Vestigial Spouse

Evolutionary scientists once created the myth of vestigial organs, to suggest that evolution really did happen and left a trail for redundant biological left-overs.

The initial list in the 1890’s comprised over one hundred and eighty items, but a hundred years later there were no human organs left on the list.
The concept was an evolutionary mind-trick to beguile the gullible with pseudo-scientific ‘evidence’ in support of evolution.

Vestigial, then, means a redundant and left over remnant, as a reminder of some previous reality or application. To generalise the term we could suggest that your baby clothes and tricycle are vestigial items from your childhood, which have no application in your life today. Redundancy and disappearance of some previously existing reality are key thoughts in the term.

Redundant Spouse

Some husbands and wives live as if their spouse is now redundant, at least in major part. At some time in the past the spouse was the centre of their life. Being together, sharing dreams, building a future together and being sweet to each other were mutually rewarding bonds that gave each one a high value in the others life.

Over time, however, it is possible for people to drift apart.
They can find that they no longer treasure their spouse or the time they two can share together. Their individual lives, aspirations, interests and meaning can come from quite independent sources, and so they live in company but not in one-ness as they did before.

In such situations it is even quite possible that the spouses or one to the other at least, can become redundant. It is quite possible for a man or woman to be far more interested in their career or outside interests than in the relationship they once valued with their spouse.
It is quite possible for a parent to become more engaged with the life and interests of their children, than in the bond they share with their spouse.

A Remnant Reminder

The term vestigial also signals that the spouse’s current existence is not what previously existed. The husband or wife was at one time the delight of their spouse. They were the source of delight and hope for the future.

Over time that reality died away, and became ‘extinct’ in the relationship.
In place of that person who was once the focus of all the other’s hopes and dreams, there remains someone who is linked to that past person, but who is only a remnant and reminder of what once existed.

Mere Appendage

It is quite possible for a husband or wife to get on with their own life, as if the spouse were a mere appendage, and an almost vestigial one at that.

If the husband has already fathered the children and provided the house, then he can be effectively dispensed with by some wives, who now invest themselves in their children. If the wife has met the man’s
needs for a time, before he found other things to live for, he can then effectively abandon the wife, as no longer required to fulfil his needs.

Such a situation is an abuse of the marriage and completely contrary to what God created and the Bible instructs. Yet most people do what comes instinctively to them, not what is right.

Selfish Perspective

A redundant, vestigial spouse is created by selfish people. When a man or woman lives for themself, seeking a life that meets their own needs, then they will use, abuse and discard other people, including their spouse. When they need the spouse, to meet emotional needs, affirm their personal value, give them hope for the future and so on, they will be closely bonded. Once they have found their feet better, and seen the challenges that pleasing a spouse can bring, they may then press on with their own pursuits, creating increasing distance between the couple.

They will also allow themselves to evolve from a loving and caring investor in the life of their spouse, to someone who is demanding and only looking for what they can extract from the spouse. They move themselves into a different place to the one they first occupied for their spouse.

A selfish wife will pursue the things she values, minimising the degree to which her husband will interfere with her quest for fulfilment. This is the opposite of being a wife, who is helper to her husband.
Instead of the husband being her world, he becomes her unwanted encumberance.

A selfish husband will pursue the things that appeal to him, avoiding the demands and challenges his wife presents to him. This is the opposite of being a husband, who is the “husbandman” of his wife and who is to love her unconditionally, helping her grow into the woman of God that she is meant to be.
Instead of the wife being his principal mission in life, she becomes the dead weight that he wants to be free from.

Marriage Breakdown

The epidemic of marriage breakdown which we see today is largely spawned from the kind of selfishness that creates vestigial spouses. The breakdown happens in the heart, long before it is seen by the community.

When men and women despise the one they committed themselves to love they reveal that they are intolerant, vengeful, selfish and of no true worth.
If a man is only as good as his ‘word’, then all those who abandon their marriage vows show how little they are worth. If their word of commitment to each other can be overturned and abandoned, then they as people are worth as little as their word.

Drift or Rejection

Some marriages break down because the couple drift apart. The selfishness of the spouses directs them to seek their own life, and, over time, they have a happy existence independent of their spouse. This is the process of drift that can happen without the couple being conscious of it.

Some couples don’t realise how far they have drifted apart until the husband retires from work and tries to fit into the home life which his wife has developed over four decades or so. The woman finds that she cannot tolerate her husband being around and the man finds that he just can’t relate to his wife like he used to.

However, selfishness can be much more decisive than the unseen drift. At times men and women actively reject their spouse, throwing them off like a redundant used rag, or rejecting them as some bodies reject transplanted organs.
When a selfish husband or wife discovers that their spouse is not what they hoped them to be, the response can be open rejection and despisement.
This rejection can be done in bitter disappointment, or it may be in calculated selfishness disposing of what does not serve their wishes.

Vestigial or Vital

Some bodily organs are almost redundant. While they are not vestigial in the way evolutionary myth once wanted them to be, they are not essential for life. The appendix, tonsils and gall-bladder are among organs that can be removed without killing the patient.

Other organs, however, are absolutely vital. Heart, lungs, liver and brain cannot be safely removed from a body. If these organs are diseased or damaged a person ends up on life-support machines just to stay alive.

Your spouse is not a vestigial or redundant element of your existence. In God’s scheme of things your spouse is meant to be a vital part of your whole life. You are bonded to them by God in the MoralMiracle of physical oneness.
No other person on the planet is recognised by God as having the same body as you, except your spouse. This is why all sexual activity outside of marriage is immoral and toxic, while such activity
in godly marriage is pure.

You are also able to reflect Christ and the Church in a unique way, through your marriage. Every husband is to be to his wife as Christ is to his bride, the Church, giving himself to perfect her and see her spiritually blessed. Every wife is to be to her husband as the Church is to Christ, finding her whole meaning in relationship with him, and serving him as the God-given helper.

No More Neglect

It is time to stop neglecting your spouse. They are not redundant, despite how they disappoint or frustrate you. You are to find in God all that you need to be the husband or wife you are created to be for your spouse.

Say “No” to neglect.

Take stock
of your situation and determine to value your spouse.
what has been undermined or washed away.
to the things you once so readily offered.
their failures and the frustrations and challenges they bring to you.

God expects your marriage to challenge you so much that you need to call on Him to perfect you, strengthen you and give you wisdom. In that process you will be forced to mature, grow, move in faith, rely on God, die to yourself, and many other things which the Bible says are important for you.

If you abandon your spouse, neglect them or make them a vestigial part of your life, you will fail to become the person God has designed you to be. Your own existence will become vestigial. You will become redundant to the purposes of God and waste your days in vanity.

Don’t let things remain as they are one minute longer. Call out to God right now to help you regain what you have lost and to become the person you need to be to fulfil God’s design, in the very marriage which you have right now.

Regaining Domestic Authority

How does a hen-pecked husband regain his rightful authority? If he is under his wife’s demands and rebuke, how does he restore his rightful place of headship in the home?

This a pretty challenging issue for many husbands, especially those who do not have their wife’s permission to be the head of the home.

The Wife’s Permission

Some Christian ministries handle this by suggesting that the wife’s ‘submission’ is a precursor to the husband’s headship. I object to such nonsense. They arrive at this case by noting that in Ephesians 5, where the Apostle Paul tells husbands and wives about their respective roles, the wife is advised about ‘submission’ before the husband is addressed about his need to love the wife.

The suggestion that a person can only have authority once their subordinate gives it to them is ludicrous on several accounts. Real authority comes from being under authority, so how can one who is a subordinate assign authority to their leader. The leader gets his or her authority from someone with more authority than them, not someone with less!

There is no place in society where true authority is determined by the response of those under authority. What happens in reality is that those who don’t wish to be under proper authority face consequences for that stance. They do not gain power over the authority but are dealt with by the authority.

Husbands are not dependent on their wife’s permission to hold their position of headship over the wife.

God’s Assignment

Husbands have headship over their wife. They have that headship whether they want it or not. They have it whether they use it well or not. They have it for as long as they have a wife. They have it whether they are smarter or stronger than their wife, or whether she outperforms them in every way. They have it because it is God’s assignment to them.

God assigns authority, as the principal authority figure in the universe. No-one has more authority than
God. No-one has the power to revoke God’s authority. No-one has a voice that has the right to speak against or challenge the authority of God. And that God, the Almighty God, our Creator and the sustainer of all things is the one who gives husbands headship in their home.

The attitude, opinion and actions of the wife are inconsequential to the fact. The man carries the responsibility of headship whether his wife likes it or not. He carries it whether his wife approves or not. He even carries it while his wife is vigorously rebelling against it. She has zero power over the man’s authority and headship.

The Wife’s Part

The wife is responsible for herself and her attitudes and actions. She will give account for her words, actions and attitudes to God. She has no authority over the husband’s role. She cannot veto it, negate it, overturn it, modify it or otherwise subvert it in any way. It is outside her power.

The wife did not assign the husband’s role, God did. The wife did not make the husband her head, God did. The wife did not elevate the man by her approval of him, but God placed a mantle of responsibility on him whether the man and woman knew about it or not.

Oh, and it doesn’t matter whether either of them or Christians or not. This is not the Christian order for marriage; it is God’s order for marriage. It applies across all cultures, all ages, all socio-economic situations, and all parts of the globe.

Restoring Order

The first step in restoring the godly order for the marriage is to know the order and how serious it is. It is not something the couple need to agree on in order for it to become real.

Once a husband realises that he stands accountable before God for the place of responsibility which God has given him he can then take the matter to God for divine wisdom about restoring that order in his home.

There are several practical insights that will apply in that process, but I’ll leave the subject for now, so you can absorb and mull over the implications of what I have outlined here. And my prayer in that God give you wisdom and grace to empower you to stand before Him, fully accountable for your actions and completely ready to honour Him ahead of all else.

The Marriage University

I spoke recently with a husband who was struggling to come to terms with his own responsibility in his home. To help him grasp one of the concepts I came up with a new analogy which I had not used before. I share it here to give you additional focus on the journey couples make in graduating into glory.

Different Roles in the Marriage

Husbands and wives have unique roles in the marriage. There are specific things husbands must do, that their wives are not asked to do. There are specific things wives are asked to do, that their husbands are not asked to do. Both husband and wife must make personal progress in their own assignment, irrespective of how the spouse is getting on with their challenges.

Different Places of Responsibility

According to the Bible, God has established human society by way of a hierarchy of responsibility. That hierarchy starts with God. Almighty God has the ultimate authority and the greatest responsibility, overseeing all else. Directly under God’s authority, and next in the hierarchy of responsibility is Jesus Christ, God’s Son. Then, directly under Jesus Christ is the husband. In the marriage and family, the husband carries the next level of authority and responsibility. The wife, is then under the husband’s authority, just as the husband is under Christ’s authority and Christ is under God.

“But I would have you know, that the head of every man is Christ; and the head of the woman is the man; and the head of Christ is God.” 1Corinthians 11:3

Different Lessons to Learn

Many specific responsibilities spring from this hierarchical structure. The Husband must shoulder responsibility for the wife, children and home. He is directly answerable to God for his management and handling of the relationships, standards, training and spiritual blessing of the home. This includes morality, godliness, the fear of God, holiness, discipline, direction, spiritual and natural protection, and more.

The Wife must bring herself under the headship of the husband. This will be hard for her if she looks only at her husband. She must recognise and place her trust in God and Christ, as the husband’s heads. If she fails to do that she will end up taking matters into her own hands, making demands of her husband, manipulating, contending and otherwise failing to submit to his headship.

The husband must be able to nurture his wife and children, while being sure that he is answerable to Jesus and God, not others who will seek to direct his life. He must ensure that he does not abdicate to his wife, and allow her to replace Christ as the head of the home. If he allows her to do that he brings spiritual problems into the whole family.

Marriage University

Both husband and wife are attending the same university of life. They attend classes together, but both must learn different lessons from the life situations which they confront. It is as if they are both sitting side by side in the lecture hall, listening to the lessons. Yet the husband is enrolled in a different course to his wife. He will be set different assignments and tested on different questions to his wife, even from the same professor.

The husband is studying headship of his wife and submission to Christ. The wife is studying submission to her husband and faith in Christ and God.

The Curriculum

The Marriage University is an open book, mastery learning, life-experience oriented environment. The curriculum covers the same scope for all who attend, but the individual differences of each student are taken into account by the teachers. Some will study longer and be challenged with more difficult lab tests. Some will find that the open learning environment continues with extension courses for the rest of their lives.

Honours Courses

Each couple should make it their determination to graduate with Honours. High Distinctions are the best objective for each elective and every test. When a person graduates with that standard they are guaranteed many graces and much blessing from their diligent and faithful application.

The fruit of the course begins to be enjoyed long before graduation. Each lesson learned opens the couple to new joys and new privileges in their relationship. In time they will be expected to tutor other students and may well become emeritus professors themselves, as they make the grade and master the curriculum.

Here’s to Your Studies

I wish you every success in your studies. Please don’t drop out of the course. There’s nowhere to go if you can’t stay in the lessons.

And may the Living Lord God bless your relationship as you study and master the material together.

Un-Charming Prince – That’s Me!

Most husbands and wives come to the sad realisation that their spouse is less than they hoped they would be.

Just a few weeks ago I saw a young bride shaking her head toward her loud-mouth husband who was obviously performing below what she had hoped and expected. I have worked with men who have, similarly, shared how their wife has not been the person they thought she was. I have talked with men and women whose parents and friends tried to warn them about the person they were marrying, but they would not listen.

Eventually, even the giddiest emotional ride or the most determined intention to see only delight in our spouse must yield to the reality that the spouse is made of the same mud as the rest of us. We are each human and therefore imbued with weaknesses and limitations that only the most disciplined and blessed have moved past.

Susan and Me

My Susan made a number of assumptions about me that proved to be disappointments for her. She wrongly assumed that I, being the son of a builder, would be a good handyman, like her dad. My failure to reach this expectation was a sore point for her for years. She bought me handyman books for Christmas, chided me and even went off to do a handyman course of her own in frustration.

Another sore point for Susan was that I was all talk and no action. I was a wonderful dreamer, but not a person who knew how to bring reality to the very things I could conceive. This was more than a frustration for her, as it caused her pain that our economic circumstances could be so much better if I only pursued just one of my dreams.

At the same time I had my own suite of disappointments with Susan. She was more angry and demanding than I ever expected. She also became focused on things important to her and I had to compete for her time and attention. We ended up in more of a battle of wills than I ever expected.

So, I was an Un-Charming Prince and Susan was a Tainted Cinderella. This kind of situation is not uncommon. I suspect it is almost universal. And it is part of the process of the maturation of a relationship, where people learn to love and accept each other, not because the other is ideal or perfect, but in spite of the fact that the other is neither ideal nor perfect.

Needed Keys

The Keys to working through the ugly realisation stage in a relationship are to apply forgiveness and to commit to love the other unconditionally.

I refer to ‘forgiveness’ as the Repair Mechanism for marriage. However, it may also be valuable to put on the table the issues that are challenging each other. This is a tough thing to do without speaking from hurt feelings, desire to change the other, manipulation or the like. Nonetheless it can be very powerful, if done with a good heart.

If you are facing the ugly realities of an Un-Charming Prince or a Tainted Cinderella seek to apply forgiveness, grace and unconditional love. Once you have done that successfully you can look at bringing problems into open discussion, if you need to.

Coming Up

In a future post I will tell you about my own process of dealing with the hurt feelings I had from Susan, when I realised she was not all I expected her to be. It was vital for my own freedom and the development of our relationship. Look for a future post called ‘Un-Charming Prince – Forgiven’.

This post is part of a series on the Un-Charming Prince: