On locating the power source
I find myself fascinated by the unspoken give-and-take of power in a marriage. There are obvious expressions of power … and not-so-obvious.
Among the obvious: The spouse who’s more controlling or nitpicky.
Also obvious? Areas where you’re the one delegated to a certain task (division of labor is generally a good thing!). Maybe you divide up finances, disciplining the kids, maintaining the vehicles.
Perhaps less obvious, take decision-making. The cycles of who persuades, who resists, and who weighs the options carry their own power dynamic.*
Power can also be manifested in complaining or blaming. We might think the issue is only about taking out the trash. But the person nagging, whining, or pointing the finger is expressing their discontent with the other in an attempt to control that person’s behavior.
And sometimes, we may not really have all that much invested in the actual thing we’re complaining about. The power is in having the complaint—something to hold over the “wrongdoer.” The power dynamic is less overt, more manipulative.
In reading this, you might be convinced you need to be the one with the power, or that your spouse is stealing yours. But as Christians, our marriages are dictated by a different understanding.
Power or authority is biblically a responsibility to care for someone rather than dominate them (see John 13:12-17).
Turning the world and its leaders’ idea of power on its head, Jesus instead saw power as the means to shield and advocate for those in His care.
He took on the form of a foot-washing servant—to the point of losing His own life.
But this isn’t a call to be a doormat or a martyr (or employing those as manipulative forms of power).
We know God has proven our worth by forming us in His image and giving His own Son for us. We ground our sense of worthiness in something other than how much control we can exert over others.
Our power isn’t something we take for ourselves, but rather find in our Advocate, Protector, and Refuge.
Read how one woman’s life was transformed by a different kind of power—the power of love.
The good stuff: So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy... Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name... (Philippians 2:1, Philippians 2:5-9)
Action points: Do the ways you exercise power in your relationship reflect love and nurture responsibility for your spouse? Do they reflect that your worth comes from God—rather than your ability to influence and control, or your ability to be passive and please others?
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