Uh Oh, there’s that word submission. I remember that in one of the first conversations I had with someone about the concept of submission in a marriage, I was informed that the word “submission” had no place in a partnership or human marriage. No, this was a term used in the (mis)treatment of animals, as in beating them into submission. The image was of abuse, perhaps using a cattle prod to get the desired reaction.
I disagree and find the word submission very applicable to marriage. Not in the manner it is frequently abused, as in the Bible says the wife is to submit to the husband therefore the husband gets a pass in demanding compliance from the wife. No, the actual biblical principle could be more accurately expressed as: “submission is a two-way street.” In other words, both husband and wife are to be submissive to each other, to put the desires and needs of the spouse ahead of their own. The success that they each have in doing this has a lot to do with the overall success of the marriage.
The good thing is that as one spouse becomes more successful in doing this, the other spouse is encouraged to respond in kind, making the submission of personal desires and needs mutual and shared. It reminds me of an observation of a friend, in the form of a question: Do you want to be right, or do you want to be happy?
Forgiveness goes hand-in-hand with submission. We must be prepared to not only ask forgiveness when we have messed up, but we must be equally prepared to forgive our spouse – even when they have not asked us for forgiveness. One thing I have learned is that it is never a good idea to tell someone you have forgiven them, even if you have, until they have asked you for forgiveness. There’s a good chance you end up in a conversation about just what you have forgiven, with a good chance the forgiven person doesn’t accept the fact they needed your forgiveness.
Forgiveness is also a two-way street. First, if God has offered forgiveness to all, how can I not be willing to also forgive? Then, if I expect my spouse to forgive me of my wrongs, how can I not be willing to forgive my spouse for their infractions? To not forgive sentences me to wallow in self-pity, resentment, and bitterness. I really end up punishing myself and sidetrack the joy that could be mine and my partner’s.
Good Love says we give importance to the needs and desires of our spouse, while Better Love says we are able at least some of the time to put the spouse’s desires and needs above and before our own. Like most principles, it is easier said than done. How about you? Can you think of one need of your spouse that you could put above your own needs, today? Is there one offense that comes to mind that you have been holding on, that you should really let go of and forgive your spouse of? Why not do so now?