Ok, girls! I know that some of you are not yet dating. Some of you have a steady boyfriend or are courting. Some of you are engaged. It may seem like reading about a godly marriage relationship is unnecessary at the stage you are in life right now. But I believe that when you have the ultimate goal of what it means and looks like to be a godly wife in mind now – you will be much better equipped to make godly decisions in your romantic relationships now. And you may even decide to change the way you are interacting with your guy to better prepare for a godly marriage if that is what God has in mind for you down the road.
This is an article I wrote for www.peacefulwife.com. But I believe there are many insights to consider for single/dating/courting/engaged women. May God direct you in your relationships and help you to become the woman of His dreams!
Since I am a recovering control-freak/dominating wife – I tend to write from that angle. It’s what I know. It’s hard for me to imagine NOT knowing what I think instantly and NOT knowing how I feel. And I want EVERY other control-freak/dominating wife to get to experience the joy, peace, freedom and abundant life that comes with surrendering control to Christ and to our husbands, and being willing to obey God’s design for marriage.
But I am well aware that there are many women who are struggling from the OPPOSITE direction in their marriages, and I want all of them to experience the joy, peace, freedom and abundant life in Christ and in marriage from God’s design, too!
GODLY FEMININITY IS FOR STRONG, VIBRANT WOMEN WHO KNOW WHO THEY ARE!
Marriage is not representing the very great mystery between Christ and His church if the wife (representing the church) is passive, unconscious, uninvolved, full of self-doubt, full of fear, unable to express her feelings or unsure of her own strength and identity in Christ! God wants His people to have feelings, to share their feelings and struggles with Him. He longs for us to ask Him for things. He wants a two way, intimate relationship. He doesn’t always give us what we ask for – sometimes He has something much better in store. But He didn’t design us to be robots or machines in our relationship with Him or in our relationship with our husbands.
It is true that being bossy, condescending, controlling, scolding, critical, negative, nagging, argumentative, contentious, etc… as a wife is extremely dishonoring to God. But having NO thoughts, NO opinions, NO dreams, NO feelings, NO input, NO personality, NO contributions to the marriage and family as a wife – well, that doesn’t honor God either! To label being a slave or doormat as being a “submissive wife” will also repel many people from the gospel of Christ! A wife MUST be her own full, strong, vibrant person in order to properly complete and complement her man! There may be specific situations where we keep our thoughts to ourselves and allow our husbands to make decisions on his own – we must be sensitive to God’s Spirit, of course. But most of the time, our input is extremely valuable in our marriages – it is our motivations, and our respect for God and our husbands that are the key.
They are the kind (the sinful men described in the preceding 4 verses) who worm their way into homes and gain control over weak-willed women, who are loaded down with sins and are swayed by all kinds of evil desires, always learning but never able to acknowledge the truth. II Timothy 3:6-7
If we are weak-willed – we are targets for ungodly men to come in and take control and lead us away from Christ. We MUST know the Word of God. We MUST not be slaves to addictions that would destroy our bodies (body image issues, seeking the approval of others, food addictions, drug/alcohol addictions). We MUST know who we are in Christ. We must be women of great strength whose minds and hearts are full of the truth of God’s Word – the law of kindness and wisdom is to be on our tongues (Prov 31). How can we possibly teach our children what we don’t have ourselves. How can we pour out God’s love, grace, forgiveness and mercy when we haven’t experienced it? How can we impart strength and dignity to our daughters and teach our sons what kind of godly wives to look for if we are not modeling these things for real in our own lives?
It is only by God’s Spirit working in any of us that we can be godly wives and mothers. But He is able to break through every stronghold of Satan, every lie we believe, every shackle in our soul and bring us into His glorious freedom, joy, peace and purposes!
WHY BEING A DOORMAT HURTS A MARRIAGE AND A HUSBAND’S GODLY LEADERSHIP
Having a “doormat” or overly quiet and passive wife robs a husband of his wife’s unique and very important feminine perspective. Her feelings, desires, opinions, goals and thoughts are critical for him to weigh when he is making decisions. Without her full involvement, a husband is likely to make lopsided, selfish, tyrannical decisions without even knowing it. He NEEDS his wife’s feedback. Her children NEED their mama’s involvement in decisions so that there is a well-rounded discussion and more than one perspective is examined.
A wife’s emotions are supposed to be a barometer by which a husband measures his success as a husband and father many times. Her joy and delight reward him when he does well. Her pain hurts him when he makes mistakes. Her emotions teach him to care more about your best interests than his own! How can he know how he is doing if his wife is lifeless and has no feedback or response? He will be walking blindly. He needs her admiration, respect and praise when he gets things right to know that he is honoring God and walking the right way. He needs her grace, mercy, acceptance and poise when he fails. Then he can become a better man!
WHY BEING A DOORMAT (OR “SLAVE”) WIFE HURTS CHILDREN IN THE FAMILY
There must be two complete people in a marriage or the children will not appreciate, experience and understand the purpose, power and glory of femininity. They won’t experience the strength of a wife who knows her mind and how to respectfully and gently speak to her husband in a way that empowers his leadership and helps him soar to greater heights. They will not have tools for handling conflict and disagreements if their Mama models being inactive, unplugged, weak and emotionally and spiritually not present in the marriage and the home. They will have GAPING holes in their understanding of marriage, of God, of His sovereignty, of masculinity and femininity, of conflict resolution, of parenting… The children will be robbed of so many blessings if their mother does not know who she is, how precious she is to God and her husband, how loved she is by God and her man. How can she teach them His love, His wisdom and love them as herself when she doesn’t know herself or love herself? THIS IS A CRITICAL ISSUE! The children’s future is riding on their mom’s ability to find out who she is, Whose she is, where her power is, what her purpose is and where she is going!
BALANCE IS THE KEY
So, it is extremely possible for us as wives to overshoot and take over and be disrespectful OR to overshoot the other way and become lifeless and give up your precious and powerful godly influence as wives completely in our marriages and our families. There must be a critical balance where we share our thoughts, hopes, dreams, desires, feelings, ideas and perspective respectfully and we don’t take over the marriage. And we respond graciously when our husband makes a decision that we do not agree with. This is NOT easy! It takes the full power of the Holy Spirit to accomplish this balance!
I know that for months, when I was first learning respect and biblical submission, I would just clam up and be completely afraid to say anything. I overshot way too far toward the doormat side of things because I didn’t want to be disrespectful. It took months of overshooting one way, then the other, then back and forth until I found the beautiful balance that honors God.
IF YOU TEND TOWARD BEING QUIET AND GIVING UP YOUR INFLUENCE IN YOUR RELATIONSHIPS:
You will need to practice some new skills:
- taking your time to really think through your thoughts and ideas. You may need to journal these or have a close, godly woman mentor who can help you work through your scary new feelings and communication style.
- you may feel like you can’t change the subject in conversations or that you are interrupting too much. If you are really putting yourself out there and feel like you are sticking your neck out a bit too much, and maybe you are being obnoxious – you are probably on the right path if you have been way too quiet for a long time! It will feel awkward and foreign as you learn to stand tall, speak up, know your mind, know your heart and listen to the voice of God!
- focus on what your feelings are. They are often gifts from God. Sometimes your feelings will be wrong when you are tired or hormonal. That’s ok. If you are tired or hormonal, take care of your body so you have more to give. Your man can’t take a nap for you. Be responsible for caring for your body so that you have the most energy and joy to give to yoru relationship! Identify your feelings each day. Maybe write them down. Tell your man your feelings. Notice when you are feeling angry. Anger is a gift from God! It tells us that our boundaries are being violated. Tell your guy when you are sad. He needs to know that you are sad so that he can see if he needs to correct something in the relationship, or to help you identify a problem in your heart. Or just so he can know it is PMS week and that you need some extra grace and slack. It’s ok to voice your feelings and needs. You may have to give yourself a lot of forgiveness. You may not say your feelings and needs perfectly. That’s ok. I pray you and your guy can give each other a lot of grace as you learn this new dynamic! I believe your guy, even though he may resist you at first, will later be very glad that you learned to speak your mind and offer your opinion and feelings. YOU ARE IMPORTANT! YOUR FEELINGS MATTER! The relationship and future marriage cannot thrive without your input! Your future children are counting on you to use your influence and strength to empower your husband toward godliness! But give input with humility, not pride!!!
- Be willing to express your entire range of feelings to your man as you learn to feel them. But express them respectfully and simply without blaming him. I like how Laura Doyle “The Surrendered Wife” describes expressing feelings. Simply say things like, “I feel sad.” “I feel happy.” “I am so full of joy.” “I love being with you.” “I’m glad I’m your wife.” “I feel scared.” “I feel angry.” “I feel upset.” “I feel lonely.” “I miss you.”
- Laura Doyle also talks about expressing desires in a pure form without blame. “I want to do X” “I want to go to the beach.” “I want to cuddle with you tonight.” “I want to go to that concert this weekend.” “I want to dance with you.” “I want you to listen to me for a few minutes, then I will feel better.”
- Tell your man what you need. “I need help.” “Would you please do X?” Smile. Thank him when he helps you. Your power is in your radiant smile, your admiration, your encouragement, your respect, your faith and trust in him. Use these gifts of godly femininity God has given you so generously when you need to ask for help.
- Say, “I can’t” when something is too much for you. If it will rob you of your sanity, or too much sleep, or will leave you depleted with nothing else to give to God or others – It’s ok to say, “I can’t” and DO NOT EXPLAIN WHY YOU CAN’T!!!!! If you explain, people will give you reasons why you can still do something. You can tell your man, “I can’t carry the 100 lb suitcase through the airport. It’s too heavy for me.”
- apologize if you are too harsh or disrespectful. One time. Then ask God to help you move on and do better by His strength!
- focus on finding out your identity in Christ.
- sort through the lies you believe about yourself, your small view of God, your lack of understanding about His sovereignty.
- work through any abuse, molestation or emotional/sexual/spiritual injuries from your past to find healing through Christ. You may need a godly mentor to help you expose the issues and walk through them into God’s light.
- memorize God’s promises in Scripture.
- sing lots of praise songs to Jesus!
- ask for extra time if there starts to be tension in a relationship. Say you need some time to think and pray before you respond. That’s ok! You can ask for time!
I would LOVE to hear from wives who have found themselves, discovered their own feelings, identity and personalities. What was the turning point for you? How did you learn to know your own mind and heart? How did you learn to speak up for yourself respectfully? How did your husband change? How dominant was he? How long did the transformation take? What advice do you have for other wives on a similar journey of self-discovery? What was the hardest part? What did your husband think at first? How does he feel about things now?
I pray You will help us find the godly balance that is Your design for a wife of noble character. Let us bring great glory to You in our marriages, our families and in our walk with You!