by Jan Silvious
I want to share my heart with husbands today. So if you are a husband, this message is especially for you. (If you are a wife, you might want to read it anyway. Sometimes it helps to understand what our husbands might read.)
I talk with many women as I travel around the country, and lately I've been hearing the same lament over and over: "My husband is hitting me over the head with this submission thing."
The women who confide this bit of information are usually angry, sometimes bitter, and often depressed. They are not talking about physical assault and battery. They're talking about having submission held over them as a requirement.
"If you were a good Christian, you would submit to me."
"You don't submit, so you're a lousy wife."
"As the head of this house, I don't want you to work!" (Or, "I expect you to work,")
As I talk with these wives, it is evident that, unless the husbands can see the reactions they're causing and want to change, there is little hope of turning the situation around.
In Ephesians 5, we read: "Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ. Wives, submit to your husbands as to the Lord…Husbands, love your wives" (vv. 21-22, 25). Giving up one's rights for the sake of the other person is a voluntary decision, made in obedience to the Lord, not to the spouse. But that's what marriage is all about-two people mutually agreeing to lay down their own rights to benefit the other.
The husband's role in obedience-loving his wife-is as voluntary as her submission. Just as she can't expect to have her way by stomping her foot and demanding. "Love me…or else!" so it is just as foolish for the husband to expect to make his point by brute force: "Submit to me…or else!"
Speaking as a woman, I can tell you that love is irresistible. Remember, women are relationship-oriented, and while your goal may be to have your home in order, your wife in submission, and your children in obedience, the way to achieve that goal is through relationship.
Try an experiment for just one week. Go home, kiss your wife, and compliment her on at least one thing. Before you go to sleep, tell her you love her. Bite your tongue off before criticizing her for any reason. I guarantee that after only seven days, you'll be amazed at the results! She may be slow to believe you're on the level, but if you keep it up, you'll find she is much more flexible and pliable. Relationship is everything to her. That's why God says, "Love her." He made women and knows how they will respond.
I hope you don't mind this little word of advice from this corner today. I'll write to your wife another day and remind her that you men are goal-oriented and need order in your lives. But until then, just love her.
From The 5-Minute Devotional © Zondervan, 1991