“Hey, Babe, are you getting up?”
I was roused from sleep by my husband’s voice and his gentle hand on my shoulder. I could hear my alarm going off, and I knew that if I wanted to make it to the gym that day, I’d have to leave behind my warm blankets. But that was the last thing my exhausted, thirty-weeks-pregnant body wanted to do.
No sooner had I swung my legs over the edge of the bed than the tears began to flow, and a deluge of pent-up discouragement and frustration spilled out and into my husband’s own tired ears. “I slept so terribly last night, and my nerve pain is getting worse, so I don’t know if it’s even worth it to try to go to the gym. On top of that, I gained another five pounds the past two weeks, so I don’t think it’s doing any good. And now I only have one pair of workout pants that fit, and I’m pretty sure they’re dirty . . .”
The monologue continued as I tried to pull myself together enough to make it out the door. Finally, as I flopped down on the living room couch, holding one shoe in my hand, my sweet husband standing in front of me, all I could do was cry.
These tearful bouts had been going on for weeks. The inability to control my emotions was stealing my joy and causing all kinds of insecurities to flare up more than they had in years. I was at my wit’s end. I had tried reading Scripture, listening to podcasts, and playing worship music throughout the day. Yet day after day, I found myself trudging through an emotional bog I had no idea how to get out of.
That morning, as I looked up into Judah’s face, I desperately choked out, “Please, speak truth to me. I need to hear truth.”
So he began speaking firmly, yet so tenderly, about the lies I was giving in to, and how I needed to stop listening to them and turn to Jesus. He reminded me that I know truth; I just needed to walk in it. He reminded me that my worth is in Christ, not in how my body looks.
There was nothing flowery about what Judah said. He wasn’t trying to build my self-esteem or give me a pat on the back. He was lovingly exhorting me and even rebuking me so I wouldn’t be trapped in this cycle of defeat. He was leading me into truth.
It was exactly what I needed. The fog around my mind lifted, and joy began to flood back in. When the enemy’s lies tried to come back in the following days, I could hear my husband’s words in my head, reminding me not to slip back into wrong thinking but instead to rest in Christ. So I wiped my tears, gave Judah a smile, and waddled out the door to the gym.
Helping His Leadership
Husbands and wives have unique joys and challenges in their God-given roles—husbands as leaders and wives as helpers. Husbands face a huge responsibility in leading a family, especially when they are required to lead in situations they have never had to lead in before (like, say, having a pregnant wife with lots of fluctuating emotions). We as wives can either hinder that leadership or we can encourage it.
There are two overarching ways we can hinder our husband’s leadership. First, by trying to usurp it. This can come in the form of being critical or undermining his authority. The second is by being a “deadweight,” so to speak. This might look like not giving input when we should or burdening him with extra responsibility by not stepping up when he asks us to do something. (Anyone else hate calling the insurance company?) Most of us will probably fall more on one side or the other, but to a certain extent, we will probably face the temptation toward both. But God has a better way.
Genesis 2:18 says, “Then the LORD God said, ‘It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him.’”
We’ve been fashioned by God for a unique and beautiful purpose of being the helper to the man we marry. This is a high and holy privilege. When our actions and words are controlled by the Holy Spirit, He can use them to strengthen our husbands in their leadership.
Here are some ways we can come alongside our husbands as they lead our families.
As I mentioned earlier, there are many times our husbands are called to lead in situations where they have no experience. And in these times, it’s absolutely vital that we extend grace to them as they learn and grow, just as we desire them to extend grace to us. If they make calls that don’t turn out well, let’s avoid the underhanded “I told you so’s.” When it takes a long time for them to make decisions, let’s give them the time they need, not the time we feel like it should take. When they unintentionally hurt us, let’s give them the benefit of the doubt and choose forgiveness. NOTE: I am not speaking here about matters of physical or sexual abuse. Those situations need to be reported to a pastor, the police, and/or another authority who will help you out of a dangerous situation.
There have been seemingly hundreds of scenarios in our marriage when I’ve wanted my husband to know exactly what to do without me needing to say a word. Can you relate? I don’t want to have to tell him I need a shoulder to cry on, I just want him to know and give me that shoulder. But I’ve learned that my husband can’t read my mind, and that because of how he thinks, it’s best if I calmly, humbly, and respectfully state what I think would be helpful. When I’m willing to lay down my own desires to feel intuitively loved and give him insight that will help him lead me well, he is both honored and equipped. This needs to be done first having prayed about if we should offer the insight and then how and when to do so, if we feel that God is giving the go-ahead. Sometimes right in the moment we’re too emotionally charged to give the insight in a way that isn’t going to come across as accusatory, so it’s better to wait until that particular moment has passed. As we seek God on how to honor and love our husbands, He will give us wisdom for every situation.
Seek His Advice
It speaks volumes to our husbands when we ask their advice. It’s a way of saying to them that their opinions matter to us and their thoughts hold weight. I’ve been guilty far too many times of brushing off Judah’s ideas with a million reasons why they won’t work. Several years ago the Lord convicted me of this big time. After offering several possible solutions to a problem I was having, all of which I shot down, he said, “I feel like no matter what I say, you’re determined that it won’t work.” Ouch. But God used those words to soften my heart and help me truly value Judah’s perspective and thinking skills. I’m so grateful.
There may be times when we don’t think our husband has much to contribute to a topic (and he may not), but I’ve been surprised plenty of times when a brilliant answer to a home organization question, a potty training woe, or a friendship conundrum comes from my husband. It’s a good reminder that I don’t always know best (even when I think I do).
When we as wives rest in and fully embrace our God-given role as helpers to our husbands and cheer them on in their leadership of us as their wives, God will use it to stunningly display His good and perfect plan for marriage. Regardless of whether our husband is an exceptional leader or a poor one, the Lord will honor our obedience to respect, submit to, and help our earthly mate.