I’ve thought about this for a while. It’s actually an interesting question and people could give many different, many correct answers to it.
Growing up, I had a narrow, incomplete, lacking view of what being a wife meant. I was supposed to be pampered, and he’s supposed to listen to/care about my concerns, rise up to protect me, never raise his voice to me, treat me like a queen, etc. While all those things may have a time and place, we as women so often forget one little thing – by being your man’s queen, what does (should) that make him?
And if he is your king, would you really treat him as if he were your servant?
I wrestled with that, for a long time. And I still do at times, just not quite as frequently. There were things I wanted (and still want) – him to always focus all his attention on me, to be tender and caring ALL the time, to care about what I was thinking and feeling, to want to please me, to do special things for me and make me feel special. Aside from anything else not kosher in that…. do you notice how often I said ‘I’ or ‘me’? A lot. You’d think I was married to myself. 😛
Preparing for our wedding day almost 3 years ago, we had a number of premarital counseling sessions with our pastor. We touched on some subjects that I either dismissed in my mind or agreed with hypothetically. Hard things are so easy to agree with, but so hard to put into practice. At the time I greatly disliked the term ‘help-meet’. We wrote our own vows and I changed it to ‘helper’ in mine, because in my mind that was milder, less belittling. (Means the same thing, however.) I remember Ryan not understanding what my problem with it was, but he just brushed it off and let me have my way.
I knew, technically, that Ryan was to be the head of our household. He was the husband, he held the God-ordained role of being the provider, protector and decision-maker. I was made to be his help-meet (Gen. 2:18). Seriously? I loved my husband, but I didn’t want to be his servant. Everything in me fought that because I was NOT going to be used, or mistreated, or looked down on, and I certainly didn’t want to be known as being ‘weaker’.
Going into a marriage like that didn’t make for a great start. Humans are inherently self-consumed. Marriage goes against that to the greatest degree, so when our natural sinful selfishness meets with self-sacrifice for another person, good things don’t result. We had a rough start. I will say tho, if it wasn’t for my husband’s true sacrificial love for me, we could have had a quick end. Not only were we dealing with my constant physical health deterioration, mounting medical bills and my being on disability, but my selfishness and poor idea of marriage became a huge stumbling block for us.
Many nights I fought with the devil. Many nights I fought with God. I didn’t understand why I had to go through what I had and what I was, and it took me to the deepest parts of depression I had ever known. Looking back on it, God used Ryan in mighty ways. He was my saving grace, the perfect companion and the rock I could depend on to be strong when I wasn’t. He never looked back. He never questioned whether our marriage should’ve happened. He never questioned his love for me, or my love for him (even tho he saw so little from me during that time). He never blamed God for my health or my attitude or depression. He was optimistic through the loss of income and growing debt. He stayed up late, late nights when he had to work in the morning to talk me through dark thoughts of wanting life to be over. He held me and loved me when all I could see was my hopelessness. He never gave up on God pulling me through and using it for whatever reason He had me there for.
In every area I can think of, there’s ways Ryan continues to sacrifice for me. And moments of remembering like these are beautiful and hard. They are clear pictures of how God has provided incredibly for me. And they stir up strong emotions of gratitude for my husband and awe for my God and His faithfulness.
So my role as wife for the first part of my marriage was unfulfilled. I served myself and focused on myself. There were moments when I tried to do things to make Ryan happy or serve him, but it was never totally for him. Once God started opening my eyes to how He made the husband and wife together to be the picture of Himself, my defenses about being in the ‘weaker’ role started to crumble. My husband is the picture of God’s strength and headship, I am the picture of His nurturing care and kindness. I need my husband, but he also needs me. We need different things – him respect, me love. When I realized how good he is at his part, I started desiring to be better at mine. ‘Submitting’ to him, tho, was still a hard idea. I still had fear that it would make him into a dictator. But God is so good. He helps me to see how much my husband does for me out of love, and how when I respect him, it only kindles that fire.
My desire is to be a woman that my husband sees as his godly wife. Not for my glory, because Heaven knows anything good in me is only accomplished by my Savior living through me, but for the glory of God. When husbands and wives are living the marriages God intended for them, amazing things happen. And those spouses, as human and imperfect they still are, get to experience true ‘heavenly marriages’.
I want a heavenly marriage!
So this post is going to be the first of a series related to being a wife. I think I will title them “What a wife! 101”. Because wouldn’t that be a great exclamation to hear from your beloved? 😉 I encourage you, if you’re not married yet, there will still be good info (the Word of God is always good info) you can keep in your heart and maybe even learn ahead of time to help your marriage start off right. The rest of you, please join me in the process of perfecting what we have now!
Who can find a virtuous wife?
For her worth is far above rubies.