Not many wives would probably say they are “jealous” of their husband in the traditional sense. When we think of jealousy, we usually picture other women: their creative mothering, skinny figure, padded bank account, gorgeous home…
But let me ask you (as I ask myself):
Have you ever wanted to be the final authority in your family’s big decisions?
Have you ever wished you had freedom to go on special “man trips” or have the same amount of time away from the kids as he does?
Have you ever wanted to change the same amount of diapers your husband changes?
Have you ever wanted to sleep through the crying while he wakes up instead?
Have you ever felt a little pang of frustration at his paycheck compared to yours?
Have you ever thought he had it easy when you have it hard?
Have you ever wanted to say, “You figure our dinner tonight…and clean up too!”
Envy lies beneath the surface of all these thoughts.
When Daydreams Lead to Bitterness
One of the first times I felt the passionate sting of “husband envy” was during a family vacation with our small children in tow. Each day, my husband would sleep late into the morning, while I woke up early with three hungry little boys (just like I did at home). I found myself feeding everyone breakfast, eye rolling his behavior to our extended family members, and thinking to myself, “This just isn’t fair! I want to sleep in and have a vacation too, but I’m the one stuck with the kids.” As the minutes rolled by, I felt more frustrated and thought of ways to sabotage his slumber. Even now, I sometimes find myself wrestling with this as he occasionally sleeps-in later than the children on the weekends, but with God’s help, I’m changing my outlook.
Allowing my husband to sleep is a way to serve and bless him. He regularly gets up with the kids during the night while I get to continue sleeping, but I seem to forget all of his sacrifices when I’m feeling shortchanged. And if I really need more rest on a Saturday, I know a prayerful and well-timed conversation would be more helpful than a heart brewing with envy.
Maybe you can relate, or maybe you battle envy on a different front. Maybe you assume your husband couldn’t possibly understand the challenge of being a working mom—responsible for nursing, changing diapers, and packing bags all before commuting to the office by 8:00am. Or maybe as a stay-at-home mom, you’ve sometimes felt like a martyr for the family, dealing with mess after mess all day long while your husband gets dressed for the quiet office.
I’ve talked to many wives and moms who admit to daydreaming about switching places with their husband. They replay the differences over and over in their head:
He gets emails, I get dirty diapers.
He gets adult conversation, I get baby babble.
He gets breaks, I have to pump in the bathroom at the office.
He gets an after-hours drink, I have to rush to day care.
He gets to golf on Saturday, I have to entertain the kids and clean up.
He gets (fill in the blank), I have to (fill in the blank).
This is the same type of poisonous comparison and envy that infects our relationships with other women. It’s just being practiced within the context of marriage. When we declare our state of life unfair, and determine that our husband’s life is the better one, we’ve let a spirit of envy steal our hope in the gospel.
Why the Gospel Frees us to Rejoice
Before God, we are all equal with our husbands. We are equally created in God’s image, equally sinful, and equally in need of a Savior. You and your husband may live in different worlds, but these truths unite you before God.
When you believe that you deserve death and condemnation for your sin, AND that you’ve been given incredible mercy through the death of Christ on your behalf, you realize your greatest needs have been met. Any other blessing God gives you is just a bonus to enjoy in this life. But how does this practically translate into real life?
Knowing who you are in Christ means that you can trust God’s unique plan and purpose for your life, without needing it to be like anyone else.
Understanding what you really deserve allows you to rejoice for all the great things your husband gets to do, without feeling bitter or prideful.
Believing that God is good and offers good for your life allows you to take hard circumstances and face them with joy given by the Holy Spirit.
Seeing Christ as the greatest servant allows you to take the place of a servant in your marriage, looking for ways to lay down your life instead of take on the life of another.
As wives, we don’t have to live discouraged and embittered by our husbands’ opportunities. Instead, we can lay down a heart of jealousy, rejoice in our differences, and thank God for the work He has given us to do. Who knows…we might even start realizing how good we have it, and discover joy in the unique life God has given us!
Meet the Author
Guest blogger Emily Jensen is a wife and mom of 3 boys under the age of 3. And oh yeah, she has another one on the way! When she isn’t wrangling little warriors, she’s passionate about sharing gospel applications for the daily lives of women. Emily blogs at fromthejensens.blogspot.com. You can also follow her via Twitter and Facebook.
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