Our church sponsored a Womans’ Event recently. We ladies had brunch together and then retired to a classroom to hear a talk by a charming and wonderful woman on being a Christian Wife.
Karen Schaeffer is wife of 52 years to Fritz Schaeffer. Now, Dr Schaeffer is a world-renowned Doctor of Chemical Physics. He is one of the most highly cited scientists in the world. He is also a Christian, as is his wife.
I mention Dr Schaeffer’s renown to provide a backdrop for his wife’s talk to us ladies at our church. Wives have a difficult go. Wives who are mothers have an ever harder time. Wives with children who are married to men in the spotlight have even more challenges. Reputable scientists’ wives who are also Christians face challenges most of us never even know.
Being happily and solidly married to a man for 52 years is an achievement. It is only by the Holy Spirit that two people who at birth and up to conversion are selfish and evil. After conversion men and women are still cursed with tendency to either be passive or to usurp. It is by the Spirit that He grows submission, respect, and love between two people. Through Him, man and woman are united and one flesh, living a Spirit-empowered life.
It is with that wisdom we went to hear what we could learn from this remarkable woman.
I noticed immediately her demeanor. A woman is supposed to be a lot of things, according to the Bible. Both men and women are supposed to be meek and gentle and exhibit the fruit of the Spirit which is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Add to that special instructions for young women and/or older women as Titus 2 says, and then add to that special instructions for wives as Ephesians, Proverbs, and 1 Peter explain, and we have a lot to consider as we strive to honor our glorious Savior.
Mrs Schaeffer exhibited these qualities and in humility shared from the wisdom gained from her experience as a long-standing wife. Her humble and gentle demeanor was striking and at once noticeable to the ladies in the audience including me.
She began by sharing that in turn, she was mentored and influenced in her younger days by a Godly women, with whom she is still friends. She noted the importance of surrounding one’s self with mature -in-the-faith women from whom one can seek advice, or ask questions. Like this one Mrs Schaeffer had asked her mentor/friend long ago:
Mrs S.: Can you wear jeans to church?
Mentor: Sure. … If that’s the best you’ve got.
|Note: Not the Schaeffers|
As a wife, she said to be sure not to impose your personality upon your husband. She said for example, that she is an introvert and he is an extrovert, and it would be easy to become dissatisfied with his rambunctiousness, eagerness to be among people, and excitement at trying new things. Be wary, wives, of pressuring him to conform to your personality, Instead, support him in his. “Let your husband be himself”.
This might seem like obvious advice, but how many of us fall in love with a man because of certain qualities he exhibits that we find charming or fascinating, then as the decades go on, those very same qualities begin to grate on us?
t’s easy to compare your husband to others. When we do, we become dissatisfied. “Her husband does the dishes,” one grouses learn to be content. “Her hubby notices things that need fixing without having to nag,” another wife might complain. Do not compare. Consider no others and make no comparisons. You chose him. He chose you. And, you’re no prize, either. 🙂 If your husband isn’t all you want him to be, God might be growing your faith.
If I can interject my thoughts at this juncture, I’d like to say that though Mrs. Schaeffer’s advice to wives to be content and patient may be obvious, it is a revolutionary thought. Many women these days expect immediate results because all they ever wanted was immediately gratified. Many others want what they want Without working for it. Learning contentment is a foreign notion. It wasn’t foreign to Paul, though. Philippians 4:11 says, “I am not saying this out of need, for I have learned to be content regardless of my circumstances.”
Mrs. Schaefer used a vivid symbol here. She said to “fence your marriage.” She was speaking here of becoming too close to other men. “Don’t go to lunch one-on-one with men, do not confide in them. Don’t draw too close in friendship with men.
Criticism. That’s a huge subject. Mrs. Schaeffer said that it seems that men are highly affected by a wife’s criticism. “A little goes a long way,” she said. When something happens, she advised praying for three days. “If you still remember it, if it still seems like something that needs addressing, then bring it up.” But first, cook him his favorite meal, or bring it up when he is feeling good. “Be careful with criticism.”
|Note, not the doorknob in question|
She related a story about when they lived in Germany for a while. He wanted to go for a long walk on a trail that goes beside the river. They would end up in Munich. “It looks like rain,” Mrs Schaeffer said. The reply was that everything owuld be fine.
Well come a deluge. There was nowhere to hide for miles, and they trudged on. No umbrella, no rain gear, they were simply soaked. They eventually got to their destination, and she said she never said a word and never ever said “I told you so.”
“Don’t yell or argue, ever.” James 3:5-6 was cited here, So also the tongue is a small member, yet it boasts of great things. How great a forest is set ablaze by such a small fire! And the tongue is a fire, a world of unrighteousness. The tongue is set among our members, staining the whole body, setting on fire the entire course of life, and set on fire by hell.
Humility is in order, forgive as Christ has forgiven you. If you have done wrong, apologize fully, not saying “I’m sorry, but…”
The husband is out in the world, working and providing and persevering, sometimes in a job he loves and sometimes not. Make him happy to come home, Mrs Schaeffer said. “If he is getting criticism at work, then make the home a happy, safe haven. If he’s getting praise in the world, and you criticize at home, then why would he come home? Therefore, no nagging.”
Mrs Schaeffer told a story of the loose doorknob. It was broken, kept falling out. She waited. She asked him to fix it. She asked again. It ground on her nerves. Then she got some perspective. Paraphrasing, she said counted her blessings. “If he can live with it, so can I.” Her advice: Fix it yourself,hire someone to fix it, or ignore it.
I thought important advice to hear was not to rely on him for all your emotional needs. “Have close (female) Christian friends or prayer partners. Develop your talents and hobbies, something he can respect.”
After the Lord, make him your number 1 priority. Get away together alone, occasionally. It’s never a good time to go away but make time.
By the Lord’s grace, perhaps you will be blessed with a 51-year or longer marriage. It isn’t easy, sometimes it is downright boring, but overall, it is worth it to meld together into one flesh on the journey into being transformed into Jesus’ image.