Is Submission a Four-Letter Word???

I Choose to Submit to You


February is National Marriage Month. So for the next four weeks, I will post excerpts from my book, I Choose You Today: 31 Ways to Make Love Last. We’ll look at submission, commitment, and pursuing your mate. On March 1, I’ll draw a name from all who have commented on any of the posts for a free copy of the book!

“Did you see the reviews on that new movie we’ve been waiting for? The one we’ve been talking about?” my daughter-in-law asked. “I was kind of surprised. I heard . . .”

“Me too!” I cut in. “I was really disappointed, because it sounded so promising, something we’d all really like,” I continued. “The film got really low marks in several areas, like . . .”

Ron gave me a nudge with his knee.

I glanced at him and continued, “The reviews I read said it plodded along and was hard to follow at times. And such a predictable ending . . .”

He nudged me again. I turned to face him, and he gave me the look, along with another nudge.

I rolled my eyes at him. But I stopped talking and turned my attention to Penny. “What did you hear?” I asked. She was eager to tell me.

The next morning, as we lay in bed contemplating the jump from the warmth of the comforter into the start of our day, Ron said to me, “So, did you understand why I nudged your knee last night?”

“Yeah, I got it; I interrupted her and hijacked the conversation. Thanks. You were right. Irritating, but right.”

He laughed; I smiled. That’s how it works most often. After forty years, that’s where we usually land. Usually. Still, it’s not always easy.

I will admit the concept of submitting to each other was a tough pill to swallow when we married at nineteen. Ron and I are both strong willed, opinionated, and unafraid to express ourselves. On occasion, it has resulted in what we call an intense moment of fellowship. Sometimes it’s loud. But neither of us will ever be able to say to the other, “Wow! I didn’t know you felt that way!”

There have been occasions when our spirited debate crossed the line and our expression of love and respect slipped—times when neither of us would yield to the other. On those occasions, we had to seek forgiveness from one another, and from God as well.

Submission can be tough. It has been discussed a great deal throughout the life of the church. I’ve heard some really excellent messages about it, and some that weren’t so great. And by not great, I mean they weren’t based in Scripture.

The Bible is clear: we are to submit to one another. Early on, God said it was not good for man to be alone; he needed a help meet. The word for help meet in the Hebrew of Genesis 2:18 is used nineteen additional times in the Bible, all in reference to “aid in battle—aid that usually came from God. Standing with your spouse against the attacks of the enemy to establish and protect your marriage is an important role. And it’s always a choice.

God created a specific pattern for marriage so that disputes are never left undecided or one-sided: “Wives, submit to your own husbands as you do to the Lord” (Ephesians 5:22 NIV). “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her” (Ephesians 5:25 NIV). God placed the husband at the head of the home, a position not to exalt him but to create order. My mother would say that anything with two heads is a monster. I’ve seen husbands and wives vie for headship in marriage, battling for top spot, and it’s not pretty. Often the monster devours the marriage, and even if the union is not dissolved, peace and unity vanish.

God established the order: my husband is to love me (as Christ loved the church), and he is held accountable as the head of the home. That’s God’s plan, not my husband’s. If I am submitted to God, I will submit to God’s plan. It doesn’t mean I have no input in decisions or the direction for our life together.

“I don’t want a servant for a wife,” Ron says. “A silent partner might work in business, but it’s not helpful in marriage. I need a wife who will pray with and for me, offer insights and ideas, and share her heart as God leads her. I want a partner in making decisions. God knows me, and the world should not be exposed to me without her influence!”

The concept of yielding to one another has become important in our marriage. It ensures we each have a voice. Yielding is a voluntary process, a choice to agree to or accept something that you have been resisting or opposing. The choice to yield may come as a result of influence, position, affection, or respect for another.

There is a second meaning for this word: yield also describes the outcome or result of a choice or action. The farmer’s careful oversight of his crop yields a fruitful harvest. Godly, biblical choices yield a productive and favorable outcome. Insisting on our own way and refusing to submit will produce an outcome too, just not one Ron and I care to live with.

Sometimes I am able to influence his heart, and at times he has influenced mine through open, respectful dialogue. We submit to one another. Do we always find full and complete agreement on every topic? Of course not! In those instances, I choose to submit to God’s plan and order and yield to my husband. After all, he will have to account to God for the choices he makes.

What will you choose when the opportunity to yield comes knocking? Will you resist the temptation to bully or campaign to get your own way? Will you demand submission? Or will you create dialogue to allow understanding? It’s not always easy, but it’s always a choice.

Always give thanks to God the Father for everything in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ;                                                                                   and submit to each other out of respect for Christ. – Ephesians 5:20-21

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Deb DeArmond is an expert in the fields of communication, relationship and conflict resolution. A writer and popular professional speaker, Deb focuses on topics related to the family and women. Kregel Publications released her first book in November 2013 entitled, Related by Chance, Family by Choice. Abingdon Press published I Choose You Today: 31 Choices to Make Love Last in June 2015 and Don’t Go to Bed Angry: Stay Up and Fight in June 2016. Read Deb at Family Matters/Deb DeArmond and My Purpose Now.

Find Deb’s books at Amazon   ChristianBooks.com   Lifeway Stores and Independent Christian Bookstores.

 

Family Matters Fun Friday!

Weird Things Screen Shot 2016-06-18 at 11.47.35 AMWhile marital conflict is no laughing matter, there are some humorous videos that might help us see the light when it comes to our own behavior. So for the hearty laugh at the end of your week, watch for a shot of Friday Fun at Family Matters.

The goal: take your relationship seriously, but yourself less so. Thank goodness our kids didn’t have camera phones when they lived in our home! View it by clicking here! Weird Things 1

 

Find our new book on making your marital conflict work FOR you instead of against you:Don’t Go to Bed Angry

ECRS: Early Conflict Response System!

I’m often asked about the book, Don’t Go to Bed Angry. Stay Up and Fight, which I co-authored with my husband, Ron. It released a year ago this week. People are interested— was it hard to collaborate with your spouse? What they really want to know is: “Did you fight while writing it?” It’s a fair question.

Having written two books on my own, this was an entirely different process. As co-authors, our goal was to collaborate. Meaning we had to find common ground as we created the content. Did I mention the topic was marital conflict?

We knew it might be a challenge. The process of talking about conflict had the potential to create conflict. So we developed a process – a plan – to move forward as a unit. It worked, and we delivered the book to the publisher on time. Hurray! High five!

Once the book was released, I had a moment when it hit me: we’d be interviewed together. Radio. Television. Print. When I was a solo flyer, I knew where I wanted the discussion to go, how to get there, and what to say. But, as much as I love this man, managing him—and what he says or does—has not been successful. No doubt, I’ve tried (and still occasionally try), but my record is dismal. He’s experienced similar results when the table is turned. We’re independent, strong willed – and completely committed to one another. It makes an interesting life.

I thought through all the possibilities, all the potential interview disasters that might await us. Stepping on one another’s comments, interrupting one another, and heaven forbid, correcting or disputing what the other said. I did mention the topic was marital conflict, right?

Once again, we created a plan: we assigned topics each would cover and defer to that assignee so we weren’t stepping on toes. The first few interviews were a little bumpy, but overall, went surprisingly well. We also created a sign – our own personal code that signaled, “I’d like to take that question,” or “you’re running on too long with your answer.” A simple knee bump. Hopefully under the table, unseen by the interviewer.

It worked. So, okay, occasionally I ignored a knee bump. Or he did. Or worse, the bump gave way to a look and a tighter than comfortable squeeze of the hand. But all in all – it worked and we enjoyed the process far more than we ever imagined.

It’s affirming to hear from couples who have found the book helpful. Some learned new ways to deal with old issues. Others, identified new strategies to be proactive, so that when conflict hunted them down, they can respond, not react.

A plan can help you prepare for success. It’s important in so many of life’s opportunities: getting married, having a baby, or buying a home. A plan provides a path forward when conflict comes calling.

What are the areas in your relationships that can create conflict? How might you be able to plan and prepare for a smoother, if not seamless, process when it comes knocking? Here are a couple of tips to get you started.

  • Identify the potential stress inducers. What’s your track record for winging it? How’d that work out? Typical pressure point areas include money, sex, the in-laws, and childrearing. There are many more, but those are the Big Four. If these topics produce conflict, acknowledge it. At what point does it go south? Once you’ve figured out where you got off a peaceful path, stop next time you get there. Ask yourself, “how can we work together on this?”

 

  • Ask, don’t tell. Use open ended questions to explore options, possibilities, and solutions. “What’s the best way to approach this?” or “How can we make this work that works for both of us?” Open-ended questions can lead to new and creative ways to deal with old problems.

 

  • Take a time out. It’s not just for temperamental toddlers. When you realize the heat is rising, take a break before it escalates. A simple, “I need to step away for 15 minutes,” can slow a discussion that’s spiraling into non-productive—or damaging—territory. Take time to gather your thoughts, and manage your emotions so they don’t end up managing you.

A conflict response plan can provide a path to peace. Give it a shot—what’ve you got to lose?

Find the book here: http://amzn.to/1ULkaJT

So You Wrote a Book With Your Husband . . .?

Couple looking at a photo albumSeveral people have recently asked me about the new book, Don’t Go to Bed Angry. Stay Up and Fight,  and what it was like to co-author it with my husband, Ron. After writing the first two books myself, it was, well—different.

Ron has been very involved in all of the writing I’ve done in the past several years. He was on tap to listen to the read through of each chapter and offer his insights and feedback. He often helped me connect specific passages of scripture to the content of an article or chapter. Immensely helpful. His input was a huge value and often helped strengthen what I had created. But the decision to make a revision or add a new twist he’d suggested, was mine. Alone.

This was an entirely different process. As co-authors, our goal was to collaborate. Meaning we had to find common ground as we created the content. Did I mention the topic was marital conflict?

We developed a process to move forward as a unit. We agreed to discuss the chapter content, review survey and research results, make notes jointly, identify examples and appropriate scripture references, develop tools and application activities. I would then sit down at the computer and write the chapter. It sounded like a solid plan. On paper it looked good. And in the first chapter or two, it worked well.

Then we made an important discovery. As each new chapter began we’d reminisce about an occasion and discuss how it had transpired. Details. Who said what. How it went. We remembered the details vividly. But we often vividly remember it differently. Was it just that 40 years of experiences were difficult to remember with clarity? No. We each had crystal clear recall. Just not the same recall.

If it hadn’t been important to the writing process, it would have been humorous. And looking back on it all, it was pretty funny. Many of the topics, now some twenty or thirty years old seemed so trivial. Why did we let them become issues? Stubbornness? More time than common sense? Perhaps.

Others were more important: how we’d discipline our boys, deal with financial issues, or how busy schedules impacted time for romance and our sex life. Big stuff.

Apparently, we’ve worked it out. The details may escape us today, but we found agreement about the trivial and the significant.

The exercise of reviewing our four decades of life together was challenging at times, but a huge blessing. We recounted the times God came through, granted favor, instructed, corrected, and developed us as believers and as a couple. What an affirmation of His faithfulness. At 19 when we married, we were greener than grass about everything that life would demand of us. The gift of a young marriage is that we grew up, and grew up in Him together.

This was new for us as a twosome, and we learned a lot – some of it the hard way. So here are a few tips for those thinking about establishing a co-author project:

  • Vision. Talk about it, write it out, and revise it until it’s clear and one about which you both can be in full agreement. The Bible remind us in Habakkuk 2:2: “And the Lord answered me: “Write the vision and make it plain on tablets, so he may run who reads it.” (ESV).
  • Listen. My favorite definition of listening is the willingness to be changed by what you hear. We all have our own opinions and thoughts about the right way to do something. Your writing partner may have a different approach. Remember that different is not always wrong, it’s just different. Be open enough to hear other ideas. God brought you together as partners, so partner together.
  • Pray together. As a Christian writing team, it’s easy to go down the rabbit hole of craft and omit the cross in the process.
  • Communicate frequently. Set regular times to discuss, imagine, review and edit together. Creating a schedule can help establish a routine and allow each party to protect time on the calendar. In person is best, but if doing it remotely, try Skype or one of the other online meeting sites – Zoom is great – and it’s free.

When was the last time you and your mate looked back together over the collected years you’ve accumulated? A walk together down memory lane can be a great way to remind yourself there’s a lot to be grateful for in both the magic and the tragic. None of it’s wasted if you learned from the experiences and moved forward together. He can use it all.

Will we write another book together? Only time will tell.

 

If You Can’t Say Something Nice …

Be QuietToday is National Say Something Nice Day. That would make my mother happy. She lived that theory “If you can’t say something nice, say nothing at all.” Easier said than done.

If you’re married, you already know it can be tough duty. Especially in the face of what my husband, Ron, and I call, “an intense moment of fellowship.” When it gets heated, something nice is not always the first thing that rolls off my tongue.

And the tongue is often the problem with conflict, isn’t it? The Word gives us that heads up. “Indeed, we all make many mistakes. For if we could control our tongues, we would be perfect and could also control ourselves in every other way,” James 3:2 (NLT).

You mean if I could manage my mouth, I’d also be able to resist the call of Cappuccino Crunch ice cream? Now there’s some motivation!

Over the years I’ve become more aware of the need to be intentional with Ron when conflict arises. Mostly because the Spirit of the Lord has been persistent to point out missed opportunities, little slips, and major mishaps of the mouth. I’m working on it.

Just remember we do have an enemy, but it’s not our spouse! Marriage is worth the effort and it’s always worth fighting for.

So celebrate the opportunity to say something nice today. Smile  when you say it. A kiss and a hug for your sweetheart can help seal the deal. And if you really want to make an impression – write it down. Slip it in his pocket or tuck it in her purse to discover when least expected. It might just make your honey’s day.

And it will make your Mama so proud!

Want more help on this topic? Our new book, Don’t Go to Bed Angry. Stay Up and Fight! releases June 21. But you can pre-order it and enjoy a 37% discount on the cover price. Find it here: Book Deal  Don’t delay – this special offer is only good through June 20, 2016!