In a Bible study today, we discussed the verses in Ephesians 5 regarding submitting to our husbands. Specifically, verse 23 talks about husbands being the head of their wives just as Christ is the head of the church.
There were several comments along the lines of "separate but equal", "he makes the final decision, but it's so hard when I don't agree", "friends think I'm crazy to back down", "it's hard to be submissive, since I like to do things my way", "ugh...", etc.
As I listened to this commentary, a few points that have made a significant influence in my life immediately came to mind. So, I'll share them here.
1. If my husband is over me and Christ is over him, I should be praying for him to act that way. It's not my job to be his mom (he has a FANTASTIC one already), and, as someone pointed out today, it's not my job to be the Holy Spirit. He has that already, too. What I can do, should I feel that I could do his job better, is to pray about it. I can pray for my own attitude to be submissive*. I can also pray for him to be receptive to the Holy Spirit. And for wisdom for both of us in general.
2. Speaking of not being the Holy Spirit. It is NOT my job to convict my husband. However, sometimes, as the person living with him and therefore closest to him, I sometimes see things he may not notice (ditto in reverse, by the way). If it's small, then I usually tell him sooner rather than later. If it's a major thing, I wait. And I pray. And I wait some more. Especially when the thing I want to tell him involves a character issue or major item, I try to be sure that we're both in good moods, haven't argued in 48 hours-ish (criticism, no matter how constructive, generally stings at first, so it's good to be feeling loved by the one who is temporarily stinging you), and that we're in a spot where we can talk it out. Then, if the item has been rubbing against my mind for at least a week (usually ten days or more), and if I feel a peace about discussing it also, I will bring it up. These criteria - waiting 10 days, and still feeling the strong need to discuss it, but having a peace about bringing it up in the first place - are usually good indicators for me.
3. Along those same lines, a friend once told me, "Matt doesn't answer to you at the end of the day. He answers to God." I need to be loving and supportive. I will answer to God for how I treated my husband, and my call is to be his helper and to be submissive. As mentioned in #2, sometimes God will use a spouse as a mirror for attitudes and actions, but it's not our primary job description. God can do the convicting, purifying, and sanctifying all by Himself without my help. Both he and Matt would appreciate it if I let God do his job.
4. Finally, a major point is that when I submit to Matt, I must also give him authority to make decisions. It is not submission if I tell him "you have authority to make the decision on this issue...but if you choose the solution I dislike, I will not support you...it's your decision. I submit to you." Submission minus authority is a hostage situation. It is NOT submission.
In conclusion, I should be praying for Matt. After all, he's the one responsible for the spiritual direction of our home. I need to be supportive, and loving, and helpful. I can share opinions, but when things are major, I should check in on my motives and with God, before I come charging in all up in his spiritual grill. And I should give him the authority and encouragement to actually do his job. It's not an easy job, and frankly, I'm glad it falls to him and not to me.
*Speaking of submission on my part - can't remember if I've already stated this in a previous post or not, but I've been having serious authority issues lately. I think it partially stems from having been in authority over hundreds of kids for the past 5 years or so, and then switching to full-time motherhood with no authority outside of my domestic domain. Now, when anyone in authority says anything, I want to debate. Not even so much because I disagree with whatever is said, but simply to have the chance to give an opinion. Or to fight. Or to throw a temper tantrum. Whatever. It's downright scary how rebellious I've been lately. Been praying about that one, too. Stay tuned. It's gotten better, but I'm definitely still a work in progress.