A man cannot expect his wife to submit to him anymore than he himself is willing to submit to God.
And the proof of that man’s submission to God is seen in his willingness to submit to God even in trying circumstances.
And in the life of most men, there can be no greater trying circumstance than when his wife refuses to submit to him.
It is then, when his wife refuses to submit to him, and does something rash, or unpleasant, or seemingly unkind (though perhaps she never meant to be unkind) that that man’s submission to God is truly tested. For how does he react to his wife under such circumstances? Does he respond by being forgiving, and loving, and kind, and merciful? Or, does he respond by himself desiring vengeance, and retaliation? The man who is responding this way to his wife has truly failed in his response. Let not that man think that he deserves any such peace in his marriage. He will not receive the peace and fulfillment he so longs for until he has learned not to deal with his wife after the flesh, but after the spirit.
“I, the LORD, search the heart, I test the mind, Even to give to each man according to his ways, According to the results of his deeds.” (Jeremiah 17:10)
The man who calls himself a Christian but does not so much as suspect that God may be testing him through the behavior of his wife is a fool. He has ignored all common sense. The Lord uses men and women to test each other. Even as God called Nebuchadnezzar his “servant” (Jeremiah 25:9) and as God was able to appoint a worm to eat the plant that he also appointed to grow which gave Jonah shade (Jonah 4:6-7), so also God is able to make the wife respond in whatever way he pleases, in order to test the husband. After all, if he can direct the king’s heart, then he can also direct the wife’s. “The king’s heart is like channels of water in the hand of the LORD; He turns it wherever He wishes.” (Proverbs 21:1)
Men may be selfish and short-sighted when it comes to this point. If the wife behaves unpleasantly or in some fashion that displeases the man, rather than going to God and asking Him what He wants to say to them, they may become hardened and take offense. This is to take after the flesh and is sinful. Instead, they ought to fall on their knees and ask God to show them what it is He is trying to show them in the midst of it. Their prayer should be like that of David, who said, “Search me, O God, and know my heart; Try me and know my anxious thoughts; And see if there be any hurtful way in me, And lead me in the everlasting way.” (Psalm 139:23-24)
The hardened or “abrasive” man, may, in fact, need an abrasive wife. He does not realize that this is God’s precious gift to him, in order to bring refinement to him, so that, per chance, if the man decides to do what is right and humble, he may see and experience life and fulfillment that will lead to ministry opportunities. “Iron sharpens iron, So one man sharpens another.” (Proverbs 2:17) This clearly points to the abrasiveness which may exist when God is trying to refine men and women alike. Men, do not pass up on these opportunities to be refined as silver. Do not be foolish and turn your anger against your wife for behaving in the manner that she behaves, but humble yourself before the mighty hand of God, so that he may exalt you in due season.
Is your wife your enemy? Consider this: “When a man’s ways are pleasing to the LORD, He makes even his enemies to be at peace with him.” (Proverbs 16:7) Do not be so vain so as to think that your ways are perfect before God. Only a fool would say that, and you do not want to be classified as a fool. No, but this is what the one who is righteous in God’s eyes says – this is the one that will be approved before him, and find favor. “God, be merciful to me, the sinner!” (Luke 18:13c) Of this man, Jesus said, “I tell you, this man went to his house justified rather than the other; for everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but he who humbles himself will be exalted.” (Luke 18:14)
So, what’s it going to be? Needless affliction and suffering because you refused to listen to God? Or exaltation in God’s timing, because you recognized and accepted that you were not perfect, and that a loving yet very holy God was trying to get your attention in the midst of all of the turmoil that you have been going through? The decision is up to you. It really is. Now make that decision – and let it be the wise one – and humble yourself before God’s mighty hand, so that he might exalt you in due season. He will. He really will. If you decide to do what is right today.
“Father, help me to be more like you. Help me not to be offended by my wife when she reacts in a way that is unpleasant to me. Help me to understand that you are refining me in the fire, and you are testing me, and you are calling me to be more like you.”