…and be subject to one another in the fear of Christ. (Ephesians 5:21)
A Spirited Exchange Of Ideas (An Argument) Between A Husband And Wife
Kathy and I are in the midst of transition right now, including relocating to a city nearly 300 miles away, the sale of our vacation rental business, and investing in a new area. And of course along with transition of this nature comes, shall we say, spirited exchanges of ideas between husband and wife. And that has me thinking about submission. Submission as in submission to one another in the context of marriage. Or as the scripture says, being subject to one another in the fear of Christ.
This Older Married Couple I Know
There’s an older couple I know who ran a very successful real estate company together, as a team. It was interesting to observe how they worked. They’re both intelligent and capable but the wife is especially blessed with organizational abilities. So she focused on those aspects of the business. The husband is especially blessed with exceptional interpersonal dynamics. So he focused on those aspects of the business.
When an unhappy customer stormed into the office, she was happy to let him handle it. When the administrative process was anything beyond the routine, he was happy to let her handle it. They worked together beautifully.
But it wasn’t just their business that was like that. Their whole marriage is like that. He repairs their long road that winds it’s way to their log cabin in the mountains of Southern Oregon. She keeps their small ranch operation organized. He researches investments for the future. She does the budget and manages finances. I’m struck by the way they submit to each other in each of their respective areas. They are subject to one another in the fear of Christ.
What Submission In Marriage Means
The successful married couples I know have all figured out what makes the most sense for each spouse to do and not do. Each has their own appropriate areas of responsibility. The other spouse recognizes those areas of responsibility and gives plenty of room to operate.
If you submit in this way, you’ll be amazed at the reduction of conflict in your marriage. If you do this you’ll be blessed. But it might be helpful to consider a few things along the way.
So here are 5 things to remember that will help you submit to one another:
1) Pray together. Ask God to pour His Holy Spirit out upon you both and to bless you with unity of mind, heart, and soul with Him and with each other.
2) Read the Bible together. It’s amazing what having the Bible as a common point of reference does for your marriage.
3) Keep in mind that just because your spouse is operating in his or her area of strength doesn’t mean they won’t make mistakes. They most certainly will. It’s important you recognize that just because a mistake is made doesn’t mean it’s time to change the game plan and reassign responsibilities or push to do things “my way because obviously your way doesn’t work, I mean, look at the mistake you just made–there’s the proof.”
We’re all human and we all make mistakes, even when we’re operating in an area of strength. But if you stick with it, in the long run you and your family will benefit most when you just let her or him continue to be responsible for what he or she does best.
4) Keep in mind that what they do will almost certainly look different than the way you would do it. Think this through with me. Let’s say you figure out that your wife or your husband is more talented at budgeting than you are. So you decide that they should be the one to manage the finances. But then when they do it, you don’t understand why they do it the way they do. It’s important you accept the fact that if the way they did it looked like the way you would do it, they probably wouldn’t be any better at it than you are. The way they operate will probably look quirky–to you. But let them run with the ball awhile and see what happens over a long time. I think you’ll be surprised.
5) When you’re operating in your area of strength do everything you can to get input from your spouse. And anytime you can, give your spouse options to choose from. Engage them. Enthusiastically receive as much of their input as you can. And implement as many of their ideas as you can, even if their ideas are not exactly what you had in mind. Even if they compromise the mission a little, or maybe even a little more than a little.
As Jesus said, “for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” If you encourage your spouse to invest himself or herself in helping you do your thing, their heart will be into doing your thing. (Matthew 6:21)
The House We Built That We Couldn’t Afford To Live In
Kathy and I once built a house we couldn’t afford to live in. We couldn’t afford to live in it because it was so big and in such a great location we couldn’t afford the taxes. We built it as an investment. But we had some amazing arguments–I mean, spirited exchanges of ideas–along the way. All those arguments happened in the first few months of the building process. I argued because it took me awhile to figure out Kathy was great with colors, textures, and decorating. Kathy argued because it took her awhile to figure out that it worked better if I decided room dimensions and arrangement. By the time we were halfway through, each of us figured out what we were good at and we let.
We let the other person operate in their strength with impunity.
When you do that in your marriage, when you submit to each other in that way, when you submit to one another in the fear of Christ, you open a door to God’s abundant blessings for your marriage. You really do.
But don’t take my word for it.
Try it and see.
Image via Simon Powell – Creative Commons