Friday, April 7, 2023

Loving your husband:  Adapt to him

Tom Lovell, Back Comes the Bride, 1944

Similarly the old women should be reverent in their behaviour, should not make unfounded complaints and should not be over-fond of wine. They should be examples of the good life, so that the younger women may learn to love their husbands and their children, to be sensible and chaste, home-lovers, kind-hearted and willing to adapt themselves to their husbands—a good advertisement for the Christian faith. - Titus 2:3-5 (JB Phillips Paraphrase)

Most problems in marriage come from conflicting desires, egos, and views.  

Each spouse wants his or her own way. Sometimes compromises and situations can be worked out to suit both husband and wife but sometimes they cannot.  Some things married couples often fight about and even split over:

How to spend the weekends, vacations, retirement, whether you will spend your free time in travel or as a homebody, how to spend money, should we spend or save? If we spend, what should we spend it on? Sex and emotional intimacy can be a source of conflict for many couples as can how to raise the children. How to divide up the household responsibilities? What to do when one spouse feels a lack of affection or attention. Or when one of you feels the need for space. 

What is the solution when solutions seem to evade us?  Adapt.


Signing the register, Edmund Blair Leighton

Define “adapting”.

Adapt:  to make suitable, to fit into, to change behavior or ideas in order to adjust to a new situation


Synonyms: adjust, accommodate, conform to, reconcile (bring one thing into correspondence with another)


Examples

*Missionary families are trained to adapt to their new surroundings in every way possible 

*The hybrid vehicle was built to adapt to ever-changing conditions. 

*As her children left home one by one, the woman adapted one of the bedrooms to accommodate her growing interest in painting.

When a wife adapts to her husband, it means not only accepting his ways but changing her actions to synchronize with his.  Adapting may also involve revising her expectations and plans as needed, and scheduling her life to accommodate his priorities and needs. 

Why adapt?


Adapting is one aspect of the biblical concept of submission:

For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church:  and He is the Savior of the body.  Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in everything. - Ephesians 5:23-24 

*Hupotasso, to subordinate, obey, to be subject to, to be dependent or conditional upon

In a peaceful, Christian marriage, the wife yields and adapts to the husband and the couple does things the husband’s way, as the church does things Jesus’ way, (Ephesians 5:24). It is through submission that the couple stays together, supporting one another, even through times of difficulty and disagreement.  

Two are better than one; because they have a good reward for their labour. For if they fall, the one will lift up his fellow: but woe to him that is alone when he falleth; for he hath not another to help him up. - Ecclesiastes 4:9-12

The Harvard Longitudinal Happiness Study

An 80-year longitudinal study done by Harvard University found that the single most important factor to lifelong health and happiness was being connected to others…spouses, family, friends:

Close relationships, more than money or fame, are what keep people happy throughout their lives, the study revealed. Those ties protect people from life’s discontents, help to delay mental and physical decline, and are better predictors of long and happy lives than social class, IQ, or even genes. That finding proved true across the board among both the Harvard men and the inner-city participants.

Embracing and learning how to give to one another in the closest relationship of all, marriage, can be one of the most profound gifts of love.  Staying with a husband, loving and supporting him, for better or for worse, enables him to live a long and happy life.

Life in a Tandem Canoe

My husband and I have spent quite a bit of time in a canoe together, and I can see there are some marriage lessons to be taken from that. 

Canoe Couple Sepia, Mary Sinner

In a tandem canoe, there is a stern paddler (sitting in the back of the boat) and a bow paddler (sitting in the front). The stern paddler at the back of the boat is tasked with keeping the canoe traveling in the desired direction. The bow paddler follows the stern paddler’s lead and provides extra power.  The stern paddler is the captain and he must steer the canoe to keep the pair from avoiding dangerous snags, running aground, or going in circles. Now, two people trying to steer a tandem canoe is a recipe for absolute misery.  It just doesn’t work. 

You can only be successful as tandem canoeists if you and your partner are willing to work together.   If you can do this, then paddling a tandem can be magnificently fun and you can look forward to many happy years of tandem canoeing.

In a marriage, in a family, in a household, as in a tandem canoe, the wife has to work with and adapt to her husband (the captain of the ship) and in the same direction if she hopes for them as a couple to get anywhere and avoid catastrophe. And she has to stay in the boat. 

Build together your household, your little kingdom.

A wife works together with her husband as they are both building the marriage and household. 

Every organization must have a leader and a captain.  Man is the divinely-designated head of the family and man of the house.  An excellent wife treats him like a king, caters to his needs and tries to always put him first.

She must think of her home as a little kingdom, her husband as the king and she is his queen.  

As she submits to him and adapts to him she becomes the crown on his head and a highly-valued jewel to him. 

An excellent wife is the crown of her husband, but she who shames him is as rottenness in his bones. - Proverbs 12:4 

And in Proverbs 31, we see the excellent woman who is always doing her husband good, always loving and supporting him.  She is the quintessence of devotion.  She is described as being “far above rubies.”:

Who can find a virtuous woman, for her price is far above rubies. The heart of her husband doth safely trust in her so that he shall have no need of spoil.  She will do him good and not evil all the days of her life. 

It is when a woman devotes her life to her husband and his interests, deeply respecting him, and is willing to serve him, that she becomes really beautiful to him.  She becomes his priceless jewel and he trusts her, honors her, and, when possible,  gives her heart’s desires. (Esther, Psalm 45)

This excellent wife, as her husband’s queen and consort, may express her feelings and preferences to her husband in a regal way.  Then she lets him make the decision.  What if he makes the wrong decision?  A good queen follows and stands beside her king no matter what. 

How to adapt on the day-to-day?

If your husband calls and says he needs you to help him this afternoon and you already have plans, what do you do?

When you adapt and change your plans to conform to his, you are saying, I love you. You are the world to me, and so I will change what I had planned to do so that I can help you. 

A few ways to adapt:

  • Do things his way. Follow his lead. Don’t go against him. Just as it is attractive to a woman to see a man take charge, it is pleasing to a man to see a woman who trusts him and willingly lets him lead her.

  • Be flexible and available to him. Arrange your priorities and schedule so that you can do this. My husband loves for us to go out and do things together…events, church gatherings, outdoor activities, so I need to be willing to drop my own agenda and go with him.  

  • Be open to his ideas and plans!  How often do I put a damper on an idea he has or something he wants to do with a negative response…”sorry can’t do that because I have to do this or that.” Most of the time he just wants to talk to me about doing something more than actually doing it. I smile and go along with him, thinking and talking about all the grand things we will do together.

Please, study your own husband.

All husbands are different. Some things my husband would find disrespectful, other men might find helpful.  This is why it is so important for wives to get to know their own husbands well; this is how a wife adapts. She learns what’s important to her own husband and makes it her priority, too.  Consider the following examples:

  • Is your husband punctual? Work hard to be on time.

  • Does he have to be up early and thus wants to be in bed by a certain time? Strive to be in bed with him by that time.

  • Does it bother him when certain things are messy? Try to make sure these areas are tidy.

Ladies, work hard to make your husband’s priorities your own. And when you adapt to him, do not make him feel stupid for the way he desires for things to be done.

Tom Lovell, Couple on Rock

Conclusion

Adapting can be a change of mind and a change of doing things for a woman, especially in the individualistic and feminist culture we live in.  However, we can encourage ourselves knowing it’s not as difficult a thing as we might initially think and actually works with our feminine nature and God’s design.  And most of all, we can be confident we are serving God as a Christian woman, loving our husbands well and living according to the biblical pattern. 

I love y’all! 

-Amy Laurie

The End of the Ball, Rogelio de Egusquiza

Reading/Journaling

Read through the account of Abraham and Sarah (Genesis 12-23) taking it one or two chapters a day.  Copy into your journal examples of how Sarah followed and adapted to Abraham’s leadership.  

Also pay attention to Abraham’s relationship with God and submissive attitude toward him. How does all of this inspire you?

What was the “big picture” for Abraham and Sarah? What did GOD accomplish through them?

Habits/Systems

“Yes, let’s!”

When your husband has an idea or a suggestion, instead of negging him, respond with “Yes, let’s!”. 

Talk less; listen more.

Study your husband.  What is important to your him?  What does he value?  What does he talk about?  What does he spend his time doing? What does he ask you to do and not do?

You might even ask him, “What are some changes you would like to see in our marriage?  In our household?”

Now consider how you can accommodate him and adapt to him more in these areas. 

What are some of those areas?


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