I expect, as Christian women reading Ephesians 5:22-33, we would agree that the Bible teaches wives to reverence their husbands and to be submissive to them. However, I wonder how we apply the practical, daily aspects of reverencing and submitting. In particular, how do we handle situations where the Lord puts on our hearts a conviction or direction but not on our husbands’?
We may wonder if we should bring the subject up. Should we share our heart concerns unsolicited, or should we wait to see if he asks our input? Do we speak of it once and then drop it? Do we bring it up every few weeks? Do we share others’ stories in the area or ask him to read a book on the topic?
In this Corner, I am not giving you specific answers to those questions. What I am going to do is point you to one sure biblical way to deal with the problem. Philippians 4:6-7 says, “Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.”
Several years ago part of our roof began to leak. As the head of the household, Steve was very concerned about the leak’s potential damage to the house. He immediately said we needed a new roof. The problem was that we did not have the cash for a new roof and were committed to no more borrowing.
However, Steve decided that we would borrow the necessary money for a new roof. I spoke my heart passionately concerning our agreement not to be in debt and asked if there wasn’t some interim solution while we saved money as quickly as we could for the roof. He was determined to have the new roof and save the house.
I knew after that conversation that I had pushed as hard as I could push. I had met with a level of resistance on Steve’s part that was very unusual. I was so distraught I cried, when I was alone, over the possibility of borrowing for a roof. I also began to pray. It was the only avenue I felt I had left.
I prayed and waited as Steve had two roofers come out to give estimates. I kept praying. Then Steve started talking about some possibilities for redoing just the flashing area on the valley of the roof to see if that would keep the rain out until we could afford a new roof. That’s what he ended up doing! The “stopgap” project worked. We saved money judiciously for most of a year, and we finally had a new roof—debt free!
I once asked for some testimonials in this area of a wife praying when her heart does not agree with her husband’s. I received several stories from women who gave me permission to share them with you. These are examples to encourage you to see prayer as an ally in resolving differences between you and your husband. God can use it to change your husband’s heart, change your heart, or simply give you peace in the midst of unrest.
“I worked part-time as a secretary before our first daughter was born, but before I ever got married, I knew I wanted to stay home with my children. My husband didn’t see this as an option, but almost as soon as I found out I was expecting, I prayed that God would make a way for me to be able to stay home with my child. However, as soon as my daughter turned six weeks old, my husband instructed me to call the company I worked for to let them know I would be back the following week. So I made the call, and to my husband’s disappointment, I was told I was no longer needed.
“I felt relieved at not having to leave my precious infant daughter, but not for long—he told me he wanted me to begin searching for a new job. This was a point of strife between us for a short while, but after receiving some wise counsel from someone I confided in, I told my husband I was willing to submit to his wishes and would begin looking for a new job.
“It was at that point that God answered my prayers, and my husband told me he did not want me working outside the home, even if it meant putting off the purchase of a new home for a while (which it did). It’s interesting that God answered my prayer in this matter when I did what was required of me, which was submitting to my husband instead of arguing with him.” Jill
“My husband had a vasectomy six years ago, after our having three children. Because I was raised to be in submission to my husband, I signed the papers for him to have a vasectomy. He was convinced that this was the right thing for us, and no matter how much I cried and pleaded, he wanted the vasectomy.
“For the next three years, I was so angry with him! And I was unbelievably hurt, even though he assured me that he did not think I was a bad mother. He honestly thought that my emotional health would be hurt by having more children because I was so often frustrated, short-tempered, and exhausted with the three we had.
“In the late summer of 1999, I read testimonies of women whose husbands had had vasectomy reversals and were hoping that God would give them more children. I began to mention this to my husband, who simply listened to me, but didn’t say anything one way or the other.
“Then I started praying for his heart to be changed about having more children, and I asked the Lord to show me that his heart had changed before our anniversary, which is in October, without my having to say a word about it.
“A couple of weeks before our anniversary, out of the blue my husband asked me if I wanted to adopt a baby! I was stunned! I asked him why he was even considering it, because he had always been totally against adoption in the past. He said he didn’t really know why, just that God had opened his heart toward more children!!!
“Over the course of two or three months, he apologized to me for making such a major decision without me and not giving me any choice in the matter, and he talked to our pastor about adoption. Our pastor suggested a reversal.
“At this point, we haven’t taken any steps in either direction, adoption or reversal. I have left that in God’s hands, to guide my husband. An unexpected blessing for me was the total peace that God gave me about the whole thing. I used to agonize over not having any more children, and then was up in the clouds at the possibility of having more. But now I can truly say that I am ready for whatever God has planned for us. If I never have another baby, I am at peace about it.
“So God has blessed my prayer and trust in Him, too! I know that my husband will follow God’s leading. He is a very godly, dedicated man whose life’s desire is to please God.” Susan
“My husband and I have four children. After number four, we used birth control because I was so afraid of getting pregnant again. I wanted more children, but was afraid of labor and finances. My husband was supportive of this decision. He felt like we were done and readily accepted the birth-control decision.
“About seven months went by and my guilt increased daily. I felt like we had taken something that was God’s and made it ours. I began to pray that God would show us what to do. I talked to my husband, and he said that he didn’t think it would be wise for us to have more children. He wanted us to be done.
“The next few weeks we didn’t talk about it much. I continued to pray that God would have His way with our family. One day my husband and I had a conversation. I told him that I really did not feel like it was okay to use birth control. I felt like God should decide how many children we had. He was the giver and taker of life, and I would not get pregnant if it was not His will. He said he agreed with the concept, but didn’t know if we could do it financially, etc.
“The next few weeks passed with more prayer. Then we had a very different conversation. My husband now believes that we shouldn’t try to have another baby, but we shouldn’t prevent it either. He says that it is totally in God’s hands.” Jennie
While these testimonials deal with three of the bigger issues on which a husband and wife may have differing opinions, they illustrate maintaining a quiet, trusting spirit through prayer and then resting. The results may not always be as we have read here, but God is sovereign. We can trust Him no matter what the outcome is or when it comes. I would much rather have the Lord change Steve’s heart than for me to talk, cajole, and push him into it. I would also rather not have Steve’s heart change if it isn’t the Lord’s will. If Steve gives into a decision simply to please me, then we run the risk of being out of God’s will.
These issues concerning how a husband and wife relate to each other arise daily and are ongoing. May we, as Christian women, bless our husbands by being women who pray about our differences rather than being drippy faucets.
(Update: since this Corner was written, I have begun giving a session called, Loving Your Husband. In it, I encourage you to develop and strengthen your relationship with your husband, and I share many personal examples. Also, Dr. S. M. Davis has two excellent resources we highly recommend on reverence and attitudes: How a Wife Can Use Reverence to Build or Save Her Marriage and The Attitude No Lady Should Have.)