A “Humorous Wedding Cake Topper” at Wal-Mart.
Definitely not the picture of godly femininity we are going for!
And not humorous at all, in my view.
Please do not attempt any of the things I talk about on my blog without the Holy Spirit’s counsel. John 16:14: “and He will give you a Counselor to help you and be with you forever.” The Holy Spirit has wisdom that is infinitely higher than any human wisdom for our marriages and every other aspect of life. Jesus alone is Real Love and Real Life, and the way He gives us that abundant spiritual life is through the power of the Holy Spirit dwelling in our hearts. God will give the Holy Spirit to you if you belong to Him and ask Him to fill you. (If you don’t have the power of God’s Spirit in your life, it could be that His Spirit is being quenched by sin or that you may need more time in God’s Word and prayer – or it could mean you do not yet belong to Christ.)
That is what we all need more than anything, to let the Holy Spirit lead us as to how we should proceed in our life and relationships. Be sensitive to His Word and His promptings. What God has to say is always infinitely more important than anything I or any other human might advise. I seek to point women to Christ and the Bible. But each of us desperately need much time in God’s Word and in fervent prayer daily – seeking God and His righteousness and His kingdom far above anything else.
There is a book that has a free download “Recovering Biblical Manhood and Womanhood” edited by John Piper and Wayne Grudem. One of the statements in chapter 1 is very helpful, in my view:
“THE MORE PERSONAL THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN A MAN AND A WOMAN, THE LESS A WOMAN OUGHT TO RELY ON DIRECTIVES TO GUIDE HIM.”
Sometimes the reason why our husbands seem to ignore us, shut down, or fight against us – may be as simple as they way we approach them – particularly our choice of words and our tone of voice. Of course, there can be a lot more going on than just this. Our motives, what we are asking for, the wounds our husbands have, our own scars, whether we are filled with God’s Spirit, where our husbands are spiritually, and a lot of other things contribute to communication issues, as well. But lets look at directives today.
A directive is a command:
- Do this.
- Go there.
- Don’t do that.
- You better …
- Get in here!/ Come here!
- Stop that.
- You need to…
- You should…
- You shouldn’t…
- You have to…
- You must…
- Give me that.
There is no relationship that is more personal than the marriage relationship. We may not even realize that we are using directives and commands in our communication with our husbands. I know I had never thought about that earlier in our marriage. Honestly, I don’t think many women or even older children would appreciate an authoritarian approach, either. I know I am glad that Greg doesn’t talk to me this way.
My giving someone directives is a great way to create resentment and bitterness in others.
There are times that directives are appropriate – if someone is about to walk into the street in front of traffic, I will want to scream, “STOP!!! Don’t walk into the street!” But most of the time, directives are unnecessarily forceful and they can be insulting. If I give a directive to someone, I am implying that I have the right to tell that person what to do (or to control him/her) rather than honoring that person’s God-given free will.
We can communicate effectively without ordering people around, thankfully!
A woman can communicate her desires, needs, and feelings with her husband by using respectful persuasive language, suggestions, or requests. It is important that if we use these approaches, we do them sincerely and honestly. I’m not saying to lie to your husband or manipulate him!
For those of you who tend to be overly quiet, “too respectful, “too submissive” or “passive” wives – the ideas below may give you some ideas about how to find the courage and the way to open up more and to begin to share more of your thoughts, feelings, and ideas. You are a person, too. Your ideas, wants, perspective, wisdom, and concerns are important and it is your responsibility to share yourself with your husband, to be authentic and vulnerable. It is important to use your God-given influence in marriage for God’s glory.
We can respect our husbands for being men by approaching them in a way that honors their God-given masculinity and value as grown adults:
- I would really appreciate it if you would please…
- Would you be able to…?
- I need to get X done by tomorrow. How do you think we could accomplish this goal?
- What ideas do you have?
- What are your concerns?
- Here are some of my concerns…
- What is important to you about this decision?
- Some things that are really important to me are…
- I was thinking about this project. I really want to do X with it.
- Would you please…?
- I’m not sure I completely understand. Would you please share more of your perspective with me?
- I need X, please.
- I’m having a problem with …
- I could use some help with …
- It would mean a lot to me if we could…
- Would you consider…?
- What if we…?
- Here are a few of my ideas… what do you think?
- Would you please take care of X for me? Thank you very much.
- I really appreciate how you handled Y.
- Thank you for taking care of that. You really did such a great job!
- I knew I could count on you.
- You’re my hero!!! Thank you!
- I’d like to try…
Some things to avoid:
- insulting him
- criticizing his character
- mothering him (treating him like he is an incompetent little boy)
- degrading sarcasm
- a hateful tone of voice
- purposely trying to wound him
- rolling your eyes to imply he is an idiot
- acting superior to him, being condescending or patronizing
- gossiping to him or about him
Some ways to bless him:
- use a gentle approach
- use a pleasant tone of voice and facial expression whenever appropriate
- show appreciation for his gifts, talents, abilities, and work
- be genuinely friendly
- be generally receptive to considering his ideas and to find the good in his ideas
- acknowledge, especially in your heart, that you are both equally precious before God, equally fearfully and wonderfully made, equally image bearers of God, and of equal worth and dignity
- respect God, respect him, and respect yourself
This same approach is going to be a way that we can respectfully express our needs, desires, and thoughts with just about everyone in our lives. It is good for us to share our needs, desires, and ideas and we can share them in a way that honors our own femininity and that honors the personhood of those around us.
Something to prayerfully consider:
- How might these same kinds of things apply in our relationship to God?
- Is it appropriate for us to give God directives?
Respect is part of the love God commands all believers to show to all other people. It involves using good manners, being polite, having true humility, and seeking to show honor to other people:
Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails. I Corinthians 13:4-8a
What are some effective ways you have discovered of approaching your husband and sharing your needs, desires, and feelings respectfully without directives?
If you are a man, how do you believe men feel when their wives use directives to communicate with them? What approaches do you believe would be more effective?
If your husband is particularly controlling or abusive in some way, please seek godly, one-on-one, experienced biblical counsel from a trusted pastor or Christian counselor. I am not able to write for wives facing severe issues here, and strongly encourage you to seek appropriate help for your situation. I don’t want anyone to be unsafe.
The Salvation Army may be a good resource if you are dealing with true abuse, active addictions, or severe situations.
Celebrate Recovery is a Christian program to help people find sobriety from drugs/alcohol/addictions.