As a newly married couple, you started out thinking “You and me against the world, babe.” So where did it go wrong? Why did you wake up one morning sitting on opposite sides of the bench when you started out on the same side that celebrated day?
It didn’t happen overnight. It happened in small increments of pulling away when the glow of newness wore off and you settled into the routines of married life. You no longer looked through those rosy glasses that blurred the imperfections of your man but chose to see the flaws magnified and took offense. And so did he.
Many marriages would be better if the husband and wife clearly understood that they are on the same side. —Zig Ziglar
As we slid away, it became easier for us to forget the “you” and revert back to a single “me” mindset without realizing this put our husband in the “world” category. For years, I wasted time fighting the wrong enemy, blaming my husband for being the pin to my happiness bubble as I inched further away. (Why do we mentally separate ourselves yet still expect “happily ever after”?)
When we joined hands at the altar a lifetime ago, God created a new bench and put us thigh to thigh. United by the bond of His Spirit, nothing has the power to separate us spiritually except our own selfishness.
Unity or “oneness” with your man gives you the strength to withstand what the prince of this world throws at you. (And he throws a lot some days, doesn’t he?) This “same-side” marriage gives you that peace you desperately long for with your husband.
Don’t stay miserable on the far side of the bench any longer, dear wife, scootch over.
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.
In a perfect world
In a perfect world, wives would feel entirely loved, needed, fulfilled, and would be consulted for every important decision in their marriage. Husbands would feel respected and desired and trust their wives implicitly. There would be no “I can’t believe you did that?” moments with their husbands. No “What have you done?” moments with their wives. There would be no anger or years of sorrow and worry. There would only be peace, joy, and repose.
Our enemy wants us to bemoan the disparity between our fantasy marriage and the uncomfortable reality we face. He wants us wives to feel put upon and taken for granted, and he wants us to be constantly discontent. But our Savior says, “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls” (Matthew 11:28–29).
Jesus Christ did not elevate His thoughts and feelings above the Father. He stayed humble, as we should. As wives, this is how we find rest from anger, sorrow, and worry.
But the rest Christ is talking about here won’t look like our fantasy version. This rest is attached to the yoke of Christ and His submission to the Father. For this rest to be ours, we need to submit to God by submitting to our husband’s lead. Godly peace and repose look like forgiveness. The rest Christ spoke of looks like prayer where His Spirit settles into ours and clears away the chaff that makes us feel sorry for ourselves and self-defensive.
Rest for our wifely soul is a gift outstretched when we accept the man God placed in our lives with all his flaws, and we can look him in the eye and say, I’m right here with you no matter what.
What about the locusts?
My husband has watched me grow spiritually in our marriage as I have watched him. It’s a beautiful God-thing. But we have regrets that have followed us through the years from our selfish stumblings and false ideas, from withholding due grace and honor, and from shifting the blame again and again. We’d never in our right mind go back and re-live that anguish. It was hell. But my husband has told me before that if it were possible for us to go back in time and redo our lives, he’d be willing if we knew what we know now. Only if we could take with us complete trust in God, the fruits of His Spirit, godly self-sacrifice, and the patience of Christ.
You know that verse in Joel 2:25 that says, “And I will restore to you the years that the locust hath eaten”? Most of us assume these locusts are sorrows, losses, and life events out of our control. They are other people’s bad decisions that pulled us along their wild and weedy path of destruction.
But what if WE are the locusts?
What if it was us causing the damage all along and the sorrow was by our own hand? “What-if” surmisings can leave us laden with remorse because we know those awful times would not have been had we listened and obeyed God.
But here’s the beauty of this, dear wife: with repentance, with a total turning around of your past thinking and actions, God promises to restore those years. We’ve hurt our marriage with our ignorance, stubbornness, and defiance. And past choices have led to mournful tears and seeming destruction beyond repair. But nothing is impossible for our God to set aright. Being alive in this sinful world guarantees we will experience troubles in life. But with daily faith in God, we won’t be the agents of our own destruction anymore.
We are told in 2 Corinthians 10:12 that comparing ourselves with others is foolish. Using other people’s lives, other people’s marriages, as a measuring stick against our own is not right. It’s akin to covetousness if you long for what they have or akin to pride if you think yours is so much better. So I ask you, when is comparison a good thing?
When you compare your negative marital past to the positive path your God-saved marriage has taken.
This comparison gives glory to God for all He’s done when you reflect on how far you both have come from your selfish beginnings.
When you ponder the past, you’ll shake your head over your self-defensive reactions to your husband’s correction or how you used to dish out quick accusations each time he failed you. You’ll remember his harsh criticism of your faults and compare that to how much kinder in words and gentler in tone your husband has become. You’ll remember how everything used to be his fault and now how everything is in God’s hands (as it always was).
And when you recall the differences, you will thank God for His indwelling Spirit that saves you from your perpetual mess and your naturally haughty mind. You will marvel at His wonderful words displayed in your marriage—peace, joy, forgiveness, mercy, brotherly kindness—that would not exist without Him.
But when you do reminisce, dear wife, make it quick. View it from the safety of the Spirit-filled mind. Because if you stay there dwelling on the slaying times that cut your trust and if you linger on those anger fests that lasted for days, you might trip into the pit of the enemy’s devices (self-pity, self-justification, anger, and blame). You’ve come too far for that. Thank God and move on.
You do not have to attend every argument to which you are invited. —Anonymous
This quote has many layers. We are often invited to argue over trivial matters, whether by the world or by our own families, or we are presented with a situation that would defile us and grieve the Spirit of God in us if we showed up to that party.
These “arguments” might not be direct contention between you and your husband, but anger from his childhood you must endure, complaints or anger from adult children you can’t fix, and seasons of doubt and depression from friends that remind you of your own.
We are told in Galatians 6:2 and in Romans 15:1 to bear one another’s burdens. But this bearing, this propping up, needs to be done from a place of spiritual strength, otherwise, you run the risk of becoming defiled by internalizing their past and current problems and making them your own. You can remain at peace as you pray for God’s touch in their lives but, ultimately, they must bear their own burdens (Galatians 6:5) as they grow and learn.
Peace is a gift wrapped in the love of God for those who choose to open it. But what do you do when an invite to fight barges in on your marriage? Your husband comes home tried, with unresolved problems from work, and he doesn’t use care in how he speaks to you and hurts your feelings.
This “argument,” this injustice, need not be fought, dear wife. Let it lay. Give him time to realize his mistake; he’s prone to the momentary sin of unkindness the same as you are. Come to him with your hurt with a calm and prayerful mind and watch God bless the two of you with His peace.
There is nothing worth defiling yourself over that God cannot take care of for you. God will defend you; God will make straight that which is crooked. Trust Him and be at peace.
They think it strange
Marriage is sacred, but many people view it merely as a contract to break when it suits them. And it suits them often because their thoughts and their feelings are their gods. They (and sometimes, sadly, “they” are our own mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers, and friends) decide to sever their unions for their self-justifying reasons and encourage us (subtly or not) to do the same.
Wherein they think it strange that ye run not with them to the same excess of riot, speaking evil of you. 1 Peter 4:4
When you are trying to be a godly wife, when your husband is being a husband protecting his family, you will encounter people who see your obedience as an affront to their ideology. An ideology of independence and hatred of God and His ways they don’t even realize they have.
But the hatred sits there in the decisions they make to ignore their vows and live as they please. They whisper doubts and discouragement about your husband and marriage while they trample through the destruction of their own. This is where the notion “you and me against the world” has merit. The world might be your own family, friends, or even your church where less and less Christ can be found.
If we were to go back to the beginning, the core of all things, there was one truth. It was not debatable, corruptible, or subject to opinion. There still is one truth and it is manifested in God, the Father, and His Son, Jesus Christ.
It was Paul’s fervent desire to see Christ’s body, the church, united in love and believing the same truth, living their lives in obedience to their Savior. Not clinging to outdated dogma or diluting the teachings till there was nothing left of Christ. The early church wasn’t perfect, but they strove to be one in mind and spirit.
Sadly, denominations, factions, and offshoots of sects today divide the body fractionally till there’s little agreement on what it means to be Christian. But Christ cannot deny Himself.
Fulfil ye my joy, that ye be likeminded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind. Philippians 2:2
Although we can’t convince our fellow brethren to be on the same page doctrinally (as this verse implores us to do) we can strive for oneness of mind with our spouse. It pleases God to see His children co-spirited with each other.
On a minute scale, this oneness reflects what the Father and Son experience (John 17:21–22). This oneness, this “minding the same things” (Philippians 3:16), fills us with joy and a peace that can’t be achieved any other way in marriage.
Paul was right. Oneness is the ultimate goal—between husband and wife and Christ and the church (Ephesians 5:31–32). This is where joy is found.
Homer, the 8th-century Greek poet, made an elegant statement concerning the institution of marriage when he said, “There is nothing more admirable than two people who see eye-to-eye keeping house as man and wife, confounding their enemies, and delighting their friends.” He grasped the essence of what a godly marriage was whether he realized it or not.
Do you confound your enemies by staying married? You know, those people who smile when they see you but mock your commitment in private? Those who never submitted to their husbands and don’t like to see you doing it either. Those who refuse to honor your husband’s role in your life because he stands for what they hate and because he won’t play their games? Yes, these people exist, but there’s only one enemy who truly hates your success as a godly wife—Satan.
Stand strong and foil his plans. He has no power over you.
We honor God and His Son, Jesus Christ, as we live out our calling as godly wives. There’s no better goal to reach for than to be one with your man. That eye-to-eye, same-page mindset helps you overcome the challenges that come upon every marriage.
We start out on this marriage journey expecting the better, the richer, and the health spoken of in our vows, but instead here comes years of the worse, the poorer, and the sickness, that shows up out of the blue. (I’ve wasted so much time begging the “better” to stop fiddling around and stay put to no avail.)
Our strength to succeed in life and marriage resides not in a fickle “better” life, but in Christ Jesus, our Lord, who overcame the world and set us free from all things worse and poor and sickly. By choosing to love when it hurts and not giving up, we set an example to the newly married and those who struggle that it can be done!
You delight God when you overcome life’s hardships as man and wife trusting Him. You delight your children, too, and family and friends and prove to them that it is possible to stay married through the bitter, unbearable times if you keep God close by your side.
Marriage wasn’t what you thought it would be, I know. Marriage has caused you pain and frustration, anger and fear. It’s also forced you to see your true self (not the pretty, mannered one you save for others). Marriage to your husband has awakened you to God’s purpose and His love for you which you would have not known fully without the struggle of this bond.
A peace-filled marriage is possible—it was God’s design all along, we just have to get out of the way. Stand strong and persevere in your holy and precious calling as a wife. Your blessings await.
And the work of righteousness shall be peace: and the effect of righteousness quietness and assurance for ever. Isaiah 32:17
Abiding in the Vine,
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