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A Wake Up Call for Wives

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We all hear in the news about cyberbullying and how many teenagers commit suicide over being bullied online as well as in person at school.   I know that all of us want to see bullying stopped and all of us want to see all suicides and suicide attempts stopped.  We don’t ever want anyone to feel that suicide is a good option.

BULLIES  DO THINGS LIKE:

– call people awful names

– insult people

– assassinate people’s character, worth and dignity as human beings

– say negative things about them to others

– bash their victims verbally on Facebook or in social media

– try to make their victims look dumb, incompetent or bad in front of others

– send frequent messages to people to devalue them, put them down and ridicule them

– use condescending words, tone of voice and body language to try to humiliate their victims

– try to turn other people against their victims

– act like they are “better than” those they hurt

– try to cause as much emotional pain as possible to others

– show no remorse, in fact, they seem to delight in inflicting as much pain as possible

  • We as moms and women want our children – and all children – to feel safe, accepted, loved, respected and precious.  We want them to know that God loves them and that He has amazing purpose for them.  We want them to know that they are image bearers of God and that their lives are important and sacred – not to be trashed and wasted.

Most of us would do almost ANYTHING to keep our children from being bullied.

What about our husbands? 

I believe most of us DEEPLY love our husbands.  You wouldn’t be reading about becoming a more godly wife if you didn’t love your man.

What if we found out that someone was using these same bullying tactics on them?

Take a look at that list about what bullies do to their victims again.   Think about how you would feel if someone was mistreating your husband in these ways.

Now…

Let’s think about how WE treat our husbands.

Yikes.

I am ashamed to say it now,  but I did some of these things.  I didn’t see it at the time.   I felt unloved. He was so shut down, I felt justified in how I treated him because of my own pain. I didn’t think he had feelings.  He never verbalized that  I hurt him.  I had no idea my husband was shut down and unplugged mostly because my behavior wounded him. 🙁

If you are using even one of these bullying tactics on your husband, today is the day for this behavior to stop.  It is NOT right for us to treat anyone like this!

The tongue has the power of life and death. Proverbs 18:21a

HUSBANDS ARE IMPORTANT PEOPLE, TOO

There are husbands out there, even in Christian marriages, who feel extremely unappreciated,  disrespected, unloved, unvalued, depressed and hopeless.  I don’t want ANY of our husbands to feel that way – not if there is anything we can do about it!

We are not responsible for our husbands’ feelings and emotions.  Each person is responsible for himself or herself before God.

We ARE responsible for how we treat our husbands, how we speak to them, how we act around them, making our marriage our first human priority and becoming more and more the godly wives God desires us to be.  God commands us to treat our husbands with honor, respect, godly love and cooperation – working toward unity on our end of the marriage.

  • I pray that we will all desire our husbands to feel safe, accepted, respected, loved and precious.  I pray that we will want them to know that God loves them and that He has amazing purposes for them.  I pray that we will want them to know that they are image bearers of God and that their lives are important and sacred – not to be trashed and wasted.  They are sons of God if they are believers.  If they are not believers, Christ still died for them and desires them to come to Him and become sons of God. 

I pray that our husbands will see in the way we treat them that they are valuable and greatly treasured by us and by God – not only for what they do but mostly for who they are.  Let’s think about how God might desire us to treat His sons, whom He dearly loves.  And let’s remember that Jesus counts the way we treat our husbands as if we are doing and saying those things to Him.

SOME RISK FACTORS I BELIEVE EVERY WIFE SHOULD KNOW ABOUT

I heard some very sad news recently – that inspired me to want to write about this topic. So, let’s talk about something that is very serious.

I don’t know if you have looked at national suicide statistics recently.   It is a most unpleasant topic, to be sure.  I am going to list a few suicide risk factors our husbands may have that might surprise us as wives (These are risk factors for both depression and for suicide.  Not everyone who experiences these issues will be depressed and not everyone who experiences these situations is at risk for suicide – but some men are. I think it is worth a minute or two of our time to really think about these issues.):

  • unemployment – facing unemployment is more difficult for many men than facing terminal cancer. (Sadly, I cannot remember for sure which book this is from.  I will add the name of the book when I can think of it!). Men tend to find a huge part of their identity in their careers and ability to provide financially.  Unemployment is often a time of serious depression for men.  Our husbands are especially spiritually/mentally/emotionally fragile during this kind of stress.   They need our support, faith, understanding, love and respect more than ever in these kinds of situations!
  • marital tension – If he believes his opinions, desires, feelings and ideas don’t matter or aren’t important to his wife, that is demoralizing for a man.  If he tries to fulfill his God-given role as leader of the family (I Corinthians 11:3), but his wife won’t cooperate with his leadership or usurps his authority and takes over, insisting she is always right (like I used to) –  it is a lose/lose situation for a husband AND for the wife, too – although she cannot see it at the time.   He may allow her to do as she wishes to try to keep the peace, even if he strongly disagrees with his wife’s decision- but he knows he is not fulfilling his role as the leader, protector and provider for his family.   He knows he can’t force her to follow him.  Even the best leader on the planet has to have willing followers.   If he desires to please his wife but she seems impossible to please and is never happy with him, that is extremely depressing for many men.  If all he sees from his wife is contempt for who he is, that she thinks of him as a failure, that she looks down on him and that she doesn’t respect him – that is a very heavy, lonely, painful burden to bear for most men.  If he longs for physical intimacy with his wife, but she often refuses him – that can be another source of excruciating pain for many men.
  • separation and divorce – divorced men are four times as likely as married men to commit suicide.  They have often lost most of their income, their children, their home, usually their friends, many times their church, their wives… and they often have very few people they can go to for emotional/spiritual support.  Men do not like to be “failures.”  “Failing” at marriage can be more painful to many men than any other pain they ever experience in their lifetime.  Marriage is supposed to last “till death do us part.”  When we divorce, it is like tearing out half of our souls.  The damage can be incalculable – and, men are often much less able to handle that kind of pain than women are (Check out the CBS news report link at the bottom).

These are not remotely all of the risk factors that could trigger a man to feel very depressed or to consider suicide.  Some other things that increase risk factors are substance abuse, isolation, family history of suicide, personal history of suicide attempts and having access to a gun.  This is not a comprehensive study of depression in men or all the reasons why men commit suicide.

But this is, I hope, a wake up call, to us as wives to consider how we might bless our men and not hurt them, especially if they are already in a dark place.

SOME OTHER IMPORTANT POINTS

  • Men often have different symptoms of depression than women do:  (From WebMD – Common symptoms of depression include loss of interest in usually pleasurable activities, fatigue, changes in appetite, sleep disturbances, and apathy. In women, depression may be more likely to cause feelings of sadness and worthlessness. Depression in men, on the other hand, may be more likely to cause them to be irritable, aggressive, or hostile.)
  • If your husband talks about wanting to die, wanting to kill himself, wanting to hurt others, wanting to end it all – please take him seriously and try to get help!
  • Men can be extremely depressed and not talk about it.  This makes it easy for some wives not to realize the seriousness of the problem before it is too late.
  • If your husband says that he feels hopeless about your marriage, disrespected, unimportant or like he doesn’t matter to you – please take his feelings seriously!  Please listen to him just as attentively as you would want him to listen to you if you told him you were feeling unloved.
  • If a man has multiple risk factors going on at once – he is at greater risk for depression and possibly suicidal thoughts.  Be sensitive to the strain that is on him – be his partner and teammate and helper to work through the issues together instead of turning on him.
  • When men are stressed because of marital conflict/separation/divorce, they are also more likely to have heart problems, high blood pressure and physical health issues than women are.

Men tend to measure their success as men by the happiness of their wives.  

I am not saying they SHOULD measure their success as men by our happiness.  But they often do.

  • I wish they would measure their success as men by seeking to please Christ alone and seeking His approval alone – just like I desire to see wives measure their value and acceptance by the love and grace and mercy of Christ not by what their husbands do or do not do.

I know men seem SO BIG and tough.

They ARE on the outside.

But men have tender hearts.  They have emotions and feelings, too!  They may not verbalize them like we do.  But they hurt and hurt deeply when we disrespect them, treat them with contempt, laugh at them, bash them in public, make fun of them in front of others, undermine them as fathers, minimize their concerns and ideas, belittle them and use sarcasm to cut them down.

A man’s wife has the power to hurt him emotionally and spiritually in ways that no one else on the planet has the power to do.  She is past his walls and defenses.  She has the ability to destroy him with her words, her disapproval, her rejection, her self-righteousness, her withholding herself sexually from him and how she talks about him and to him – if she chooses to.

Or – a wife can use her incredible power over her husband to bless him and do more good to him than anyone else on the planet can do. She can build him up, encourage him, honor him, admire the good in him, see the hero in him and inspire him to be his very best self!

*** If you have SERIOUS issues in your marriage – if one or both of you are depressed, if there is physical abuse going on, substance abuse, uncontrolled mental health disorders, infidelity or you are considering separation/divorce – please find appropriate, godly help ASAP!

RESOURCES:

CBS News – Men Wear Divorce Badly

WebMD – Depression in Men

National Institutes of Mental Health – Suicide Statistics and Prevention

Protective Factors to Help Prevent Suicide (CDC):

Protective Factors

  • Effective clinical care for mental, physical, and substance abuse disorders
  • Easy access to a variety of clinical interventions and support for help seeking
  • Family and community support (connectedness)
  • Support from ongoing medical and mental health care relationships
  • Skills in problem solving, conflict resolution, and nonviolent ways of handling disputes
  • Cultural and religious beliefs that discourage suicide and support instincts for self-preservation

CDC Statistics

FROM PEACEFULWIFE:

Could My Disrespect Contribute to My Husband’s Depression?

Being a Good Follower

Dealing with Financial Stress in Marriage

Supporting My Husband’s Leadership

Ways Husbands Lead that Wives Don’t Often Notice

Husbands Share What is Disrespectful to Them

Signs that Your Husband May Be Feeling Disrespected

I Want a Divorce

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