For The Sake of Marriages

WEddingringsToday is November 18th. It is a special day in my family. Today is my mother’s birthday. I will not betray her and tell you which birthday she is celebrating today, but I would like to take this moment to publically “rise up, and call her blessed” for she has been an ever present example to me of who I should become. So, to celebrate her birthday, I would like to give her an opportunity to share her nuggets of wisdom that I have heard so often over the course of my life:

“FOR THE SAKE OF MARRIAGES, WE DO HAVE TO STOP”

By Shirley Bubar (Mrs. Paul)

An excerpt from a book that was reviewed by msnbc.msn.com on September 14th has prompted a response from me. The book, “THE SUPERIOR WIFE SYNDROME”, by psychologist Carin Rubenstein, has brought out many thoughts. I would like to share my response; that of a woman who has been married over 46 years – and to the same man! We have a wonderful marriage; one that is far better than anything I could have ever imagined, even though we are at best a couple of very imperfect human beings. Just by merit of the fact that we are two thinking, fairly intelligent human beings living together and loving each other this long allows for some consideration.

Carin Rubenstein seems to feel that superiority or inferiority is synonymous with the privilege of leadership. This is an extremely erroneous assumption. How many times does a worker know more than their superior? What does “superiority” have to do with leadership?! Furthermore, “superiority” in WHAT? Superiority in intelligence? In physical strength? In making money? In competence with figures? With motors? With Children? Really, how absurd! Further, if it is superiority that gives one the right to lead in a business, in a country, in a schoolroom, in a marriage, we are ALL in BIG trouble. You can see for yourself the error of this line of reasoning.

First, we must realize that the world’s system of leadership is warped, at best. The responsibility factor is to the one who is in charge; and I believe that Dr. Rubenstein is primarily saying that the smartest, strongest, most organized, most capable, most flexible, etc. etc. is the one that is basically “in charge.” Therefore, she associates superiority with tasks, and tasks with power — and, basically, this is the main struggle at the base of most human relationships. I would even be so bold to say that ALL conflict in relationships has this as the lowest common denominator: “Who’s got the power?”

I know, I know … You are thinking, “Come on, it’s not THAT simplistic! Surely we are more interesting and more complicated than that!” Well, I’ve been testing this out for several years and have found that the bottom line, more times than not, boils down to this one problem. Now, having said this, there are many ways the “power struggle” can rear its ugly head.

But let’s go back to Dr. Rubenstein’s argument, back to the husband/wife situation of superiority and the ramifications:

• When my husband and I were married over 46 years ago, I stood in the front of a church in beautiful Northfield, MA and vowed, before God and the 300+ family, friends and guests that were there, that I would love, honor and obey my husband. (I know, I know, that was very old-fashioned of me; but we found precedence for these vows in the Bible and were not afraid to believe it to be part of God’s plan!) My dear husband promised to love me, protect me and take care of me, as long as we two shall live. It was pretty cut and dried.

• Did everything go smoothly? NO! Did we ever have any bumps in the road? OF COURSE we did. We are (and were) real people with real personality issues and real feelings. But often times the question under all those issues or feelings was “Who has the power?” We decided God has the power; and in a marriage you cannot have two heads. We read in the Bible that God chose to give the husband the role of “leader” (Genesis 1-2) and the wife was (and still IS) asked to submit to His leadership. (Ephesians 5)

• But, didn’t I find I was more qualified to “lead” in some matters? Oh, you mean like the ability to “multi-task”? Or, are you talking about my attention to detail, or my organizational abilities? Maybe you were thinking of a woman’s ability to handle pain better, or her ability to express compassion and care? Or, were you thinking about how she is a MOM? (Something most dads find it hard to do!!??!)

• God’s plan was, and still is from everything I can see in Scripture, that the family unit be a work in progress: Moms and Dads working together as an amazing team. Most couples go together, like a hand in glove: my husband and I are very diverse individuals and the things I am absolutely terrible at, he is amazing – and vice versa. We have become a UNIT … But he has always been, and will always be, the head of our home.

I would like to share a word of personal account. My husband was involved in a ministry where it was necessary for him to be gone from the home on a consistent basis. He was in this ministry when we met, and I basically knew what I was getting into when we were married. I was in 150% agreement with the work God called him to; and when I married him, God called me to this ministry as well. God gave me a strong temperament; I was very capable of taking care of myself and our children when Paul was away. However, I remembered working hard on learning to take the “Daddy hat” off when he walked in the door after a long ministry trip; and then repositioned it on top of my “Mommy hat” when he was away. He was always grateful that we functioned as a family when he was gone as well as when he was at home. God had equipped me to be able to do the job He gave me to do. Was I doing “everything”? Yes … and I was doing what God had given me to do. Did I feel “superior”? Does “doing it all” make you “superior”?

Paul told someone that when he first met me, he was attracted to my ability to talk intelligently and to have opinions that were trustworthy. In fact, one of his favorite questions is: “If a man marries a woman who is smarter than he is, who’s smarter?!” But my intelligence in no way negates the biblical mandate of his being the leader in our home.

Ladies, my advice to you is this:

1. Do what God gives you to do; use your abilities for Him. Learn what His plan is for you; not the frustrations of someone who doesn’t begin to understand God’s grand design.

2. Don’t be afraid of your abilities (or your inabilities), your intelligence, your capabilities and talents, your personality and desire. Thank the Lord for making you as He did, and live your life in all His fullness enjoying what He gives you to do. However, don’t ever allow your abilities or desires to trump what Scripture has set forth. Side note: God would never lead you to a place that contradicts His Word….never!

3. Ask God to give you younger women to influence on your journey. Encourage them to be all that God wants them to become, knowing His special plan for us as completers, helpers fit for the husbands He gives us, encouragers of other women.

4. To our single readers: Marriage should not be entered into lightly. It has more to do with what God wants then what we want. Also, before you make this important promise make sure you are being lead into a relationship where you will follow Christ’s instructions and are willing to submit yourself to that man’s authority. Therefore, make sure you marry a godly man, one that places God’s Word as an authority over his life.

My heart goes out to Carin Rubenstien. I know she must be confused as to why her marriage didn’t seem to last. After all, she did everything right, right? I pray that the Lord brings someone into her life that will share the Good News with her before she enters into another relationship. She needs to know that God wants us to live happy lives; marriage was His idea, and it can be good – really, really good. But in order to truly be the successful wife, she must surrender her “superiority” over to her husband, and in doing so, she surrenders it over to Christ.

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