Men/Marriage/Respect


#1

I am a 30 year old married woman (8 years of marriage) and now mother to an 11 month old little boy.

I had a post some time ago about submission in marriage which has always been a tricky spot for me. I have no trouble believing/accepting/understanding that by God's design a wife should be submissive to her husband, who should be the leader of the home. 10-4. I do however have trouble actually doing it. I am educated and assertive and generally feel I I know best in the word :D My husband is not demanding at all, which I think is actually part of my problem. He's very easygoing, and so I guess I just don't find myself submitting because it isn't asked of me directly. Don't get me wrong, he's no pushover, but he's just laid back and goes with the flow most of the time. And I tend to steer the flow to what I want it to be ;) And yet this bothers me on a spiritual level, because somehow I find myself craving more leadership from him, and desiring to be more submissive. Thinking back to the earlier days of our relationship, he definitely showed more leadership tendencies, but I probably subtly shot a lot of it down. I have always considered myself as being respectful toward him because I don't try to boss him around directly or any overt disrespect such as that, but through a conversation with a friend and much reflection on my own behavior, I realize there are little ways that I am not showing my respect for him, which I know is crucial to most men's self-esteem. And in a side note, when I do get the glimpses of headship from him I find him extra attractive. I guess I'm just wired that way. :shrug:

I don't feel like I can just say to him, hey honey, I want to submit more, tell me what to do LOL but I know that I can change my own behavior and show him that I respect him and trust him to lead. So my question is, ESPECIALLY FOR THE MEN OUT THERE, what are things your wife (now or future) could do to make you feel more respected? I am open to suggestions from the ladies too of course!


#2

I'm a guy. :)

Pardon me if I'm assuming too much, but I think what might be missing is that the ideal model of Christian marriage is mutual servitude. While St. Paul does call on wives to be submissive to their husbands (the norm for his time), he also calls on husbands to love their wives as Christ loves the Church.

Think about how radical that last statement is. What did Christ do for his church? He didn't just die for it, he lived for it and remains with it in constancy.

Thus, what Christian marriage should be is radical service to each other.

As for what exactly your husband would need - that's certainly something better answered by him and you. Don't feel afraid to ask him yourself. :)

Personally - and this is just me and might not apply to your husband - I appreciate the following from my wife:
-Listening to my advise and counsel - even if it's rejected or she modifies it.
-Offering me her advice and counsel in a respectful and loving way.
-Lots of affection, particularly physical affection. Yes, that includes marital relations - but it's much more than that (hugs, holding hands, etc).

-I will say that the bonding of the marital act is actually very good for marriage (God gave it to us for a reason), so it should be done "frequently" - as defined by the couple themselves. "Frequent" might be once a year for some or once a day or more for others. The definition of "frequent" will change over time. The point is NOT to be salacious, or to "speak up for the guy" - but to reinforce the marriage bond. You CAN do it too often.
-Just saying "I love you." at least daily often is very helpful.

Hope this helps.

God Bless,


#3

[quote="ContegoFides, post:2, topic:183941"]
I'm a guy. :)

Pardon me if I'm assuming too much, but I think what might be missing is that the ideal model of Christian marriage is mutual servitude. While St. Paul does call on wives to be submissive to their husbands (the norm for his time), he also calls on husbands to love their wives as Christ loves the Church.

Think about how radical that last statement is. What did Christ do for his church? He didn't just die for it, he lived for it and remains with it in constancy.

Thus, what Christian marriage should be is radical service to each other.

I have to be quite honest and say that my husband's end of the bargain is not lacking. He almost always puts me first and loves me as well as one can ask a human to love another. I'm the one with the problem in this case LOL So while his active love is not lacking, I think over the years (11 years together / 8 married) I wasn't always receptive to being led. So as laid back as he is, we've ventured into the "equals" zone, only I think I might be a bit more equal at times :) So the lacking piece of the puzzle is his leading and my submitting. Thankfully I can't say that he is falling short on the "love your wife" part.

I will say that the bonding of the marital act is actually very good for marriage (God gave it to us for a reason), so it should be done "frequently" - as defined by the couple themselves. "Frequent" might be once a year for some or once a day or more for others. The definition of "frequent" will change over time.

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This has been my first step. Between the demands of my very active little boy, the housework, and my two part time jobs (20 hours total a week) I am often pretty tired and have been using this as an excuse not to have have intercourse as often as he would like. Last night I "attacked" him (in a good way ;) and it is my intent not to pretend to be asleep anymore when he is "fishing" LOL I figured this is one easy way I can submit and one that will likely mean a lot to him.

Thanks for your input!


#4

I would recommend two books for your husband to read
)" The hidden value of a man" by Gary Smalley and John Trent. 2) "The language of sex" also by Gary Smally and Ted Cunningham.
the first deals with men learning how to lead in their homes and that they are responsible for the relationship not just along for the ride. Some of us have to actually have learn that leading our families is different then leading when we're at work.The second does discuss sex, which gets our attention, but focuses on the man setting up the correct biblical based interaction in the relationship to foster an atmosphere for intimacy. i hope these help.


#5

Another good book is "no more mr nice guy" by dr glover. And I think most women are wired they way you are finding him more attractive when men are assertive.


#6

Thank you for the book recommendations - I will definitely check them out.

Over the last couple of days, I have really been trying to make a conscious effort to treat DH with more respect. I think that in a lot of ways we’re such “buddies” (we play video games together, watch sports, etc - I’ve always related better to guys then girls as friends and I guess it spills over into the marriage) that I don’t even think about whether I’m being respectful or treating him as the leader of our little family. I noticed that sometimes when we’re just hanging out watching TV at night (and I’m often on the computer while he’s watching TV) after baby goes to bed, he’ll just be talking casually about what we’re watching or whatever and I don’t really pay attention, and I certainly don’t stop what I’m doing to give him my full attention. I realized today that I wouldn’t do that to anyone else. So I will make a point to give my full attention even if he’s talking about the etrade commercial LOL And this evening, I asked him what he wanted to be my priority with regard to housework tomorrow, and he did express his preference, so that’s what I will concentrate on that.

I’m still eager to hear any concrete ideas for showing my respect and encouraging DH to lead. Thanks all!


#7

I can relate a lot to your OP. So I'm sort of half-struggling with the same thing. Try asking his advice and opinion about things. Important things, not just token issues like what do you want for dinner, etc. Really listen to what he has to tell you, and then most importantly, take the advice! :p If you can, do this naturally but consistently until it's a habit. Just the fact of you depending on him for advice or wisdom will make him do everything he can to rise to your expectations. It's sort of like a cycle, the way the love and respect thing works.

I mean, obviously you can't take horrible advice...but even if the advice isn't good, you can keep the conversation going, ask leading questions and maybe between the two of you come up with some good solution to your problem. You're still honoring his counsel that way.

And then the same idea in little things. This is one thing I try to do often. I'll ask my husband which sweater does he think I should wear? How would he like me to wear my hair? Things like that. These things really do help, especially when it's a consistent behavior....it just becomes part of the fabric or pattern of your marriage.

EDIT: I just read your last post before mine. I think those efforts you've been making recently sound great. :thumbsup: I think I need to work on the active listening thing, too.


#8

Mini,

I relate to what you're saying. My husband is laidback, go-with-the-flow, give-the-wife-whatever-she-wants kind of guy. Which usually is great ;), but when it comes to the leadership/submission thing it troubles me a lot of the time, too. Especially since I really want to live out the biblical standards for it, but it's not easy when he's so maleable.

I don't have any advice, but I just wanted to let you know that you're not alone at all. :D


#9

AC & Sarah -

Thank you for letting me know I'm not the only one who struggles with this. I often feel like I am, because I don't get the feeling that most of my married girlfriends have any desire to submit. I think most of them have embraced the more modern "ideal" that women are better equipped to run the show. And I used to think that too, until I opened myself up to what God had to say about the matter ;) So again, thanks ladies for sharing your similar struggles.

Men, still waiting for some suggestions :D


#10

Has anyone thought to tote up the strengths and weaknesses of each party to a marriage. As an analogy, it would be a bit rediculous asking a husband to choose the colour of a wall if he’s colour blind. Or asking a wife to choose what car to buy when she knows nothing about cars. Horses for courses, I say.

Maybe a husband is laid back because the things that make him laid back he’s either comfortable with, or they are not overly important to him. If you want to have him dominate in every aspect of your life, you are firstly, asking too much of him and, secondly, subverting your own God given intelligence which is probably one of the attributes which your husband found attractive in the first place.

Stop worrying about it. Be yourself and let him be himself.
Well, that’s my assertive male opinion for today.:smiley:


#11

John,

Thank you for your input. No I have no desire to have my husband dominate in every aspect of my life. I’m not sure I would be capable of accepting that - I am very opinionated and, if I do say so myself, pretty intelligent :wink:

To respond to your suggestion, I do want to let him be himself. I just think that over the early course of our life together, I quite casually rejected his attempts to lead, which means he doesn’t really try to anymore. He is a great guy, provides for us working his tail off at a job he’s not that crazy about but pays what we need it to (Particularly important as I have gone from full time to part time work since the birth of our son), and just generally a nice person. He definitely has an “alpha male” streak which I saw more of early in the relationship, but as I said, I sort of shot down, and being such a nice guy, he moved on from those attempts… And now I regret my immaturity (I was 19 when we met, he was 27 - I still had a lot of growing up to do). I feel that he deserves more respect than I have been giving him, and I’m just trying to show him outwardly the respect that I feel for him inside.

Thanks again John! :slight_smile:


#12

Mini_me, all you have to do is tell him. Tell him what you are writing here. you’ll blow him away.
Now, I’ll let you in on a male secret. It’s tough being an alpha male. It’s hard work. There is a lot of tension involved and part of it is because of that magic stuff called testosterone which courses through our veins. It can make a man mad, want to run, jump, swing from the rafters and be out the front. It’s hard to put into words, but a lot of it is to do with being in a competitive world and being in a competitive mindset all the time. Its what alpha males, assertive men, do. As you settle into a relationship, marriage, feel secure, and get a little older, that male “edge” wears off a bit. I’m sure that if you and yours ever truly needed that assertive, alpha male, he’d appear faster than Clarke Kent could use a telephone box.
Talk to him about it and find out for yourself where he’s at.
Go on, don’t be shy…:slight_smile:


#13

John,

Thank you once again for your input! I don’t doubt that in an emergency, my husband would be willing and able to take the lead. I guess I just want him to feel like he can take that role in everyday life as well; I want him to know that I trust him to do so and am willing to follow although I may not have always indicated that through my actions in the past. I should say that it’s not that I’ve been bossy or that I’ve outright demeaned him in any way, I just have a history of wanting things my way and making sure I get them :wink: even if he has expressed other ideas. Another underlying issues is that when we met, he was only “culturally Catholic” - grandson of Italian immigrants, so considered himself Catholic, but not even close to practicing. Over the course of our relationship, he has become a practicing Catholic, and certainly holds to the core beliefs, but I definitely led him in that direction since I was an active, practicing Catholic when we met. I don’t think he has ever thought of the spiritual aspect of male leadership in marriage; I think he sees it as just a cultural thing or a biological tendency.

Yes I know I should probably just tell him, but for some reason I am finding that very difficult to do. I am trying to look for the right opportunity to discuss it. Sometimes it’s hard for us to get into serious conversation - we like to have fun together more and only discuss serious issues when we have no other choice :slight_smile: But I’m going to try! And in the meantime, will continue my efforts at showing more respect in our daily lives.

I’m still open to more ideas everyone!!! Thanks all!


#14

*Just something I wanted to throw in, based off of John's response to you mini. (not that John thought this, his reply just prompted me to chime in)

Submission of wife does not = domination of husband. Submission doesn't mean that you fail to be partners. I believe that a woman submitting is more about not competing with her husband, over decisions, nor is it agreeing with everything he says, without any opinions of her own. Rather, it's about giving our husbands respect, and treating them as men, not competing for the title of ''man of the household.'' My husband doesn't blindly make decisions, and then tells me about them after the fact. Husbands are to love their wives as Christ loved the Church. Women are to be submissive. One would assume if both are working hand in hand, the marriage has a good shot of working very well. I think that the best marriages are those in which the husband is always looking out for the best interests of their wives, and wives are looking out for the best interests of their husbands. :)*


#15

Hey, the Biblical standard is certainly not that imposing external signs of discipline, commands and all that, is superior to a family lovingly getting along. In fact, isn't it said in Colossans (3, 21) that fathers shouldn't get on the kids' nerves too much? It all the much more applies to a wife, who is not a child. It's a bit like with the kings of old... it definitely was a reason to be happy for a country not to have a heavy-handed one. On the other hand, sometimes people need assurance that there is a leader out there ('the pilot flies with us'). That's not control but protection. The other thing is that decision-making in a family is a lot of work and a chore when it comes to picking this, picking that, taking responsibility for the choice and so on. It wouldn't be good for any spouse to leave the other alone with that and sure, this burden is more of the man's job (in a very similar way to how moving a wardrobe isn't exactly the job for Mrs 5' ;)).

Another thing is that a healthy man without self-esteem or confidence issues generally will be able to assume the degree or scope of leadership he feels comfortable with. This isn't even just in marriage, it's also in friendships or business situations.

Sometimes we have a bit of a problem with some of our needs or perceptions or some other such thing but we can't properly identify it (e.g. we feel it's a different need not being fully met than the one that really is the case). This leads to the, "this is not good and that is not good," kind of situations. For example, you can't feel the husband's authority... but then, what if he actually made you feel it, would that be okay with you or would you in turn start missing independence? Sometimes it really looks like we can't be satisfied either way in some regards. The reason is probably because the problem lies elsewhere anyway, or perhaps it's the grass is always greener on the other side effect. When things are going well, we shouldn't allow silly thoughts to trouble us. In this situation, I suppose you would like him to show more of a presence and some kind of positive leadership, which may be hard to show when one doesn't have an inclination to allow his leadership or authority to be felt.

As far as respect goes, well, I certainly would have a problem there if I wondered if my hypothetical wife knew deep inside that she were married and not a single person. Married people can't really go on having a single life, so not having to ask opinions, not having to explain anything, always being able to have things one's way, are over. The other thing is that love, respect and so on, need expression, they can't be just assumed (a man never telling his wife he loves her is an iconic cultural example: he thinks she should know it, she thinks he should show it). This is difficult to grasp and it differs from person to person and from couple to couple.

What else? I suppose sometimes respect and consideration are just two faces of the same problem. Different personalities would call them a different name, but that's about it. If the same party always have to concede, give way, only one party includes the other and so on (basically all forms of lack of reciprocation, but there's more to it than just reciprocating), some people would call that being inconsiderate, others direspectful. I'd say being inconsiderate is disrespectful and being disrespectful is inconsiderate anyway. ;)

What you say in terms of active listening is a very good clue. It generally gives the interlocutor assurance of respect. Children are sensitive to it. Women are. Men less so, but I definitely wouldn't say they don't notice the difference (when still bachelors, as long as we are any smart, we get the difference between when a miss listens to us and when she doesn't--guess which one is the keeper). I would say general signs of affirmation when we agree with what someone says or does go a long way. If you react affirmatively when he takes charge, he will probably get the idea that he should do it more often (cats learn this trick all right, so men should be able finally to catch it too some time!). If you want him to take a decision in some matter, you just refer it to him. there's plenty of ways... from "what would you do?" to "what do we do?" or, "go ask dad."

If you don't get plenty of opportunity in terms of deferring to his decisions, then you could take it as a boon (he doesn't have a heavy hand... how bad would it be if he did)--especially considering that you're educated--and as an intellectual exercise in how to show him your appreciation for being the man in the house (including how he doesn't need to show a heavy hand to feel like a man!) and in your life. (It would probably be a good idea to connect referring the problem "above" with some prayer while exercising one's own mind and gifts.)

Well, and if you have a more momentary and more psychological need to feel his leadership, then I guess dance doesn't go a wrong way. It doesn't impose drama, it's open to humour, it can be flirty and it expects the man to lead. Plus, it's relaxing and I suppose it has the potential to convey some meanings without dramatic conversations. I suppose there's plenty of other games or activities that take two people and one of them definitely has to lead. You can put him in that position.

Oh, and don't stress over failing to *manifest *the submission, like somehow you wouldn't be a good wife without getting opportunity to give in to a heavy-handed husband regime. That wouldn't be true. ;)

On a side note, I believe you're showing him a great deal of respect by just thinking about this (how many people don't even get the idea) or asking.


#16

Chevalier - thank you for your post. I do a lot of lurking here on CAF and I always find your posts thoughtful and interesting...

[quote="chevalier, post:15, topic:183941"]
Another thing is that a healthy man without self-esteem or confidence issues generally will be able to assume the degree or scope of leadership he feels comfortable with. This isn't even just in marriage, it's also in friendships or business situations.

My DH is generally a very confident man, although he is the type that goes out of his way to help everyone and has trouble saying no. But everyone respects his opinions, particularly in his family, his mom (who is single and has been divorced from his dad for 30 years) always solicits his advice, and his sister and grown nieces and nephews always want to know what he thinks about things. And at work, he is accomplished and well-respected. I realize that I should have even more regard for his opinions than these others, as his wife.

For example, you can't feel the husband's authority... but then, what if he actually made you feel it, would that be okay with you or would you in turn start missing independence? Sometimes it really looks like we can't be satisfied either way in some regards. The reason is probably because the problem lies elsewhere anyway, or perhaps it's the grass is always greener on the other side effect. When things are going well, we shouldn't allow silly thoughts to trouble us. In this situation, I suppose you would like him to show more of a presence and some kind of positive leadership, which may be hard to show when one doesn't have an inclination to allow his leadership or authority to be felt.

To be honest, if he did make his authority more obvious, I really don't think I would resent it. I have wanted to experience it more for some time, but it is just very recently that I have decided to act more respectful/submissive rather than waiting for him to ask me to... I can't change his actions, but I can change my own and do what I know is right whether or not he asks it of me directly. I guess now having a child has made it more important for me - I want our family to be a contrast to so much of what is portrayed in modern society - that men are incapable of leadership, that women have to lead because men are so immature, etc. I hate that men are shown that way so much in our popular media. I don't want my children to grow up with this perceptiion.

If you react affirmatively when he takes charge, he will probably get the idea that he should do it more often (cats learn this trick all right, so men should be able finally to catch it too some time!). If you want him to take a decision in some matter, you just refer it to him. there's plenty of ways... from "what would you do?" to "what do we do?" or, "go ask dad."

Yes I intend to act affirmatively when he takes charge going forward. In the past, I have had a tendency to immediately, without even thinking, resist, and then regret the fact that I did so. How stupid is that. LOL I get what I want and then I fight it.

If you don't get plenty of opportunity in terms of deferring to his decisions, then you could take it as a boon (he doesn't have a heavy hand... how bad would it be if he did)--

I do appreciate that he's not heavy handed. His grandfather was the stereotypical iron-fisted Italian husband/father and that certainly isn't what I want. Nor do I think he is really capable of being that type, thankfully.

On a side note, I believe you're showing him a great deal of respect by just thinking about this (how many people don't even get the idea) or asking.

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I'm trying! :)


#17

Hi Whatevergirl,

I definitely agree that submission of wife is not license for domination of husband. I really have no worries about that happening, he’s not that type of guy. I am just trying to figure out ways I can make him feel more respected as I realize I have failed in that area in the past in many ways.

Thanks for your input as well!


#18

Yes I intend to act affirmatively when he takes charge going forward. In the past, I have had a tendency to immediately, without even thinking, resist, and then regret the fact that I did so. How stupid is that. LOL I get what I want and then I fight it.

That's part of what I was talking about. The grass is always greener thing will always pop up. ;) A second thing that shows, maybe I'm reading you wrong and repeating myself, you don't need him issuing commands for you to obey for your marriage to be good. Marriage is a union thing, not a distance thing. ;) Besides, ironically, in an extreme example, if he told you he wanted you to make certain decisions, then you would be err... disobeying (I really don't want to use this word) by err... disobeying. You surely see my point. But I suppose you're simply focusing on how to help him unlearn the impression that taking charge is bad, anyway, so let's not make too much of it. ;)


#19

Just tell him how much you respect, love and cherish him.


#20

[quote="chevalier, post:18, topic:183941"]
That's part of what I was talking about. The grass is always greener thing will always pop up. ;) A second thing that shows, maybe I'm reading you wrong and repeating myself, you don't need him issuing commands for you to obey for your marriage to be good. Marriage is a union thing, not a distance thing. ;) Besides, ironically, in an extreme example, if he told you he wanted you to make certain decisions, then you would be err... disobeying (I really don't want to use this word) by err... disobeying. You surely see my point.

LOL no offense taken to the term disobeying. And of course I don't think I need to be commanded to have a good marriage. We have a good marriage, for sure now. I just know I have improvement to make; all marriages could be better, right? In the past (especially early on in the relationship), I had a tendency to, in a knee-jerk reaction, immediately buck someone when I thought they were trying to tell me what to do (not just my husband). Because I think what I want is always best :wink: And by the time I realized that I should have, in the case of my husband err... obeyed ;), I had already said the wrong thing and rejected his leadership. I am going to be sure to really listen to his advice and input going forward without just letting my mouth go before my brain.

But I suppose you're simply focusing on how to help him unlearn the impression that taking charge is bad, anyway, so let's not make too much of it. ;)

This is exactly what I'm trying to do. I want him to see that I am open to him taking charge. That's all. I'm not wishing him to turn into someone who orders me around. That wouldn't work for me, either!!! ;)

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