Thought For The Day:
“To submit is to know you have a life worth living for a higher purpose, worth seeing through.”
Question For the Day:
Can you submit in marriage?
This post will mark the final installment of the Forever, Forever Ever? marriage series on getliftedgirl. So far, I’ve examined common motives that drive the decision to marry and asked readers to consider whether their desire to wed is more about one-upping girlfriends or truly being ready for a ’til death do us part commitment. I’ve also explored the various reasons people decide to divorce and asked you to consider whether that decision is legitimate or rooted in a desire for never-ending happiness, which may make for an awesome Lifetime movie, but not a real life marriage. If you wake up one day, and realize your mate works your last nerve, do you decide it’s not worth it or put forth the effort your vow demands? In my opinion, only a woman who can adequately love, nurture, and protect herself is equipped enough to love an imperfect man for a lifetime. “You complete me,” is a great line, but if you’re not complete from the start, your mate will need to give you something of his in order for you to be whole. I don’t know about you, but I want to add to my man, not subtract.
I hope that my candid assessment of marriage has not made me come off like a cynic. To the contrary, I believe fully in marriage and see it as the perfect experience for understanding God’s unconditional love for us. The longer I’m married, the more I grow in acceptance and faith. I know that jumping the broom is starting to be kind of old school, but I’m a pretty traditional woman when it comes to marriage. Not only have I been married for a fourteen year minute, but my parents were married for thirty-eight years until my father passed. My grandparents on both sides were married for several decades. I guess, marriage kind of runs in my family. I’ve seen first hand the ups and downs of a real marriage and feel I’m realistic about what it looks like. To me, divorce is a last resort that should only be considered when all else fails. I don’t really believe in the spousal upgrade that says if I just send this one packing, someone better is sure to come along. Well, someone better may come along, but my guess is that he too would soon show his behind in one way or another once the covers are pulled back. Your husband was once all that and a bag of chips too until you realized he was just as confused as you. A new man would surely lose his Christmas day pizzazz also once the wrapping has been off awhile. So, rather than being in constant search of the next big thing, I say just love the one you’re with and trust God for the increase. But, that’s just me.
Now, even though I am a traditionalist when it comes to marriage, I have to admit that there is one word that still seems to make the hairs on the back of my neck stand up whenever I hear it. Y’all know the one. The one that seems to suggest that I need to shrivel up, bow down, relent, and go to my husband for advice like I didn’t earn two degrees and can’t multi-task him under the table. The word I’m referring to is……sub..mis..sion. (It’s even hard for me to type) Every time my pastor preaches on the S-word, I kind of cringe inside and I think, that’s all my husband needs is another reason to think he’s “the man.” Although I get the idea of submission conceptually, it’s not easy to feel as if you have to ask for help, support, or advice when you don’t really feel you need it. To make matters more perplexing, suppose your husband doesn’t have anymore experience or knowledge than you on matters like raising children or managing finances. How can you submit to someone who doesn’t know what to do? How can you follow someone, who doesn’t know where he’s going? Yet no matter how poorly your husband may lead, we women are stuck having to follow regardless because that’s what a Proverbs 31 wife does, right? Of course, this is why it’s good to try to find a man who is mature and ready to lead from jump. Yet, if you marry young, or quickly, or under other precarious circumstances, it feels like a fine line you’re always walking between respecting your husband’s position in the family and not letting him take you through any foolishness.
Because of these doubts, I resisted the idea of submission for many years, and let the whole discussion kind of go in one ear and out the other. Submission to me was for weak women who didn’t have a husband as rough around the edges as mine. In my mind, he needed me to show him how to be married and manage a household. He didn’t come from a traditional family like mine. He hadn’t finished college yet. Essentially, I convinced myself that he really didn’t know what he was doing. I loved him, but I didn’t trust him as much as I trusted myself so I wanted to control as much as possible. Well, needless to say when you have a strong-willed husband who wants to be in charge and a controlling wife who won’t let him, you end up with a recipe for Judge Mablean. So then what’s the controlling HBIC to do? The short answer is to sit your behind down somewhere and let your husband be a man. I didn’t want my husband to view submission as proof that he was “the man,” but basically, that’s kind of the point.
Control is another addiction that we ladies must recover from if we want relationships that work. We use it to control our anxiety and insecurities, but no matter how much we rely on it, it never really gives us the peace of mind we’re searching for. No company, agency, business, or corporation works without proper headship. The buck has to stop somewhere or else what you have is a two-headed monster that destroys everything in its path. I was personally convicted over all of this one night when googling “frustrated with stubborn husband” or something like. Though I was searching for something to co-sign my point of view, my results turned up an article entitled Are You a Contentious Wife? by Dr. Linda Karges-Bone. I go looking for proof that I was right about whatever that day’s conflict was, and found an article that called me out instead. The article cited Proverbs 21:19 that says “It is better to live in a desert land, than with a quarrelsome and ill-tempered wife.” It also pointed toward Proverbs 25:24 that says “Better to live on a corner of the roof than in a house shared with a quarrelsome wife.” I had never heard those verses before and they seemed to jump off the page and pimp-slap me. I realized that my need to be right and in charge was not only making my husband unhappy, but ultimately crippling his self-confidence. I wanted him to step up and make the kind of decisions I could support, but not trusting him to do so was preventing it from happening.
My anxiety over having to let someone else make decisions was probably a product of watching my own father make some mistakes that cost our family dearly when I was growing up. I didn’t want to resent my husband for mistakes. However, believing that my efforts to control the situation would prevent mistakes essentially sent the message that I was perfect or allowed to make mistakes, though he was not. The truth is, many of the decisions I made early in our marriage were dead wrong and I ended up getting us in quite a few jams. Yet, with each mistake, lessons are learned. Who better to learn valuable lessons than the person in charge? I finally got tired of it all and decided to work toward letting my husband take his proper place in the family. I still put my two cents in, more like my dollar and two cents, but I am more comfortable now with letting him have the final say as long as my concerns have been considered. Letting your husband lead and submitting to his headship, stops the competition and makes a wife a teammate instead of a competitor. Even if he makes a mistake, it’s likely going to support better decisions going forward. Putting the HBIC in check wasn’t really all that bad for me. She was an angry, tired, overwhelmed wreck anyway. But trust and believe, she is still ready for action should the need arise……ijs.
Thank y’all for riding with me for this series. If you missed any of it, see the previous two posts to catch up. I hope it was a blessing to someone. Marriage isn’t perfect. Spouses aren’t perfect. Women like you and I aren’t either. But the God we serve is, and with Him there is always hope. Keep the faith ladies, and let’s make it last forever, forever ever!
“Though one may be overpowered by another, two can withstand him. And a threefold cord is not quickly broken.”