|Who is in the driver's seat in your marriage?|
Perhaps it is a question of temperament. Speaking for myself, I am very unselfish about things that don't matter to me. I will happily defer to my husband when it comes to decisions about cars, electronics and other things that I have no interest in as long as they work. I certainly don't consider myself a shrew. But on things that *do* matter to me? Well, there is a reason that my mom owned copies of The Strong Willed Child in both Spanish and English! Giving in simply isn't in my nature. I was sincerely worried when I was younger that I would never find a man that I would genuinely be able to submit to.
The idea of a husband being able to pull a trump card and overrule me simply because he is a man felt wrong, unfair and silly, because it is wrong, unfair and silly.
On the other hand, I would have despised a weak man who gave in resentfully or was intimidated by me. I wanted us a partner whom I could respect, and who would respect me. It sounds pretty basic, but I have seen a lot of marriages where it isn't the case, and many churches that are both terrified and enraged by the very idea.
In a mutually submissive relationship, most day to day decisions are made by whoever has the interest, aptitude and responsibility. So I don't need permission or direction from my husband, just as he doesn't need permission or direction from me, in our own areas of responsibility. Things like my appearance, activities during the day, care of the children when I am with them, spending money and so on are up to me. Because we love each other, we are courteous and discuss big things like major purchases and even little things, just because we are both interested. But neither dictates to the other.
But what about the big issues? What if there is a major life decision that needs to be made and you disagree? Inaction until unity. We both belong to God. We both love Him and each other. He led the people of Israel with a fire and a cloud. He will lead us, too. So we wait, we pray, we listen and consider. If necessary, we talk more. Until there is clear direction from God, we stay where we are and hold off on a decision.
What if inaction *is* a decision? Simplistic advice that evades the tough questions provokes uncontrollable eye rolling for me, even if I am the one giving it. I get that some things are time-sensitive, and that a choice to maintain the status quo *feels* like a decision.
Quite frankly, inaction until unity will only work if both partners are committed to finding a solution. If they are trying to use this as a tactic to control each other, it is not mutual submission. If they are determined to work together and seek God, I believe that they will eventually find a solution that satisfies both of them. Often that will look like a new idea that neither had considered before. Other times it may look like a change of perspective, as one finds new information that leads to agreement with their partner.
It is *not* a case of one winning and the other losing. Nor is it a case of both losing (compromise). If one or both is unsatisfied, it isn't unity. Mutual submission means that both the husband and wife are submitting to each other. They are acting unselfishly and seeking to find the best for each other. Rather than trying to impose their own way, they are both exercising their energy and purpose to find God's way for their family. That may mean at times that they stand in each other's way to prevent going down a wrong path, but ultimately they find unity and act out of love.
Coming soon: Submission and Abuse
Image credit: jbguess
Read the whole series :)