So, I want to tell you some things I’ve learned that have helped me.
Let’s look up Psalm 37:3
My first point is:
Learn to Trust in God, not man. (not your husband)
Let me explain. Oftentimes we wives start out our marriages by thinking that we are supposed to place all our trust in the man who we’ve married. Then when it turns out he isn’t perfect, we feel let down, disillusioned, and we try to grab that control back from him.
I know I started out this way… until one day, I heard a sermon that taught pointed out these verses about placing my trust in God, not myself, not even my husband. When we place our trust IN our husband, we’re letting him take God’s place in our life. And that’s not how God intended it to be.
Since then, I’ve found that the truth in these verses is fundamental to my role as the wife. It’s been a challenge for me, but it changed how I related to my husband.
Your first and maybe hardest thing to do now as the wife is to give up control. You will need to let Will be the leader in your household. God knows every venture that’s going to succeed needs to have a clear leader. And you know that. The hard part is putting that knowledge into practice.
This is where submission comes in. Submission is not subservience, it is not a lesser role in the home. It is you letting go of control. And that’s not an easy thing to do.
One of the hardest things for me to do is to let go of control, so I understand. I’m very independent – I grew up largely making my own choices, doing my own thing, whatever I wanted. My parents didn’t give me a lot of direction, even in the big decisions of life.
So getting married and giving up that control over my own life was a difficult thing for me to do.
But in reality, the reason it’s so hard to give up control, is that we don’t trust anyone else to do it as well as we’d do it…or as well as we ‘think’ we’d do it.
So how do we trust someone else to be in control?
We do that by remembering Who’s really in control – and that’s God. We’re really supposed to place our trust in the Lord.
Like Proverbs 3:5 says,
“Trust in the LORD with all your heart – lean not unto your own understanding.”
That’s the key – when we don’t understand what’s happening we want to take control back from our husband – really back from God.
When you don’t understand what’s happening, just trust God. You don’t have to know right now, everything you’ll need to know for the next 50 years.
So often we think we have to have all the information before we’ll trust. Well, that isn’t trust then. God says to trust in Him, and oftentimes that means not knowing what’s going to happen, and not understanding.
Elizabeth Elliot said, “Do the next right thing. That’s all you need to know.”
Placing all your trust in God also has another benefit – it allows you to just let your husband be who he is. You don’t have to try to ‘fix’ him, because you’re trusting in God to do any fixing that might need to happen – including in yourself.
Remember this quote: “God doesn’t want you to be a “fix-him” wife. God wants you to be a “love-him” wife.”
We women tend to want to change our husbands, as soon as we get married we start on the renovations…make him into what we think would be the perfect man. God doesn’t ever tell us to fix him, or to fix anything he does or does not do. God only tells us to trust God, and learn to love and obey our husband.
In order to truly love your husband, Ranae, you need to accept him for who he is, and love him just as he is right now. You say you do now, and I’m sure that’s true. But in the coming years, you need to keep that love in every stage of your life.
Part of doing that, keeping that love in each stage, is by
#2 - Learnimg to have reasonable expectations.
As a bride, we tend to have certain expectations of what our blissfully married life will be.
I wrote down a few that I think are pretty universal:
* He will always put the toilet seat down.
* He will never forget your birthday, anniversary, Valentine’s Day, Sweetheart’s Day, your mother’s birthday, your parent’s anniversary, all your children’s birthdays, the dog’s birthday, and will never fail to remind you of each of these dates, as well.
* He will never ever go sit in the car on a Sunday morning, and honk at you to hurry up while you’re still in the bathroom putting your face on.
* He will never dislike anything you cook – no matter how burnt it is, or whether or not there’s onions in it, or it’s mostly a salad, or has three ingredients so it’s now technically a casserole…
* He will always water the yard, take out the trash, mow the lawn, walk the dog, and wash the car, and do it with a smile on his face…all the time, because that’s what men do.
* While at the same time, he will NEVER ask you to do the dishes and say it’s because that’s what women do.
* He will never give you a Wii Fit for your anniversary.
* He will let you name the children whatever you want, and never insist on naming one after his favorite aunt whom you’ve never met, or one of those hard to spell Bible name like Boanerges.
* He will never invite people over for Sunday afternoon dinner, but forget to tell you about it until they’re pulling up in the driveway.
* He will always know when something’s bothering you…without you having to spell it out for him.
* He will notice you always, hang on your every word, never disagree with you, and he will always think you look fabulous in everything you wear.
* He will be able to read your mind, understand your feelings, enjoy everything you enjoy, and be great friends with everyone you like.
The big ones:
* He will never look at you one day and say, “Honey, I think God wants us to pack up and move 2,000 miles away to blizzard-tornado-allergen-humidity Land. Oh, there will be blizzards in the winter, tornados in the fall, humid like a sauna in the summer, and allergens galore in the spring. Plus, we’re doing this for no pay, very little gratitude from anyone there, and neither of us has any relatives within 2,000 miles in any direction.”
Ok, now for reality.
Reality is that many of these things I listed could happen. If you hadn’t guessed, most of the ‘nevers’ have happened in my marriage, and most of the ‘always’ don’t happen.
Reality is, that much of that list is just unreasonable expectations. They aren’t things that in the long run will really matter, yet we make them huge. So instead, take a look at your heart and mind now, figure out what sort of expectations you have, and get rid of them if they aren’t realistic or helpful.
Those unrealistic expectations are what gets us in trouble in marriage. We expect these things while our husband has no idea that’s what we’re thinking.
Let me tell you about a little thing that happened with Rich and I just recently.
After being married for so long, I really thought I had some things down pat. One of them was being ready on time, and not making my husband wait. I was a bit proud right there, too.
So he says he wants to leave by 8 o’clock, then I’m ready by 8. Now, I’ll take every single minute up until 8 to get ready. I’m not standing at the door at 7:55, no, I have to make use of those minutes. I still have five minutes left, so I’m getting a drink, grabbing the kids’ shoes, getting an extra notebook, feeding the cat, watering the plants –whatever. You get the picture.
So finally, after 20 years of marriage now, like six months ago, my husband tells me it frustrates him how I’m always making him wait. And I thought he’d lost his mind. I don’t make him wait, you understand. I’m at the door at 8 when he says he wants to leave.
Oh no, I find out then that what he means by “leaving at 8” is being in the car, driving down the road, the house receding in the rearview mirror. Hopefully with all the kids in the car, too.
This was a revelation to me. And it took some adjusting.
But because he had an expectation that didn’t fit with my reality, he’d been frustrated at me for all that time, and I hadn’t even known it. And honestly, I’ve done the same sort of thing to him, too. We had our own similar fight about taking out the trash.
We put expectations on our husband, and he doesn’t even know that’s what we’re thinking. He doesn’t know that you just assume all men take out trash. Or all men help with the chores.
Instead of putting those things on him, have the right expectations.
For instance -
First, Expect there to be a period of adjustment – and that there will be other times throughout your lives that you’ll need to readjust again. Expecting it to happen will mean you’re ready for it when it comes.
The world out there will tell you that you shouldn’t have to adjust – you shouldn’t have to give up anything you expect, or want, or change in any way. But realistically speaking – that’s just not possible when two different people get married and try to live together the rest of their lives.
Both of you will have to readjust, both will have to shoot your expectations and learn how to live with the other person. Remember, he’s adjusting too.
Second, Expect there to be points in your life that are higher than others – but when the lows come, know that God will get you through. You can ‘expect’ God to do that, to help you both through those hard times.
I really want to get this next point in here. This part comes from a book by Gary Chapman called ‘The 4 Seasons of Marriage: Secrets to a Lasting Marriage.’ To really understand what he’s saying I suggest you read that book.
There will be spring, when your love feels new and fresh and vibrant.
There will be summer, when it’s growing, and steady.
There’s fall, when it is starting to feel a little cool.
Then there’s the dreaded winter where everything feels dead and cold.
Every marriage goes through these seasons.
Don’t give up in the cold season. Don’t despair, thinking you’ve ‘fallen out of love.’
The great thing about the winter and fall seasons in a marriage is, by taking positive steps you can break the cycle. If you ever get into those seasons, go back to what you did before.
That bridal boot camp of yours was genius. I was inspired by it, frankly. You were taking your marriage vows seriously months before you’d actually said them.
Go back to that boot camp, switch up the gears, turn it into marriage boot camp, and just hang on.
Go back to praising him.
Go back to being willing to make him the food he likes, go to the places he’d like to go, be interested in what he enjoys.
Go back to being his cheerleader.
Third, Expect to always be there for your husband, to be his support. My husband calls it being his ‘fourth wall.’ The one who always has his back, no matter what else is going on. Plan it now, and you’ll be more able to hold firm in that resolve down the road.
Praise him verbally.
He needs to hear that you think he’s doing a good job.
He needs you to actually THINK he’s doing a good job – if you say it, and your body language contradicts your words, he won’t believe your words.
And that brings me to my last point.
In order to be his support, you need to
Learn to slow down, and listen to him
Over and over again I’ve seen marriage advice, and it includes listening to the spouse. That’s so very important, for both. I know Will seems quiet to me, maybe he’s different when he isn’t in a crowd. But being the quieter one doesn’t mean he doesn’t have an opinion. Wait, and give him a chance to talk, but then listen to what he’s really saying.
I bet you’ve gotten really good at doing that already, Ranae, but I think hearing it today you might be reminded in the future, when you’re finding the listening part a little harder.
Listening to him also reminds you to put him first over other people. He gets first priority over friends, over church activities – even good things can’t come between the two of you.
Part of this learning to listen, is to step back and let him lead. The follower has to know where the leader is going in order to follow him. And in order to do that you have to be listening to him.
On the other hand, there’s a few things you DON’T need to be listening to.
Don’t share other people’s criticisms of him. He does NOT need to hear other people’s criticisms from you.
Yes, amazingly, you will probably come across someone who doesn’t like Will for some silly reason or another. You might only see it on their face, or they might verbalize it to you, or you might overhear it. Don’t carry that to Will. He doesn’t need to hear, “But do you know what they really think of you?”
Nope, let him be him, don’t try to change him to please someone else.
Don’t buy in to other people’s criticisms of him. Don’t let them color your opinion of him. Don’t listen to them in the first place.
Lastly, let me add this – Ranae, don’t be afraid of change.
This life never stays exactly the same – remember that neither will you, and neither will he.
Don’t live in fear of that change.
Change is big for him, too –
Marriages that last are made up of people who recognize change, and change together. They might not be the same, but they can adjust to each other through time – give the other person room to grow and room to change.
And remember, God will always lead the two of you in the same direction and that’s towards Himself. Stay moving toward God, keep trusting God.