How does your relationship compare to other couples in your life. Consciously or unconsciously this is the question we often ask as we look at social media. Is social media really a problem for relationships?
Have you ever really sat down and thought about gender roles? Or… do you just rely on the stereotypical roles set by society? The roles set by society are fickle at best and always changing. Should we change with them or should our roles stay the same? What does the bible say?
“Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ. Wives, submit to your husbands as to the Lord. For the husband is head of the wife, just as Christ is the head of the church.” Ephesians 5:21-23 NLT
One thing for certain is the bible says the man is to be the head of the household. The man is to be the leader of the family as Christ is the head of the church. Wives are to submit to the husband as they submit to Christ. But it also says they are to submit to each other out of reverence for Christ.
Ok… Hmm. Well…
Tim and Kathy Keller in “The Meaning of Marriage” gives us a different take on this meaning of submission, leadership, and gender roles. They tell us that marriage is all about love, respect, and service. That if we play our designated role in the marriage there is a freedom that comes with it.
Each of us have been given different gifts. We are to operate within our gifts for the betterment of the family and church. Having a specific gender role is different from this. If a woman has the gift of leadership, and her man doesn’t, that doesn’t mean she becomes the leader of the family. It just means she is gifted in that area and can be a great helpmate for her husband and a great leader for the children, but the man is still the head of the household.
Tony Evans says the man and the woman are both equal in their value and worth in the sight of the Lord and this is clear in scripture. Example: The man is the manager and the woman is the assistant manager so when an issue arises they both get to weigh in on the issue. While the man has the ultimate responsibility concerning the family, both pay a critical role in decision making. In those rare instances where a decision has to be made, and there is conflict concerning which option to choose, the man is burdened with the decision. This is actually quite freeing for a woman to know the man is the burden bearer in this situation. Yet the man can take the problem to the owner who is Jesus Christ who ultimately bears all of our burdens. This is freeing for the man because Jesus is the final authority on every situation and the ultimate burden bearer. After all he took all of our burdens to the cross and died for them so we could live forever with Christ in heaven.
So as you can see there is a freedom when you yield to the role Christ has designated for you.
Marriage is also to be a picture to the world of Christ’s relationship with the church.
Let’s take a closer look at each role.
Ephesians 5:25-33 shows us how the husband’s role is like Jesus’ role with the church.
Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her, so that He might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, that He might present to Himself the church in all her glory, having no spot or wrinkle or any such thing; but that she would be holy and blameless. So husbands ought also to love their own wives as their own bodies. He who loves his own wife loves himself; for no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ also does the church, because we are members of His body. FOR THIS REASON A MAN SHALL LEAVE HIS FATHER AND MOTHER AND SHALL BE JOINED TO HIS WIFE, AND THE TWO SHALL BECOME ONE FLESH.This mystery is great; but I am speaking with reference to Christ and the church. Nevertheless, each individual among you also is to love his own wife even as himself, and the wife must see to it that she respects her husband.
Jesus sacrifices his life for the church. Husbands are commanded to sacrifice their life for the wife. This is how much husbands are to love their wives just as Christ loved the church. A man goes about doing this by serving the wife. Think of Jesus washing the disciples feet. This was an act of service and love.
Philippians 2:5-11 shows us how the wife’s role is like Jesus’ role with the church.
Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. For this reason also, God highly exalted Him, and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus EVERY KNEE WILL BOW, of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and that every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
Jesus is equal with God. They are one and the same. However, Jesus humbled himself and became obedient to God and died on the cross for you and me. This is an example of how much Jesus respected God and his authority. Wives are equal with their husbands and both have the same value and worth. But… the wife is commanded to humble herself and become obedient to the husband by submitting to him. This shows how much the wife respects her husband and his God given authority. Additionally, it shows how much she trusts God, the writer of this scripture. Wives can go about doing this by serving their husbands. Think of Jesus washing his disciples feet. He humbled himself and became as a servant when he washed their feet.
We need to pray to have God’s perspective and viewpoint on these things. Tim and Kathy show us that both the husband and wife accomplish their role through serving each other as Christ served the church. Both the husband and wife become like Jesus when they submit to their God given role. Which is why God starts Ephesians with submit to one another out of respect, honor, and reverence for Jesus Christ. Meaning don’t do it for each other, do it for Jesus because you love him and he loves you. I like what Kathy says, “If Jesus can do it, then I can do it. If he wasn’t too good to serve, then I’m not too good to serve.”
God is so funny. He commands us love, respect and serve our spouse and then gives us cravings for them. We are called to be like Jesus and give them unconditionally whether they are deserved or not.
As you can see the ultimate goal is to be like Jesus. God uses our spouses to make us more like Jesus. Anytime we can do what we are called to do, then all glory and honor are given to God for working in and through us to make us more like Jesus.
Marriages are not built on grand moments and larger than life memories. They are built on the foundation of Christ in the context of friendship. Your marriage grows through the laying of bricks; the bricks of kind words said; the bricks of a honest compliments given. The bricks of little decisions and kind thoughts shared day in and day out build a gentle and sweet relationship. It is these small bricks that forms the wall that bears the sometimes hurricane force winds of life. It is these daily commitments that build a relationship capable of standing the test of time. While the big trips and family vacations make great memories, it is the small, daily acts of kindness, humor and thoughtfulness that progressively build a marriage.
This week seek out ways you can serve your spouse in little ways. Make their coffee for them in the morning, offer a foot rub, fold the clothes or take the dishes from the dishwasher and put them away. Get up early and fix breakfast or stop on the way home and bring home their favorite takeout. Find one small way daily to express your love, show your respect and build the relationship that God has given you through your marriage. Daily acts of service build relationships, strengthen your friendship and fuel the fires of romance.
Over the last few weeks we have been exploring how to fight better. We have discussed the soft start-up, repair attempts, compromise, influence and soothing. This week we will wrap up this series by considering the overall goal of your fight. When a fight kicks off there is a gap between the time something happens to anger you and your response. In this gap you have a choice to make. Will I fight for getting what I want or will I fight for the unity of my marriage? When the wrong choice us made, especially over the long haul, it is disastrous to a marriage.
In marriage, we are called to sacrificially serve one another in a way that builds unity in a marriage. We are called to submit to one another looking out for the best interests of the other. We are called to humility; admitting wrongs and asking for forgiveness when needed. We are called to pursue each other in ways that show how much the other person means to us. We are called to “die” to self and seek the other person’s needs before we seek our own. When we do this we turn towards one another instead of away from each other. We understand that when we fight, we are fighting for our marriage, not to get our own way. We recognize that our spouse is not our enemy but is our ally.
If you get married you will have trouble (1 Cor 7:28). God will often use your marriage to change you more and more into the image of His son, Jesus. That growth is not an easy process and we often fight against it by fighting with our spouse. Additionally, you have an enemy that hates your marriage. Satan stands against your marriage as it is a reminder of God’s relationship with His people. Jesus said “In this world you will have trouble, but I have overcome the world.” Though selfishness, pride, hatred, disunity and Satan all stand against your marriage, they are no threat to the God of the universe that is holding your marriage together. In unity, with each other and with God, we can stand against the powers of this world that seek to undermine our marriages. In unity we can stand together, lifting the shield of faith against the arrows of the enemy, and overcome any attempt to undermine our marriage. In unity, we can turn towards each other, rely on each other, and bear each others burdens instead of turning away from each other and accepting defeat.
This mindset requires the power of the Holy Spirit and a commitment to following his lead. Considering this before you get into a fight helps frame the fight in a way that builds your marriage instead of undermining it. Being thankful for the blessing you have been given in marriage on the good days helps you remember the blessings on the bad days. Listening to the Holy Spirit at the beginning of a fight helps resolve the issue more effectively.
Date Night Doesn’t Have to be Challenging
Need a quick date night idea for this weekend that has minimal cost and big impact. Spend an evening creating a playlist of the songs of your marriage. Of course, the longer you have been married the more music you have to choose from. However, even if you have only been together for a few months this date will work for you.
Order your favorite Pizza to be delivered or grab one you can throw in the oven when you get home. Minimize distractions (turn off the TV, set phone to Airplane Mode, lock the kids in the closet) and look through your music collection (playlists, cassette, 8 tracks, records). Start with two songs from your days of dating and then review music in three year increments until you have a list of music that reflect different periods of your relationship. You may have a few from your dating days, a few from your newlywed days, a few from the early years of raising children; you get the idea. Next, start “whittling down” your list until you have 12 to 15 songs. Once you have your songs selected download them and create a new playlist on your phone.
The act of reviewing this music will bring back memories and make for a fun evening. Remember to keep the distractions to a minimum and spend some time thinking about where you were living and what you were doing when these songs came out. Here are a few of ours:
Take Me Down – Alabama
Feels So Right – Alabama
Love In The First Degree – Alabama
Faithfully – Journey
Wonderful World – Sam Cook
Unforgettable – Nat King Cole
Unchained Melody – The Righteous Brothers
She Drives Me Crazy – Fine Young Cannibals.
Fields of Gold – Sting
Everything – Wasis Diop
Keeper of the Stars – Tracy Byrd
World on Fire – Sarah McLaughlan
Come Away With Me – Norah Jones
Moon Dance – Carmel
Duet – Penny and Sparrow
Use the comments to share yours.
Over the last few weeks we have been exploring how to fight better. We discussed the soft start-up, repair attempts, compromise, and influence. This week let’s take a look at how we can self-soothe and soothe our spouse when anger and fighting get the best of us.
As we have discussed earlier, fighting often leads to flooding. As emotions increase we enter the “fight or flight” response. Blood flows from our brain to our extremities, blood pressure increases, heart rate increases and our ability to reason decreases. If not dealt with, flooding can result in lashing out in anger or engaging in withdrawal and stonewalling. None of these are good for a relationship.
To resolve flooding a couple can engage in two activities, self-soothing and soothing each other.
Use Your Time-Out Effectively – Soothing
A couple of weeks ago we discussed how and when to take a time out. A time out allows you the time to self-soothe with the goal of calming down and restoring blood flow to the brain where you can reason through an issue. People do this in many ways. Reading the bible, praying, meditation, deep breathing exercises or listening to calming music are all ways to calm yourself. Remember, it takes longer for men to exit flooding than women so additional time may be required for self-soothing. Once you have calmed down, helping to soothe your partner can have even more benefits.
Dr. Gottman, author of Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work explains: ” Soothing your partner is of enormous benefits to a marriage because it is really a form of reverse conditioning. In other words, if you frequently have the experience of being calmed by your spouse, you come to associate him or her with feelings of relaxation rather than stress. This automatically increases the positivity of your relationship.” Soothing can take many forms but normally the first step is simply discussing why the flooding took place in the first place. There are many ways to soothe your spouse but what is important is they choose the method and enjoy it. A husband might give his wife a foot massage or they may take turns guiding each other through meditation activities. Whatever the activity, it is important that, in the end, both of you are calmer and better able to engage in the discussion that started the fight.
Prepare for Battle
One of the things that I heard in the military was that it was better to sweat in peace than bleed in war. In other words, preparing during peace allows you to be more effective in combat. This also applies to soothing. Taking some time before your next fight to think about how you will soothe one another can pay huge dividends. Simply think about your last fight and what it was that resulted in flooding. Discuss how you can prevent flooding in the first place, recognize flooding as it is happening, and what it is you need to do when things have spiraled out of control. Finally, discuss how you can serve one another by soothing each other during your next fight.
Sites We Recommend
Fierce Marriage – Ryan and Selena Frederick started Fierce Marriage to help them process through marriage’s trials as well as celebrate its joys. They are in our 16th year of marriage and they have learned a ton about what works and what doesn’t. They hope that as they share openly it will help you grow and cultivate a truly Christ-centered marriage.
In This Together-Dr. Josh and Christi Straub want to enjoy their marriage and be the best adults they can be for their kids. In This Together is a podcast dedicated to topics helping you live, love, and lead well—as a spouse, a parent, and a human being.
The Naked Marriage – A podcast dedicated to undressing the truth about sex, intimacy and lifelong love. The concerns and questions most couples have in marriage often go unspoken, until now. Hosts Dave and Ashley Willis bring wisdom, vulnerability, and humor to even the toughest marriage topics.