Why Husbands and Wives Fight

My husband challenged me to go right to the Bible to gather any and all information that I could find to help myself, and perhaps, others through relationship struggles. We have had our share of struggles, and what I am finding is sometimes helping us.

I tend to get wrapped up in seeking advice through a person, reading a book or listening to a podcast. My husband doesn’t always believe what I’m reading. That is good. He needs to respect the source. There is no more respected source than God’s word and no better place to start than the beginning.

Some people have said that Adam was not really with Eve when she ate from the tree and that she, as all sinners do, wanted Adam to share in her sin and misled him to eat. The Bible clearly says that he was with her!

“and she also gave some to her husband who was with her,..” Genesis 3:6

The ESV Study Bible and MacArthur Study Bible, combined, make things a little clearer. Together they blame both parties equally, explaining further that there will be an ongoing conflict driven by sinful desire against God given roles.

“…Your desire shall be for your husband, and he shall rule over you.” Genesis 3:16

They assert:

  1. The woman’s “desire” will be to oppose or assert leadership over her husband.
  2. The husband will abandon leading, caring for and guarding his wife, replacing it with his “desire” to rule over her instead.

At this point, either sex could attempt to make an argument over what came first. One could argue that  the woman’s poor choice led the man to mistrust her, thus feeling a need to rule over her. Or one could argue that the man abandoned his role, by not intervening when Eve was misled, causing her to lose trust in his leadership, that led her to do the leading herself.

Regardless of who sinned first, by not abiding by God’s given roles, someone needs to gain enough godly maturity to reclaim their role, even if it’s not easy. The woman can take that responsibility, although it seems rather difficult (maybe impossible?) to ask someone to follow another who is not leading. Left in this position, she may try to force her husband to lead, telling him how to do it to every detail. She might be tempted to ignore the fact that her relationship with Christ comes first. Christ is to fill her needs and no sin-natured human can do that for her. God isn’t asking her to be a doormat either. She is to love and care for herself while still being loving, gentle, peaceful and respectful in communicating, with word and deed, her hearts concerns to her husband. Also she is to ask God to guide her attitude, actions and words with a submissive attitude and heart. (Please see submission posts. There is too much to add here.)

“Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives submit in everything to their husbands.” Ephesians 5:22-24

Don’t worry. This does not mean blindly submit. Steven J. Cole writes:

“IN EVERYTHING” DOES NOT MEAN THAT YOU SAY YES TO EVERY DEMAND, IF IN SO DOING YOU ARE FOSTERING YOUR HUSBAND’S LAZINESS AND IRRESPONSIBILITY. If your husband is dumping his responsibilities on you or using you as his slave to cater to his laziness, you need to talk to him. He needs to be confronted with his faults in a gracious, but firm manner. To allow him to go on in his sin is not to love him as Christ commands you to do.” 

The man can take the responsibility. Although it will be difficult to lead someone that doesn’t trust him to lead. In this position, he may try to force his wife to submit, defining submission for her in a way that is not biblical. He may put her submission to him above his love for her and his own  relationship and submission to Christ. Likewise God isn’t asking him to allow his wife to emasculate him. He is to love his wife as his own body, not hating it but nourishing it as Christ does the church. He must stay submitted to Christ if he is to love his wife sacrificially, as Christ loved the church. Christ is his example of love and strength.

“Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish.” Ephesians 5:25-27

Did you know that the wife is not responsible for the husband, but the husband is responsible for the condition of his wife? I’m sure glad I’m not responsible for him! LOL!

When a husband really begins to lead the family in a Christ-like manner, what woman could help but gravitate toward him as he bears the fruit of his labor? He can remain strong in his leading with love, gentleness and peace.

This kind of love also means he might have to get out of his passive comfort zone (his proverbial lazy boy chair) to sanctify or correct her, like Adam should have done in the garden. He should not have permissively allowed her to be misled into that unholy, blemishing act, let alone participate in it. To do this requires much gentle strength that can only be given by God, though His Word and relationship with Him.

If our marriages are to be an example of Christ’s relationship with the Church as in Ephesians 5 and apart from Christ we can do nothing, then what do we expect from our marriages if we don’t act on what we know?

Not just action of course, we can pray for these things, but prayer is not passive. We tend to pray for things, but use the excuse “let go & let God”. We ask God to lead our kids, but we don’t lead. We ask God to bring us closer to our spouse, but take no steps on our own. We ask God to change the world, but we’re not willing to be instruments of change. Pray:

”God, grant me the Serenity to accept the things I cannot change. The courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.” -Reinhold Niebuhr

Learn the difference and do something! You can start with Ephesians 5 for your marriage and learn more about celebrate recovery for yourself and others.

Endnotes

https://bible.org/seriespage/lesson-48-what-me-submit-him-ephesians-522-24

https://www.cr.newhope.org/the-serenity-prayer

Our Apology: An Open Letter to Christian Ladies

Encouragement for what we already know is right, but sometimes feel too weary to do. “hold out for not just our affection, but our pursuit.”

Enter Wonderland

Ladies,

forgive us, your brothers in Christ.  forgive us the times we outright sin against you, call us out, but forgive us.  forgive us the times we fall short of the life to which we are called.  our hearts are desperately wicked, who can understand them, and they work against us and victimize you.  like Paul in Romans, we do what we do not want to do.

forgive us the times we see you as no more than a pretty something to be looked at.  you are so much more.  you are daughters of a true King, you bear the image of the author and creator.  you have souls which deserve nourishment and protection, not cheap attention.  you are our sisters, whom we should guard in all righteousness.

help us, and understand the sway you have over us.  see that we are easily led astray and distracted from the path. …

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Passiveness in Men & The Power of Women

We have amazing, God-given power of influence. We must use it wisely.

Like Samson, men are softened to our influence, as we are to theirs. It’s not a weakness though, it’s an opportunity our husbands give us to work together. An opportunity they won’t likely to give to anyone else.

What will we do with this gift?

Will we discourage the man within, with complaining & encourage the boy to remain with mothering?

Or

Will we lift him up, keep respectful boundaries and speak manly knighthood into him?

I know this seems silly, but I think a great example of this is portrayed in the story “Beauty and the Beast”.

Belle gives wonderful examples of self-confidence, strength and beauty that changes the beast, just by being herself. She’s bold, courageous and stubborn about what she knows is true.

Rent the movie, grab the popcorn, go back to dreaming,… then pursue the dream!

Definition of Submission

The word SUBMISSION frustrated me. It seemed good, but yet seemed so hurtful at times & people I knew were treated badly. I did a lot of searching through definitions of Submission. Many are distorted. This is the most appropriate explanation I have found and with permission to quote, here it is…..

“True submission is not always making the one we submit to happy, but seeking his or her best interest at our own expense. True submission is not building up the ego of another with flattery, but building up another with truth, truth that is proclaimed and practiced in love. True submission is not a guarantee that we will thereby avoid pain and suffering, but an attitude and outlook which can govern our attitudes and actions when we are suffering innocently for Christ’s sake.

We should also see that we submit first to God and then to others because we know God is sovereign, He is in control, and He will fulfill all of His purposes and promises.

I submit to you that a man cannot truly be a spiritual leader until he has come to submit himself to those whom he leads. He does not follow those whom he leads, but he does subordinate his interests to the interests of those whom he leads.

When we die to self, we live; when we give up our lives, we find them; when we abandon our pursuit of fulfillment, we are fulfilled.” Bob Deffinbaugh – Bible.org

Does this definition change the way you think? I felt a huge burden lift from me. I felt empowered to do more to change and to act beautiful even if it has to be in suffering.

img_0384.jpgBob Deffinbaugh Definition of Submission

( https://bible.org/seriespage/15-taking-second-look-submission-1-peter-213-37 )

Submission?

Why can’t I stop thinking of problems? My mind never rests…

There is a problem…. It’s me, feeling like the victim, the martyr, the enabler, the codependent……I am the dirty, soot covered, overworked, exhausted, misunderstood, forgotten Cinderella… and I’m pretty sure it’s all my husband’s fault! And I was “trying” to be the “submissive” godly wife.

OR WAIT!,…

Could submission be the problem? Do I even understand it?

Am I submitting if I…

…obey the speed limit yet complain about it?

…tell the pastor how great his sermon is, when I feel he’s wrong?

…cover for an addict?

…keep quiet when my husband lacks involvement with the kids?

…feed a friendship that is always taking and never giving?

…practically do my kids homework for them?

…provide what my husband says he needs and wants, when he says he needs and wants it?

Should I be everything to everyone, filling in their deficits and all their shortcomings and needs?

That is Not submission! None of those are good examples of submission. Submission is not doing too much, giving too much, or allowing others to take too much. Those examples are “enabling” or “codependent” behaviors.

So what is Submission?

You’ve probably heard the words “help mate”, “help meet” or maybe the word “ezer”. According to (counselor, speaker, writer, theologian, & minister) Rick Thomas’s articles, “Going Over Your Husband’s Head”  & “His Needs – Her Needs Aren’t Really Needs”, the word Help refers to a title “Helper” and the word Meet refers to an action, to be suitable or complementary (not to be confused with complimentary).

In other words; Rick says,…. each husband has a wife who is suited to him. The husband is not better than his wife and the wife is not better than her husband. They complement each other. Eve is not part of Adam like a bump on a log or added baggage to Adam’s life. Each of them have missing parts that the other can fill, making a beautiful “one flesh union”.

So how are we to be equal, yet submissive? What does that look like? Christ is our example. He submitted himself to his father even though he was equal. Phillipians 2 is our example to follow. We as women have a role of “wife” (submission) and also a “sister” (equal) in Christ.

Rick suggests that if a wife is not helping her husband in his sanctification, she is not adequately fulfilling her role as a wife.  Not to say that she should lecture or officially teach, but she should prayerfully and humbly teach her husband what she knows so that together they can make a good “One flesh”.

I like the following, short, partial explanation of submission.

“True submission is not always making the one we submit to happy, but seeking his or her best interest at our own expense.” Bob Deffinbaugh bible.org

Knowing this, how do we respond when there is something to address?

There are three ways to respond to this understanding of submission. (2 are unhealthy)

1.) The first is being passive. It sometimes results from a misunderstood definition of submission or a forced submission. A passive reaction might include denying there is a problem, blaming or avoidance. This is a sin of Omission. (Sins of omission seem like they are really not sins, but they are.)

2.) The second is attacking or being critical. It sometimes results from having a desire for a healthy marriage that becomes so important that it dethrones God. Desire that leads to anger is sin. This reaction might include put downs, gossip, fighting, disrespect or even a desire to rule over your husband. This is a sin of Commission.

3.) The third is God’s way:  This results from our relationship with God, understanding and accepting the unconditional love that He offers. This reaction may include that the offense be overlooked OR serious repetitive offenses being talked over or getting outside help if needed.

To act lovingly we need to understand and receive unconditional love from God. We all need unconditional love. If we don’t get Unconditional love then we can’t give it.

According to Tim Keller (pastor & author of “the Meaning of Marriage”): If we don’t understand and receive unconditional love from God, we will try to get it elsewhere. Often and least insidious is getting it from our kids. They are helpless and easy to love even when they are acting in unloving ways. But that is not good for us, our marriage, our kids or our community. Worse yet, we could get it from a friend or coworker which could end in an affair.

We must get unconditional love vertically from God, to give it horizontally to others.  Getting it from God is perfect love. A great understanding of unconditional love is the fact that”

“Christ didn’t die because we are lovely.

He died to make us lovely,….”

We become lovely as we show the fruits of the spirit which is “…love, joy, peace, patience, kindness,goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self control…”(Gal. 5:22-23)

Unconditional Love is not performance based.

It’s not saying, “If you don’t change, I wont love you.”

It is saying, “Because I love you, please change.”

If I am filled with the complete acceptance and love of God that is based on pure love and not performance, then I can love without fear of wrath or fear of disappointment, even if I need to enter into conflict with someone or stand my ground. We act out of love, not requirement.

Dr. R. Land PhD. (SES apologetics conference 2015) suggests that we imagine God physically with us all day. Would it change the way we act? If we can’t imagine that or if imagining Him all day doesn’t change a thing, then we must examine our beliefs and reevaluate our relationship with Him.

For the first time I realized I had the wrong perspective. My beliefs allowed me to think that I was an unappreciated, unloved, forgotten & helpless dirt covered Cinderella. I’d been thinking all along that I was being Christ-like, but I misunderstood submission. I had been responding with sins of Omission and Commission.

Yes Jesus died a martyr death, but that is not how he lived. He did not let people take advantage of him or harm him…. until his appointed time. He spoke the truth in love. He confronted people, he made people mad,… mostly He Loved them.

He was with me in the dirt all along. I’d just not noticed or I’d ignored Him. Now I notice that when I spend more time with him, I am less critical of what’s wrong and instead I’m affirming and encouraging of what is right in my marriage. I’ve tried so many ways to fix things. The missing ingredient was UNCONDITIONAL LOVE. I have not solved all my problems. I understand that this is a JOURNEY. At least I know I’m on the right track if I keep Christ in front.IMG_2499

My hope for husbands and wives is to realize that we grow the most in difficult circumstances and suffering, and suffering helps us to know Him more.

“And it is my prayer that your love may abound more and more, with knowledge and all discernment, so that you may approve what is excellent, and so be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God.” (Phillipians 1:9-11 ESV)

Let me encourage you to read Ephesians 5 and Phillipians 2 as a couple. There is much more of a command for the husband than the wife in Ephesians 5. We wives should find comfort in his assignment of the servant leadership role, as he is ultimately responsible to love us like Christ loved the church (isn’t that unconditionally?) and he is responsible for the shape we are in, when he presents us to Christ! Yikes. Maybe we should pity him, just a little.

RESOURCES:

Focus on the Family &

Focus on the Family Magazine

https://www.focusonthefamily.com

Focus on the Family Daily Broadcast App

https://www.focusonthefamily.com/media/daily-broadcast

Rick Thomas His Needs – Her Needs Aren’t Really Needs

https://rickthomas.net/his-needs-her-needs-arent-real-needs/

Rick Thomas

https://rickthomas.net

Rick Thomas Going Over Your Husband’s Head

https://rickthomas.net/going-over-your-husbands-head-to-help-him/

Bob Deffinbaugh Definition of Submission

https://bible.org/seriespage/15-taking-second-look-submission-1-peter-213-37

The Meaning of Marriage, by Keller

http://www.timothykeller.com/books/the-meaning-of-marriage

Dr. R. Land – Is Submission Politically Correct?

(no link SES Conference 2015)

Counseling & Discipleship Training –

“Biblical Counseling: Biblical Answers for the Problems of Life”

http://wheelersburgbaptist.com/index.php/news/counseling-training/

Notes:

*Changing our husbands is not our job – changing ourselves is.

*My goal should not be to please my husband, but to please God. Am I pleasing God by the way I complement and submit to my husband?

*Challenge: Google “codependency check list” or “signs of codependency” to see if you have these tendencies. Hint: We all show them in some way or another.

Am I Meant to Teach my Husband and if so,… How!?

IMG_2575I was watching a Youtube Bible Project video (see link below) one afternoon when the video gave me an epiphany!… my attitude stunk! I had been thinking that I was so smart and my husband was thoughtless or selfish or something like that. IT WAS MY PRIDE!!! It was because of Sin that I thought that way. Neither of us were really looking to God to love or understand each other. We each decided what was wrong and right based on our interpretations of life and didn’t trust each other’s interpretations! That led to us acting in defense of ourselves. What I needed to understand was that I was his Ezer (help meet). God prompts me to teach him what I know. I was made to help! We were made to complement each other. Together we make one pretty good person. I don’t fill in all his gaps and shortcomings or complete what he won’t complete. That would be dysfunctional. We complement, encourage, help, teach and hold each other accountable as christians. I came to this relationship with certain gifts and so did he. We need to focus on the gifts God’s given each of us.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KOUV7mWDI34

I’d been trying to hold my husband accountable by telling my husband the truth for years, but not in love. I had been forcing my husband’s hand, like Judas tried to force Jesus’s hand. It didn’t change Jesus’s plan, but it backfired on Judas. Judas suffered and died in misery because there was no repentance, no forgiveness, no peace. I needed to admit my part and apologize. Finally realizing it was God prompting me all along to teach my husband what I knew about women and children, changed my anger and demands to requests and beckoning my husband to come, be with me, be with us.

I need to speak TRUTH with LOVE. One without the other is not Godly. I need to give the mercy and grace I want for myself.

Sometimes that “holding each other accountable” part can get sticky, especially with that dreaded “submission” word that pops up in regards to husband and wives. Please see my post on submission.

Why Biblical Counseling

IMG_8876

The goal of counseling for Christians is that it is our job to teach and admonish each other. We should be communicating truth, correcting error and confronting wrong doing. That is good for all of us, all of the time and in all relationships. We are to teach and help each other.

Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom…” (Colossians 3:16 ESV)

11 And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, 12 to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ,” (Ephesians 4:11-12 ESV)

The reason for Biblical counseling is that God is sufficient. His word is sufficient. His word deals with our heart. 2 Corinthians chapter 3 teaches that we are not sufficient in ourselves, but our sufficiency comes from God who made us. In verse 5 Paul is telling us that his sufficiency is from God, not from himself. Our sufficiency is by God’s grace. We are being transformed by the Lord. Who we are at the heart and how we behave are evidence of God.

We must ask, “Do I live for God or do I behave as if He lives for me?” Sometimes I catch myself having a genie in a bottle attitude. I realize that I am looking to counsel or receive counseling to help remove pain or trials. But what if He is allowing the trials? If I am making the end of suffering my goal and not willing to be godly in my suffering, then that goal is my idol, putting my comfort before what God might want me to experience. God says that He will not be put second.

You shall have no other gods before me.” (Deuteronomy 5:7 ESV)

Counseling should lead us to living for God. We should desire to be God’s kind of person even in the midst of trials. The Bible gives us a description of what God’s kind of person does and does not do.

A blessed man (God’s kind of person) does not surround himself with or take counsel from unbelievers.

Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers (Psalms1:1 ESV)

The ‘wicked’ refers to anything not biblical. Secular counseling, that has nothing to do with God or His word, is unstable, incomplete & always changing.

The wicked… are like chaff that the wind drives away” (Psalm 1:4 ESV).

A blessed man does surround himself with and take counsel from the Lord.

but his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night. 3 He is like a tree planted by streams of water that yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither. In all that he does, he prospers.” (Psalm 1:2-3 ESV)

The goal of Biblical counseling is nothing less than helping one to be God’s kind of person in all circumstances. Anything less leaves us tossed by the wind like chaff or on the waves of the ocean, ever-changing in its ways – indecisive.