One relationship my pride shows up in more than any other is in my marriage. Since marriage brings our sinful nature to the surface, we should not be surprised to find pride here. Yet, if left unchecked, pride can destroy your marriage.
Pride creates dissonance between couples. When we pretend we are perfect, our spouse feels like they need to be perfect too. But both parties know the truth; we are sinners and we don’t have it all together.
Pride doesn’t allow us to talk about our struggles, work out problems, or connect through brokenness. Two prideful people in a marriage just end up being two lonely and unhappy people in a marriage.
“Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall.” Proverbs 16:18 (NIV)
But humility in marriage is transformative. Timothy Keller says:
“The reason marriage is so painful and yet wonderful is because it is a reflection of the gospel, which is painful and wonderful at once. The gospel is this: We are more sinful and flawed in ourselves than we ever dared believe, yet at the very same time we are more loved and accepted by Jesus Christ than we ever dared hope. This is the only kind of relationship that will really transform us.”
In marriage, humility allows us to admit our mistakes, and work through our sin with our spouse. Humility also gives us abundant grace, leading to deeper love of our partner.
“But he gives more grace. Therefore it says, ‘God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.’” James 4:6 (ESV)
6 Ways to be a Humble Wife
1. Recognize that different does not mean better.
In an interview with Priscilla Shirer, Melanie Hall, wife of the lead singer of Casting Crowns, admitted viewing herself as better than her husband early on in marriage. She explained how her strengths were her husband’s weaknesses, and she mistook this as a reason to feel more important than her husband. Eventually, God convicted her of these beliefs and she saw the damaging effects of pride. Once she recognized her husband’s strengths as valuable, because they were different, her appreciation and love for her husband grew.
If we view ourselves as more important or “better than” our spouse because of differing strengths, then we miss the beautiful harmony of marriage. Our differences exist to help and support one another.
As wives, we can demonstrate humility by acknowledging our husband’s strengths as valuable, and by asking for help in his areas of expertise.
2. Submit to your husband’s leadership.
The Bible’s stance on marital roles is clear; “For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit in everything to their husbands.” Ephesians 5:23-24 (ESV)
For many women, including myself, these verses are hard to swallow (hello pride!). But, I find it helpful to remember Jesus himself humbly submitted to God as the head of the trinity.
“Think of yourselves the way Christ Jesus thought of himself. He had equal status with God but didn’t think so much of himself that he had to cling to the advantages of that status no matter what. Not at all. When the time came, he set aside the privileges of deity and took on the status of a slave, became human! Having become human, he stayed human. It was an incredibly humbling process. He didn’t claim special privileges. Instead, he lived a selfless, obedient life and then died a selfless, obedient death—and the worst kind of death at that—a crucifixion.” Philippians 2:5-8 (MSG)
In marriage, submission looks like not needing to be right all the time, not arguing over matters of opinion (where you want to eat, go on vacation, or what movie you want to watch), and accepting your husband’s decision even when you disagree (unless his decision is unlawful, harmful, or sinful). In short, submission requires setting aside our pride.
3. Serve Your Husband
Jesus, our perfect example of humility, spent His life serving others, and tells us to do the same.
“If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I have given you an example, that you also should do just as I have done to you. Truly, truly, I say to you, a servant is not greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him.” John 13:14-16 (ESV)
When it comes to serving your spouse, Timothy Keller breaks it down into four categories: 1. Practical and menial tasks (meet his basic needs), 2. Show him respect, 3. Show you care about his well-being, 4. Encourage his spiritual growth.
If you aren’t sure how to serve your husband in these ways, ask him. After all, a humble wife can admit when she doesn’t have the answers.
4. Admit your mistakes and ask for forgiveness.
No wife is perfect. We lose our tempers, and say hurtful words to our spouse. We don’t follow through on a promise. We act prideful and end up disrespecting our spouse and the position God placed him in.
When these things happen, the only way to repair the relationship and move forward in love is to humble yourself and repent to your husband.
“Therefore, confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another so that you may be healed The effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much.” James 5:16
5. Forgive Your Husband
Perfect husbands are just as mythical as perfect wives. Your husband will mess up. He will sin against you and it will hurt; but Paul tells us to forgive as we are forgiven.
“Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.” Ephesians 4:32 (ESV)
A humble wife keeps the truth of the gospel at the center of her marriage. Instead of holding herself up as “better”, and lecturing her husband, she offers forgiveness because her own sins were forgiven. Timothy Keller describes the power of this practice in The Meaning of Marriage:
“The gospel can fill our hearts with God’s love so that you can handle it when your spouse fails to love you as he or she should. That frees us to see our spouse’s sin and flaws to the bottom—and speak of them—and yet still love and accept your spouse fully. And when, by the power of the gospel, our spouse experiences that same kind of truthful yet committed love, it enables our spouses to show us that same kind of transforming love when the time comes for it.”
6. Adopt a Gentle Spirit
As women, we are created to be a “helper” for our husband. The word helper never seemed very important to me until I learned the Hebrew word for helper is used to describe God himself.
God is our helper. He is knowledgeable, able, caring, loving, and wants the best for us— and we are created in His image.
But being a helper requires humility and a gentle spirit. Timothy Keller says; “Truth without love is harshness; it gives us information but in such a way that we cannot really hear it.”
Therefore, when offering help to our husbands, we should follow the advice of 2 Timothy 2:25: “Gently instruct those who oppose the truth. Perhaps God will change those people’s hearts, and they will learn the truth.” (NLT)
Marriage is one of the most important relationships to remain humble in; for if we don’t, pride will certainly destroy it. These six ways to be a humble wife are a great place to begin, but I would love to hear from you: How do you show humility in your marriage?
Related posts: Why Marriage is so Hard, and The Problem with Pride