I came across the following old Jewish story as I was reading about women in Biblical Israel:
“The story says that a pious man once married a pious woman. They were childless, so they eventually agreed to divorce one another. The husband then married a wicked woman and she made him wicked. The pious woman married a wicked man and made him righteous. The moral of the story is that the woman set the tone for the home.” (Illustrated Manners and Customs of the Bible, eds. Packer and Tenney, P. 430)
This story stood out to me because, as I’ve meditated on Proverbs 31:11-12, I’ve been taken aback by the influence that a wife has on her husband. Any kind of influence is a grave responsibility. But when it comes to the husband you love, the father of your children…the stakes get higher and things get real fast.
So I had to ask myself how I’ve influenced my husband over the course of our relationship. But the funny thing is, when you ask yourself a question like that, it’s hard to come up with any answers. Sure, he eats more sushi now. And yeah, I’m pretty confident that he never would have seen The Real Housewives of Anyplace if I hadn’t tuned in. But I don’t know what kind of lasting impact those decisions have made in his life.
I finally did come up with a concrete example. When Garrett and I met, he was a choir director in a local school district and was also on staff at an Episcopalian church as a staff singer. For all you Baptists and non-denoms out there, it turns out that some churches hire professional singers to sing in their choirs. Yeah, I didn’t know that either.
Anywho, I was a member of a large Baptist church and enjoyed the contemporary upbeat music that all the kids listened to. As our relationship got more serious, I told Garrett that, as beautiful as the Episcopalian service was with its high-church music, I would very much appreciate it if he would return to his Baptist (or similar) roots.
Now here’s where I need to tell you that Garrett loooooves all that high-church music. And believe me, he certainly has the voice for it. He wasn’t too thrilled with contemporary services at first, frustrated by songs that he’d never heard and the lack of written music.
Fast forward five years, one marriage, and two kids later. We’re looking for a church in the new area of town we’ve moved to. I’m trying really hard to find churches with choirs so that Garrett has that outlet, but he decides that a choir isn’t necessary. The man that loved his work as a professional church singer now also loves contemporary worship music to the point that he’ll choose that over the traditional style.
I influenced my husband in a material way without really realizing I was doing it, and certainly without a grand plan. How else am I thoughtlessly influencing him?
As a woman that likes facts and figures and data-driven actions, I’d like to know exactly how I’m influencing my husband. And not only that, but also specifics like, “In what areas should I influence Garrett in the future,” “How can I influence him for the better,” and “In what areas should I limit my influence of him?” But, much like my thoughts about the work I need to do in regard to my husband’s heart trusting in me completely, I’m at a loss.
So I’ve decided that my best course of action is to pray that God reveals to me areas in which I influence my husband, for the worse or for the better, and the wisdom to know how to alter my actions when needed.
I wonder what areas of influence will be revealed five years from now…