So it was almost a year ago but, still, it made me feel spiritual and sage-like. Shana is from MeetChristians, the site where Bill and I met and courted more than six years ago. Bill was more of an interview coach but we agreed on pretty much everything, and still do. Read for yourself and decide if I'm telling the truth!
Shana: My question if you don`t mind sharing is what the decision making process is in your marriage in different areas and how it has evolved if at all. Examples too.
Glory: This isn’t something we sit down and strategize. We’re both strong communicators by personality so we’re nearly always hashing out decisions. We’re also open to a lot of expert opinion and our favorite resource is ChristianityToday.com. Ultimately, our process is 1. Approach the subject, 2. talk it over, 3. pray about it, 4. think it over, then 5. come to an agreement, though 2 to 4 are not always in that order.
For the sake of simplicity, I'm going to go with just three categories of decisions. Obviously there are usually more than that and some decisions straddle two or more categories.
Day-to-day: These include things like meals, leisure, or shopping. We generally talk about what we want, what we’re doing, or just ask, “What do you think?” This area is so fluid, though, that compromises are very common, no ones feelings are hurt if one or the other spouse wasn’t included in the decision, and the results aren’t crucial to family harmony. This is kind of the ad-lib part of our marriage, which makes contentment obtainable.
Family-Specific Issues: These would include finances, discipline, and extra-curricular activities. We do talk about this stuff a bit more seriously since it’s kind of the meat and potatoes of our marriage. This is where Bill’s strong leadership comes into play most often. We had to work a lot of this out in the first year (months even?) of our marriage and Glory had to work very hard at being submitted. It took me awhile to really trust God in doing this but I was glad when we sorted this out early on. We make appropriate adjustments to these things, of course, but the basic ideas are always the same.
Take discipline. I am generally more lenient where Bill is strict. There can be no argument about this, though, or the kids will suffer greatly for our disunity. I had to realize that it was for our children’s best interests to have proper boundaries and structure. Also in finances, I like to spend where he likes to save. Extra-curricular, I like to get out and do a lot of stuff but Bill likes a less busy life-style. It might sound harsh but wives really do have to make the most compromises just because our husbands are to be the leaders in our homes.
Critical Life Events: The deeply impacting nature of these types of decisions MUST have ample time to be prayed over and discussed as much as possible. These are events like church affiliation, family size, and relocation. If there is no agreement about these kinds of decisions there can be no peace or unity in the home.
Shana: How much of this did you have ironed out verses figuring it out as you went along?
Glory: Well, I would say that we could determine just so much prior to marriage. Until we had three children in our home, for example, we thought having four kids was a reasonable number, which it still is. However, I didn’t take into account my post-partum depression, gestational diabetes, or any other risk factors to pregnancy. I was terrified of having a fourth baby but God has used this to heal me in so many ways, and to keep me focused on trusting Him and depending on Him. Bill and I made this a matter for prayer and fasting, last Spring, and we left this in God’s hands.
Another example is discipline of our kids. Elizabeth kept a very messy room and I talked to Bill about this at odd times during our courtship. But when he came to live with my brother and actually saw how it was messy, every day, he took matters into his own hands while I was at school and cleaned her room out…literally. She had her dresser with clothes, her closet with clothes and shoes, and her bed with bedding…that was it. No toys, books, crafts, contraband treats…NOTHING. I was a little shocked but also very relieved that something happened and it set a standard for Elizabeth what her father-to-be would expect of her.
The thing we really learned in advance of our marriage is how we communicated and could reach a decision on things. We agreed on what the truly important issues were and what was more ad-lib stuff of marriage.
Shana: Also, how much harder do you think it was for you to let go of the reigns, especially with being a former single parent up until the wedding day?
Glory: It was pretty excruciating. I was in love with the love of my life and he saw problems in my lifestyle, my financial choices, and my discipline of Elizabeth. It’s tough accepting criticism about things that are ingrained and single parents, for survival’s sake, really have to be rigid and stubborn about a lot of things. It was tough to let Bill crack through my rigidity and take the lead. Over time it wasn’t a matter of “letting”, though, and I learned what godly, biblical, wifely submission is. It’s not even close to what is sometimes portrayed as being a doormat. It is a position of strength and control…self-control. I am the one who maintains and manages the standards that, for the most part, Bill has set and I have agreed with for our family. Trying to usurp him, to me, is more of a weakness that I have no control over myself or our children…and Satan has a heyday in homes where wives don’t submit in a godly biblical manner.
Shana: Was it a gradual thing?
Glory: It was, and it has to be. “Laying down the law” didn’t even come to mind when Bill took the lead. He’s a pretty serious, intense guy, but he’s extremely gentle and loving in his approach. In fact, since I tend to do more of the talking around here, it would be easy to mistake who wears the pants. But anyone who has known us for any length of time beyond a single visit knows that I am happily following my leader. And it helped realizing that Bill would answer to God for all of it. “I wouldn’t be left holding the bag”, so to speak, which was another relief, as a former single parent.
Shana: And were you ever afraid?
Glory: Ya think? Terrified spitless!!! This was real. Bill’s love for God and His Word was real. His love and devotion to me was real. I had only known synthetic gems and fantasy plays but when my diamond came along, I had no idea how to take off the mask and costume and be real with him. He wasn’t so much my knight in shining armor, more like he was my gentle shepherd in rough linen robes. He chose me, stubborn and defiant as I was, and he came ready to lead. I had to get used to him, his voice, and his ways. Doesn’t this sound like Someone else we know? Bill has been my greatest education in becoming a godly woman, following my Shepherd, and always listening for His voice.
Shana: How long have you been married?
Glory: It will be five years on February 4, 2007. I’ve been excited about this milestone, but more excited about the milestones to come.
Shana: How have your emotions, trust, the fear factor etc. changed regarding submission from the courting stage through the first year of marriage until now?
Glory: During our courtship I was oblivious to any emotional responses I might have been experiencing toward submission. It’s all so easy to be flexible and accommodating when the chemistry is surging, the heart is melting, and the brain is taking a hiatus from analyzing anything important. It was after our engagement when Bill was living with my brother and saw me on a daily basis and in my element that I started to get a clue what submitting to Bill was about. I was a single mom, attending University, working at Elizabeth’s daycare, involved in three church ministries, and getting Elizabeth to ballet classes twice a week. Bill saw that and offered his perceptions about my ability to stretch myself as thin as I was, and I didn’t want to admit that I was strung out. I was holding my life with a closed fist and Bill was right there ready to help me let go of whatever I could stand to lose. He even commented, “This isn’t the Bill Show or the Glory Show. It’s the Bill and Glory Show.”
During our first year of marriage I have to admit that my fears were very connected with my distrust. Bill was trustworthy and I needed to realize that but I had spent 8 years in charge of everything. Yet here I was forced to rely wholly on my husband for everything. I wasn’t a legal US resident (at the time) so I couldn’t work and everything belonged to Bill. We lived with his cousin for one month until we moved to this county. But the apartment, the bills, the bank account, the vehicle title and insurance, was all in Bill’s name. It had to be that way and I accepted that. Then Bill lost his job so I needed to rely even more heavily on him to preserve our family. I truly believe God used that first year to purge a lot of selfishness and pride out of me and forge within my character what was necessary for marital unity and harmony. It has become one of the richest things to come out of our first year of marriage, the richest, of course, being Murron, born 18 days after our 1st anniversary!
Now there really isn’t a fear or distrust issue to deal with. I’m so secure with how we’ve developed our relationship. It’s still pretty funny, though, when Bill intrudes into my territory like cooking, furniture arrangement, or housekeeping tasks. I freak out at him, sometimes, but it’s just me being too self-contained in my areas of responsibility. His primary love language is acts of service so I sometimes perceive his assistance as an indication that I didn’t do my job rather than his way of expressing love to me. I’m much better about this than I used to be but it still catches me off guard, sometimes.
Shana: How has Bill's leadership style changed, if at all?
Glory: It hasn’t changed as much as it’s become more rounded and established. I probably had a harder time recognizing Bill’s authority as a leader because he’s not a lording leader, nor is he an authoritarian leader. He doesn’t lead like that in our Bible Studies, either. Those kinds of leaders probably have a lot of followers because they’re very talkative, dynamic, and attractive because they stand out. Bill isn’t like that because he’s more of a communicator, he engages people in discussion, and he doesn’t draw attention to himself. He has a gift of teaching which is a highly influential style of leadership but it’s subtle and easily missed as leadership. I recognize it, though, and love him immensely!