Thursday, April 19, 2012


I've been struggling with something lately and would love and appreciate a different perspective from each of you ladies.  Let's talk about our roles a wives.

Biblically, we are to be submissive to our husbands; we are to follow him and to allow him to lead us.  He is to provide for our family and love us like Christ loved the church.  Our job is to create and raise precious little ones, to support and lift up our husbands, and to make our home a wonderful haven for him, full of love and kindness.

I love this model.  It makes sense to me.  I understand why it works, and why God presented marriage in this light. I don't know how to make it work in my world, however.

Here's the deal.  Ever since we were little girls, we were taught that we could do anything we wanted to do.  We don't get married right out of high school or college anymore.  We start lives, become independent, and get our careers off the ground. Young men do the same thing.  Then we meet someone we adore, and decide to merge our lives together. 

Here is a little view into my world.

Hubby and I are both in sales.  He is in outside sales that focuses on relationship building.  I am in high pressure software sales.  We make close to the same amount of money.  He loves his job and is very good at it.  I love the company that I work for and the people that I work with, but my job is very hard and stressful.  With his job, he calls and tells me about every conversation, every meeting, every deal, every client.  I actively listen and enjoy that he shares these things with me.  I hope that we always communicate like this.  Regarding my job, he never asks questions, and hardly listens when I tell him about a good or bad thing that happens at work.  On the rare occasion that he is actively listening to me and not playing tetris on his phone, he tells me "that's wrong, you should do this..." regardless of if I am telling him I just sold a big deal or lost one.  For example, I have been preparing for my QBR for over a week now, and he hasn't asked a word about it.  I told him twice last night that I was nervous and wanted to practice.  His response?  Hmmm...
I handle all of our finances.  If we have $50 Hubby will spend $70 and finance $100.  So, I took them all over and pay all of the bills and do all of the budgeting.  This turns me into the Mom of him.  For example, we are on a very tight budget right now because we are buying a new house.  Last night he asks me if he can buy $200 replicas of his Nike's that he had in high school.  Seriously?  I hate telling him he can't have something, which is why I hate being in control of the money.  Then I get annoyed at him for even asking about that because he knows we are saving our pennies for our new house. 

House Work
Hubby does the yard and washes the cars.  Everything else is completely my responsibility.  Our house is on the market right now, which means that every morning, after I get up, get myself ready, feed Jaxson and get him ready, then I have to make the house ready for showing.  Washing bottles and dishes, opening up the blinds, wiping down counters, etc. etc.  It's a lot.  And, this is all done while he is still sleeping in the morning.  I also run all of the errands and do all of the shopping.  I spend most of my lunch breaks cleaning house and running errands.

This is why it is difficult for me to live out the biblical outline of marriage.  How do I let him lead when he doesn't?  How am I supposed to look to him for guidance when I am the one managing our entire world?

This is why I have a problem being submissive.  When he tells me how to do something, and what he wants me to do, and I know it's wrong, or I have a better way, I don't want to do it.  I don't have time to do it.  I am moving from the moment my alarm goes off to the moment that we fall asleep with a constant to do list that continues to grow.  So, many times, I don't even have the energy to humor him.  I made a commitment to myself 2 months ago that I was going to do whatever he said, and however he said to do it for 60 days.  And I did.  And I am exhausted and defeated.  I feel at peace knowing that I have been doing the "right thing" by respecting my husband, but it is not fulfilling for me at all.  That's the problem with the modern model of marriage vs. the biblical model.

I work very hard at my job, being a good mother, being a good wife & provider.  The old model takes the part of working and providing out of the mix.  How much easier would life be without that?  Could you imagine not having to worry about work or commissions or paying bills?  If the man took care of all of that?  Then he would be at a level where I feel that submission would naturally fall into place.  I feel that in this day and age it is forced.  Or maybe I'm just crazy?

If you are still reading, thank you!  Don't get me wrong, I adore my husband and I love our lives, but I am having a super difficult time being respectful and submissive all the time.  How do you handle this part of your marriage?  What kinds of things do you do to stay on track and live out God's design for marriage?


kmuel said...

I actually spoke to my bible study leader about this a few months ago. I have a very difficult time being submissive and even respecting him at times. Like you said, we both work, and I am actually a full time student, I handle everything for the home except for the yard work, I mean shouldn't he be helping me out? Her advise was to stop looking at it as doing these things for your husband, because while they do deserve to have a submissive and respectful wife, you should be doing it because it is commanded to you by God. Do it to honor and respect God. Men will mess up, there will be days where we will feel that they don't "deserve" something, but if we have the mindset that we are honoring God it makes it much easier, because God does deserve to be honored and respected at all times! So far, this advise has helped me. Some days are much more difficult than others, but I just tell myself that I am doing this for Him and not for him. (Hope this doesn't come across that I don't love my husband because I do, but we all have our good/bad days)

michelle ellis said...

I LOVE that advice and I truly do think that will help me. What a way to put it into perspective!! Thank you so very much for your honesty - it means so much to me to not feel like a "bad" wife or like I am the only one that struggles with this. Like you, I adore my other half, but he makes me crazy sometimes!!


kmuel said...

Sorry, the box is so small I forgot to add something. As far as being his "Mom" so to speak, I also handle all of the finances, as well as his school. Hubby decided he wanted to go back to school so I was managing all of his Financial Aid, due dates and even registration. To this my leader explained to me that I am simply enabling him. He will never take the lead if I am always taking control and there isn't room for 2 people to lead the home. So if I really wanted him to step up to the plate I needed to take a step back. So far we have begun the finance process, I gave him all of the usernames/passwords to all of our accounts & sent him the balances, so now he is actually logging on and starting to check things. Hopefully over the next year we can transition into him controling everything. School he is on his own, I am not his mother and acting like it has only been more harmful to our marriage than it has helped. It stressed me out, and it made us argue because if I made a mistake it would make him upset because it was wrong but then I would be upset because its not my responsibility anyways. So its all on him, if he wants my help I will try be helpful but in the end its his responsibility and up to him. Not that school is what you are talking about but I just think sometimes as women we just take control and and they are pushed to the back and then we wonder why we are so stressed out. Also if you havn't tried the Love & Respect workbook I would try that. My husband and I have been doing that for a few weeks and it has been very helpful for the both of us. Also, I have secretly been doing the Love Dare and have received a wonderful reaction from him. Hope that helps!

Melissa Carter said...

Believe me I am right there with you girl!! The past few days have really been a struggle. My husband has not been feeling well lately and thinks that because he is not feeling well he can just lay on the couch and do nothing to help me. I get it, you dont feel well but there are days I dont feel well and I keep taking care of my babies! We have to remember that we are strong and that the men our lives need us there. God made us this way and I dont know how we do it somedays but its just what WE do!

Kristina said...

Submission is tough. Since I was single for almost 30 years, it was a struggle for me to switch from whatever I want, to considering decisions with my husband. I don’t think submission is doing whatever he thinks I should do or the way he wants it done. Thankfully, he agrees. The Lord gave us wisdom; I’m open for suggestions, but you are much more gracious to do things his way for 60 days.

I’ve talked about this with friends and my boss, who’s been married for 20 years. In marriages where both spouses work outside the home, division of labor in the home is necessary. I would really share with your husband that it’s too much for you to do it all. My husband is always up for grocery shopping, as long as I make the list! He helps around the house quite a bit, as well, and I help in the yard. Maybe write a list of everything you need to get done during the day and ask what he can take on. I’m sure he could get the counters wiped off and blinds open in the morning.

As for finances, we each have monthly “fun money.” We don’t have to ask each other about using this money. It’s spent on eating lunches out, clothes, books, etc. If I want to save mine for a few months to buy a bigger purchase, Husby doesn’t care! I’m pretty sure he uses his on lunches out during the month, but they don’t impact our overall budget since this is worked in.

I don’t think you can MAKE your husband lead. You can—and should—respect him, show him love through his love language, and try meeting with an older married couple at your church a couple of times a month who can mentor you as a couple.

One more thing on submission: again, it’s not doing everything your husband says, and it’s not ever getting your way. It’s working together, as a couple, to better your family. Talk things out, pray about things, try to come to a decision together, and if it doesn’t happen, then you defer to his decision.

Nicole-Lynn said...

Oh sweetie, you're not alone! I have a hard time being submissive at times too. My husband expects things to be done around the house more now since I work part-time, so it's hard. It's hard having to juggle a lot and not feel appreciated at times. What's worked for me is sitting down and talking to him about my feelings. Letting him know that I appreciate my new schedule and him working hard to provide for us, but that sometimes I need help around the house and that it can get overwhelming at times. I give him small tasks (one at a time, on a list that he can check off, if you give too much at once it never works out well! lol). This has helped me a lot. Don't get me wrong there are still things I need help with and have to ask about but it's getting better.

You're a good mom and wife, and I love that you're concerned about this and sharing it on your blog! I think all you both need is a date night out and for you to let him know how you feel. Maybe even writing out everything that's concerning you so you don't forget about anything.

michelle ellis said...

That is such wonderful advice!! You are so right, I am absolutely enabling him. But - when he ran his part of the finances, it was a disaster. Debt, overdrawing his account, not planning...and I got tired of us not being on the same page and took over all the finances. I am terrified that if he takes over all of them we will be in the poor house!!

I have read the love and respect book twice, and that is my go to when I'm feeling like this. I have not tried the workbook though - thank you so much for the rec!

I have not done the love dare. I just ordered the book this morning, thank you so so very much!

And, for what it's worth - I'm so proud of you for pushing your husband to lead you. I think that is amazing and shows how much you trust God to lead him :) Thank you for sharing!!!!

michelle ellis said...

Melissa, why is it that when husbands are sick the whole world stops? haha! You are right, God did make us this way so that we can handle these things. Thank you so much for the encouragement and the perspective. I appreciate it so much!

michelle ellis said...

Kristina, I love your approach to this. I feel like you have taken God's layout for marriage and fit it into the way that our worlds are now, and that is what I have been trying to do. THANK YOU so much for sharing your experience and for the advice. I truly appreciate it!

Maybe we can sit down this weekend with a list of things and see what he will be willing to help on.

We tried the fun money thing, and he just spent twice as much as he had allocated. It just didn't work for him. And you are right, I can't make him want to lead...only pray for him and let him decide what he wants to do.

Thank you again, I value your advice and experience!!

michelle ellis said...

Oh Nicole, you always know just how to lift me up and make me feel better :) Thank you!

Hubby and I are not the best communicators, but we have been working on it over the years. We are going on a date night tonight, so hopefully that will give us something fun and special to do to lighten the weight I have been feeling. Thank you for the suggestion!

Writing things down is a wonderful idea. I love that. Thank you sweet friend!

Candice said...

Michelle - I love that you wrote on this subject! This is such a struggle in my life as well. It's so hard to find the balance between feeling like you are doing your best to be that Proverbs wife we all want to be, without losing your sense of independence and integrity. I think the #1 thing you can do is continue to talk to your hubby and tell him how you feel. Tell him what your goals are as his wife, and let him know that you need his support. I completely agree, the old model is so hard to follow sometimes. I always use them example of cooking at home vs. eating out. If I weren't gone from 7am-6pm every day, yes, I would LOVE to make my husband homemade meals every day and have it ready at 6pm. But with working full-time it's just not REALISTIC. Not if we want to ever rest anyway! I hope you get some peace on this issue sweet friend!! You are a beautiful person, friend, mom...everything!! :)

Kelly's Avenue said...

Think about y'all. Praying for y'all xoxoxox

Veronika said...

My comment isn't going to be helpful because I don't believe in being submissive in a marriage...but here it goes anyway.

For me, it's about balance. I believe marriage should be a mutual relationship---mutual love, mutual respect.

I am also more of a leader in my marriage in some areas---but in others my H is the leader so it balances things a little bit. For example, he handles all of the finances and I do MOST (not all) of the cleaning whereas he does more of the cooking (but I help too). So we each have things we do around the house where it kind of "evens out" in the end.

I understand your frustration because our world no longer really supports this model. Women work outside of the home, do a ton of housework and care for children, etc.

I honestly don't feel that there is anything wrong with you wanting your H to take the lead more...but I think both parties tend to feel more fulfilled and less stressed when there is balance and respect for what the other person does and vice versa.

I used to get mad when my H didn't always acknowledge all of the cleaning I did around the house. I brought it up and said it sometimes hurt when he brushed it off or didn't comment on it, and I've noticed he makes more of an effort now to tell me he appreciates it. To me, that is respect and helps me feel my contributions are valued and meaniningful.

Okay...I am going off on a tangent here...but basically i don't think a marriage can really adhere to a traditional biblical one unless you have a lifestyle where that relationship exists already (ie: H is breadwinner, you stay home in a traditional role).

great post, thanks for being so honest.

Tracy said...

Hi friend,
I didn't read through all of the comments, so forgive me if I tread on already broached topics. I want to start off by saying I truly admire your commitment for being submissive and following what the Bible says to a tee. However, when those words were written, lives were much different than they are now. I do not mean to imply that we, as wives, should not listen to our husbands or seek their advice, but today's society puts men and women on a more equal playing field in respect to what we're capalbe of doing. There isn't any real logical reason for you to work your self to exhaustion, handling so much of the load, while your husband gets to sleep in and relax much more simply because he is the husband. If anything, as your husband, and the leader, he should step up and desire to take some of te weight off your shoulders. You stil have the ability to be submissive and to be the very accomodating wife, but being married is a partnership in all aspects. At different points of all relationships, one or the other may have to step up and take on more responsibility, but but in the grand scheme of things, he is your partner. You are to be submissive, but not to the point that you are undertaking more than you can realistically handle. Just my thoughts on the issue! You and Jeff are both amaing. It sounds like maybe some really good communicating while reading some more modern Christian marriage books may help. Don't forget: you have to take care of yourself (mentally, physically, emotionally) in order to be the best Michelle you can be. You're entitled to some serious you time too! :)