You thought you knew the one you vowed to love when you walked down the aisle in pearly white. He was the tall, dark, handsome dream you waited impatiently for all those years. But this living dream was just the surface man that smiled and caught your heart and made you his with a kiss. He was more emotionally fragile than he let on, your strong and stable oak, your knight in shining armor, your paragon of manliness. You never imagined tension and anger would intrude upon your union.
But you were unaware of the self-preserving shroud that bound his broken heart and his childhood hopes he still carried around from his youth. You learn this in awkward moments and heated arguments that surprise you. You learn that he didn’t carry you alone over the proverbial threshold of your new life together in those humdrum, rented rooms, but hoisted your own broken heart and the residue of both your dysfunctional families along with you when he carried you deftly in his arms.
It may have taken years, but you learn that your present squabbles with your spouse have more to do with the past interjecting itself than with the actual issues at hand. He mentions the dry chicken breast or you being late again; you feel the inadequacy and rejection you felt from your father when you were twelve. You interrupt him nonchalantly or disagree with his conclusion; he feels the disrespect he witnessed his mother spat at his dad when he was eight.
Marriage is a God-sealed bond between a man and his wife. Yet we allow a whole slew of people and events to invade our privacy and cleave to us uninvited. If we are to become one, like Christ and His Church, we need to sever the ties that strangle the promise we made. We need to reject the harlot of our negative past that clings possessively to us both. We need to guard against any man or woman, family dysfunction, past hurt, or misguided belief about marriage and bar it from our home. And most importantly, we need to cast out the idol of self we had no idea we brought with us on that momentous trip down the aisle.
Christian Wife 101
Let no one rent asunder what God has joined together. Not fathers, nor mothers, nor even ourselves.
Welcome to Christian Wife 101
This series is meant for all wives, newly married and decades married, living the oft-times difficult journey of marriage who want to rediscover the blueprint for joy and peace that God made possible and laid out in His word.
I’m in no way an expert on godly marriage nor am I a perfect wife—far from it. But thanks be to God’s merciful Spirit, He has taken my past mistakes and opened my eyes to how I was sabotaging my desires for a peaceful life. When we try to rewrite God’s design, we will fail every time. But, oh, that illuminating moment when we finally get it: only God’s way works!
Christian Wife 101 is about getting back to the basics of what God says marriage is. Getting back to what God says a “help meet” is. Christian Wife 101 is a study for wives who want to thrive (not merely survive) in their role as a Christian wife.
Why do we fight?
The outside world is full of dangling promises of better things. It coddles our feelings and props us up with vanity and lies that we are good and the one causing us pain is not. We don’t see our own tendencies to be what we accuse others of. Our eyes are dim when looking within but oh, the clarity when we focus on our spouse! And what better time to believe the lies than an argument out of the blue? You know what I mean. That sudden whirlwind of bitter words that shoots up over the once calm fields of discourse you and your husband were traipsing.
“How could he say that?” you think. “He knows how much it bothers me.”
“Why does he think that way? It makes no sense at all.”
The howling wind of anger flies like smoldering debris from a prairie wildfire and a secret fear that he really doesn’t love you stings your eyes. You wish to be plucked from this pain and set gently on a technicolor road where love is assured, feelings can’t be hurt, and your husband never misunderstands what you say.
The enemy of your soul blows smoke of escape and your rights and the failings of your man to fuel the mistrust in God that he created from the beginning.
When you stand in the path of the lashing winds of marital communication and allow your emotions to reign above the love of God, every slight, snub, and selfish assumption will knock you down every time. Before you can get past these firestorms, you need to ask yourself: what is my part in the tempest?
You can only withstand the enemy’s gale-force destruction bearing down upon your home if you yield to the steady, refreshing Spirit of Christ that dwells in you, accept your part in the storm, and allow God to shield you with His strength and power.
Many of these Spirit-grieving battles start out as incremental stone upon stone suffocation that builds up till we explode. I know this intimately. I would spew out “you this and you that” in my weakest moments when I should have said, “I feel this and I feel that, please hear me.” When you stop throwing the weight that is crushing you at your husband, he won’t feel resentful or defensive and will be more than willing to help you get out from under it. Your husband wants to be your hero, not your scapegoat. He will shine in his armor if you let him.
When Anger Reigns Above the Love of God
Emotions ungoverned cause us to hear only what hurts us and emotions unchecked make us forget the barbs we flail heedlessly forward in self-defense. Our emotions become the shield we hide behind and the fuel for the fire the tongue creates.
And the tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity: so is the tongue among our members, that it defileth the whole body, and setteth on fire the course of nature; and it is set on fire of hell. James 3:6
But silence dampens those flames. Silence lowers that self-preserving shield and allows God’s Spirit to penetrate your heart and his. Silence won’t take away the impasse. But it will give you both time to come back together and speak with love, grace, and holiness: the only way to please God and work your way through it.
When you are not under emotion’s grip, bring your troubles respectfully to your husband BEFORE they morph into those explosive moments that make you wish you were someone else or he was. Because when all the weight you carry multiplies, when life laughs at your hopes and dreams, it’s easy to point fingers and blame the closest person nearest to you: your husband.
(I realize that sometimes your husband IS the weight. He is the one being unreasonable, unkind, and downright perturbing. Our feminine injustice nerves get twanged and we lash out because how can we not when emotions lead the way?)
Much of our pain stems from wanting justice now. We fight and defend ourselves because we don’t want to wait for God to do it. We want it now. Satan loves it when we force things our way and bypass God’s timing for our own. He wants us to put our needs and feelings in a place of worship and self-righteously perpetuate a cycle of anger and blame.
But in 1 Peter 2:21, we are given Christ as an example of how we should live.
For even hereunto were ye called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow his steps: Who did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth: Who, when he was reviled, reviled not again; when he suffered, he threatened not; but committed himself to him that judgeth righteously. 1 Peter 2:21–23
How hard this is! To allow the pain of someone else’s judgment fall upon us and let it be? To feel belittled, stupid, or worse, crazy! Agonizingly difficult. Especially if we had no conscious ill-intentions but were accused of such. But Peter is giving us wives a place to go with this difficulty. He asks, “what did Christ do?” Christ deferred to God. He refused to defend Himself but gave Himself over to the Father who judges righteously. In the middle of an argument with your spouse, how many times have you instinctively done that? (Yeah, me neither.)
The only way toward peace in a difficult marriage is to accept the will of God and live within it. Our husband, chosen by God, may have personality defects, gifts, proclivities, strengths, and weaknesses that clash with our own, but that is part of the will of God for us. By experiencing these irritations, we grow closer to Christ who endured the contradiction of sinners far more than we ever will.
For consider him that endured such contradiction of sinners against himself, lest ye be wearied and faint in your minds. Hebrews 12:3
The raw emotional pain you feel when your husband wrongfully accuses you the world calls emotional and psychological abuse. But what does God call it? Sin. Accusations, self-righteousness, blame—it all comes from the same adversarial spirit. And we are guilty of the same spirit against our husbands. The world says we are victims, and that victims are always right. God says we all are guilty of sin. Only He is always right. Everything else we think or feel or learn or do MUST be filtered through the word of God. There is no revelation apart from what God has already said is true.
Oneness is the goal
Don’t you love those blissful days of sunshine and stillness when everything clicks? You and your husband are walking side-by-side as one. You understand him, and he, you. But the truth is those blissful days are not the norm and the man God gave you will never fully “get” you. Your husband will never completely understand your heart and the logic behind your words and actions. And you will never completely understand what your husband is thinking or why he does what he does the way he does it. Only God can fully know us and see the unspoken thoughts and intents of our hearts. What’s a wife to do? To fall back on the world’s adage “Let’s agree to disagree” is not the answer.
Now I beseech you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you; but that ye be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment. 1 Corinthians 1:10
Your goal as a couple is to be of the same mind, of the same judgment. You don’t give up trying to understand each other and come to the same conclusions. You don’t give up pursuing peace. The world encourages separation between you and your husband, but God enjoins.
For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall be joined unto his wife, and they two shall be one flesh. Ephesians 5:31
For he that will love life, and see good days, let him refrain his tongue from evil, and his lips that they speak no guile: Let him eschew evil, and do good; let him seek peace, and ensue it. 1 Peter 3:10–11
Instead of battling it out on the field of self-justification where no one wins, defer to God. You will both grow closer to God and each other, there will be fewer areas of disagreement, and peace will “ensue”—or pursue the two of you like a warm and gentle breeze on a summer’s night.
The creeping anger you feel about everything unfair, unacceptable, and unasked for in your life and marriage is natural, dear wife, but we are called to rise above this and pray to our heavenly Father who has the power to change us. He has the power to help us see what spirit is leading us and replace it with His Spirit. Nothing is worth arguing about that will make your marriage better if the Spirit of God is absent.
So, the next time you feel the first puff of a self-seeking squall rush past your face, know whence it came, and take a deep breath of what Christ offers instead. Let all the needing to be right and understood and loved like you think you should be—go. Pursue God’s righteousness, instead of trying to prove you are right to your husband, and you will feel the kiss of a godly marriage amid a tranquil sky.
Abiding in the Vine,
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