Posted By Luci on June 10, 2010
One of the delights of Biblical womanhood is the joyful challenge of adopting and implementing one’s husband’s vision. Scripture gives us beautiful pictures of busy wives using their talents for the glory of God and in fulfillment of their husbands’ goals. The woman of Proverbs 31 may be the best-known example. A strong, intelligent woman of God, she was active in her community, charity work, and business on behalf of her family’s interests. Her works brought honor and respect to her husband (Proverbs 31:23.) Scripture makes clear that she was creative and thoughtful in seeking to carry out her husband’s goals.
Recently, I’ve had several conversations with friends who have wondered how to live out God’s principles for marriage. They know His standard is for a wife to submit to her husband and for the husband to be the head of the household (Ephesians 5:22-23), but they don’t know what this means in practice. These women don’t want to force their husbands into a “mold” or pester them to meet certain ideals; they genuinely want their husbands to lead, but don’t know how to encourage them to do so in a Biblical manner. Meanwhile, our culture denigrates male leadership and all things traditionally masculine. Society glamorizes the new ideal of an extended post-college period without any responsibilities for men in their twenties – and even into their early thirties.
How can a wife encourage her husband’s leadership and vision in the face of such social pressures? The following suggestions are ideas that have been helpful for me as a new wife:
1. Discover your husband’s goals. It may help to set aside time for a conversation where you can discuss these topics in-depth. Ask him where he would like to see your family in one, five, or ten years. What are his long- and short-term priorities for his job, for your marriage, and for your walk with the Lord? Does he like the area in which you live? Does he like the company for which he works? If not, where would he prefer to work?
A tip: If you have children or have particularly hectic schedules, and aren’t in the mood for serious conversations in the morning or late at night, try e-mailing during the day! My husband and I have had several fruitful discussions about weighty topics via e-mail. Doing so allows us to think through our responses and mull over ideas.
2. Ask him what you can do to help achieve his ambitions. What can you do to assist in carrying out his vision for your family? You might make a list of your talents and compare them to a list of his concerns to see how your skills might aid his tasks. Discuss what you see as important for home and family life, and consider how your priorities mesh with your husband’s goals.
Think small: What can you do on a daily or weekly basis? Does he work better if you make extra portions for dinner so he has enough for lunch the next day? What are his favorite meals? What could you cook from scratch that you currently buy at a store? How can you budget for household expenses to meet his financial goals? Ask if there might be anything you can sell on eBay or Craigslist to earn some extra money.
Brainstorm ideas for making your home a place of peace and solace. De-clutter corners and closets. Re-organize a bookshelf or two. It’s amazing how little decorating tasks really brighten up a room!
Think big: What can you do over a period of six months or a year? Are there new skills you could develop that would aid in lowering household expenses? (For example, you could learn to make natural household cleaners or learn to sew curtains and home accessories.) Are there church ministries in which your family could be involved that would support your husband’s spiritual goals?
3. Determine a convenient time to go over what you’ve discussed and review what both of you have accomplished. Such an occasion could be anywhere from two weeks to a year later. If possible, try to make it a fun date! Go somewhere, or stay in – take time to enjoy your husband.
4. Take initiative! Make a conscious effort every day to do something in support of your husband’s vision. Be creative in thinking of ways to help meet his goals. If he’s not satisfied at his job, you might be able to help in searching job postings online or in the local newspaper. If he wants to stick to a household budget, try using budgeting software online to record expenses. And, most importantly, pray for your husband.
5. Praise your husband for being a man of vision. Men crave respect. Husbands need to know that their wives admire them! Compliment your husband for his integrity or for his steadfast devotion to the Lord. Tell him what you admire about his talents and goals. Be specific! Prepare surprise treats when there’s no special occasion. Write him a little note to say you’re proud of him and so happy to be his wife, and put it in his briefcase or wallet so he’ll see it after he leaves home. Be his biggest cheerleader! Rejoice in your husband’s commitment to his family!
Does supporting your husband’s vision mean you should abandon your talents and interests? Absolutely not! One of the wonderful challenges of being a wife is building on one’s existing skills in new, creative ways. Keep in mind that your assistance and gentle encouragement are invaluable to your husband. Supporting one’s husband’s vision is just one of the many joys of becoming “one flesh” in marriage.
“A true marriage means the ultimate bringing of two lives into such perfect oneness that there shall not be a discord in the blended music. “They twain shall be one.” To attain this each must give up much. Neither can move on independently of the other, without thought or without self-forgetfulness. The relation is not that of master and slave, but that of love. There must be on the part of both, self-repression, self-renunciation. The aim of each must be – what always is true love’s aim – to serve the other, the deeper love to serve the more deeply. Only in perfect love which is utterly self-forgetful, can there be perfect blending of lives.”
J. R. Miller, The Every Day of Life (New York: Thomas Crowell, 1892), 80-81.