“Our marriage hasn’t always been that great. In fact, we were on the brink of divorce after 12 years and our only saving grace was marriage counseling.” I’m interviewing friends of mine with “great marriages” for this blog and was surprised to hear Mary admit it wasn’t always rosy.
“Counseling made our marriage stronger but it was a tough six months. We learned a lot about each other, especially about the role of submission in our marriage.”
“This isn’t going to be another story of a Christian counselor lecturing the wife on Ephesians 5, “Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands,” is it?” I asked.
Mary quickly interjected, “The counselor said that submission was my husband’s problem, not mine, and he was the one who needed to change.”
Mary told me the story of how she had been desperate to get married, single at 32. She chased down her husband with homemade dinners, gifts, and early intimacy. She admitted to the counselor and her husband that she used premarital sex as a trap to entice him into getting married. It was Mary who set the wedding date, made all the plans, and decided where they would buy their first house.
The counselor explained that when a relationship starts off with a woman as the pursuer a pattern is established. The woman is the aggressor and the man can be pretty passive. The guy is pretty flattered and doesn’t need to do much to maintain the relationship. He just needs to show up every now and again. Once this pattern is established it is hard to break. The woman is disappointed with him because she isn’t cared for and protected; he’s not leading, not taking responsibility for the family, not being a man, and she grows to disrespect him. The man is confused. He didn’t need to do much when they were dating, why does he need to act any differently after years of marriage?
The counselor took a firm stance with Mary's husband telling him that submission in many marriages wasn’t a problem with the wife, but that husbands needed to assume the leadership role in the home. “You’ve let her carry the burden of the world by herself. Step up and lead. I think you’ll find she’ll appreciate your efforts and start respecting you for it. Plus, you’ll find mutuality in your submission to each other, “ the counselor added.
Mary was quite thrilled with the advice given her husband. “I liked that vision of mutuality, of bearing each other’s burdens. We started the very next day with him taking more responsibility and me responding to his lead. It was what allowed us to take control of our marriage instead of our marriage controlling us.”
If you are in a loving marriage, share your thoughts on submission. What are examples of how you carry each other’s burdens?