And further, submit to one another out of reverence for Christ – Ephesians 5:21
Submission must be mutual in order for a marriage to flourish. It’s not something that should be forced nor should it add tension. Submission comes from the heart, and it says I give you permission to speak into my life. It is a mutual respect for one another as husband and wife; where the two yield to each other in love. Without a clear focus, we can easily turn against our spouse, making submission a competition. Marriage isn’t a boxing match against husband and wife. We are not opponents, but teammates.
Round 1: Perfection is a myth. Let’s just be honest here, as women, we tend to stamp perfection on everything – our husbands, our children, and ultimately ourselves. But, perfection limits the potential for growth, and discourages us when we fail or when people fail us. Instead of putting impossible expectations on ourselves and others, we can learn to operate from a place of grace.
Round 2: Marriage exposes you. I believe that Jesus uses marriage to purify us. What’s inside of us usually comes out, and marriage has a way of bringing things to the surface that need to be dealt with. It can be a challenge for a man to admit faults and failures, but in doing so we actually allow ourselves to be vulnerable and open. As we grow in marriage, we should look less like ourselves and more like Jesus. Don’t wait until you hit rock bottom to get help.
Round 3: Let him lead. Personally, I tend to think I have all the answers when it comes to my marriage and the decisions we should make. But what I have failed to realize until now is that this actually tears my husband down. Questioning his decisions actually makes him feel inadequate and dishonored. Men want to know you believe in them and that you back up their decisions as the leader of the home. Build him up and encourage him!
Round 4: She doesn’t have a crystal ball. Communication in marriage is key. We cannot read each other’s minds, so being intentional about expressing our feelings to one another is vital. Since women are naturally better communicators, it’s crucial that we as men are purposeful in regards to verbal expression. Be intentional and check-in with each other weekly.
Round 5: It’s not all about the kids. Children require lots of love and attention, and as women we desire to give this to them, constantly. But in the midst of making the children the priority, we are actually neglecting our husbands. And if we aren’t feeding our marriage, it’s not going to grow. The children are a bi-product of the marriage, so showing them that your marriage is a priority is actually healthy for them. Don’t forget to date your husband.
Round 6: Washing dishes is sexy. In Gary Chapman’s book The 5 Love Languages, he talks about how we all desire to be loved in different ways. It may not be washing dishes, but it could be just spending some one on one time together. Learning your spouse’s love language, and actually practicing it, is the key to their heart.
Round 7: The fear factor. In the midst of life’s challenges, we can easily let worry and anxiety take us to a place of fear, and in doing so we are actually choking the life right out of us. It is okay and normal to experience fear, but facing our fears head on is how we overcome them. If fears are not dealt with they can get into your family and tear things apart.
Round 8: Fight Fair. Fighting in marriage is completely normal and bound to happen. But how we fight is what matters most. It’s important to remember that we aren’t fighting to hurt each other but that we are fighting to ultimately grow together and to learn how to overcome problems as a unit. By learning to fight what’s in front of you, you won’t feel the urge to bring up everything else. It may help to go for a walk to collect your thoughts. You should never use the word divorce.
Round 9: Pray. When you start to release things to God, change begins to happen. Women are the thermostat of the home and they can shift the atmosphere with their prayers. Prayer changes perspective and puts God in his rightful place. Pray about everything.
Round 10: Invest in your marriage and not just your kids. Where you put your time and energy, you will see fruit. And without investing into your marriage it will not grow. Don’t neglect each other because you have kids now, and don’t stop looking your best for each other. Children will change your wife’s body; don’t expect your wife to look the way she did before she had kids. Make date nights a priority.
Marriage has the ability to not only shape us, but to impact the world around us. Instead of seeing our spouse as the opponent in the ring, we need to realize that they are actually the hype-man in our corner cheering us on, cleaning our wounds, giving us water, and encouraging us to never give up!