One of my readers, a Christian man, commented on this comment of mine – my words are in blue. I thought his question was a good one. Here is my attempt to describe what on earth I was thinking those first 15 years of my marriage when I was so disrespectful, prideful, self-righteous, idolatrous and controlling.
“I wanted my husband to lead. Ok – I thought I wanted my husband to lead. But I only wanted him to lead in the ways I thought were best. Because I “could see God’s will so very clearly.”
FROM A READER:
I realize this may be a ridiculous question, but I’m curious. Please help me understand something.
Would your comment more accurately describe a woman’s desire for her husband “to be on the same page as her” (to increase some form of godly unity within marriage as she might think best) or just for her husband “to get on-board with her decision” (because achieving her will is a higher priority than any desire for godly unity), though she may rely falsely (or even unintentionally) on the common and convenient words, “I want my husband to lead?”
I ask this generally about all or most women, not necessarily you specifically.
Whew. That is a difficult thing to explain. How do I explain my rational when I was completely steeped in sin, totally blind and living in rebellion against God but thought I was a super spiritual Christian?
In my mind at the time – I believed I knew “God’s will.” I believed that if my husband thought that God’s will was anything other than what I thought God’s will was – that he was 100% wrong. I thought that I was MUCH closer to God than he was at the time. I didn’t trust that he could discern God’s will. I never saw him pray. He didn’t pray with me. I didn’t think he read his Bible much. (I didn’t see him read it – he may have done it in private). He seemed addicted to the tv (he was hiding from my disrespect, I know now!). He ignored me (from my perspective). I felt extremely unloved. And I thought my husband was FAR, FAR from God. I judged him and condemned him. I thought he was incapable of knowing and discerning God’s will. I self-righteously thought I was “the only spiritually mature one” in the marriage. And I thought I “had” to lead because my husband clearly was “not qualified” and he “wouldn’t” lead. I mean, I would ask him something and give him about 30 seconds to answer. And if he couldn’t answer me in that amount of time, I obviously had to take over because he wasn’t going to make a decision. (I didn’t understand he needed more time to process than I do. It turns out that he is not a woman, and he is also not me! Hmm.. Who would have imagined?)
I had no concept of unity being something that I needed to stretch and work towards and compromise for. I thought he needed to come to the godly place where I was. I really believed I knew God’s will and he didn’t. So I didn’t perceive it as my will was a higher priority. I truly believed I had the inside track with God and I was the only one of the two of us who knew God’s will or could know God’s will.
My pride was astronomical. I don’t know if you can measure pride – but I had myself above God and WAY above my husband. I had to come down thousands and thousands of notches. God opposed me for all those years. I didn’t see my prayers answered. I stayed completely frustrated and unhappy. THANK GOD! He wouldn’t let me find contentment in my pride, sin, idolatry and rebellion.
And THANK GOD that my husband would not allow me to manipulate him into doing what I wanted him to do. I am grateful now that he had a backbone and refused to cooperate with my attempts to usurp his authority.
I wish he had told me that I was being disrespectful and controlling. He never once said that. In fact, he didn’t even think it. He just thought I was arrogant. But he didn’t tell me that either. He never reprimanded me. My parents never reprimanded me for a disrespectful or prideful attitude, either. So my pride had gone unchecked my entire life. And I wholeheartedly believed I was a strong, wonderful, godly, amazing Christian wife. I had no clue about my sin or my being deceived.
MY HIGH SCHOOL ASSIGNMENT – by PEACEFULWIFE
You want to know something sad? In high school, I actually had an assignment in my Independent Living class where I was paired up with a guy and we had to “pretend to be married” and work through a bunch of difficult conflicts and issues. The way I acted then should have been a HUGE CLUE to me – or to my future real husband – how I was going to act in marriage. But I didn’t get it then. And I guess my husband (Greg) didn’t really pay much attention to my behavior in that class in high school. He probably should have! We were dating at the time (Greg and me). And I told him all about how awful my assignment was. But neither of us realized that I would later do the same things later to him that I did to my pretend husband.
I was paired up with a guy, we’ll call him, John (not his real name). He was agnostic. And he hung around the “alternative crowd” – I guess would be what that clique was called. He had longish hair – and I am trying to remember, correctly, but possibly black finger nail polish sometimes? He wore black most days – and a black trench coat. He was thin and seemed nervous a lot to me. Maybe because he had to be my partner??? I’m not really sure!
I was a straight A honors student. I practiced classical piano for an hour every day and practiced classical flute for an hour every day and was even 1st chair in the SC All State Band my senior year. I never got in trouble – except for that ONE time I waited for my friend at her locker because she begged me not to leave her while she fumbled with her books. We were late for lunch and we got detention. I was DEVASTATED! My Daddy laughed hysterically. I definitely did NOT. I was SUPER involved in my church and was one of the most active and serious Christians I knew. I never really identified myself with a clique at school. My twin sister and I had some good friends, but we also let anyone who wanted to sit with us at lunch sit at our table. We never turned anyone away. So a lot of people sat with us who weren’t welcome in other circles.
John and I were told to make a budget, decide what religion we would teach our children, how we would handle different holidays… and we had to work together as a team on a number of conflicts and decisions.
Guess how I responded? (I feel so badly for poor John!)
I was EXTREMELY ARROGANT! I smugly told John that I would never marry a non-Christian, so none of these exercises mattered one bit. I told him that I WOULD be raising my children to know Jesus, go to church and read the Bible. I told him I wouldn’t date a guy like him, much less marry him. Problem solved. End of story. I didn’t care much about his perspective. I was right, of course. And I definitely did not cooperate with his leadership or give him a chance to try to lead. I was the leader. I was the decision maker. It was all about me and what I wanted. Unfortunately, when a woman thinks she is RIGHT, she can easily justify all kinds of pride, disrespect, rebellion against God’s Word, gossip, unforgiveness and bitterness. At least, I sure did.
Needless to say, we butted heads A LOT at first. I was a very unhappy camper to be forced to pretend to be this guy’s wife. I wasn’t going to have conflict in my real marriage in the future. My husband and I would agree on everything. Just like my identical twin sister and I agreed on everything – or so I thought. Turns out I was wrong about that, too! She didn’t actually agree with me. She just didn’t do a lot of thinking about her own opinions or feelings and let me do a lot of thinking for both of us. That was not healthy for either of us, by the way! So I continued that mode of operation with my fairly quiet husband and assumed we were on the same page about a lot of things – when in reality, it turns out – we weren’t!
I can’t remember exactly why – but my pretend husband and I started to get along better eventually. Maybe we were off the “religion” topic. But I was AWFUL at team work. I DID NOT cooperate. I did not compromise. I just took over and did everything myself. After all, I was right! I think he basically caved in to me and let me run the show. I know you are shocked! I eventually came to see John as a friend. He was a really great guy! He was funny, smart and had some good ideas. How I wish I had respected him and been cooperative!
I see him every once in awhile – or I did, when I worked at Walgreens pharmacy a few years ago. I have a lot more respect for the guy now. At one point I apologized to him for my disrespect way back in Independent Living. He was very forgiving. I wish I could tackle that assignment again knowing what I know now! Although, probably not the smartest idea now to pretend to be married to someone else – even as an assignment – now that I am actually married.
Now, I know that it really wouldn’t matter much who I was married to or what my husband did or did not do – the kind of wife I am comes from inside of me. If I am disrespectful and controlling with an agnostic guy that I am pretending to be married to in class – I will also be disrespectful and controlling with any real life husband later WHEN I DON’T GET MY WAY.
That class and that assignment was actually an extremely accurate predictor of how I would later behave in a real marriage. Hmm… something to think about!