The Blessing of a Confident Expectation
About the Guest
Jen Weaver, author of "A Wife's Secret to Happiness," knows that marriage is a lot like dancing: One partner has to lead while the other has to follow. Otherwise, you're only stepping on each other's toes. Weaver shares how she's tried to curb her assertiveness so that her husband can lead their family. This especially applied to children, which she waited to have until Jared felt peace about the timing of their family. Weaver admits she could have fought to get her way, but believed that God was at work in her husband and she would have a baby in due time.
Jen Weaver knows that marriage is a lot like dancing: One partner has to lead while the other has to follow. Otherwise, you’re only stepping on each other’s toes.
The Blessing of a Confident Expectation
Bob: As a wife, are you wishing or hoping that your husband would step into spiritual leadership in your marriage and in your family? Jen Weaver says you need to recognize that’s not a simple assignment for a guy to take on.
Jen: A lot of times, men haven’t had spiritual leadership modeled for them. That can be really hard for us to understand, as women; because in the Christian culture, you believe: “Okay; there’s a spiritual leader. Yay!” And then you get married; and your husband is like, “I don’t know how to do this!”
For a wife, who says: “Well, my husband is passive. He’s not going to do this,” my encouragement to her would be: “Make room for him, and encourage the ways that he does. He may not be able to lead, hugely, in these big areas; but if you’re encouraging him in the small areas, he can grow into them.”
Bob: This is FamilyLife Today for Friday, January 4th. Our host is Dennis Rainey, and I'm Bob Lepine.
So what can a wife do to help her husband become the spiritual leader that he wants to be, that God wants him to be, and that she wants him to be? We’re going to talk about that with Jen Weaver today. Stay with us.
And welcome to FamilyLife Today. Thanks for joining us. You have something in common with our guest today. You’re both—
Bob: Do you know what I’m talking about?
Dennis: I was reading about that. [Laughter] Yes; Jen Weaver joins us on FamilyLife Today. Jen, you gave your husband a very special gift one time.
Jen: I’m trying to remember which one!
Dennis: Do you remember the gift of ballroom dancing.
Jen: [Laughing] Yes!
Dennis: See, Barbara gave me that gift; and it proved to be one of the more stretching gifts that I have ever received [Laughter] from Barbara in all my life. You’re laughing just a little too hard, Jen. Was it the same for Jared, your husband?
Jen: So he was the better dancer between the two of us. It was me putting myself out there with all of my awkward klutziness on the dance floor, because he can dance really well!
Bob: Well, Jen, let me just explain to you: It’s the opposite with the Raineys!—[Laughter]—okay? Just in case anybody was wondering, Dennis is not Fred Astaire in this equation here.
Dennis: I am not.
Jen, of course, has got it all together; because she understands a wife’s secret to happiness, which is what she has written about in her book by the same title. It’s subtitled Receiving, Honoring, and Celebrating God’s Role for You in Your Marriage.
So how did that gift—let’s go back to that gift—how did it work out in your marriage? Did it end up with you having to grow in your role?—as learning to follow his lead as he danced?
Jen: Oh, man, you’re reading my mail. [Laughter] It did! I found myself frustrated, even in the midst of the dance class, that I needed to follow his lead. We both knew who the instructor was / got the same instruction; and I would step on his toes in dancing, because I always tried to take the assertive role.
It brought to light some of the issues that I had in following him; because I like the idea of having a godly husband, who leads our family; but a lot of my actions tend to fight against that kind of provision.
Bob: You’re a take-charge kind of person?
Jen: Oh, yes! I’m very much: “I can do it! I am woman; hear me roar! I’ll do all the things, and dance around you while I’m doing it,”—even though I can’t dance well! [Laughter]
Bob: So your natural inclination is to take charge of things?
Bob: How have you tried to curb that natural inclination so that you encourage your husband to lead?
Jen: Oh, by not stepping over him and making room for him to lead in our family. Sometimes, that is just biting my tongue at first—not being the one to jump in and say, “I know how we can do this!” A lot of it is me not asserting, “This is what we can do,” but coming with a question of: “Hey, I have some thoughts about this. Can we talk about that?”
I had a tendency, even with the stuff that he was going through—he would come home and share: “This is going on at work,” or “This is going on in this relationship that I have.”
I would want to jump in and just fix it and be like, “Well, here’s what you need to do.” Instead, I learned to pause and say: “I have some thoughts about that,” or “This is something that has worked for me. Can I share this with you?” It brought about a transition, just in our communication; so now, he actually comes to me and asks, “I’d like to know what you think about this.”
Bob: So the wife who hears you talking about this and feels like, “This is just one of those Southern housewife things,”—you know—“where you’re just supposed to say [spoken with a southern drawl], ‘Well, sweetheart, I have some thoughts about that.’
Dennis: She’s from California!
Bob: I know, but you know the vibe I’m talking about—
Bob: — where it’s like: “Why can’t a wife just say: ‘No! That’s wrong, honey!’? What’s wrong with a wife being that level of assertive with her husband?”
Jen: So, if that’s your relationship, go for it! If your husband still feels respected, and honored, and considered when you guys talk, super-frankly, with each other, do that. I’m not saying you need to change your personality.
One of the big things that’s on my heart is really the empowerment of submission.
A lot of women will hear that and think, “Oh, that means I need to become this little quiet, timid, dormouse of a woman.”
Bob: Right; right.
Jen: And no! God made you that way on purpose. It’s stepping back, and looking and saying: “Okay; well, is this an area where I’m just being assertive because I want what I want? Is this a character flaw, or is this a strength of how God has made me?” and, then, “How can I channel that to be the best for me and the best for my husband in our marriage?”
Bob: In ten years of being married to Jared, have there been one or two times when yielding to his leadership has been particularly challenging for you?
Jen: Yes; yes. One of those times was when we wanted to have kids, because we went through delayed fertility. We had a loss, about nine months into trying to have kids, and saw a doctor—and was encouraged to go through some fertility treatment. I was all about it; I was ready to have babies! Jared did not have peace with it.
We waited for about a year of me trusting God—believing the Lord has given me a desire to have kids and believing He would bring it about. If it needed to be with fertility treatments, it would be; if it wasn’t, it wouldn’t be—however God wanted to make that happen. Trusting, every month when I wasn’t pregnant, that my husband doesn’t have peace with this for a reason.
And it was great getting to see it in hindsight; because we hit about the one-year mark later, and Jared had peace. We moved forward with fertility treatments; I got pregnant right away. A year previously, the treatments that we wanted, were not covered by insurance; when we went through them, they were—just to see how things lined up. With the son that we now have—he’s three years old—we wouldn’t have this specific boy if we had moved forward a year earlier.
Bob: Your husband was, at this point, saying, “I don’t have peace about something,”—that was central and core. I mean, this was not just, “Oh, I’d rather paint the room blue than green.”
Bob: This was a deep desire of your heart; and your husband was saying, “Not now.”
Bob: How did you not resent him? How did you not think of him as your enemy, but see him as God leading the relationship through him?
Jen: Because I believe that God wasn’t a by-stander when Jared and I got married. A lot of times, if you’re married—and it’s a traditional ceremony with a pastor—he says, “Dearly beloved, we’re gathered here today in the presence of God and these witnesses.” God was present. He wasn’t there just to observe us getting married. I believe that He is part of that—that He is going to equip us to walk out what He is calling us into.
And I believe part of that is the intimacy of a marriage relationship. I believe part of that is what He talks about in Ephesians, with a husband giving of himself and loving his wife, and the wife honoring her husband. Even if Jared was wrong, I knew that God would be faithful to reward my faith.
He would be faithful to reward the fact that I trust the Lord with my marriage relationship. My obedience to God, my honor to my husband—and the priority I’m putting on Jared and [me] living in unity—is more important than the desire of my heart to be a mother.
Dennis: But you were trying to keep it in front of him; right?
Jen: Yes; oh, yes. That was one of the things I had to work on—not advocating for myself by stepping back and choosing: “I’m not going to force what I want; I’m not going to advocate for myself. I’m going to trust for God to advocate for me,”—He did!
Even with fertility treatments, it’s not a guarantee. Every child that is conceived is a gift from God.
Dennis: No doubt about it!
Jen: I could have fought my whole way through, and we had the fertility treatments, and it result in nothing. It’s really great, even—just getting to look back on it and see how, not only did that season strengthen our marriage, but it strengthened my faith to believe that God is capable of doing anything.
We had our son, Dylan, who’s now three; and then, when it came time to have another baby, we went back and had fertility treatments again, and had a pregnancy loss. Both Jared and I thought: “Okay; maybe our family is done. Maybe this is what God has for us”; so we didn’t move forward with additional treatments. I wasn’t taking all the meds or anything, and that month, I got pregnant, again, with my son, Connor. God built my faith in that first season to believe that His goodness would extend to the rest of my life, whether or not that meant other children.
Dennis: I want to go back to the dancing illustration—not that I learned how to dance, clearly! [Laughter] But there are several things that have to happen to be able to make a good couple, who know how to dance. One of them is the man has to create a cradle. His arms have to be solid and firm so that his wife can take her hands and press against his hands and his shoulder; so, as he leads, she feels him leading and she empowers him.
She’s not a wimp, and neither is he. He has to be solid in creating the frame, and be going somewhere—that he knows where he’s going. I did not know where I was going [Laughter], and I made a lousy frame for Barbara! But she had a hard time pressing against the frame and following it. Some of it, again, was me not being solidly confident in where I was going; but some of it was she was wanting to control. That’s what you just described—you were wanting to control the process.
Bob: There’s a phrase you use in your book, though, that speaks to all of this—it’s the phrase: “The blessing of confident expectation.”
Bob: So explain what that means/what that looks like—and then tell the story you tell in the book about Claire, the woman who felt like, “If anything’s going to get done around here, I’m the one who’s got to do it!”
Jen: Confident expectation means I believe God is going to carry out good, even if I don’t see it yet.
Even if my circumstances aren’t all daisies and butterflies, and even if my husband and I are working through some things, I can have confident expectation of who God is—that He is good, and He’s going to carry out the good that He says He’s going to do.
It’s really the difference between being doubtful or decided: “Am I deciding to see that what God’s Word says is true? Am I deciding to trust God’s leadership in my life, which means receiving my husband, and making room for him also to lead; or am I going to be doubtful of this provision—it’s actually going to happen?
Bob: There’s another word for this—it’s called “faith”; right?
Bob: “Confident expectation”—I mean, faith is the assurance of things hoped for. That’s what confident expectation is all about, and walking by faith is how we’re instructed to walk.
Dennis: And how does a woman walk, who’s married to a man who tends to be passive?
Jen: A lot of times, men haven’t had spiritual leadership modeled for them.
Jen: That can be really hard for us to understand, as women; because in the Christian culture, you believe: “Okay; there’s a spiritual leader. Yay!” And then you get married; and your husband is like, “I don’t know how to do this!” Some of it is making room for him. A lot of the actual leadership comes to our husbands seeking God on it—getting plugged in with mentors or other men in the faith to show them: “Hey, these are the things...”—to say, “Hey, this approach with your wife is probably not helpful.”
I know a lot of couples have mentor couples, where the husband and wife can speak into the younger husband and wife. For a wife, who says: “Well, my husband is passive. He’s not going to do this,” my encouragement to her would be: “Make room for him, and encourage the ways that he does. He may not be able to lead, hugely, in these big areas; but if you’re encouraging him in the small areas, he can grow into them.”
Bob: That was part of what Claire was dealing with; right?
Jen: Yes; so Claire took on a lot of these responsibilities in her life and in her family, really with the perspective of, “If I don’t do it, it’s not going to get done.” She felt this burden that she had to handle things.
It got to a point with their finances, where things were just not working right. They were struggling financially. She realized, after reading a certain article, that part of this issue was she wasn’t being submissive to her husband in it. She kind of took it on her own and kind of ran away with some of the things.
She had a conversation with him, and they sat down, and they worked on the budget together. Then she was able to share all the blessing and provision that God brought, in large part, because of her choosing to put herself under authority—of her choosing to yield her heart and yield her budget to what she and her husband came to agreement on—and how God’s favor was all over that.
Bob: This may get some letters, but I’ve said—sometimes publicly/more often privately—I’ve said: “It’s my observation that, if passivity is a besetting sin for a lot of men,”—and I think it is—“then I think control is a besetting sin for a lot of women.”
Bob: I think there are a lot of women, who think to themselves, “Unless I’m in control, I’m not safe.” What they need to learn, over time, is—even when they’re in control, they’re not always safe. The fact that you think you’re in control doesn’t mean that you’re now in a safe situation. But sometimes, it can feel safe if it’s like, “Okay; I know what to do, and I’ll do it.”
Well, if a wife is in a role, where she says, “Okay, I’m going to take charge!” a lot of husbands are fine with that. It’s like: “Okay; fine. You seem to know what you’re doing, and you want to do it. Go for it!” They will drift toward passivity while the wife moves toward control.
All of a sudden, they’re looking at each other and going: “This isn’t what either of us want. We’re out of whack; because you’re frustrated that I’m not leading, and I’m frustrated that it’s always got to be your way,” rather than us getting aligned with, “What would God have us do?” and a husband stepping up and taking responsibility for what he needs to take responsibility for; and a wife saying, “I believe in you; and I support you, and I’m with you.”
Jen: Yes; and I think, sometimes, men can tend toward passivity because it’s a little bit easier. It’s scary to be the leader.
Jen: It’s scary to have the buck stopping with you—to stand before God, and He’s going to ask you, as the husband: “How did you steward your family? How did you love and give yourself for your wife?”
If a woman is willing to be like, “Hey, well, I’m going to do this too!” In the moment, it can feel like: “Whew! I’m not actually having to carry this. I’m not actually having to fill this role.” But I believe, in the heart of a man, is a desire to care for his family.
Jen: In the heart of a man is the desire to lead—and not in a negative, take-charge: “I’m the boss,” kind of way—
Jen: —but in a, “I’m going to do good to you,” kind of way.
As women, we have to make room for that. We can’t take charge of everything and be the leaders in our home; and then, when catastrophe hits, step back and be like, “Okay; honey, you’ve got to lead us out of this!” Because what’s he going to do?! Where has he had the room to walk in that?
How has he been given the opportunity to cultivate that skill set?—to cultivate what that means?—to hear God on behalf of his family?—or to lead and love you in that way? It’s not an immediate flip of a switch; but as wives, we get to afford those opportunities and to commend when we see our husbands walk in them.
Dennis: I like the illustration you used earlier, where the husband and wife couldn’t agree on their finances; but they solved it by sitting down and doing a budget.
Jen: Yes; and I think, too, when it comes to budgets, it’s a really tangible way to align yourself with your husband, or to position yourself against him; because—even for me, I don’t love the submission thing. It’s still something that my sin nature fights against. I want to advocate for myself—I want my own way. It’s really easy, especially in the early years of my marriage, for something to come up about submission—or my budget—and be like, “Well, I don’t know about this!” I can reach for outliers all I want to try and defend why I shouldn’t have to do things.
Yes; some men abuse position!
Yes; sometimes submission is used to lord over women. That’s not what God intended it to be—that’s not healthy; that’s not biblical; that’s not of God—but submission, when it’s used rightly, is a gift from God.
Dennis: One of the things you write about in your book is the power of words.
Dennis: Sometimes they can be used negatively in your husband’s life—like the toolbox as a gift, with him there. What was your comment about Jared, as you got the toolbox?
Jen: Oh, goodness! It was something along the lines of, “What are you going to do with that?” [Laughter]
Bob: Like, “You idiot!”
Jen: Yes; he was not experienced with fixing things. And growing up, my dad was very handy. My dad did construction, and he fixed appliances. We never called a handyman my whole childhood; because my dad had all of these tools, and all of this knowledge.
I wasn’t trying to be mean to my husband. It was actually a toolbox given to us at a wedding shower, as we were getting ready to get married. I was just making a little—what I thought harmless—joke about: “Oh! What are you going to do with that, babe? That’s too funny!”
He shared with me, afterwards, how deeply it hurt him. I repented to God; I apologized to my husband, because I was demeaning my husband. I was speaking that into him, even at a party where we were getting ready to celebrate our new life together. That became kind of a standing symbol for us of the power of our words.
Even, a few years later, I got him a little Christmas tree ornament that’s the shape of a toolbox. [Laughter] I spoke to him of how, not only have I seen him—because he does—he knows how to fix things in our house now—but beyond that, how I see him lead—how he is capable.
Dennis: Jared and I would get along really well. [Laughter] I was told by a counselor one time—I score in the lower two percentile, of all the people in the world, at working with my hands. Barbara’s dad was the Vice President of Engineering of a U.S. steel plant.
Jen: Oh, wow!
Dennis: So here we are in our marriage—
—she would watch me get frustrated, and then she would come alongside me. She would kind of comfort me and say, “Can I help here, sweetheart?” She didn’t put me down, but she used her words and her attitude to encourage me as I attempted to fix things.
Bob: I’d like you both to know that I replaced the garbage disposal in our kitchen, and I’m pretty proud of the fact. It took about five hours to do it—[Laughter]—a little longer than they said on the carton there—but I got ‘er done, and I’m feeling pretty good about that.
Dennis: And I’d like to say that I replaced the garbage disposal at our house—
Dennis: —with my son-in-law, [Laughter] who is very good with his hands!
Bob: You talk, in the book, about wanting to speak prophetically.
Bob: That’s what Dennis is talking about here. A wife has power to speak words into her husband’s life that can make him a different man.
Jen: Yes! Prophecy, in its base form, is speaking forth encouragement, exhortation, and comfort. A wife has a unique power—you are the closest voice to your husband’s ear.
And we get to speak prophetically of who God has called him to be, of the character you see developing in him, of the way that he leads you. Sometimes, you’re speaking prophetically of something you don’t see at all yet—it’s something way off in the distance—and you can just speak to him: “Babe, I know God has made you as a strong man. I know God is crafting you as a leader.”
“God, I know that You want to love greatly. I receive that from You.” You can call out things in your husband; but, sometimes, he doesn’t even know he needs to develop in that area. You get to see God start to do a good work in your husband by the power of His Spirit.
Dennis: Well, I know this—your book does a lot of good work in the lives of a lot of marriages, because you’re helping wives kind of put the clothing—of being a wife—on and feel comfortable in it and showing them how to execute in that responsibility. I appreciate you writing this book, A Wife’s Secret to Happiness.
I hope you’ll come back and join us, again, on FamilyLife Today.
Jen: Thank you. I would love to.
Bob: We do have copies of Jen’s book. Again, it’s called A Wife’s Secret to Happiness: Receiving, Honoring, and Celebrating God’s Role for You in Your Marriage. You can order it from us, online, at FamilyLifeToday.com; or call 1-800-FL-TODAY to order. Again, our website is FamilyLifeToday.com. You can call 1-800-358-6329 to order Jen’s book—that’s 1-800-FL-TODAY. The title of the book, one more time, is A Wife’s Secret to Happiness.
I also want to mention, Dennis, the book your wife Barbara has written, called Letters to My Daughters, which is another book we’ve got in our FamilyLife Today Resource Center that will complement Jen’s book. Listeners may want to get a copy of both of those books when they get in touch with us.
You know, I’m thinking back to just a few weeks ago. I was at the Weekend to Remember® marriage getaway in Portland, Oregon, and had a great time with hundreds of couples from all across the Pacific Northwest.
We really did have a great weekend together. I got a chance to talk to some FamilyLife Today listeners, who came up and said, “We have been listening for a long time.” They shared about particular programs that they’ve heard that have had an impact on their lives. They talked to me about circumstances in their marriage or in their family and how, Dennis—how things you’ve shared with them on FamilyLife Today—God used that in their lives.
I wanted to pull out my phone and record what they were sharing just so I could bring it back to you and share it with you, but that didn’t feel like the right thing to do; so here’s what we thought—we thought: “We’re going to give FamilyLife Today listeners an opportunity to share with you/with us how God has used this ministry in their lives.” We’re going to ask you, if you’ve got a story to share: “Would you just jot down a few notes, and then call 1-800-FL-TODAY?” We’ll transfer you to a voice mailbox, and you can leave your story there.
We’ll not only listen, but we’ll share it with the whole team, here, at FamilyLife®. It will be a great encouragement for everybody. So, if you’ve got a story, take a few minutes and share it with us; will you? Call 1-800-FL-TODAY, and we’ll walk you through how to do that. Thanks, in advance, for taking some time to let us know how God’s using FamilyLife Today in your life, in your marriage, and in your family.
One final note before we wrap up here today: “Thanks, again, to all of you who, at the end of 2018, got in touch with us to make a yearend contribution.” The last couple of days, were a little crazy—we heard from a lot of folks in the 48 hours right before the year ended. We’re still kind of processing all of that to see what happened at yearend and to see if we were, in fact, able to take full advantage of the matching-gift opportunity that was in front of us.
We’re so grateful to all of you who got in touch with us and made a yearend contribution. We’ll be in touch with you to let you know how things ended up. Thanks, as well, to those of you who support this ministry, regularly, as Legacy Partners. Your month-in and month-out support is what makes FamilyLife Today possible.
We’re grateful for your partnership with us!
And we hope you have a great weekend. I hope you and your family are able to worship together in your local church this weekend, and I hope you can be back with us on Monday when we’re going to talk about parenting priorities and dealing with difficult subjects in a tough time to be raising the next generation. Phillip Bethancourt will be here to talk about that with us, and I hope you can be here as well.
I want to thank our engineer today, Keith Lynch, along with our entire broadcast production team. On behalf of our host, Dennis Rainey, I'm Bob Lepine. We will see you back next time for another edition of FamilyLife Today.
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