I just wanted to start off by saying thank you and God bless you so much for your labor of love in creating the wonderful blogs that are blessing me and so many others. I was thinking to myself this morning that ever since I discovered your blog about a month ago I have been so inspired and so relieved! So many of the things I felt God speaking to my heart over the past few months are so well covered in there as confirmation, and it is amazing to see you and others describe walking through this journey. I feel like I am not alone in learning some of these things that can be difficult on the flesh, especially after being a certain way for so long.
Something I have deeply struggled with relationship-wise is what I view as great “external pressure”. The people around me have always been very much involved in every aspect of my life. But in this season, I find it so difficult to talk to the people around me even about minor things because I worry about their judgement and comments, especially as I walk through this respect journey. Its hard enough dealing with my own expectations, but when I focus on my family and friends, its unbearable! So I have a hard time opening up even as I am learning awesome things and see God moving in the midst of it. My attitude right now is that I have been listening to the wrong people for so long; others opinions, the devil’s lies, and my own flesh. Now I am doing something different, which is listening to God and obeying Him alone for a change, leaving whatever the outcome will be to Him, and I just want to stay focused instead of being so stressed that I feel I need to avoid people sometimes. I just want to be able to be honest about my growth journey while at the same time not letting their opinions bother me too much.
My question is what is the best way to deal with all the questions all my well meaning friends and family members constantly have about my relationship? I don’t want their comments to get in the way of how God leads me, but I feel weak in this area. When they notice I’m not talking about my man very much, because they are so used to me being an “open book” they harass me and ask why I’m not updating them on things, then I feel guilty lol! I almost feel like I need to establish new ground rules, because I feel like this is a delicate period. I just wanted your take on the best way to go about this.
WHAT I DID (I am not saying this is what everyone should do – this is just what I personally did)
I was controlling and disrespectful towards other people in my life, too, before I learned this stuff – AND I had awful boundaries, or no boundaries, and was always an open book as you describe and also allowed other people to control me before.
When I realized my sin – and WOW – was there a lot of it – I wanted to hide in a cave and never talk to another person again. I knew I would sin if I opened my mouth. And back then, I would have. Everything out of my mouth was criticism, control, disrespect, gossip, bitterness, pride… yep. Sin.
I actually immediately backed away from everyone. I practically disappeared as I began studying respect and biblical submission and realizing my sin and repenting and asking God to take all the evil out and rebuild on His foundation alone.
I was afraid to talk to anyone. I knew I would say something disrespectful and I did NOT trust myself with words to anyone for a long time. I am not sure that this is necessarily the healthiest thing ever – it would have been better if I had a godly mentoring wife, probably, or a women’s study group or a godly girlfriend or two, but I didn’t at the time.
I became a bit of a recluse, praying, studying and trying to apply what I was learning just to my marriage. I could only really focus on that one thing at first. So I apologized to my husband and my young children, and began to try to set a godly example of respect and submission for them, too.
I spent hours studying, praying, reading and taking notes almost every day. I was SO DETERMINED to learn this stuff and do it God’s way.
Backing away from my family and friends actually ended up being good in several ways for me (again, I am not saying this is what everyone must do):
– it kept me from temptation with MY MOUTH
– it forced me to develop new and stronger boundaries and hedges to protect my marriage. I had not properly “left” other relationships to “cling” to my husband. So part of backing away helped me cement in my mind, and probably in their minds, that I was leaving all others and cleaving to my husband.
– I wasn’t trying to explain what I was doing to other people
– it gave me time to work through all the new things I was learning and time to try to process all the new information I was studying before I had to apply it in more difficult situations
You may not have to back away as much as I did. I don’t know! But I had to take some BIG STEPS BACK emotionally and even time-wise for a long time as I learned. Later, I was able to re-enter some of those relationships and only speak highly of my husband. But it took time.
Some people did not take kindly to me backing away. But I didn’t single anyone out, I just backed away from everyone but God, Greg and my children. I focused on those relationships and was loving and kind to others, but didn’t do a lot of talking with other people for awhile.
If people ask questions, only say POSITIVE things about your husband and your marriage.
** For wives being physically abused or who have SERIOUS problems in their marriage, please find godly, experienced help ASAP! Those issues go far beyond the scope of this post and this blog**
HANDLING CRITICISM AND QUESTIONS
First of all, the unfortunate reality in most cultures today is that there are almost no women who will be supportive of your efforts to truly become a godly wife – not when you talk about respecting your husband and honoring his leadership. And if you use the word, “submission,” you may have rotten tomatoes thrown at your head. If you don’t have super godly friends, even Christian women will get upset about respect and biblical submission – some of them become downright hostile.
Many times, we have learned our disrespectful and controlling ways from our own mothers and sisters – so sometimes they can be the most difficult to deal with. (My own mother was not at all controlling and was very respectful – but I guess I learned the control thing from being a dominant twin). And if you talk about what you are learning with them, they may take these new ideas as a huge threat and try to control you even more than ever. The HARDEST place to break dysfunctional relationships is in our family of origin. That is usually where we learned our messed up ways of relating to people, and we can quickly revert back to those old ways when we are around our family because that is what is expected and it is hard to buck against the usual old “dance” that everyone does in the family.
Right now, I am not sure I would do much explaining.
You can smile and say, “Thanks for asking. I’m doing well. God is working on my heart.”
And if they pressure for more, “I am not at liberty to discuss any details right now. Thanks for praying for me. :)”
PEOPLE’S PRYING QUESTIONS
People probably don’t mean to cause angst and trouble and pain, but sometimes the questions they ask are just not very polite! Definitely don’t expect anything from your man right now (for Valentine’s Day). Thank him if he does something for you.
But you can just nonchalantly say something to those who ask what you got for Valentine’s Day like, “That’s my little secret.” or “I have such an amazing husband, he is a gift from God in and of himself.” Or “God has given my husband to me. I’m really thankful for him.” Or, “I hope I get to spend some time with my favorite man in the world tonight.” Something that promotes your admiration of your husband and expresses your gratitude.
NEW GROUND RULES
YES. You will need new ground rules and boundaries. Here are my goals:
- I don’t talk negatively about my man or anyone else’s marriage or their relationship
- I don’t gossip (about my husband or anyone else)
- I only say positive things about husband
- I don’t ask other people for advice about my husband – only godly mentoring wives
- I build a hedge of protection around my heart and marriage – “guard your heart, it is the wellspring of life.” (Proverbs) Being a Christian does NOT mean we are total open books. I used to think it did! We are honest and open to a degree, but there are some things we must guard as sacred and precious that are not available to public view. Our marriages are one of those things. The most important thing!
- I may need to say something like, “God is working in me. I can’t talk about it much right now. Thanks for understanding.” Or “God is teaching me so much. It’s too personal to go into right now. I hope I can share more one day.”
The way God-given authority works is like this:
Also there are God-given authorities we must submit to like the government, church leaders, our bosses, the police, teachers, etc. Children must submit to their parents. But once a child is grown, God commands us to honor our parents, but not to submit to them and obey them.
You answer to God primarily and also to your husband. Your goals are to please THEM. First to please God – and then your man. If your husband asks you to sin or condone sin, you must respectfully resist him to obey God.
Other people’s opinions and ideas are nice, but you do not answer to those people
. It is no longer your job to please other people.
(That can quickly become idolatry – seeking the approval of men over the approval of God) You answer to God and your husband. It helps to clarify that, I think!
The Wife’s Response Back to Me
Thanks so much! I think the thing that gets me the most is when people seem to think I’m “suffering in silence” since I am being so quiet nowadays. Mind you he is the sweetest, kindest, gentlest person, not mistreating me in any way, but the emotional distance I feel right now is the thing that makes it difficult. Is my flesh suffering as I learn to walk this out? Absolutely! And sometimes the repentance I feel is so thick and the lessons and realizations and remorse hit me so hard that I feel heavy. But I don’t know that its for me to necessarily share with everyone. I think that since females are so used to sharing our feelings with eachother that it seems natural that that would be the case, but for some reasonthese feelings seem sacred as I am going through my process and allowing God to show me things. I hope that makes sense, just venting. It can be hard changing so much in a short period of time! But I know its all for a great purpose.
Here is a post about healthy boundaries and controlling people that might help, too.
YOU ARE WELCOME TO SHARE YOUR STRUGGLES!
All wives struggle on this path! It is the most difficult and wonderful thing most women will ever do in their lives, in my view! Please share your struggles or your story if you would like to. MANY sisters in Christ are on this same walk and we are stronger when we hold hands and walk together side by side!