If you realize that maybe you have not been treating your husband with honor and respect, what are some first action steps to take?
After God opened my eyes in December 2008 to the massive “beam in my eye” that I needed to get right with Him, ASAP…
I repented to God and my husband for hurting both of them for so many years. (The very first step must be salvation by faith in Jesus Christ if we are not already saved and a yielding to His Lordship.)
I decided that I was going to do whatever it took to become the woman and wife God called me to be and clean up my side of the marriage with God’s help. I wanted to do things His way from now on and understand His purpose in marriage as well as His roles for me as a godly wife.
I decided to build my life on the Bible and God’s principles and get rid of anything in my thinking, my motives, and my life that didn’t align with His holiness. I yielded myself completely to His Lordship. Whatever that was going to mean.
Even though it felt scary at first because it was new.
Here are the things I began to do to grow as a Christian wife, under the leadership of the Holy Spirit:
1. Stop the negative, harmful words.
I first had to stop the flow of toxic things that were coming out of my mouth. I called this the “frustrating quiet phase.“
I was a Type A, strong personality — very outspoken about anything I didn’t like that Greg did. And if he didn’t act soon enough or speak up in 10 seconds, I generally felt I needed to take over.
(If you are a more quiet wife who tends not to speak up for yourself when you should, you may have to go the opposite way and begin to courageously share more.)
I was mortified to see that almost every word that came out of my mouth was sinful.
- Criticizing/critical spirit
- Trying to control and pressure
- Lecturing, nagging
- Assuming the worst
For a while, I didn’t do a lot of talking because almost everything I used to talk about was not honoring Jesus.
This was a crash course, for me, at least, in self-control.
2. Get the beam out of my eye and stop focusing on the speck in my husband’s eye.
I stopped demanding that God change my husband and started begging God to help me see my sin and help me tear it all out. Whatever it took. However painful it may be. Whatever the cost.
He did show me my sin. For about 6 weeks, every day I would sit and journal, and God would bring to mind more and more sin from the past 15-20 years that I had never noticed before in my life. I wrote it all down and repented as I went.
(I still ask Him to show me my sin and there are still things for me to repent from.)
I pictured myself lying on an operating table with Jesus being my Surgeon. I invited Him into the darkest places of my life and mind. I asked Him to shine His light on everything and agreed that anything He didn’t like had to go.
The only things I felt God allowed me to pray for Greg during this time were prayers of thanksgiving and blessing on him. Because I had turned prayer into an attempt to control Greg and God, I had to unlearn that.
So I made lists of all the good things in him and kept adding them to the list. And I made lists of every good thing I could think of that he ever did for me.
At first, it was hard for me to think of good things. But the more I focused on the good, the more good I saw.
For wives whose husbands are involved in severe sin, breaking the marriage covenant, abuse, uncontrolled addictions, severe mental health issues, you may have to address your husband’s issues right away.
You may not be able to wait. Please reach out for experienced, trustworthy help outside of your marriage from people in-person who can help you.
3. Use my words for edification and blessing.
Then I began to learn to use my words for good with God’s help. (Of course, I need God’s Spirit’s power to do anything good at all. He alone is good.)
I made it a point to say (sincere, true) things occasionally like:
- I appreciate what you did for me and the kids there.
- Thank you for fixing my car for me. You made my day!
- I’m glad you’re here.
- You know something I admire about you? Your patience.
- I’m so amazed how you seem to forgive people easily. How do you do that?
- I’d love to understand your perspective better.
- That is a really great idea. You have a lot of wisdom to share. Thank you.
- If you think that is best, let’s do it.
4. Share my concerns respectfully and in God-honoring ways.
I learned not to steamroll, push, try to force, etc… I learned I had a lot more influence if I simply shared my ideas in a friendly, positive, peaceful, non-threatening way like…
- I’d love to do that.
- I don’t like that idea.
- I feel nervous about this.
- We have a decision to make. I’d like to do this, but I’d like to know your perspective.
I also learned to mention things once, for the most part, and then let them go instead of hammering my idea over and over and over like I was doing a filibuster.
5. Take my thoughts captive for Christ.
At first, I held back the negative words, or tried to, but all the negative thoughts were like a huge ocean of nastiness, threatening to breach the dam of my limited self-control.
In time, God refined and purified my thinking and corrected a whole lot of skewed core beliefs I had developed even as a kid.
Then, as God helped me get rid of the wrong thinking and replace it with His truth and healthy thinking, I didn’t have to hold back all that yuckiness because there was less and less of it there.
Plus, I learned to recognize a tempting thought immediately and shoot it down rather than luxuriating in it for days or weeks and letting the enemy gain a foothold in my life.
This is the process of sanctification. It is something we all go through individually as we follow Christ as Lord. We die to our old selves more and more. We give up our old thinking and the toxic wisdom of this world. We begin to live in the power of our new nature in Christ.
We allow His Word and His Spirit to transform us and to conform our thinking to the image of Christ.
For more help with all the tiny baby steps, check out the book I wish I had at the beginning of my journey: The Peaceful Wife.