How in the world can I live with this man? He is so overbearing, so contrary, and downright impossible. Those were the thoughts that continually ran through my mind. My husband was never physically abusive, but he was so sarcastic, so negative, and so critical that I was emotionally spent. I had arrived at the place where I was constantly stressed. I cringed when I heard his car drive up in the driveway. I did love him, but I certainly did not like him most of the time. I settled into a place of knowing and expecting his disapproval of most things that I did or said. In every situation that arose, it was “his way or no way.” Although we had been married for several years, I was ready to give up and get out. It was then that The Lord intervened.
The Lord began to show me that too often Christians expect things to be easy. The Lord never says that life will be easy. Many times, in fact, we are placed in difficult situations so that He can, not only grow us, but also shine through us, all for His glory. Such was what I came to understand.
Through the years of our marriage, I had learned to lean on The Lord often. I had learned to forgive often, yet I still struggled. I would often cry out to The Lord to show me how to cope.
One thing that I had learned in my life was to turn to the Bible to find answers. And that is exactly what I did. I began to study marriage, as God addressed it in His Word. Over and over, I kept coming to the same truth – Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands. But over and over, I responded the same way – Lord, You just don’t know how difficult he is. This is just not possible for me.
Time and again, I would read the same truth – Wives, be subject to your own husbands. And time and again I would tell The Lord why this would not work for us. I had convinced myself that I was the exception to the rule. It just wouldn’t work in my marriage because no one knew how he was.
I am sure that I had read these scriptures before, but one day I came to 1 Peter 3 in a whole new way. Likewise, ye wives, be in subjection to your own husbands; that, if any obey not the word, they also may without the word be won by the conversation of the wives. I sat in absolute amazement! The truth was the same, but for the first time, I saw us right in the middle of that verse – that if any obey not the word. Right there! That described my husband perfectly. I always battled back and forth in my mind as to whether my husband was an unsaved man or an unspiritual man, but either way he definitely did not obey the word. That was us, a perfect description of us.
But the astounding truth was that the wife was commanded to submit just as any other wife. The truth captivated me! I went back to that verse day after day, and it seemed that little by little The Lord opened the scripture to me. Just because I had a difficult husband gave me no excuse. I heard over and over – Even if he is difficult, submit anyway!
Then, on one of my return trips to that verse the word likewise caught my attention. Likewise, I thought: Like what? Like the scriptures that preceded this one. So I backed up to the previous verses. Here is what I found:
We are commanded to submit to governmental authorities – even if they are difficult ones. (1 Peter 2:13-17)
We are commanded to submit to our masters (bosses) – even if they are difficult. (1 Peter 2:18-20)
Then, we are given the ultimate example – Jesus Himself, when He was mistreated. And what a perfect and precious example (1 Peter 2:21-23).
He did not sin in return when He was sinned against.
No evil was found in His words.
When He was spoken to in a harsh way, He did not speak harshly in return.
When He suffered, He did not threaten in return.
But this is the thing that He did do: He committed Himself to Him that judgeth righteously.
Words cannot describe what that word LIKEWISE came to mean to me! I was supposed to respond just as my Lord had responded.
Humbled, I fell to my knees crying out for The Lord to help me be submissive to my difficult husband.
But The Lord wasn’t finished teaching me yet. Without a word …. Without a word … Without a word! I was to submit to him. No arguing. No complaining. No whining. Even when, and especially when, he was difficult, I was to submit, with a good attitude, but without a word! It was to be my behavior, just as it was Jesus’ behavior that spoke! How much I had to learn. The Lord wanted to use me as an example to my husband, right in the midst of the difficulty. Oh, how I would need the grace of God to walk here.
But this is exactly where I did walk, by God’s amazing grace. I did not walk here perfectly, but it did become the pattern of my life. Attempting, from the heart, to walk in obedience, with a meek and quiet spirit, I was enabled to arrange my life under my husband, even in the difficult times. I walked right here for many years! And years later, an incredible thing happened. God saved my husband! I praise God for His intervention into our marriage.
There is one further thing that I would like to share. Some while later my husband was asked to give a devotion to some young men. He prepared his devotion privately, and I never knew what he said. But one day, years later as I was cleaning and sorting some files, there I found a notepad with his notes from that devotion. And there it was! I had never shared 1 Peter 3 with him, but there it was! He had begun his devotion with 1 Peter 3, and gave his testimony of how The Lord had worked through my behavior.
I held that notepad tightly to my chest, and cried and cried and cried! In a mighty way, I had learned that God is so real, and He is faithful to His Word!
May I encourage you … No matter how difficult the situation, don’t leave God out of the picture. Don’t refuse or argue with the only thing that can help you. Don’t rationalize truth away. I had made every one of those mistakes!
Go to His Word. Hear Him! Cling tightly to what He says, especially in the difficulties! And trust Him with the results! He is faithful!
I had wondered how in the world I could live with this man. Now, I knew how! It had taken me years to learn, but now I knew! Even today, all I can say is: Thank You, Lord!