The man who refuses to allow his wife any freedom of speech in the spiritual progress of their lives, throttles the voice of the Holy Spirit to himself. The woman who throttles that same Voice, allowing herself to be a ‘doormat’, prevents her husband from being moulded by His word through her.
The man who takes a ‘back seat’ and allows his spiritually active wife to take the lead, presents her to the powers of darkness with inadequate covering, opening her up to spiritual abuse. The spiritually active wife who leads the ministry from the home, without consulting her husband, is in danger of hearing the voices of deceiving spirits rather than the Holy Spirit. She walks out from beneath her God-given covering.
These are self-evident truths that often cause anger, hurt, bitterness, and contention in Christian marriages, simply because of the psychology of male and female minds, and the difference in make-up as part of God’s creation. Ideals are often presented in Scripture, whereby we can know what is best in God’s sight, but when it comes down to everyday practice, we all fall short. In this paper my wife and I would like to report on some of the things that we have learned in 35 years of marriage, with the raising of four children, three of whom are now living their own married lives, and the fourth will be married shortly.
Arthur’s report. The fact that in 1965 I was in my early thirties, and my wife-to-be was some years younger, gave me an immediate ‘advantage’ over her. I say this because I know how much Rosalind respected me in those days, looking up to me for a spiritual lead. This produced the situation mentioned above, but NOT because I wanted to ‘silence’ her in any way. Over the following years, now seen in perspective, I was strong-minded, but often selfish and thoughtless. Rosalind recognised this. I didn’t. But she found that on advising me about certain aspects of my thoughtlessness, I would take offence. I could not hear the voice of God’s Spirit to me, through her. I don’t know why. Perhaps it was because it touched my pride. But then, human nature is often too complex to identify a wrong with one simple label. This is not to say that we had a ‘problem marriage.’ By no means. We have had a good strong relationship throughout. I am merely highlighting matters of day-to-day contact and working together. In more recent years, after both of us had been through a nervous breakdown, and whilst the children were still young and of school age, the Lord broke through this barrier in my life. I came to realise that I had ‘taken offence’ instead of listening to my wife’s gentle words of constructive criticism. Within a short time my mind cleared, and I apologised to her for the inward hurt I had caused her. I think this was the beginning of a more gentle and understanding phase of my life. In the goodness of the Lord, I am sure He has, since then, been making up for the ‘years the locust had eaten.’
Rosalind and I work together in everything we do. We share every aspect of our lives, neither is afraid to point out any word or action that might be hurtful, selfish, or thoughtless. No offence is taken. Problems are cleared up on the spot before they have time to poison the mind. We send little cards of apology to each other. I can only say that married life is now more wonderful than ever, and I thank the Lord for such a wonderfully understanding partner, my ‘real counterpart’. Although it must be quite obvious to our readers that I do most of the writing, I always say that our articles are from ‘Arthur & Rosalind’. The reason is that everything that comes from my pen is read by, and discussed with my wife. Nothing leaves this house, whether it be letter or article, that isn’t wholly in tune with both of us. Many are the times when she spots that a wrong impression might be given, or a thought is not fully developed, or even that something contradicts what we have already learned. Changes are made before anything reaches the ‘out box’. I want to pay tribute to my wife. Her prayer life, and her commitment to me, have been God’s instrument in grinding and polishing my rough stonework. She is God’s gift to me, and she is very precious to me. We have grown together over the years, and are now more in love than at the start. She has been used of the Lord as part of that ‘inner fire’ of refining of which we spoke in a recent number.
Rosalind’s report. I don’t feel worthy of all that Arthur has written and from my point of view I failed my husband over the first years of our married life. My failure was due, I believe, to my lack of personal relationship with the Lord in an on-going, daily way. I was too intent on ‘keeping the peace’ and not being what a wife was intended to be – a helper in EVERY way. The Lord used my severe breakdown to draw me to Himself, and one of the results was that I became aware that as a wife I needed to understand what was for my husband’s best good, not what would just ‘keep the waters smooth.’ It has been hard at times as we both had to adjust to my different approach, but the fruits are now evident in a loving, balanced and harmonious relationship. From an ‘in loveness‘, which has remained all our 35 years, we have grown in friendship and understanding so that all that we say and do is as a result of our oneness. For this I thank the Lord who has engineered our circumstances to bring this about. My life as a married woman has been a very stable one, and although we have been through very traumatic times along the way, I have been privileged to be married to a man who has loved the Lord first and foremost, and it has been this that has given me the security to go through many of the fires the Lord has allowed to come our way. It is my considered opinion that true happiness and contentment can only come to a wife when her ATTITUDE is first and foremost submitted to the Lord, rather than just to her husband. Her submission is therefore not of the ‘door mat’ variety, but is a heart attitude which is free to be wrong, and free to be right, as the Lord directs.
We are also privileged to have raised four children and each of them has a vital relationship with the Lord. This has not been because Arthur and I have always done what is right by them, we have failed many times, but the Lord has been their Creator and He has been faithful. And here I want to thank my husband for the underlying principle by which he has led our family – he has always pointed our eyes outwards towards the Lord and has had little time for introspection and self analysis. His absolute trust in the Lord, for ALL things, has radiated stability and contentment, recognising we are all fallen beings for whom our Lord died, and in Him and Him alone we have life. To discover more and more of the character of God has been the bedrock and drive of our family life. It was when Arthur began reading to us all of an evening from the fiction of C.S Lewis, George MacDonald, and many others, both secular and Christian, that we learned lessons which started to expand our vision. Together with the children we grew in our understanding of life. Based on the stability of the trust Arthur had encouraged in us, we began embracing life in a way which we had never before envisaged. The Lord used this to help Arthur and I in our marriage, but it is only in retrospect that we can see this. The meaningful things from fiction infiltrated our beings and changed us both and we absorbed even deeper aspects of the Lord Himself. So we have grown in our understanding through hardship and fire and I pray that the Lord continues this in our lives until we see Him. I am so grateful for my husband and how he is helping me become myself under the hand of the Lord. Because he listens to me and I know he REALLY listens, I know I need never be afraid.
From Arthur & Rosalind Eedle, Lincolnshire, England.