And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds. Hebrews 10:24
One of the things that Nina Roesner shares with women in The Respect Dare is for wives to “just be factual and not emotional during conversations with husbands” and not to jump to conclusions, but calmly ask questions before assuming motive or intentions.
A huge part of this is being full of God’s Spirit. That requires a lot of time in God’s Word and in prayer and setting our sites to want to know Christ more than anything else. Then we can be sensitive to His gentle voice and little nudges. He begins to purify our motives and helps us to begin to filter first our words and then even out thoughts through His Word.
A ROUGH WEEK (This is a fictional example)
Imagine that you asked your husband to help out with the dishes after supper so that you could go nurse the baby. You had the older 2 children settled and playing together with toy trains in the den near the kitchen while you went upstairs with the little one. Your husband actually brings the older children upstairs to you after about 30 minutes and you thank him and help them get ready for bed quietly, hoping the baby will stay asleep.
It’s been a long week. You end up falling into bed, exhausted from the respiratory virus you have and from the round-the-clock nursing you have been doing since the baby has been sick, too. Your husband also gets in bed around the same time. He has had a rough week at work and he has started with a stuffy nose and a cough, too. You can hear that his asthma is beginning to flare up and you hope that he still has his inhalers around somewhere.
The next morning, you go downstairs and see the mess. The dishes are still on the table with dried and crusted food all over them.
How do you respond?
1. Stomp right back upstairs, thinking about how you are going to let your man have it for not taking care of the dishes. Then start yelling at him right then and there, waking him and all the children up, “How COULD you leave that MESS for me in the kitchen????!?!?!? You know how exhausted I am! You know I have been sick and the baby has been sick. How dare you leave all of that for me as if I am your maid? You don’t love me at all!”
2. Burst out in tears, start throwing dirty plates into the dish washer, maybe even breaking one or two – then maintain an icy distance and silence all day with your husband – avoiding him whenever possible and glaring at him any time he looks your way, seething inside with resentment that he didn’t do what you had asked him to do.
3. Sigh and begin to cry from sheer exhaustion, but then remember that your husband got up during the night a few times, and that his cough didn’t sound very good, and decide that maybe you would ask him if he was ok and ask a few questions to find out what happened before making any assumptions about his motives or intentions with the dishes the night before.
You find your husband sleeping in your bed and notice the bucket beside him on the floor – the one that he always uses when he throws up. You put your hand on his forehead – he is burning up. You happen to have a forehead scanning thermometer and you check his temperature. 103.04’F. Yikes!
You creep back down the stairs and decide you will handle the dishes yourself. You find the ibuprofen and acetaminophen and leave them on his nightstand with a glass of water, and get his inhaler for him.
You pray for healing for him and for yourself and the baby and for God’s strength to just get through the day and somehow love your family by God’s power.
Later that day, once he is on some medication and his fever is down to about 100’F and he is awake in bed, you ask him calmly and with genuine concern, “Sweetheart, what happened last night after supper? I saw the dishes this morning, are you ok?”
He suddenly realizes that he didn’t finish the dishes and apologizes. Then he talks about how he suddenly felt very nauseous last night after supper and got so dizzy that he was afraid he might pass out. He got the food into the fridge, but then had to lie down on the couch for a bit. He did mediate some disputes between the older two children and managed to get them upstairs. He knew that you were sick, too, and didn’t want to worry you. He meant to come back downstairs later and finish the dishes, but he started feeling really horrible and forgot.
You silently THANK GOD that you did not jump to conclusions about your husband and the dishes the night before and praise God for the work He is doing in your heart. You totally understand why the dishes weren’t done and you have no problem forgiving him. You are glad you can be there to take care of him when he is so miserable. You pray that God might use you to bless your husband today.
It is possible that your husband wasn’t in these kinds of dire straits.
- Maybe he just had a very stressful day at work and hadn’t slept well all week either and honestly forgot about the dishes.
- Maybe your daughter asked him to dance with her to her favorite song and he pretended to dance with “Cinderella” and brought the children upstairs, got distracted and decided to rest a minute, thinking he would take care of them later.
- Maybe the kids freaked out about a big roach on the ceiling, and he got busy taking care of that and solving some disputes between the children and remembered it was their bedtime and brought them upstairs and forgot.
The point is – there is probably a reasonable explanation that your husband was just distracted, tired, not feeling well or forgot. Most likely, he was not purposely being unloving at all. If given a chance, he will probably apologize on his own if you are able to allow him some time to explain himself.
Sometimes, remembering the grace my husband has given me in the past is helpful.
Maybe my husband didn’t rake me over the coals when I:
- was so sleep-deprived that I put the milk in the cabinet instead of the fridge.
- absent-mindedly lost my wallet and he and the kids had to go with me to the DMV at 4:30pm one afternoon in a torrential thunderstorm so that I would have a driver’s license for work the next morning. (He found it 7 months later in our kitchen pantry. Behind some soft drinks. I have no idea how that happened!)
- remembered to pack our children’s lunches for school and totally forgot to pack his until it was time for him to walk out the door – and too late for me to get his lunch together.
Yes, these are true stories of things I have done for which my husband extended grace to me! He didn’t complain at all. He just dealt with the inconvenience and carried on, doing what he had to do, being his normal friendly self.
You CAN express your emotions – but keep in mind that when you are responding to a situation where it could be easy to jump to conclusions, or if you are communicating something important to your husband that you really want him to hear – he will be better able to hear you with fewer words and less emotion.
And when you do share your emotions, if you can share them in a non-blaming, fairly calm way – that allows your husband to hear your heart much more accurately. That’s why I like Laura Doyle’s method (The Surrendered Wife) of speaking our desires and feelings very simply. Less words and less emotions actually get our message across many times much more effectively with men:
- “I want X”
- “I don’t want Y.”
- “I feel sad.” “I feel afraid.” “I feel nervous.” “I feel upset.” “I feel lonely.”
ie: “I feel lonely. Would you please hold me for a few minutes?” or “I feel lonely. I’d love/I want to cuddle for a few minutes, please” work MUCH better than, “You never spend any time with me! You obviously don’t love me at all!”
And, remember to share your positive emotions, too! Your emotions are VERY POWERFUL to your husband. Using them in a constructive way will help you bond and become even closer. I like to share all of my emotions with my husband – that helps him know me better and understand my heart more.
- “I’m so happy being here with you!”
- “I feel very safe with you.”
- “I’m so glad we got to do X!”
- “I really appreciate all you have done for me.”
- “Thank you!!!!!!!!!”
- “I’m so full of joy!”
RESPECT DARE 32:
Take a moment today and consider how God has changed you in the past 32 days. What is different?
- your motives?
- your goals?
- your understanding of yourself?
- your understanding of your husband?
- your understanding of God?
- your ability to give grace, mercy and forgiveness?
- your desire to let go of every sin?
- your desire to see and tear out any idols – anything that is more important to you than knowing, loving and honoring Christ?
Pray for God to help you want to live completely for Him and for His honor and glory. Pray for Him to purify your heart and life and remove anything that offends Him – even ungodly motives. Ask God to help you desire intimacy with Him more than anything.
How can you stick with the facts and ask your husband questions calmly and unemotionally instead of assuming the worst the next time you feel disappointed in your husband? How might God want you to extend grace?
What have you been learning from God lately?
Can you think of a time that you would like to share when you used calm, unemotional questions and were able to find out the truth and the facts about the situation before jumping to erroneous or unfair conclusions?
What has God been changing in your heart the past month or so?