The way you approach your husband makes a massive difference in the way he will respond to you. There are unhealthy, destructive ways to ask your husband for something that is very important to you – and there are healthy, productive ways.
A FEW TRUTHS ABOUT MEN (and really, we women often feel the same way, too):
- They like to be the hero and the good guy, not the bad guy.
- They like to feel respected, not like they are being ordered around or treated like incompetent children.
- They respond well to genuine respect and admiration, not control, hostility, condemnation, negativity, or a critical spirit.
- They don’t like to be thrown under the bus.
- They may need some time to think about things, that does not mean they aren’t willing to do something.
- They may want to share their concerns and offer possible compromises and that needs to be okay.
- They may have different priorities – that does not make them “wrong” necessarily.
- They need freedom to do things their way, not always to have to do absolutely everything our way (i.e.: with how they do chores, how they parent, etc… There may be some differences and that can be a good thing to teach our children more balance and flexibility.)
- They often are willing to sacrifice for us, but they still have feelings and want to be appreciated.
- They like to do things of their own free-will and not feel forced into things.
Let’s say that you want to take care of your sick mother and you want to ask your husband for his help with the children for a week. We’ll use this specific example, but the principles we’ll talk about apply to almost any time you want to ask your husband to do something for you. 🙂 The ultimate goal is for us to walk in the power of God’s Spirit, wisdom, love, and power as we approach our men. He can give us the specific wisdom we need in each situation.
UNHEALTHY, DESTRUCTIVE, UNGODLY WAYS TO APPROACH HIM:
- Ask him over and over again to “be sure” he is really going to do this for you:
- “You told me last week that you would take care of the kids for a week this summer when my mom needs me. Are you still going to do that?”
- “I asked you two weeks ago and last week, but are you still sure you are going to keep your word and help me?”
- “I know I asked you 3 times already, but I just really want to be sure you aren’t going to leave me hanging.”
- What I am saying with this approach is, “I don’t trust you. I don’t believe you. I don’t respect you. I don’t think you are a man of your word. I don’t respect the answer you have given me before.”
- Make demands/Act entitled:
- “You will take care of the kids this week for me.”
- “You owe me and you are going to take care of the kids this week.”
- Give him directives:
- “You better do this for me.”
- “You need to…”
- “You have to…”
- Insult him:
- “If you were a real man, you would…”
- “I know you usually don’t care about my mom at all or about what I want, but I need your help.”
- “You have been such a sorry husband in the past when I needed you, but I need you to come through for me now.”
- “I know how passive-aggressive you can be when I ask you to do things. I just want to be sure you are really going to help me this time.”
- Don’t let him ask questions or share his wisdom, concerns or ideas. Don’t let him have a voice.
- Refuse to give him any choice but to do what you want him to do.
- Be completely inflexible even when you really do have room for some flexibility.
- If he talks about that it is going to be inconvenient for him, assume that means he won’t do it and that he is selfish..
- Accuse him of sinful thoughts before you even know what is really going on.
- Rescue him from his commitment if he says that it will be challenging.
- Try to control him.
- Freak out on him
- Try to put him on a guilt trip.
- Play the martyr.
- Complain or argue.
- Resent him.
These approaches show your husband that you don’t respect or trust him and that you don’t have much faith in God. These approaches hurt your witness for Christ to your husband. They also hurt your fellowship with the Lord and rob you of the spiritual power that is yours in Christ.
HEALTHY, RESPECTFUL, GODLY WAYS TO APPROACH HIM:
- Ask him once if he is willing to do something (generally).
- Respect his answer to you and that if he said, “yes,” he meant, “yes.”
- Expect him to keep his word in a calm, polite way.
- Treat him like you believe he is a man of his word and you have faith in him.
- Ask directly, and vulnerably – with a pleasant tone of voice and a smile:
- “Honey, I would really like to take care of my mom right now for about a week because she is sick. I know it is a lot to ask – but it would mean so much to me if I could go be with her.”
- “Baby, I want to take care of my mom. She is so sick. I know it isn’t much warning. But I would appreciate it so much if you would please take care of the kids so I could go.”
- “I would like to try to stay with my mom for a week this summer when she has surgery. Would that be okay with you?”
- Give him time to think through things if he needs that.
- Let him ask any questions he may have.
- Be willing to compromise, if possible.
- Be appreciative of anything he does for you because anything he does for you is a gift of love from him.
- Rest in his love.
- Even more, rest in God’s love and sovereignty over the situation, knowing that if the Lord desires you to be there with your mom, He can and will work it out. And if, for some reason, you can’t be there, it may be that God has shut that door in His wisdom.
- Be at peace in Christ.
- If he says it will be challenging:
- Thank him for his willingness to help you.
- “I know that will be a tough week. Thank you so much for helping me. You are my hero!”
- Agree and sympathize that you are asking for quite a bit if you are asking for something big:
- “Yes, I know this is a lot.”
- Don’t jump in to make a decision for him.
- Let him think through it and let him tell you what he can or can’t do.
- Thank him for his willingness to help you.
- Be sure to show your gratitude with words for what he does for you.
- Also show your gratitude with actions in ways that are meaningful to him:
- Try to squeeze in some extra time for intimacy before and after you go if possible if he would like that.
- Try to have things in order as much as possible ahead of time.
- Don’t complain if the house is not picked up and cleaned to your standards when you get home.
- Be willing to pitch in when you get back to help get things caught up with a joyful attitude.
- Ask him if there is anything you can do to thank him.
- Be willing to do some big favors for him, too, sometimes.
- Give him the freedom to say, “No,” just like you want to be able to have the freedom to say, “No,” at times.
If he does decline, it doesn’t necessarily mean he doesn’t love you. Respond graciously and take your request to the Lord, asking Him to provide a way for what you need/want if it is His will.
IF THINGS DON’T WORK OUT YOUR WAY
- Count the time of trial as joy. (James 1:2-8)
- Don’t let Satan set up shop in your heart. (Eph. 4:26-27)
- Refuse to be bitter. (Matt. 6:15)
- Invite the Lord to use this situation to reveal His glory and to teach and prune you. (Heb. 12:7)
- Thank God for your husband – whether the answer is yes or no. (1 Thes. 5:18)
- Praise God that He will use this ultimately for your good (Rom. 8:28-29).
- Submit to the Lordship of Christ. (James 4:7)
- Seek His will far above your own – die to self. (Luke 22:42)
- Ask God to work in your husband’s heart for His purposes to be accomplished. Perhaps God will use your godly response to help teach your husband to be a better leader?
IF THINGS ARE REALLY TENSE IN YOUR MARRIAGE
Keep in mind that there may need to be a period of time when you don’t ask for much if you have been extremely disrespectful, needy, smothering, negative, critical, controlling, entitled, or demanding for a long time. A husband in such a situation may need some time to heal before he is open to doing favors for you again. My suggestion is to do all you can to get rid of anything disrespectful and/or sinful on your end of things while you give him some time to recover emotionally and spiritually from his wounds.
As he begins to heal and as he begins to feel safe with you again, he will eventually probably be more open to you asking for things respectfully. This will take time. There will be a transition to moving toward a healthy way of relating. The more dysfunctional and broken things have gotten, the more time it will generally take for healing to begin to take place. Sometimes there is a quiet phase for a few weeks or months at the beginning of this journey (on a wife’s end) that can be necessary to stop the “hemorrhaging” in the marriage. Be willing to be the more spiritually mature one and be willing to let God transform you first.
- If your husband has gone so far as talking about divorce, check out this post.
- If your husband tends to be the negative, perfectionistic, controlling one – check out this post.
- If there are extremely serious issues going on, (your husband is a compulsive liar, he is not mentally well, he has major drug/alcohol addiction going on, he is abusing you, he is involved in serious unrepentant sin like adultery, he is involved in major criminal activity, etc…) please search out for godly counseling in private with a godly, experienced counselor. The things I share in this post may not always apply if a husband is not in his right mind or is truly bent on harming his wife.