When He and I See It Differently

My husband was nice enough to take our sixth grader shopping for running shoes recently. But the shoes they came home with were not shoes I would have bought.

They looked great; they were bright and fun-looking. But they were also twenty dollars more than I would have paid. And they didn't look very supportive for running, either, which was the whole point of buying new shoes.

I suspect that the selection process was heavily influenced by both my son's enthusiasm over the shoe color and his dad's ambition to get out of the store quickly. Neither of these, in my opinion, were good reasons to buy these particular shoes.

"I'm taking them back," I said.

"What?" my husband said. "Then why did you ask me to take him shopping in the first place?"

I then listed out all of the reasons these shoes were a bad idea. Apparently he hadn't seen the way inferior shoes tend to cave under the pressure of a twelve-year-old boy running. And perhaps he wasn't aware that our son would claim any shoe felt supportive if it was the right color. I was quite certain that these shoes wouldn't even last the full season. I'd have to replace them in a month.

None of these reasons, however, won my husband over to my viewpoint. He just kept voicing frustration over the wasted shopping trip.

When We Disagree

Ken's head tends to be clear of all of the worries and concerns that fill mine. He doesn't fret over possibilities the way I do or extrapolate into the future. He just steps out into the wild blue yonder and buys shoes without even considering that the kid trying them on might be pretending that they fit well. Crazy, right?

I often feel that Ken's clear perspective needs to be clouded up with a few of my concerns. I don't think of this as taking over but rather as helping him see all of the angles he's missing.

If you asked, I would say that Ken is the leader in our home. I know this is how the Bible says it should be (Eph. 5:23), and I truly want our marriage to reflect God's blueprint. But if I'm honest, there are times I don't treat him like the leader. I badger and persist and undermine and control.

While it isn't wrong to share my opinions and concerns with my husband, it is wrong to continually contend for my viewpoint. I wouldn't treat a leader at church, work, or in the community this way. I shouldn't treat my husband this way either.

Submission isn't submission unless we disagree on how to proceed. When we agree, it's easy to let my husband lead. When we don't agree, submission is letting my husband lead us in a direction I wouldn't choose. This is a choice, but it's also a statement of trust.

By deferring to my husband rather than contending for my way, I show that I trust God's viewpoint more than my own. God says that wives should submit to husbands. He said this would make for a happy marriage.

Amazingly, my experience confirms this is true! When I let my husband lead, I am often surprised by the peace and joy that follow. I've tried it the other way, too. So I can also attest that when I try to control my husband rather than submit to him, I only make everyone miserable (myself included).

Let me interject that exceptions should be made when a husband is abusive. We don't celebrate God's ways when we submit ourselves to abuse, either in marriage or other situations. That's one extreme. The other extreme of failing to celebrate God's ways is when I refuse to submit over something as insignificant as a pair of shoes.

Sole Care

The next morning, the shoes remained in their box on the kitchen counter. My son, who kept lifting the lid to admire them, began pleading with me to change my mind. He loved those shoes! Daddy had bought them. Why couldn't he—pretty please—keep them?

As I learn to trust God by submitting in marriage, I exchange worry and stress for freedom and joy.

I could feel my heels digging into the kitchen rug. All the reasons for returning the shoes started pinballing around in my head. But just as I was about to clamp down and insist on doing this my way, I sensed the Spirit of God impressing on my heart, "How do you know? Can you see into the future? Can you be certain these shoes will fall apart?"

I suddenly recognized my lack of trust in God. The Lord hadn't asked me to calculate the risk of letting my husband lead. God asked me to submit to my husband and trust Him with our future—even the future of something as small as running shoes.

God kept the Israelites' sandals from wearing out during the forty years He led them in the wilderness, right (Deut. 29:5)? If God could protect a million people's shoes from wearing out for forty years, surely I could trust Him with one pair of shoes for a couple of months.

Two Surprises

Two things surprised me when I told my son he could put the shoes on and wear them. First was the tenderness in his expression when he hugged me and said thank you. He had heard my concerns. He knew it was hard for me. (It's ridiculous, really, how hard it was.) But he saw that I was trying to obey God and let his daddy lead. That's a good thing for a boy to see.

My second surprise was the immediate feeling of freedom and joy. Why had I burdened myself with trying to control based on my limited perspective? It felt so good to say, "Honey, your shoes look great. I'm so glad you like them!" And it was fun to text a picture to my husband of the brightly clad feet on the way out the door—along with a smiley emoticon and an apology.

Submitting consistently in little things (like which shoes to buy) helps train my heart for the more important matters. As I learn to trust God by submitting in marriage, I exchange worry and stress for freedom and joy.

  • Are you a wife who lets the leader lead, or do you constantly contend for your own viewpoint? How would your husband answer this question?
  • Submitting when you disagree is a statement of trust—not in your husband, but in God. What is one way that you will trust God by deferring to your husband?
  • What is one thing that you've been persisting and badgering someone (either your husband or another leader) about? How is God convicting you to lay down your burden of control?

Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus (Phil. 4:6–7).

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