We were created in God’s image, male and female. But what we saw in the garden in Genesis, the woman acted on information from another source! Yes the infamous apple that brought such destruction and broken relationship with God. As men and women face every day the same challenge that came to Eve. Are we going to listen to God’s voice, or something else?
What are the sources other than God that influence us? Culture, teaching, church, role models, fears, guilt, SHAME, unhealed wounds and I am sure the list goes on. The sources that I was listening to in the beginning of my marriage led to some pretty frustrating ends!
When I married Mark, I didn’t know I came in with expectations. I thought what I expected, well, was to be expected. I took what I read in the Bible and heard in church and thought that is the norm. Sounds good doesn’t it? Well, yes and no. But in order for me to describe exactly what my expectations looked like, it is important to understand my worldview, or grid. That is the pair of glasses I was wearing that everything in life gets interpreted through. We don’t know we are seeing things through a unique point of view – it is our “normal.”
What is the grid I view life through?
For those of you who know me, you will not be surprised for me to describe myself as Shelley the action figure. This is NOT to be confused for super action hero, because action prompted from other sources is really just dumb. I see life through doing something or what can be done. That is normal. So when I hear the words “family devotions” and the man is the head of the home. I expect Mark to initiate lots of action. I like study, discussion, going out to care for those in need – action.
What is the grid that Mark views life through?
Mark the reflective. This man finds his connection with God and refreshing in the garden, thinking! He doesn’t talk in the garden, he doesn’t talk about what happens in the garden, he just goes in the garden and thinks!
So picture Shelley Action Figure meeting Mark the reflector, do you see a potential problem?
For example – I would say, “So do you want to pray for the day?” Mark would slowly finish what he was doing and mosey over to where I was (EVENTUALLY) and pray, “God, thank you for a good nights’ sleep.” That was it! I was thinking, “10 children die every minute from preventable causes and all you want to do is that Him for your sleep?” So then I move onto the Bible. I think, okay, let’s talk about what God is saying to us about how to help someone today. Mark is quiet. I ask him about one of Paul’s letters to the churches. He says, “I don’t know…. I would have to THINK about that”….. end of discussion.
I would want to talk about books and God’s help in relationships and Mark would say, isn’t that a beautiful sunset? You see, not only is there the gender differences, but our worldviews and the way we approach life and therefore spirituality was SO different. He has a very deep relationship that I have come to respect and learn from. But for the first few years he just didn’t talk about it much and I have to tell you, I was worried. We are not the only ones that face this. My girl friend shared with me that she was used to having great Bible discussions with other men at college and then when she was on staff at a church. She looked forward to doing this with her husband, but when they read a chapter of the Bible She wrote “We would read a couple of chapters and I would ask him if anything stood out to him and he would say no. HE HAD NOTHING TO SAY ABOUT IT!!! And this was so unusual to me.
I will share in an upcoming blog how Mark and I got together and how this other couple waded their way through this challenge.
Not only spiritual expectations – but I had emotional expectations.
I am an enthusiast as well as an activist, which means I get very high highs and very low lows!!!!!! I thought having a “head of the home” meant perhaps I could lean a bit? I didn’t just have spiritual needs – I had emotional needs too…….
But God is a jealous God, and when we slack in developing our own prayer life, we put the pressure on our husbands for emotional support. We need to give all our expectations to God, for Him to meet first and then to guide us as we connect with our spouse. This quote is from Tim and Kathy Keller’s book “The Meaning of Marriage.”
“While the principle is clear-that the husband is to be the servant-leader and have ultimate responsibility and authority in the family-the Bible gives almost no details about how that is expressed in concrete behavior…The Scripture does not give us a list of things men and women must and must not do. It gives no such specific directions at all. “ Page 185
What were the results?
Well, when I let fears and false expectations guide me it produced some pretty bad results. Mark could sense my disappointment. We have no idea how much our moods influence our home. We say we want a spiritual leader, head of the home, and then we don’t realize the power use to tear down instead of build up. When our guys feel they are disappointing us, they tend to withdraw even more.
Then, no matter how hard we try, when we are disappointed, criticism leaks out! And we can’t take our words back. I just became one more voice droning on! You see whatever our guys do as a career, they are inundated all day long with I just became one more voice droning on!
I would default to criticism when things would go bad such as what I thought was a missed opportunity. “Perhaps if you did this or that it would be received better, or perhaps a little less joking… Criticism is subtle, we might even feel we are trying to protect them.
Criticism has another pathway. Not only did my little “improvement hints” go to Mark, but I felt justified in “venting” to my girl friend. Can I say something brutally honest here? What you are really doing is sharing a deadly poison for their expectations in marriage. It is easy to find women that would commiserate with me that their husbands were not taking spiritual leadership. That route leads to catastrophe on many levels.
So I hope this is providing some motivation to examine what is fueling your thoughts and actions right now. Take a few minutes and ask God, am I getting my direction and power from you to be a strong helper? Show me one change I can make today please.