Revive Our Hearts Podcast

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Leslie Basham: Here’s Bunny Wilson.

Bunny Wilson: I have learned that when I talk with my husband to get to the point. So I’ve learned that when I go to Frank, I condense it down. I say, “You’re about to make a decision, and I don’t agree with the decision because of a, b, c, or d."

Leslie: You're listening to Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss for Friday, February.

Revive Our Hearts is in the middle of our 10th year of broadcasting, culminating with our 10-year anniversary this September. During this year, we're returning to some of the most hard-hitting series aired over the last decade, including the series Liberated Through Submission. Nancy will introduce our guest.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: I'm so glad to have Bunny Wilson with us this week. Bunny, welcome again to Revive Our Hearts.

Bunny: It’s so wonderful to be back with you.

Nancy: We're talking this week about the principle of submission, and we were talking about how submission works in a marriage relationship. You were giving us a little glimpse into how you began to apply this in your marriage with Frank. You said that it was important that you learn to speak the truth in love.

Bunny: Oh, and that was so hard for me to do. I think I mentioned the other day that I was fired off of three of the first jobs I ever had because I specialized in getting people straight. Frank and I were constantly in a combative situation, but I wanted so, as a believer, to do things God's way.

So when we had that intense fellowship one day and I said, "Okay, okay. I'm going to do it Your way, God." I was talking to Frank, but when I noticed that I began to get angry and I was going to sin against him by things that I said—like that broken traffic signal, I had to come to a stop. Then I had to wait until I could calm myself down long enough to share the truth.

I waited for about two months before I could do that because every time I thought about it I got angry all over again. When I finally went to him, I shared how I felt in a very soft tone. But when it didn't look like he was going to agree with me, my tone got louder and louder and louder until I just had to explain it to him.

God showed me that my soft voice was really manipulation, and I said, "Okay, God. I'm not going to ever do that again. I'm going to do it right." But what I didn't realize was that I had to deal with the sin of guile. I was a specialist at that.

Guile means when you say one thing and mean another. It's like the woman who says to her husband, "You know what, honey? My birthday is coming up and I looked into our bank account, and I saw that we don't have any money. I don't want you to buy me anything for my birthday."

Well, Nancy, the smart husband would say, "Oh no, I'm going to buy you something for your birthday." And she goes, "No, no. Even if you bought me something I wouldn't be able to enjoy it." Now, she went after his logic. So the logical husband is going to think, "Well, if you're not going to enjoy it, then why should I buy it?"

Now, Nancy, you and I both know that if that man comes home without a gift, he's going to have a problem on his hands because what she really meant to say was, "You know what, honey? I looked into the bank account. I saw that we don't have any money and my birthday's coming up. I don't care if you drive me to the lake when the sun is going down, bring a tape recorder of romantic music, stick a dandelion in my ear, and buy me a hot dog. I don't care what you do, but you do something because my birthday's important to me." Now that's what she really meant to say.

Often you hear married men saying, "There's just no understanding my wife." Well, they'd understand us, Nancy, if we told the truth. Many married women have adjusted to this world. We know that we live in a male-dominated society. We've learned to work with it, and that has almost demanded that we be manipulative and full of guile.

When I went to Frank properly, I shared with him exactly how I felt. I have learned that when I talk to my husband to get to the point. As women, many times we like to throw in all of the details. It takes a half an hour, and we lost him about three minutes into the conversation.

I've learned that when I go to Frank, I condense it down. I say, "You're about to make a decision, and I don't agree with the decision because of a, b, c, or d." Well, he might chose “e,” none of the above. But I want to be very clear. I can even be adamant about why I don't agree.

I remember one time Frank and I were having a conversation in our office. I was adamant about why I didn't agree with his decision. My sixteen-year-old daughter (at the time), Christy, walked in. She said, "I love it when you disagree!"

When I talked with her about it later, what she was basically saying is,

  • I love the fact that you can agree to disagree.
  • I love the fact that you're teaching me how to communicate effectively with my husband when one day I get married.
  • I love it that you can disagree, and I don't have to worry about hearing the word divorce. I don't have to worry about Dad hitting you, or you not talking to each other for extended periods of time.
  • I love that you are teaching me how to effectively communicate and the principle of submission—how it operates in a marriage.

Nancy: I think this is important, Bunny, because one of the misconceptions it seems that a lot of people have about submission is that, "If I'm submissive, then I won't ever be able to express my opinion. I can't say what's really on my heart." You're saying that's not what submission really means.

Bunny: When you think about it, God created us as wives to be helpmates. Why did He do that? Because He knew our husbands needed help. What help am I to Frank if I think just like he thinks? How valuable is my input?

It's important that I communicate to him in such a way that he doesn't become defensive or offended. We have to learn how to do that. Some wives may say, "Well, it wouldn't matter how I said it; he would get defensive." That's why you have to study your husband.

Frank and I wrote a book called The Master's Degree: Majoring in Your Marriage. We challenged couples to treat their marriage as if it's a university and their spouse is their major. They enroll in their spouse and take classes in communication, sex, finances, in-laws, spiritual maturity, and more. Our goal is to help them graduate cum laude instead of, "Laude, how come?"

As I began to study my husband, when I would say certain things and I saw him become defensive, later on (when everything had calmed down) I would go to him.

I would say, "How could I have shared this with you, and you would have not been defensive about it?"

He would say to me, "Well, if you would have just paid attention to coming to me at the right time. If you would have . . . It was the tone that you addressed me in. It was the way you phrased the question."

I began to study him just as if he was a college course, and today I know how to speak to my husband to communicate effectively with him so that he doesn't have to go on the defensive.

Nancy: It sounds like you really have a spirit of humility as a wife, to be able to learn from your husband what it is that is effective communication with him.

Bunny: Well, humble yourself in the sight of the Lord and what does He do? He lifts you up and you stand in the rightful place as a woman of God—which prompts him to get in the rightful place as the man of God, or the husband that God has called him to be.

Nancy: So you're learning with Frank how to speak the truth in love, not being manipulative, not speaking in guile, but speaking truth. Now you're speaking the truth. You're doing it in love as best you understand it. Do you ever come to situations where he still doesn't get it, doesn't agree, sees it differently?

Bunny: Well, just because you share the truth in love doesn't mean that you're right. There have been times where I thought I was dead right, and I was dead wrong. I was so grateful that Frank stood in his rightful place as the leader of our home and made the decision that he felt God was calling him to make.

Sometimes it took weeks, months, or years for us to discover what God's will was in a particular decision. But because I gave God the space to show us His will . . . Notice I said what His will is, not who's right and not who's wrong. Sometimes you can have all the facts and it not be the will of God. You see, the reason submission is so powerful and it operates on faith is I have the faith to believe that God can speak into my husband's heart and into his mind and show him the way that he should go.

But you and I both know that there have been times in our lives where we really thought for sure God was saying a certain thing, and in retrospect we looked back and realized that we heard God wrong. Well, we have to give that freedom to our husband also.

But my faith comes from the fact that I believe that God will intervene in a particular decision if He does feel that I am right in that decision. Even if Frank goes in the wrong direction, I have the faith to believe that God can fix whatever is broken and make it better than it would have ever been before.

Because I clearly stated to Frank why I didn't agree, he will know clearly when he sees that what I had recommended was the best thing in that situation. My value goes up in his eyesight, which means when I speak to him in the future, he's going to listen more intently and consider the things that I say.

When I go to him and say, "You know what? Anyone can make a mistake. What can I do help you fix it?" That mistake actually helps to bond our relationship. He knows clearly what I said. I didn't keep it to myself, and then when he made a mistake say to him, "I always knew that that was going to happen." Well, you didn't give him the value of your input—how unfair is that?

It used to be when I used to say to Frank, "You know, Frank, I don't agree with what you're about to do," he literally would say to me, "That's dumb." I would say, "That's not dumb; that's just the way I feel." He would say, "95% of the people in the world agree with me; 5% agree with you. That's dumb!"

Well, when I go to Frank now and I say, "You know what, honey? You're about to make a decision that I don't agree with," he says, "Tell me everything you know." Frank said that when I began to start submitting—I didn't tell him what I was doing, but he knew. He could see the difference. He said it put the fear of God in his heart because he knew that he was no longer contending with me. He was dealing directly with God.

Nancy: That's what makes submission such a powerful principle.

Bunny: Simplistically, it means to the wives—duck and get out of God's way so that He can have a clear shot at your husband.

Nancy: God intervenes, and as you're talking I'm thinking of that verse in Proverbs that says, “The king's heart is in the Lord's hand. God turns his heart as the rivers of water in whichever way God wants the heart to go” (Proverbs 21:1, paraphrased). But that requires that we step back and say, "Lord, I believe You are sovereign. You are the ruler. You are able to change this situation, and my trust is ultimately not in that human authority, but my trust is in You.”

Bunny: That's what makes submission so powerful. It takes faith to believe that. It takes faith to be in a relationship when you see your husband going in a direction . . . maybe about to make a financial decision or make a decision concerning the direction for your children. It takes faith to believe that God can intervene in that situation and to allow God the space to do it.

Nancy: I've had some women, Bunny, say to me, "My husband just doesn't make decisions. He doesn't lead. There is nothing for me submit to. How do I follow someone who is passive, who is not giving direction?"

Bunny: We need to ask the question,"Why is he passive?" I've heard women say, "My husband just doesn't communicate." I say to her then, "How did you all get married? Did he not say something? He would have to have taken leadership. Did he just grab you by the hair and drag you to the alter."

No, a woman gets into a marriage and many times because we are so directed to manipulation and guile and control, we intimidate. Many times we will intimidate our husband, and God forbid he make a mistake and have listen to us nag: "I follow behind you and look what you did. That was the stupidest thing you could have ever done."

Nancy: And what does that do to a man?

Bunny: Oh, he would rather just abdicate, and let her make the decisions. If she was dating a man and he never made a decision and she married him, she got what she saw. That was her decision: for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health. That's our commitment.

But usually the man did make the decisions, and she has to ask herself once he got married, "What did I do to encourage him not to make the decisions in our home?" A man needs to feel respected and valued.

A man’s number one greatest need is for respect. If he feels disrespect from his wife, some of them will bristle back and say, "Well, you'll do what I want you to do." That's one way. The other husband will say, "I'd rather go fishing. You make the decisions concerning the children and the house and the financial matters. I would rather surf the TV and play basketball and work on the car."

Nancy: You're saying that women may actually, in some cases, be responsible for having created a situation where the husband isn't providing leadership.

Bunny: Absolutely. Most women when they get married are not going to the alter and saying, "I'm marrying a weak man. I know he's weak. I've watched his decisions. He makes weak decisions. This is the man I want to lead me for the rest of my life." Usually when they go to the altar, they really believe by what they've seen when they were dating him, that he will actually provide leadership. So what happened to disintegrate that?

Nancy: The woman now who realizes, yes, she has disrespected her husband. She has manipulated him. She's been like Ford—always having a better idea—and has caused him to retreat and to become less of a leader. What does she do now? She wants to deal with this situation, where does she start?

Bunny: One of the things she can do is she can begin to listen to her husband when he speaks—really listen. I remember when I started doing that with Frank. One day I asked him a question, and he immediately got defensive.

I understood why he got defensive because he knew what I was doing. I had gotten to a point where I wasn't using the head-on approach, just getting him straight. What I would do was ask him a question, and the reason I was asking him a question was not for the answer. I was asking him a question so that I could answer it. I was just giving him a little space to put in his little input, but I really knew what was best.

I remember asking him a question one day, and he got defensive. I said to him, "I really want to know how you came to the place where you made this particular decision." When I saw his defensiveness, I said, "No, I really want to know. I want to know how you arrived at this decision."

So he went back and he said, "Well, I considered this point, and then this point, and then this point." When we got to his conclusion, even though I still didn't agree, I understood how he arrived at that conclusion, and how it was a worthy conclusion even though we saw things differently.

I began to listen to him when we were out among people. We'd get in the car, and I'd say, "You know what? Somebody asked you such and such a question, and I tried to run ahead of you and figure out how you were going to answer it, but your answer was totally different than what I thought it would be." And he would go, "Yes, you know the reason I answered this . . ." because he knew I was listening. That's one of the greatest ways we can show respect to our husbands is to value their judgment—even if we don't agree.

Nancy: I can hear some women who are listening to this saying, "Well, your husband's been responsive to all of this. He's a believer; he's listening to the Lord, but my husband doesn't have a heart for God. He may not even be a Christian at all, and I know that he's not seeking the Lord. If I get into the submission stuff, we're likely to go down a way wrong path."

Bunny: That is such a good question. As a matter of fact, God knew we were going to ask that question, so He wrote the answer down very clearly in His Word. In 1 Peter 3:1 it says, "Wives submit yourself to your own husbands, that even if they do not obey the Word . . .” Now if you don't obey the Word—that could be a person that's unsaved. It could be a person that's saved but carnal, not walking according to the Word of God. ". . . even if they do not obey the Word, they may be won without a word by them observing your chaste and reverent behavior."

What we need to understand as married women is that God has given husbands the sphere of authority in making the final decision, although God has the last word. He's given the husbands the sphere of authority, but He's given wives the sphere of influence. Nancy, let me ask you this question: What is greater, the authority or what influences the authority? Well, even if you don't chose one over the other, you have to admit that one is equal to the other.

Nancy: I think as women we really don't realize how great is our influence on the men around us.

Bunny: And you know the men aren't going to be honest with how influential we are because they don't really want us to know. But most men would quickly state that they are so sensitive to a wife's expression, her response, her tone, her attitude. We influence the direction of our husbands with that.

The Scripture is saying, God is basically saying, "You are so influential that if you never said a word, if they would just observe your chaste and reverent behavior . . ." God is saying, "If you would just flat out love Me, it will make your husband so thirsty to know the peace that you possess, even though you don't agree with him in a particular decision, how can you be around him and still have joy? How can you be around him and your attitude not be affected?

"It's because you are so assured in the fact that I'm listening, that I will intervene—that you can share exactly how you feel, and just continue things as usual. Trust Me. He did hear, and he 'might be won without a word, by him observing your chaste and reverent behavior.' "

Nancy: This sounds like something that mothers need to be teaching their sons and their daughters.

Bunny: Oh, absolutely! It needs to come from the mother, and even the father, but definitely from the mother. She should nurture that.

I'll never forget when I was speaking at the Rose Bowl, and I was teaching on Liberated Through Submission. There were over 20,000 women. At the end of the message I said to the women, "Okay, I'm going to do an invitation. All of you hell-raisers get down here."

There were so many women on the field, they were lined up to the back of the aisles, because for the most part we have not gotten the proper information we need on how to be yielded, submitted women, whether we are single or married. Because of that, rebellion has dominated our thought life, and stubbornness has governed our actions, and we are reaping the results of that today.

Nancy: Bunny, I saw the video of you speaking at the Rose Bowl, and it was quite a remarkable scene to see all those women saying, "Yes, I have been rebellious. I have been stubborn." Really, when they came in response to that invitation, they were saying, "I repent. I'm turning over the reins of my life. I'm not going to be my own god anymore. I'm not going to worship myself or my own ways. I'm going to let God be God in my life." It was a very moving sight.

I wonder if God doesn't want us, though we're not in the Rose Bowl today, to extend an invitation to women who may be listening to this program, and perhaps to start by having us ask the question: If God were to say, "There is My _______ child." How would He fill in that sentence? Would He say, "There is My submitted child"? Or would He say, "There is a rebellious, stubborn child"?

I don't think it's easy for any of us to come to the place where we acknowledge, "I really am rebellious and stubborn." We're quick to recognize it in our kids or others that we may know, but it's so hard to get humble enough and honest enough to say, "Lord, it's me. I am that stubborn, rebellious woman that we've been talking about this week."

Once we acknowledge that, then we need to come in repentance. I think that's the invitation we really want to extend to women today. Would you not only acknowledge that you have been that rebellious, stubborn woman, but would you come to God in a spirit of humility and repentance and say, "Lord, by Your grace, I want You to change me"?

It does take a supernatural work of God to transform a rebellious, stubborn heart into a pliable, surrendered heart, but He can do that. He can make us new. We are new creations in Christ.

I believe there are a lot of women listening today who want to say, "Lord, I repent. I lay down my arms. I lay down my weapons. I lay down my rights, and my right to control, and my right to rule the people around me. I want You to have control."

That's a little scary thought because there are a lot of different situations that people are facing, and they're thinking, "You don't know my home. You don't know my husband. You don't know my boss."

That's right; I don't, and you don't, Bunny. But we do know our God, and we know that He is more powerful and more in control than any human authority that could be a part of our life. If we will wait on Him, if we will trust Him, we believe that He will care for us even in the midst of that situation where it may be so difficult to submit.

Leslie: When you support the earthly authority that God has set in place, you're honoring and following God. Nancy Leigh DeMoss has been making this point in a conversation with Bunny Wilson. It's a classic series called, Liberated Through Submission.

During our 10th year of broadcasting, we're returning to some of these series that have resonated with our listeners. Unfortunately, we don't have time to air the complete series. To hear it, visit ReviveOurHearts.com and order Liberated Through Submission on CD. That's also the name of Bunny Wilson's book. We want you to have a copy, so we'll send it when you donate any amount to Revive Our Hearts.

Just visit ReviveOurHearts.com, or call with your donation of any size to 1-800-569-5959.

The Book of Proverbs tells us that a woman can either tear down her home, or build it up. Which are you doing? I hope you'll explore that question next week with Nancy Leigh DeMoss when she picks it up. Please be back for Revive Our Hearts.

Revive Our Hearts is an outreach of Life Action Ministries. 

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About the Teacher

Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth

Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth

Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth has touched the lives of millions of women through Revive Our Hearts and the True Woman movement, calling them to heart revival and biblical womanhood. Her love for Christ and His Word is infectious, and permeates her online outreaches, conference messages, books, and two daily nationally syndicated radio programs—Revive Our Hearts and Seeking Him.

She has authored twenty-two books, including Lies Women Believe and the Truth That Sets Them Free, Seeking Him (coauthored), Adorned: Living Out the Beauty of the Gospel Together, and You Can Trust God to Write Your Story (coauthored with her husband). Her books have sold more than five million copies and are reaching the hearts of women around the world. Nancy and her husband, Robert, live in Michigan.