“Mom.” Slight Pause. “Mommmm.” Another Slight Pause. “MOM.” My kids often find me deep in thought. We chuckle when I explain it’s my mom super power to tune out all the noise and focus. But in all seriousness, I’m most often found wondering with amazement at how God has intervened in my life.
A few years ago, through very unique circumstances, the Lord brought a man into my life who would become my husband and father to my children. From my initial
meeting of what I described to my children as the “kindest man I’ve ever met” to the unique dating process, it has been a journey of learning how a healthy relationship works. The journey has also brought the Scriptures alive in a new way as I now experience a marriage that resembles Christ’s relationship with the church.
Marriage & Philippians 2
During the process of exploring Philippians 2 for Family Magazine‘s 2017 theme, I found myself pausing and reflecting on the example of Christ’s humility in verses 3-4 and 8 and asking myself this question: how does this relate to my marriage relationship?
Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. (Phil 2:3-4)
And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. (Phil 2:8)
As I interact with homeschooling families across the country, I find marriages of all kinds. There are couples who hold tight to a unique interpretation of specific verses that equate women to possessions to own and servants to serve. These women often have a slumped posture, rarely smile, and are reproved for any type of original thinking. Their marriages do not resemble a beautiful union, rather, an arrangement of power and control.
Then there are other marriages where joy abounds as the husband understands the benefit and wisdom his wife brings to his life and is not threatened by it. Instead, she has found a way to humbly serve her family while maintaining her independence to be a daughter of God. These are the relationships where laughter is heard, ideas are shared, and others feel encouraged when in their presence.
These are two extreme differences, and there are many marriages to be found in the middle. Often couples are still trying to figure it out, work on their own sin natures, and find the balance within their own uniquenesses.
Having experienced both extremes of marriage, I’d like to share a few ideas on how to recognize signs of a marriage that incorporates healthy humility and service to our husbands without falling into a routine of feeling used.
Thoughts are Considered
Women are typically more intuitive than men, and as we prayerfully watch our families, we see things that need to be considered. Humility takes hold as we pray over each situation and then wisely share our thoughts with our husbands. A healthy marriage relationship allows the woman to share these insights, even if it includes pointing out wrong in the husband. As well, allowing our husbands to share their perspective – and receiving it well – is part of humility.
Sharing your thoughts is the first part. Health comes into the relationship as both husband and wife begin to make adjustments and changes based on the feedback from each other. When the atmosphere is not one where you can share your concerns, your concerns are turned around and used against you, or you fear speaking up, you need to seek help as relationships can not flourish without this vital element.
Feelings are Validated
Yes, we women have a flood of feelings. I have found that feelings sometimes arrive before the logic or reasoning behind them. When something is disturbing me and I’m trying to figure it out, a healthy marriage listens and validates. Yes, there are times my feelings are due to exhaustion or stress, or maybe it’s just those cycles we live out each month; but in any of these cases, a wise husband will take the time to listen, hug, and reassure me.
If you find yourself in a place where you continually stuff your feelings, hoping they go away or telling yourself you will deal with them later – or perhaps you can’t share or fear to share your feelings – this is a red flag to warn you that your marriage needs help. As well, be careful when a theology or church tries to shame women for having feelings. This too can be the breeding ground for toxic relationships.
Time to Rejuvenate
Trying to be everything to everyone in our mission as wives, mothers, and homeschool teachers can be taxing at the very least. Then there are commitments to family, co-ops, churches and community. A healthy humility serves with gusto but understands the priority and importance of taking time for oneself.
I am truly blessed with a husband who seeks to help me find time for myself, surprising me with date nights and adventures to help me slow down and rejuvenate. If possible, he fills in for me by taking the kids to events or running out for dinner on particularly stressful days.
When a wife is expected to be and do all without time for herself, or made to feel guilty for asking for time for herself, this too is a red flag of being used. Healthy couples share the many responsibilities of raising a family while also being aware of the needs of each other.
In the end, the happy couple is not the perfect couple. Instead they are often found working hard at keeping a balance by taking time to evaluate and listen. As women, we have those days when we feel like all we do is wash dishes and laundry, but those are just moments and feelings to share with a good husband.
Take time to evaluate, talk, share, and make adjustments that enable you to serve your family with humility and joy.