In Part 1 of this series, we looked at some of the first stages on the journey of becoming a godly wife:
- 1. Conviction
- 2. Repentance
- 3. The Frustrating Quiet Phase
- 4. Seeking God First – The Lordship of Christ
In Part 2 of this series, we looked at more stages:
- 5. Giving Him Space
- 6. Feeling Totally Overwhelmed
- 7. Learning to Use Our Words and Emotions to Bless
- 8. Finding Contentment in Christ Alone
- 9. Dying to Self
- 10. Developing a Grateful Heart
- 11. Taking Every Thought Captive
- 12. Feeling Discouraged because Your Husband Isn’t Changing
Part 4 (next post)
We will often cycle through many of these stages multiple times. And, please keep in mind, these are my observations – they are not scientific, statistic based stages!
Some will happen at the same time. This is not a linear process.
- Somewhere along the way, we begin to be full of God’s Spirit and begin to experience His supernatural love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.
This is a refining process where God turns up the heat and we face difficulties and trials – more sin rises up to the surface – God uses that opportunity for us to repent and for Him to skim the impurities out of our lives. We are never completely “done” or perfect until we reach heaven. But God can empower us to walk in victory on a daily basis when we abide in Him. If we stumble, we repent and get back up.
We can count on God testing us (for our own benefit, not His) so we can see if we will choose live in His peace and to live by faith during uncertainty and trials.
13. EXTENDING GRACE ON A NEW LEVEL
As we work through the process of growing spiritually – gaining knowledge, practicing perseverance, increasing in our faith in Christ, learning to live by His Spirit, dying to self, taking thoughts captive and as we come out of feeling discouraged with renewed determination to do this only to please and obey Christ and bless our husbands, we learn a deeper and deeper level of giving grace.
We begin to see that we do the same things to God that we feel our husbands to do us.
- We want our husbands to WANT to be with us, not because we ask them to, just because they want to.
- We want our husbands to WANT to connect with us emotionally and spiritually and to set aside significant amounts of time to do this.
- We want our husbands to make US their first human priority.
Then we begin to understand that these things are exactly what God wants from us, but we have been withholding these things from Him many times. He wants our whole-hearted devotion, all of our attention and a deep spiritual oneness with us.
We see a greater view of our sin and begin to see a more panoramic view of God’s love, mercy, forgiveness and grace. We stand in increasing awe of God.
Then His Spirit floods our souls with a greater understanding and we are able to give genuine, godly grace, mercy and forgiveness to our husbands as we imitate God and abide in His presence. We begin to see with God’s eyes and love with His heart.
We see that our husbands are not our enemies. We begin to understand their masculine perspective and how different it is from our own. We begin to assume the best instead of the worst about them. We see they are on our team and we are on their team. We understand who the real enemy is. We see the beauty of God’s grace and we allow the power of heaven to pour through our hearts into our marriages and into our husbands’ lives no matter what they do or do not do.
If our husbands are sinning against us – we are able to respond with grace. We may have to set healthy boundaries and even consequences sometimes – but we are truly able to forgive in God’s power and we begin to soar on wings like eagles by God’s Spirit living in us.
We know at this point beyond any doubt – that as long as God is with us – nothing else matters in this world. It is truly now ALL about Him in our hearts, souls and minds.
14. A GREATER SENSITIVITY TO GOD’S VOICE
As we grow in maturity, we begin to be able to not even listen to the voice of the enemy anymore. (My Demon) We begin to TRULY recognize the voice of God and we become increasingly sensitive to His voice and His Words. We LONG to hear and obey Him more than anything. We are willing to do ANYTHING for Him. We can recognize the source of the words streaming through our heads and we are able to resist Satan and come near to God.
His voice is a quiet voice – not a fuzzy, warm voice – but a gentle yet firm, quiet voice of conviction that compels us to do what is right even when it is against our sinful will. The wrestling and battling in our souls between our flesh and God’s Spirit become less and less as we go to deeper and deeper levels of submission to Christ, trust in Him and faith in Him.
We have a constant and abiding peace that passes all understanding – even in trials. The fruit of His Spirit continue to grow and ripen in our hearts on a daily basis. We become unshakable in Him. We truly begin to understand the treasure God has given to us that He allows us to carry around in these bodies of ours – these “jars of clay.”
15. FINDING A NEW BALANCE OF CLOSENESS/INTIMACY/SPACE WITH OUR HUSBANDS
If you have given your husband space – to stop having him as an idol and to give him personal emotional and spiritual space to breathe and make his own decisions and to hear God’s voice for himself – this will not be a one time adjustment.
You will strive to not make him an idol again, and to not make him responsible for your spiritual growth or happiness again.
- But there will be a process of adjusting to finding the right level of emotional/sexual/physical/spiritual closeness and intimacy that is right at a given time.
What usually happens, is that after you have given your husband space in a respectful way, in a month or two (maybe many months, possibly a year or more) he may begin to come back toward you. This can be a shock for some wives because they have gotten so used to giving him space and not pursuing him, that they don’t know what to do when their husbands begin to pursue them in their own way and when their husbands begin to ask for more closeness again.
Sometimes there is a bit of a “pendulum swing” of overcorrecting by giving too much space, then not enough, then a little too much space … it is a process of finding the right balance.
My suggestions are to:
- Joyfully receive him.
- Be available to him emotionally, physically, sexually, spiritually.
- Be glad to be together.
- Graciously receive any kind or generous gestures he offers to you.
- Come a bit closer if he asks you to. Don’t smother him or take control again – be relaxed and content in Christ.
- Be receptive if he begins to pursue you.
- Be willing to learn about his new-to-you world of masculinity. Approach him as if you don’t understand his perspective, ways of thinking, ways of feeling with wide-eyed wonder at his world. Be friendly and curious, asking questions (as he is open to that) about how he sees the world. Really listen and take notes, if necessary, to begin to understand how different he is from you. A great resource to understand your man better would be Shaunti Feldhahn’s “For Women Only.”
What will it look like if he does start to pursue you? Well, every husband is different. I have seen some husbands begin to do this within a week or two of their wives starting this journey. Some husbands, I have seen it take over a year. Some husbands may never change at all (although that is more rare).
- He may begin to call you pet names he hasn’t called you in a long time.
- He may start to confide in you slowly.
- Some husbands get angry – because they are finally free to express themselves and they finally feel heard. This usually doesn’t last too long, thankfully!
- Some husbands are skeptical and want to wait a LONG, LONG time to be sure that these changes in their wives are real before they open up to them or trust them.
- Some husbands, most of them, will be pretty confused for awhile and will not know what is going on! My husband talks about that here.
- Some husbands will say they don’t want to lead and they don’t want “respect” – in that case, just keep obeying God and don’t do a lot of talking about respect and your husband’s leadership. But do respect him and honor his leadership. The idea will probably grow on him in time. He may have been raised with a domineering mother, which may be why he is comfortable with a domineering, controlling wife. He may be afraid to try to lead. He may feel like he doesn’t know how to lead. He will need your gentle encouragement and praise when he does things right. He will need to see your faith and trust in him. He will need to know that he will not get reamed out and verbally crushed if he makes mistakes.
- He may want you to go with him and sit and enjoy each other’s company as he works on his car or the house or as he fishes or goes hunting. Go with him if at all possible if he asks you to go somewhere. Listen to him. Smile at him. Give him the floor to talk if he wants to, or to just quietly enjoy being with you. A lot of men bond by being together just doing an activity together without talking. That may be bonding for him. It’s ok if there is no talking. This is romantic to HIM.
- He may start to hold your hand.
- He may try to get you to engage in conflict like before. It is comfortable for him to be able to blame your sin for the problems in the marriage. When your sin begins to significantly decline, all he has to see is his own sin. That is painful. Many husbands will try to get their wives to do the old “dance” as Laura Doyle calls it. Don’t fall for it! He may up the pressure on you and try to get you to explode on him or to take control again or to disrespect him. Don’t fall for it, precious sister! Sometimes as God works in our husbands’ hearts to convict them, they may lash out at us in anger or try to blame us for their sin. But as we obey God and walk in His power, our husbands have to face their own sin and that is a GOOD thing. At that point, we must try our best to stay out of God’s way and allow Him to work conviction in our husbands’ hearts. We are not the Holy Spirit. It is not our job to convict our husbands. God is capable of doing that without our help.
- He may begin to step up and slowly begin to lead, stand taller, begin to have more confidence and begin to ask you to do things. Most of the time, what I have seen is that husbands who were passive and unplugged, begin to say things like, “I want you to try to take a nap today, you didn’t get much sleep last night.” or “I think you need to get off of the computer by X time, so we can just relax together in the evenings.” or “I think we need to handle this situation with our daughter like this.” It can be strange when you are used to calling all the shots to suddenly hear your husband saying he wants you to do certain things. But, this is part of him becoming a godly leader. Most of the time, the things he will ask are things that he believes will increase the peace in the home, help save your sanity, improve your health, improve your happiness, benefit the children in the long run and things he believes will most honor God. Do your best to thank him for his leadership and to cooperate with him and appreciate his wisdom and insights.
- He may begin to share his emotions more with you. Be a safe place for him to share. Don’t share his private thoughts with others. Be loyal to him and be trustworthy. If he shares his temptations or vulnerabilities, these are not things to broadcast to other people. Be on his team and let him see that you want to support him as he faces difficulties and temptations, even if his temptations are things that aren’t tempting for you. Figure out how to best honor and support and minister to him in ways that meet his unique needs.
- He may begin to desire you more sexually. If you have been rejected a lot in the past by him because he felt disrespected, and you were the main one initiating, and you decide to stop initiating to give him space and time to begin to pursue you, he may begin to initiate sex with you a month or two or more after you stop trying to make him have sex with you. (The Devastation of Sexual Rejection in Marriage has more on this issue, so does Respect, Biblical Submission and Sexual Attraction) If you are not excited about him desiring you more sexually, check out “Sometimes I Just Feel Like a Piece of Meat to My Husband” and be sure to read some of the husbands’ comments. They are very helpful!)
- He may begin to talk about what God is speaking to him. Please listen and encourage him.
- He may begin to share negative feelings he has been bottling up for years. Sometimes, a husband can seem more unloving as his wife focuses on respect and biblical submission at first.
- He may seem frozen and unable/unwilling to lead. A husband talks about what may be going on in that situation here.
- Stop calling him so often. (Limit calls to when issues are immediate/letting him know about the kids & I after dr appts) –I STILL THINK THIS IS A PRETTY GOOD IDEA TO KEEP AROUND… I THINK AN OCCASIONAL EXTRA CALL IS OKAY BUT I DON’T WANT TO GO BACK INTO OVERDRIVE ON THIS ONE.
- Allow him the time and space to be affectionate and sexual. KEEP IT….. BUT BE SURE TO BE RECPTIVE TO HIM AND BE AFFECTIONATE WITH HIM WHEN I FEEL THE DESIRE TO DO SO… AS LONG AS IT DOES NOT GET EXCESSIVE.
- Give him more time and space overall… pulling back a bit can draw him to me. (Men respond to distance, not words). Allow my distance to speak rather than my words. IN A HEALTHY WAY… BE ACCEPTING WHEN HE NEEDS TIME AND SPACE. ONLY USE DISTANCE WHEN NECESSARY.
- Remember that it is not healthy for me to pursue him for either me or our marriage. Remember it should be him pursuing me. Give him that chance. I THINK IT WILL ALWAYS BE HEALTHIEST TO ALLOW HIM TO BE THE LEAD PURSUER… I THINK THAT IS JUST HOW IT WORKS BEST AND HOW GOD DESIGNED IT TO BE, DON’T YOU? IT FEELS RIGHT WHEN HE PURSUES ME… IT DOES NOT FEEL RIGHT WHEN I PURSUE HIM.
(From Peacefulwife – if a husband asks his wife to initiate more or to pursue him more, I think she may be able to do that some. But there will be a delicate balance of just the right amount of her initiating and pursuing so that he does not feel smothered or pressured)
- Hold him loosely, remembering that he belongs to God and is on his own journey. Any changes that occur are between he and God- he is on his own personal journey with God and I am on mine and that is where my focus needs to be. Another reason for holding him loosely is to allow GOD that space to work. It is not my place to correct, teach or control dh.
- Continue to daily make the choice to let go of him and let God have him….
- Continue to appreciate any effort and gesture of love he makes toward me. (I think I have been forgetting to do this).
- Make every effort to assume the best of him or at least assume that I do not understand his thoughts, motives and actions. Use Philippians 4:8 as the filter for my thoughts toward him.