Doug Wilson wrote a good post that I just discovered called Common Sins in Marriage.. I enjoy many of his words, wisdom, and writing, so check him out if you wish.
I should like to elaborate on the gist of what he said in just his opening paragraph, particularly these two sentences. “A woman can and should recognize her individual sins before the Lord; her husband’s overarching responsibility should in no way lessen her sense of personal and individual responsibility. Properly understood, it should have precisely the opposite effect.”
He is speaking of headship here, that “overarching responsibility” that sometimes lands on men. That sometimes crushes them, that sometimes catches them unawares, that sometimes causes them to flee in terror…. Oh dear, I’ve already said too much here.
Anyway, to truly be a man can be very challenging, right? To be a husband and a father, even more so. It’s not an easy dance, but it is an admirable one. I really believe wives are called to pour encouragment, praise, respect all over our husbands. It makes them feel good, it makes life more pleasant, and it cultivates love. A bit of empathy for your spouse can sure keep the oil topped off and the marital engine running smoothly.
Wilson lists some common sins of husbands and some common sins of wives. I’m not going to speak for hubby, but I can assure you I have committed all of those sins at least once…or a half dozen times. Actually I am no slacker, it’s more like 70 times 70. If one is going to try things that don’t work, one should at least be enthusiastic and put some effort into it.
Back to just that opening paragraph however, the part where he says, “Properly understood, it should have precisely the opposite effect.” He is speaking of husbands taking responsibility and authority and he makes no bones about it because he precedes that by saying, “The responsibility for all these sins lies with the husband.” That can be very convicting …..for wives.
An awareness of his heightened sense of responsibility, properly understood, compels wives to empathize, it compels us to support men, it leads us to want to encourage and lift them up. They bear responsibility not only for themselves, but for their wives and families too. As I have blogged endlessly, with authority also comes responsibility.
Here is how that works in the real world. Our children actually take their Dad more seriously than they take me, a huge offense I might add. Just kidding, it is actually not offensive at all, it is just that they tend to emulate their Dad, to follow his behavior more than they do mine. Dad is just so much cooler and he does cooler things. Mom is always just telling them to pick up their clothes and brush their teeth. Boring things.
Dad is a good Dad, a fabulous Dad even, but he is human, so he cannot be perfect. To make matters worse, kids tend to learn more from what isn’t being said, from the things you do wrong that you aren’t even aware of doing. Cursing in traffic for example, and than you turn around and the four year old has now acquired a whole new vocabulary. Oops, epic parenting failure.
That kind of stuff can weigh heavy on your conscience. I actually intercede for hubby sometimes, as in “Lord, please forgive and comfort the man, and shelter him from the consequences of is actions, because he did not intend for the four year old to learn to curse like a sailor. ” I jest there, but I do intercede for hubby because he has interceded for me on a few occasions, teaching me something quite beautiful about faith, responsibility, and the nature of sacrificial love.
So when your words carry more weight with your own children…. your words left unsaid will carry more weight too.
There are going to be numerous epic failures of this sort in marriage, in parenting, in leadership of any kind. There are going to be moments of horror, regret, and of gray hairs when you realize you went down the wrong path and everyone followed you happily…. to the edge of a cliff. And that is just the sense of conviction that comes from the little things, like cursing in traffic.
It is the weight of that responsibility, my hubby’s willingness to be accountable, His sacrificial nature and humble heart that makes submission seem like such a no brainer to me. Men and women are simply different, we have differing perceptions of the world, differing senses of responsibility, differing issues around control. Even if I were able to seize complete control, we are still two halves of a whole and hubby is still going to feel responsible for things, whether he picks them up or not.
If fact, if hubby were not even in the picture, if he were absent, even his absence would be felt. Even in his very absence he would be responsible! That can weigh heavy on dads who are divorced or separated or alienated entirely. They know what has been lost, they know how it impacts their kids.
This is not about blame or shame at all, it is simply about spiritual truth and reality.
So many people reject authority, headship, submission, marriage, scripture, faith itself, because of misunderstanding these issues, so it’s something that always presses upon me. Also, I am constantly bedazzled by the truth of scripture, by the wisdom to be found there, by the way it can light our path and teach us how to have more joy in our lives.
Just as we are all our brother’s keeper to some degree, hubby is my keeper and as such you simply have to cooperate somewhat with the keeping. That is how love works.