Pleasing Our Own Husbands
Fall 1999 By Sherry Bushnell
Before I write this column, I spend time mulling over in my mind Mommy's Musing and how to best share my heart. Invariably the Lord will allow me to go through a trial (or two) so the message from His heart comes out loud and clear.
As we have moved to Idaho from Washington state and a new environment, with many new choices to make, I have been given a great opportunity to learn more about my husband. Not only is he my best friend and confidant, but he is the leader of our home and director of NATHHAN.
Just shortly after this last Summer's newsletter went out, Tom re-injured his back and has been laying down flat most of the summer. Thankfully he is now up and around and feels like his back is getting much better weekly. It is wonderful to have him sitting at the table with us for meals again. He can drive the truck and van, getting around after the boys directing this new Idaho homesteading project with occasional breaks lying in the prone position for a few minutes.
Having Tom resting in the trailer or outside close by on his mat has given me ample time to probe his mind and observe more of what makes him tick. You'd think after almost 18 years I'd know just what he prefers in life. However, as you will read in this article I really didn't know. I am presently storing this information up in my heart because when he is feeling 100% he is constantly on the fly and we can hardly keep up with him!
How many of us take the time to find out exactly what our husbands prefer....not just what is acceptable to them, but what they prefer most of all?
To preface all of this I want you to know that, number one, I do not always agree with my husband's choices nor he with mine, number two, my heart should be glad to put my husband first and not feel restricted, but my heart is far too often selfish. Number three my desire is to please my husband and Tom is very easy to please. When I fail, I ask God to forgive me and to help me back on the straight and narrow.
When I look how far I have come in the last 18 years in the area of pleasing my husband (ie. pleasing God), I am amazed that He would lead me so gently. I was a rambunctious young filly (barely 18 years old when we married.) I stated flatly to Tom one morning a few weeks into our first year, "I'm making all the decisions, honey and you don't have to worry about a thing!"
He remembers groaning and thinking "What have I got myself into..." And so, the first few years went on until I got very sick with our first baby. Suddenly the reins I was holding were very heavy and I gladly gave them over to Tom. Unfortunately that lasted only until I was on my feet again and we see-sawed the reins of control in our home for years.
Gradually the Lord showed me how uncomfortable it is to be carrying the emotional load of responsibility in the home. Not only must I worry about whether my choices were pleasing to everyone, but my children were prone to copying my bossy habits. Ooops. Now I had to put my actions where my admonitions to my children were.
I could see that if I had been more respectful of my father and gotten used to the idea of pleasing him and not bent on doing my own will in my childhood home, Tom and I would have had a much less stormy early marriage. Seeing this fact, it became very important to me that my sons and daughters learned before they left home how to be Godly in a marriage relationship.
As I share with you how God carefully and gently lead me in His way, I hope you'll be encouraged.
Titus 2: 4-5 says ...that (older woman) should encourage the young woman to love their husbands, to love their children, to be sensible, pure, workers at home, kind, being subject to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be dishonored.
The part of this scripture God pointed out to me (and it has given me much relief from the worries of pleasing far too many others) is, "being subject to my own husband."
I am sure you have been faced with the dilemma of pleasing your husband versus pleasing a friend, pastor or other spiritual leader and perhaps you have been like me and thought you knew exactly what your husband wanted.
The fight in my heart was fierce, as I struggled, pondering my situation of loosing control of the reins in our relationship. I reasoned that I honestly feared for my life. (Really my comfort). What set all this off years ago was when Tom started leading Bible consistently in our home. As a family we were going through 1 Peter 3. It is a fantastic scripture for woman of all ages, especially for woman like me who struggle with the need to feel "in control".
The first part of 1 Peter 3:1 says..."In the same way, you wives be submissive to your own husbands...." As the stepped-down-spiritual-leader in our home, I could see I needed a better understanding of God's grace and salvation. I was not suited to lead our family. It had also dawned on me one evening, in deep discussion with Tom, why I struggled in certain areas of my heart. I had been mistakenly lead to believe in my childhood church experience that grace was not free....it came with the price of pleasing certain people. You can imagine what a wacky view I had of submission and why I fought the idea of putting my life under the control of another human being.
When I came to realize that pleasing my husband, because I loved him, was really pleasing God, I was relieved.
It was much easier to endure occasional "suffering" as a result of a bad decision.
1 Peter 3:14 says... But even if you should suffer for the sake of righteousness, you are blessed. It was very comforting to my quaking heart those first few months, as I struggled daily not to manipulate Tom to do my will. 1 Peter 3: 6 says "Thus Sarah obeyed Abraham, calling him lord, and you have become her children if you do what is right without being frightened by any fear." This meant to me that God was going to give me a special bravery for the tough times, and He did! 1 Peter 3:13 says..."And who is there to harm you if you prove zealous for what is good?" My biggest spiritual growth came during those times I really disagreed with Tom and kept my mouth shut. Spiritual growth is invaluable to me because it makes the hard times much easier to bear next time.
I started wondering how to best please Tom one pregnancy lying in bed very sick, while he was cheerfully waiting on me hand and foot. He had been meeting my every need for months. I was reading the passage of scripture in 1 Peter, once again, chapter 8; "To sum up, let all be harmonious, sympathetic, brotherly, kindhearted, and humble in spirit; not returning evil for evil, or insult for insult, but giving a blessing instead; for you were called for the very purpose that you might inherit a blessing instead." This passage comes right after Peter is talking with husbands and wives on how to get along. I really believe God was speaking to me through Peter in the Bible thousands of years ago, letting me know right then how to please my husband.
As I lay there rolling over and over trying to find a comfortable position I day-dreamed about what our home could be like where 1 Peter chapter 8 principles were actively and consistently at work.
A home where my husband would eagerly finish work to rush home to be with his waiting wife and children, who actually missed him during the day.
A home where a wife looked carefully after a husband's daily small wishes and treated her husband like a king.
A home where we all really worked at putting others first. Our quiet moments in the evening wouldn't be spent arguing or fuming at the lack of attention paid to us. We'd earnestly look forward to what others wanted to do instead of what we'd hoped to do.
Living in my imagined world I knew that it would take work to achieve this obviously Biblical goal for the home. Tom all the while was patiently waiting for me to come around and see what had been on his heart for years.
And so, time went by (and still goes by!) and we work at this goal as a family. During the hard times, one of the most important lessons I learned was that I was ultimately serving God not just my husband. Another good result from those struggles was that I found I could pour out my unreasonable complaining and worrying, when my heart was goofing up, to my Heavenly Father's open ears instead of bottling up resentment towards Tom.
Thus that dreadful word "submission" gradually unfolded into a word that meant to Tom and myself a sweet expression of my love as a wife.
Many years after all of this took place in our hearts, I thought I was doing well....until the Lord allowed me to further see just what pleasing my own husband meant.
When Tom came home to work with NATHHAN full time 4 years ago, we were all overjoyed (albeit a little nervous about finances). We looked forward to lots of time with daddy. We saw it as one big holiday!
Oh boy, the lessons we have learned. I found out very quickly just who really directing the show in our home. Me still. Two leaders makes for some errrr....interesting moments.
I could see that I was still running a tight ship in my home. My priorities in the home such as what chores got done when, what our diet consisted of, how often we chose entertainment (and what kind), how the children were disciplined and who was assigned daily work was left to me because I insisted on carrying this load.
I learned to quietly present my ideas on what needed to get done around the house. This works better than allowing the children to endure two different sets of directions for the day. With a large household there are always undone chores that need to get done. The question for me is, when mommy and daddy are both home should my perspective on chores be honored first or Tom's? Thankfully, Tom has been really good at wanting to keep things at a functional level. The house may not be perfect but we do get things done and even have fun working together.
Has someone other than your husband challenged you for not keeping up with their personal cleanliness standards? Do you feel judged by someone other than your husband's priorities?
I have been so thankful these past few years for the scripture in Titus 2:4-5. Tom's requirements are minimal and with all that was going on during Tom's back injury, finishing our home in Olalla, our move to Idaho, Tom's re-injury, getting back into the NATHHAN office, keeping everyone fed and now getting ready for winter, I only have to focus on Tom's wishes, not the whole community's.
This is one blessing directly related to being out in the country (among many). Our home is Tom's. He sets the standards of cleanliness, dress, diet, church attendance, community involvement, entertainment or lack there of. Fortunately salvation is not dependant on keeping up with the Jones! As a husband and wife team and "heirs together in the grace of life", our home is a much more peaceful place.
If we wives can spend our time and emotional energy focusing on pleasing our own husbands, instead of a multitude of leaders, friends and relatives, we'll actually be growing closer to our Lord and Savior. God truly does know what is best and our limits. He communicates to us through our husbands. Will we ever attain perfection as wives? Nope, not a chance. However, just the mere act of choosing to lovingly please our own husbands can ease a giant burden of care. HOW???
By not having to make all the decisions or drumming up ways to con our husband into choosing our way of thinking. This will eliminate at least 50% of the stress in our lives.
By watching our husbands and communicating our feelings with them everyday, we can help them gain better insight to how he can please us. 1 Peter 3: 7 says, "You husbands likewise, live with your wives in an understanding way, as with a weaker vessel, since she is a woman; and grant her honor as a fellow heir of the grace of life, so that your prayers may not be hindered."
We can, by choosing to follow our husband's leading and making his priorities our priorities, gain our husbands a better chance of his prayers being answered. Wow! What a responsibility as a wife. I know of no greater way to help our husbands than to communicate with them about our needs in a quiet and gentle way.
Making our husband's dreams come true can be very simple. Here are some suggestions:
•Backing up our husband's authority in the home. This means treating them with respect in public and at home in front of our children. I have found that if I am being sarcastic, belittling or talking down to my husband, the children catch this and Tom gets the results - usually in the form of disrespect or outright rebellion.
•Cooking to please our husbands. As a mother of 9 children, there are lots of individual tastes within our home. One doesn't like onions, rice or tomatoes and loves pasta. The other loves liver, vegetables and doesn't care for sweets. Another has a sweet tooth and prefers things that are moist in texture. I resolved long ago, and still have to remind myself that, as much as I would like to serve everyone's favorite foods every day, I cannot. (On birthdays I do serve the happy celebrant's favorite foods.) Instead, as a general rule, I cook to please Tom and we teach our children to be thankful for food.
•Set a workable schedule according to our husband's needs, with a good attitude, not a martyr face. Usually this means setting the time we eat meals, around his schedule and which meal he prefers to be the biggest of the day. This can also mean sleeping in later and arranging our day different from the neighbors if our husband works graveyard or nights.
•Making time to listen to our husband's heart. As we are quietly smiling, encouraging them to talk by keeping our mouths shut, we can gain better insight as to how to help our husbands.
Honesty is the best way to grow a healthy relationship. As we listen faithfully to our husbands concerns, he will be much more willing to hear our frustrations.
When Tom and I first started communicating regularly in the evening, Tom was so sweet. He'd bring up a pot of my favorite tea and just two cups (not a whole tray full). Unfortunately my heart was so full of pent-up gripes that these "chat sessions" became unload-on-Tom sessions. The tea stopped coming.
What should have happened was that my patient, grateful smile, as I listened with my heart, should have endeared him to bring tea every night until death-do-us-part. Instead he closed his heart and as I was "communicating" he wished he were miles away. It took months, after I noticed how awful I had been, to restore things.
•Not cultivating friendships with other woman closer than our relationship with our own husband. Our deepest heart's yearnings, concerns and happiness should be the sole privilege of our husband to share. He will know if he is second place in our heart.
•It has been our observation that families with similar interests, talents, and relationship status between husband and wife, prefer to spend time together. Birds of a feather, flock together.
In light of this, be very careful if you see in a close friend you admire, the wife controlling the home. This can be so subtle. Even though a family may preach "submission" they may be struggling as much as we are. Let's not align ourselves with people who only preach "submission." The unspoken whisper of "We're in this drama together and if you don't tell on us, we won't tell on you" may permeate our resolve to truly please our own husbands from God's perspective.
Woman who are negative and bad talk their husbands are exhibiting symptoms of bitterness. Bitterness is catchy.
Even happily married women can be bent on living independently from their husband. Excuses abound. He is too prone to make errors. He is too weak. He is too harsh. He forgets. He procrastinates...
Here is an important note: When we have personal choices to make regarding dress, children or household standards, in our hearts who do we FIRST think of pleasing? If we ask ourselves "Would so-and-so approve of this?" instead of "Would my husband like this best," we may be in submission to someone else besides our husband!
I have heard from ladies who have sat under the teaching of certain spiritual leaders and, before asking their husband's opinion, wore head coverings, (we are not against head coverings at all), went to Bible studies and changed doctrine.
As we learn through life's errors, we can better see how to love our husband and what pleases him the most. Putting him in charge, (as long as he is mentally able) may just be the solution we have been looking for to strengthen our marriage. I know it is God's design. There are dying husbands who are physically weak, yet their wives still manage the home with their husband in charge. These blessed wives, although caring heavy responsibility, still have a submissive heart.
If we as wives come under fire for keeping our husband's needs and desires first in our life, only God may reward us. There will be no flying banners to applaud us. Choosing to do something for our husband instead of cleaning house, sewing new dresses, or attending a baby shower may not win us appreciation from our circle of friends. If our priorities are our husband's (instead of pleasing others or self) we will face persecution. Putting our husband first flies in the face of what most communities in America deem socially "right".
If we honestly take a look at the world today, most people assume homes are run by the wife. Sales pitches are aimed at the wife. Thousands of dollars are spent finding out what pleases the wife in the realm of advertising.
Choosing to please our husband is God's design and recipe for a great marriage...and not just from the husband's perspective!
In order to be good examples to our children on how to build a healthy home, we need to be willing to put aside our preconceived ideas about the world's idea of a "happy home" and work at God's idea.
Putting to death our selfish nature and fanning to life the wife God sees as admirable, is a lot of work.
Be encouraged. From experience, I can attest that the more I work at pleasing my own husband, the easier it gets everyday!