In a discussion this week that John and I were having about a FACEBOOK comment, I shared with him a response that I wanted to make. He thought that my comment was insightful but that it would not be appropriate or wise to post it.

At first I disagreed with him, but after more thoughtful discussion and prayer, I decided not to post it. Did John require me to do this? No. Would it have been okay for me to disregard his opinion? Yes. He said, “If you think that’s what God is telling you to do, go ahead and post it”.

The fact that I listen to God is more important to my husband than the fact that I listen to him. And my submission to him is based on the confidence I have that he, also, listens to God—and is committed to doing his will—which includes loving me.

Instead of arguing—or hiding, when we differ, we have learned that a separate time with God—in which he adjusts or refines both of our thinking—helps us come to a mutually satisfying agreement. Both of us are winners, and God is, too.

When John and I were first married, I misunderstood the Biblical concept of submission. Thinking that the statement “Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord” (Ephesians 5:22 NKJV) meant unthinking compliance, I gave up my thinking–stopped expressing my desires and opinions.  Sometimes in doing that, I felt like a loser.

This does not reflect the kind of submission that Jesus calls us to. He does not approve of unthinking compliance. A relationship with him includes truthful expression of our desires and thoughts—even questioning, when we lack understanding.

Why does he require us to be truthful about our thoughts and feelings? Not of his sake—he is aware of these things—but for our sake. We cannot truly embrace God’s will and calling for our lives unless if we are unaware of our own hearts.

Neither could I truly support my husband’s calling when I was not truthful about my own desires and opinions. Withholding my viewpoint meant he was a loser, as well as me.

Truthfulness and transparency, combined with mutual honor and respect, mean both of us are winners.

I am a “feeler” and my husband is a “thinker.” I am good at detecting feelings—even feelings of other people, although not always accurate in my perception of that! When we were first married, I took on a load of responsibility not intended for me. I frequently examined my husband’s face and informed him of his emotional state.

He, on the other hand, is good at thinking through and making decisions. So I turned over my decision making to him. Unfortunately, his assumptions of what I thought and wanted were not always on target. This arrangement led to misunderstandings and frustration for both of us. Gradually, he learned to take responsibility for identifying and sharing his feelings, and I became direct in telling him what I was thinking.

 Related to that, I am sharing the following poem which is included in  my bookHeart Connections:Finding Joy through Transparency with God.

He did all my thinking
I picked up his feeling.
He made my decisions
I carried his pain.

In Christ, we found healing
In Christ, we found hope.
Light is his burden
And easy, his yoke

He took back his feelings.
I reclaimed by thoughts.
Building those boundaries
Helped us a lot.

Now work is much lighter
For burdens are shared.
And loads are accepted;
We do what is fair

Our bond has grown stronger.
Our joy has increased.
And I think that, in heaven,
Our Father is pleased.

8 Responses

  1. Jane thank you for your honesty. I especially found it helpful that when you disagree, you separate and spend time with God, and He adjusts or refines your thinking. Your poem is beautiful also:)

    1. Thank you for your comment Sheree! I appreciate that you told me the specific things you found encouraging.

  2. Jane, what a beautiful description of what it means for both partners to submit! I really like the poem. Thank you!

    1. Thank you for letting me know this, Laurell. I’m grateful to God for giving me a marriage partner who loves both God and me, so much.

  3. Jane, the lessons you share here are priceless. Thanks for sharing your own experiences. I relate to all of them. I did many of the same things in my marriage – but often carried frustration and anger because I had to be “submissive”. The problem was, I was misunderstanding the meaning of the word, just as you said.

    1. Thank you for your comment, Rhonda! I reacted in frustration and anger many times in the early years of my marriage. John and I both had a lot to learn. God has been very faithful to teach us what it means to submit to one another in love.

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