.
“Order has nothing to do with equality.”
~ Dr. Tony Evans, Kingdom Woman
When I control the strings, I’m also showing my lack of faith in God and His power. I’ve had many a lady ask, “How do I get my husband to _______?” If we’re honest, we’ve all thought this at some point. What we’re really asking is how do I control or manipulate my husband into doing what I think is right? The truth is we’re not always right. It pains me to say it, but it’s true. God is the one who is Righteous and True; not me, not my husband. And the same Holy Spirit that convicts and directs me is the very same One that speaks to my husband. It’s not my job to convict or correct him.
“The king’s heart is like channels of water in the hand of The Lord; He turns it wherever He wishes.”
~ Proverbs 21:1
Submitting doesn’t mean agreeing, it means yielding the final decision to the driver God has placed at the wheel. Whenever I do this, I find that my stress level goes shockingly down. God has designed men with the ability to lead under pressure; they can handle it. Women can do the same, but I don’t believe I’ve ever seen a man cry because he felt “overwhelmed.”
One of my favorite speakers on this subject is Bunny Wilson (coincidence her name is Bunny? I think not!) She explains 1 Peter 3:1 so well. She says God has given men authority, but we women have the influence. (Yo, Adrien!) Which is more powerful? Neither. They are equal!
“God is saying you are so influential, even without a word, that if you’ll just flat out love Me, your husband will be thirsty for the peace that you possess, even if you don’t agree with him on a particular decision.”
~ Bunny Wilson
Some of us mistakenly think submission doesn’t apply to us because our husband’s aren’t godly men. Bunny says God knew we would think this way, so He answered us in 1 Peter 3:1.
“Wives, in the same way be submissive to your husbands so that, if any of them do not believe the word…”
Friend, if your husband is not a believer or if he is but just isn’t seeking to walk with the Lord, pray for him. Submit to him. Show him God’s power and love at work in you. I can only imagine how frustrating and difficult this would be to do on your own power, wanting to “fix” him in this way. But let it go. Trust the God of The Universe to reach your husband’s heart and heal him. Bunny says, “Simplistically, [submission] means for the wife, duck and get out of God’s way so He can have a clear shot at your husband.” She shares her husband’s testimony: “He said when I began to submit, it put the fear of God in his heart because he knew he was no longer contending with me, he was dealing directly with God.”
Submission is probably the hardest charge we’re given as wives. Have you read Proverbs 31? “A wife of noble character who can find? She is worth far more than rubies…” (v10). Clearly, God knows being a godly wife is tough stuff! But He’s made it clear; if I refuse to submit to my husband, I am refusing to submit to God and obey His word. Believe me, I could write a book on all the ways I’ve failed my husband and God. If you, like me, are guilty of bossiness, manipulation, disrespect… know that God will forgive us and help us start anew.
“If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.”
~ 1 John 1:9
After confession, prayer and forgiveness, I am seeking repentance. Repentance means to stop doing one thing and start doing the opposite. By listening, I’ve identified three of my husband’s greatest concerns right now and I am seeking God’s power to help me serve him in those areas. I’ve asked the Lord to show me tangible ways I can submit to my husband every day and He has.
When Daddy ain’t happy, I want to care. I want my kids to care. I want to do all that I can to positively impact my husband’s life, just as much as I want to impact my kids’ lives. I agree with Gloria Gather who said,
“We can change the world inside our own houses. Take the gift of this moment and make something beautiful of it. Few worthwhile experiences just happen; memories are made on purpose.”
Thank you, Momma, for making a memory for me by changing the Daddy Bunny’s sign. It was a purposeful act and it impacted my life. I have tons of memories of Momma respecting Dad, saying things like, “Dad will be home soon, so let’s tidy up the house before he gets here.” What I do not remember is hearing her complain when Dad was away working split or double shifts.
Momma obviously knows a thing or two about being a wife, seeing she’s been married to and madly in love with her high school sweetheart for nearly four decades. I realize I’ve been blessed with a real-life example of unconditional love and unwavering commitment that is a rare find in this world. But don’t think they’ve set some unattainable goal by having the perfect life or romance; I’ve seen my parents face seemingly insurmountable odds and hardships. I’ve witnessed joy at the birth of a baby and sorrow at the death of that baby. I’ve seen a home built and a home lost; a business open and a business close. It hasn’t been 39 years of sunshine and wildflowers; it has been 39 years of commitment and sacrifice and determination. They are real people living a real life and that gives me hope.
“True marriage is not without conflict, but is ever resolving its conflict. This will mean determination, understanding, seeing things from the other’s point of view, humility, being willing to be the first to say, ‘I’m sorry.’”
Experience has taught me God is always right. (Imagine that!) His ways are right, even if I don’t like them, even if I disagree with them. When I submit to God and my husband, our marriage is pleasing to Him and for the most part, all The Bunnies are happy. Truly nothing is more important to me than my relationship with God and my family.
“This era will pass so quickly, and the present stresses will seem insignificant and remote. What will matter to you at the end of life will be the loving relationship you built with your family and your readiness to meet the Lord.”
~ Dr. James Dobson
Earlier this afternoon The Hubs and I got out our Eagles cd and you know what? We’ve still got that Peaceful Easy Feeling after all. We just had to turn it back on.