When John and I got married, I memorized the perfect formula to have an ideal marriage:
Respect and honor your husband.
That’s what the married ladies told me when asking for marriage advice, that’s what all the experts said in books, and it is what Scripture commands.
On paper, my naive-wife mind patted myself on the shoulder as I claimed: “Easy, peasy. Done. And got it.”
And then I went to work…
John and my income trajectory over the course of our marriage has been interesting. John is brilliant, went to great business school, and landed a solid job right after graduating from college.
I on the other hand, graduated with a political science degree, less than stellar grades, and zero job prospects.
But I was determined. I was determined that one day, all this lack on my part would be something else. I would figure out how to make and do and achieve just as John had. I would be able to compete with his income. I would hold my own, make my own, and prove I did not have to be dependent on his paycheck.
And I did just that.
I landed in a profession with unrestricted income potential. It took time, but over the years, I became the coveted title of breadwinner within our household.
And that’s when it happened.
The posture of my heart towards John changed. I became superior (so I thought).
I questioned John’s capacity as a husband and provider because he was making less. I questioned his ability to lead our family. And I straight up defied the thought of submission.
Because how could I submit to someone who was making less?
How could I respect his profession when I was the one bringing in more dough?
So you know what I did? I pressured him. I belittled him.
I looked down on him. And I resented the fact I made more than him.
I told him implicitly and explicitly, what he was doing, what he was making, it wasn’t enough.
I told him he was selling himself short. I spewed discontentment on him.
I did everything but respect and honor him.
And then work got harder for me…
Work has been interesting this year. My capacity has been shrunk. I’ve not been able to handle and produce like years past. And it has humbled the heck out of me.
In the world of sales, if you’re not producing, you’re not making. Past trends would indicate this should be my best year, but instead I’ve taken a serious cut. A kind of cut that has my ego bowed down in humility.
Financially, I’ve been left in a place of dependency on my husband. The kind of dependency that makes me very uncomfortable. The kind of dependency that makes me feel ashamed for not being able to stand on my own two feet.
It has taken several months of walking in this kind of dependency to realize for me, there was a destructive correlative between how much money I made and my ability to respect and honor my husband.
The world doesn’t warn you about the competing dynamics that will enter your marriage when traditional breadwinner statuses are challenged.
Instead the world just screams: Go do more and go make more…don’t worry about the effects of your income levels.
To love and honor…
Over coffee a couple weeks ago, a friend asked how John and I were doing.
I told her we are the best we have ever been.