Every day in marriage and in life there are choices – to be selfish or to be selfless. And I believe the choices we make each day have an impact on our marriages.
As Chris and I went through pre-marital counseling and also read many books about marriage, the theme was a common one, marriage was about sacrifice. This has been true in our marriage but in the most joyful and caring way, for me especially. I was scared of the responsibilities that I would take on in the marriage that I didn’t have before. I had the perfect model of a loving wife and mother from my mom and living up to that example was a little scary. My mom sacrificed everything for our family, she quit her job a week before I was born and dedicated her life to homeschool me and my two siblings. She made sure that dinner was on the table every night, that we were chauffeured to and from every sporting event and she did it all without complaining or whining. My dad and us kids were the number one priority. I wanted to be a wife like that and someday a mom like that. She took her job as a wife and mom seriously and did it well. She never once talked about regretting quitting her job for a life of service to her husband and family.
I consider myself a career woman. I have a stable job that I have grown in and worked at for over 5 years, I own a business and I am capable of being financially and otherwise independent. Despite all of these things I would consider myself an anti-feminist. Although I do believe that people should be treated equally I don’t believe in the equality of roles in the family and home. When I became Chris’ wife I made a decision in front of witnesses and God to not only to marry him but to submit to him as the head of our family. The verse we get this concept from is in Ephesians –
Ephesians 5:22-33 New International Version (NIV)
22 Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands as you do to the Lord. 23 For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior. 24 Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything.
25 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her 26 to make her holy, cleansing<sup class="footnote" data-fn="#fen-NIV-29331a" data-link="[a]”>[a] her by the washing with water through the word, 27 and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. 28 In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. 29 After all, no one ever hated their own body, but they feed and care for their body, just as Christ does the church— 30 for we are members of his body. 31 “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.”<sup class="footnote" data-fn="#fen-NIV-29336b" data-link="[b]”>[b] 32 This is a profound mystery—but I am talking about Christ and the church. 33 However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.
Each day I live in marriage with Chris I come to love this verse more and see the application of it our marriage. This works in God’s holy plan because the woman is not submitting herself to a slave driver or a man who is not appreciative but she is submitting herself to a husband who loves more than her loves his own body and puts her cares above his own. Why would any woman mind submitting to a man who loves them and treated them like the precious treasure that they are? I have found the practical application of this verse in our marriage is less about defining roles but more about living selflessly every day. Making decisions that may not be our first choice but that are going to be best for each other and our marriage as a whole. Selfishness is what kills marriages.
Practicing selflessness is something that requires work. We are not naturally selfless people, we have to rely on God to help us look at others more highly that we look at ourselves. Philippians 2:3 says, “
Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves”. Our marriages are the first place these words should be lived out in our lives. We need to be fostering unselfish attitudes in our homes and marriages so that we are able to give out to other people.
No, this is not easy. We should not expect it to be. I don’t always (or ever) feel like getting out of bed an extra half of an hour early to make Chris his lunch to take to work but this is an act of selflessness that makes him feel cared for. I don’t always feel like having dinner on the table every night because after all I just worked 9 hours at work plus a photoshoot and I am tired of standing and probably have a headache but I do it because that is my most important job. My husband doesn’t deserve to eat fast food or fend for himself to get dinner just because I put other priorities over him. This, of course, is as a rule not the perfection of our every day lives at this point. I don’t feel like doing loads of laundry (how can 2 people produce so many dirty clothes?!), dishes, vacuuming, mopping, dusting and bed making but I do it so we have a beautiful place to relax. Cleanliness is very important to Chris, he hates messes and I am already a little OCD about messes so it works out well but this is an act of selflessness because I don’t feel like doing it all the time. These acts of selflessness will be unique in each home but these are some we have identified in our home.
I am addressing women specifically in this post. Men have a responsibility of their own to uphold and maybe I will have Chris guest blog about his responsibilities some time but this is for the married ladies. Pursue selflessness in your marriage, women. Caring for your husbands is your number one priority! We all wear many hats in this day and age and nobody understands work as much as I do, every waking second is work when owning a business and working full time. I work ALOT and I understand that money is a non-negotiable necessity to be able to make it but we have to understand the importance of our jobs at home. We can’t all afford to spend equal amounts of time at home as we do at work but when we are at home we should take our job there seriously: foster a safe, loving and clean environment to live, provide our husbands with good meals and take time to sit at the dinner table and have good conversation. Submitting to our husbands is not to be doomed to a life of unappreciated subservience. And being a housewife full time or just while you are in your home doesn’t make you any less capable, independent or strong. It’s time for women to embrace our roles in the home and recognize the power we have to change or affect our marriages in a positive way.
Lastly, this is one of my favorite verses addressing women in the Bible. It is a Proverb about a wife who is a hard worker, a manager and a business owner. She is beautiful and creative and strong. This is a model of hard working woman. Our society has painted a weak picture of women who are housewives and mothers but does this sound weak to you? She is independent, her husband is confident in her. She makes money. Her family is cared for. I want to be a wife of noble character above all else. This is the model of a woman that we should all strive to be.
Proverbs 31:10-31New International Version (NIV)
Epilogue: The Wife of Noble Character
She is worth far more than rubies.
11 Her husband has full confidence in her
and lacks nothing of value.
12 She brings him good, not harm,
all the days of her life.
13 She selects wool and flax
and works with eager hands.
14 She is like the merchant ships,
bringing her food from afar.
15 She gets up while it is still night;
she provides food for her family
and portions for her female servants.
16 She considers a field and buys it;
out of her earnings she plants a vineyard.
17 She sets about her work vigorously;
her arms are strong for her tasks.
18 She sees that her trading is profitable,
and her lamp does not go out at night.
19 In her hand she holds the distaff
and grasps the spindle with her fingers.
20 She opens her arms to the poor
and extends her hands to the needy.
21 When it snows, she has no fear for her household;
for all of them are clothed in scarlet.
22 She makes coverings for her bed;
she is clothed in fine linen and purple.
23 Her husband is respected at the city gate,
where he takes his seat among the elders of the land.
24 She makes linen garments and sells them,
and supplies the merchants with sashes.
25 She is clothed with strength and dignity;
she can laugh at the days to come.
26 She speaks with wisdom,
and faithful instruction is on her tongue.
27 She watches over the affairs of her household
and does not eat the bread of idleness.
28 Her children arise and call her blessed;
her husband also, and he praises her:
29 “Many women do noble things,
but you surpass them all.”
30 Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting;
but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.
31 Honor her for all that her hands have done,
and let her works bring her praise at the city gate.