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The Essence of Femininity

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A few weeks ago, Laura Doyle (author of The Surrendered Wife), had a post on her blog about that femininity can be summed up in one word, “receiving.” This is true physically in the marriage act. The husband is the giver and the wife is the receiver. It’s interesting to me to think about masculinity and femininity in these general terms.

But it goes farther than this… a wife gives back to her husband physically later by bearing children as fruit of her receiving from him. Then the husband receives that child with great joy.

It seems that we are being our most beautiful, feminine selves, when we receive graciously and joyfully from our husbands – whether it is sexually, financially, emotionally, or in many other ways. Then we give back to our husbands and they receive from us.

Both spouses will need to give and receive well (and at the right times) for a marriage to thrive – then there is a beautiful rhythm.

SOME WAYS WE CAN RECEIVE FROM OUR HUSBANDS

We can seek to joyfully receive:

  • their wisdom (not as superior to ours, but as different, and as a blessing)
  • their protection spiritually, emotionally, financially, physically, etc…
  • their desire for us, attraction to us, and sexual advances (for wives whose husbands are rejecting them, I have a post about that here.)
  • their financial support
  • their help, especially when they offer to help
  • their help when we ask for help
  • their compliments
  • their perspective that is so different from our own
  • their spiritual leadership, even though it may be different from our expectations (unless they are leading us into sin)
  • their feelings, ideas, suggestions, concerns, and dreams
  • their parenting for our children
  • their friendship
  • their presence (even if there is not a lot of talking going on, men tend to bond just by being together, not necessarily by talking)
  • their love in the ways that they express it (even if it is not the ways we would most prefer)

When we just relax with them, enjoy them, genuinely admire the good in them, accept them for who they are, and receive what they want to share with us – we and our husbands can experience the most amazing intimacy.

GOD’S DESIGN FOR WOMEN TO BE THE RECEIVERS HAS A DEEPER MEANING

God created husbands to demonstrate the selfless, humble, sacrificial, loving leadership of Christ for His Church toward their wives. God designed wives to demonstrate the adoration, respect, and biblical submission of the loving Church for Jesus toward their husbands. The deepest meaning of masculinity and femininity are to display the mystery of Christ and His Church.

  • Jesus is the First Giver. He gave all of Himself for us and everything He had.
  • We, the members of the Body, are the first receivers. We graciously receive all that He gives to us with thanksgiving and praise.
  • Then, we give joyfully all of ourselves to Him.
  • Of course, He gladly receives us to Himself.
  • We bear fruit in our lives, the fruit of the Spirit (Gal. 5:22-23) and also we bear fruit of making other disciples.
  • Jesus receives the fruit from our lives and the new believers in the Body with joy.

Are we receiving all that Jesus has done and has provided for us? Are we receiving all of His Spirit, His goodness, His death on our behalf, His suffering in our place, His taking on the punishment that we deserved? Are we receiving all of His new life that He gives us? Are we receiving all of the love, acceptance, joy, peace, and security that He offers to us? Do we open up our hearts in total trust and faith to Him and invite Him in to be one with us in Spirit the way a wife would open up herself to be receptive and to invite her husband in on every level in a healthy marriage? Do we receive God’s wisdom? Do we receive His truth? Do we reject anything from the enemy to protect our hearts from him, resisting him and submitting fully only to Christ?

Jesus already died for us and already finished all of the work that was necessary to make us right with God. All we do is accept His work on our behalf that we could never do. Kind of like I can receive my husband’s gift to me of renovating our house and giving me a dream house. I receive his work on my behalf and enjoy it, even though I could never have done the work he did for me. My gift to my husband or to Jesus is to receive what they give to me with joy.

When I just relax with Him, enjoy Him, adore Him, accept Him for who He is (not who I want Him to be), and receive what He wants to share with me – I can experience the most amazing intimacy with Jesus.

I can receive so many things from Jesus:

  • His promises
  • His power
  • His Spirit
  • His healing
  • His truth
  • His love
  • His mind
  • His heart
  • His desires
  • His plans and purposes
  • His will
  • His presence
  • His love
  • His forgiveness and grace

The awesome thing is, when I am filled to overflowing with Christ and all that I have received from Him, I am whole. I lack nothing. Anything my husband does for me at that point is extra icing on the cake. I can be content whether my husband gives to me or not. The paradoxical thing is that as a husband sees that his wife is content,  joyful, smiling, and brimming over with goodness, he tends to be more motivated to give to her. Godliness in a woman is very attractive. Our husbands want to do things that delight us and make us happy, but sometimes we are not capable of being delighted until we are healed in Christ.

Let’s receive all that Christ has for us, then we will be able to best receive anything our husbands may have for us and we can most be a blessing to them, as well.

Last year, Radiant, who has written a number of guest posts for me recently, had a word for the whole year. It was, “receive.” She decided to learn to receive the good things God had for her, and to receive the love and good things from people in her life. I think that would be an amazing thing for all of us to focus on in 2016!

verses about giving and receiving

 

94 thoughts on “The Essence of Femininity

  1. You know, I saw you post something about this on the Facebook page the other day. And my first thought was, “isn’t it selfish to declare that femininity is about receiving? ”
    But seeing you lay it out here in terms of our relationship to Christ helps me to see that receiving, at least in the spiritual sense, is ultimately about humility… It is acknowledging that we need Jesus and that we can’t give anything to him that he didn’t give to us first. And I guess, translating that over to husbands, receiving means having the humility to acknowledge the ways we do need them.

    1. seriouslyserving,

      Yes! This is about humility, and about acknowledging that we are totally dependent on Christ and on what He gives to us, that we have nothing to give apart from what He gives us.

      And yes! It is about having humility to be able to receive good things from our husbands and to be interdependent, not enmeshed/codependent – on them in a healthy way.

      Love this!

      1. Reflecting on this a little more this morning… the Lord brought to mind a memory from when I was 17 years old on a mission trip. I was trying to do everything for everyone at a particular meal, and one of the men who were leading the trip said “I’ll do the drinks, you sit down”. I said, “No, no, I’ll put them out, it’s fine.” Then he looked right at me and said, “Have the humility to let me serve you.”
        Well, that stung a lot! I certainly didn’t think of myself as prideful, wasn’t I just being servant-hearted? But sure enough, as I reflect, I can see that I cared more about being the best at serving, than serving from a place of being filled with Christ’s joy.
        I also just read the part in your book about pride being one of the reasons women grasp for control….
        Hmmm, I think I will keep listening out for what the Lord is trying to teach me here!

        1. seriouslyserving,

          Wow! That was a rebuke. But, it is one I know I have needed many times. Thank you so much for sharing that!

          I’m excited about what you are learning and what God is doing in you, my dear sister!

  2. Pope John Paul’s, Theology of the Body, also speaks to receiving. Christopher West has great materials on his Facebook page and published, which lay out the beauty of Theology of the Body in a more lay language.

  3. April,
    Wow, this message has been on my heart for a long time!!! Praise God that you shared it with a large audience!!!! This message is so crucial for us as wives to understand—- Jesus is our true Husband and provider!
    Recently I picked up an old book called “Mars and Venus together forever”– it’s not written from a Christian standpoint, BUT, as I read it to understand my husband and the way he thinks a little better, I found myself applying all of the wisdom in the book to the Church’s relationship with Jesus!

    There was one specific sentence: “Man provides, woman graciously receives.” This is a perfect picture of Christ and the Church!

    It lead me to the revelation: How can I love Christ and my husband if I don’t depend on them and give them room to do things for me and to support me?? How can I appreciate anything in awe and reverence, if I do not depend on them???

    The more we realize that Christ is the giver of all good things, the more we grow in our love and adoration for Him. The giving that comes from Christ, and our husbands, nurtures our femininity and it fosters our growth in our love and respect for them!!!!

    It is beautiful…and it releases so much weight off a woman’s shoulder to know that God has ordained for the wife to be the gracious receiver of all that is available through our marriage covenant, and more importantly, all that is available from Christ as we surrender and depend on Him fully for ALL THINGS!!!!

    Having been a disrespectful and controlling woman, I see the torture I put my own self through, trying to do all and be all for myself and everyone/thing around me…..
    What woman is there who does not deeply long for and desire to be cherished and provided for? God has created us as women to desire it, and HE alone can provide ALL of our deepest desires for love, respect, and gracious gifts of His grace! And not surprisingly, God has created men to long for and desire to support, provide for, and give to their wives….If only us wives can be still and receive all that they have to offer!!! 🙂

    Blessings in Christ,
    Amanda

    1. Love this Amanda!

      You know what it requires for us to graciously receive? It requires trust and faith. Trust and faith in God. And trust and faith in our husbands (although our main faith is in Christ, not our men).

      YES! When we stop trying to do all the things that we can’t do on our own, and we allow ourselves to receive from Jesus and our husbands – there is REST. There is LIFE. There is peace and joy.

      We all desire to be cherished and provided for. But then we tend to sabotage ourselves. So thankful that God can empower us to receive all the good things He has in store for us and that He can empower us to receive the good things our husbands try to give to us to bless us, as well. Then we can also be a joy and blessing to God and to our men. 🙂

  4. This is lovely. So many women feel emotionally drained, depleted, as if we are doing it all, responsible for it all, when in fact we were actually designed to be receivers. I like the vision of how we simply receive and than reflect and multiply what is given to us.

    Long ago when I was desperately trying to clean the oven, trying to take care of far too many things, my husband asked me why I couldn’t “just be.” He didn’t require all these things I was emotionally picking up and scrambling about to do, that was actually me in my never ending quest for control. Simply receiving is actually hard. The world tells us it is better to give than to receive, and I think that’s because receiving takes some humility and letting go of control. In a state of receiving and gratitude however, that’s what makes us happy, brings peace to our souls.

    1. My husband hates for me to be stressed. He loves for me to just slow down and be still and relax with him and enjoy “just being.” I am not very good that! But I need it. So I am thankful now that my husband calls me to rest with him and to enjoy life more.

      Jesus actually is the One who said “It is more blessed to give than to receive.” (Acts 20:35). BUT – He is talking about us giving to others AFTER we have received from Him. Listen to what He told His disciples,

      These twelve Jesus sent out with the following instructions: “Do not go among the Gentiles or enter any town of the Samaritans. Go rather to the lost sheep of Israel. As you go, proclaim this message: ‘The kingdom of heaven has come near.’ Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse those who have leprosy, drive out demons. Freely you have received; freely give. Matthew 10:5-8

      And when Jesus was newly raised from the dead, He instructed the disciples to wait until they received the Holy Spirit. Then they were to share and give to the world all that He had given to them.

      I think we often try to give out of our own lack. That won’t work! First we must receive all that Christ has given to us – then we can freely give to others. 🙂

      I like how you said that “we simply receive and then reflect and multiply what is given to us.” True for wives and true for the Church!

      Much love to you!

  5. Hey April,

    I am learning a lot about myself, and figuring out what “triggers” me to be unloving.

    Typically I leave my wife “alone” (aka I don’t start any fights or criticisms) until my wife says something disrespectful, or in a mothering tone, or uses the “woodpecker” technique where she doesn’t stop critiquing me even if I acknowledge that she’s been heard.

    These types of behaviors QUICKLY draw down my patience and I react in a very unloving way, usually turning the tide back on her. She’ll make a criticism of me, and I’ll show her an example of how she does the same thing. (Trust me, I know this isn’t good.)

    Now I guess what I’m asking is this. When she is using the “woodpecker” technique and not stop complaining/talking about what’s bothering her even after I’ve been very clear that she’s been heard and I’ve had enough, what am I supposed to do? The 2 options I see are to escalate the argument or to walk away. She’s not listening to what I say to her, she just keeps talking and talking and talking, until I get it “right” and see it her way.

    Is there a third option I’m missing? If I say anything at all, the typical response from her is to begin speaking again before I finish my thought. She’s thinking about what to say before I’ve even finished speaking. She’s just NOT listening to anything I say.

    Anyway, repeating my question, is there something I’m missing, like a third options?

    1. I am so sorry about the woodpecker technique, how frustrating for you. I used to try to do that to my husband all the time and I wasn’t even aware of it. He would tell me to stop talking to him like a mother, to just stop talking, to drop it, to let it be. It can be hard for some of us, we tend to believe that talking is how we get heard, how we fix things, when actually listening is such an important component too. My husband cannot hear me if I pick at him, if I do not allow him time to process things, but it took me a while to learn that.

      1. Do you have any suggestions? Is there a certain set of words, a buzz word, or something that I can say that will deescalate rather than escalate? Or should I walk out of the arguments before my temper pops and I say things I know I’ll regret? I find that engaging her in these “discussions” have a track record of 0% success rates.

        I would settle for something I can say that will at least bring peace. Reconciliation would be great but we don’t reconcile after “discussions.” We just wait a week until she cools off enough to start acting civil again.

        1. Ok, I’m not one to give great advice – BUT – I would strongly advise against walking out of the argument. When my husband does that to me I get absolutely furious. I feel like he is saying “YOU ARE NOT EVEN WORTH TALKING TO! You are a waste of my time and I’m walking away.” I feel it is unbelievably uncaring and rude.

          It may not be what you intend, but be prepared that may be how she takes it.

          I’m not saying she’s right and you’re wrong, but I’m just being honest about how I have felt in the past. Before I found this blog, I never even knew he might be trying to calm down. I wholeheartedly believed he hated me and thought I wasn’t worth wasting his breath. If you feel the need to walk out, I’d advise calmly telling her, “I need to go in the other room and think for a few minutes.” Don’t just walk out and leave her wondering.

          Also, what you refer to as “woodpeckering” I think I understand where she’s coming from. It’s very possible that she’s not trying to bug the day lights out of you, but she may be crying out to be heard. I have done this with my husband because I sincerely felt like he wasn’t listening, or he wasn’t understanding what I was trying to tell him. Or, when he was taking time to process, I felt like he wasn’t taking my concerns seriously – that he was blowing me off – and I was trying to explain how important the issue was to me. Women express themselves with words. Lots of words. (Just look at the length of my comments! Ha ha ! 🙂 I think this is just a big ‘ol communication difference (problem?) between men and women.

          1. Is there any certain set of words that I could say that would “make her feel heard?” She has been heard, again and again. Apparently when I tell her that “she has been heard” she is either not listening, or doesn’t believe me. Or perhaps she’s waiting for me to completely do a 180 and do exactly as she says to “demonstrate” my hearing her by doing what she said.

            I can understand why, from her perspective, she thinks that walking out of an argument is “ignoring” her or “making her feel worthless” and “unworthy.” I get that.

            I have no idea. Sometimes I do things purposefully a certain way, and I full intend not to do them the way she wants me to. I have heard her, and I’m deciding to do it a different way, and it irritates her to heck. Example, in case it’s useful:

            We bought some new couches and they were being delivered. Our old ones needed to be gotten rid of (they’re 30 years old and hideous). She wanted to put them on craigslist to sell (she is very frugal and can/will pinch pennies when she can). Best case scenario, someone might give her $50 for the set. I didn’t want her inviting someone into our home while I’m at work (for a paltry $50). So I insisted that I’d get rid of them and take care of it. I did – I took them to a local thrift store. She then saw them being thrown away (yes, the thrift store threw them out). She re-initiated the argument, and continued pestering me about how she had a sale lined up and that she doesn’t “appreciate” how I handled the “situation.” I feel I made the best decision because 1. I was the lug who had to deal with them anyway, and 2. It was a rounding error to our income & expenses and 3. I would PAY $50 to ensure that a stranger doesn’t come into my home while my wife is home alone with my toddler.

            Is there any way that she can “feel heard” without me just doing everything exactly as she says? I see April’s posts about Greg, and while I have the same instincts that he describes about masculinity, my reactions are more aggressive, and less peaceful than his. I tend to want to fight to be treated like a grown up man. In the couch scenario, I feel her judgement is downright risky and I feel it’s my job to make sure they’re safe.

            We had a more “general” and nebulous argument last night that were more sweeping personal attacks and she’d finish, I’d tell her that “she has been heard” and after 5 minutes of silence (and more thinking on her part) she starts blurting out more criticisms from my lack of leadership ability, lack of ambition in my career, lack of being loving, lack of willingness to “help,” and the list goes on and on. The “discussion” never ends, and I just want it to end. It’s a fruitless, hurtful discussion.

            Am I crazy? I just want the discord to stop. I guess I’m looking for a magic bullet to end these “discussions” but there probably isn’t one.

          2. Anonyman,

            Have y’all talked about that you can hear each other and carefully consider each other’s perspectives and that you do not have to agree with each other?

            I used to argue and filibuster my case because I believed I was “right” and that if anyone didn’t agree with me they were “wrong.” There was no compromising with me. It was “do things the way I think you should, or you are wrong.”

            That is a tough situation for a husband to face (or a wife).

            In the couch scenario, for instance:

            I completely agree with you that having some murderer come to your house for the possibility of $50 is not worth it. I think you were trying to provide well for your family and to protect them. That sounds like godly leadership to me – remember, that ultimately, you answer to God and are accountable to Him. I think you made the right call here, personally.

            You could say, “Is your priority of valuing frugality important? Yes, absolutely! I hear your priority and it is important to me. Thank you for sharing what you believe would be best. In my view, there is an even more important priority which is the safety of our family. So I am going to need to go with the more important priority over the lesser important priority.”

            I think you can say something like, “You know what, Honey? I really love that you are super responsible with money and that you want to be frugal with our money. That is a quality I cherish and appreciate about you. What I would like to do is to consider the monetary aspect but I also want to consider safety. I can write off these couches and get about as much as a write off as we would get if we sold the couches. So we are going to get some monetary benefit. But I want to protect you and our toddler because I have seen too many cases of people coming to someone’s house with Craigslist and the seller getting killed. So while I do greatly value frugality and I am taking that into full consideration, I also value having my wife and child alive and well. My greatest priority is your safety and our baby’s safety because I love you both dearly and I believe it is my job to protect you in any way I can.”

            About the general sweeping personal attacks… this will ultimately take the wisdom of God’s Spirit in your particular situation. I know you have been verbal about your issues, that is something for which I am very thankful. I didn’t know Greg’s feelings and thoughts and I sure couldn’t read his mind – so I had no idea I had upset him or hurt him at all.

            Is she willing to do any kind of reading a book with you or by herself about understanding men? Or about men and women understanding each other better?

            Would you please remind me if she is a believer in Christ? What is your wife’s general personality?

            What was her parents’ marriage like?

            Has she ever had a very controlling, negative woman in her life (a mom, a mother-in-law, or anyone)?

            If she has points that have any validity at all, you could seek to address them and talk about your willingness to work on those things. If you have sinned in some way, you could certainly humbly repent. But I think what y’all are experiencing may be “the Crazy Cycle” that Dr. Emerson Eggerichs talks about.

            What happens if you respond with calmness, gentleness, and affection? What happens if you take her in your arms and hug her? I know that if Greg could ever get me to let him hug me when I was really upset in the past, I would calm down in a few minutes. I just couldn’t be angry at him if he was hugging me.

            My guess is, she feels scared. She may have unmet expectations. She has a script in her mind of how things are “supposed to go.” She may believe she “has” to take control because she is afraid things won’t work out “right” if she doesn’t. Does she appear to trust God? Or does she tend to be very worried and afraid about everything? If she is very worried and afraid about everything, then this is not specifically about you – it is about her understanding and ability or lack of ability to trust God, to receive His love, and to rest in His sovereignty.

            What happens if you sit down with her and calmly, gently address her fears and say something like, “It sounds like you are feeling really afraid and disappointed. Like maybe you think if I would just change in all the ways you want me to – everything would be so much better. I take responsibility for my end and I will take care of X, Y, and Z by doing these things (in areas where you have failed her). But I think that I may not actually be your biggest problem. Let’s not let the enemy divide us, Baby. It’s not you against me. I am not the enemy. It’s you and me and God against Satan. Satan is the accuser. When your mind starts telling you so many things to think of to accuse me about, pray about it. Ask God if this is His voice or if it a voice that is not from God? Let’s take all of our fears and concerns to God together. How about I pray for us right now? We both ultimately really want the same things. We both want our family to be safe. We both want to feel loved, cherished, and respected. We both want to be a team. We both want to do what is best in God’s sight and what is best for our whole family. We have different ways of looking at things. We are not the same. That is a good thing. Maybe we have different perspectives because we are stronger when we combine our perspectives. I want to hear about your concerns and your feelings. I hope you want to hear about my concerns and my feelings. Both of us have valid thoughts, feelings, ideas, and perspectives. We are not going to think the same way. You have a feminine mind. I have a masculine mind. We are also both unique individuals. If we were both the same, one of us would be unnecessary. We both have wisdom to share with each other. Sometimes what you think is best is truly best and is what we should do. Sometimes what I think is best is truly best and is what we should do. Let’s seek God’s wisdom together as we try to sort these things out and ask for His wisdom about these decisions.”

            My main point is – draw attention to the tactics of the enemy in our thought lives. Many wives don’t realize that the voice in their head accusing their husband is from the enemy. They also don’t realize that husbands tend to have a voice in their own heads attacking themselves, too.

            This is a spiritual battle. It will have to be fought on a spiritual level. Your own prayer life and spiritual health is super critical! It could even be that just taking her hand and praying, “Lord, the enemy is at work trying to destroy us. We resist him and we yield ourselves fully to You right now!”

          3. A husband – if he has prayed and is sure he has repented of all sin in his own thoughts, words, and actions – could also pray,

            “Lord,
            Your Word says that the enemy comes to steal, kill, and destroy. I know he wants to steal Your joy and spirit of unity from us. I know he wants to destroy our marriage and kill our love and respect for each other. But You love marriage. You love both of us. Jesus, You came so that we can have life and have it to the full! We are being tempted into a spirit of disunity, arguing, contention, and complaining. We are being tempted into sinful anger, bitterness, resentment, and anger. Lord, I know this is not of You. Help us to love the way You love. Let us be patient with each other and kind with each other. Open both of our eyes to any pride or self-righteousness that may be blinding us. Help us to honor each other and help us both to be selfless and to seek Your will far above our own will. Help us to keep no record of wrongs with each other. Help us to recognize the voice of the Thief and the Accuser. Let us immediately resist him and fully submit to You as Lord. We are completely dependent on Your Holy Spirit for the power to heal our marriage and to strengthen our relationship. We ask You to give us Your Spirit of unity, godly love, peace, and joy. Let us seek to protect each other, to trust You fully and to learn to trust each other more, and help us never give up but cling to faith in You and in Your power to bless and strengthen our marriage for Your glory.”

          4. I find her unlikely to read a full book. I suggested “Love & Respect” and she read the portion that outlines what husbands should do for their wives, and then stopped. She must have had a moment of softness in her heart though, because she bought “The Love Dare” book. I haven’t read it, but if it puts emphasis on Love, it’s honestly not what she needs. She showers everyone around her with giving and love. That’s not the part of her heart that’s broken, IMO. I am afraid to suggest a book in case one day she has another moment of softness, I don’t want her to become jaded to some other good titles when she begins searching again.
            She is a baptized and confirmed Catholic, so we share the same faith. Ideally we should be able to come together around that but I find bringing that up as our meeting point to make her bitter (Bible beating perhaps? Attemping to take moral high ground?). I’ve done this in the past using the principle of fraternal correction, but it’s ineffective and tends to be counter-productive.
            I find her becoming more and more like her mother. Her mother is on her third marriage, albeit her most recent one has almost spanned 2 decades. Her current husband (step dad) copes with the “tone” and the general treatment with quietness so the threat of divorce doesn’t arise.
            My wife’s general personality is loving. She is thoughtful, caring, compassionate, and loves to give. To my best estimation, the reason that the marriage dynamic is so different is from a fundamental insecurity that one day I’ll leave (like her real dad) and she copes with this fear by keeping me “at a distance” and tries to make sure she is “not a doormat.” In her weakness, she copes by putting up a façade of strength. Those very walls that “protect” her also rob her of the intimacy and friendship she wants.
            When I hug her and tell her I’m sorry for my transgressions, it is like hugging a tree. She stands there, stiff and motionless, and says “it’s fine” and the silence continues. It’s wrong to judge her heart, but as far as I can tell, she has not forgiven me when she behaves this way.
            I believe you are right about a general insecurity about life, causing her to be afraid. It’s not out of meanness, but her fear bears the fruit of meanness toward me. This is a primary reason she is frugal. Her security is primarily defined by a pile of cash in a checking account. Not my ability to go out in the marketplace and do well and provide.
            I feel like your last large paragraph is a good course of action. I’ll try to tailor it to something she thinks is coming from me.
            Your time and feedback is super helpful. Thank you for taking the time to respond and shine light in areas I wouldn’t normally think to look at.

          5. Anonyman,

            How does you MIL treat your wife? Is her mom controlling with her? How does she feel about that? Is she able to identify on her own that she is doing a lot of the same things her mom does? Does she ever apologize?

            Do you think she is dealing with hormonal issues, health issues, side effects of medications, poor diet, or peri-menopause? Any diagnosis of mental illness?

            Is she open to reading about the sovereignty of God?

            What things does she say she needs? What things make her feel especially loved by you?

            Praying for God’s wisdom and healing for you both. 🙂

          6. Anonyman, just want to let you know that there is also a book called “The Respect Dare” by Nina Roesner. In my opinion, it is a better book for wives to read because it focuses on respecting your husband rather than the “love” part of the relationship. We can love our husbands to the ends of the earth but if we don’t have that respect component it is somewhat incomplete.

            I bought the “Love Dare” a long time ago and never really invested any time into it because I could tell from the get-go it wasn’t the right tool for our marriage at the time.

          7. Hi Anonyman,

            April’s response below is very good.

            Your wife sounds similar to me. This discussion is helping me see things my husband may have felt/be feeling.

            Did you calmly explain to her why you didn’t want the couches on Craigslist and why you took them to the thrift shop? (Which I agree, I think you did the right thing) Sometimes my husband will do the absolute right thing, but won’t explain it to me. He just assumes it needs no explanation, and he’s not a big talker or a “detail man.” Im not saying you need to explain yourself to your wife, but maybe she would have reacted differently if you had explained to her why you made that decision. Sometimes as a wife, when you don’t know, you make wrong assumptions.

            Many times my husband will not tell me something, simply because it doesn’t even occur to him. He figures he handled it, so why bother me with the details. Many of our arguments stem from this. Once he fills me in (calmly) and I understand, I can usually see his decision was best. It’s a communication breakdown. If it’s any consolation, we get better at this as we get older.

          8. Becca,

            I agree that we wives like to hear the reasons and details. Then it makes sense!

            Of course now, I trust my husband enough that even if he doesn’t explain things, I can trust him to make a great decision. But especially in the beginning, I did better with details and reasons.

            Greg explained to me that there were times he had a feeling about something and couldn’t explain his decision in words. That was helpful for me, too. Sometimes, he just “knew something wasn’t right.” I have learned with Greg, to trust God to lead me through him even when he can’t explain things (and he is obviously not asking me to sin – which he has never done).

            What an important discussion for us to have as the Body of Christ!

          9. Specifically I recall one time that this worked. But at the moment it was a bitter argument. It dealt with finances. Long story short, after I explained why we should take action a certain way, we continued to fight, and she continued to be emotional about it. We never did reconcile.

            However, months later, I overheard her talking to someone else, sharing the reasons I gave her, and she was sharing the process I suggested as wisdom, there wasn’t an ounce of ridicule in her voice to be found.

            The difficulty is that we never actually have a “calm” discussion. In fact, by the time the “discussion” happens, there is already a “tone” in her voice and the argument has begun.

            So occasionally she hears me. I just have no idea when, and it takes a good deal of time to figure out she did hear, and it’s from a 3rd party source.

          10. Anonyman,

            I wonder if y’all might try communicating in writing instead? Or maybe you can talk about having a discussion where you both whisper or use a soft and gentle tone of voice? I wonder if she might be open to the idea of setting some boundaries around discussions so that you can both feel heard and communicate more effectively? Maybe you can both agree on some suggestions. Things like:

            – no yelling
            – no personal attacks
            – set a time limit on what things can be brought to the table (like the last two weeks, or something.)
            – if someone is feeling too upset, take time out for cooling down and resume the discussion an hour later or the next day or something
            – acknowledge that you both unique perspectives and viewpoints and that you are both allowed to have your own thoughts and you don’t have to disagree and that thinking differently is okay, not necessarily wrong.
            – share what each of you need to feel respected, valued, loved, and heard
            – don’t have deep discussions after 10 pm or during PMS times or if someone is really exhausted or in pain or sick (when the flesh is weak)
            – focus on unity, doing fun things, smiling at each other, enjoying each other, team building activities and language
            – come up with a team name, even if it is just “Team Cassidy” (using your last name)
            – come up with a vision statement for what you want your marraige to be like together and pray toward that end together or individually.
            – share one or two things that are positive that you appreciate about each other each day
            – talk about the things in your parents’ marriage that you want to imitate and the things you want to leave behind and change. Invite her to think about what things from her parents’ marriage she may want to discard as not productive and what she would want to keep as something that is a biblical foundation.
            – talk about that men and women are equal but not the same. God made us different and that is good. It is our differences that create attraction and they can be used to bring strength and unity to the marriage.
            – conflict doesn’t have to be high emotion and high tension. We can disagree and have unity. We can choose to say that we will not fight about anything unless it is more important than our marriage or God. We can discuss things calmly and present our perspectives to think about and prayerfully consider. We can disagree and not fight or yell or get upset. We can be careful not to make the little issues more important than our spouse, our marriage, our unity, our love and respect for each other, or our obedience to God.

            These kinds of things are ways a husband might choose to lead his wife toward a more productive approach as he promotes positive ideas and unity building exercises.

          11. Anonyman,

            Even if she won’t read stuff, I believe you. Any be able to gently, lovingly walk her through some baby steps and lead her toward more healthy communication and toward more unity as you are empowered by God and seeking Him first and listening to His prompting. 🙂

  6. Amen!
    I know that a man is a leader in ALL things.
    What I mean is, he is an initiator, she is a responder.
    Women are reflectors of men.
    A woman who loves God will obey God,
    thus fulfilling her role of submission to her husband, even if her husband is not leading the way God intended.( not in disobeying the Word, of course).
    She is still responsible for doing her part.

    However, by design, men lead.
    Jesus loved us first.
    I love Him because He first loved me.
    Jesus died on the cross while we were yet sinners, He didn’t say, I’ll wait to die
    in response to the churches obedience.”
    Point being, a man’s role is one of sacrifical leadership and great responsibility and some men just don’t seem to get the meaning of godly headship and submission.
    Some men decide to treat their wife in an unloving way and remind her that no matter how he treats her, she needs to submit. This can be ongoing and the wife struggles after a length of time, trying to submit to her rebellious husband.
    When and if she slips up she is reminded that she is to be perfectly submissive and do everything right no matter how he treats her.
    What’s happening is he is reaping what he has sown; his wife is responding and reflecting his injustice toward her.

    Some men have the backward idea that
    they will “reward” their wife with love in
    response to her obedience. They take full advantage of the situation,and try to usurp authority over Jesus Christ,
    ruling over her in their flesh.

    True godly headship does not appeal to the sinful flesh and is a humbling experience.
    Some women blindly believe and buy into the lie that God intended brutish selfish,domineering behavior as a punishment for Eve being deceived.
    But God told the man HOW to rule over his wife.
    If a woman can see before marriage that her husband cannot snd or will not
    lead sacrificially in love, she shouldn’t be proceeding.
    But it’s important she understand the true meaning of headship and submission, and her husband, BEFORE
    they are married so she can understand
    that he is not leading correctly, and spot brewing trouble.
    It would have to be addressed and need prayer before she can proceed.

    What a beautiful plan God has for a husband and wife!!

    1. Miss T.,

      There are distortions of godly masculinity to be sure. God never commands a husband to force his wife to submit or that she must be perfect before he loves his wife. And God never commands wives to force their husbands to love them and to lead them. We are each responsible for our own sin and our own obedience, not our spouse’s sin or his/her obedience.

      Thank you for this, my sister!

  7. It’s amazing how all of this is tied together. I like the idea of learning to receive. I do not receive well, and I do believe I do a lot of self sabotaging.

    I do not feel feminine, nor do I look feminine. I am quite tall and was always called things like giant, Amazon, and beast. Not very feminine. I wonder if the people who called me ugly, fat, and obnoxious throughout my childhood would feel happy if they knew how deeply my scars went.

    I did not enjoy my wedding. This bothers my husband. I always thought he got so annoyed if ever I brought anything up about our wedding because he felt I was insulting his mother. I’m starting to think he gets upset because I feel that way, and maybe he feels a little badly about the way I was treated. I wasn’t allowed to plan anything. Any suggestions I made, if contrary to what my MIL wanted, were shot down immediately. I wasn’t encouraged to try on dresses, just get one. No salon for me. I didnt receive nor did I know brides wore special lingerie. My makeup was mascara and cherry Chapstick. 🙂 No one felt led to tell me any differently. If I ever tried to speak up for what I would enjoy, such as the menu or the venue, I was promptly told, “he is MY son and just who do you think you are to try to take this from us? It is HIS wedding, too!” Because of my childhood and because I was used to being treated unfairly, I actually took these things in stride and figured it was just because I was so ugly and worthless and a bother – and I should just be happy that anyone would even consider marrying me to begin with.

    I know it sounds like I’m just whining, but bear with me. The past is in the past. As I got older and learned what happened at other weddings (my wedding was the first real wedding I’d ever been to) and not only were the brides wishes considered, but often honored, I really began to feel even more ugly and worthless. Only one person told me I looked beautiful on my wedding day. Not my husband, not my mother. It was some drunk guy. I knew I looked frumpy and ugly and to this day I feel so badly for my husband that he is the one man on earth who did not have the beautiful bride. There are no wedding pictures of us on display. They are safely hidden from view. 🙂

    But that was 20 years ago. As I enter my 40s, I need to let that go. We are believers now, and things should be different. Some things are different, but there are some hurts I struggle to let go of. I’m afraid. Afraid of letting my guard down.

    Because of those feelings, and the fact that I have never felt pretty enough to feel “feminine”, I have never been able, or willing to receive. I look at things from a negative point of view. It’s defense. If I don’t hope I can’t be let down. If I don’t believe my husband when he says he loves me, I won’t be let down when he stops, or when I find out he was just being “nice.” Don’t get me wrong, my way of thinking is WRONG. My self-protection is a pride issue and it is SIN. I need to deal with it.

    Anyhow, I found this post very interesting. I never put it together that my lack of femininity is a big part of me being unable to receive good things.

    When my husband offers to do something, or worse yet, just does it, I should respond with thanks. But I see it as his was of passive-aggressively saying “you failed. You’re not good enough.” Like, if I leave a load of laundry on the couch for fifteen minutes while I’m finishing up math with my son or something, and he comes along and folds it, I feel like he’s thinking, “she’s a loser. She can’t even finish a load of wash properly.” When in fact he may just be trying to help out. But I feel like since he works all day and I am home all day, he should not have to do anything domestic. I should be able to pull my own weight. This is the “stuff” I need to deal with in order to be happier, and a better wife.

    April, I’m sorry for going on for so long. I should be doing all of this in a journal. I’m sorry that I wasn’t miraculously “healed” of my issues overnight, even after all of the prayers lifted up on behalf of myself and the other ladies. But I believe Radiant said somewhere that we are all different and we will all heal at different rates. I think perhaps because my issues, and my sin, runs so deep, it is going to take me a while to flush it all out.

    Ladies I appreciate the prayers and the listening ear. On a positive note, I have been able to begin to take some of my negative thoughts captive. It’s hard, but I am finally willing to try. It’s a start.

    1. Becca,

      I didn’t feel feminine until I began to study godly femininity 7 years ago. My dad treated me like his “son” until my little brother was old enough to take over. I was the tomboy, my twin sister was the “girly” one. Then in 7th grade, I never blossomed into lots of curves like most other girls did. Lots of boys and later other people made fun of me for being so “flat chested.” I still have to buy my undergarments in the girls’ department – like the little girl’s department for kids. (They are cheap, though!) I didn’t identify myself as super feminine. I didn’t cherish my femininity for decades.

      But as I began to study godly femininity, what a beautiful thing to see that I could be feminine. I could have godly femininity. I could be beautiful in God’s sight. Even if the world’s message to me was “you are not woman enough.” Or “You are not enough.” God’s message to me was, “In Christ, you are more than enough.”

      You do have a lot of things to work through. That is going to take some time. I wasn’t healed instantly. Radiant wasn’t healed instantly. Most women here are not healed instantly. There is usually a series of “light bulb” moments. I am totally fine with that. 🙂 The thing that matters most to me is that you are digging into some of these old fixed beliefs and challenging them with God’s Word. I’m super excited that you are beginning to take some negative thoughts captive. THAT IS AWESOME!

      I welcome your comment. I welcome your processing your thoughts here. 🙂

      Much love to you!

      And thanks for sharing your perspective with Anonyman, I think it was really helpful. 🙂

    2. Becca, I’m glad you posted a comment today! I have been thinking of you and wondering how you were doing.

      I just wish I could hug you. You remind me so much of my dear little sister, who also struggles with a really low self-esteem, and self-sabotaging behaviours. My heart goes out to you. And it worries me that you took from this post of April’s that something else is “wrong” with you – that you are not feminine enough. I don’t know if April would agree with this advice, but I think you should just STOP all this negative talk about yourself. Just stop. It’s cruel. And it’s also untrue.

      God loves you Becca, and I love you, and April does, and so many others do too. Yes, you have flaws – so does EVERYONE. Don’t worry about it so much. It’s okay, really. Yes, we should all do what we can to improve ourselves, get closer to God, be a better wife, etc. but how far along that road we are has nothing to do with whether or not we are worthy of love. You are worthy of love just as you are right now, today.

      Becca, is it okay if I add you to my daily prayers? I know am not as wise as others here and I don’t really have any useful advice for you – but I would like to pray for you, if you don’t mind. 🙂

      1. Laura,

        Thanks for loving Becca and reaching out to her. 🙂 She is working on learning to stop the negative self talk, sometimes it is a long process. It was for me. I had no idea how to “just stop” my negative self talk. I believe Becca made a really big step this week, actually. I am so proud of you, Becca! 🙂

        Please do pray for Becca and for anyone else you would like to. 🙂

        1. Gosh, I guess my comment did sound a bit bossy, didn’t it? I’m so sorry! I didn’t mean it like that at all. I just felt distressed to see Becca beating herself up.

          Please accept my apologies for not being very tactful, Becca. I sometimes lack social skills, but I mean well. 🙂

          1. Laura,

            It can be difficult online to communicate tone sometimes. I know that you are speaking in love and concern and want Becca to be at peace. I really appreciate your love for God and your sisters! 🙂

            I am so glad you are here!!

          2. Thank you, Laura, for offering to pray for me. I appreciate it. And thank you for your comment, it means a lot. God bless you!

          3. Hi Becca
            I have been praying for you (and Laura) since the other day, and we may not know each other but you are BOTH loved and appreciated, and I really, really love the things you process and share on here Becca, even though I rarely comment myself. I’m sure I’m not the only one who appreciates how you work through things with April and how open you are.

            We all have our hang ups and battles, mine are too personal to share here, but involve low self esteem, combined with a difficult, traumatic childhood, a dominating, critising mother and abuse. So I know how deep the scars can be and how they can affect your whole life, but God is greater than all things! He can bring healing and as April says, it takes time and it is a process not a ‘magic wand/instant fix’.

            However I have been blessed with a minister at my church who is gifted in prayer ministry and I have received a lot of healing prayer. But even then, things will surface that still hurt, or need more prayer, it is a gradual process. Also, you need to be ready to receive it. I took a long time to accept prayer, I insisted I was fine for many years until I felt God was wanting to use me in the youth ministry at our church and I realised I needed to get as healed as I could be in order to be useful to God, if that makes sense?

            Anyway, sorry for rambling, I just wanted to send love and prayers out to Becca and Laura really. And thank you to all the wonderful people, like Radiant and April who battle in prayer for others and pour out the love of Christ into each situation.

          4. Sunshine, thank you for commenting. It really helps to hear that my sharing can be somewhat helpful to others. So often I feel like kicking myself after I comment, because I don’t want to make anyone else feel badly, or drag any other ladies down with me. Sometimes I feel like I go on way too much. I also feel guilty about taking up too much time and space. But the discussions with April and the other ladies are often so helpful to me. I am happy to know that the discussions around my issues may be helping others as well. So thank you for commenting, your input made me feel better!

            And thank you for the love and prayers! I’ll be praying for you, too.

          5. Becca,

            I’m GLAD you reach out and comment. This is what we all need when we are hashing through this process. Somewhere where we can look at our thoughts and examine them together with other believers and with the Light of God’s Word and find healing in Christ.

    3. Hi Becca,

      My wife often complains about our wedding and says that she’d do it so much differently if she did it again. It makes me feel sad because it feels like a rejection of me as a person. Maybe your husband feels like this?

      1. HH,

        I doubt that her complaints about the wedding day have to do with you, my brother. It is more likely about all the little details of the day that weren’t “perfect” in her mind.

  8. Here is something I plan to share on my Peaceful Wife Blog FB page tomorrow:

    Moms, Satan’s looking for ways to destroy you—and this pretty much outlines his plan, right here. Written in C.S. Lewis’ “Screwtape Letters” style, it’s absolutely chilling!

    My Dear Wormwood,

    I was thrilled to hear you have been making progress with the mother. You have a good lead, from what I hear. She’s feels over-worked, unappreciated, and discouraged? I’m so glad to hear it. If you tread carefully, this can be a great opportunity. With the kids waking her up every hour last night, we already have an advantage. A tired Mom makes for a more emotional Mom, and an emotional Mom is a vulnerable one.

    I do have a few tips. First, aim your best efforts at her marriage.

    As you know, we cannot do much with a unified marriage. Luckily for us, a cranky and exhausted wife can do wonders to change that. We must convince her that her husband is no longer the friend and ally she first married. Instead, we must reveal every sin and selfish habit, especially drawing attention to his thoughtless actions (mal-intended or not) against her.
    Sometimes it’s the less obvious things, things the husband doesn’t even realize, that we can use to offend her the most. When he comes home from work and dumps his things on the counter nearest the door (instead of hanging his coat or putting away his keys), let her think of it as a direct assault on her work as a homekeeper. When he treks mud in with his shoes, let her think it is because he does not love her. Such extremes of thought may seem ridiculous to you or I, but to the exhausted mortal woman, it can seem possible. Your goal is to make her think the husband does not notice, or even better, that he does not care about her efforts at home.

    Secondly, do what you can to keep her focused on her troubles and pains. Remind her how much her back aches, how draining the children were all day, and how many undone tasks still beckon her. Do not let her wonder what difficulties her husband faced that day or whether his back might also be aching. Valuing others above oneself is one of those silly, though strangely effective, tactics of the Enemy. If she stops to make him a cup of coffee, the next thing you know she’ll be rubbing his shoulders and flirting with him on the couch. It can progress out of your control if you’re not careful.

    Along those lines, be sure the Mother starts to value productivity above everything else. Have her wake up early and work non-stop until bedtime. If the husband relaxes in the evening with an hour of computer gaming, be sure the wife notices the pile of unfolded laundry or unswept floors. Do not let her grab a book and relax alongside her husband. Diligence, often one of the Enemy’s virtues, when overdone can be used to our advantage as well. Convince her that as long as there is a shred of work to be done (and there always is), no one should be resting. Then, as she folds and sweeps and he sits, you can introduce the sweet bitterness of resentment.

    A word of caution here. Remember, the love of a husband can be dangerous to our cause. If he senses her unhappiness, he may begin to help or (even worse) show her affection. This is where previously planted seeds of resentment can be guided into full bloom. Make her think that his displays of affection are because he “only wants one thing”. Do not let her view his help with the dishes (or kisses or cuddling) as having pure motives. If he shows his desire for her, convince her that she is being used, not loved. As we both know, the ultimate Act of Marriage can bond them together in a way that can undo much hard work on our part. Because of this, do not allow her to prioritize that Act on her mental to-do-list. It is in our best interest to keep the wife busy, busy, busy and be sure she’s far too exhausted to consider it by the end of the evening….

    If there is any last piece of advice I have for you, Wormwood, it is to keep the Mother looking to her husband or family for her fulfillment and comfort. We know that the Enemy is always watching and willing to take the burdens of his children, but if we divert the Mother’s attention well enough, this fact can be forgotten. Make her look to her husband for worth and affirmation. Then, when he lets her down (as he is sure to do), she will be ours to torment. Yes, the worst thing that could happen would be for her to turn to Him with her needs and inadequacies. Once she realizes that the Enemy offers a peace that transcends her situation, our work could be utterly compromised.

    Your Malevolent Uncle,

    Screwtape

    Written by Kelsey Shade
    http://www.foreverymom.com/dear-mama-satan-is-doing-everything-he-can-to-keep-you-from-reading-this-letter/

  9. Hi April I love your message and your blog

    Growing up and through my adult years, I have been subject to my mother’s negativity and her constant, relentless, victim status. It has destroyed her, and destroyed any normal mother/daughter relationship that we could have had. It’s like she was basically possessed by forces of evil that denied her any joy in life.

    Your blog and your words are so comforting and uplifting; encouraging me to feel whole and loved and protected in Jesus Christ’s love.

    Your blog has has such a positive and loving impact on my marriage and on my life. Thank you April.

    1. Mara,

      This blog contains the kind of love and truth I wish we all could get at home and in our churches. I’m sad that so many have not had godly examples growing up, but I praise God that He is able to heal and restore those things that were lost.

      I praise God for what He is doing in your heart and I thank Him that He is allowing me to be a little part of that. Such a blessing, my dear sister!

      Praying for God’s healing for your mom. That is a miserable way to live. 🙁 Sounds like she is ensnared by the enemy. But she is not beyond the reach of Christ! He can set her free!

      A resource for dealing with toxic people – http://www.leslievernick.com/pdfs/How-to-handle-toxic-and-critical-people.pdf

      Much love!

      April

  10. FROM RADIANTANDREDEEMED:
    Yes I would have to say that Wormwood’s strategy is accurate!!! Ugh!! How many times have I given in and thought all of those exact things?

    I have been so convinced this week – if we are not rejoicing in the Lord, our enemies are rejoicing over us!!

    Becca, I have never felt feminine either- that’s why I had to try to grab the girliest hand-me-downs I could find in the 70s (especially the halter top with the pink gumballs machine!) because I was afraid of turning into a boy any moment! I thought everything I knew about being a girl (wearing make up, heels and earrings) was bad since I wasn’t supposed to do it til I was 16. I was sick, wheezing, had short ugly thick hair, was barrel-chested, full of allergies/mucous, sneezy, was absent half the year throwing up because of my asthma most years, had a bloated stomach, was not graceful or athletic in any way, was depressed and honestly looked ridiculous in girly things. Plus – really – could ANYONE look good in the 70’s and 80’s?!?

    I kind of think there are very few women who actually believe they are beautiful. And the most beautiful women are often the hardest on themselves and their beauty. Let’s see – a Dove survey last year says 96% of us wouldn’t say we are beautiful. So I would say we are not alone in that struggle! I have found focusing on outward beauty only makes me feel more empty and ugly. Like focusing on trying to be happy never gets us happiness. Thankfully the awesome thing is – if we are in Christ – we are beautiful to Him (and if we could see spiritually – wow we would pass out if we saw how beautiful we are because it is His beauty in us!). And the more we gaze at Jesus and soak up His love for us – the more His beauty permeates us from the inside out.

    Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts with us – everyone who does! What a blessing to get to do life together with the Body! And what a blessing to pray each other through our struggles. We all need prayer. We all need equipping and encouragement. We all need less unbelief and more letting God be infinite. We all need to receive more. We need insights from other personalities and gifts and each other’s wisdom. We all have huge blind spots. We are all easily deceived. We all wander off. We all fall. We weren’t made to do this Christian life alone. I am so thankful we get to do it together.

    I think the majority of us – especially who grow up in the church – it takes awhile – a long process – to be set free. And then there are still infinite areas to grow and receive even more revelation and freedom and life from Jesus. And some days/years/seasons are extra hard. And we will be attacked. And there will be trials of many kinds. And I still need people’s prayers every day. I have a prayer partner who really prays – I would highly recommend one!! If you don’t know anyone who has that kind of faith to pray – ask God for a prayer partner who is strong in faith. And even then sometimes I need prayer from really experienced prayer warriors. It’s ok 🙂 And baby steps are good!
    It is a huge adventure!

    Grace and peace to my family in Jesus. What an honor to bring you before the Throne of the One who loves us and died for us and sustains us and treasures us!

    1. Radiant I agree it takes a long time to be set free.

      For me there have been moments of great joy and the knowledge of God’s presence tempered with long periods of frustrating distance.

      I would love to be in a place where I experience that joy daily.

    1. 420,

      To be sexist would be to be discriminatory against men or women. Thankfully, the Bible is not sexist or discriminatory against either sex at all! We are all made in God’s image (Genesis 1:27) and all who are in Christ are co-heirs of everything that belongs to Jesus – men and women, there is no difference (Galatians 3:28).

      God did make men and women to be different in order to display the relationship between Christ and His people, the Church. We have equal value and worth and dignity. But we do have differences physically and even emotionally and spiritually. And we come together in marriage using our differences to be stronger together than we are individually.

      Men and women are both precious in God’s sight and are both to live for God’s glory.

      I wonder – what is it that seems unfair or sexist to you in the Bible? Would you like to talk about it?

      With much love,
      April

      1. I am 16 years old and about to start living my own life more, (nearing adulthood) and the message I get is I need to find a man to take care of me and basically ‘submit’ to him. I would feel like a total failure as a person in today’s society if that is how my life turned out. thats why I think this is sexist, it’s setting yourself up for abuse/failure. 🙁

        Is having a job discouraged or something because I have big plans in life and having kids even is wayyyyy not my main priority.
        Thank you for responding to me though and I don’t look down upon your lifestyle, hope I’m not coming across as I am:/ 🙂

        1. 420,

          Thankfully, you are very much mis-hearing my message. 🙂

          I personally am a pharmacist part-time, and now a published author. When I talk about the physical aspect of marriage being a representation of what Christ does for us – that doesn’t mean every woman has to get married. It doesn’t mean every couple has to have children. It means that when a married couple is intimate and it results in children, that is a way that God displays a living example of a metaphor of Jesus’ love for us as His people.

          I do talk about biblical submission in marriage, because that is what God’s design for marriage is. However, the word submission in our culture means slavery and abuse – that is not God’s design. You are welcome to search “authority” and “submission” on my home page and read the posts. But if you do read, please don’t picture the world’s definition for these two concepts. We need to start from scratch and only look at what God’s Word says.

          You don’t have to get married. You don’t have to have children. You certainly don’t need to get married and be abused.

          There is a big difference between male domination and male headship. Here is a brief description of God’s design according to the Bible.

          Thanks for talking with me. You are welcome here. I would love for you to actually hear my message clearly. It would be so sad if you misunderstood in such a dangerous way.

          What is your relationship with Christ like, my friend?

          What do you believe about the Bible? Do you believe that it is true?

          What is your parents’ marriage like? Have you felt like they set a good example of treating each other well? Have you felt safe and loved growing up?

          Much love!

          1. 420,

            Interestingly, I have always been a Type A personality, very determined, driven, successful. I made all As in school and got a full scholarship to pharmacy school. I got customer service awards in pharmacy. I also tried to be in charge in my marriage. That didn’t work. My husband shut down more and more, I was always trying to get him to change and do what I wanted him to do.

            I was negative, critical, bossy, demanding, and insatiable. I thought I was always right. I demanded that God needed to fix my husband and make him love me more. Then God showed me how much sin I had in my life and that He wanted me to focus on the things I needed to change that I hadn’t even noticed for so many years (over 14) in our marriage. I had to learn to stop trying to control my husband and to stop all of my unintentional disrespect. Now we have the marriage I always wanted, now, my husband feels safe with me again and is very plugged in. He is the man I always knew he could be. But I couldn’t make him change. I had to allow him to do his thing. I had to respect him as a grown adult with a free will of his own.

            On this site, I share the things I wish I had known before we got married 22 years ago.

          2. I do appreciate the message you are sending I think I have a better understanding now,but to answer your questions, I do consider myself a Christian but never really had the time to practice it, (go to church ect.) it’s more of a spiritual thing, and my parents don’t have the best marriage due to illness

  11. I would really love to receive.. Somehow, though, I always end up in the providing mode… What I would really like is for someone to tell me everything is ok and just hold me…. Instead, I end up doing it for my husband who just isn’t in a position to do it for me right now. I spent the night crying and meditating on this verse: The Lord Your God is with you, the mighty warrior who saves ( I am not abandoned and alone. God can save this situation..) He takes great delight in you . ( Yep, just as I am…) He quiets you with his love. ( I pictured myself climbing up in his lap and him stroking my hair.) and rejoices over you with singing (. I tried to listen to the song he sang.)

    I’m trying, but I so long for someone..my husband.. a parent ( I tried but she blew me off and is now out of the country…) anyone. I would gladly receive…

    1. Elizabeth,
      I wish I could put my arm around your shoulders. I have felt that ache many times.

      Sending you a hug as I pray that the Lord of all comfort encourages your heart today. I hope you feel His tender mercies all around you–they are there, just sometimes in our pain we don’t see them.

      Love to you…

    2. Elizabeth,

      God and so many of us here are willing to pour out love and care for you, my dear sister! I love that passage you shared. SO beautiful and powerful!

      How might we pray for you today? Sending you the biggest hug!

    1. Sweet! I like that lesson/video! However, looking at that poor lamb being rejected by her mama is heartbreaking. Maybe a good visual for all of us as we remember the pain that others are in. As we offer compassion first, it is easier for them to see the compassion and love the Father has for them and will make it easier for them to want to run to Him.

  12. I need to share something, briefly.

    To all of you who have been praying for me, thank you.

    I was feeling down this morning, and before I knew it, I was googling things I shouldn’t. The lies I believe, I sometimes Google them, and there are plenty of articles to fuel my wrong thoughts. But today went a little differently.

    First, I stumbled on an article that went against the lies AND pointed out that self-pity is a big form of pride. Ouch. I know we’ve been over that, but sometimes I need to hear things repeatedly.

    As I continued wallowing, a still, small voice said, “why are you doing this? Really, why? Is this helpful? Your husband is a good man.” I stopped. And eventually I texted my husband and told him I missed him. He then called and we had a nice chat (but he does call a lot, but it was still nice, and I think he appreciated knowing I was thinking of him.)

    Then I started thinking about this writing April says I should do, and although I wasn’t writing, I was thinking about what I should write, and it forced me to really start examining these thoughts, instead of hiding behind them. And then… I felt compelled to pray. For myself. That’s a big step for me.

    And as I prayed I was shocked at how the prayers poured out. The words just came.

    I have a long way to go. But I feel like I’ve finally started. I’m so scared like 100 times before I will slip right back into self-pity. But this time I feel more confident, and I think it is your prayers. Please hold me accountable.

    Thank you.

    1. Becca,

      Today was a BIG step! Several big steps, even, in the right direction! WOOHOO!!! I’m SO excited about your willingness to hear God’s voice and to stop what you were doing and stop feeding the lies. That is AWESOME! Praise God! And I am super thrilled that even if you weren’t writing down your negative, destructive thoughts and comparing them to Scripture, that you were thinking through them and beginning to untangle them. That is HUGE! And then.. that you were able to pray for yourself!!! WOW!

      That brings tears of joy to my eyes.

      God is able to heal you, my dear sister. You may slip and fall at times. God will be there to pick you up and we will be here to encourage you and point you back to Christ. It is kind of like learning to walk. You may fall. But falling sometimes and getting back up is a lot better than staying down in the muddy pit all the time! 🙂

      Sending the biggest hug and praising God for His power to heal and to reach each of us and rescue us from ourselves.

      Much love!
      April

  13. God is speaking to you!!! God is with you and fighting for you!! And you are beginning to receive! So beautiful! He knows exactly what you need today. I hear chains breaking! Thank you Jesus for Your goodness and mercy to Becca and each of us!

  14. 420, I am so glad you joined the discussion. You are very welcome here. This is the perfect place to find answers.

  15. I have been thinking about this post a lot since it was written. It made me realise how important it is for someone to receive……….a giver CANNOT give unless it is received!

    If I have a wallet full of cash and pull out $1,000 and want to give it to you, you don’t have to take it.

    I can wave it in front of your face and you can turn away and ignore it.

    I can put it in your pocket and you can pull it out and throw it back.

    I can cover it in chocolate and wrap it in a big bowtie but if you won’t receive it you won’t enjoy the $1,000!!!!

    The gift is devalued if it isn’t wanted.

    I guess it’s like Jesus, He stands at the door and knocks but He doesn’t open the door and force his way in.

    Can you ladies answer me this question please. Is there the potential that trying to give love to someone who is not willing to receive it actually does more harm than waiting until a person is ready to receive it?

    1. HH,

      I think that is a great question – and you know what? I do believe there is harm in someone trying to make someone take love or a gift they do not wish to receive. If someone tries to force something, even a good thing, on someone else, it repels the potential receiver from the potential giver, I believe. I think a potential receiver can offer a gift or his love. But like Christ doesn’t ram the door of our hearts down, but waits to be invited, I think that would apply when we seek to give something (including demonstrations of our love) to others.

      I think about our children. Our son, 14, sometimes tries to hug our daughter, 9. If she doesn’t want a hug at the time, he may have great motives, and he may be trying to be loving, but she is just going to get irritated and annoyed if he forces his hug on her. But if he waits until she is receptive, then it is a blessing and a gift.

      A giver can make an offer to give something. But the potential receiver must choose to receive it. Yes!

    2. Hi HH, I don’t really know all of the dynamics in your marriage – but sometimes a wife has a hard time receiving if she doesn’t feel she can trust her husband’s heart towards her. This could be because she has decided she is not worthy of love, or she was treated badly maybe by a father, or from past wounds with dating/marriage.

      I think the more you seek hard after God yourself and know Jesus better and more personally – He will radiate from you and she will feel more able to trust that you do have her best in mind.

      Father, we pray that You will take away anything in HH or his dear wife that is not of you, break down demonic strongholds, foundations that are not Christ, lies believed, and any vows to save/protect/defend themselves or to be perfect or not mess up or decisions to not be able to receive love. In the Name of Jesus bind the demonic assignments against them and build them up together into You. Rebuild the stick and mud ruins with Your eternal gold and silver in their hearts, lives and marriages. Only what You straighten stays that way. Only what You build lasts forever. Only You can give us broken and contrite hearts that can be ready to receive all of the gifts You have for us.

      Build their hearts and marriage and lives into a glorious display of Your grace and glory. Heal and mend what is broken, bleeding and wounded. Pour Your love into those wounds. Raise up a strong Church around this family and other broken ones like it to help love and come alongside and heal and strengthen and equip them. Thank you Jesus for Your beautiful work in this family! You are our only Hope, and You are Faithful and True and worthy of all our praise and joy!

      1. Amen Radiant!

        You have hit the nail on the head on pretty much all three counts! She doesn’t believe her father loves her and often says “If I were only like my sister he would love me”, she has definitely decided she is not worthy of love and the music she is listening to is encouraging these lies and unfortunately I wounded her deeply with my control in our early years of marriage.

        Do you have an answer to my question? Can I do damage by trying to give love where it is not wanted?

        1. I do believe if you try to force her to receive things she just can’t receive, it can do damage, yes. Any idea what kind of things she is open to receiving from you at this point? Maybe the idea of her love language? Your idea of giving may feel like more controlling to her? What do you try to give? Have you both worked through your marriage issues at all? How long have you been on this journey towards healing? I have a feeling this will involve a whole lot of laying your life down and dying to self and being a student of your wife and things that help her come alive. Are you familiar with the 5 love languages? My theory is we all want the ones we get the least of.

          1. I have read the book “The five love languages” and I’m ‘reasonably’ certain that I understand her language. The problem is when I speak her ‘language’ whilst it definitely sparks a response she literally says “Don’t show me love, it’s over. Please don’t be kind to me” and “Your love is drawing me closer to you, just stop it, I don’t want you”. Pretty much the only thing she accepts is physical intimacy (and she wants lots of it actually).

            What do I try to give? Pretty much everything 🙂 I work fulltime, do most of the housework, look after the kids whenever I’m home, take her out to dinner, give physical intimacy whenever she asks, give her space to catch up with her friends, make sure there’s never any financial limitations to the best of my ability, sold my dream 4WD to buy her dream car etc. Honestly to the best of my understanding the only thing I DON’T give her is that I don’t want to share quite a few of her movies and music with her as the language, messages and sexual content present difficulties to me as a Christian. But I seek God daily about any areas that I may be withholding any love and trust Him to show me these.

            She doesn’t want to work through any issues. We visited a counsellor for a few sessions last year but as soon as he started touching on the heart of the issues she said she’s not going back to the counsellor and it’s too hard. The counsellor says she has a deep rooted fear of ‘encroachment’ (letting anyone into her personal space). This is definitely true in my experience. I mentioned this website to her as a way of looking for healing but it made her extremely angry so I haven’t mentioned it again.

            How long on the journey to healing? For me 7 years. We’ve been married 10 but our first 3 were horrible. After 3 years I found Christ (or He found me should I say!) and since then I’ve tried to minister to her as best I can. And believe me when I say I have died to self in every possible way that I have known how! To the point of being a doormat actually, which has changed in the last two months as I understood more of self respect.

            At the moment I am viewing my love as something that I am willing and waiting to give, but cannot give until it is wanted. I have been wondering for a couple weeks if she has felt ‘smothered’ by my love, especially since she has such a fear of letting anyone close. So I have backed off a LOT, focusing on doing things like keeping the house clean but not putting flowers out anywhere, being pleasant and friendly but not taking her out for dinner or trying to make romantic conversation. Basically I’m trying to be supportive but not overwhelming.

            Actually, as of last week I made a conscious decision to lay her on the alter like Abraham did with Isaac and to say to God “Your will be done, whatever your plans are for this relationship and this woman, your will be done”.

            There ya go Radiant! Our dynamics in a nutshell 🙂 What do you think?

          2. It does sound to me like you have been over-giving, and you are moving in the right direction now. Praying for you guys and asking the Lord to turn all of the hardship, pain and hurt into beauty and restoration in Him. I think putting her on the alter is the best idea of all. God is big enough and will direct you and knows how to work in her heart.

          3. HH, I hesitate to speak because I am not qualified to give advice…so take whatever I say with a grain of salt. But I wanted to tell you that ever since I read this comment of yours yesterday I keep thinking about it. I find it astounding that you do so much for your wife. I have never heard of a man doing all that before – working full time AND doing all the housework AND caring for the kids AND putting out flowers? I have heard of women who try so hard, but never a man. It’s just astounding to me.

            My own husband never lifts a finger to help around the house – even during the years he was unemployed or in school. Even when I am sick, tired, or unwell, I do everything in the house as well as all the cooking and shopping for our large family. I have always done everything. He refuses to even pick up his own laundry or make the bed after he sleeps in. He scoffs at me when I ask if he might want to do the shopping with me. When he is not at work, he spends all his time watching tv and smoking weed while I take care of the household.

            Your comment therefore has been making me think – what is wrong with folks like you and me, who take it upon themselves to do absolutely everything in a household, and in a relationship? It seems that both of us are in a very unbalanced situation. This lack of balance can’t be healthy in the long term for anyone. I feel like it is possible to overdo it an end up making things worse – in my case, I think my efforts to be the perfect subservient wife have backfired because it only taught my husband to take me for granted. It allowed his selfishness to grow. I might complain that he treats me like a servant, but then, I have acted like one all these years so I must take some of the blame.

            I’m glad to hear you have been backing off. I am trying to do the same right now. Once in a while I have been pleasantly asking for my husband’s help with something, like folding laundry, and so far he has helped, although with a lot of complaints and rolled eyes. And I have been trying to think about my own needs and desires as well as my husband’s, and to tell him what I would like instead of always remaining silent. It’s a fine balancing act, to respect him while still respecting myself, but I think this is important if any healing is ever going to occur.

            One last thing: I think people like us, who would probably be labeled by a psychologist as codependent, people who give and give devote their life to “fixing” the partner who is seriously troubled – people like us need to be careful when reading marriage advice, like the Love Languages book, or even April’s blog. Most of the advice out there is for people who are, how can I say it – within the normal ranges of psychological health. I think there is real danger for abused people to read that stuff and think that if they follow it, they can turn around their marriage. So we try even harder and make things even more unbalanced. The abuse gets worse. (April has spoken of this many times, that her blog is not really for abused people.)

            I think the answer is for us to step back, take care of ourselves, and let God do the work on our spouse. Sure, we can try to be a good husband or a good wife, but trying to be perfect and amazing in every way is overkill – and it’s also false pride for us to think we can be like God and heal the heart of a person who is deeply wounded and broken. From what I have read of your comments HH, I think your wife is very much like my husband – broken inside, unable to love herself or others at all. So (I am guessing) she holds you at arm’s length by her resentment, and this same resentment will cause her to take everything you do for granted. This painful situation is something only God can fix.

            Anyway, I have been thinking about all this and I just wanted to share my thoughts with you. I hope I haven’t said anything too foolish. God bless.

  16. Thanks April!

    I was meditating on Hosea 2:14 this morning and it stood out that the Lord led Gomer “Into the wilderness” before He spoke tenderly to her. It struck me that a person must realise what they are lacking before they will look to fulfil that lack.

    Hmmm, maybe that’s why in the Song of Song’s it says 3 times “Do not arouse or awaken love until it so desires”.

    This is good. I feel a real peace about the path of thoughts I am taking.

    1. HH,

      Yes, a person does have to come to a place of recognizing what they lack and need, and a place of humility and being ready to receive before they can receive. When we think we have all we need and we don’t need God, in our pride, we can’t receive from Him. But there is a similar situation in human relationships, too.

      My understanding of Song of Songs about not arousing or awakening love until it so desires is that it is not wise to awaken physical desire before marriage. But I’m sure there are more ways to look at it than my way! 🙂

      A husband or a wife can only focus on their particular end of things. I can be willing to receive from my husband, but I can’t make him give anything to me. You may be willing to give to your wife, but you can’t make her receive your love and good gifts. It is very freeing to realize where our responsibilities end. It leads to peace. 🙂

      1. I love the discussion that’s been going on here! While I think it is true, we cannot give to someone who is refusing to receive, there is also the concept of simply giving in order to be pleasing to God. It is not the acceptance of the gift that is important, but the fact that we have offered it. We are like a conduit that reflects the love God has shown us. It’s not about other people at all, but rather us and our own relationship with Him.

        Often in marriage things are not 50/50, they are out of balance. There have been times when I have been called to give far more and times when hubby has been. So when we both keep our eyes on ourselves, on seeking the Lord’s favor through our own behavior, things have worked out much better. Both hubby and I are not very good receivers, so if we waited on each other before ever giving, we’d probably still be waiting. Hubby has gone right on doing the right thing even when I could not, which probably has a whole lot to do with our marriage working out. He has given out grace and patience sometimes, even when those around him may not have been completely worthy of such things.

        1. insanitybytes22,

          We can certainly offer things, even if our offer is refused. I am not saying we shouldn’t offer. Being available and being loving and respectful is great. Just that we shouldn’t force our love, affection, attention, and gifts on people. Smothering other people is not going to work. It can be a tricky thing to find that godly balance. We can serve simply to please God, yes! If we are focusing on doing what God is calling us to do, that is the primary thing – and we leave the results up to God and our spouse.

          Love this!

  17. Very true! And so often we forget we’re meant to be receivers, or we have been been trained by sin and the world around us to be takers instead. Offering isn’t bad, but yes, we as women could use to learn a thing or two about receiving and doing so graciously.

    1. The FaithBook,

      It is definitely about balance. If we act entitled and expect to receive things as if it is owed to us, that doesn’t work! But if we refuse everything God and our husbands offer, that doesn’t work either. I like thinking about the difference between being a “taker” vs. a “receiver.”

      I believe so many marriages and relationships would be transformed if we were able to receive graciously. 🙂

      Thanks for sharing! I always love hearing your thoughts, my dear sister!

  18. Reblogged this on The Faithbook and commented:
    Another wonderful post from The Peaceful wife and what it means to our femininity as women to be able to receive, from Christ first and then our husbands. Many of us are taught as women we must be “go-getters” or “take for ourselves”, but what if we learned to receive first?

  19. Thank you so much for your open minded perspectives! I have been reading several blogs lately that are meant to teach faith, but merely bully and belittle their readers into their own way of thought. What a refreshing read it is to come upon your blog. Have a wonderful day!

    1. Alison,

      You are most welcome. I want everyone – women and men – to feel welcome here and to know they are deeply loved by Christ. I long for this place to point us all to Jesus and to the abundant life, truth, healing, and hope we can find in Him. 🙂

      Thanks for sharing, my sister!

  20. It happened again last night. Throughout yesterday, I had been going back and reading your posts on femininity. I’d read them before, but lots of things were jumping out at me that I hadn’t seen before.

    Our intimate life is still not where I’d like it to be, and that still takes a toll on my self esteem. But I’m trying to look at this from a different angle. I’m really trying to believe that my husband loves me, and that sexual intimacy is not the only measuring stick. This is a huge battle for me. (there’s that ugly pride again!)

    I was trying to remember how good my husband is to me in so many other ways, and to focus on him rather than myself. I tried to understand that it is so cold outside (he works outdoors) and that exhausts him faster.

    Anyhow, I was feeling sorry for myself and trying to snap myself out of it, and so I went to bed (around 1 am and wide awake with my mind racing). I often sleep on the couch because my negative thought pattern tells me “why bother going to bed when he doesn’t want you in there anyway. You’re just taking up space.” Although, my husband says he prefers when I sleep in bed. So I went to bed.

    Well he stirred (which I hate because he’s a light sleeper and I feel guilty for rousing him when he’s asleep). And then, he starts rubbing my back. ARGH! NO! I HATE that. It might sound crazy, but when you’ve been craving intimacy from your husband for days, and you know that to him a back rub is just a back rub, it is like torture.

    My first thought was, “this is insane. I’m going back to the couch.” But then I took a deep breath, and began to pray. I prayed about controlling my feelings, both physical and emotional, and I guess it worked because I began to relax. Before I knew it I was asleep. In my bed.

    So anyhow, no, intimacy did not take place, but at least I was able to sleep, and I stayed in bed where my husband claims he prefers me to be. Praying was calming. My husband is in a very good mood today. I feel better than I normally would had I chosen to go sulk on the couch and toss and turn all night.

    Perhaps I’ve been wrong, and it’s not too late. Maybe I’ll continue to grow and so will our marriage.

    1. Becca, your recent comments make me so happy! It sounds like God is really working in your life, and I am so glad! Prayer really works. 🙂

      Also, I must say, it’s pretty nice that your husband rubs your back! I’ve been married a long time and I don’t think I’ve ever gotten a spontaneous back rub. You’re a lucky girl! 🙂

      I look forward to hearing what God is doing in your life next, my friend!

    2. Becca,

      It is definitely not too late. 🙂 You have an amazing man there – from the way you have described him in the past to me. And I believe he truly does love you and thinks you are very beautiful. He is a hard worker. He’s not perfect. He is human, but he is so patient and does many things to show his love for you.

      That voice you were hearing that was telling you “why bother goring to bed when he doesn’t want you there anyway” – that was the enemy’s voice. That was his lie. As you continue to heal and grow spiritually and tap into Christ more and more, you will begin to recognize the difference more between God’s voice and Satan’s voice. Satan’s voice is very easy to hear. God’s voice is not, not at first, at least. Satan’s voice will accuse your husband of things – evil motives, not loving you, lying to you that he thinks you are beautiful, etc… His voice will encourage you to isolate yourself away from everyone. He will try to seduce you into destroying your marriage and he wants you to think the lies are true and that all of this is just simply your own thoughts and that you can trust your thoughts and your wisdom.

      God’s voice will cause you to think about the good things about your husband, to believe your husband, to trust him more, to build unity, to enjoy your husband’s touch – even if you don’t get to have intimacy that night. God’s whispering voice speaks life and peace. It builds up your marriage. It draws you closer to God and the truth of His Word. It will ask you to assume the best of your husband and to question and shoot down the lies. It will draw you to be more vulnerable – which can feel scary – but leads to intimacy.

      What you had last night was a major spiritual victory after a big battle! PRAISE GOD!

      Sending you the biggest hug, my precious sister! I love what God is doing in you. 🙂

      1. April, I have been reading a lot on your site and I am thankful to rediscover both your site and that there are Christians in this country who truly believe God’s Word. It truly renews my hope.

        It is my opinion that the Bible tells us “it is better to give than receive”, because when we are focused on giving we are focused on others. When we are focused on receiving, we are focused on “self”. And since Jesus said that if we want to follow Him, we must die to self daily, pick up our cross and follow Him, focusing on self is being disobedient. Please understand, I am not saying that allowing ourselves to be open to receive is selfish, nor is the actual receiving itself. Merely the focus.

        HH, my recommendation would be to continue what you are doing. You cannot force anyone to receive. But do you think Jesus would be happy that we pull back from giving, just because it is not being received? That would put into attempting to justify our actions, or inactions, on another. And one thing I can say for sure, God never allows us to justify our sins.

        Think of it like this: You are a lamp in a dark room. When you choose to love like Jesus, you are turning on the lamp and the light flows. Your wife can choose to close her eyes and not use the light to see, but sooner or later, she will discover that refusing the light causes her nothing but barked shins. In my mind, that is what Jesus calls us to. We are supposed to be the “light of the world”. I don’t think He meant that we should have an on/off switch, but that His love would radiate from us all the time.

        Since you mentioned a doormat, I would ask you one question…Was Jesus a doormat when He allowed Himself to be beaten, scourged, crown of thorns violently rammed onto His head, forced to carry His own cross, nailed to it naked, and then hung upon it? Do you think He argued with the Father about how that would make Him a doormat to all of mankind? We are called to sacrifice like Jesus. Ephesians 5 specifically tells us as husbands that we are to be willing to sacrifice for our wives. To that effect, if Jesus came to you and said that he wanted you to continue to offer your wife love with everything you are for the rest of your life, even though your wife won’t change, would you be willing for His sake? The flip side is that there is not a need to spoil her by providing her every want. When you spoke about giving up your “dream 4X4” to buy her “dream car”… Nowhere that I know of did Jesus say that we are to fulfill every “want” of our wives.

        I have read some people talking about self respect. Where do you see that in the Bible? Name one time that Jesus chose not to do something, or pull back, because He was concerned it would hurt his self respect. In fact, and this is just my opinion, but anything that begins with “self” should probably be thrown out of our lexicons right now, as again, kind of demonstrates disobedience to what Jesus said about “dying to self”.

        Becca, I stand in agreement with pretty much everything that has been said to you. I am thrilled that God is starting to shine His love into your heart. But something came to me when I was reading. You have deep self esteem/self pity issues. There is that “self” word again. King David said in scripture that God puts us together in the womb. That He knew us before even then. So it really comes down to this…Do you believe God? Do you believe that God might have made a mistake with you? Maybe He put a little too much height, or weight, or a little too much of this color in your hair, or whatever? Do you think, for even a second, that because you are dissatisfied with something about yourself, that God is? God made you to be you, plain and simple. And to speak negatively about yourself is basically accusing God of making a mistake. You can certainly proceed on that path, but I can assure you it is not a very good idea.

        God does not make mistakes. Therefore it follows that each one of us is perfectly crafted to be how He wants us to be. Perfectly crafted, not perfect. Choices, our own and others’, and sin, change us over time. Turning away from self, and shining God’s light into our own darkness will heal those wounds. But we have to be open to receive it from our Lord.

        Would it surprise you if I were to say that none of us have to worry about trusting our spouses? We only have to trust Jesus. Do you really think that our spouses can fight God? The same God that hardened Pharoah’s heart. The same God who says that He will take out your “heart of stone” and replace it with a “heart of flesh” and put a new spirit in you? Sure, they may get away with something for a time, because God wants nobody to perish, but their sin will eventually come out. And there will be consequences. But if we are trusting God, then we know that no matter how much something may hurt, that God is using it for our good. Because He loves us. And God can change the heart of those we love, because He loves them even more than we do.

        There are some, even in our churches that will argue, and say that they have “Free Will”. It amazes me how many people believe in the concept of “Free Will”. Do you know that I have found nowhere in the Bible that specifically states that God has given us “free will”. It is implied, because He allowed Adam and Eve to make a choice, but it doesn’t say it. In fact, the concept of “Free Will” in its simplest form would mean that God is not sovereign. It would mean that “with God, all things are possible” is a lie. Notice it says “all” there, and not “most, unless Free Will comes into play”. God wants us to choose Him out of love, so He allows us choices. That does not mean that we have total “free will”. In case you need some examples: The Book of Jonah. Saul (who became Paul). In fact, he (Saul) is probably one of the best examples. He stood and agreed to the death of numerous Christians. He even got authority from the Temple to openly arrest Christians and see them put to death, by his own choice. One flash of light, and a short conversation with Jesus, was enough to make him say “What must I do, Lord?”. He was so turned around that roughly 60% of the New Testament was written by him. It shows us that God is sovereign, and that He will not hesitate to change a heart to follow His plans. There have even been some on this site. I read one story about a lady who intended to take her own life. Yet, when the audible voice of God told her to “Stop” and to “Go home”, she didn’t pause and go, hey wait a minute. What about my “free will”? She went home.

        I hope that rather than taking any of this as a rebuke, you will instead take as “speaking the truth in love”. To help us all to give up the ideas of “self” anything and fall into the arms of He who first loved us.

        April, I again cannot thank you enough for all of this. It is heartening in a time when even Christians look at portions of the Bible as out of date, or not fit for these times.

        My backstory: My wife was/is very much like HH’s, or so it sounds. And my reactions were surprisingly similar as well. We went like that for just over 12 years, claiming to be Christians, but we really had no walk with Him. And then, not three months after moving across the country for her to take a job opportunity, she told me she didn’t love me anymore. We decided to divorce, and separated. Roughly a year after we separated, I found out some things, but also realized I didn’t want a divorce. She was done, according to her. And then it came to me. I just knew in my heart that only God could fix this. I turned back to the Lord. I cried out to Him. started reading the Scriptures. I started attending church. I prayed, “God, this is all her fault, but I am asking you to fix it”. God’s answer is always “Yes and Amen” in Jesus, but it is not always the “Yes” we think it is. That was in January of 2013. What God has shown me from then until now is that I was not the Man, husband, and father I thought I was. Not according to His Word. And He began a work in me to transform me. I am not even close yet. But God is patient with me and He keeps working. So, in effect, I am “Standing in the Gap” for my wife, praying for the Lord to go after His lost sheep, and to restore her to Himself, and then lead her home to our family again. Until that day of His timing, I am trying to keep myself open to being transformed by Him.

        My apologies for the book.

        Phillip

        1. Phillip,

          There are a lot of women who refuse to receive because it is “selfish” in their eyes. But if we receive what God is freely giving to us, that is not sinful or selfish – that is beautiful! Yes, it is possible to make receiving all about self – or it is possible to make receiving graciously be a gift to those who give to us and then we can give back to them generously, as well. 🙂

          I do believe it is possible to give too much for the wrong reasons. I used to do this with my husband. If I am doing tons of things for him and trying to give and trying to give and he is not receiving it – but my motives are that I want something back from him or I want to change him – that is a problem. That is what I mean when I talk about that if a spouse isn’t receiving what we are giving, there are times when it may be better to back off a bit rather than to try to force things on them when they are unreceptive. I do not intend to say that we should stop loving them, honoring them, and serving them in ways God prompts us to. Just that there are times when space can be more of a gift in certain situations than constant giving. I hope that makes sense. Now, if God is prompting us to give and give and give, that is great. As long as we are giving without strings attached and we are not expecting anything in return.

          Jesus gave Himself willingly when it was God’s will for Him to do so. But there were other times that people tried to kill Him, and He slipped out of their grasp because it was not God’s will and His timing and it was not God’s way yet. I don’t believe we have to sit there and just take violence and abuse and say that is what Jesus would do. He took violence and abuse for a very specific purpose – God’s will and our salvation. But I don’t believe that means that a husband or wife should just stay and let their spouse cut them, beat them, or kill them or their children. If someone is in danger, I would encourage them to get somewhere safe as soon as possible. There may be times we do sacrifice ourselves for others and it will be painful – but I don’t want to encourage people to stay if they are in physical danger. And if there are extremely severe issues in a marriage, extreme levels of control or manipulation, I encourage husbands and wives to seek godly counsel in person with an experienced, trustworthy counselor.

          A “doormat” views herself as worthless and as deserving of mistreatment. She views herself as not having anything of any value to offer to the relationship. Jesus did not view Himself as worthless. He was humble – and there is a world of difference between humility vs. self hatred. I believe that when people act like doormats, it is a distortion of God’s design just as much as people being controlling and dominating is a distortion of God’s design for husbands or for wives. There is a place in the middle where we have balance and the power of the Holy Spirit where we can speak up if we have concerns and we can share ourselves and bless our spouses and we know that we have worth in Christ. (The Pendulum Effect Another helpful post may be Unhealthy VS. Healthy Relationships)

          When I am speaking of self-respect, I am talking about exactly what you are talking about – receiving what God says about us, receiving God’s love and His truth and receiving who He says we are – not a selfish or worldly self love, but a receiving of all that we are in Christ and a receiving and absorbing of God’s truth about Himself and about us. I have a post on that that goes into much more detail here. Unfortunately, there are many women (and men) who believe lies of the enemy about being worthless and good-for-nothing, and that God could never love them. That is destructive self-loathing, and that is not God’s will for us. We are to love others as we love ourselves. That means that healthy love for our new self in Christ is implied in the 2nd greatest commandment. So my desire is to help women receive the truth God has for them about themselves so that they will treat God, themselves, and others with honor and dignity.

          God is sovereign! Praise Him for that! He can change people’s hearts. I don’t agree with you that we have no free will, though. God does give us choices. I know many people believe free will and God’s sovereignty can’t coexist. I believe they do. Scripture is filled with both concepts. God is sovereign AND people have real choices to make and God holds them responsible for their conscious decisions. I believe Wayne Grudem describes this very well in Systematic Theology. When God changes a person’s heart, I believe we do have a choice to follow Him or not, but of course, as He opens our eyes, we realize that there is nothing we would want to do more than to follow Him and receive His grace. 🙂

          I agree that we are to die to self – but I want to define that. We don’t respect our sinful selves. We die to our sinful self. But then we live as our new self in Christ. That self, I believe we can respect – that new self that God has given to us in Christ. Because it is all about Jesus and what He did for us. We do die to self and to our will, our desires, our plans, our stuff, this world… yes! Then we live for Christ in absolute surrender.

          I’m thankful that you are loving your wife and seeking to lead her to Christ. That is awesome. I’m glad you are seeking to allow Him to transform you – that is what I long for all of us to experience.

          In Him,
          April

          1. Howdy April,

            Thank you for responding.

            I think perhaps I missed the mark a bit regarding “Free Will”. I agree with you that God allows us to make choices, but there are times when He will take the choice away from us, or He may stop us from making the choice to choose a way He doesn’t intend for us. Most of the time He will do it through His use of others, but there are times, just like Saul (or the woman who was about to end her own life), where God will take a personal hand Himself. I think where the concept breaks down is in the idea of “free”. As an example, you are free to go anywhere you want. Except, you aren’t really. There are numerous places even with 100 miles that you cannot just go; a military armory, for instance. So your “freedom” isn’t absolute. I guess what I am doing such a poor job of explaining is that while I agree that God allows us to make choices in a lot of instances, it is not absolute. So, just because God allows us to make choices, that doesn’t necessarily mean that He has granted us absolute “Free will”.

            On the self respect thing. I think again I missed the mark. I don’t think it is bad to have self respect, if it is based upon who we are in God. Jesus told us to “love your neighbor as yourself”, so I think I can safely say that He expects us to love ourselves, but it also means that we should not put love of self above love of others. So when our focus turns to our “self respect”, and protecting that “self respect”, over our love and respect for others, I believe that is when it becomes by necessity a “dying to self” moment.

            Most people believe that if we love someone, we should do things to demonstrate it. And many people use the inverse to justify that someone doesn’t love them. Jesus put love into the context of light radiating from within us. A light that would be constant and ever growing as we become more and more filled with the love of Christ. I don’t think that is something we can turn off with a switch. That is not to say that we should or shouldn’t do nice things for those we love, but our love should not be judged by the doing or lack thereof. This seems to be one of the major problems of our culture. If I buy something nice for my wife, I show my love. If I don’t, then I must not love her. And then there are gradients as well. If I buy something nice for her, like a rose, just to say I love you and was thinking of you, there will be many, possibly including the wife, who will look at it and say if he really loved her he would have bought her a dozen. Rather than looking at the positive of the thought, it becomes a negative.

            The world today says that if you act like you have suggested in your blog (submissive, respectful wife/loving, servant leader husband), you will be a “doormat”. Yet, that is exactly what Jesus calls us to be. Thus what I said about being a doormat. It is a hard one. The word submit has come to mean “little better than slavery” in this world, yet Jesus tells us if we want to be great, we must be as a servant, and whoever wants to be first, must be as a slave. Matthew 20:25-27

            I hope I did not lead you to believe that I hold with abuse. I do not hold with physical abuse of any kind. And I fully agree that if abuse is occurring, then a wife, or husband is fully empowered by God to separate (not divorce) from their spouse and seek safety. But this is not an excuse to divorce, or find someone else. The problem occurs with the idea of verbal or emotional abuse. While there are certainly many instances where it is blatant, and thus not an argument, there are many times where such is strictly in “the eyes of the beholder”. I have heard of situations where a wife claimed emotional abuse because her husband worked long hours trying to provide. Or because her husband wouldn’t buy her this or that. Or where a husband claimed it because his wife, for some reason, didn’t want to do something he wanted, or in his mind “nagged” him too much. That is a slippery slope, and most likely is what led to “no fault divorce” becoming the norm.

            I hope this has cleared up some of the points I was trying to make. I am not trying to accuse anyone. More than anything, what I am finding is that when we are focused on the negative, whether ourselves or others, what we most need is a change of perspective. As soon as I try to look at it through the lens of God’s Word, the Lord teaches me and enables me to rise above the circumstances. Like Peter walking on the water. As long as he kept his focus on Jesus, he walked toward Him. As soon as he let his focus shift to his circumstances (waves and wind), he began to sink. But notice even then, when he cried out to Jesus, he was saved. It is an easy lesson to learn…but it is extremely difficult to follow. Because ohhh, those circumstances…

            Thanks April,

            It is wonderful to know there are people who believe in truly doing it God’s way.

            Phillip

          2. Phillip,

            I agree with you that freedom is not absolute. Wayne Grudem talks about that- that we are not free to do absolutely anything. There are limits. But we do have freedom within certain parameters. 🙂

            Yes, there is a delicate balance and tension in almost every area of the Christian life. If we go too far one way or too far the other, we are in sin. Too much self-love can be idolatry of self or selfishness. Too little proper self-love and we are cursing ourselves – thinking we are useless and worthless – that could even lead to suicide. The post I wrote about self-respect, I actually wrote specifically to a certain segment of wives who don’t receive love from God or their husbands and who believe it is wrong for them to love themselves at all or to be loved by God or anyone else. It is about balance and it is about our definitions, too. It is about receiving what God has given to us graciously and gratefully and standing on His Word and His truth, not our own merit or entitlement.

            I love the idea of the constant light of love of God radiating from us all the time. 🙂 And I also like the idea of not judging people’s love based on specific actions that we want them to do necessarily. We can get ourselves into trouble there. I know it is tempting for wives to think things like, “If he compliments me X times per week, he loves me.” “If he makes love with me X times per week, he loves me.” And if a husband doesn’t do the things a wife thinks he should, she can easily assume he doesn’t love her, but that may not be true. It is unwise for us to base our security on a checklist for other people to do things for us. I want us all to find our security in Christ alone! It sounds like you have – that is awesome!

            I have a number of posts about submission because the world does say it is slavery – in a really negative way. It isn’t slavery in the world’s sense. My submission to God is absolute, but my submission to human authority, like my husband, is “intelligent” submission – I don’t cooperate with anything that is against God’s Word. I love the Danvers Statement – I think it explains submission in God’s economy pretty well. Also, I like this post from a minister at my church Spiritual Authority and his notes “A Husband’s and a Wife’s Authority in Marriage.” Readers are also welcome to search my home page for “submission” and “leadership” or “headship.”

            Jesus does talk about us being servants to Him and to each other. And He says those in authority positions are to be servants of all, they are not to lord their authority over others the way the Gentiles do. As wives when we honor our husbands’ leadership we do so from a position of great strength in Christ and with all of the resources of heaven and of the cross at our disposal. We are not weak. We are not powerless. We answer ultimately to God and we have His Holy Spirit and we can access the Holy of Holies 24/7! 🙂 But yes, the world thinks that a wife submitting to her husband, even in a biblical way, is weakness and being “a doormat.” But in reality, although we do die to self – it is not a matter of we think we are worthless, but that Jesus is worthy of all of our obedience and reverence and worship. 🙂 There is a big difference!

            I’m glad that you are not advocating abuse. When we talk about Jesus submitting Himself to be crucified, some people take that to mean that we should let people beat us up or kill us because that is “Christlike.” I agree that people can seek separation and safety, if necessary, but that it is not an excuse for divorce or an affair.

            All sin is abusive, honestly. It is a slippery slope. The word abuse is so overused and misused. There are times when people are truly in harm’s way and need help and need to get out. There are other times when there is no actual abuse, or it is just “normal sin stuff” in marriage and grace is needed and forgiveness is needed. I have a post about sin and abuse. God hates divorce. We as believers should seek to preserve and bring hope and healing to marriages whenever possible. Even when separation is necessary, my prayer is for God to restore each spouse to Himself individually and to restore the marriage as trust is rebuilt.

            I have to agree that when we focus on the negative things in others, we get very stuck. That is what I did the first 14 years of our marriage and it didn’t help anything! How much better when God showed me I needed to focus on the good things about Greg and focus on the sins God wanted to get rid of in my own life.

            I pray for God’s continued strength, love, and power for you and for continued healing for you and for your wife. 🙂

  21. Some really great stuff. 🙂

    One thing that I’ve come to understand (though my senses have a way of lapsing) and I think I’ve observed is that women have a deep need and hunger for words from a man that I’m not sure can be replaced by women.

My grandmother is on hospice and won't be with us much longer (11-30-16). I will get to comments when I am able to but I need to be with family right now. Thanks for understanding.

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