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What Hill Am I Dying On?

I knew the best way to make my marriage succeed. Or at least I thought I did.

I was raised by a U.S. Marine. I'm the oldest of four children and find leadership roles enjoyable. I'm the person you'd lean on if you needed a shoulder to cry on. I'm the friend you'd call if you wanted someone on your side. And I'm the mother of four who demands respect and tolerates nothing less. As you can imagine, when I was a newly married woman, I was a real peach. I challenged my husband regularly. I was the daughter of a hard-chargin' Marine after all. There wasn't a hill I wouldn't die on. I believed I was right on everything, so everything was up for a fight, at all costs.

"Why are you paying the bills that way?" "Why am I putting gas in the car again?" "Are you seriously wearing that shirt?" "We should leave for your parents' house earlier than that." "Why did you tell him no I just told him yes?" I'd challenge his answers on almost any of the above. On and on it went until one fateful evening.

After making some new friends, the four of us decided to go out for dinner together. My new friend challenged her husband on just about everything. No matter how inconsequential, whenever her husband spoke, she interrupted him. "Sweetheart, you're wrong, that's not what she said." "Why are you having lasagna? You told me you were in the mood for steak?" "The kids were five and three, not six and four."

This poor man was being nitpicked to death. And his wife was choosing ludicrous hills to die on.

I left the restaurant that evening trying hard to convince myself that my hills were different and much more important. Except I couldn't shake the feeling I was looking into a full-length mirror.

New Eyes and Tight Lips

Several days later as I read my Bible, I "happened" upon the story in Genesis where God handed out consequences to Adam and Eve's sin. "He said to the woman, "I will sharpen the pain of your pregnancy, and in pain you will give birth. And you will desire to control your husband, but he will rule over you" (Genesis 3:16, italics added).

The desire to nitpick, nag, and control began way back in the Garden of Eden.

I realized my desire to win each battle and fight on every hill was something I had to deal with spiritually. So the real fight was on. I wasn't going to let my human nature win out.

I began to take to God my irritations, my need always to be right, and my desire to rule. Each day, I prayed for the Lord to open my eyes to what really mattered. I asked him to show me what issue was important enough to challenge my husband over. I decided that no longer would I debate him anywhere except in the privacy of our bedroom, far from prying little eyes and ears. I didn't want my daughters to learn any bad habits from me.

The first days were difficult. I caught myself many times wanting to tell my husband how to do things better. I bit my tongue when he cut the kids' food at dinner. I know the best way to do that, I caught myself thinking. I kept my lips shut when I wanted to tell him what he should say in an e-mail to a friend. I'm much better with people than he is. I quietly sat beside him and smiled when he shared a story and didn't get the names with just right. His memory isn't the best with names.

It wasn't long before my eyes were soon opened: I didn't know the best way to do things; I wasn't better with people than he was; and my memory wasn't always the best.

The change in our home was miraculous. My husband seemed to have a smile on his face more often. Why wouldn't he? He offered his ideas and thoughts without the constant interruptions and challenges of a wife who thought she knew it all. Joy seeped back into our home. I had new eyes to see things in a whole new way.

Today, I refuse to die on any more insignificant battlefields. Though I admittedly still take a hit for the team every now and again, this daughter of a U.S. Marine is learning to stand down and let her husband take his rightful place in our home.

Joanne Kraft is an author who lives in California. Visit her at www.GraceandTruthLiving.com and www.OneSoBlessed.com.

Read more articles that highlight writing by Christian women at ChristianityToday.com/Women

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