My precious sisters in Christ,
Here is a post I have written for the married women. I know most of you are not married, many of you are not even dating right now. But I would like for you to get a taste of how to handle conflict in marriage – and then you can extrapolate a lot of these principles to a dating relationship/courtship/engagement as well. These are things I pray that you will store in the back of your mind for future reference.
Honestly, much of what I am about to share with you also applies to many other relationships in our lives, as well.
I pray that God might open your heart to anything He desires you to learn or understand today!
You have every right to ask him for what you would like, what you want and what you desire politely, pleasantly and respectfully (probably just once is plenty – in most cases) of your husband.
Your husband has every right to decide to answer “no” if he thinks it is best – as long as his decision isn’t sinful. He also has the right to decide what his priorities will be, and to hold off on what you have asked him to do if there are more urgent things that he believes he needs to do for his work or the family. You cannot force him to do what you want him to do. Well… you could try. But that would be extremely disrespectful.
I took over a situation myself – many years ago:
I cleaned up my husband’s tools in the very messy garage one Thanksgiving evening when a heating and air guy couldn’t walk to the furnace in the garage the day before. The service guy was very unhappy about how messy the garage was and told me to ask my husband to clear a path so he could walk through that Friday when he came back. I asked my husband – in a very contentious way – to please CLEAN UP THE NASTY, FILTHY GARAGE! I was SO EMBARRASSED! I HATE clutter and mess and I could hardly stand to look at his side of the garage. I wanted to hyperventilate every time I walked past it. I wanted a garage that looked completely well-swept, spotless, clean, organized – and, well, like a picture from a Lowe’s magazine, of course!
He wouldn’t clean up the garage. He was probably watching a football game that was important to him – which I also didn’t care about whatsoever at the time. THE MAN WAS COMING THE NEXT MORNING!!!!!!!!!! THERE WAS NO TIME TO WASTE! How could my husband just sit there when there was a CRISIS on our hands?
I was INFURIATED.
So I stormed down to the garage and began throwing away all the trash and tool packages that never got thrown away and had been sitting there for months. I seethed with resentment against my husband with every move I made. I organized and sorted things and put them in plastic totes and labelled them “paint stuff,” “caulk,” “tools,” “electrical” etc. And it looked a whole lot better when I was done, too. I was very proud of myself. Task accomplished. Yep! I had my priorities straight.
Now, the AC/heating man would be happy with me the next day, and I wouldn’t get criticized or condemned by that man. (I was a people pleaser back then – particularly with strangers – which is what people pleasers often do.)
My husband eventually realized what I had done and got REALLY upset. I had intruded on his private territory and messed with all his stuff. I had put things where he couldn’t find them. I had thrown away things that he didn’t want to be thrown away. I had deliberately gone against him and done something he specifically told me NOT to do. (I was unknowingly quite disrespectful and controlling back then, but I normally didn’t blatantly go directly against him like that.) And I hadn’t even cared one lick that it would upset him.
That is probably one of the most disrespectful things I ever did – because I did it out of spite, KNOWING he told me not to touch anything, but I didn’t care what he wanted. I didn’t want to be embarrassed with the heating and air guy again the next day. I thought I was “right.” Make the AC dude happy! But, unfortunately, that decision was NOT WISE on my part. I cared more about respecting and pleasing that total stranger than I did about respecting and pleasing my husband or God. I’m now very ashamed to say.
We as women are so tuned in to the details in life – that we can get so focused on the little issue and how “right” we are – that we can miss the things that are truly most important in life and in our relationship with God and people if we are not careful.
MY STRATEGY NOW FOR THOSE ISSUES WHERE WE DON’T AGREE:
If the above example happened today, I would smile, casually approach my husband and say, “Oh, Honey, the heating and air guy asked if you would please clear a path in the garage so he can walk to the furnace tomorrow. Thanks!”
Then I would drop it. If he didn’t do it – I would wait until my husband left, and then cleared a small path. No big deal. I’m sure that our garage isn’t the only one that is messy.
These days, I have a feeling that my husband would probably gladly clear a path in the garage if I asked him like I have just described. I get what I want MUCH MORE OFTEN now that my husband knows I respect him and I am not trying to control him.
Here is what I ask myself now.
- Is it possible that God is nudging him to keep some of these things/ do what he is doing for a reason that I don’t know anything about? (Check out this post to see an example in real life!)
- Is it possible that I am hormonal/stressed/exhausted and this issue isn’t actually as important as it feels like it is right now?
- Am I am putting someone else’s feelings above my husbands? Is that person a God-given authority in my life? (ie: the government, a pastor, my boss) Is that person’s authority in my life higher than my husband’s in God’s sight? (like – is my husband asking me to join a cult, sin or do something illegal? If so, I must resist him and obey God’s Word.)
- Is this issue more important than the unity and peace of our marriage?
- Is this issue more important to me than making sure my husband feels respected and loved?
- Is this issue big enough and critical enough that I need to jeopardize the unity and intimacy in my marriage about it?
- Is this issue important enough that it is acceptable for me to wound my husband about it?
- Is it possible that my husband has a valid perspective that I could consider?
- Is my husband asking me to sin or condone sin? Is having a messy garage a sin according to God’s Word? Ummmm….. I can’t find that verse!!!!
- Am I holding bitterness and resentment in my heart about this issue?
- Am I being unforgiving?
- Am I being selfish to try to force my way?
- Am I being prideful, thinking I know so much better than my husband or that my way is the only way that is “right”?
- Am I trying to control him instead of honor his God-given leadership?
- Is there sin in my heart that God wants me to repent of? Pride, resentment, unforgiveness, bitterness, selfish ambition, usurping control from my husband are all huge sins in God’s sight. What if I am actually the one sinning here, NOT my husband????? GASP!
- Is this issue more important than my intimacy with Christ and my love for Him? Jesus commands me to respect my husband and to honor His leadership. Jesus says that if I love Him, I WILL obey His commands.
- Is this issue more important to me than Jesus – is it an idol in my heart? Do I refuse to be content unless I have my way about this issue?
If the issue I am concerned about truly is more important to me than the unity of my marriage, our marriage covenant, my intimacy with my husband, my husband’s God-given leadership, my obedience to God’s Word or my intimacy with Christ – then it is time to seriously examine my priorities!!
Obeying God, being free of sin, honoring my husband, having oneness in my marriage and oneness of Christ are my priorities now. That is what I want now that I am totally submitted to Christ! The little issues just don’t matter that much any more. I want God’s will, not mine.
If we are not being godly stewards about this issue, MY HUSBAND is the one God will hold accountable, not me. So, I am off the hook!
I CANNOT CONTROL MY HUSBAND. BUT I CAN INSPIRE HIM.
My husband is a grown man. It is his within his rights to decide how organized/messy he wants to keep his tools in the garage. I may not like it. That’s ok. I can share with him my desire for the garage to be organized – in a pleasant tone of voice with a smile and no pressure. Then, it is up to me to graciously accept his decision and learn to be content with the circumstances.
I now realize that by allowing him the freedom to make the choice about how to organize his tools, I am showing him that:
- I trust him
- I have faith in him
- I allow him to make his own choices about his life
- I honor his leadership and decisions in the family.
By graciously accepting his decision instead of fighting him, I choose:
- intimacy with Christ
- unity with Him
- intimacy with my husband
- unity with him.
- I just might be able to witness miracles as God works in my husband’s heart about something as simple as his tools. I got to witness something like that, probably because of a man who didn’t listen to his wife about this kind of thing! Check it out! A Real Life Example of Biblical Respect and Submission
Husbands assume that when we trust them about little things like this issue – that we will trust them about much bigger issues. They also assume that if we don’t trust them about little issues, that we don’t trust them on bigger issues. Our trust, faith, cooperative spirit and joy in Christ even as he makes a decision we don’t like, and willingness to give him room to make his own choices and even to make ‘wrong’ choices in our minds – will help spur him on to become a better leader and more godly man. AND, God will use it to make us more like Christ and to bring about glory for Himself! I CANNOT LOSE!!!!!!!!
I pray that we will find our contentment 100% in Christ, not in our circumstances. And I pray that God might work powerfully, even in these little issues, to show how beautiful His design for marriage is and that His Name might be highly exalted.