In order for us to follow anyone, we must trust them enough to surrender our will to theirs. In the case of Christian wives, if we’re to follow our husband, even when we feel they’re making a mistake, we need to trust God enough to believe His promise to bring good out of all things for those who love Him (See Romans 8:28). When I believe and trust that God is ultimately in control, its easier to surrender what I want. Most of what I share are lessons learned from my mistakes. If I want my husband to learn and grow, then I need to give him the freedom to make mistakes, also. This is fairly easy if his decision only affects him. But when his decision also affects me or our children, it takes a lot of prayer for me to get through the surrender process and arrive at the point of saying I’ll follow and support him in his decision.
I now see how crucial the surrender process is to a healthy marriage. In the past, when Tom would present an idea I didn’t like, I’d often feel a sense of panic (which would result in an anxious sounding voice) and I’d proceed to list my objections. Is it any wonder he would shut down at that point? I wasn’t showing respect for his opinions and feelings. I was totally focused on mine.
What I try to do now is this: when Tom presents an idea I don’t like, I silently pray for God to calm my anxieties and then listen quietly to what Tom has to say. If it’s something I need time to process, I’ll say something like, “I’d like time to pray about that. May we continue the discussion at another time?” Then I go to God and start the surrender process. When I’m calm, I’ll come back to Tom and we’ll discuss my perspective and look for workable compromises. Most of the time, we end up finding a compromise that we’re both at peace about. But when we don’t, then I need to trust God and support my husband in his decision (which means following him uncomplainingly). (NOTE: I am not talking about following your husband into sin. In that case, you must follow your conscience.)
When we listen calmly and respectfully, our husband may end up changing his mind and we discover that our panic was unnecessary. But if we truly want God’s plan for our lives, we need to humbly consider the opinions of others, especially our husband’s.
I will share an example from the year 2016. I’m very content living where we are and would be happy to spend the rest of my life in our present house (at least, that’s how I feel now). In 2016, one of our daughters asked Tom if he would ever consider moving to their town. He said yes. It was easy for me to keep quiet because they weren’t addressing me. So, I started praying that God would help me to surrender all that I love about where we are now. Tom and I never discussed it, I just kept praying. Many months later, on the final day of a women’s retreat, I finally said yes to God: I would be willing to move if that was His will. So, I told Tom that when I got home. As it turned out, he had no interest in moving.
My surrender process took months. We need to be patient with each other when difficult decisions are being made. (In this case, Tom didn’t even know I was going through the surrender process because he didn’t bring the subject up again and I certainly wasn’t going to bring it up until I was ready to yield.)
Another thing I’m learning is to wait until Tom brings up a topic, if I want to know what he’s truly interested in. There are times when any of us can have an interest that fades with time. Why get into a disagreement over something that may just be a passing fancy? Wait and see if the topic continues to come up. But in the meantime, it’s a good idea to pray through the surrender process just to be prepared.
Surrender brings that “…gentle and quiet spirit…” that is precious to God (and men). (1 Peter 3:4, NIV)) And trusting God brings us that supernatural peace that “…transcends all understanding…” (Philippians 4:7, NIV) as we follow our husbands.