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Loving Your Husband

Lisa Barry: When we enter the bond of marriage, we stand face to face with the man of our dreams. Unfortunately, that dream often becomes a nightmare as the visions we had of marriage suddenly get washed away by the rushing tide of reality. Does it mean that the marriage was a mistake? No. It just means that two basically selfish people have to learn to sacrifice what they want for the other. How then do we learn to love our mates when we feel disillusioned and angry or when we want our own way?

Elisabeth Elliot and special guest Donna Otto talk about living out God's plan for marriage next on Gateway To Joy.

Elisabeth Elliot: "You are loved with an everlasting love." That's what the Bible says. "And underneath are the everlasting arms." This is your friend Elisabeth Elliot, continuing a conversation with my friend, Donna Otto, from Scottsdale, Arizona, author of several books, a well-known speaker, on what is generally considered by those who think secularly, to be a very unpopular subject. We were talking yesterday about a wife's submission to her husband and how important that it is that she understand that God's reason for giving these commands to these wives was for protection. Protection from ourselves, from our selfishness. We stopped with that. Would you carry on here, Donna? Welcome.

Donna Otto: Thank you. It's nice to be here again. I heard you just say that the secular position is so opposite. I think that's one of the sabotages that a woman really has to deal with herself.

In the Psalms, I believe it's 113, he says, "Let no unwholesome thing come before your eyes." When I think about the things that come before our eyes in TV and films, the written material, magazines, photographs in magazines, those images are all-the majority of them, not all of them-the majority of them would sway a woman away from submission.

When I wrote the book, THE STAY-AT-HOME MOM, in our research at that time, which is about seven years ago, we could find nothing else on the market. Now I'm glad to say, like you, I'm not the only voice in the printed word. Certainly, your voice has always been there. But there are some books now, additional books that encourage women to stay at home and raise their own children. I know we're going to talk about that a little.

But what was on the market at that time was anything but stay at home. It was everything that sent a woman away. So it is with this arena of submission. Everything says, "Do it your way. Be in charge." Who makes the decisions? Who doesn't make the decisions? "I have more education than my husband. I make more money than my husband. I've had more experiences than my husband." All of those things can be true.

But God had an order. He gave us that order. He said, "There was God and there was man and there was woman. And there were children." An ideal family is a mother and a father and children. And an ideal marriage is a husband and a wife.

When President Bush was in office, he wanted to have a family conference in Washington, D.C. They spent-the workers on the committees and the conference planners-spent six months trying to figure out what they could call a family conference and what a family was. Was a family a mother and a father, a husband and wife? Was it two women or two men? Was it two women and one man? They finally canceled the conference, because they could not come to the very bare issue of what the Scripture is so clear to say.

A family is a husband and a wife. If there are children, it's a husband and wife, parents and children. That's all. There are no-it's so clear.

So this issue of submission. What happens is we let this secular vision come before us through movies, TV. It says, "Don't do that. So when a woman says to me, "Well, who makes the decisions?" My great gift to David is that I'm his complement. I am to be the beauty side of his complement, so I am to take care of myself well enough that girls look better than guys. I am to be his helpmate, which means I am to know this man.

Now my David has changed so much in the years that we have been married.

Elisabeth Elliot: Name two ways.

Donna Otto: He is more extravagant with his time and his energy and his resources toward the King, which I am a recipient of too, I might add.

Elisabeth Elliot: Toward the King?

Donna Otto: The King. Our King Jesus. In that, I am always a recipient of some of his extravagance. Love extravagance. Time extravagance. Financial giving extravagance.

The second is that he is more committed to service. He looks for ways to serve. I know that I had a part of that. I say sometimes to young women, "It's a matter of who is right and who is wrong, isn't it? Isn't that really what you're trying to say? You want to be right, so you want to have the final say. Can't you be quietly right? Can't you use the very gifts that God gave you to encourage your husband to do the very thing you want him to do and God wants him to do?"

So there are a couple of real specific things. I don't know if we have time to do this or not, but a couple of really specific things. One, I need to know my husband. In this Titus passage we've referred to, he says, "Love your husband." I believe that is a godly love. It is a committed love. It is a love that has very little to do with my feelings, if anything to do with my feelings of love. But I am to know my husband.

I often say to young women, "Do you think about your husband?" "Well, what do you mean? Do you mean do I pray for my husband? Well, yes, I pray for my husband." No. I say, "Do you think about your husband? Do you think about what he wore and what he said and what he's been thinking about and how he has been acting and who he has been talking to and everything about him?"

My David was always very-he is a jock. He is an athlete. He is a wonderful athlete. He used to run five days a week. He is in his mid-'50s, and running five days a week is no longer feasible for him. I know there is a sadness in his heart, because he loved running. He loved the therapy and the mind time. So when I think about my David, and I usually take time in the car-when I'm driving, that's what I usually do. I think about David.

I think, "Now if he used to love to run and now he is not able to run, because his knees are not as healthy as they used to be, how is it affecting what he thinks about himself?" Now that's just a simple, one little idea. I'd probably say, "If you think about your man like that, there's a whole wide world out there that will help you understand who he is."

I have a friend who says that submission is God's Plan B. Plan A is agreement.

Elisabeth Elliot: That's excellent.

Donna Otto: Plan A is agreement. When I love my husband and support my husband and know my husband, it's much easier for us to sit down. He has asked for my input, because I am his helpmate. So who makes the decision? I guess the real question is, "Who really cares who makes the decision, as long as the decision is one that God is pleased with and we come to together?"

Elisabeth Elliot: And if a woman feels that her husband is really making a very serious mistake, perhaps in a financial area, maybe the church that you're going to, you think that he made a poor choice, or whatever. He wants to change jobs. There are a thousand things that wives might be very upset about and very edgy, thinking, "This is really going to destroy us. He is going to collapse." That would be the point at which, with a great deal of quiet prayer before you open your mouth and in a calm and loving way, you might simply raise a question and say, "Honey, did you think about this angle?" It just might be that there is an aspect that he didn't think about.

If it's approached in that quiet, calm, unconfronting way, and God knows this does not come natural to me by a long shot-I am an arguer from the day I was born, I guess, and I come at people. As Jim Elliot said, "You have a sledgehammer personality." My second husband said, "You don't call a spade a spade. You call it a bloody shovel." Lars hasn't come up with his description yet, but I don't have any doubt that he would agree with Numbers One and Two.

But that's the only answer I can give when a woman says, "Well, am I not allowed to have any input at all?" You've said the most important things, but then maybe there's an opportunity where you could raise a quiet, reasonable question, after you've given him a good meal.

Donna Otto: Yes, absolutely. It's very much the same for me. People say to me often, "It's not what I say. It's how I say what I say." I come at them, my black-and-white, didactic self. After all, anybody could see, David, that this is not a good choice. Well, who wants to hear that?

I remember thinking one day about someone who had spoken to me harshly. My family has kidded me for years about wagging my finger. I wag my finger. They tried to tie my hands down so I wouldn't wag my finger at people. I got my elbow up. You know, anything I can to sort of make my point. But it is how I say what I say.

When I have prayed for this man and thought about this man and loved this man, I do understand who he is. It's a lot easier for me to speak to him in a tone that could be about agreement. The other thing is, who do you like to listen to? Someone you feel accepted by? Or someone whom you know is going to disagree with you and argue with you?

Elisabeth Elliot: One of the things that I've been reminded of by the Lord again and again in my marriage to Lars, which is by far the longest time I've been married to anyone-Lars and I will have been married 20 years-is just keeping my mouth shut when I want to open it and accepting practically all of his decisions, without any questions at all. I'm the kind who would have something to say about everything. It's just that the Lord is saying, "You don't need to. We don't have to have that many words. Entrust your husband to me."

I'm sure you know the book, ME? OBEY HIM?, by Elizabeth Hanford. A wonderful book. I'm sure we would both strongly recommend it. So if you feel that you have some really hard questions that Donna and I have not answered, may I recommend ME? OBEY HIM?, which you can get through Gateway To Joy.

Well, can you summarize what we've tried to say in today's talk?

Donna Otto: The act of submission is an act of obedience. Discipline may come before the emotion of submission. I guess the last thing I would say is how you say what you say is far more important than what you say. Be God's vessel of love to this man.

Elisabeth Elliot: It's Calvary love, as Amy Carmichael puts it, the kind that forgets about self. That's the clue. May God gives us Calvary love.

Lisa Barry: As we close for today, let me give you a quick run-down of what's in our Mother's Day packet, because if you're interested in learning more about what Elisabeth and Donna have been talking about, it's all in here. You get this two-week tape series with Donna Otto. You'll also receive Glenda's book, WITH LOVE FROM A MOTHER'S HEART, and more. The cost is $30.

You can send that, along with your request to Gateway To Joy, Box 82500, Lincoln, Nebraska, 68501. Or call toll-free: 1-800-759-4JOY. That's 1-800-759-4569. Our Internet ministry address is gatewaytojoy.org. Gateway To Joy has been a production of Back to the Bible.

Tomorrow Elisabeth and Donna talk more about the relationship between husband and wife, so join us then for another Gateway To Joy.

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