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Another Challenge – Let Your Yes Mean Yes and Your No Mean No

 

In the last post, we talked about choosing to believe our husbands and taking what they say at face value. (NOTE – These posts are not for wives who are facing very serious issues in their marriage like drug/alcohol abuse, uncontrolled mental health issues, abuse, pathological  lying issues, or unrepentant infidelity. If that is your situation, please don’t read my blog, but seek appropriate one-on-one experienced counseling.)

Now, here are a few questions for us to prayerfully consider…

  • Can our husbands take what we say at face value?
  • Do we speak in a straightforward manner?
  • Do we communicate truthfully ourselves?

“One who is faithful in a very little is also faithful in much, and one who is dishonest in a very little is also dishonest in much.” Luke 16:10

If I say, “Yes,” is that what I really mean? Or do I expect my husband to decipher that I said “yes,” but I really mean, “no”?

Do I send mixed messages to my husband? Do I expect him to have to read between the lines to guess what I am really thinking? Or do I communicate clearly and concisely to my man? Most men truly do appreciate it when their wives say what they mean and mean what they say. (Gentlemen, you are welcome to jump in and comment here.)

“All you need to say is simply ‘Yes’ or ‘No’; anything beyond this comes from the evil one.” Matthew 5:37

What if we challenge ourselves to speak the truth to our husbands and to communicate honestly and vulnerably?

This can get a little bit dicey when we are in the process of learning respect – because sometimes when we try to be honest, we also come across disrespectfully. BUT – it IS possible to be honest and respectful at the same time. I promise! That is the goal – to share our feelings, needs, concerns, ideas, and wisdom effectively – and to do so without being hurtful, disrespectful, rude, controlling, unloving, etc…

It is also possible to be honest and straightforward without arguing, nagging, complaining, criticizing, or being negative. I do admit, it takes a lot of prayer, the power of God’s Spirit, and tons of practice… but God can empower us to do this!

Some ladies think that we are sparing our husbands feelings by being very vague, by giving hints, or by not directly saying what we need, think, feel, or want. That would be respectful, right? We may think it is rude or demanding of us to have any needs and to voice them. Actually, the men I have corresponded with often feel disrespected and confused by this kind of unclear, murky communication. It is my understanding that it is frustrating for husbands to have to jump through hoops and be mind readers to know what we are thinking. Women sometimes value nuance in order to try to spare people’s feelings, but not everyone can read into our hints. Our men, in particular, may appreciate us just being upfront and direct in a friendly, calm, pleasant, concise way.

When we are vulnerable and we share our desires and feeling directly with respect – it draws our husbands to us, and makes it easier for them to understand our desires and makes it a lot more likely that we will receive the things we would like. 

(Laura Doyle talks about this in The Surrendered Wife – a very helpful, but secular, book.)

Two Examples:

1. If I need help and am overwhelmed with the housework and children – I could refuse to ask for help. I could let my pride get in my way of my needs. I could dishonestly tell my husband that I don’t need help but secretly expect him to see I do need help and think, “If he really loved me, he would just know I need help and he would help me.”

But if I really do need help, and I won’t ask for help – then I resent him and huff and puff and storm around the house, slamming doors because he believed my words – that is not okay. It is sin on my part.

A lot of men don’t jump in to help unless they are asked because they believe it would be disrespectful to help someone who said she can handle things on her own (Nina Roesner – The Respect Dare blog). If I need help, it is good for me to say, “Honey, I am really feeling overwhelmed tonight. I could use some help with the kids and the dishes, please.” Then, perhaps my husband will help me.

2. If my husband didn’t clean up behind himself in the kitchen and I don’t like that, I can say (in a pleasant, friendly way), “Sweetheart, would you please wash the dirty dishes in the kitchen, thanks so much!” If I tell him, “Don’t worry about it, I’ll do them,” but then resent him or lash out at him later – that is not good. If I really don’t like it when he leaves a mess for me, I can share respectfully that I would appreciate him cleaning up after himself.

If he can’t or won’t take care of the mess, I have the power in Christ to clean up and to do it out of love for God and for my husband and to lay aside resentment. I don’t have to be held hostage to resentment.

I can ask for what I need. But even if I don’t get what I want, God can empower me not to live in sinful thinking and to walk in victory over temptation as I stay totally yielded to Him.

A big key to honest, godly communication is for us to examine our motives.

  • Why am I afraid to say the truth about what I feel? Is there anything ungodly in my thinking?
  • How am I going to respond after I say what I plan to say? Is there any temptation there for me?
  • How can I be honest, authentic, vulnerable, respectful, and loving? What is God prompting me to do?

Sometimes we are afraid to share our real needs and desires. We feel guilty even having needs or we think we are being selfish to say what we want. Where does that awful idea come from? We are real people, my dear sisters! We are allowed by God to have our own feelings, needs, ideas, concerns, and desires. We don’t have to pretend that we are two-dimensional, second class people who are not permitted to have thoughts, needs, or feelings. Now, if I am ONLY concerned about myself and don’t care about anyone else’s feelings, needs, ideas, concerns, or desires – or if I do not put God first – then I may be selfish. But simply sharing what I need and want is totally fine. Then I can trust God even if I don’t get what I think is best and seek His will above my own.

I don’t have to feel guilty for sharing my feelings, needs, and ideas!!!

The other side of the coin is – I want to avoid resentment after the fact. If I am going to resent my husband (or someone else) if I say a specific thing or agree to something, maybe I need to re-evaluate what I need to do in order to be truthful, vulnerable, and authentic. I also want to make sure my motives are not to hurt my husband or someone else. If there is any sin in my motives (bitterness, resentment, unforgiveness, hatred envy, pride, etc…), I need to stop, pray, and get my motives right with God before proceeding.

Alternatives to Sharing My Needs and Feelings Directly:

If I don’t believe I can share what I need and think honestly in a straightforward, loving, respectful manner, I am left with a number of destructive, sinful approaches like…

Speaking in a direct, honest, straightforward way prevents a great deal of hurt feelings, confusion, miscommunication, misunderstandings, and destructive interactions. It promotes unity and harmony.

SHARE:

How have you communicated in ways that created confusion in your marriage at times?

Are you afraid to be honest and direct with your husband in a respectful way? If so, why do  you think that might be?

If you have learned to communicate in a more straightforward, honest way – please share your story if you would like to. What has been the outcome so far?

Men, is there anything else about this you might like to share so that we can better understand our husbands?

RELATED:

Verses about honesty

Posts about Bitterness

Posts about Forgiveness

Posts about Fear

15 thoughts on “Another Challenge – Let Your Yes Mean Yes and Your No Mean No

  1. I love your posts and they are so extremely timely for me every single week. I am engaged and learning to trust, submit and respect my fiance heading into our marriage. I really struggle with being clear on what I want/need and not being resentful when I don’t get it. I am also struggling with the fact that I have been trying/working on being more honest and sharing my feelings and desires in a more respectful way however my fiance seems to use being tired and forgetfulness as his defense against helping me or hearing me. He was never like this when we 1st started dating, he was over the moon excited to help me out and was constantly asking me what I thought or felt about situations. I am getting very lonely and confused in this walk to be a better more peaceful submissive wife. I could use some advice.

    1. Courtney Janz,

      It’s great to hear from you! 🙂 I’m so sorry that things are so frustrating. Would you like to talk a bit more about what is happening?

      Much love to you!

  2. April,

    Not communicating my needs and wants clearly caused heartache and misunderstandings earlier in our marriage. I expected my husband to know what I needed sexually but he didn’t. Reticence to discuss such personal things plus assuming that “he should know or at least ask if he loves me” made me feel unloved and him feel troubled and confused, because he wanted to please me. A growing awareness of how unreasonable this was made me stop. I realized what an insecure person I was and vowed to stop expecting my husband to shore up my security constantly and work on myself. I began to take him at face value and not read things into whatever he said or did beyond that. I also strengthened myself with prayer and reflection and kept working hard to change, even when I fell into the old pattern from time to time. My husband began to relax in our relationship, and so did I. He knows I will tell him what I need now, and he often asks. 🙂

    1. Elizabeth,

      Thank you so much for sharing your story. I know it will be a blessing to many wives. 🙂 How I praise God for what He has done, is doing, and will do in your life! 🙂

  3. What I wouldn’t give for clear answers to questions.

    And what I wouldn’t give to be allowed to give clear answers without fear of revenge.

  4. I really needed this reminder about being direct about my wants and needs. Funny, the only source of marital conflict for us is me not saying what I want even when he asks me. Even the act of choosing a restaurant can result in hurt feelings if I’m not careful.

    I’m a pretty easy going, non-confrontational person.I really don’t care which restaurant we go to because I can be happy wherever we eat whether it’s fast food or table order. My husband however has solid ideas about what he wants to eat on any given outing. “Where do you want to eat?” he’ll say. My mind immediately goes into overdrive trying to figure out what HE might want to eat. I’ll answer something vague while I stall for time to evaluate the situation. If I select a restaurant that I generally like but is hit and miss with him and we go there upon my request, he finds fault with EVERYTHING, the service, the food, the temperature of the restaurant. haha

    Since I really am flexible about what to eat, I generally try to pick something I know he likes. But.. if he figures out that I’m doing this, he gets flustered and says “Why can’t you just say what you want!” And I say it’s because I really don’t have a preference and he gets more snippy. It’s really funny, actually.

    Our adult daughter has likened our silly recurring restaurant skit to the cartoon scene between Lucy and Charlie Brown. My husband is Lucy placing the ball and saying “Come on, choose a restaurant.” Hilarious!!

    My sweetie is a planner. He loves to plan our vacations and day trips. He scouts for weeks ahead of time planning where we’ll go, where we’ll stay, what we’ll see while we are there. I am happy doing whatever he chooses to do and if I see something I want to do, I say so and we go do that too. So it isn’t at all one-sided and I am unafraid to say what I want. He is a wonderful man who works very hard to please me because he loves me.

    To solve our restaurant choosing issue, I now try to not pause before answering or hedge around an answer, I just pick three restaurants that we both like and we work together whittling down the choices. Works much much better. 🙂

    1. W.,

      I think that if we have strong preferences about restaurants, for example, ourselves – we tend to think that others would, too. It can be mind blowing to imagine someone not having a big preference if that is how we think. I can definitely appreciate this tension!

      I love how y’all have worked this out. Thank you so much for sharing! 🙂

  5. Ladies,

    Here is something I shared on my Peaceful Wife Blog FB page today:

    Is there a woman in your life – maybe at work or in your family – who doesn’t tend to communicate her needs and desires clearly and then gets upset that people don’t do what she wants or needs?

    What do you think when you ask if you can help because she looks stressed and she says in an irritated, angry tone with a scowl on her face, “No, no! I’m fine! Don’t help me!”

    Does she mean “Don’t help me, I’m really fine”? Or does she mean, “You better help me or I will make you pay!” Do you enjoy interactions with this person? Or is it stressful for you?

    Imagine the difference in the atmosphere in your family or work environment if everyone simply, respectfully, briefly shared their real desires and needs in a straightforward way.

    When someone is controlling, manipulative, or pretends to be a martyr or uses guilt or people pleasing to try to force us to do what they want instead of just asking – it feels icky to be on the receiving end of those kinds of strategies. In fact, many times, the person on the receiving end is in a total lose-lose situation.

    Take this person at her word and then face her wrath for not helping her as she describes what a martyr she is and how unloving you are. Or treat her like she is not telling the truth and help her (which would be disrespectful of what she is saying she wants) and possibly still face her wrath for daring to help her when she said not to.

    It is a GIFT and a BLESSING for our families, our husbands, our co-workers, our children, and everyone in our lives when we simply say what we need and ask for help if we need it instead of trying to give hints or expect people to “just know” what we need. It is a much less complicated way to live for everyone involved and this kind of straightforward vulnerability where we simply share our desires and needs creates real intimacy and connection.

    – I need this, please.
    – I would really love to do that.
    – I don’t like X.
    – I want Y.
    – I feel scared/sad/upset/angry/happy…

    We take responsibility for our own emotions, spiritual well-being and needs this way. We give others the opportunity to bless us. We are honest and authentic. We can do this respectfully without being hateful, resentful, hurtful, disrespectful, controlling, or sinful in any way.

    If others can’t or won’t give us what we want – that is okay. God can empower us to move forward with grace rather than resentment. We can learn to seek God’s will far above our own will and to rest in His sovereignty even when things don’t turn out our way – trusting His promise to cause everything to work ultimately for our good and His glory if we love Him and are called according to His purpose (Romans 8:28-29).

    PS
    If you decide to stop trying to give hints and to be more direct about your feelings, desires, and needs – it could be wise to give your friends, family, and coworkers a heads up. “I realize now that I tend to try to give hints instead of just communicating what I need or want directly. That may be frustrating for people around me. I apologize for not communicating clearly. From now on, I want to work on saying what I really need and how I feel in a respectful, pleasant way.”

  6. Here is another way to think about it:

    Good governments allow their people to speak up and share concerns and to share their ideas.
    Good managers want to hear what their people think and want to know if there are problems and want to help their employees succeed.
    Good parents care what their children think and how they are feeling and want their children to share these things with them.

    So, even children, employees, and citizens should have the right to share concerns, needs, desires, feelings, and ideas.

    Where is it where people are not permitted to say what they need, how they feel, or what they think?

    – those who are literally slaves
    – those in extremely oppressive countries with totalitarian regimes
    – those who are in abusive relationships

    That is not what we would want – or what God would want – for anyone! God values each person having free-will.

    Here are a few hallmarks of abusive/dysfunctional personal relationships:

    – It is not okay to talk about your feelings
    – We are responsible for your decisions and emotions.
    – You are responsible for our decisions and emotions.
    – Conflict is unacceptable.
    – Disagreement is not allowed.
    – You are not safe here.
    – You are not important to us.
    – Your input is burdensome and unnecessary to the situation.
    – We only love conditionally with strings attached. If you don’t perform, we won’t love you anymore.

    Some hallmarks of healthy relationships:

    – It is okay to talk about anything and to share your feelings about anything.
    – We will work through conflict together. Conflict is inevitable. We won’t always agree. But we will always love each other and work through it as a team.
    – Conflict is an opportunity for growth.
    – We love unconditionally.
    – You are safe here.
    – You are important to us. You are precious and very valuable.
    – Your ideas, feelings, concerns, and desires are important to us.

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