Revive Our Hearts Podcast

Mother and Wife: Dueling Roles

Leslie Basham: Do you remember how proud you were as a new bride? It was so much fun to refer to yourself as a wife. But, then, when you had your first child, you left the wife title behind and replaced it with mother. Is that what God intended?

You are listening to Revive Our Hearts, with Nancy Leigh DeMoss. Today is Wednesday, October 16.

We women understand that there are many roles for us to play. We are wives, mothers, sisters, aunts, etc. But, often, once children enter the picture, all the other roles can take a backseat to the job of mother. Our special guest this week is the Hearts at Home founder, Jill Savage. She is going to talk about this issue of the dueling roles in a woman's life. Let us join Nancy as she talks with Jill about this practical issue.

Nancy DeMoss: Jill, thank you for joining us again today on Revive Our Hearts.

Jill Savage: It is good to be here.

Nancy DeMoss: I have so enjoyed reading your book, Professionalizing Motherhood. It has so many practical insights and great suggestions for moms. It is interesting to me, that early in that book, you devote a whole chapter to marriage. Now, here is a book about motherhood; but you have a whole chapter on marriage. Why did you think that it was important to include that in a book on motherhood?

Jill Savage: I think that, in our culture, we are very child-centered. And we need to actually make a move to be more marriage-centered. That is why I felt like it was very important to put it early in the book--because it needs to be a part of the strategy of a woman in the profession of motherhood. It needs to be a part of the strategy that she is investing in her marriage relationship because of the value it holds for her family and for her children.

Nancy DeMoss: You say in this book that a woman's primary relationship, after her relationship with the Lord, is the relationship with her husband; she must nurture and make that a priority if she is going to be a good mom. What is the connection there? Why is it so important that she not lose focus on her marriage?

Jill Savage: Well, let me tell you a little story that explains how I came to understand this. My husband was given a trip from a friend who was in his Promise Keepers group. The trip was for two to Rome, Italy.

This man had actually, through a sales promotion, earned three trips for two to Rome. He and his wife were going to take an employee and his wife, and he offered the other set of tickets to us. My husband was thrilled to even think about the fact that we could possibly go to Rome. After he had been given the tickets, he spent the day making arrangements for us to go without even calling me.

It just so happened that this was Valentine's Day. So when he came home that evening after work, he gave me a homemade valentine's card that pretty much said, "Happy Valentine's Day" on the front. And on the inside it read, "We have been given a trip to Rome, Italy. Aren't you excited? Isn't God good?"

There was a part of me that was going, "No way!" You know, never in our biggest dreams had we ever thought we would go to Rome, Italy. But, the bigger part of me was saying, "I am not going. I am not leaving my children. I am not getting on an airplane and flying for 13 hours." I am not thrilled with flying anyway. "I cannot leave my children for almost 10 days. I cannot do that."

Nancy DeMoss: You started thinking about the practical.

Jill Savage: I looked at him and I said, "I am not going."

Nancy DeMoss: Happy Valentine's Day?

Jill Savage: He was so disappointed. "What do you mean, you are not going?" Again, I went through all the reasons I could not go.

Needless to say, the next few days at our home were not happy days. But, you know, God was going to teach me a lesson. He was teaching me the lesson that I needed to be a wife first and a mother second. That was something I did not understand. In fact, our family was off-balance because I had become child-centered instead of marriage-centered.

And, I needed to realize that I thought I was giving our children stability by focusing on them. But, what would really give them stability was for me to focus on that marriage relationship, which was the foundational relationship of the family.

As I focused on that, here was the key that I had not understood--in a child's world, mom and dad are their world. If mom and dad are OK, their world is OK. When they know that mom and dad are focused on each other and that mom and dad are investing in their own relationship, that it is strong and okay, then their world is OK, even if that means mom and dad need to leave them sometimes.

At that point in time, Mark and I were not taking regular time for our marriage relationship; we were not dating, we were not setting aside an evening a week just for us. We very rarely had gone away without the children. We had never even celebrated our anniversary away from them.

So, that trip--and we did end up going to Rome--was a wonderful trip. Probably the most important part of it was that we remembered what it was like to have fun together. We were really re-introduced to each other. We invested in our marriage relationship. We returned home different parents than when we left. That was valuable for my children. This was an important life skill for them to learn.

My girls need to know that someday when they are wives, they need to be wives first and mothers second. My boys need to know that someday, when they grow up, they must invest in their marriage. This is life-style training for them. But, even more than that, as my husband and I invest in our marriage relationship, we are giving our children the stability that they so much need.

Nancy DeMoss: Jill, I appreciated (in your book) how transparent you were about some of the processes through which God has taken you and your husband as they relate to your marriage. You were really honest when you said that during the first ten years of your marriage, there were some really rocky places.

As you shared, your husband came into that marriage with some baggage of his own. You came out of two very different backgrounds. Tell us a little bit about how the Lord brought you to a place where your marriage was able to be a solid foundation for your children

Jill Savage: That is a good question. My husband and I now teach marriage seminars. And we usually introduce ourselves as Mark and Jill Savage--we have been married 18 years, eight of them happily.

Nancy DeMoss: And not the first eight.

Jill Savage: No. It's been the last eight--those first 10 were very, very difficult. We did both come from varying backgrounds. In fact, we describe it as coming into marriage with baggage. Everybody does.

But, Mark brought 25 suitcases into our marriage. And I brought about seven, (smile) so, it became very evident that we both needed to learn more about this whole thing called marriage. We had to take a look at this thing. God says that it is do-able. But, we obviously did not have the tools to make it work. There was a point in time when we looked at each other and said, "I do not love you." The love was absolutely not there.

Nancy DeMoss: You say in your book that you became an expert finger-pointer.

Jill Savage: I did.

Nancy DeMoss: Apparently, you were conscious that he had more bags than you did.

Jill Savage: Well, he had 25 and I only had 7, you know, so obviously he had brought the majority of the problems here! That was really what was going on in my mind. I will tell you that one day I was reading God's Word--the scripture in Matthew seven--that I had already read many times.

In that scripture, it says, "Why do you try to remove the splinter out of your husband's eye, when there is a plank in your own eye? First remove the plank out of your own eye, and then you can remove the splinter out of his eye."

Now, if you have read that before, you will know it does not say, "husband." But, that day it did. God took that plank and hit me over the head with it because I was doing damage to our marriage relationship by pointing a finger at Mark. He did not even have the energy to make the changes God was asking him to make because he was expending all his energy defending himself against me.

We were in a very, very dangerous place. And, I can tell you, that was the day that our marriage relationship turned around. When I took my eyes off Mark and I put them on me and the Lord and began using God's Word as the mirror for my life, Mark regained energy and was able to make the changes God needed him to make. In addition, I began to make the changes God needed me to make. Our marriage began a healing process at that time.

Nancy DeMoss: You did two things. First, you took responsibility for the damage that you were doing in the relationship, which takes humility. I think that is such a hard choice in any relationship. We are so much more conscious of the other person's shortcomings and failures. You said that the turning point was when you took responsibility for your issues and for what you were doing in that marriage. I love how you shared that, secondly, you began to pray differently.

Jill Savage: Well, yes. My prayer had always been, "Lord, change him." Now my prayer was, "Lord, change me."

Nancy DeMoss: And what a difference that prayer makes, whether it is with your husband, your children or any other relationship. You know, we really cannot change the other person. But when we pray, "Lord, change me. Make me the woman You want me to be. Let my relationship with You be right" then it is amazing how we become instruments that God can use to bless, encourage and help others who need to be changed.

I just want to encourage you who are moms and may be listening to this program today. I do not know where your marriage is, what the issues may be, how many suitcases your husband brought into your marriage or how few you brought. But, I would encourage you to be willing to take personal responsibility, as that passage in Matthew seven says we ought to do, for what God is saying to you about your life. What are the issues that you need to face? What are the issues with which you need to deal?

Then, even as Jill did those years ago and saw her marriage turn around, begin to pray, "Lord, change me." Not, "Lord, change my mate"; but, "Lord change me." This does not mean that you do not pray for your mate, but it means that you let God work first in you. Scripture says, "God pours grace on those who are humble." (paraphrase, James 4:6; 1 Peter 5:5)

I really believe as you humble yourself, as you come before the Lord acknowledging your own need, that you might go before your husband and say, "I put pressure on you. I have caused you to expend so much energy in defending yourself against me, that you have not been able to become the man God wants you to be."

Make it right with God. Make it right with your husband. Humble yourself and then let God really change you. As He does, I believe you will see God change your marriage as well.

Leslie Basham: Nancy DeMoss has been talking with Jill Savage about the dangers a wife faces when she puts her children ahead of her marriage. I hope you will take some time to pray about what you have heard today. I hope you will respond with repentance if that is what is needed. If today's program has hit on a need in your life, would you write and tell us how it has affected you? Send your letter to Revive Our Hearts.

Would you also write if you could send a gift to support the ministry of Revive Our Hearts? We can only stay on the air in your area with the help of listeners like you. Would you consider supporting this ministry by committing to give your prayers and financial gift, monthly? When you write, make sure to tell us the name of the station that brings you Revive Our Hearts.

We have received a lot of information today. It can be overwhelming to try and take it all in. That is one of the reasons we are making Jill Savage's book, Professionalizing Motherhood, available to you. The book will not only encourage you to keep up the work of a mom, it will also help you grow as a wife and a child of God. As a mom, you can give of yourself all day. This book will help you find some moments to recharge your batteries so you can give some more.

You can get a copy from our resource center when you call 1-800-569-5959. Or you can visit us at ReviveOurHearts.com. When you contact us, make sure to ask for your free 2003 Revive Our Hearts wall calendar. It will bring beauty to your home. And as you look at it day by day, we hope you will be reminded to pray for Revive Our Hearts.

Have you ever thought: I would love to stay at home with the kids, but there is no way we could make it on one income. Tomorrow, we will hear what God has taught Jill Savage about that issue. I hope you can join us for Revive Our Hearts.

Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss is a ministry partnership of Life Action Ministries.

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