This one is for the guys, too!
Hopefully we learned from a godly mom and dad how to submit to godly authority and what respect means. Those who have godly parents have a big advantage in being prepared for marriage! But we may need more training than that.
A RECIPE FOR DISASTER
Just like Christian men are often completely unprepared to be godly leaders and to love their wives as Christ loves the church and lay down their lives for their wives – Christian women are often completely unprepared to support a husband’s leadership and to respect their husbands. We are largely NOT taught what it means to be godly women, what godly femininity actually is, where our power is as women, how to live out God’s Word in marriage, how to identify and remove the lies of the culture around us and build only on the foundation of Christ, how to be a true helpmeet… It is HEARTBREAKING to me – the lack of examples and instruction that are available for wives and young women. This has to change.
SO HOW DOES A WOMAN LEARN/PREPARE TO FOLLOW HER HUSBAND AND RESPECT HIM?
Well – in my mind there are several sources of training available
- the Holy Spirit
- God’s Word
- a loving, selfless, servant-hearted, Christlike husband
- some marriage books
- a godly older Titus 2:2-5 woman who will come along beside her and teach and coach her to affectionately love her husband and children. This is VERY EFFECTIVE when you get a really godly, experienced woman as an example!
- women’s ministries
WHAT CAN MEN DO TO HELP THEIR WOMEN LEARN TO FOLLOW AND RESPECT THEIR HUSBANDS?
Respect and biblical submission are gifts that women give, and they are acts of obedience to Christ in marriage. They can NEVER be forced or coerced. Most women don’t have any idea how to do these important things at first and guys will need to be patient as their wife/future-wife learns and grows over time. Each guy must study his particular girl to discover her own unique needs. MEN PLAY A POWERFUL ROLE IN HELPING WOMEN DEVELOP THESE GODLY SKILLS! Here are some suggestions that I believe guys may want to consider trying (ladies – you cannot make your guy do these things! But I do want young single women to have a balanced understanding of what the big picture is for marriage. These are the kinds of characteristics to look for in a godly man!):
- Some men come across as cruel, heartless, abrasive, abusive, demanding, big, strong and scary. The QUICKEST way to hurt our ability to trust you, respect you and have faith in you as a leader is to be hateful, mean, loud, tyrannical and/or violent. We have to see that you are SAFE – ALL THE TIME. We MUST KNOW that our safety and well-being spiritually/emotionally/mentally/physically is one of your highest priorities! We need to know that you will only use your big, strong, imposing physique to help and protect us. You can show us that you are safe by not yelling or raising your voice, never threatening violence, being patient, kind and understanding. If you hurt us, we CANNOT open our heart to you to trust you to lead us safely. It’s just impossible! We MUST know we are loved, secure and safe to be able to submit, and that you are a godly, selfless man who is looking out for our best interests. Please, gentlemen, I implore you to make it as easy as possible for us to respect and submit (once we are married) to you by controlling your temper and being a very gentle, safe place for us to find shelter and peace!
- Pray for us in private daily.
- When our men sin it’s HARD for us to respect them. We need your godliness! The more you are like Christ, the more “pegs” you give us to hang our respect on.
- Women don’t tend to be visual. We are turned on and attracted most by the godly, self-sacrificing character of our men. When our men give of themselves by doing chores or surprising us with thoughtful gestures – even when they are little gestures – THAT is HUGE for us! We don’t need you to spend a lot of money or time. A flower from the garden for no reason, a trip to the store when we are sick, an invitation to take a walk together alone and hold hands, cleaning the house (ladies, please don’t criticize if he helps you! Be very appreciative!), a slow dance in the kitchen to a romantic song… THAT is the kind of stuff that makes us adore you! We LOVE your romantic creativity and generosity!
- Women LOVE words! A husband represents Christ to his wife and the wife represents the church. Believers meditate on the Word of God. We meditate on your words. Words are POWERFUL for women. The more we can hear about your love and read about your love for us, the more secure we will feel in your love. We don’t generally realize that your love is pretty stable and unchanging. We need daily proof of your love to know it is still there and strong. Writing us little notes, or text messaging/emailing us throughout the day about your love helps us to feel more connected, secure and loved by you. Your loving words MUST be backed up by your serving/selfless actions over a long period of time for us to be able to completely open our heart, mind, soul and body (in marriage) to you. Words alone are empty – but words that match loving actions are EARTH SHAKING for us!
- Please pray out loud with us! We need your leadership! Even if you feel awkward. It means THE WORLD to us when you take charge spiritually and pray. Even if it is only a sentence or two. Even if you stutter. Even if you write a short prayer in a notebook or email us a prayer that we can pray along with you. We long for emotional and spiritual intimacy with you in a similar way that you long for physical intimacy with us. We don’t expect perfection. We are not going to grade your grammar. We won’t judge your spirituality! (ladies, help me out here!) Take our hand daily and sit in a quiet place with us – pray over us , our relationship and future marriage (if courting/engaged). If praying out loud REALLY freaks you out – then lay your hand on our shoulder/arm/hand and tell us you are going to pray silently over us so that we KNOW you are praying for us. We need you even if we look like we are strong enough to handle spiritual things on our own! Once we are married, you are our God-given authority and we are looking to you for wisdom, direction and guidance. You have what it takes if you have Christ! You can do this!
- Have your own quiet time of prayer and Bible study daily. We need you filled up with God’s Spirit!
- In marriage, prepare to be affectionate with us with no strings attached sometimes. (For future reference, gentlemen – when wives do NOT have a spiritual/emotional connection with their husbands, then a physical union can feel very violating to us. I know that husbands sometimes need a physical connection first in order to have the emotional and spiritual connection – but we are the opposite! We have to see that you want to know us as a person, that you cherish our heart and soul.) Touch and hug us for no reason. Hold our hand. Put your arm around us. Play with our long hair. Rub our back. Put your hand in the small of our back when you are walking together. Most wives LOVE affection like this!
- Gently tell us when we are being disrespectful and try find out why we are hurting and feeling unloved. We act disrespectfully when we feel unloved. If you only address that you are feeling disrespected, but don’t care that we are feeling unloved – the disrespect may keep on coming (not that we ever SHOULD be disrespectful – but until we really learn this stuff, we need your help to make it as easy as possible!) Respect is a very foreign language to most women -it is going to take a long time for us to really understand and speak it fluently. We are almost never purposely disrespectful. We need your patience and gentle guidance through this unknown minefield of masculinity!
- Gently but firmly rebuke us if we are disobeying Scripture. Speak the truth in love to us.
- We MUST know that you are completely motivated by love for us for you to be the leader. If there is any doubt in our minds that you are making decisions selfishly to promote your own interests and that you are not taking our needs and feelings into account – that makes it EXTREMELY difficult for a wife to submit to her husband’s leadership. We will want to balk and we will feel completely justified. It’s hard to submit to a perfect, sinless God who always has loving motives – imagine how hard it is to submit to a sinful man, especially if he appears to be selfish. This is SCARY for us – especially at first as we are learning to trust God to lead us through you!
- Don’t ask us to condone or commit sin! We MUST resist you if you do this! God did give you authority over us (once we are married), but you must answer to Him and so must we. God’s authority trumps your authority in our lives.
- Don’t try to force us to submit to you – that will scare us and convince us that we are not safe with you. The real power in your godly masculinity is to show us that you are strong and powerful BUT also trustworthy, safe, loving, gentle and that you are willing to give up what matters most to you to do what is best for us.
- Appreciate who we are as people and what we do for you to make your life better. Thank us!
- Make spending time with us a BIG priority. If we think that your job or the tv or friends are more important to you than we are – it is very hard to respect and trust you.
- Praise what we do right!
- Please keep the criticisms to a minimum, and if you must bring up a criticism, please frame it in love and affection and try not to make a big deal out of our failures. We want so much to please you, but we may give up hope, whither and stop trying if we are just hearing negative things from you.
- Ask us what we are learning spiritually and talk with us about spiritual things. Steer us back toward God when we are straying. You have wisdom that we do not have. We have blind spots and crazy hormonal emotions that can spin us around and completely disorient us sometimes. We need your clear vision and big picture perspective! Your godly, masculine, spiritual leadership, protection and wisdom are VITAL to our safety and well-being! Please don’t leave us and our children to try to defend ourselves against the world and Satan’s attacks! We need you standing in the gap fighting the enemy for us!
- Forgive us when we mess up – because we will!
- Help us learn that we can trust you to tell us the truth and depend on you sometimes more than we can trust our feelings when we are hormonal and emotional. Be our spiritual and emotional rock.