Original Photo by Michael Sarver
By Megan Ciampa, Contributing Writer
“I told you so!”
Words you never enjoy hearing.
Especially when it’s between a husband and wife or anyone in any close relationship. Those words sting even more and often signal that the person who said those words has been harboring judgment, resentment or accusations in his or her heart towards the other person. “I was right, and you were wrong.”
We make decisions every single day, and oftentimes we as parents and spouses have to make important decisions that are not as clear-cut as the rest.
What do you do though when you and your spouse do not agree on big matters? How do you handle it if you and your husband are at odds with one another? What’s your reaction typically like? And how does your response fit in with what the Bible says about roles and responsibilities within the home? If you are not a believer, this part may make you groan, but if you hang on for just a tad longer, you may see that this can be applicable even if you are not involved in a Christ-centered marriage.
Here’s a quick peak at God’s instructions for Christian households in Colossians 3. I am using The Message version because I like how it reads (emphasis in bold is mine):
18 Wives, understand and support your husbands by submitting to them in ways that honor the Master.
19 Husbands, go all out in love for your wives. Don’t take advantage of them.
24 Keep in mind always that the ultimate Master you’re serving is Christ.
God calls us to a higher standard than what we often see displayed on TV or in the media in marital relationships. Wives are to be understanding and supportive, and by being submissive to our husbands (which we’ll discuss more in depth), we are honoring Christ.
Often times we see the submission verse given to women and we might shudder and think, “Oh great, just another command to the women. The guys get off easy!” In reality, the very next verse calls husbands to “go all out in love for your wives.” We are to be submissive, but our instruction does not heed love!
Let’s just take a pause here and say if you knew me as a teenager, your jaw would probably drop knowing I would even discuss passages like this! Even though I grew up in a Godly household with Christian parents who modeled a very Godly marriage to me and my three brothers, I grew up with boys all around me and I often felt suppressed by the verses I read towards women. I believed false truths that these commandments put women down and were not in a woman’s best interest, and yet I was still a Christian. It was just an area I really grappled with and didn’t enjoy discussing much in woman’s classes or hearing from the pulpit. It really wasn’t until I grew up and got married and had a baby that I realized there was much wisdom in these commandments.
So, how can you show respect and submission to your husband even when you disagree on BIG issues (health, food, education, where you live, careers, decisions related to your children, finances, etc)?
First we must understand what submission means. It does not mean suppression. While it may harken back thoughts or ideas of the 1950s era or lead you to the beginnings of the feminist era, real submission does not mean suppression. I do not believe God employed women with hearts and brains only to not use them and “play dumb.” As helpmeets, we are employed with these assets to work alongside our husband and truly strive to make the best decisions we know how, giving glory to God. It’s just that we will not always see eye-to-eye.
Submission means yielding. It means letting go when you realize in order to move on as a couple, someone has to give. It does not mean your ideas or thoughts are not valid. It does not mean your preference has no merit. It just simply means yielding.
Imagine a wrestling match between two stiff competitors. Both have trained hard, are in good physical and mental condition. It’s a pretty even fight, but eventually in order for the fight to be decided, one must win and one must lose. The one who lost is yielding. The fight is over and both the winner and loser move on and there is probably a sense of relief among both competitors that the match is now complete.
This is sometimes how it feels when there is a major disagreement between a husband and a wife. In the midst of the struggle, both are at odds with one another, working their hardest to prove their point. When it all comes to a head and a decision is reached, there is often relief that follows. I believe these feelings are probably part of God’s design. It’s not easy to submit, but when you sense the peace and healing God’s plan can provide, it makes the act of submission a little bit easier.
One of the biggest needs for a man is to feel respect. As women, we often think it’s love, so we might shower our husband with the type of loving affection we like to receive, when what would really float his boat is for him to know we really respect who he is as a man and that we trust him. (To read more about this I suggest you check out the book For Women Only: What You Need to Know about the Inner Lives of Men by Shaunti Feldhahn.)
During and after a conflict, one of the easiest ways to show respect to your husband is to just yield. It may be very hard to do so, but you can respectfully say, “I’m going to trust you on this.” You don’t have to say you disagree, it’s probably quite obvious if you’ve been fighting! You can just simply communicate, “I have my reservations and I feel differently but I’m going to trust you on this and we’re in this together.” That sentiment will probably mean more than anything to your husband. To know that you stand beside him will give him the confidence to proceed with the decision.
It also puts the ball back in his court so that he really has to consider for himself, “Am I making the right decision?”
If you yield, then just yield. I’d advise not coming back and saying “I told you so” or acting like a jerk or being disrespectful. The simple act of yielding creates trust and respect, and creating trust in your marriage is one of the most important things you can do.
When a decision has been made, as a couple you bear the outcome together. Whether it’s a good choice or a bad choice in the end, it’s something that both the husband and wife need to be united on. It’s ever so tempting in the face of a bad choice to say to someone, “Well, I wanted to do ____, but he said…” and knock down your husband. Let’s not do this!
When it’s a good choice, you can also share in the victory of that, but avoid the temptation to be a fair-weather friend.
One last reminder: Never forget the words in 1 Peter 3:1:
“Wives, in the same way submit yourselves to your own husbands so that, if any of them do not believe the word, they may be won over without words by the behavior of their wives” (NIV).
Even if your husband and you are not on the same page about issues you find incredibly important, by yielding and showing respect, you may gradually win over your husband with less heartache and torture than you would by fighting over every single issue. (When it comes to real food and health, I found this post by Katie of Kitchen Stewardship incredibly encouraging: How to Boil a Husband. She recommends: Share information, communicate, build trust, retain normalcy, and show results.)
How do you show respect and submission in your relationship? How have you improved this aspect of your marriage? What makes it easier? Harder?
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