Early in her marriage to Greg, April struggled with trying to control every detail of their lives. April knew that God commands wives to “submit yourselves to your own husbands as you do the Lord.” (Eph. 5:22). But here was April’s version of submission: “When my husband would (rarely) insist on something, I would eventually concede to him, knowing he was supposed to be the leader in our marriage. But my “submission” was only after a lot of me arguing my case, trying to get him to change, explaining how I was right, telling him how my was much better and more biblical than his, and sharing with him how wrong he was. I was not a cheerful follower. I would grumble, argue, stew, and complain.” (page 25)
April realizes now that actually, she was trying to force Greg to submit to her. And she was miserable. She says, “I often felt so lonely in our marriage–stressed, anxious, overwhelmed, and worried… I constantly tried to figure out how to make things happen the way I thought they should. I carried the weight of the marriage on my shoulders and felt spiritually, emotionally, and financially responsible for all of the decisions. I never had peace.” (page 25)
All of that has changed, though, for April. She now calls herself “The Peaceful Wife”! And what is her secret? Submission. April says, “I laugh when people tell me I must feel ‘oppressed’. This is not oppression! It is the intimacy I always wanted but didn’t know how to have. It took more than three and a half years to get to this place in our relationship. I don’t miss our old ways at all.” (page 150)
April’s book interweaves her journey to peace with teaching from God’s word, along with practical experience from her own marriage, and the marriages of others.
The dead Mini-van Battery
There’s a story toward the end of the book, which I think encapsulates what April teaches about being a peaceful wife. Just before leaving for the beach, their minivan battery went dead. After Greg got it going again, April mentioned that they had time to run to the auto parts store, but Greg said no; it probably had just been drained because the doors were open while they were packing.
Years ago, April would have insisted that they check the battery. She would have worried and fretted and pestered her husband until he caved in. But instead, she respected her husband’s decision. She cheerfully gathered the kids and they headed toward the beach. She wasn’t just pretending. The peace in her heart has been cultivated from years of trusting God, rather than trying to control her husband.
Later that day, the van died again–this time, in a spot that made it difficult for jumper cables to reach. The old April would have berated Greg at this point and given him an I-told-you-so lecture. She would have been negative and worried. But the new April smiled and trusted Greg to figure out a solution. She gave the kids some Oreos, and enjoyed her book while they played nearby. She was completely at peace.
Within minutes, a man came over and asked if they needed help. His wife had ridiculed him for packing extra long jumper cables, saying he would never need them, but they were just the thing that would help! April believes that God nudged that man to pack the extra long jumper cables. She’s glad that a disparaging wife didn’t win the argument! Greg thanked the man, and went immediately to get their van fixed. All was well. (page 211)
As I read this story, I wondered which wife would best represent me in the story. The wife, cheerfully reading her book; not worried or upset; calmly letting her husband take care of their needs? Or the wife belittling her husband and picking at him over doing something a bit differently than she would?
This story was convicting to me. As was the whole book!
Thanks, April, for encouraging wives to find the peace that comes from doing marriage God’s way–by respecting our husbands rather than trying to control them.