Two elderly, but classy ladies sat with microphones at the front of the room.
Faithful members of our church for over 40 years, and faithful servants of Christ for even longer, these older women had come to speak for one reason – to impart wisdom to the next generation of pastor’s wives at the seminary my husband attends.
As the “responders” for a Q & A session, they did not look nervous or prideful, only eager to share the enduring love of their Savior.
They couldn’t hide their joy and confidence in Him, learned from years of trials, marriage, and motherhood on their knees, in the Word, and within church doors.
I soaked up their answers like a sponge, and one of them I wish to impart to you.
It’s about a sticky subject, one that all of us face as wives. You could say it’s the sticky side of marital submission.
The questions posed to them were:
What do you do when you and your husband disagree? Or what should you do when are disappointed or concerned about your husband’s decisions or behavior?
In a relationship between two sinners, such situations are bound to arise.
These ladies didn’t shrink from the questions, and one elaborated a specific set of steps to take.
Before I share them, recall a pivotal truth from God’s Word: we as wives are called to be helpers.
This is no joke, no small task. While the world sees it as demeaning, women who know God’s precious and perfect design for His people in Scripture love this truth: God created Eve because it wasn’t good that Adam was alone.
Adam lacked something, something beautiful and purposeful. This presents a reality opposite to what feminists claim – not elevating Adam and devaluing women. As Pastor John MacArthur comments, “It points to Adam’s inadequacy, not Eve’s insufficiency.” Adam needed a counterpart, a being of equal value and dignity. So God created the woman to be man’s dear companion, and both were made in His image (Genesis 1:27).
The Lord established and joined distinct and complementing partners, man and woman, to bring order, peace, and flourishing to the family unit. One leads, one supports, using their unique strengths together for the common goal of raising a new generation.
Beyond Genesis, we know that marriage not only allows for mankind to spread and form the basis for society, but it has the higher significance of representing Christ’s unbreakable bond with His saved people, the church.
As married people, that’s our ultimate mission – to represent God’s undying and grace-filled covenant. To exalt Jesus, and not ourselves, through committed love to another person.
So when our husband sins, we glorify God not by responding in quick rebuke or rage, but by reflecting His nature, which is to be “compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in lovingkindness and truth” (Exodus 34:6).
Like the Proverbs 31 woman, we are like God by seeking to help, not harm.
“She brings him good, not harm, all the days of her life.” Proverbs 31:12
And more specifically, we seek to help our husband by showing Christlike love.
With this in mind, here are 5 steps for facing a disagreement:
When sin has it’s way I’m guilty of dismissing this all-important spiritual discipline, because on the surface its appears passive. When wrong happens, I want to correct it – now.
Prayer, however, is the most proactive and powerful strategy we can take. In doing so, we approach the mighty throne room of God, and ask the King of the Universe to exercise His infinite power and goodness.
Just this morning I read this: “O you who hear prayer, to you shall all flesh come…By awesome deeds you answer us with righteousness, O God of our salvation, the hope of all the ends of the earth and of the farthest seas.” Psalm 65:2,5
Most likely the thing bothering us about our husband is a heart issue – whether in him or ourself (see step 3).
This means it’s not something we can change on our own willpower. Only God can do the work of softening and molding a human heart. With reverent trust in His sovereignty and goodness, we can settle our hearts by handing over the issue to God.
By praying faithfully for God to move in this area, we bring our husband into the best care. We should ask that our man be sanctified, and for wisdom on how to serve him in this matter.
Also remember that God acts with patience, deliberateness, and peace. For us to mirror Him and behave in the Spirit, we have to be connected to Jesus, the Vine. This happens we when we pray. Rash action to a problem will usually rebound in hurt, but praying humbles and stills our spirit.
2. Review Verses of God’s Love for You
When we’re grieved by our husband – whether coming from a heart-pounding argument or a nagging problem festering over the course of weeks – there’s a need to remind ourselves in Who our worth and love are found. We can take time to rest in His Scriptures and treasure His Words of love anew, letting them heal any wounds.
Our husband is an incredible blessing from God, but in the end God is our first love. In Jesus we have an incomparable devotion that can never be thwarted or damaged. Nothing can separate us from His love (Romans 8:38-39).
When we are secure in Christ we experience joy no matter our circumstances! Grounding ourself in the Gospel and seeing His love empowers us to love our husband no matter how long it takes for change or progress to happen.
3. Examine Your Heart
This is crucial. In addition to praying, we must search our own hearts for sin. It is always wise to exercise this principle said by Jesus:
“Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when there is the log in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye.” Matthew 7:3-5
Whew! How often do we skip this?
We cannot effectively minister to our husband without addressing our own sin.
When taking the time to evaluate our thoughts, words, and actions with respect to the issue at hand, we will have a sounder perspective and a softer heart. Sometimes it isn’t even our husband in the wrong at all – only us! God may be using this circumstance to sanctify us, and we would miss the opportunity and hinder our husband by neglecting such a practice of humility.
4. Examine the Scriptures
If we still feel disagreement or that something needs to be addressed, we must make sure we study the Word concerning it.
What does the Bible say about this point of contention?
How would God have me respond to this?
How can I live out 1 Corinthians 13 right now?
Is this a matter of sin or merely of my preference?
The last question is so key. Often we become miffed about gray areas, and instead of putting up opposition God asks us to submit in love to our husbands, and in doing so exercise our trust in Him.
5. Wait for the Right Opportunity to Speak
Part of having a gentle and quiet spirit that pleases God is having patience. Through all these steps the Lord prepares us to communicate in the most loving way.
Rather than venting our opinions when the argument is heated, or when our husband may be tired or distracted, we can plan a particular time to bring up the matter – like how Esther prepared her serious petition to her husband and king. We can bring relevant Scriptures into the discussion, and enter the conversation with a commitment to composure.
This Proverb is invaluable:
“A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.” Proverbs 15:1
No matter the response, God is our ever-present refuge and help. We can be persistent in prayer, knowing God gives sustaining grace to the humble, not the prideful (1 Peter 5:5).
Extra Tip: Seek Counsel From an Older, Godly Woman
As helpers who care for our husband’s well-being, we should not share about his wrongdoings with a loose tongue. Slander is a serious sin in God’s eyes (Ephesians 4:31).
If, however, you need advice on how to handle a situation, you can go to a trusted woman of God who loves you and your husband. She can offer her experience and biblical wisdom, providing insights on further steps you can take.
I hope this was helpful, friend! Marriage is hard, but God uses it to sharpen our faith and redeem in ways we wouldn’t pursue otherwise. It’s always worth fighting for.
In His Love,