I'm a natural submitter, if that's a word. I mean I submit rather easily. And the fact that my husband is a natural leader makes for a perfectly symbiotic relationship. At least it did for the first few, child-free years of our lives together. Then came the stressors that children bring; the house, the kids, the sleepless nights and unending days full of messes to be cleaned and behavior to be corrected. And what little remained of me after pouring out to little ones all day long, I started holding covetously to.
But my role as his wife hadn't changed, my circumstances had. He still needed me to help him and support him, to give him physical love and tenderness, as well as emotional stability and peace within the home. Goodness gracious, even as I write those words, I can hear the disgusted grunts from some of the ladies reading this. And given the culture we live in, I know my ideals sound antiquated if not archaic.
We live today in a world that teaches us we deserve great gobs of help around the house from our husbands, we deserve waxed legs and weekend getaways and more money to spend, in the midst of these intense child-rearing years. I think of the verse, "Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind." (Romans 12:2)
When I begin feeling bitter that he's not meeting all my needs, more hands on with the children, or loving me well enough, I have to literally and physically turn off the world's speakers and plug into the truth that can be found in God's Word. I need to be transformed when I am tired, not conformed to the bitterness and entitled tendencies of the world around me.
And these are the verses to which I go:
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. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything. Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy... In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself.
Yes, I know there's a lot there about what our husbands are supposed to be doing for us. But it is not our job to teach them. It is our job to to do our job, in the many seasons of our lives together. Some seasons will be easier to submit and love and respect them than others. This is a harder season for most of us, for, like I said before, we have so little left over to submit and pour out at the end of our weary days. But I love that God wrote our job description down before he penned our husband's. I think he did it so that we might not wait for our husbands to "love us" (in all the ways we think they ought to when we are raising their children,) before we are willing to give them what they so desperately need. They need us to submit to their lead and to respect them, if they love us well of not.
Just as I need love and a relative amount of sleep to survive in our home, my husband needs the respect I had showed him in the early days of our marriage. Slowly I began to hear the dwindling strains of respect in my voice and sensed it's absence in my heart... something had gone array in our marriage. Not enough for others to see, possibly not even enough for my dear husband to notice, but I was becoming aware of the change... in me.
I'm writing this post today because I see that I have been off in this regard. I didn't know where to turn for direction until I came across the book "The Respect Dare," by Nina Roesner. It's a 40 day challenge that takes women through their own lives, where their concepts of respect first took root. It gives examples, prayers, and challenges for us to apply in our own lives. It is allowing me to see (for I am still working through it as I write this) that respect is much broader than the words I speak. For each woman and her individual husband, I think, it will look slightly different. But the heart, from which respect flows out, is where the work begins in us all.
When I started upon this journey I texted one of my friends, asking if she'd like to work through the book at the same time so that we can encourage one another and compare notes. She wrote back, "Respect? Them's fightin' words!" Respect is almost as dangerous a word as submission. They smack of weakness and servitude. But I challenge you, to think of respect as a gift to be given away.
That said: Many woman don't have a respectable husband to give this gift to... oh how hard these words must be for you. But the charge is the same for us all. The introduction in "The Respect Dare" reminds us that Jesus called Silas, "Peter", which literally means the rock, before Peter was rock solid. But Jesus spoke these strong words into his oft times weak follower, and Peter in turn lived up to the challenge.
If your husband is not loving you well, and you have withdrawn your intimacy and friendship from him; if he is disrespect-able, causing you to remove your respectful heart far from his own; if he has shown himself not trustworthy, and you've made your lack of trust in him clear time and time again... I challenge you to stop. Making a U-turn when the road has been so treacherous may seem impossible... but your calling remains the same.
It's easy to think we're perfect when married to a flawed man. Can I get an Amen? But the only perfection we bring to the marriage is another perfectly flawed human in need to grace. Let's be the first to extend such grace to our spouse and begin the healthy love and respect cycle in our homes.
Read through the dare with me, if you dare, and tell me what you are learning along the way.