I had been a Christian for five years when I married my Christian husband in late 2004. We had met two years prior while volunteering at our church and he first held my hand when we were on a mission trip to Cuba. We prayed, worshiped, studied the Word, and served others together on a regular basis.
Our faith was the foundation of our friendship and the support beams of our relationship. It felt only natural to craft our wedding ceremony to be more about Christ than about us.
Perhaps it was my youthful aspirations (I was only 22 at the time), but I talked about what a joy it would be to submit to my Christ-like husband. I had
high unrealistic expectations of how he would lead our family. I envisioned him stoping us throughout the day to pray together and I counted on him solely to come up with devotions for our family. I imagined that it would be natural for him to serve me joyfully and provide for us cheerfully as he led our family on whatever grand adventures awaited us. I expected Jason to not merely fight his own flesh, but win each and every battle since, after all, he was the spiritual head of our house.
As I write this today, my heart breaks for my husband and the enormous pressure I put him under in the early years of our marriage. I expected him to be perfect and each time he didn’t live up to my definition of a “spiritual leader,” I sulked rather than encouraged. I judged rather than prayed. Over time, and through the wise words of others, I began to show my husband grace (The same grace he has faithfully shown me since day one of our marriage).
I thought I had matured past the struggle of having
unmet unrealistic expectations for my husband, but a conversation I had with a friend last week revealed otherwise. As all seven of our children romped around her basement, the two of us discussed how to thrive in a marriage when the husband and wife have conflicting visions for their family’s future. I shared our own lack of unity, but concluded by stating,
My husband is a great leader … even if he isn’t leading the way I want him to.
My purpose behind the statement was to say something positive about my husband. To honor him in my speech even if I disagree with some of his decisions. Yet, on my drive home I began dissecting the statement above. Memories of those early years of marriage, when I was more critical than compassionate, came flooding back. I began to realize I had not rid myself of those gnarly expectations after all! I expected my husband to lead our family the way I wanted him to and because he wasn’t currently doing that, I was struggling to support his decisions. My mind began to wander:
What would it look like if my husband led our family the way I wanted him to?
Before I could image the answer, the Lord interrupted my thoughts. He said,
If your husband led your family the way you want him to… Wouldn’t it really be YOU who were leading the family?!
I mulled over that thought for almost 24 hours before conviction fell. I am blessed to be married to man who walks with the Lord, and yet I can get caught up in how my husband is, or is not, living up to the standards I have set for him. If he comes to a decision that differs from my own, or he reaches the same conclusion only he has processed his decision differently, I pridefully presume my way is better, my decision is better, and thus I accuse him of not leading the way I desire.
Here’s the thing: I’m not the leader.
But I want you to realize that the head of every man is Christ, and the head of the woman is man… ~ 1 Corinthians 11:3
Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands as you do to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything. ~ Ephesians 5:22-24
Wives, in the same way submit yourselves to your own husbands so that, if any of them do not believe the Word, they may be won over when they see the purity and reverence of your lives. For this is the way the holy women of the past who put their hope in God used to adorn themselves. They submitted themselves to their own husbands… ~ 1 Peter 3:1-2,5
Regardless of my thoughts concerning my husband’s leadership, the truth remains that I am not the one ordained to be in charge. God intentionally placed husbands as the head of the house and it is no accident that I was created a woman! My contribution to my family is not found in my attempts to lead nor in persuading my husband to do things “my way.” I glorify God when I step aside and allow the Holy Spirit to lead, convict, and inspire my husband. Submitting to my husband as he leads me, in his own way, is what will demonstrate the amazing relationship between Christ and the Church to a lost and hurting world.
Do you struggle with allowing your husband to lead in his own way?
Will you join me in stepping aside to allow our husbands to truly lead?