I have to admit, this part of the book is probably what I had the hardest time reading. Elizabeth George spent a great deal of her book talking about my role as wife. It was hard to swallow at times. Our culture tells us that we're equals. I deserve the same benefits as my husband. We should split the household duties. I should go to work and earn money too, because I can. While I don't disagree with this, I don't believe that's how marriage was set up to be. I'm not saying that the man shouldn't have to help around the house. Or that women shouldn't go to work. But God created marriage in a certain way. My role as wife is much different from Brad's role as husband.
The truth is I've always been a stronger leader than Brad. I'm loud and good with words. I have no problem speaking my mind. Brad is a people pleaser. He's a listener. He's very thorough and thoughtful. It would be easy for me to be the "head" of our marriage. But that's not how God designed it. He wants me to submit to Brad. Because Brad is supposed to submit to God. I need to trust Brad's relationship with God. I need to understand the responsibility that he has when making decision for this family. I need to trust that he is seeking God's will and doing what he's supposed to. I'm not asked to blindly follow. I'm asked to trust. And, as a good husband, Brad does consider my feelings. He does listen to me and my thoughts on a decision. But, ultimately, my job is to make it easier for him to do what God wants him to do.
One way that I was challenged about this was how I'm supposed to encourage Brad in his job outside of the home. I love Brad very much, and I know that he loves his job. And I'm so thankful that he works so that he can provide for our family. I'm especially grateful that he works enough so that I don't have to (not that I'm lazy and don't want to work, but I would much rather stay home and spend the time with our children). However, I hate that Brad's job takes him away from us. I so enjoy when Brad is off from work. I love going to the park as a family or walking around our neighborhood. I love when Brad can put Micah to bed or when he helps me wash the floors. I wish that he could stay home with us all of the time and never have to go to work. I have to admit, I often make it hard for him to go to work because I so much prefer it when he's home. I know that he'd rather be home too, but I'm not always supportive of him leaving. This book reminded me of how important it is that I support him. If he didn't leave to go to work, I wouldn't be able to stay home with Micah. So, I need to do what I can to make the little time that we do have together the best time.
That's easier said than done. The author talked about how wives are on assignment from God to be a helper to their husbands. I know that sounds crazy, but it's true. This means focusing on your husband, asking what you can do for him every day. She has a list of steps we can take to be a helper for our husband, including making him first priority, ensuring that your actions help rather than hinder him, etc. She also talks about respecting him and honoring him. Women don't understand this completely. We want love. Men want respect. They want to be respected in front of other people. A woman might think nothing of interjecting when her husband is talking to clarify a detail or correct him about something, but to the man, he has lost respect in front of those listening. As a wife, I need to honor my husband. While I think that I do honor my husband, I realized just how often I am actually disrespectful of him in front of other people. I correct him, I interrupt, etc. I never thought of how disrespectful it was, but now I do! And while I'm not perfect, it is definitely something I'm working on. But it used to be something I never even though about!
She also talks about the importance of maintaining the house so that the husband doesn't have to. Again, I truly believe that if Brad is to be a servant leader, he should be more than willing to help with household chores. But I make it my goal to not need his help. I'm not always successful, but since reading this book, my success rate has improved at least slightly. At first when she mentioned that the house should be picked up and dinner done or almost done by time the husband comes home from work I thought she was crazy. But then she talked about how it makes for a less stressful evening and for better quality time as a family. If I'm done with the household chores by time Brad gets home from work, we can spend our time together doing something we enjoy, such as going for a walk, getting ice cream, or watching a movie without the stress of unfinished chores on my shoulders. As much as I'd like Brad to help me clean the bathrooms, I'd much rather spend our time together doing fun things, not cleaning!
The last thing I'm going to talk about is how she emphasized how important it is to make your husband your number one priority. Prove it to him by doing random acts of kindness, preparing special dinners, planning special times alone, planning special dinners alone, planning an early bedtime for the children, and planning to go to bed at the same time. Our actions speak louder than our words. It is so important that we make time to be with our husbands. Since the beginning of our marriage, Brad and I have gone to bed at the same time. Even when he was still in school and had to stay up late studying, he would sit in bed with me until I fell asleep and then go out in the living room to do his studying. We love ending the night together. It's a way for us to re-connect and just check up on each other's day. I think showing that he is number one priority is increasingly important as our children get older. The fact is that our relationship was before we had kids and it will last past the time our children are in our home. So, I have to make him a priority. And I think it's important that our children see that, too. That they see modeled in us what a Christ-centered relationship is, one that takes time for each other. Always.