Ideally, we would all have godly parents who modeled godly femininity, godly masculinity, a godly marriage and who taught us to submit to God-given authority and to respect others. Unfortunately, this is just not the case many times today.
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 actually 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.
Add to this lack of preparation the fact that we as a culture have been marinating in ungodly feminism, idolatry and sin for decades and have all been tainted by the messages of our culture about femininity, masculinity, marriage, parenting, careers, etc… no wonder we have such a mess in our romantic relationships, marriages and families!!!?
SO HOW DOES A WIFE LEARN 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 (that are about her responsibilities in marriage and becoming a godly wife)
- 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 HUSBANDS DO TO HELP THEIR WIVES LEARN TO FOLLOW AND RESPECT THEIR HUSBANDS?
Respect and biblical submission are gifts that wives give, and they are acts of obedience to Christ. They can NEVER be forced or coerced. Most wives don’t have any idea how to do these important things at first and husbands will need to be patient as their wives learn and grow over time. Each husband must study his particular wife to discover her own unique needs and desires as a woman. But HUSBANDS PLAY A POWERFUL ROLE IN HELPING WIVES DEVELOP THESE GODLY SKILLS! I do not have authority to teach men (according to scripture) – but I do think I have some personal observations to share that may be helpful for those who are interested. Here are some suggestions that I believe husbands may want to consider trying to help their wives grow in their marriages (wives – you cannot make your husband do these things! If you are a wife who is struggling in your marriage right now, this might be a good part to skip and go look at another post about things you do have control over):
- Some husbands come across as cruel, heartless, abrasive, abusive, demanding, big, strong and scary. The QUICKEST way to hurt your wife’s 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 and scare us, we CANNOT open her heart to you to trust you to lead us safely. It’s just impossible! Wives MUST know they are loved, secure and safe to be able to submit, and they must know they have a godly, selfless man who is looking out for their best interests. Please, gentlemen, I implore you to make it as easy as possible for your wife to respect and submit to you by controlling your temper and being a very gentle, safe place for your wife to find shelter and peace!
- Pray for us in private daily.
- Keep yourself pure. When you look at pornography or other women – it HURTS us deeply. We feel rejected, unloved, ugly, and betrayed. Many of us have no idea how difficult your struggle may be with visual temptation. But when you flee from every hint of sexual immorality, we respect that greatly!
- Find the beauty in us. Compliment everything you find beautiful about us. We have a lot of insecurity about our appearance sometimes. You have the power to build us up in this area like no one else can
- When husbands sin it’s HARD for wives 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 husbands give of themselves by doing chores or surprising us with thoughtful gestures – even when they are little gestures – THAT is HUGE for most wives! 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, seeing you play ball in the yard with the children, 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!
- Women LOVE words! A husband represents Christ to his wife and the wife represents the church. Believers meditate on the Word of God. Your wife meditates on your words. Words are POWERFUL for women. The more we hear and read about your love for us, the more secure we will feel in your love. Wives don’t generally realize that their husbands’ 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 her heart, mind, soul and body 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 lovingly 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! (wives, help me out here!) Take our hand daily and sit with us in a quiet place with you and pray over us, our marriage and children. If praying out loud REALLY freaks you out – then maybe put your hands on us, tell us you are going to pray for us, and pray silently over us. We need you even if we look like we are strong enough to handle spiritual things on our own! You are our God-given authority and we look 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!
- Be affectionate with your wife with no strings attached – especially if she has felt “like a piece of meat” with you before. (By the way – when we do NOT have a spiritual/emotional connection with you, 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 wives are built the opposite way! 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 – just to be able to enjoy touching without any expectation of something sexual later. Hold our hand. Put your arm around us. Play with our hair. Rub our back. Put your hand in the small of our back when we are walking together. Most wives LOVE affection like this!
- Remind us to stop cleaning and folding laundry and sit and enjoy being with you for a few minutes! We will work ourselves to death if you let us! We need you to notice when we are doing too much and help us to stop and unwind.
- Gently tell us when we are being disrespectful and try find out why we are hurting and feeling unloved. We act disrespectful 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 wives -it is going to take a long time for us to really understand and speak it fluently. We almost never are purposely disrespectful. We need your patience and gentle guidance through this minefield of masculinity!
- We MUST know that you are completely motivated by love for us and our children for us to embrace you as 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 us to submit to your 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 so 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, 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 and our children.
- Appreciate who we are as people and what we do for you to make your life better. Thank us!
- Support our parenting and back up our discipline with the children. Stand united with us as parents.
- 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.