22 Aug 2014 by Adeline Lum CM-
When we have a conflict with our spouse and no amount of reasoning can be spoken to them, you realize that your life is truly out of your control.
You reason. You praise. You encourage. You rebuke. You manipulate. You threaten. And you fail. Terribly.
And you realize that no one can be changed according to your multiple strategies. Only God can change people.
In that process of realization, you realize that your relationships with the people you thought you knew and would understand, deteriorates.
You get frustrated. They get defensive. Both ended up dissatisfied with the outcome, even more convinced that their respective perception is right.
What do you do when you need to make a corporate decision with differing and opposite opinions?
The decision is pretty simple but hard to do. Following God’s design, we need to trust and follow the person with the appointed power by Him. And yes, God has appointed husbands to be the leader in the family.
With that said, I can imagine a flurry of responses from, “What if the husband is abusive?”; “What if the husband asked the wife to do something ungodly?”; and “What if the husband is doing something totally stupid?”
Take a deep breath because here’s the answer: The Lord has appointed the position of spiritual leadership to your husband. And yes, this leadership position is not dependent on how smart he is, how capable he is, how dependable he is, how skillful he is, or how trustworthy he is. God assigns the position of authority and the men will need to answer God in the last days for how well he govern the family.
What about us as wives? Our role is to suggest, help, and support our husbands. At the end of the day, what God has united, let no men separate. (Mark 10:9; Matt 19:6) In other words, whatever the decision our husband make, we are called to walk as one flesh in Christ, even though the wife is totally convinced that her husband is going down the wrong path (this does not include harmful behaviors of the husband towards the wife and children). Is this hard to swallow and hard to practice? Yes, definitely. But pray and trust that God would somehow lead even your backslidden and pre-believing husband to lead the family. In other words, trust in two things: God is good and God is in control. Pray for your husband, trust in the Lord, and obey God by following His Will for you.
Now, does that mean wives are called to silently submit? No. The Bible stated women to be a companion for men because it’s not good for men to be alone. “The LORD God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.” (Gen 2:18) Since God intended women to be helpers, we are called to give sound advices to help our husband make the right decision. The key word here is ‘help’, not coerce, manipulate, or nag our husbands to follow what we say. After all, men are called to lead and women are called to help in a husband-wife relationship.
Why should men lead and women submit? Does that mean women are inferior? Absolutely not. Women are neither superior nor inferior to men in the eyes of God. We are both made in the image of God. (Gen 1:27) So, to say one is inferior or one is superior in the image of God who is perfect, simply means that God has a perfect version and less than perfect version, which does not make sense. Men and women are simply different, being appointed in different roles to reflect God in different facets. And that is beautiful. Men do not need to try to be like women. And women do not need to try to be like men.
So, how do we have a happy marriage? Many of us are in a journey of having a happy marriage (not fully achieving), simply because all of us are in a process of being godly men and godly women. And both husband and wife may be in different progressions of faith and seasons in life. While the wife may be fervent for God, the husband may lack interest in finding Him. So, what does the wife do? Does that mean the Will of God for wives to submit is nullified? For husbands, what if the wives love their jobs more than they love you? Does that mean the Will of God for you to love her is nullified?
I believe for a man and a woman to grow close in their marriage, men are called to love their wives unconditionally and women are called to submit to their husbands unconditionally. Now, this is a delicate topic because all of us have such varied and unique experiences in our relationship that any of the elements in this article may sound unreasonable in your case. And I entirely respect you and please accept my apology for offending you in any way. But please hear me out.
The reason I come to the conclusion of unconditional love and unconditional submission is if we were to wait for our husband to be worthy of submission before we submit to Him, then what would that bring to the relationship? How can we expect our husband to change if we do not follow God’s way of being a godly woman? Likewise, if we were to sit around and wait for our wives to be worthy of love, then when would there be love in the house?
Sometimes, for the spouse who is more interested in the Lord at one point, it gives God the glory when you initiate God’s way to be instilled at home. And yes, that includes being the first to submit, first to love, and first to forgive a fight at home. Sometimes, you may ask God, “Why has it got to be me again?” But remember it is God who loves you first, that is why you love Him.
Again, note that these decisions are all internal decisions you make in your heart before the Lord. In other words, position your heart to first submit, first love, and first forgive. As for methodologies of how you deal with your husband or wife, that would differ according to the advice given by God. That is why it is so important to connect with God. Why receive advice from men when you can receive advice from the all-knowing God who has full wisdom?
Please allow me give you an example. A brother-in-Christ of mine did his wife’s laundry. But instead of receiving appreciation, his wife turned against him and chastised him for doing the laundry for her, even though it was done her way. While he removed himself from the tense situation, he found it very hard when he came before God who asked him to thank Him. This brother started thanking for the little things God gave him until his anger dissipated. And while he was completely calm and already forgiven his wife, the Lord asked him to start a cold war with her. So, he went to sleep in another room and in the middle of the night, the wife knocked on his door, crying to apologize.
Hence, what I am saying now is while we thought the Lord would direct him to reconcile with his wife, the Lord directed him to start a cold war with her instead, which led his wife into repentance. Now, that is what you called walking in the Holy Spirit. Also, one important thing here is that God dealt with his heart first before offering him a solution. With a position of forgiveness in his heart, he is ready to listen to God and follow His Will.
Because every situation or circumstance is unique, be sure to ask God every time. Don’t use your previous advice from God for your next situation. The reason David won in his every battle is because he enquired from the Lord for every battle. That’s how we should handle our conflicts, and our life as well. You will be amazed with the wisdom God gives you, that is if you humble yourself before Him.
Hence, if you have a backslidden spouse or a pre-believing spouse, show Christ in you to him or her. Be the pursuer. Love first. And please don’t do this alone. It’s impossible because if you rely on your flesh, you will end up resenting your spouse who does not always return your love. Do this in full dependence and obedience to God. Get filled by Him. That verse applies to you as well, you love because God first love you. Before you love your spouse, fill your tank of love from God first. Don’t depend on your own small, limited tank of love. Ask God to enlarge your tank of love. God wants to and will fill your tank with love because you are doing His Will for your life, as a husband or wife.
Sometimes, up to a point, we find it hard to find reasons to love our spouse. Maybe some of them are in love with their work, some of them are in love with chasing wealth, some of them are in love with frolicking with leisure pursuits, and some of them are in love with everything else but God and perhaps you. It’s hard to be with someone who loves the world more than you. It is painful and hurtful. You feel betrayed. And you have reasons to not continue in the relationship. But what God has united, let it not be separated. God is good and God is in control. While we look for that happily-ever-after marriage story or admire the happy wedded couples of our friends in Facebook, marriage is really the unity of two messy, broken, and ugly people who know the depths of everything in each other. But it is this commitment to be with the other person in the light of all these ugliness, is what you called as true love.
In other words, if you are hitting a roadblock in your marriage, don’t give up because God will never give up on your marriage. He will never give up on you and He will never give up on your spouse. If you are reading this article and also maybe many other articles looking for solutions to your unique relationship problem, I have one solution for you and it always works: Go and seek the Lord. He knows your problem and the solution more than me, and even you. And remember again: you can trust Him because He is good and He is in control. Find Him and He will answer you. But let Him deal with your heart first. The Lord is with you.
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