Every Wednesday we talk marriage! And today I want to talk about what is often a controversial subject.
I want to talk about spiritual leadership.
I don't want to talk about it because I have firm views on male or female roles in a marriage. I don't want to talk about it because I think the man should take spiritual leadership in a marriage. In fact, whatever I think about these issues really doesn't matter. Because I don't want to debate the doctrine of it; I want to talk about the emotions of it.
Whether we're egalitarians in our beliefs about marriage or traditionalists, I think we women share one thing: we don't like being completely responsible for the decisions in the family. In fact, if, everytime you asked your husband something about the kids or your relationship, he were to reply, "whatever you want is fine with me, Honey," I bet we'd be ticked. Men might think that they're earning brownie points by giving you what you want, but do we really want the right to make all the decisions?
We got married because we want to share it. We want a sounding board. We want someone else to share the load. In fact, we wouldn't mind it if every now and then someone took that load from us, because bearing the responsibility for the family is tiring. Yet often, because women are more naturally "at home" at home, we do slide into that decision-making role. And then we wonder why he doesn't exercise more leadership!
Last December, blog reader Alex, in her own blog Journey to Beauty, wrote something very insightful. If you can take your mind back to Christmas, and picture the scene, let's listen to Alex's thoughts:
Yesterday we braved the cold and misty rain to put up our Christmas lights per my grandmother's request. I stood at the bottom of the ladder giving orders and handing lights and clips to my husband who perched gracefully on the roof. As usual, I was calling the shots. My husband took the orders that were barked at him gracefully as he usually does, right up until it was time to take the rented ladder back to Home Depot. That's when all my pushing, shoving, and controlling had finally rubbed a hole in my husband's patience.
My first reaction was to blame him. He was being unreasonable, unstable, and mean. Didn't he know that I usually knew better? Didn't he know that I was the wiser one in the relationship? And then that ever still and small voice in my head tugged at my heart yet again. Don't you know that I know better? Don't you know that all wisdom comes from Me? Ouch, God.
Suddenly I realized something. See, for years I'd battled with my husband, calling him a poor leader, telling him that he needed to man up, criticizing him in ways that make me cringe when I look back. But the truth is that I'd never let go of the reigns long enough for my dear husband to take them from me. The truth was that I'd never trusted God enough to let go of anything. I'd strived and battled and pushed to be in control my whole life, and in the process I made myself and everyone around me miserable, including my husband.
Does that sound like you? I know it sounds like me. Often we take control because we aren't happy with ambiguities. We don't like living without a plan of attack. We want to know what we're going to be doing a week from now, a month from now, a year from now. We want certainty, stability, and security. And if our husband won't provide that security, we're going to provide it for ourselves.
Our little jaunt into control freak territory pushes him out. But it also pushes God out. I think God wants to grow us a little bit in this area. God wants us to learn to live in the moment, in the day, to practice the art of asking for daily bread and not worrying about tomorrow. (That doesn't mean I'm against budgeting or retirement planning; but all things in moderation). God wants us to learn to trust. Trust does not mean that we work so hard that we leave nothing to chance. To trust is to live in the moment, letting the future be in God's hands. To control is to try to live in the future, to work everything out for our own good the way we want it to go. And when our husbands don't share our control freak tendencies, we think that means that he doesn't love as much, or care as much. Perhaps he's simply better able to live in the present.
We need to learn to trust; he needs to learn to lead, to care, and to act. That's the case in most marriages. But it's very difficult for him to learn that while we are trying to run the house. It's also very difficult for us to learn our own lessons while we pay lip service to trusting God, but still try to manipulate all the circumstances around us to do exactly what we want them to do.
In my almost two decades of marriage, I have experienced some times when I could hear God, taste God, and feel God, and some times when God was far away. Very rarely did I ever walk through valley times with my husband; usually when I was in a valley, he was climbing a hill. Similarly, when he went through a four-year valley experience, I was doing really well. Right now I'd say he's on a mountain; learning fast, praying much, and growing. I'm a bit in a rut. But that's okay, because I know that these things are in cycles, and whether we're in a hill or a valley, we're moving in the same direction.
The beauty of marriage is that when you are weak, he can be the strong one. And likewise when he is weak, you can be strong. I do not believe that the husband always has to be a mighty leader, because that's not realistic or consistent with what we see of Christian growth. But I do think that often we hinder our husbands from learning leadership because we take too much on ourselves. But then likewise, we hinder ourselves from growth because we also do not learn to trust.
So today on Wifey Wednesday, I want to ask you: how do you, in a practical way, let go of some of the reins and let your husband drive? How do you encourage him to grow spiritually? How do you learn to step back and trust?
Either write your own Wifey Wednesday post (you can use the picture above by right clicking and saving it) and then link back here in the Mcklinky, or leave a note in the comments. I'd like to hear your thoughts!
About Me: I'm a Christian author of a bunch of books, and a frequent speaker to women's groups and marriage conferences. Best of all, I love homeschooling my daughters, Rebecca and Katie. And I love to knit. Preferably simultaneously.