In today's world, women are often rewarded for having type A personalities. Driven, demanding women achieve higher positions, better salaries, and praise for their ambition. They learn to be confident, take-charge leaders who can handle anything on their own. Yet when it comes to their marriages, those same traits can backfire. After all, no one goes into marriage hoping for a promotion. What is a wife to do?
April Cassidy knows this struggle firsthand. She thought she was a great Christian wife and begged God to make her passive husband into a more loving, involved, godly leader. Instead, God opened her eyes to changes that she needed to make, such as laying down her desire for control and offering genuine, unconditional respectnot just loveto her husband. The Peaceful Wife focuses on Cassidy's experience and its life-changing properties, providing a template for others to follow.
Cassidy's conclusions may be as shocking to readers as they were to her, but she backs up her own tale with stories from her blog readers, and also includes recommendations for further study. She walks through baby steps on how to change, addressing questions such as:
- What is respect?
- How can you show respect?
- How is being respectful different from being loving?
In the end, The Peaceful Wife is a powerful path to God's design for women to live in full submission to Christ as Lord.
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About the Author
Read an Excerpt
The Peaceful Wife
Living in Submission to Christ as Lord
By April Cassidy
Kregel PublicationsCopyright © 2016 April Cassidy
All rights reserved.
Greg and I met when I was fifteen and he was sixteen, and we dated for six years before getting married. He was my only boyfriend. I did break up with him once for three miserable weeks right before I started college in 1991. Other than that, we had practically zero conflict. We were talking about marriage by the end of my tenth-grade year in high school. I couldn't wait to get married to Greg. He was such a solid, responsible, trustworthy, handsome, intelligent, athletic, high achieving, thoughtful, loving, godly guy. He took all honors classes just like I did. He cared about my feelings and gave thoughtful gifts to my family members every Christmas. He took me out on a date once per week and allowed me to have long, deep discussions with him about all kinds of world problems and theological subjects every night during our hour-long phone conversations. My family loved him and I had my parents' blessing. My marriage to Greg was going to be the best thing ever! All my dreams would come true and we were going to live "happily ever after."
We both were raised in strong Christian homes, both accepted Christ when we were small children, and had parents who are still married (to their first and only spouses). All of our parents have college degrees. They are all believers in Christ. They are all responsible with money. They love their spouses and children dearly. Greg's father is a minister and my father is a deacon. Our parents didn't have big fights. They were not perfect, of course, but there were no major problems, addictions, threats of divorce, affairs, or anything awful in our families of origin. We had pretty good examples of marriage and we were both dearly loved and well cared for as children.
In my mind, Greg and I were totally prepared for marriage. No, we didn't have premarital counseling, but why would we need it? I was going to be "Mrs. Gregory Cassidy." Sigh! I didn't pay much attention to the marriage books I read when they got to chapters on "conflict" because I knew we would not have conflict. We wouldn't be like all those other couples. We were going to do the whole marriage thing the right way and it wouldn't be difficult whatsoever. We had a storybook Christian romance ... until we got married. We had done almost everything "right." No one should have been more prepared for marriage than we were, or so I pridefully thought.
Our Launch into Wedded Bliss
I was bursting with happiness on that hot, sunny, summer South Carolina afternoon when we left our wedding reception. The fragrance of warm pine needles was thick in the air and the three stately magnolia trees were in full bloom in the churchyard. My long, thick, wavy brown hair stuck to my neck and back even inside the church. The air conditioning could hardly keep up with all three-hundred-plus people in the building. My cheeks were sore from smiling so much. Everything went perfectly during the ceremony and reception. Finally, we were husband and wife! Greg and I ran together down the concrete front steps of our church as our guests and family pummeled us with birdseed. Then we got in the car to drive away as husband and wife. Happily-ever-after was totally in the bag! We stayed in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee, for our honeymoon in an adorable little condo with our own kitchen. I was ecstatic. I loved every second of being with my new husband. This is what I had waited for all those six long years and it was glorious! I was excited about everything — going grocery shopping together, watching Greg shave in the mornings, talking for hours on end, and constantly being alone together. I loved the intimacy we shared and was so thankful we had waited to consummate our union on our wedding night. This was heaven. This is what I had always dreamed marriage would be. I had never felt so loved, fulfilled, safe, and happy in my life. Everything was absolutely perfect ... for three short days. Then we came home from our honeymoon, and the challenges and problems began.
My Short List of Unspoken Expectations
While I couldn't have verbalized my expectations at the time, and in retrospect the list was much longer than this, I fully expected:
Us to spend four to five hours per night together talking, laughing, having a great time connecting, enjoying each other, being alone together, and cuddling
Greg's undivided attention just about any time I wanted it
Daily physical intimacy
Us to have our own place that was just ours, like "real adults"
Us to make our decisions completely on our own
Greg to get a wonderful engineering job immediately
Us to be totally financially independent
Greg to initiate prayer and read the Bible with me daily (even though we hadn't done that when we were dating)
Us to both be relatively healthy for a long time
Us to both be happy just about every moment of every day, especially the first few years of our marriage
Greg to verbally gush loving words over me on a daily basis
Greg to make me happy and to make me feel loved and cherished
Greg to feel happy, loved, and cherished by me
Greg to agree with me and to do basically anything I wanted him to do because we would always agree — his thinking and priorities would always line up with mine
To never have to forgive anything very significant
To not have to suffer
Greg to think, feel, and act exactly like me
My Abrupt Clash with Reality
For the first three months of our marriage, Greg and his dad worked feverishly — six days per week until way after midnight every night, after they worked their full-time day jobs — fixing up an old house for us. One week into our marriage, I severely sprained my lower back as I bent down to paint shelves. (I should have bent from the knees!) Suddenly, I couldn't get out of bed by myself, couldn't put on my own shoes, couldn't help with fixing up the house, sometimes couldn't even walk because my back would often go out. Intimacy became almost impossible for many months. I was consumed by fear, doubt, loneliness, and depression like I had never experienced in all of my twenty-one years. I didn't want to tell my friends or my sister how miserable I was. I did call my mom every day, crying. Other than that, I just stayed in a room by myself in bed alone — in constant and severe physical, emotional, and spiritual pain. I was so afraid I might not ever recover from my back injury. I thought Greg didn't love me because he was spending all his time working or fixing up the house. He seemed to ignore me. He just fell into bed exhausted every night and turned his back to me without a word and without even a kiss while I cried and tried to tell him what I needed. No response. One issue piled on another, and another. I felt unloved, neglected, abandoned, rejected, and ignored. I believed everything my feelings told me without even questioning that there might be another way to look at the situation.
I didn't know how much I misunderstood my loving, young, inexperienced husband that summer and what a difficult time he was having on his end of our marriage. He was trying so hard to make me happy and to provide well for me by fixing up the house. He and his dad were killing themselves trying to get things done on that old house as quickly as possible in the time they had after work. Greg was also having many trials of his own that I didn't appreciate. Of course, now I know that my understanding of his motives toward me was grossly inaccurate, but I didn't know any other way to look at things at the time. I had zero understanding that men and women see the world very, very differently and that the real issue was my misunderstanding, not that Greg didn't love me.
Now I know that my reactions to Greg and to our circumstances made things infinitely more difficult than they already were. Greg did not think, feel, or act like me. He was trying to show his love for me by working on the house to make a beautiful place for me to live with him and by going to work to provide for me. He was trying to find a good job so he could provide more adequately for me. He was trying to be considerate of my fragile back by not touching me so that he didn't hurt me. He was completely exhausted from working forty hours per week at his job, sending out dozens of résumés each week, receiving constant rejection letters from potential employers, and then working forty more hours per week on the house we were going to live in. He didn't know what to do with me and had never seen me so upset. He thought if he respectfully left me alone, I would get better. I didn't get better. He began to shut down. He didn't tell me that the things I did and said hurt him. Instead of me being grateful for all that Greg and his parents were doing for me, appreciating their incredible generosity for helping us with a house, I lashed out at them all in anger and resentment. I had never experienced not having my way before and I did not handle things well at all. It turns out that I was a lot more spoiled and selfish than I ever realized before I got married.
Thankfully, things did get better after those first three months. Eventually, the renovations on the house were finished and, after about eight months, my back got a bit stronger. We had more time together again. Unfortunately, I embraced some toxic lies that first summer, and we set a few very unhealthy patterns in our relationship that impacted our marriage for many years to come.
My Attempts to Fix Things
Even after those first extremely painful three months, it seemed to me that Greg "wouldn't lead" in our marriage. I mean, I would ask him about something and wait for ten to thirty seconds. Sometimes, on my really patient days, I might wait for a few minutes (sighing and rolling my eyes and tapping my fingers impatiently after a minute, of course). When my husband wouldn't make a decision by then, I would just take over and make the decisions myself because I clearly "had to." I thought Greg just wouldn't tell me what he wanted to do. I had no clue that he didn't know what he wanted right away or that he needed more time to make decisions, that this was just part of his personality. Sometimes Greg did make decisions or say what he wanted eventually, but if I didn't agree with him, I made sure to argue for what I thought was right and filibuster my solution until he would agree to do things my way. Greg pulled away more and more and let me make many decisions without any input from him.
I began to think that I was so much more spiritually mature than Greg was. I read my Bible practically every day. I never saw him read his Bible or pray. I prayed for four hours a day sometimes — surely that made me very holy! I prayed and prayed that God would change Greg and make him be the man I thought God wanted him to be. I told God to make Greg be a strong, godly leader and a loving, attentive, affectionate husband. Greg needed to love me like Christ loved the church!
Greg needed to stop wasting time on worldly things like TV and focus on the important things in life: God and me. Well, especially me. I was convinced that Greg was the problem in our marriage. He became increasingly quiet, passive, and unplugged. He hardly seemed to have opinions anymore. He mostly just watched TV all the time or worked on house projects. Greg had a lot of initiative when we were dating and engaged. Why did he turn into a totally different person after we got married? Funny, he never seemed to appreciate all my helpful suggestions and attention.
I was the dominant twin with my sister as we were growing up, so that talkative leadership role just felt normal to me. It was all I knew. I shared all my thoughts and feelings with Greg, holding nothing back, just like I had with my sister. When Greg didn't object to what I said, I assumed he agreed with me, just like I had always assumed my sister agreed with me. Turns out that silence doesn't always mean agreement — for sisters or husbands. Sure wish I had learned that a long time ago! Then I became a pharmacist, which probably only increased my tendencies to take over and handle things myself in our marriage, too. Pharmacy also encouraged my obsessive-compulsive and perfectionistic personality traits. When you are a pharmacist, getting things right ninety-nine percent of the time is not good enough. I expected total perfection from myself, from Greg, from everyone. I also didn't realize I needed to turn off my "patient counseling" mode when I got home. I was used to telling my technicians and patients what to do at the pharmacy. I also told my husband what to do a lot at home. I knew what I wanted and how I was going to get it. I worked hard in school and expected to make all As. I was super-critical of myself and overly responsible, and had little grace for myself or anyone else. Really, I treated Greg pretty much the same way I had always treated myself, only I was probably harder on myself.
I thought I knew best about almost everything: for other people, for my husband, and for myself. Deep down in my soul, I thought I knew better than God, even though I would never have consciously admitted that. I thought people needed my wonderful advice, wisdom, and "help." I was rewarded for all my efforts and my Type A personality in school and in pharmacy with great grades, full scholarships, the praise of all of my teachers, lots of good friends, and customer service awards at work. Why didn't my winning approach work with my husband?
There were so many things about femininity, masculinity, marriage, and the roles of husbands and wives that I just accepted "as is" from our culture and never really questioned. I thought I was being a godly wife. I had read God's instructions about marriage many times. I read, "the wife must respect her husband" (Eph. 5:33) and thought, "Check! I do that." I mean, I didn't throw things — well, except for that one time that I threw a pair of panties at Greg that first summer we were married. They didn't even come close to hitting him, and they were clean, so that definitely didn't count as disrespect on my part. I didn't scream, cuss, threaten divorce, hit him, or leave him. I never called him names like "idiot," or, "jerk," or "stupid." I never even used the phrase "shut up." Yes, that first summer, I really wanted to hurt Greg physically because I was hurting more than I ever had emotionally and felt very unloved. But I didn't actually hit him. And I was tempted to leave at times, but I didn't actually leave. So, that didn't count as disrespect either. Yes, I raised my voice sometimes but that was only because Greg seemed to ignore me. He had never ignored me before. Surely he would hear and care about my feelings if I upped the volume and demanded that he give me the love, attention, and affection he used to give me so easily before we were married. I was being totally respectful, in my mind. I treated my husband a lot better than many other women treated theirs.
I knew about God's command for wives to "submit yourselves to your own husbands as you do to the Lord" (Eph. 5:22). When my husband would (very rarely) insist on something, I would eventually concede to him, knowing he was supposed to be the leader in our marriage. But my "submission" was only after a lot of me arguing my case, trying to get him to change, explaining how I was right, telling him how my way was much better and more biblical than his, and sharing with him how wrong he was. I was not a cheerful follower. I would grumble, argue, stew, and complain.
I didn't realize what I was doing at the time, but I tried to force Greg to "submit" to me. Truthfully, I expected everyone to not just submit to me, but to agree with me and do things my way. I mean, I was "right." That was obvious. So it was my duty and responsibility to try to change Greg's mind so that he could see things in proper perspective like I did. What could be more important than being right on an issue?
I would try to get Greg to lead sometimes, but only in the way I thought he should. I didn't realize there was any other way to think than my way. I left no room or grace for him to be masculine and to think, feel, and process like a man, or to be himself with his own unique personality. I often felt so lonely in our marriage — stressed, anxious, overwhelmed, and worried. Our marriage was not horrible. It was probably better than most. But, I knew there could be so much more intimacy on every level. I constantly tried to figure out how to make things happen the way I thought they should. I carried the weight of the marriage on my shoulders and felt spiritually, emotionally, and financially responsible for all of the decisions. I never had peace. I didn't realize that if I disrespected my husband's God-given authority over me, trusted myself instead of God, and cherished bitterness and pride in my heart, my prayers weren't going to be heard. My sin poisoned my relationships with God and with Greg. The problem was, I didn't see my sin at all.
Excerpted from The Peaceful Wife by April Cassidy. Copyright © 2016 April Cassidy. Excerpted by permission of Kregel Publications.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Table of Contents
1 Our Story 17
2 Finding the Missing Piece of the Puzzle 27
3 Let's Be Honest 37
4 The Absolute Lordship of Christ 59
5 God's Beautiful Design 78
6 Recognizing Disrespect 105
7 Acknowledging Our Sin 120
8 My Husband Shares His Heart 136
9 Learning the Language of Respect 147
10 A Smorgasbord of Respect 168
11 Communicating Our Desires Respectfully 187
12 Respecting Our Husbands During Conflict 215
13 Sharing the Journey 235
Appendix: Reaching a Husband Who Doesn't Know Christ 245
For Further Study 261
About the Author 263