My husband has an entrepreneur's spirit. He has always longed to own a business, to be his own boss, set his own schedule, and to own something bigger than himself. I, on the other hand, have always preferred to live knowing that someone else is responsible for making sure my paychecks will clear, confident that my hard work would be acknowledged and rewarded. And frankly, once upon a time, in the early years of our marriage, I would tell Scott that his ideas for owning a business were unrealistic...and yes...(I said it)...stupid.
When my husband and I met, we were so incredibly different. I was a college senior preparing to dive headfirst into the workforce. Scott was a college freshman majoring in partying, with little thought about the rest of his life. I loved the free spirit in him, his ability to go with the flow and talk to anyone, and he loved that I was a planner and good at setting and achieving goals. We loved each other and got married. I didn't realize that, as I pursued my career and he took a job as a barista in a coffee shop, I began to look down on him, and feel like I had married down. How convicting to read in chapter one of The Surrendered Wife:
"...respecting your husband is also a form of self respect: it's a way of acknowledging that you made a wise and thoughtful choice to marry a man who deserves your love and esteem. if you treat him disrespectfully, you're saying that you made a poor choice and that you settled for someone beneath you."
In chapter one of The Surrendered Wife, author Laura Doyle walks you through taking a long hard look in the mirror, as well as listening to the words that come out of your mouth. It's all about refocusing- after all, you didn't marry your husband because he was a loser, so why are you treating him like one now?
Take this walk with me...
Honor His Choice of Socks and Stocks: When you see your husband through the filter of someone you settled for instead of being someone handcrafted by God to help shape you into who God created you to be, you have relegated him to a position of an irresponsible child who needs your guidance in everything from the quickest route to the grocery store to which insurance company to use. Did you truly marry someone you didn't trust and admire?
Respect Breeds Intimacy: Respect and intimacy are more connected than you think. When your husband shares something tender with you and you laugh at him or dismiss/diminish his perspective, he will withdraw from you. Your husband feels most respected when you listen to him and affirm him, and you become a safe place for him to share, one small conversation at a time. How do you get there? Small steps, taken one at a time, until your mindset and habits change. Picking up Surrendered Wife to help you see yourself in this new light is a great place to start.
Preserving Your Dignity: As I mentioned last week, wives don't enjoy disrespecting their husbands- it's exhausting, really, to point out all the perceived flaws in their husbands. In fact, no matter how justified wives feel in the moment, later you second guess yourself and are exasperated that you are in this cycle. Laura Doyle calls it the hostility hangover. Restoring your dignity and cultivating oneness in your marriage are two results of treating your husband respectfully.
The "I Was Just Trying to Help" Syndrome: Our good intentions move so quickly from the healthy idea of wanting to help to thinking we know better than our husbands. This comes straight from the Garden of Eden, as Eve was cursed to desire her husband's authority. Wives move quickly from a place of helping as God intended, to nagging and taking charge when you feel your husbands aren't leading.
The Mother Complex: My counselor back in 2004 nailed me squarely with this. Although my husband was able to make good decisions at work, as soon as he walked into the house, I unwittingly put him in the same category as our son. As I corrected him in every area of his life, from how to mow the lawn, to where to get the car fixed, he retreated and gave up, believing he could never meet the standards I'd set for him. And he was right. My standards in most cases were higher than God's for my husband.
How do you start a new course of respecting your husband?
Remind Yourself: Pray. Create a list of occasions your husband was thoughtful, courageous or self-sacrificing. Write them down if you have to. In the midst of situations when you feel the disrespect rising in your spirit and mouth, see your husband through God's eyes, remind yourself of who your husband is on his best day; keep that picture of your husband in your mind to help you resist the temptation to criticize him. Every man can be a prince or a punk, who would you rather encourage in your husband?
Apologize: When you blow it, own it. Whether you roll your eyes at something he suggested, responded disrespectfully to his idea, or told him how to handle a situation, stop right where you are an apologize to him. Seeking his forgiveness for disrespecting him in these seemingly small things will build his confidence in the changes you are implementing in yourself, causing him to rise up to make even better decisions.
Resist: The temptation after apologizing may be to follow up and justify your initial response. Don't. Do. It. Resist the urge to justify, which usually starts with "It's just that you really need to..." or, "I'm sorry, but..." Listen to his response to your apology, acknowledge his response, and move on.
In the midst of building his confidence in himself as leader of your family, and as you are choosing intimacy over control, you are allowing God to do a work in your own spirit, growing you into the woman and wife He created you to be. You are responding to the command "wives, respect your husbands" in obedience, which God rewards abundantly. I love how Laura Doyle wraps up chapter one:
"Learning to treat my husband with respect seemed impossible to me at first because I was so convinced that I was superior to him, but the rewards were well worth it and quickly reinforced my new behavior. I found dignity and self respect, not to mention harmony, intimacy and a husband who adores me. The women I know who have decided to make this change, however imperfectly, find the same is true for them. If we can do it, so can you. Your husband will adore you for it."
You can't control your husband, you can only control yourself- your attitude and mouth. What is more important to you: having your watchful eye on everything or enjoying the warmth of intimacy?
Did you miss the first post in this series? Check it out here...are you hoping for intimacy or control in your marriage? Next question...are you being the Chauffeur or VIP?
Great getaways to get to change your life, marriage and family, whether your marriage is thriving or barely surviving:
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