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THE BLESSING OF THE RECIPROCAL MARRIAGE
“If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, all rejoice together.”
(1 Corinthians 12:26)
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Jack and Shelly married 13 years ago. Most of those years were difficult. Shelley struggles with insecurity, which has played out in their marriage by her keeping tabs on Jack. He calls her a nag.
Her deeper insecurity is born out of something that Jack did not cause, which is why he sees her questions and accusations as a burden. Rather than discerning Shelley as an opportunity to shepherd, he responds by drifting farther from her, which puts their marriage in an unresolvable, circular trap.
Eventually, Jack committed adultery, and Shelley’s fears came to pass. The thing she dreaded—losing Jack—happened. It was a “self-fulfilling prophecy.” How did they arrive at this place in their marriage? How could they have built their marriage on a better foundation?
To answer these questions, you have to go back to God’s original design for the male and the female and how the effects of sin altered His intent. The Lord made Adam for Himself (Genesis 2:7). He created Adam in His image (leader) and gave him things to do (work). It was a perfect world from Adam’s perspective. He basked in the glory of the Lord and spent his time doing things for the Lord.
God intrinsically tied Adam’s identity to leading and doing; Adam led his world and did things in his world. Whenever you degrade a man’s leadership and ability to perform, you destroy the man. For men who have yet to relinquish their God-given identities, it is emasculating not to be able to work and provide.
Adam was a leading man who worked for the Lord while living in His satisfying pleasure. Then God surveyed the scene of Adam’s life and decided he needed to do more than lead by working in the garden. Adam needed someone to complement him; the Lord made Eve (Genesis 2:18).
Eve was not like Adam. She came from his side, not from the dirt (Genesis 2:7). She looked different and was expected to serve a different role. The Lord did not make Eve for Himself, but for Adam (Genesis 2:22-25).
When a man receives a gift from the Lord, he is expected to care for it (Ephesians 5:29). It was no longer proper for Adam to think that working away from home is all that mattered. Eve was part of his increasing responsibilities. Adam had to lead and provide for Eve too (1 Peter 3:7).
There is a vulnerability to a woman that is strikingly different from a man. God made her this way because of what she is called to do: follow, submit, and serve her husband, which begs a paramount question: if you had to follow, submit, and serve someone, what are the two necessary assurances you need from that person?
Put yourself in Eve’s shoes. If you had to hook your wagon to a man, what would you be thinking? “If I have to submit to your leadership and provision, you better love and protect me.”
Spouses do live on a continuum where the husband leads and the wife follows. Their lives are also circular where each person is dependent upon the other. The reciprocality and mutual dependence of the two are what gives strength to the one flesh.
Husband, what is one way you need to change your leadership of and provision for your spouse that will make her feel your love and protective care?
Wife, what is one way you can use your words to motivate your husband to be a more effective leader and provider, especially if he is not doing it well at this time?