May
09

Doormat

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Household, ironingMay 10, 2013 [Your Questions, GEWife]
Hi Karen, I am just wondering if I could have a simple explanation of “doormat.” It comes up during the GEWife classes, like *shock horror, we don’t want to be like that* but I am trying to separate being a doormat from being obedient to God and stepping back and letting God change a husband without the wife butting in. What do you perceive a doormat to be and perhaps I can get a handle on it all? I don’t think necessarily allowing your husband to make decisions without you interfering, even with gentle persuasion, is a doormat, even if you don’t like it,which is where I am getting confused. If he’s going to lead, then he has to be allowed to, and allowed to make mistakes under God’s guidance, too. Would appreciate some clarity, thanks! Rochelle (Australia)

Rochelle, When I say “doormat,” it’s shorthand for a very emotional thing many women think of when they think of submission: a fear of losing their identity, becoming a non-person, having to do whatever your husband says, never speak, be taken for granted, treated as a non-person, be dominated and dictated, etc.. I use the term  because it paints a picture most women agree is not how God intended marriage to be.

What you do, e.g. following your husband’s lead, letting him make decisions, not butting in–the outward behavior in other words–could be done as a “doormat” or as “active submission” that is, simply following your husband with peace and confidence that God is good and in control and powerful enough to bless you through that action. The difference is a matter of the heart, not the outward behavior.

Being a doormat involves a desire to please the husband, or please God by pleasing the husband, which is still not entirely accurate. It’s a horizontal focus and not the right understanding of God’s Word. The wife may well have a deep personal faith, in no small part because of her pain and disappointment, but her marriage itself is not alive in the Lord. She may say she trusts God enough to “obey” her husband, but what she means is that “even if it hurts, even if it’s foolish, I’m going to just do what my husband says because God says so.” It’s an outward obedience that claims to be trusting God, but includes a bitter and resentful or fearful heart. Sadly, it also bears little fruit and few blessings in the marriage. We know that marriage is to represent Christ and the church, so we know this isn’t what God intended.

Pleasing God through what I call “active submission” is also an issue of the heart, but this time a heart that trusts God so completely that even when things seem wrong to human minds and heart, she believes and trusts that God is sovereign, He is good, He is always in control, and He can be fully trusted. The future isn’t known any more clearly, and the outward behavior may look similar to “doormat” submission in that she follows her husband’s leadership, but the heart is completely different. The fruit is completely different as well. I have seen women in awful situations who  adopted a doormat position as silent sufferers; and when they applied this new understanding, God moved in their marriage, changed their husbands and transformed the relationship into something brand new that blessed them enormously.

Medications can’t do that, books about pleasing each other in a marriage can’t do that, seminars and conferences can’t do that, and psychology can’t do that.

Only God can do that.

I hope that helped! It’s a really important question.

Blessings,
Karen

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