I was asked to address this issue and feel as if I cannot adequately address this subject without including my husband in the dialogue as well. So this post features my sometimes “post-er,” always pastor and husband, Gary.
Beth’s point of view
When Gary and I have to make a decision that we cannot come to an agreement on, we take a few extra measures to find that right solution. One of them is to talk through our feelings and motives behind the decision, to the point where we both feel validated and heard by each other. Often my resistance has more to do with feeling disregarded or controlled than believing Gary is wrong. So when Gary can drop his agenda and focus on how I feel, very often I am ready to see things his way.
A lot of times when we find ourselves locked in disagreement, it’s because we’ve both gotten an idea fixed in our heads and made a private decision before we’ve taken the time to talk and process about it together first. Most of the time, our rush to process independently rather than interdependently is not intentional. But even when our motives are innocent, the likely outcome is a resistance to backtrack and start all over from the beginning.
Another measure that we take is to think outside the box. Very often we can find a better solution to our problem than the one that seems so obvious, if we just take the time to talk through various options that aren’t on the table at first.
Of all the decisions we’re faced with every day, most are not vital, make or break issues. And most are not as urgent as we seem to think at the moment. Simply slowing down and not putting unnecessary pressure on ourselves to come to a decision immediately can reduce stress, get our creative juices flowing and help us to see new possibilities. But, if we find ourselves still at a stalemate, we may invite a wise, objective, and spiritually mature friend to help us. And when the decision is especially significant, we’ve also processed issues with a counselor.
Sometimes my pride and stubbornness gets the best of me. I don’t feel like submitting to Gary even though I know that is what God desires. So if we end up arguing about a matter rather than respectfully discussing it, we take a break to cool down and pray about it. It’s amazing how much a time of prayer (anywhere from a half an hour to, honestly, a couple of days!) can soften my heart and clarify the way so much more than any convincing Gary may try to do with me.
I struggle with my pride too, and if I allow my pride to be the driving force of my expression, it can easily accelerate. I get louder, more defensive, and critical. When this happens, the focus shifts away from the decision we’re trying to make to the control we’re trying to maintain and the position we’re trying to protect. The earlier we catch our emotions starting to play the primary role, and the quicker we are to get away to pray, the more likely we are to return to the table. Then we can engage in a healthy dialogue and come to an agreement on our next step of decision.
I’d have to say that, for the most part, Gary and I agree on most big decisions. But I also believe that Gary is ultimately the “head” of our household, so when we are at an impasse, I allow him to make the final call. I don’t see this as being less than or lower than Gary. I see it as Gary shouldering more of the responsibility for our family—and that’s something I can completely appreciate!
Let me be very careful when I, as a husband, address the issue of “headship” in the home. First, I believe that God has placed the husband as head (Ephesians 5:23-24), not because he is more capable, but as Adrian Rogers graphically stated it,
“Anything without a head is dead,
and anything with two heads is a freak.”
Without leadership, any organization, including the family, will fracture and degenerate into ineffectiveness at best, and conflict and total breakdown at worst. God calls the husband to lead in love, and the wife to submit out of respect.
Unfortunately, the term “submit” has been misunderstood, misused and twisted from its original meaning. Submission means to voluntarily yield in love. It’s not something a husband can demand, it’s something a wife freely chooses to offer. A wife’s voluntary choice to allow her husband to lead will more likely happen when she feels loved – when her husband accepts his responsibility to love her as Christ loves the church.
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