Revive Our Hearts Podcast

When I'm Perfect, Then I'll Nag

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Woman: “I want to thank you for your work. It is not in vain, and the Lord is using it to bear fruit here in Ottawa, Canada.

Leslie Basham: Revive Our Hearts believes in supporting local churches. So we were so happy to hear from a women’s ministry leader in Canada. Her leadership team all watched the livestream of the Revive '17 conference, hosted by Revive Our Hearts. Then they started reading the book Adorned by Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth.

Woman:

As a woman in ministry—a counselor, church plant pastor’s wife and mom—Adorned is challenging me to live vulnerably yet wisely with God’s grace on my lips. To live a life that points in all things, including my failures, to the grace and mercy of the One whom we declare and know as Lord! Thank you for pouring yourselves out. Those of you doing the behind the scenes work—thank you. Your administrative gifts, artistic work, marketing work, researching, meeting physical needs, writing, speaking, and I’m sure much more: the Lord is at work! Thank you for serving Him.

Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth: I love to hear from listeners and see how the Lord is using the ministry of Revive Our Hearts to encourage women who then share what they’ve learned with others. And you are a crucial part in that ministry continuing. As a Revive Our Hearts listener, your support helps us continue serving women through so many different outreaches.

If you appreciate how the Lord is using Revive Our Hearts in your life and want that blessing to continue to others, would you consider giving a generous gift here in the month of May? It’s the end of our fiscal year. As we bring this year to a close and get ready to launch a new budgeting cycle, we’re asking the Lord to provide at least $680,000 by May 31. We know that the Lord can provide all we need, and we also know He loves working through His people.

Let me remind you, when you support this ministry, you are not just giving to Revive Our Hearts, you are giving to the Lord's work through Revive Our Hearts.

You can make a donation online at ReviveOurHearts.com, or you can give us a call 1–800–569–5959. Thanks so much for your prayers as we trust the Lord for His provision throughout this month, and also for your support as we continue sharing the truth that sets us free. 

Leslie: This is Revive Our Hearts with Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth, author of Lies Women Believe, for Monday, May 7, 2018.

We're about to hear the final installment in a series called, "The True Woman Manifesto—Affirmations, Part 2." As part of the series, Nancy's been talking with Cindy Easley. She and her husband, Michael, have spoken at marriage conferences for over fifteen years. Cindy wrote a book called, What's Submission Got to Do with It? (new title is Dancing with the One You Love) Let's get back to her interview with Nancy.

Nancy: At the end of the conversation yesterday, Cindy, we were talking about how submission really isn't submission until it's tested. As long as you both agree on something, there's no issue there. It comes into play when you and your husband have a different sense of how something should go, and you were starting to tell us an illustration. I cut you off because I wanted us to pick it up with today's conversation about your husband giving some direction in relation to your schedule that you weren't sure you wanted to receive at that point.

Cindy: Yes, in fact, I have learned that part of submission for me is giving Michael veto power over my schedule. I'm the type of person, I have a hard time saying "no." I want to do everything. I just think life is for fun.

Nancy: I don't think any of our listeners, by the way, will relate to what you just said. 

Cindy: I'm sure not, yeah. One thing is when we first moved to northern Virginia and Michael was pastoring Emmanuel Bible Church. Emmanuel has an incredible music program. One thing that they do every Easter is a huge Easter pageant where the church looks like Jerusalem, and it's just amazing. We had not been there a year. Michael asked me when we came, “Please, for the first year, don't do anything in the church. Just get to know it. Settle the family, those kinds of things.” 

Nancy: But don't take on any major responsibility. 

Cindy: Don't take on any major responsibility or activities, and I agreed with that when we first moved there. But about nine months later, Easter rolled around, and I really wanted to be in this Easter pageant. So I went to Michael and told him that I really wanted to be in the Easter pageant. I know he'd asked me not to do anything for a year, but my goodness, I mean, nine months, twelve months, really, what's the difference?

He said, “Cindy, I have found out that this is all-time consuming. You will be in hours—there are nine Easter performances.” At the time we had a four-year-old and a nine-year-old daughter. He said, “I do not think that this is the best thing for you.”

Of course, being the submissive wife I am, I said, “Yes, dear,” smiled, and walked away. No, I was furious that he would do that—how could he tell me I couldn't go out and have fun?! Well, I didn't. I did what he asked, and I was mad for several weeks. Of course, I am always polite, but I don't usually yell and scream. I just am polite, which is the way I show anger.

Nancy: So he knew you weren't happy.

Cindy: Oh, he absolutely knew I wasn't happy, and he dealt with it and fortunately was patient with me. Well, the next year, the Easter pageant rolled around. I was in it, with his blessing, and I was exhausted. I came back to him, and I had to apologize for my attitude the year before. I said, “You were absolutely correct.”

It would have been horrible to have already been in that situation when I was not prepared. We were not totally settled. Every single time I do it my way, I regret it, without exception, because he is putting my interests above himself. He's saying, “Cindy, this will not be good. When you get to it, you will almost be bitter that you're having to speak here.”

Nancy: He's fulfilling his role of being a protector.

Cindy: Absolutely, that's exactly what he's doing, and he wants to make sure that my first fruits go to the family, not to people outside the family. He understands my need and my love of speaking to women's groups, but he also understands the need of our children and of himself, and that is my priority at this phase of my life.

Nancy: But he's not being selfish about that. He knows that you're going to be blessed, too, if you're fulfilling God's primary calling in your life.

Cindy: That's exactly right, and not only is he not being selfish, he knows that in the end, I'll be miserable because I'll be trying to put too much together. I will be missing sleep. I won't be eating. I tend, when I'm under stress, just to not eat, which will make me very unhappy. And will also have those rings that will spread through the family as I'm not eating and not sleeping and showing my irritability.

Nancy: Now, I can imagine some of our listeners saying, “I wish that my husband would give that kind of direction, but he doesn't.” One of the most frequent frustrations I hear expressed from women is, “My husband won't lead.” There's a passivity, and you talked, actually, on the first day of this conversation about how with the role reversal in our culture, we have emasculated men.

We've made them afraid to lead, but whatever the reasons behind that, women are saying, “I have to take the lead. If I don't step in, nobody will do anything.” What does submission look like? How does a woman who wants to have a submissive heart live that out where she feels like her husband really isn't providing leadership?

Cindy: I think there are a couple things. I think often men have had a role model in a home of having a matriarchal family where their mother did lead the family. Perhaps their father was absent, or perhaps he was passive. So they've seen a woman lead, and they fall—even if they don't like it—they fall into it as their natural response.

Nancy: Which reminds me back in Genesis chapter 3. It's probably what happened with Adam and Eve.

Cindy: That's right. That's right.

Nancy: He was there, but who's the one doing the talking? Who's the one making the decision? It's Eve.

Cindy: That's right. He was probably right there in the garden as she was having that conversation with the serpent.

Nancy: So this isn't a new problem.

Cindy: No, this is definitely a problem of the ages, but I think that the first thing the woman needs to do—the wife—is look at herself. I would ask you:

  • Are you really wanting him to lead?
  • Have you already picked up the mantle of leadership, and in your fear, you don't want to lay it down?

A husband can't pick up that role of leadership if we're clinging to it, if we're holding on to it, or if he's making a decision and then we pull it back because we don't think it's the right one. So that's my first question is really look at yourself and make sure that you are setting him up to win, setting him up to make decisions that you will follow.

Nancy: And, “that you will follow” is a key statement there. You just ran past that point. He's made decisions before, and you have not followed them. So I think some husbands think, I've been down this road . . .

Cindy: “What's the point?”

Nancy: “What's the point? You're just going to do what you want to do anyway.”

Cindy: That's exactly right, and so that's my first question. Then I would say, sometimes we need to tell our husbands that we don't understand how they're leading. We want them to lead. We need a firmer lead. We need some pointers in the direction they're going.

Years ago Michael, as a surprise, gave me dancing lessons, ballroom dancing lessons, and not like the frou-frou kind, but just wedding dancing so we could go to a wedding and do a fox trot or whatever. It was really fun as we took these ten weeks of lessons.

We realized this whole dancing thing was a good picture of our marriage and that there were times that—usually when you're dancing, the woman is going backwards. The man is leading, and you have no idea where you're going. We discovered that if I didn't follow him, if I didn't follow the pressure that he put on the small of my back or on my hand as he was leading me, we didn't go anywhere.

We also learned that there were times that Michael would be trying to turn me, and I wasn't responding because I didn't know what he was doing. I needed a firmer lead, and I would say, “Michael, I need you to be stronger. Press harder on my back, or press harder on my hand. I don't know—I'm willing to follow, but I don't know where you're going.”

Nancy: You had to communicate.

Cindy: I had to communicate, and I think that's a good metaphor for marriage. Sometimes we need to sit with our husbands and say, “Honey, I want to follow, but I don't know your lead. Give me direction. Where do you want us to go? What do you want to do about this decision? I will work out the details of the decision,” perhaps you're making a decision about something in your home or whatever, “but I need to know, what direction do you want to go?”

Then we need to not pick it up. We need to leave it with them, and if it takes a week or two for them to make a decision, we need to be patient because they need to see. They're kind of saying, “Okay, you said. Are you? Are you really going to let me make the decision, and are you really going to follow this voluntarily without whining or complaining?”

Nancy: But without whining and complaining is part of what makes it really hard.

Cindy: That's right. It does, but that's so important that we don't nag or try to—again, that's all manipulation. That is not submission.

Nancy: Speaking of nagging, you use the illustration of the GPS in this book and how that becomes a metaphor for what happens when the wife does nag.

Cindy: That's right. Years ago I bought Michael a GPS system for his car, and of course, we were delighted to have it. But often we discovered that this GPS system would have a different way than we normally went a route, and we didn't like the way that she led us. We say “she” because she had a female voice. So if you turned a direction she didn't want you to, she would repeat over and over and over and try to get you back on her way of doing things.

Nancy: Turn left ahead. Turn left ahead.

Cindy: That's right. That's right. Exactly, and so we dubbed her, “the nagivator” because she was nagging us to death until finally one of us would reach over and turn her off because we got so tired of hearing her voice telling us to do the same thing over and over. I think as wives, we don't even realize we're doing it.

We think we're trying to get something fixed in the home that we've asked for, or we're trying to give our husband—or gently remind them of something, and yet we're nagging them. They're hearing the same thing over and over and over. We're becoming the "nagivators" for our husband, and that's never a good way to motivate a man. I mean, I can't think of a faster way to get my husband to shut down and ignore me than for me to say the same ten things over and over and over.

In fact, I've learned it's better just to go without. We had in one of our homes—we tend to buy homes that need CPR. They're very close to death, and we had this one home that we were redoing all the stairs. We didn't put up banisters because my husband is very artistic, and he wanted to design the banisters and have somebody build what he had in his head.

It was taking us a long time to find a carpenter that would take on such a small job. They want major jobs that will keep them employed for weeks, and this would take a few days. So I bet we went without banisters for six months, and I probably fell down those stairs about four times because I didn't have anything to hold onto.

I was never hurt, of course, but I knew I had the choice. Mike was walking down those stairs every day without the banisters, too. I had the choice to bug him about it and bug him about it and bug him about it and make that task, those banisters, more important than our relationship or just to put it aside and let him get around to it when he did, and he did. They were beautiful and very well done, and he found the right carpenter. So it all worked out in the end, but I had to back off.

Nancy: And you had some peace in your home in the meantime.

Cindy: Yes, that's right. That's the decision. Is having what I want, when I want it done, immediately, more important than peace or just going, “There's things he asks me to do that I don't always get around to right away either”? I've decided, when I'm perfect, I'll nag. Since I haven't reached perfection yet, I think I have to give up that role.

Nancy: Lest we forget, you and your husband turned off that GPS when the "nagivator" got to you, and what do husbands have a tendency to do when they have a "nagivator" in the home?

Cindy: Turn us off, absolutely. They look for that off switch.

Nancy: Yet there are times when you do need to communicate, and you talk abou hard communication, H-A-R-D. This is when something difficult needs to be said. You need to speak into the situation. Tell us what those letter stand for, and I think it will help a lot of our listeners when that kind of communication is needed.

Cindy: Well, first I need to say that I don't want to take credit for this. I interviewed a woman, Carol, who was, or is, a therapist and who is married to a recovering alcoholic. This is an acronym she uses with people that she counsels, that she applied to her own marriage, that in applying this to her marriage and working through it and praying through godly submission, her husband gave up alcohol.

This is an incredible story of Carol and Greg that is included in this book, but this is what HARD stands for. The first is honest, that we want to make sure that we're communicating to our husbands honestly. The second is appropriately, which means time—you choose the appropriate time.

Nancy: Don't just blurt it out.

Cindy: That's right, and you speak the appropriate way. The third is respectful. You want to be gentle with your words. You want to express your opinions, but you want to do it in a tone of voice and choosing words that are not harmful, that are respectful. Finally, you want to be direct.

There's nothing worse to a man than to hear a woman communicate emotionally. We need to make sure that we are communicating clear and concisely and that we are communicating factually. Men respond to facts, not to emotion—most men, and I realize, yes, that is a generalization.

Nancy: So we're talking about communication that is respectful and direct and yet steering away from the nagging, and that's a razor-thin edge, don't you think, at times, to know when it becomes nagging? When does it become nagging?

Cindy: I think it becomes nagging when we find ourselves—we're dwelling more on the problem than on our husband and who he is and his needs. I think it becomes nagging when we're saying it over and over and over. We know when we're saying it over and over and over. I think when we approach him respectfully, we tell him the issues. We leave it at his feet.

Now, to come back two or three weeks later and say, “Have you thought about what we talked about?” or “Honey, remember I was expressing how I really need those banisters because I'm tired of falling?” You're approaching him appropriately, kindly. That's okay. That's not nagging. It's when you're that "nagivator" that's annoying, and you're tired of your own voice. You're tired of saying it. Definitely you've hit the nagging.

Nancy: That's where so much depends on the spirit, and I'm thinking of the two words love and humility. How would we want to be dealt with? I think in many cases, husbands feel like they're another child in the family, that the wife is his mother or his Holy Spirit, and the wife is not going to get very far with that kind of relationship with her husband.

Cindy: That's right. You'll definitely not have the relationship that you want when you're eighty if he's looking at you as more of an authority in his life or somebody who's going to keep him in line or keep him from doing the fun things he thinks he wants to do or whatever.

Nancy: You want to be in this for the long haul. You don't want to just win this battle or get these banisters up. You want to be asking, “Where do we want to be in this marriage? How do we want to build and develop this relationship so when we're an old married couple, we're enjoying each other?”

Cindy: That's right, and those tasks are so unimportant. We don't even own that house anymore! That was three houses ago, as a matter of fact.

Nancy: Those beautiful banisters! Did you take them with you?

Cindy: Somebody else is enjoying them, but maybe that's what sold the house. I don't know, but yes, we focus on things that are so unimportant and forget how incredibly fragile and important those relationships are with the people in our home, particularly with our husband.

Nancy: Now, we haven't said this in this conversation, and I think we need to be sure that we point out that when we talk about submission, we're not talking about following your husband into sin or enabling him to be abusive or things that are contrary to the Word of God.

Cindy: That's exactly right, and again, the chapter with Carol speaks well to this. There are times that we need to, in love, with respect, for our husband's best . . .

Nancy: . .  . and not out of resentment or bitterness

Cindy: . . . not out of resentment or bitterness, help them come to terms with sin in their life. I think this is true in alcohol or drug abuse, pornography, certainly any affair or any abusive language, verbal abuse, physical abuse. Anything like that that's going on in the home, that is either illegal or sin, we need to approach our husbands gently, perhaps with help of a pastor, a counselor, a close male friend of his, someone who will hold him accountable and help him through this.

Again, in the chapter that deals with co-dependency versus submission, Carol talked about the steps that she went through to help her understand the damage that his alcoholism was bringing to their marriage, and how at one point, she moved into a different bedroom in the home. She told him over and over, “I hate not sharing a room with you and not sharing a bed with you, but I need you to understand the devastation that your drinking has on our relationship.”

She was kind. She would still fix dinner. She would see him in the morning, getting coffee, and just say, “How did you sleep?” She wouldn't make it a thing that it was like, every time she saw him, she was belittling him or angry.

She wooed him back by her attitude and her love, and it took time until he came to her and said, “I need help.” But it was her wisdom and the way that she set up boundaries that were healthy for her and the children that called him into accountability.

Again, she did it with love and gentleness, with his best in mind, never talking about, “You're doing this to me,” or “You're horrible,” or whatever. It was always, “You're hurting your relationship with other people. This is damaging your career,” so that he was seeing that she had his best in mind.

It kind of reminds me of when Abigail went to David. She apologized for her husband, but she stopped David from going in and slaughtering all of Nabal's workers by saying, “Think of what this will do to you, David. Think of what this will do with your relationship with the Lord,” and that is how she approached David. I think that's how we need to approach our husbands when they are walking into sin, in that same way. “This is not for your good.”

Nancy: And by the same token, submission doesn't mean that you sin in order to follow your husband's leadership.

Cindy: That's exactly right. We should never follow our husbands into sin. Perhaps your husband is into pornography and wants you to watch pornography with him. No, I think that we can have some good boundaries there and say, “I do not believe that this would be what God would want me to do.” I don't believe that our need to respect our husband should ever cause us to violate one of God's laws.

Nancy: I want to take us back to what is probably the most familiar text in all of God's Word about the subject of submission in marriage. It's a chapter that a lot of women probably wish wasn't in the Bible

Cindy: Just cut that verse or two out.

Nancy: But it is in the Bible, and actually, it gives us a context for submission that shows us why it is such a thing of beauty and power. Of course, I'm talking about Ephesians chapter 5, and we could dwell on the husband passage, but we won't because . . .

Cindy: That's another program.

Nancy: That's another—we'll let your husband preach on that one, but Ephesians chapter 5, verse 22. Of course, the whole context here is on being filled with the Holy Spirit, on what it looks like in the body of Christ and in the family of God for us to live out our relationship with God. Then he applies it to marriage and speaks first to the wives.

Wives, submit [yourself] to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also should wives submit in everything to their husbands (vv. 22–24).

I want us to just wrap this conversation, Cindy, by my asking you, what's at stake here? We're talking about something that really does matter, not just in terms of your marriage, but in terms of what you and Michael, in the dance of your marriage, represent to the world about the Gospel, about Christ's relationship with His Church.

Cindy: You know, Nancy, I can't help but to wonder what our testimonies as Christian marriages would be like if we all understood our roles as head and helper or loving leader and submissive—voluntarily submissive—wife, because it is a picture of Christ and the Church. I think if the world could see that picture and stand back in awe and wonder, How can they love each other so much? How can they be this way? How can they behave like this? Why is it that they continue to put each other above themselves?I think if we could represent this to the world, we would have an impact that has never been seen before.

So you're right. Your marriage is very important, but the impact you're having on the world goes far beyond that, all the way to eternity.

Leslie: That's Cindy Easley talking with Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth about why your marriage is so important. They’ve been giving us practical insight into biblical submission in marriage. To help you follow up on what you’ve heard, we’d like to send you Cindy’s book. It used to be called What’s Submission Got to Do with It? and they used that title in the interview. But it’s been re-released with a new title. The new version is called Dancing with the One You Love. And we’d like to send you a copy when you support the ministry of Revive Our Hearts with a gift of any size.

The book will help you and your spouse display the beauty of a marriage surrendered to the Lord’s plan. Ask for Dancing with the One You Love when you call us at 1–800–569–5959, or you can visit ReviveOurHearts.com.

Tomorrow we’ll take a break from our ongoing series on the True Woman Manifesto. We will hear about some of the struggles—and the joys—of foster parenting. Please be back for Revive Our Hearts. 

Revive Our Hearts with Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth wants to help you thrive in Christ. It’s an outreach of Life Action Ministries.

All Scriptures are from the English Standard Version.

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