Marriage is complex, far more complex than we typically expect going in, as Matt and Lauren Chandler explained a short while back. I asked them what it looks like in their home as they live out God’s design for marriage in today’s world. Here’s what they shared.
Bringing in Baggage
Matt: We understood complementarianism biblically, but I am coming from a background where there was a lot of abuse in my home growing up. Lauren is coming from a background where — correct me if I am wrong here — there was a lot of a kind of external religion, but not a lot of heart transformation. Although in essence we understood that we embraced complementarian views of the Scriptures and of life, I think Lauren had to learn to trust me, and I had to learn to try to nurture and nourish Lauren’s gifts and abilities. And so I think early on in the marriage, it was a tougher run for us than maybe where we are now.
Now we have learned one another as we have navigated the waters of fifteen years married together (seventeen years together total). Really pragmatically, how it looks now is a real seriousness about me creating the space for Lauren to pursue and become the things that God has put on her plate and in her heart to do that are inside our home and outside of our home.
Then simultaneously (I know she is sitting here right next to me; this isn’t anything I haven’t said to her before), I just feel like the most encouraged, blessed man ever. And that is not because she is a “yes-man.” She will really hold me accountable and encourage and go after my heart in ways that I don’t even know what is going on in my heart. The Lord has gifted her to really dig around in there and really be my helpmate in every way as the pastor of the church, as a preacher, as a leader, as a father. In every way, Lauren’s love for me, respect for me, and encouragement of me has made me the things that God wanted me to be, and he wanted to use Lauren to bring those qualities about in my life.
Freed to Help
Lauren: I would say the first six years of marriage were hard. I was great at the submitting part. And that’s partly because Matt is a great leader. And it is really freeing to submit to someone when you trust his leadership. But I think for me, I was squashed not by him, but by a lot of fear. So there were times I wasn’t his helper because I wouldn’t say anything. There was just this kind of self-content. And so instead of walking in freedom in Jesus, and really knowing who he had made me, and really knowing who he was and what he made marriage to be, I was just squashed.
But as I have had my feet planted in the gospel and really understanding the gospel, the Lord has given me to Matt as a helper. And instead of just being silent and just feeling like, “Well, I just have to deal with my stuff,” the Lord gave me courage to love him well by saying some things that weren’t disrespectful, but I was at least bringing some things up that before I just was like, “Well it is not worth it. I am not going to do that,” which was self-centered. I just wanted to avoid conflict, and I wanted what was easy, and it felt easier to say nothing.
So I think that is how we have grown in our marriage, which I think sometimes is different for a lot of women. Most women feel like they are just really struggling to kind of rein some things in where I kind of needed to get outside of myself, and I needed to see that I wasn’t being a good helper to him by avoiding the pain of loving him well.