When our dating relationship got serious, Big Guy began to make jokes about what he referred to as the Taylor Curse: Taylor men marry strong-willed women.
Who wants to be viewed as a curse? “It isn’t the Taylor Curse,” I would say. “It’s the Taylor Blessing.”
The sad truth is that for many years, marriage to a strong-willed woman (me) was more a curse than a blessing for my husband.
My strong will exerted itself every day—against Big Guy.
- I insisted that things were done my way (“the right way”). If they weren’t, I made sure my displeasure was seen and heard.
- I questioned his decisions and opinions unless they agreed with mine.
- I safeguarded my rights vigilantly.
- I built and maintained a wall between us, letting him see no weakness.
- When Big Guy pressed me for change, I pushed back. Hard.
- I inserted myself into Big Guy’s relationships and interactions with our children.
- I controlled intimacy, sexual and otherwise.
The Taylor Curse was in full force, whether I admitted it or not. My strong will fought my husband constantly. He was not blessed in his marriage to me.
When our marriage began to change, it was not only because I was working on sex. It was because my heart had softened on my husband’s behalf (which was why I was working on sex in the first place).
My journey started with attention to sex. As I began to learn about God’s design for sex in marriage, I frequently encountered Bible verses that challenged me in even deeper ways than sex.
They pointed me to the shadow side of my strong will.
It is better to live in a desert land than with a quarrelsome and fretful woman. Proverbs 21:19
It is better to live in a corner of the housetop than in a house shared with a quarrelsome wife. Proverbs 25:24
An excellent wife is the crown of her husband, but she who brings shame is like rottenness in his bones. Proverbs 12:4
No, your beauty should come from within you—the beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit. 1 Peter 3:4a
Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. Ephesians 5:22
However, let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband. Ephesians 5:33
Verses like these began to convict me. I was quarrelsome and fretful in my daily interactions with Big Guy, I brought shame when I questioned him all the time, I had a harsh spirit, and there was no such thing as submission or respect in my approach to him. I was the opposite of a wife of noble character.
I was a stubborn and strong-willed woman, and these verses upset me. Is God telling me that my very character is wrong? I wondered. How on earth do I become quiet and gentle? What is respect, and how can I respect someone I don’t feel respect for? How I do learn to step back and let him do things his way sometimes, even when I know they’re wrong?
I worried that I was supposed to become someone other than who I was—a weak-willed doormat Stepford wife. My strong will battled with this thought for two years.
As I sought God’s desire for me as a wife, my heart was growing for my husband. I began to notice how he was affected by the many ways I exerted my will against him. His responses showed that he felt frustrated, beaten down, unloved, and disrespected.
There was one area, however, where I’d stopped exerting my will in our marriage: sex. After a while, I noticed that in that one area of life, Big Guy was starting to respond in ways that showed feelings of fulfillment, confidence, love, and respect. My desire began to grow and show up in our marriage bed as I responded to these things in my husband. I was beginning to see a mutuality in our marital intimacy.
My mind began to connect the dots between what the Bible was telling me I should be doing as a wife and my husband’s state of mind. As my husband was able to let go of some of the constant tension he’d experienced due to the lack of sexual intimacy, he became more pleasant to be with outside the bedroom. This led me to be kinder to him and not feel like I constantly had to defend or protect myself emotionally.
I’d begun to live in better alignment with the Bible verses that had upset me without trying or even being aware that it was happening.
One day, Big Guy made an off-hand remark as we were talking: “It’s nice to finally feel like you’re on my side.”
Lightbulb moment! When my husband said that, I realized that I’d spent years using my strong will to oppose him, to fight against him. Now I was on his side.
I hadn’t become any less stubborn or strong-willed than I’d been before. I was still who I was, no different inside. I was not weak. I hadn’t become a doormat. I was far from a Stepford wife.
What had changed was this: I was using my strong will for my husband, not against him.
My strength was no longer just for me; it was for my marriage.
The bright and shining side of my strong will is that it helped change our marriage. The energy and persistence that once built walls now enable me to leap over them to strengthen our unity and intimacy. God has used my strong will to strengthen our marriage in ways that still surprise me.
My husband still sometimes jokes about the Taylor men and their strong-willed wives. He points out that his life is much more fulfilled than if I were a doormat.
It is no longer the Taylor Curse, though. My strong will has truly become the blessing I always said it was.