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Monday, September 12, 2011

Marriage for Dummies (Me) 101

I remember growing up not liking certain passages in the Bible; in particular I did not like any scripture related to marriage and the roles of husbands and wives, therefore I tried to ignore them.  

You see I grew up with my dad telling me to never depend on a man, to be self reliant, to not settle and that I could do anything a man could do.  He wanted me to find a man who respected me and wasn’t intimidated by a smart woman.  He wanted me to choose a spouse who valued my opinion and cherished my input, but that was not the message I got.  

I was too young to understand that while my father wanted me to be able to take care of myself in case something happened to my future husband, he did not mean that I WAS a man or should act like one.  He did not mean I should try to be dominating in a relationship… oops!    

Not only did I not get the full message, I also ignored many things.  I ignored the shared respect my parents had, I ignored their bond, I ignored the way they shared in each other’s struggles and successes, the way they took care of each other and I ignored the godly example my mom provided.

I only focused on being independent.  I didn’t NEED anyone and that caused problems in the first few years of my marriage.  After a while, I realized that mentality wasn’t working (duh) and I started to pray.  

Then, I started to read the verses I had ignored for so many years.  Finally, God provided clarity that is bringing my husband and me closer together every day!  

Here are some things about marriage I have learned:

1)       God did not devalue woman by placing man at the head of the family.  Both are of equal importance, but we are created differently.  We have different needs and we think differently.  We were created to complement each other’s weaknesses and strengths.

2)      Man is to cherish his wife and provide for her as God does the church…that is a huge responsibility!  And because of that responsibility, man needs a woman who supports him, who prays for him, who praises him and who acknowledges his hard work.  This too is a huge responsibility. 

3)      When we allow ourselves to need each other, when we allow ourselves to be vulnerable we actually find ourselves.  Marriage was created to complete us; man and woman are two halves of a whole.  Though some people are capable of being alone or called to be single (Paul is an example) God said it was not good for man to be alone.   
The Lord God said, "It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him." Genesis 2:18.  

4)      A true leader knows they must be a servant, putting the needs of the follower above their own.  Good leaders seek others inputs, they value others opinions.  “But among you it will be different. Whoever wants to be a leader among you must be your servant,” Matt 20:26. 
 “ The greatest among you must be a servant”  Matt 23:11  

5)      Men need women just as much as women need men.  We are equal in God’s eyes.  It is the world who tries to distort the scriptures.  God did not mean for marriage to become a feminist issue.  He wants man and woman to respect each other, to love each other unconditionally. That’s Satan- he wants to break up marriages, he wants to cause distension, and he wants to pervert what was created to be good.  

Basic stuff, uh?  But it has taken awhile to sink into my thick skull.  Daily I am learning how to be a helper to my husband.  And as I am learning I am finding peace and joy.

What God is showing me about men:

1)       Men need to be appreciated, for small things as well as large.  It is not just women who like compliments; they make men feel good, important and relevant.  

2)      Men feel pressure to provide for their families and their egos take a hit if and when they are unable to give them all they need/want.  Women can take some of that pressure off by letting them know they are doing a good job, by praying for them when they struggle and by not criticizing/complaining.  

3)      Men need to feel like we stand beside them, no matter what comes.

4)      Some men need to know it is okay to relax and enjoy life (speaking to workaholic husbands like mine).   

5)      Other’s need to be encouraged to work harder by praising their efforts and not pressuring them or comparing them to others.  

6)      Men need to feel attractive and sexy.  They like to feel needed.  

7)      Men worry they are not good enough.

8)      Men need to know they are allowed to make mistakes. That we won’t hold it over their heads if they mess up.  They need freedom to be imperfect, trusting we love them regardless.

9)      Men need us to praise their efforts and focus on their good qualities instead of pointing out areas of improvement.  No one likes to constantly be told they need to work on this or that.  

10)   Men will disappoint us, just like we will disappoint them.  Therefore, we must keep our focus/hope in God. 

Daily I have to submit my will to God, to ask Him to help me be a better wife and mother.  And daily He answers my prayers.  I am not perfect, I mess up in these areas, but thankfully not only does God forgive me, but my husband does too.  

We are partners for better or for worse.  

It’s taking a while, but I'm learning. 

What are some things you have learned about men, women and/or marriage? 

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