Today marks five years I’ve been married to the love of my life, Verena. Looking back, there have been quite a few notable experiences — graduations, five moves, jobs, buying a home, the birth of James, etc. — and I feel like God has used all of them, by his grace, to continue making me into the husband I should be, and the one that Verena deserves. It’s here, at the five year mark, that I want to reflect on one big takeaway from marriage so far. And it is this: In marriage, I (the husband) can’t say, “I told you so” to my wife.
Now I don’t mean that in a she’s-just-always-right sort of way — though, far more often than not, she’s just always right. Nor do I mean it in a “happy wife, happy life” sort of way where I am just trying not to cross her for my own personal happiness — though, my goal at all times is her happiness. I mean it in a God-exalting, self-sacrificing, and often complete-humbling sort of way.
God, in his wisdom, created marriage to be between one man and one woman. And, in his wisdom, God created man and woman to function differently — complementary to one another. While the husband and wife are stand completely equal before God as his image bearers, they function differently within the marriage to bring him the most glory (Ephesians 5:21-33, Genesis 2:18-25). It’s by God’s grace, and in that understanding of my function, that I have come to see I can’t say “I told you so” to Verena about anything pertaining to our marriage — which I could argue is just about everything in our lives. This is because God has designed marriage so that the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the Church (Ephesians 5:23).
Now before you label me a misogynist, please keep reading.
Allow me to explain. Ultimately, every decision made, every action taken as a family, I am responsible for. This means that — hypothetically — if Verena and I are at odds about how to deal with a particular circumstance, and I yield so that we follow-through with her choice it now becomes my choice. If that decision comes back to us unfavorably it would be unloving — and unwise — to point out her error, but more than that I would actually have no right to do so.
You see, in being the head of my wife, as soon as we made the decision to go with Verena’s idea I became responsible for it. If it didn’t pan out it’s not her fault, it’s mine. If I knew that it wasn’t going to be the correct decision I should have made a different one. Being responsible for our family decisions doesn’t mean that I have to make them all, it just means that I bear the responsibility for the negative consequences our decisions may cause, and as God has designed it, it’s never the other way around. She won’t shoulder the blame for my wrongdoings.
As I showed earlier, God has called the husband the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the Church. In that role husbands are to show their love by giving themselves up for their wife (v. 25). We are to show our love through self-sacrifice in order to see our wives obtain fullness of joy. So it’s not an authoritarian headship, but an inclusive one. I can’t think of an instance in our marriage where I have completely discarded Verena’s opinion when making a decision for our family. We think through things together, and I am so grateful for her logical insights. It’s scary to think of where our family might be if only I had a say in the decision-making. That being said, even if I were to completely disagree with her she trusts God’s design for marriage. Consequently, she trusts me to make a good decision because she knows that I am striving to submit to God’s leading of our family. So really, she trusts God more than she trusts me, and this is what every husband should desire for his wife!
Often, I am wrong. While Verena and I make most big decisions together, I still manage to mess up a bunch of them. So when my wrongs come back to bite us, I can’t justify my way around it; there are no alternate facts. I just have to humble myself, repent, admit my shortcomings, and ask for my wife’s forgiveness. But praise God that he has given my wife a gentle spirit full of grace! While she is always within her rights to shout, “I told you so!” when I have made decisions she wouldn’t have, I can’t think of a single time she ever has. She is so kind, loving, and respectful to me it only motivates me to find new and better ways to serve her.
When we are living-out God’s design for marriage, by his grace and in a profound mystery, our marriage demonstrates the gospel to others (v.32). Jesus suffered the consequences of his Bride’s decisions, he presents Her without spot or wrinkle, he nourishes and cherishes Her, and becomes one with Her. In response to that type of care, the Bride (Church-wife) lovingly submits to the head (Christ-husband).
So I can’t say, “I told you so,” but that’s exactly how God has intended it. I have so much more to learn about being a good husband to my wife, but I hope that what I have learned in these five short years stays with me, plays itself out more truly, and only deepens for the rest of my life.
Photo Credit: @bschwartz