While today’s fantastic post from Pure Couples is written to women, this is something that applies to everyone. A marriage needs the voices of BOTH partners, so it’s worth asking yourself: do I tend to stay silent when I should speak up? AND, if my spouse has a hard time speaking up, do I encourage them to find their voice, or do I use their passivity to get my way?
Jono and I stood in the parking lot of the shopping plaza across from the beach with our 4- and 2-year old kids, cooler in hand, looking forward to getting home and putting the kids to sleep after washing the sand out of their hair. I squinted my eyes against the sun, thinking my eyes were playing tricks on me.
Our car wasn’t where we had parked it that morning.
Jono and my cousin who had come with us stood behind me. “They towed the car,” Jono said in disbelief. “They towed the car?” I repeated dumbly, still not believing what my eyes were seeing.
“Dang!” Jono exclaimed. I turned around, trying to fight the irritation that suddenly flooded me.
“This is my fault,” Jono said, shaking his head regretfully. “Yes it is,” I quickly responded. My frustration bubbled out before I could stop it. “But everyone makes mistakes.”
See, that morning when my husband first pulled into this particular parking lot for our family beach outing, I had warned him that it might not be a good place to park. He dismissed it as me being overly cautious, while reminding me that we had parked there before when we’d come to the beach.
“That was years ago,” I’d told him. “They may have gotten stricter since then.”
But then I convinced myself that maybe my husband was right, maybe I was being overly cautious.
Now we were paying for it. Literally.
An hour later as we were driving home after paying for our towed car, our pockets $151 dollars lighter, my husband apologized for being presumptuous and causing our finances to be affected by his decision. I got over my feelings of irritation, but it reminded me of something that I often have to keep telling myself.
Don’t keep quiet.
There have been times in our relationship where I didn’t agree with what Jono was doing, but instead of speaking out and sticking to my guns, I quieted my voice and convinced myself that it was better to just stay quiet.
Each of those times, I later realized that I should’ve stuck to my guns instead of playing the “submissive” wife.
There are definitely times to be quiet and let the other person learn from their mistakes, but when the decision affects more than just that person, when it affects the family, that is not a time to stay silent. Decisions that affect the family are definitely battles worth fighting, even if in the end, you end up at a standstill.
Making your voice heard in your relationship is about more than just equality. It’s about the fact spouses are supposed to complement one another’s characters. There’s stuff you’re great at that your spouse needs your help with and vice versa. By keeping quiet, you’re robbing your relationship of the richness that comes when two people learn from each other and make each other better people.
Getting your car towed may not be a hill to die on for you, but there are other things that people keep quiet about that have more serious consequences. In our relationship Jono tends to be the homebody who likes to save money by-you guessed it-staying home. In fact, you can read about our tug-of-war over finances here. I like making memories, and sometimes that does involve spending money. Now, I’m not a crazy spender, but my husband grew up poor and the idea of us experiencing that gives him anxiety. But I can’t let that make me keep quiet. He knows how to go without and be content with what he has; I know how to have fun for cheap, and I’m not into having lots of stuff. Together we balance each other. He helps me not to go out of control when I go to the store, and I help him loosen up and enjoy life instead of just working all the time.
If I keep quiet and let him make us homebodies, I would be very unhappy, and that unhappiness would ripple into the rest of our family’s well-being. If he let me buy everything I want, he’d live in a constant state of worry and stress, trying to clean up after my (potentially) irresponsible spending decisions. That too would eat away at our relationship. Submission doesn’t mean keeping quiet. It means doing the work to get on the same page with one another.
By coming together and constantly having conversations about the things that matter to us both, we figure out ways to compromise and make each other happy. That’s what God had in mind when He made Eve from Adam’s rib. We’re supposed to stand side-by-side, tackling life together through communication and love.
So don’t keep quiet. Keeping quiet means that your marriage is missing out on major growth and fulfillment. Keeping quiet means that you’re not being true to yourself and that you’re being stifled. You’re fearfully and wonderfully made. You bring something of value to the table.
So speak up.