Guarding our marriages

If you believe in being under the leadership of your husband, in humbly honoring his requests and accepting his authority, your point of view and the way you conduct yourself in marriage will inevitably come under attack. The source of negativity might be found in unmarried friends (in particular if you are a young woman), divorced people, older people who have never been married due to character issues and refuse to acknowledge they might have made mistakes, married people who are envious of the harmony in your marriage and at the same time contemptuous of the effort you put into it. To put it simply, it’s everywhere. Marriage and family are those precious values we must be so careful to guard.

The poisonous message will imply that you ought to always have your way, and that your husband should always go out of his way to do things for you. And I don’t mean the normal, natural, kind things that husbands do for their wives. I mean all sorts of extravagant ideas. I have had people tell me that my husband must always drive me for errands and medical check-ups, even though he works 12-15 hours a day and I am perfectly capable of going by bus (even though, admittedly, it takes more time). I have heard stay-at-home moms boasting of how they “always hand the kids to the husband the moment he comes home,” because they “can’t stand being with them anymore after a whole day” – even though the husband, of course, spent the day working hard outside the home and needs to relax.

There will be people looking with disdain on small things you do for your husband, such as ironing his shirts and packing his lunch. They will try to make you feel like a drudge because you are trying to humbly serve your husband. They will try to claim he ought to step in and do an equal share of the housework, even though he hardly spends any time at home.

It particularly annoys me when young or older unmarried people try to give me (entirely unsolicited) advice about how I should treat my husband, which always consists of confronting him about every little thing, of “standing my ground,” regardless of the consequences. I do want to think that the people handing out such advice have my best interests at heart, but sometimes it’s just hard to believe.

Unfortunately, women have the tendency to talk about various situations in their marriages either with people who have difficulty evaluating the situation objectively – such as parents and friends, who, out of sympathy with you, might ignite a conflict over something that isn’t even worth speaking of – or even idle people who might try to set you against your husband just because they want to watch some action. Personally, I believe conflict should be resolved either discreetly between spouses, or with the help of a neutral counselor who won’t automatically take sides.

There are people who believe pride has higher value than the most precious human relationship you will have on this earth – your marriage. They might butt in unwanted, saying things such as, “What do you mean, you can’t go and hang out right now because you must wash the dishes? Make your husband do this, he can wash the dishes once in a while!”

Of course, it’s true that a husband can do the dishes once in a while, but that’s entirely beside the point. Family dynamics are different in each case. Perhaps we’re talking about a husband who despises doing the dishes, and the wife was OK with it until she was goaded by someone who “didn’t want to see her taken advantage of.” It’s not a question of justice, of it being “fair” that he should do the dishes sometimes. It just isn’t anybody else’s business. The wife’s job is to set out and protect the family harmony from intruders.

Before you take such advice to heart, look at the well-wishers who spread it. Are they married? Are their marriages harmonious and happy? Does the husband take a proper place of leadership and honor? Are they raising, or have they raised, good children? Do the children respect their father? In many cases, the answer to at least one of these questions will be negative.

Aside from our relationship with God, our marriage is the most important relationship we will have. It comes before our personal ambitions, our pride, our wish to look good in the eyes of other people. Before friends, siblings, parents, even before our children. Zealously guarding your marriage and the privacy of your relationship with your husband might annoy some people at first, but it will bring respect, stability and trust into your home, and, ultimately, it will be for the best of everyone involved.

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