This weekend, North Side had a great Marriage Getaway at Ridgecrest Conference Center. It was a fun time and a powerful time. My own marriage was strengthened and it was great to connect with other couples as well.
Since I was out-of-town on the day our staff elders divvied up teaching topics, I knew that I was going to get an interesting one. It turns out that they thought it best for me to teach on the role of wives.
Well, God bless their lil’ ol’ hearts.
All joking aside, it was a great experiment to try to get into the head and the heart of a woman and see how the Bible directs women to live. Here are my notes from the session.
What the World Expects from You
The world expects women to be flawless sexual objects. No matter your stage in life, our culture puts an unrealistic amount of pressure on women to wear the right type of clothing, work out at such a level to achieve a desired size, and always have your makeup and hair just right. The media’s arsenal attacks women to make them feel inadequate unless they can compete with the photoshopped images with which they are bombarded.
God expects you to focus on your internal beauty. In contrast, God desires you to focus on the internal beauty rather than the external beauty. You can hide a lot of evil under a lot of makeup. No matter how beautiful one’s external is, it will fade, wrinkle, and sag. But what women develop on the inside can not be taken away.
Women, God wants you to work on a beauty that will not fade, wrinkle, or sag.
- Do not let your adorning be external—the braiding of hair and the putting on of gold jewelry, or the clothing you wear— but let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God’s sight is very precious. -1 Peter 3:3-4
- Charm is deceitful and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the Lord, she shall be praised. -Prov. 31:30
That does not mean to let yourself go. The fact that God is more concerned with the internal does not mean it honors God to let yourself go. What we eat and drink, how we use our bodies, it is an expression of worship. We don’t have a free pass to give up on part of who we are.
- Whether then, you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God. -1 Cor. 10:31
That does not mean to neglect the physical relationship with your spouse. Due to culture’s distortion of sex, many women tend to have negative feelings toward the sexual relationship with their husbands. Just because the Devil distorts something good that God created means that we should give up on it. We need to protect marital sex, celebrate marital sex, and practice marital sex. It is not all that you are as a couple, but it is a very significant part of it. Sex in a marriage has many great purposes: praise, pleasure, procreation, and protection against sinful desires. Since we have sexual desires (which are given from God (James 1:17), meet them in your relationship with your spouse.
Just because the Devil distorts something good that God creates means we should give up on it.
- The husband should give to his wife her conjugal rights, and likewise the wife to her husband. For the wife does not have authority over her own body, but the husband does. Likewise the husband does not have authority over his own body, but the wife does. Do not deprive one another, except perhaps by agreement for a limited time, that you may devote yourselves to prayer; but then come together again, so that Satan may not tempt you because of your lack of self-control. -1 Cor. 7:3-5
- You are altogether beautiful, my love; there is no flaw in you. -Song of Solomon 4:7
- Drink water from your own cistern, flowing water from your own well. Should your springs be scattered abroad, streams of water in the streets? Let them be for yourself alone, and not for strangers with you. Let your fountain be blessed, and rejoice in the wife of your youth, a lovely deer, a graceful doe. Let her breasts fill you at all times with delight; be intoxicated always in her love. Why should you be intoxicated, my son, with a forbidden woman and embrace the bosom of an adulteress? -Prov. 5:15-20
What Other Women Expect from You
Women expect other women to be perfect. I have mentioned before that mothers need to let other mothers mother, but it is a big issue. I talk with women who feel this pressure to measure up to other women. It can be in many areas: Well-kept home, excellent cook, great physical condition, always dressed trendy; as a mother, prenatal vitamins, natural child-birth, breast feed, sleep, diapers, daycare, education, vaccines, organic food, play in this weather, etc. I meet many women who feel like they have to defend every decision they make because of other women who roll their eyes in disapproval of another’s decision.
God expects you to strive for perfection – with his power. God does want you to be perfect eventually, but it is a long process (Phil. 1:6).
- Therefore you are to be perfect as your heavenly father is perfect. Matt. 5:48
That does not mean you depend on your own strength. Your limitations are a gift from God because they cause you to rely on him more. Your job is to grow in Christ and to help those in your home grow in Christ, and you cannot do it on your own strength.
Your limitations are a gift from God because they cause you to rely on him more.
- We proclaim Him, admonishing every man and teaching every man with all wisdom, so that we may present every man complete in Christ. For this purpose also I labor, striving according to His power, which mightily works within me. -Col. 1:28-29
- So then, my beloved, just as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure. -Phil. 2:12-13
That does not mean you work on areas with which he is not concerned. Many women are unfortunately losing sleep over issues that simply do not matter. It is scary to think of how many issues that keep women anxious won’t even be an issue in a year from now. Think of what that means for eternity! Work on yourself with the power that God provides, but don’t work on things with which he is not concerned. If you want to receive the praise from anyone, why don’t you try to live in such a way to be praised by your God, your husband, and your children?
Many women are unfortunately losing sleep over issues that simply do not matter.
- But the Lord answered and said to her, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and bothered about so many things; but only one thing is necessary, for Mary has chosen the good part, which shall not be taken away from her.” -Luke 10:41-42
- The wise woman builds her house, but the foolish tears it down with her own hands. – Prov. 14:1
- Her children rise up and bless her; Her husband also, and he praises her, saying: “Many daughters have done nobly, But you excel them all.” Charm is deceitful and beauty is vain, But a woman who fears the Lord, she shall be praised. -Prov. 31:28-30
What Women Expect from Their Husbands
Wives expect their husbands to understand them. Instead of the ways the expectations that women have on them, this is one that women have for their husbands. Deep down, every woman desires her husband to understand her.
God expects your husband to understand you. Here is the best news of this study – God wants the same thing! He has commanded your husband to live with you in an understanding way!
- You husbands in the same way, live with your wives in an understanding way, as with someone weaker, since she is a woman; and show her honor as a fellow heir of the grace of life, so that your prayers will not be hindered. -1 Peter 3:7
That does not mean that you can neglect to submit to him. Nagging your husband will not make him into who you want him to be. You might get a desired result temporarily, but you will not experience a husband who has truly changed. As he tries to lead, don’t shoot him down for every mistake he makes. The biggest mistake I see wives make is when they demean their husbands in front of other people. As they shoot down their appearance, their competence, or their intellect, I can watch a man wither on the inside. If you want a godly, bold husband to lead your home, do not demean him in front of your friends, your family, or your children.
Nagging your husband will not make him into who you want him to be.
If you want a godly husband, do not demean him in front of your friends or your family.
- An excellent wife is the crown of her husband, But she who shames him is like rottenness in his bones. -Prov. 12:4
That does not mean that he can read your mind. You are not perfect. Your husband is not perfect. He can not read your mind. You have to communicate. He does not naturally understand you because you are wired very differently than each other. If you need him to start or to stop doing something, you must communicate that.
- To sum up, all of you be harmonious, sympathetic, brotherly, kindhearted, and humble in spirit; not returning evil for evil or insult for insult, but giving a blessing instead; for you were called for the very purpose that you might inherit a blessing. For, “The one who desires life, to love and see good days, Must keep his tongue from evil and his lips from speaking deceit. “He must turn away from evil and do good; He must seek peace and pursue it. “For the eyes of the Lord are toward the righteous, And His ears attend to their prayer, But the face of the Lord is against those who do evil.” -1 Peter 3:8-12
As an application, I asked the women to write down 1 reasonable expectation that they can work on in their relationship with God, spouse, and children. Start there. Don’t get a crazy, unrealistic list that drives you crazy. Work on your most important relationships. Your God and your family might want a different you in areas that are much simpler than some of the things that keep you up at night.
Husbands, write down things in which your wives excel and share this list with her! She needs to know that she is doing something right, and I know that she is. Commend her face to face and brag on her in the presence of others.
Marriage is the best, and it is worth working on.