Read Making Marriage Work Online

Authors: Joyce Meyer

Making Marriage Work (9 page)

A woman’s response to proper loving care and nurturing should be, then, to submit and adapt to her husband as the church would to the Lord. This is the other major point of Ephesians — a woman is to respect and reverence her husband. This does not mean that she behaves as a vegetable never having an opinion, or being afraid to voice it if she does. Marriage is a partnership, but ultimately someone has to make a final decision when two people don’t agree. On relatively unimportant things Dave and I sort of take turns. On major ones the final call is his.

When a man loves his wife as Christ loved the church, and the wife submits to her husband and respects him, both doing their part, a glorious relationship will result.

The man is to love his wife as Christ loved the church, and the woman is to submit to her husband and respect him. If both parties will do their part, a glorious relationship will result. Sometimes one of the spouses is not willing to do their part. Then a standoff begins. The argument begins, “Well, I won’t if you don’t,” and, “I’m not going to if you don’t,” so we have a big mess.

Somebody needs to start somewhere, and though I hope that both partners are going to be willing to start and do exactly what God says, I want to encourage you to go ahead and be first. But even if it seems that one of you is more willing than the other one, continue doing what is right as a service to the Lord. Love has to start somewhere. If what you are doing now is not working, then you have nothing to lose. Everything will stay the same until someone makes a change. If you want to see what God can do then, wives, be submissive and adapt yourselves to your own husbands as a service to the Lord.

There is probably no one better qualified than I am to try to teach women how to submit and adapt because I was the least likely person to ever want to adapt to anything or anyone. I wanted everything and everybody to adapt to me. And when I first began to read in the Bible that a wife was to adapt to her own husband, it gave me the creeps! Just the thought of adapting made me uncomfortable.

It is amazing how miserable we can make ourselves because we will not adapt to some simple little thing that somebody’s asking us to do. But because of pride and rebellion, we are determined to stand our ground and have life our way. Before long we are miserable and so is everyone who knows us. I mentioned that for three years I fought with Dave over his golf. We fought, and fought, and fought, and fought. I was determined that he was not going to play. And he was determined that he was. But as I began to let the Lord work with me, Dave and I reached the place of peace and agreement, which release joy.

You have made known to me the ways of life; You will enrapture Me [diffusing my soul with joy] with and in Your presence.

Acts 2:28

The great standoff between two people is inevitable unless the Lord intervenes and fills their hearts with love. Dave and I fought and fought, but we also prayed and prayed. Keep reading to see who won this battle.

6

MAYBE SOME OF IT WAS MY FAULT

Now to Him Who is able to keep you without stumbling or slipping or falling, and to present [you] unblemished (blameless and faultless) before the presence of His glory in triumphant joy and exultation [with unspeakable, ecstatic delight].

Jude 24

When two people spend quality time together, they begin to see life the same way. But when two people stand back to back, facing opposite directions, they have little chance of sharing a common viewpoint. When those same two people are determined, but she is determined that he’s not going somewhere, and he is determined that he is, they have a problem. I will share more about healthy confrontations later in this book, but first I want to point out the difference that spending time with each other can make in a relationship.

I made myself miserable for those three years that I stayed mad at Dave for playing golf. I made him miserable because I refused to adapt to his love for the game. Of course, I made our children miserable, too, because they saw me argue with their dad over it. It unsettles a child when they see their parents fight because many times, they think it’s their fault. It produces all kinds of insecurity and fear in children when their parents fight all the time and of course it didn’t build a healthy relationship between Dave and me.

With three little kids running around at our feet, Dave and I continued to fight over golf. I was frequently mad and pouted all the time. Dave was not going to quit, and I was determined that he was. The more I nagged, the more he played.

Dave said if you want to be a good golfer, then you have to practice all the time. So he played golf, and he practiced during the week, too. I was home with the kids all day by myself, while several times a week Dave would come home, have dinner, then get out the golf clubs and go to the driving range to hit golf balls. I couldn’t understand why he insisted on doing this, nor was I willing to believe there was a valid explanation for such desire. None of it made any sense to me.

The Lord is able to keep us from stumbling, slipping, or falling even though we are sometimes determined to race towards a head-on collision with our blemished plan for life. I believe that prayers intervened and spared us from the tragedies that would have resulted if I had continued down my destructive path of anger and resentment.

When I began to see the Scriptures in the Bible that a woman should adapt to her husband, I thought, I’d die first. I just can’t do it. Have you ever had such rebellion in your flesh that you honestly thought if you had to give in, you would shrivel and die? I felt that it would kill me if I had to humble myself and do what Dave wanted me to do.

I liked finding Scriptures in the Bible that Dave was supposed to listen to. The Word says in I Peter 3:7 (
NASB
),
You husbands likewise, live with your wives in an understanding way, as with a weaker vessel, since she is a woman; and grant her honor as a fellow heir of the grace of life, so that your prayers may not be hindered.
I was convinced that Dave needed to understand how difficult it was for me to be home with the kids all day long, day in and day out. After all, he was out with adults, normal people, who don’t slobber and make strange faces at you. Like other women at home with their young children, I longed to get out and talk to “grown-ups.”

JUST ME AND YOU TOGETHER

It is important for couples to do things together. Spending time with each other increases understanding of each other’s viewpoint and needs. At this time in our marriage, I was so hard to get along with that Dave probably went to play golf a lot more than he would have, just to get away from me. The Bible says that a quarrelsome, nagging wife annoys like constant dripping on a rainy day (Proverbs 19:13
NIV
,
TLB
; Proverbs 27:15
NIV
.) Poor Dave!

It is important for couples to do things together.

Because I really didn’t believe that anybody could love me, I wanted Dave to dote on me all the time to make me feel secure. I wanted him to want to be with me rather than want to be on the golf course. I wanted him to fuss over me all the time. Everything was about me and my desperate plight to nurture that root of rejection in my life. I needed constant “fixing.” I didn’t want to lose control of what made me feel secure, so I tried throwing fits to get him to stay home.

Dave always invited me to go with him. The issue wasn’t that he was taking off without me. He would invite me to go, but I was too bullheaded to do it. I didn’t want to play golf; and I didn’t think that he ought to either, so I was not giving in. At least two or three times a week I was mad over golf to the point that I hated it.

Finally, one afternoon I went to the driving range to find him. I don’t even remember how I got there now, maybe we had two cars by then, or maybe he went out with somebody else. I was pouting in my dark little corner of the apartment, crying and unhappy with our three kids, and he was at the driving range having a good time in the sunshine. Somehow, by the mercy of God, I was given the grace to swallow my pride. I put those three kids in the car and drove out to that driving range. I took them out of the car, walked up to Dave, and lined up the kids behind his tee box. He was leaning over, placing his golf ball on the tee when he looked up at me and said, “What happened? Did the house burn down?”

Looking at his surprised face I said, “No, I just give up. Here I am. Teach me to play golf.”

SURRENDER MEANS TO “GIVE UP”

I just gave up. God’s grace brought me to a place where I realized that I wasn’t going to change Dave. We were having such trouble over this golf that it had to have been an act of grace for God to give me a desire to play golf with Dave. The whole issue could have easily caused us some serious, serious problems.

Dave taught me the fundamentals for three months before I ever went out to play a game of golf. I eventually learned to play well. But the first time we went out to play on a nine-hole golf course, I was on the first tee box, and there were a lot of men standing around waiting for their turn to tee off.

I swung and missed the ball thirteen times in a row on that first tee because I was nervous. Seeing that I was embarrassed, Dave came up to me and gently said, “Take your time, take your time.” Under my breath I threatened, “If I miss this ball again, I’m picking it up and throwing it down!” then I dribbled it off the tee, and thus began my golf career.

We’ve enjoyed many years of golf together. If I hadn’t been willing to do what God said to do and go play golf with Dave, I would have missed out on the fun that they both had planned for me. When you play golf, you can’t think about anything else but your stance, grip, and focus. The clearer your head, the better your swing. It is a nice break from the busyness of our daily life.

If I hadn’t been willing to do what God said to do, I would have missed out on the fun that God and Dave had planned for me.

I had to surrender my old thinking to try out Dave’s way of relaxation. I had to surrender my fears of being unloved, to join the love of my life in a game that we could both enjoy. I had to lay aside my stubbornness and rebellion against God’s Word in order to receive the joy of His presence. But with God it is possible to break loose from our old nature and become a new creation.

Having great relationships and a terrific marriage is possible. It is simply a matter of surrender and letting God lead us to the pleasant plan He has in mind for us. I couldn’t have my own way and God’s way, too.

When I studied the Word, after I was Spirit-filled, I well remember the first confrontation I had with the Holy Ghost. I was praying one day for Dave to change, and God actually spoke to me saying, “Dave is not the problem.”

I couldn’t believe it! I had a list of things that would be better if Dave would do “this” and our kids would do “that.” I was unhappy and hard to get along with because they weren’t treating me right. Isn’t that the way most people think? Almost everyone blames their bad behavior, their past, and their lack of money on someone else.

When God said, “Dave is not the problem,” it was as if my eyes were opened and I could finally see what it was like to live with me. I saw that I was a nag, critical, and hard to get along with. I cried for three days.

DYING TO SELF

I felt as though nobody loved me and couldn’t understand why After all, hadn’t I done all the things a good Christian was supposed to do? Didn’t I study the Word and teach others God’s way? Now even God seemed to be on Dave’s side instead of mine.

James 1:26 and 27 are two foundational Scriptures for anyone who feels their life and ministry are worthless, futile, and barren. There might be a valid reason for those feelings and these Scriptures give us a hint of what might be wrong in our lives. Read the verses carefully:

If anyone thinks himself to be religious (piously observant of the external duties of his faith) and does not bridle his tongue but deludes his own heart, this person’s religious service is worthless (futile, barren).

External religious worship [religion as it is expressed in outward acts] that is pure and unblemished in the sight of God the Father is this: to visit and help and care for the orphans and widows in their affliction and need, and to keep oneself unspotted and uncontaminated from the world.

Now that’s a pretty strong statement. It’s saying, if we think we are religious and are attending to all these outward duties of our faith, but we are not bridling our tongue, then all of our efforts are useless and worthless. First Corinthians, 13 says that if we don’t have a strong love walk, we can speak in tongues all day long and all we are doing is making noise! We can have so much faith that we can move mountains, but we are nothing if we don’t really love people.

We are nothing if we don’t really love people.

God said another thing that makes our religious service worthless is if we don’t bridle our tongue. He didn’t say He would do it all for us. We have to use self-control concerning the things we say.

I remember how God taught me the lesson that I do have control over my words. I used to have “fits,” just all-out temper tantrums, and unleash my unhappiness on my kids. I’d get mad at Dave, then I’d rant and rave at my kids all day. I didn’t like the mess their toys made, so I would yell at them to go clean up. I’d clean the house; they’d make another mess, and I’d go into another fit.

One day I was performing one of my expected fits, yelling, “Pick this stuff up! All I ever do is clean this place and you guys mess it up all the time! You act like I’m your slave around here.”

Of course, after the kids were crying and everybody had a fit of their own, I felt guilty for the atmosphere I had inspired. Don’t be fooled, the same devil who leads you into temptation is the same one who’ll come around and condemn you for the temptation he led you into. So then I would confess, “Oh, God, I’m so sorry, but I just can’t help it! I don’t want to act like that, but I just lose my temper. I just can’t help it, God!”

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