The day Ken and I got home from our honeymoon, we went grocery shopping together. When we got to the checkout, the bagger asked, “Paper or plastic?” (Back then, they used to ask you this.) We responded simultaneously.

“Paper,” I said.

“Plastic,” Ken said.

The bagger looked uneasy.

I turned to Ken and said, “There’s a reason I like paper.”

He responded, “There’s a reason I like plastic.”

The bagger still looked uneasy, and we felt uneasy. The honeymoon was obviously over.

Ken and I both have strong personalities–a fact that has given me ample opportunity to consider what it means for the husband to be the leader in a godly marriage. Early on, I thought I was letting him lead; I was just giving him reasons that he should lead us in a certain way. I gave the reason we should choose paper bags. Or the reason we should buy the bigger house. Or the reason we should have a baby.

After months and years of hearing my plethora of reasons, here’s what happened. My fabulous, handsome, adorable, sweet husband went passive on me. He started caving in 90% of the time, which was frustrating and annoying to me. He reserved all of his stubbornness and resolve for the remaining 10%–which was even more frustrating and annoying!

We settled into patterns of him shrugging and letting me making lots of little, meaningless (to him)  decisions. And then, when we would come to a big decision (or a small one that seemed like a big one) on which we sharply disagreed, we would have a huge fight.

Eventually, I would tearfully give in and let him lead. And this, I considered, to be submission. When I read in the Bible, “Wives submit to your own husbands,” (Eph. 5:22) I pictured letting my husband win a grueling match of ‘decision tug-of-war’, on one of those ‘10% issues’ that he chose to dig his heels in on.

I honestly can’t remember if we went home with paper or plastic bags that day. It doesn’t matter. But I’m starting to see that what does matter is how we work through the little conflicts of the day. Submission is more than just caving into my husband after a sharp disagreement on a major issue. I think it’s the ‘paper or plastic’ moments of the day that lay down the patterns for who’s going to be the leader.

Ken would be quick to interject, at this point, that husbands shouldn’t be domineering or demanding about every single ‘paper or plastic’ decision. That would not make for a happy marriage!Yet, there are patterns which evolve out of these little day-by-day decisions. Patterns that either support or detract from a husband’s leadership.

Check back in with me over the next several weeks, as I share several ways I’m learning to lay down patterns for supporting my husband’s leadership in the big stuff, and also in the little stuff–like ‘paper or plastic’.

Here’s what’s coming up:

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