I am hoping to share, God-willing, stories from a number of wives who have been truly “in the trenches” in the past year or two. Many of them have very different dynamics in their marriages from the one I had with Greg where I was dominating and he was passive. Some of these husbands are a lot more vocal than Greg was – and demonstrated more direct opposition to their wives as they tried to allow God to change them. Last week I shared a post by The Satisfied Wife about how really only God knows exactly what each of us needs to do in any specific situation. Today I am sharing a guest post by LMS who also wrote, “My Husband Wanted a Divorce.”
May God lead each of us on our own path of discovering and discerning what He desires us to learn and do in our particular situations that will bring honor and glory to Him. Each of us will have some similarities in our stories, but some unique differences. We ultimately each need to hear God’s voice and follow Him. Some things are very clear in Scripture about how we are to treat others, including our husbands. Other things require close fellowship with God for us to know what we should do. Please pray for the wives who are sharing – and their husbands – for God’s power, love, wisdom, and discernment as the wives seek to honor Christ and as they share with us. Don’t take the weight of their struggles on yourself, but rather, lay them before God. Let’s entrust these precious couples – and all who are here and who are hurting – to His care.
My husband became increasingly angry and shut down until he asked for a divorce in January of 2015. At that time, I searched for some kind of answer and truth on what to do in my life. I found Jesus (and became a Christian) and began a journey in learning respect, love, hope and faith. On my way to healing, I also had to learn forgiveness of others as well as myself, with God’s grace and respect for myself as well. My husband was not very responsive to my changes and, in fact rebelled greatly against them. With a non-believing spouse, it has been a very hard road to stay on with God, but it is the only true path to overcoming sin. We are still together, in spite of many friends and family telling me I should divorce him. There is healing, baby-step growth.
I HAD TO DEAL WITH MY OWN ISSUES FIRST:
I had to learn submission (to Christ first, then to my husband), respect, tearing out idols, etc… before I could possibly even THINK about standing up to my husband’s sins. It’s like “Taking the Log Out of Your Eye 101” – like a college course or something. Then, after I had made much progress (by the power of Christ), I started to feel like I was falling out of peace as time would go on. I would get paralyzed with fear of speaking the truth to my husband in love with respect and honor. I would try sometimes, and I would stress about doing it right, saying the right words, etc, and when it went badly, not as planned, or I lost my temper a bit, (not as badly as in the past) but I could recognize that I didn’t handle something as Jesus would’ve, I would feel panicky that I hurt rather than helped my marriage.
I was afraid to make a move in case it was the wrong one. I was still trying to be perfect.
But, I kept saying to myself that God can make beauty from the ashes… and He would. One of my sisters here on the blog helped me relax a bit in the process, as long as my motive was right. Until the pressure from my husband got so mean, sarcastic and contemptuous, and I couldn’t take it anymore – I stayed stuck in misery.
I don’t know if I would’ve moved to the next step without my husband’s attitude getting worse.
I strongly feel God was trying to take me to a new level. One that taught me right thinking about (or “respect for”) self, courage, bravery, confidence in Christ, and being able to face my fears. I grew slowly more okay with my fear of “if my husband left me.” I actually was looking forward to it at some point… it would have been a relief, not happy to admit, but true. I told him if he wanted to go, he had my blessing. He never went.
DEALING WITH HIS ISSUES:
I learned that standing up to my husband and his sin/horrible, hurtful attitude was actually a LOVING thing to do. The line that hit me from Leslie Vernick’s book, “How to Act Right When Your Spouse Acts Wrong,” was “ignoring someone’s sin is essentially writing them a one way ticket to hell.” It is NOT loving to refrain from speaking the truth because we are being ruled by fear (of our spouses leaving, getting angry, being more unloving, getting revenge etc.)
But facing that fear was like a 2nd level college course “Speaking Truth in Love 201.” This helped me swing back to center and away from doormat mode. So, now, I knew how to be silent and not complain or bicker or be critical or argue, but I also knew how to stand up for myself and not believe every word my husband said and let him walk all over me. I was more balanced.
I know I very much had my husband as my god and an idol. Every word he said, I would believe. I never thought he would lie to me or manipulate me. So, even though I saw him do that to others, I was naive to think he wouldn’t do that to me. He very much feels he is smarter, wiser, and more aware of things than I am. He judges and criticizes me and others. He feels he is above others.
This makes me disgusted now, but before, I would adopt his ways as my own, but with no real good reason, just because I believed everything he said and did was good and right… just because he was my husband. I let him “own” me and my happiness. Fear kept me in a prison. I think learning how to fight evil fear and knowing the difference between fearing the Lord and what that really means (being in awe of Him) and healthy fear for safety and godly warnings would be helpful (don’t stick a metal screwdriver into a live plug). Not zooming ahead with fear of the future or the lies we tell ourselves because we don’t know what is going on in our spouses minds or suspecting bad motives… it all instills loads of fear.
Fear, fear, fear….a huge roadblock to joy and godly surrender.
Today, my husband is very confused now because he cannot predict how I will react to things that before I would get upset about, or he knows I SHOULD be upset about.
- I am more direct when I speak and less unsure of myself.
- I call him out when he is lying and he is uncomfortable. I’m not disrespectful, but I am no longer his starry-eyed groupie who praises every word or thought of his.
He doesn’t understand my calm during the storm, or peaceful joy in spite of our marriage being in shambles. It actually entertains me to watch him try to figure it out now. I have tried to talk about God to him, but it’s lost on him right now. God will tell me when – if I need to. But for now, it’s “winning him without a word.”
I also think there is something to the fact that men tend not to respect a woman who allows them to treat her disrespectfully. Much like men don’t respect another man who shakes hands like a wet noodle, or won’t stick up for himself…they are seen as weak, spineless, and unworthy. We women sometimes see our actions (not speaking up when we are being mistreated) as submitting, loving, cooperative, but men don’t. We need a little spark and feistiness for them to know that we have our limits too. I think they feel less-than if they are married to a weak-willed woman with no backbone. But it’s a fine line to walk so we don’t slip into disrespect.
Please always seek God’s wisdom and His prompting for what He desires you to do in your exact situation in each moment. His Spirit can give you the wisdom and direction you need that is so much greater than any human wisdom. 🙂
25 Ways to Respect Myself – or “to Thing and Act Rightly about Myself”
The Pendulum Effect – avoiding being controlling/dominating/disrespectful and avoiding the other extreme of being passive, unplugged, defeated, and a doormat
Nina Roesner has a class for wives in very difficult marriages that helps women experience healing in Christ and then have the wisdom and spiritual strength they need to know how the Lord desires them to handle the issues in the marriage – Becoming a Woman of Strength and Dignity.