Radical Marriage: Holy Ever After // Day 1

Sunday, April 3, 2016

You’ve heard the expression, “Happy wife, happy life,” and the variation, “If momma ain’t happy, nobody’s happy.” I used to think these quips were funny, harmless, and frankly, spot on truth. After I attended a leadership conference several years ago where the topic was biblical womanhood, I came to understand these clever phrases quite differently. I now see them as a self-indulgent mindset that strips away joy from my marriage, a way for me to hold my husband hostage to get my own way. They speak to the core of our relationship roles, and they don’t speak kindly of mine.

God has gifted me with a “git-r-done” spirit. I’m the go-to person if you need a project coordinator. Okay, I can be honest, I’m a control freak. I get things done, but I want it done my way. I used to believe that if I didn’t do it, nobody would. But the truth is, if I didn’t do it, it would get done differently than the way I wanted it done and that would make me unhappy. (Stand back everyone, she’s unhappy!) Because, you know, it’s all about me—that’s what this culture tells me in an unending loop of advertisements and confused philosophy that screams, “whatever makes me happy is my truth.”

Let’s go back to the garden and see where this idea originated: Now the serpent was more crafty than any of the wild animals the Lord God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God really say…?(Gen. 3:1)…When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it. She also gave some to her husband who was with her, and he ate it. (Gen. 3:6) From the beginning of time we have been listening to the world instead of obeying God. We have looked at something forbidden and found a way to justify our taking it because we believed it would make us happy. We have searched for happiness in the wrong places.

Men and women were created gloriously different and equal in the eyes of God. Listening to the culture you might think that equality means sameness and difference means inequality. This idea steals the joy from our true purpose as women as much as the happy wife/happy life phrase steals the joy from our marriage. Men have their roles in marriage and women have theirs. If I demand my own way in order for peace to reign in our household, I am not doing what I was created to do. The Lord God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him," (Gen. 2: 18).

Women were specifically designed to be helpers. This is not an inferior position. It is a life-giving ministry of providing strength, defense, compassion, nurture, comfort and caring. It is not an assistant to the boss, but it is clearly not the boss either. The true boss is God. We are His image-bearers. Our purpose is to bring Him glory. It’s not all about me. It’s all about Him. I can only glorify Him when I act as a suitable helper to my husband.

We are also called to submission to our husbands as the church submits to Christ. (Eph. 5:22-24) We aren’t doing that if we are insisting on our own way. We don’t like that word: submission. It makes us feel like a groveling dog. But, just like the word helper, we are looking at it from the wrong perspective, a temporal, worldly perspective rather than a kingdom perspective. If my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, can leave his heavenly realm and submit to take human form, can submit to wash the feet of his disciples, can submit to death on a cross all because he loves me, then who am I to expect to be served and not to serve in my marriage? If I love my neighbor as much as I love myself, shouldn’t I love my husband even more than that? That kind of love lays down self. That is the type of submission I am called to in my marriage.

It’s reciprocal you know. Husbands are called to love us that well too. (Eph. 5:25-33) I know that there are cases of so-called “Christian” men that use Scripture to insist that a wife’s submission means that she is to be silent and do as she is told. They wield it like a weapon. That is just as bad as the happy wife/happy life philosophy, and can be much worse if they use it as an excuse for oppression and abuse. Our husbands are told to lead us, to be “the head of the wife” (Eph. 5:23) for our protection from this world. They stand in front of us as our shield. We stand ready to pass them the sword. Not because we’re incapable of using the sword ourselves, but so we can be united against the enemy.

Look again at the garden and see what happened when Adam did not take his leadership role seriously. Why didn’t he step in front of Eve to keep the serpent from turning her thoughts away from God? Why didn’t he slap the fruit from her hand and remind her of the abundance they already had? Not only did he neglect his duty to protect her, he didn’t even take responsibility for his own actions in eating the fruit. He passed the buck. (Gen. 3:12)

In this culture of male bashing how can we expect our men to step up if we are going to step in front of them and do it ourselves so it gets done “right”? Why should they bother to lead if it’s ultimately going to result in our resentment? The problem is, when we feel “forced” to do everything ourselves, that builds up resentment too. There is no way to win in a situation where we have made our own happiness the key to peace in our marriage.

I confess that when I started to take a step back every time I got angry with my husband to look at the motivation driving my anger, it was convicting. Ten times out of ten, it was not righteous anger, it was because I didn’t get what I wanted or things didn’t happen the way I thought they should or he didn’t respond the way I thought he should or do what I suggested he do. It was all about me. I did not act as a suitable helper. I did not encourage him to lead and stand beside him in the fight. I was critical and condescending, stuck in the vicious circle of satisfying myself through myself. I did not glorify God. I did not love my husband as myself. I was feeding the cancer of selfishness, borne of my sinful nature, and it had metastasized to my heart.

Perspective is key.
You will never find delight in your marriage with your eyes on your own desires. 

You are wonderfully designed: different, equal, suitable to help, care for, defend, support, and nurture. But you must love as you have been loved by Christ, not expecting to be served but with His servant’s heart, your woman’s heart, unique to your design. 

Be part of the triangular shaped trinity of your marriage, with God at the head and you and your husband side by side, accomplishing the roles that have been set before you to His glory, submitting to one another in love. When you lay down your selfish desires, only then can you glorify God, and that is where you will find your happiness.           

{words: @bekahkay}

                       About the Author

Stephanie Cardel≫ ≫Stephanie lives in Tennessee with her husband of twenty-nine years. She homeschooled their three children for their entire school careers. Now that they are grown, she can usually be found curled up with a book or typing away, writing young adult and middle grade novels and dreaming of being published. You can find book reviews with parental guidance ratings on her website at www.checkoutthesebooks.com. Through her volunteer work at Portico (www.porticostory.org), she teaches abstinence in the local public middle and high schools. She loves supporting women in their walk with the Lord by leading Bible studies and has been the Women’s Ministry coordinator at her church for the past five years.



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