by Mark Singleton
It was new for both of us.
I had grown up in a home where the idea of a complementarian lifestyle was completely foreign. I had never seen it happen.
My wife had never met her father. She never had a father figure in her life to exemplify biblical manhood.
When we met at our church we knew we were in love with each other and Jesus. She was a single mom with two beautiful children. I was a single, broke college student with a desire to help plant an Urban church.
Being a single mom, she had learned to survive. She had worked multiple jobs and was willing to run through a wall if it was for the betterment of her children.
Single mothers get really misunderstood by our society. There are many trials and struggles single mothers go through. Seeking to find a home or apartment that will shelter the children sufficiently. Providing food so that the children aren’t hungry. Trying to find good clothes so the kids are warm but also aren’t being made fun of for wearing stuff that is dirty or looks corny. Finding a good laundry mat to wash clothes consistently. Finding good transportation to get the children around. And at the end of the day finding the strength to love, hug, and embrace the children as they are prayed for before they go to bed.
But then we met.
I had lived on my own for some time. I had done my laundry (most of the time). I went where I wanted, when I wanted to. I went to bed as late as I wanted to. I ate when and where I wanted to. My schedule revolved around one person, me.
She made decisions for her and the kids. She had taken the helm and was steering the ship up until we began dating. Then I came along. It was a big change.
For my wife it was a tough transition, yet in many ways, a relief. In her past dating relationships, she was the provider, protector, priest, and visionary. She never got to help because she was doing the work to keep the ship afloat. This is the reality of what she understood relationships to be like.
Transitioning into a role of helping was tough in some ways for my wife because she was used to taking all of the initiative in the relationship. The easy part of complementarity was no longer having to do everything on her own. The hard part was learning to help me as I lead.
The change not only had an effect on my wife, but also on the children. Growing up and having someone marry your Mom, move in, and begin telling you what to do is tough for a child. It was not rainbows and sunshine. The last thing I wanted was to become the “dictator stepdad.” Yet there were some things that had to change for us to move forward.
In time, through our pre-marital counseling provided by our pastor, we were able to get guidance and a plan on how we were going to move forward as a family with a new structure. As the children have seen my consistency and observed my wife and I faithfully supporting each other, they have started to enjoy being a family. It feels like I have always been here. I have seen our son grow as a young man who enjoys our “guy time” to eat unhealthy and do something active. With our daughter, my wife is beginning to paint the picture of her being married one day and then being a mother, which is something uncommon in our neighborhood. Every little girl in our neighborhood thinks she will be a mom. Few think of being a wife.
Now that we have a baby, our son and daughter have become amazing helpers with him. They take joy in seeing him grow and learning how to help him. I honestly had fear that they wouldn’t like their sibling but he can’t cry at all without them being concerned for their baby brother.
In time, with several Godly couples speaking into our lives and the guidance of the Holy Spirit, this single mom and this stubborn broke college student married and decided to seek a biblical marriage. I began to learn to lead our family in a Godly way. She has learned to follow and help me as I lead. God has shown us plenty of grace because we have made tons of mistakes, but His goodness continues to flow.
The beauty we have already seen in our marriage is that when we stay in our lanes, submitting to God’s design for husband and wife, our marriage flows well. Our closeness and our team gets molded more and more together. Our kids have a better quality of life. Our marriage is simpler and richer when we know and understand how to encourage each other within our roles.
It is a beautiful thing for me to see my beautiful wife thriving within her strengths and no longer having to try to be super woman each day.
Mark Singleton lives in Louisville, Kentucky and serves on the leadership team with New Breed Church, a part of the Rebuild Network. He enjoys spending time with his wife Kendra and their three children. Contact him on Twitter @MakersMark24. (Photo by the author.)
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