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6 Reasons NOT to Criticize Your In-Laws

Photo Credit – Flickr

Before we get into the issue of why not to criticize our in-laws, let’s define criticism.

When I am speaking about criticism in this post, I am talking about:

  • having a critical, judgmental, negative, condemning spirit toward others that cannot be pleased.
  • insulting other people.
  • fault-finding.
  • gossipping.
  • having a negative attitude.
  • looking down on others with a sense of spiritual superiority or self-righteousness.

The truth is that…

  • When someone criticizes a man’s parents, he often feels an instinctive loyalty to defend them, even though he knows they aren’t perfect and may even agree with the criticism.
  • When a man’s own wife criticizes his parents, she is (perhaps unknowingly) pitting herself against his family – and by extension – against him.

Of course, the same is true for us as women when someone criticizes our parents.

It can be tempting to have a critical spirit against people. I may feel completely justified to do this in my own mind. However, if I choose to dishonor, disrespect, insult, and/or criticize my husband’s parents, I need to understand the price I will pay.

  1. My husband will feel personally dishonored, disrespected, insulted, and criticized if I do these things to his parents, even if I don’t criticize them to anyone but to him. If I criticize or insult his parents to other people, he will feel even more hurt. He will likely feel like I have been disloyal to him, like I have committed a type of betrayal against his family.
  2. I will create a wall of emotional/spiritual division between myself and my husband.
  3. I will lose some of his trust.
  4. If I disrespect and criticize my husband’s parents in front of our children, I will hurt their relationship with their grandparents.
  5. Even if I just have a critical spirit about my in-laws (or anyone else) in my mind and don’t verbalize my thoughts to anyone else, this mindset will adversely impact my spiritual growth and walk with the Lord and my relationships with my husband and his parents.
  6. If I complain and have a negative attitude toward my in-laws (or anyone else), I hurt my witness for Jesus Christ.

Instead of focusing on the negative things, perhaps I can focus on something positive? The more I look for good things, the more I will probably find good things about my in-laws. When I practice thanking God for the blessings I see in others, the better my own frame of mind, and the more power I have from God to respond in His Spirit rather than in my sinful flesh. What if God wants to use the things that are so difficult to teach me something valuable and to help me find spiritual treasures? Perhaps, if I feel there is a trial with my in-laws, I can count that trial as joy (as James 1:2-4 says to do) and invite God to do His miracles in my own thinking and in my own approach. I can then also pray effectively for my in-laws, that God might richly bless them and heal any wounds they may have, as well.

The Bible has much godly wisdom about a critical spirit and how we are not justified to do this and how God calls us to change to be more like Himself by the power of His Spirit:

  • A fool gives full vent to his spirit, but a wise man quietly holds it back. Prov. 29:11
  • “Judge not, that you be not judged. For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and with the measure you use it will be measured to you. Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when there is the log in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye.” Matt. 7:1-5
  • Do not speak evil against one another, brothers. The one who speaks against a brother or judges his brother, speaks evil against the law and judges the law. But if you judge the law, you are not a doer of the law but a judge. There is only one lawgiver and judge, he who is able to save and to destroy. But who are you to judge your neighbor? James 4:11-12
  • Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted. Gal. 6:1
  • Who are you to pass judgment on the servant of another? It is before his own master that he stands or falls. And he will be upheld, for the Lord is able to make him stand. Rom. 14:4
  • And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but kind to everyone, able to teach, patiently enduring evil, correcting his opponents with gentleness. 2 Tim. 2:24
  • Therefore you have no excuse, O man, every one of you who judges. For in passing judgment on another you condemn yourself, because you, the judge, practice the very same things. Rom. 2:1
  • Why do you pass judgment on your brother? Or you, why do you despise your brother? For we will all stand before the judgment seat of God; Rom. 14:10
  • If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. 1 Cor. 13:1
  • Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear. Eph. 4:29
  • Do all things without grumbling or questioning, that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world, Phil. 2:14-15

Are there times I need to respectfully share concerns with my husband about his family? Sure. There may be times I need to let my husband know that there is an important issue going on. But I can do that without condemning, bashing, insulting, attacking, criticizing, or disrespecting his parents.

Examples of a critical approach:

  • Babe, I don’t want your parents to watch our kids. Your mom is such a horrible grandmother. She lets them be around their vicious dog. I don’t think she cares if they get hurt.
  • Honey, do we have to go to your parents’ house this month? Their house is a total disaster. She is the worst housekeeper. My sinuses go completely crazy every time we go. It is torture for me to have to be there for even an hour.

Examples of a respectful approach:

  • Babe, I want your parents to get to have lots of time with our kids. I know they love them so much. I want them to have a close relationship. However, I don’t feel that our kids are safe around their dog. I have seen the dog growl at them and snap at the baby. What are your thoughts on that?
  • Honey, I know it is so important to you that we spend some time with your parents. I want us to have a great relationship with them. I do want to let you know that my allergies sometimes flare up a lot, I have noticed, when we are there. I think maybe it is a combination of the dust and perfume. I will take some medicine to try to prevent problems. Do you have any suggestions so that we can be with them but I might not have to have so many problems with allergies?

 

Lord,

Please help us to live holy lives in our thoughts, our motives, our words, and our actions. Purify us of all sin. Purify us of negativity, a critical, judgmental spirit. Cleanse us of any self-righteousness and pride. Help us to see our in-laws, our husbands, and everyone with Your eyes and Your love. Transform our thinking by the power of Your Spirit and Your Word. Help us to approach our in-laws and everyone else in ways that bring glory and honor to Your Name.

Amen!

NOTE:

In-law relationships can be some of the MOST difficult. Sometimes our own husbands have quite a bit of godly wisdom about how to handle their family wisely. If you need some outside help for a tough in-law situation, please check out the free counseling resources available at www.focusonthefamily.org. Or the counseling resources at www.biblicalcounseling.com. Or check with your pastor or a strong believer you trust for a referral to a solid, biblical counselor in your area. Be sure the counselor seeks to handle God’s Word correctly.

 

Most of all, check out what God’s Word has to say, seek the Lord’s wisdom, and the power of His Spirit so that you may respond in His goodness and overcome evil with good.

RELATED
What Does the Bible Say about Criticism? – by www.gotquestions.org

What Does the Bible Say about Complaining? – by www.gotquestions.org

What Does the Bible Say about Self-Righteousness? – by www.gotquestions.org

17 Tips to Ask for What You Desire Respectfully

 

 

 

Is “Hating Men” the Answer?

Photo by Andrew Neel on Unsplash

A number of prominent women – college professors and women in the mainstream media – have been quite vocal lately about that they believe women should hate all men. They point to many examples of men who mistreated women, who sexually abused them, who assaulted them and raped them. The examples they give are truly awful. There is no doubt that there are many men who have done horrible things against women.

It is very wrong for men to hurt women. God hates violence, rape, abuse, and every kind of wrong men may commit against women. Of course, God also hates every kind of wrong women may commit against men, too.

As women who profess Christ, what are we to do? Is hatred really the answer to the problems in our society and in our families?

Let’s go back to Scripture, the only source of absolute truth, my dear sisters!

BASIC TRUTHS OF GOD’S WORD

About hatred:

  • The fear of the Lord is hatred of evil. Prov. 8:13
  • Whoever says he is in the light and hates his brother is still in darkness. 1 John 2:9
  • But whoever hates his brother is in the darkness and walks in the darkness, and does not know where he is going, because the darkness has blinded his eyes. 1 John 2:11
  • If anyone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen. 1 John 4:20

About love:

  • Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” Matt. 22:36-40
  • Jesus replied, “Anyone who loves me will obey my teaching. My Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them. Anyone who does not love me will not obey my teaching. John 14:23-24
  • Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love. 1 John 4:8

About eternal life:

  • Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him. John 3:36
  • For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. John 3:16
  • Everyone who hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him. 1 John 3:15
  • “You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not murder; and whoever murders will be liable to judgment.’ But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment; whoever insults his brother will be liable to the council; and whoever says, ‘You fool!’ will be liable to the hell of fire.” Matt. 5:21-22
  • But as for the cowardly, the faithless, the detestable, as for murderers, the sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars, their portion will be in the lake that burns with fire and sulfur, which is the second death. Rev. 21:8

 

HOW GOD DEALS WITH SIN

Sin is anything that falls short of the holiness, perfection, and glory of God. It is anything that deviates from His goodness and His perfect will. We have all sinned against God and against people. Not just men. And not just women. We have all fallen short of His standard of holy perfection and are in desperate need of a Savior.

God hates sin. All sin. God hates sin so much that – in His holiness, righteousness, and justice – He cannot tolerate any sin in His presence. The wages of sin is death (Rom. 6:23). That is why we as sinners, on our own, cannot enter heaven and we are condemned to hell if we don’t have the Savior. God doesn’t want us to go to hell, though. He longs for us all to be with Him in heaven forever. God had to come up with a way to deal with the sin He hates so that He could separate the sin from us and have the chance to be with the people He so dearly loves.

  • Jesus answered, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.” John 14:6

That is what the cross of Jesus is all about. It is where the mercy and love of God meet the righteousness, holiness, and justice of God. This is the only way to salvation. It is the only way we can be made right with God. It is all about what Jesus, in His holiness, did for us that we could not do for ourselves. He overcame our sin with His divine love, not with hatred. How humbling is that!? He loved us enough to die for us to rescue us when we were still His enemies and we hated Him.

PEOPLE HATING PEOPLE IS NOT GOD’S WAY

We all lose when we hate each other. We miss out on real relationship with people. And we miss out on intimacy with the Lord. It is impossible to hate people and love God.

We should have righteous anger when anyone is wronged – men, women, the elderly, children, the unborn, and anyone else. We should hate sin like God does. We should seek to use our voices, our influence, and our power to guard people from harm. We should seek to elect leaders who will help enact laws that will protect the innocent and punish the guilty. We should seek to build governments that will protect all people from violence, rape, injustice, and abuse. We should address and confront sin in biblical ways.

However, women hating men is not the answer to the problems in our culture or in our families.

If men hate women, this will not solve anything or accomplish any good, either. Hatred always only brings more pain, more dysfunction, more division, and more hurt for everyone. Genuine repentance from our sins and our willingness to individually yield our lives to the Lordship of Christ Jesus is what will bring healing for us all.

MASCULINITY AND FEMININITY ARE GOOD GIFTS FROM GOD

Masculinity is part of God’s good design for us. So is femininity. God created us to be different on purpose. Masculinity, in and of itself, is not toxic, in spite of what our culture may say. Masculinity and femininity have become skewed because of sin and the Fall. However, masculinity and femininity are beautiful and precious gifts that, when used rightly, point us to the image of God and to the gospel of Christ (Eph. 5:22-33).

We need strong, godly men as leaders in our communities, churches, businesses, government, and families. Getting rid of masculinity, as some propose today, will hurt everyone. Women, men, families, marriage, children, and society all depend on healthy, godly masculinity and femininity to thrive. Let’s address the massive spiritual issue in our hearts – our sinful nature. That is what needs to die. That is the real problem.

If we seek to completely annihilate masculinity, especially God’s design for masculinity, we will hurt our societies, relationships, and children in ways we cannot imagine.

 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good. (Rom. 12:21)

Those who know and love Jesus display the fruit of His Spirit in every interaction – His love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control (Gal. 5:22-23). When we have Christlike people – men and women – who know the Lord, we will have real peace. We will treat each other with mutual respect and unconditional love. Then our communities, businesses, government, churches, families, and our world can be a safer place for us all.

RELATED

How to Have a Relationship with Christ

Are Women Morally and Spiritually Superior to Men?

Godly Femininity

Godly Masculinity – by www.gotquestions.org

 

Sin includes things like:

Pride, unbelief in Jesus/God, idolatry (loving other things/people/ideas/desires more than we love God), greed, addictions, drunkenness, trusting ourselves or things other than God, cursing, hatred, disrespect toward God’s Word, lack of reverence for God, vulgar words, course joking, disobedience to anything God asks us to do, lack of submission to the Lordship of Christ, hurtful words, a critical spirit, disrespecting others, usurping someone’s God-given authority, rudeness, selfishness, self-righteousness (believing we are better than other people spiritually), envy, lying, stealing, taking God’s name in vain, vanity, people pleasing, perfectionism, sexual immorality, lust, apathy, lack of love, lack of faith, legalism, false teaching, false religion, and many other things.

 

 

 

Resources for Men

Some people say that because I only teach women, I must be saying that men can do whatever they want and they are off the hook when it comes to being godly husbands. No, not at all! I am not sure how anyone could arrive at such a conclusion! There is no excuse for any believer to think that he/she is “off the hook” and not responsible to God for how they live and relate to other people. Men are at least as accountable – if not more so – than women are before God. (Those in positions of God-given leadership hold a greater accountability.)

Thankfully, even though I only teach women – the Bible still completely applies to men, as well. It applies to all of us! I hope that is obvious.

There are PLENTY of resources for our men and brothers in Christ.

A FEW RESOURCES THAT GREG AND I WOULD RECOMMEND (some are wonderful for men and women):

www.radical.net – David Platt’s site (search biblical manhood and biblical womanhood or marriage)

www.desiringgod.org – John Piper’s site (search biblical manhood and biblical womanhood or marriage)

Recovering Biblical Manhood and Womanhood edited by John Piper and Wayne Grudem

www.seriousfaith.com Brent Riggs has a number of posts for men about being godly men/husbands

– a resource about how husbands can love their wives is Love and Respect by Dr. Emerson Eggerichs he also has a website that you may search with this link

Grace Filled Marriage, by Dr. Tim Kimmel, is for husbands and wives and is excellent

His Needs, Her Needs by Dr Willard F. Harley

The Resolution for Men – the Kendrick brothers and Randy Alcorn

Other resources by the Kendrick brothers about prayer, The Love Dare, etc.. https://kendrickbrothers.com/projects/books

How to Be a Godly Husband by www.gotquestions.org

– Absolute Surrender by Andrew Murray or his book, Humility, are excellent resources for spiritual growth for men and women.

– E. M. Bounds book on The Necessity of Prayer will help any believer in his/her pursuit of a much more effective prayer life

My sites are for women. I don’t attempt to teach or mentor men out of respect for scripture’s instructions that women are not to have authority over men in the church. So I believe the focus here has to be on what God calls us to do primarily – not on what God calls men to do. My calling is Titus 2:3-5.

THE BIG PICTURE

However, I do want ladies to know about the whole picture in God’s design, not just what women are called to do. And I want the men to have the resources they need. Y’all are welcome to search the sites I listed above or check out these two posts by a minister at my church:

Spiritual Authority – A general overview of the concept of Spiritual Authority in Scripture relating to government, the workplace, the church, and family by a minister at my church, Rev. H. F. Weaver.
A Husband’s and a Wife’s Authority in Marriage  – Husbands have positional authority and wives have influential authority. Both are important and powerful. By H. F. Weaver, a minister at my church.

Biblical Submission Does Not = The Husband Is Always Right – Husbands are still fallible, even though they are given extra responsibility.

A Husband Is Never the Absolute Authority – God is the absolute authority. There are limits to human God-given authority.

Healthy VS Unhealthy Relationships – When men or women become too passive or too controlling, it is a problem.

My husband, Greg, also has a blog for men – www.peacefulhusband.com

POSTS ON MY BLOG BY MEN THAT MAY BE A BLESSING TO HUSBANDS

 

I can’t wait to see what God has in store for each of us. How I pray we will seek Him more fervently than ever and that we might allow Him to continue to radically transform us to be the people He calls us to be.

SHARE:

Gentlemen,

If you know of a biblically grounded site for men that you would like to share with our other brothers, you are welcome to share in the comments. Thanks so much!

“How I Became Enmeshed with My Husband” – by LMS

ADMIN NOTE:

An update 3 weeks ago created many technical issues on my blog, unfortunately. Jetpack lost all by a few dozen of my WordPress and email followers. My understanding is that the issue should now be resolved. Thank you for your patience! If you haven’t been receiving emails from me, there are some posts you may have missed:

A Summary of the Stages of This Journey

Can I Be a “Peaceful American” Even Now?

My Husband Isn’t As Involved with Our Newborn As I Want Him to Be 

———–

A guest post by LMSdaily

I had a dad, but he was a workaholic. I was close to him, but never got enough of him. So, when I met my husband, who was very much into family, promising to adore me, cherish me, etc… he also said it was his job to make me happy….I believed it hook line and sinker.

It was no longer my job to make me happy and I was relieved of the duty in my mind. As I relied more and more on my husband to make me happy, more and more pressure was put on my husband. I was a black hole of need. It was too much.

He failed all the time (in my eyes) and there was no satisfying me. He felt like he could NEVER make me happy… nor could ANY man.

I never understood how this thinking acted like the death of a star…imploding on itself, then a massive explosion outward, until I realized what it meant that I had put my husband as an idol above God in my life. ONLY God can fill that endless need in our lives to help us feel loved, cherished, wanted, needed, worthy, valuable, and accepted. Our husbands are humans too. They make mistakes, have wrong ideas, thoughts, and ideas too. They are have sin issues at times and struggle with idols, too. Even if they are Christians. Understanding the imperfections of ourselves and others is crucial to the humility we need to feel before God. This humility helps us realize how imperfect we all are, and how perfect only God is.

One other thing I realized also was how incredibly “lazy” I was in my thoughts. It was very easy to just let my husband tell me how I should think, what to feel, what opinions I should have or to make all the decisions.

My family felt like I lost myself when I started following my husband’s every thoughts. I looked like a snob to them because my husband was judgmental, but I thought he was right to be that way. At that point, I stopped being his helper in life, or, I liken it to a co-pilot. Rather I was like an anchor, or another passenger he was responsible for. Dragging me along for the ride and not taking any responsibility for myself.

He had no one to help him think through his ideas, thoughts or to even run things by for a different perspective. I was blindly following him.

He may have been questioning his own path, but realized I was no help anyway to him… kind of foolishly clueless and blind in life. So he dragged me along out of responsibility. He didn’t have a helper because I was not interested in doing the brain work of thinking on my own. I am disgusted at my laziness when I look back at it.

Now, I have started to really think about it all. Even subjects I would avoid in the past, like finances, or deadlines, or cleaning out closets. This is something my husband is not used to. He is used to just making decisions and having no obstacles or contradictions. So, now, he sees me as something in his way. He thinks I’m arguing with him, that we think differently, that we are incompatible.

But the truth is, I have good ideas, valid concerns, and viewpoints too. My husband, having to now consider them, is irritated with my concerns. It’s like red tape to him. Of course, I don’t demand my way, but I bring up my concern in a respectful way, then leave the decision to him. If he is not trying to break the law or hurt someone, it’s fair to let him decide, but he gets my viewpoint too, nowadays. Not always. If I bring up a good point he had not considered, he gets irritated, because it was easier to just make the decision and live with it. But my point makes him have to think more, too. His conviction from the Holy Spirit and his responsibility as the head of the family is making him feel uncomfortable and not as sure. As he learns to trust me as a helper instead of an anchor, I hope he will find a value in me again. I’m sure this will take time.

For too long, in many ways, I think we both lived together, physically married, but really thought more as single people… not really understanding what “two becoming one” really meant. If my ways worked with his, or vice versa, then cool…no problems, but if not, he/I complained. That is a controlling attitude. Now, I am constantly thinking on how a desire or idea I have might affect him, not just me, and I want to choose what blesses him first, then me. I think more “married” than single now. Less self-centered, more wanting what is best for my husband and kids. But there is always a balance that needs to be made. I can’t just ignore my own desires and wishes either… that’s the starry-eyed groupie way. More of a doormat. To women, it can feel loving. To men, it feels like we are spineless and weak.

We need to be strong and whole as individuals before we can come together and be part of a unique being in a marriage.

My lack of a daddy figure basically was a hole that needed filling. Ideally, I should have had God fill that father role for us instead of my husband. Then, I could be a help meet in my husband’s life, not a groupie looking for attention from a man. This is why God is the great “I Am”, in our lives. He alone can fill those missing holes.

I will pray that you can seek God as a Dad in your life and feel the love, protection and attention you crave from Him. In this way, the love, protection and attention you receive from your husband will be extra. Icing on the cake – that you can enjoy as a treat – not daily living sustenance.

Look up the following subjects in April’s blog for more:
Oneness in Marriage – Not Too Close, and Not Too Far Away

Closeness in Marriage Looks Different from What I Expected – A Fellow Wife

How to Make Your Husband an Idol

I Was SURE I Hadn’t Made My Husband an Idol!

Fully Trusting God with My Husband – Laying Down All of My Fears 

LMSdaily’s posts

 

 

A Wife Completely Shuts Her Husband Out – a Guest Post

Reminder – My first book, The Peaceful Wife – Living in Submission to Christ As Lord, is available if you are interested. Everything you need for the first few steps of this journey to become the wife God calls you to be is organized and together and I pray the book may be a blessing to your walk with Christ and your marriage. If you have already read the book, please take a minute or two to share an honest review on Amazon. Thanks so much!

From a sister in Christ:

I am relatively new to this blog, but have become a faithful reader, and I wanted to add something to your list of what NOT to do when you feel forgotten by your husband. It is something that I did and it literally lost me several years of my marriage, even though on the surface it seemed like a reasonable, even right thing to do.

A few years ago I started questioning my awkward marriage and came to the conclusion that since my husband was not a godly man, and riddled with faults, and I wasn’t getting what I thought I would/should in a relationship, that I had made a mistake in marrying him. So instead of doing any of the things you listed, I adopted a long-suffering, “I made my bed and now I have to lie in it” attitude. I couldn’t bring myself to “chase” someone who clearly preferred the TV over me, so…

I just emotionally walked away from the relationship.

Instead of asking for what I wanted, I became my own person and completely stopped communicating. I was still there physically, cooking and washing his socks, etc., but I very determinedly asked nothing from him anymore, not conversation, advice, support, or even love. I even got a job so he wouldn’t have to pay for my groceries or anything. If I was sick I wouldn’t ask for help, and if something needed to be done that I physically couldn’t do, I would pay someone else to do it rather than “bother” him about it.

Looking back, I realize it was so stupid and prideful of me to live this way, and it left my husband wondering what the heck he was even doing here (something I wondered as well). But I couldn’t stand the thought of needing him and being rejected, (it was more than just TV watching and not just once) so I stopped needing him altogether.

Finally, I stumbled across your blog and I remember just crying and crying as I realized how wrong I was and how disrespectful and distrustful I had been. God gave me this man for a reason, and I was just throwing it away. Since then I have been more respectful, understanding of his masculinity and how he relates (it’s not necessarily a rejection!), and open (although I still don’t talk a whole lot, I don’t think it’s in my nature).

My husband’s relief and delight in this change is practically palpable.

It turns out he actually wants me to need him and desire him. Just by showing him respect in asking him for things, he is a changed man, and I am so thankful for your blog and your writing, and to God for showing me what I was missing by not being vulnerable.

I will never be a fit-thrower, but it is just as damaging to ignore your own needs and desire for attention from your husband. You CAN turn these needs off and shut them down, which might be a relief for both of you in the short term, but it kills the relationship and really makes it kind of pointless.

I think this is kind of dangerous ground too, because it can feel so “right” somehow. After all, what could be more noble than being low-maintenance? I actually thought I was being a very good wife most of the time. I never complained, never drew attention to myself, and never needed anything.

But what I actually was without realizing it, was just a good housekeeper. My husband didn’t have a wife, he didn’t even have a roommate. He just had a person who shared his house and his bed. I made it impossible for him to “know” me as he is told to do in the Bible. It wasn’t a marriage, it was two people living independently in the same house.

And yet I congratulated myself on “not being needy” and never bothering my husband. It felt right most times. But I didn’t know what I was missing, and that I was robbing my husband of his wife as well as the opportunity to be a living witness of God’s grace to this man. It is a very self-righteous, and dangerous way to live, and a high price to pay for pride.

FROM PEACEFULWIFE:

I think that some women may think, “I am dying to self,” by adopting this perspective that the author shares here. But this approach leads to division and hurt not healing and the Life, love, and unity of Christ in our marriages. It is not the kind of dying to self that we do in the power of Christ – it is more of a “power of the flesh” kind of thing, it seems to me. Here are some posts on similar topics for those who may want to research this mindset a bit more and how destructive it can be..

I Can’t Ask for Things. I Shouldn’t Have Desires, Emotions, and Needs… by Radiant

Cinderella and the Gospel by Radiant

Also, let’s keep in mind there are times when God calls us to wait, be still, and pray. And there are times when He prompts us to speak. Let’s be listening carefully to His voice of wisdom and discernment in our particular situations.

NOTE:
Revive Our Hearts Ministries hosted a massive worldwide prayer event for women last Friday night called “Cry Out!” If you are deeply burdened for your country and want to join with tens of thousands of women from around the world to pray for revival, please check out this link and watch the video that was live streamed on Friday.

 

Approaching My Husband’s Sin Issues – by LMS

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.

BACKGROUND:

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.

RELATED:

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. 🙂

Biblical Submission Is Not Passivity

When Would I Not Submit to My Husband?

25 Ways to Respect Myself – or “to Thing and Act Rightly about Myself”

To Speak or Not to Speak

InHisGrip Talks about Not Shutting Down Emotionally

The Pendulum Effect – avoiding being controlling/dominating/disrespectful and avoiding the other extreme of being passive, unplugged, defeated, and a doormat

Healthy VS Unhealthy Relationships

How to Stay Filled with the Holy Spirit

A Wife Responds Beautifully to Her Husband’s Bad Mood 

God Showed Me How to Approach My “Command Man” Husband

Confronting Our Husbands about Their Sin

Should I Stay or Should I Go?

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.

When Would I Not Submit to My Husband?

 

This is such a serious issue. How I pray that God’s Spirit will be very much involved to help me write and to help each of us understand things clearly. I have had many women read a bit about biblical submission and conclude that submitting to our husbands means things like:

  • My husband is my absolute authority not God.
  • I have to do whatever he says no matter what.
  • I can’t voice any disagreement with my husband, that’s disrespectful.
  • I have to follow him into sin.
  • I have to treat his words as if they are always the very words of God even if he clearly goes against the Bible.

I don’t believe this is what Scripture teaches at all.

With almost every biblical principle, there is balance. If we veer to the right or the left of what the Bible teaches, we will end up with a destructive false teaching. So let’s always “test the spirits” as Scripture says. Let’s not just believe anything that any human teaches. Let’s compare everything to the Bible and pray for God’s Spirit to give us His wisdom and discernment that we might handle His Word rightly. It is impossible to delve into all that marriage means in one post – so please take lots of time to study this issue and to seek God’s truth wholeheartedly.

Note – There is a danger with a post like this that a wife who is not abiding in Christ and not seeing clearly spiritually may try to use this list to justify her own sin or selfishness. We are accountable to God for any sin in our own lives.

Let’s keep in mind that ultimately our submission is to Christ as Lord – as men and women. And let’s be sure we are hearing God’s voice clearly, not listening to the enemy’s lies or walking in the power of the flesh so that we can clearly discern God’s voice. Let’s ask God to purify our hearts and motives and to expose any sin or wrong thinking we may have. The goal is that God might say, “Well done, My good and faithful servant,” to each of us. Let’s desire obedience to Him above all else. 🙂

TIMES THAT I PERSONALLY WOULD NOT SUBMIT TO MY HUSBAND

I am posting this with my husband’s full support and knowledge.

Greg wants me to be sure to emphasize, “A wife will need godly discernment and the power of the Holy Spirit in some of these situations. Sometimes things are gray, not clearly black or white.”

We all need God’s Spirit to give us His wisdom as we seek first of all to submit to Christ as Lord. Ultimately, we will each answer to Him. I want us to handle His Word and our decisions rightly in His eyes. We need to be abiding in Him and we need to know His Word well and be seeking Christ far above all else so that we can hear His voice clearly. God gives us as wives a command to honor our husband’s leadership. I don’t want us to be always looking for a way out of obeying the Lord. That is not the point of this post. Our hearts should long to obey the Lord in everything.

This list is one that Greg and I came up with together for our marriage.

I Would Personally Not Voluntarily Yield to My Husband’s Leadership If:

  • He was not in his right mind
    • he had an uncontrolled severe mental illness at the time – psychotic, manic, extremely depressed, suicidal, schizophrenic, hallucinating, etc…).
    • he was on medication that was causing him not to be able to think properly (like he was not in touch with reality after anesthesia).
    • he was high or drunk or involved in a severe addiction that ruled his life.
    • he had significant dementia.
    • he asked me to do something truly foolish or reckless to endanger himself, others, or me – like asking me to get on the roof when I was 9 months pregnant, unless the house was on fire, refusing to go to the hospital when he clearly just had a heart attack and needed life-saving treatment, or saying we should strap the kids on the hood of the car and drive down the interstate.
    • he was obviously demon-possessed.
  • He was asking me to condone or commit clear sin according to God’s Word – not about my personal convictions – but clear sin. i.e.: He wanted me to get an abortion, to have a threesome, to watch porn with him, to lie on our taxes, to steal something, to worship someone/something other than the Lord, to be okay with him having an affair, to take the Lord’s Name in vain, to blaspheme against God, to turn from my faith in Christ, etc…
    • He demanded that he had absolute authority over me and was to be my primary “lord” instead of Jesus.
    • He wanted to lead me into a false religion or cult.
    • He wanted me to condone something illegal (unless it was to smuggle Bibles into a closed country).
    • He was threatening harm to me or my children, brandishing weapons,  or he had rage so out of control that I felt that I or our children might be seriously in danger.
    • He was truly abusing me or our children. (see note on bottom of post about abuse)
  • He was asking me to do something I literally could not do. (i.e.: drive a stick-shift that I have never learned how to drive, pick up a 300 lb couch, speak German fluently when I haven’t learned German, etc…)

Note – I haven’t been in such a situation with Greg so far, but if I did face something like this, I would not be able to just blindly follow him. God requires wives to be accountable for our decisions about when to submit and when not to submit. Check out what happened when Sapphira followed her husband into lying to the Holy Spirit in Acts 5. Abigail is a great example of a wife who honored God and who did not follow her husband’s disrespect toward David in order to keep the males of their household from being killed in 1 Samuel 25. For more on this issue of when it is appropriate to disobey a person in a position of God-given authority (in the home, government, church, or workplace), please check out the class notes on the post Spiritual Authority from a minister at my church.

There are some situations where a wife may be able to stay in the home and honor his leadership concerning non-sinful things. There may be other situations where things are so toxic that she prayerfully decides to seek a separation in hopes that her husband will repent and find the help he needs and that they can rebuild a stronger, more godly marriage in the future. Separation is not ideal, but it is acknowledged in 1 Corinthians 7 and sometimes it is very necessary.

I could still have a desire to be able to honor my husband’s leadership and a heart that anticipates being able to honor him again. But before I could honor my husband’s leadership in cases like the ones above on my list, I would need to see that he was back in his right mind. I would need to see clear repentance and fruit of repentance if he had been involved in major sin and trust had been severely broken. If wives are dealing with issues like this, I believe they may need godly, appropriate outside help to help them navigate these kinds of issues and find the help for their husbands that they need spiritually and medically – depending on the situation.

To me, this would be similar to a situation where my husband is driving the car. I don’t grab the wheel from him because I would wreck the car if he is driving even though I am a very responsible driver, myself. I can’t drive well from the passenger’s seat. However, if my husband were to pass out or become incapacitated, I would certainly try to grab the wheel then and bring the car safely to a stop, if at all possible.

We also need to be sure that we are not endangering our men, abusing them, sinning against them, trying to lead them into sin, or continuing on in unrepentant sin ourselves, as well. And if we are involved in addictions or we need help spiritually, emotionally, or mentally, we need to be sure to reach out for the help we need. I don’t want to ever see anyone in danger from family members! Home should be the safest place on earth, brothers and sisters!

WE ANSWER TO CHRIST ABOVE ALL

Ultimately, we must each study to “show ourselves approved workmen” before God. We will answer to Him alone for all of our motives, thoughts, words, and actions. So will our husbands. I want us to obey His Word above all else.

There are some who teach that submission/authority in marriage is about a husband lording power over his wife. That is not how Jesus describes authority in His kingdom to His disciples in Matthew 20:25-28. There are some who teach that husbands have no authority or that husbands and wives have “equal authority” to lead. I also don’t see how that is biblical when we read passages that clearly teach that husbands do have authority in ways that wives do not (Ephesians 5:22-33, Colossians 3:18-19, I Peter 3:1-7). We do have equal value in Christ and yet we have different roles. But there is to be mutual unconditional love, and unconditional respect flowing both directions in marriage. We are to treat all others with honor, dignity, gentleness, 1 Corinthians 13 love, and respect if we love and know Christ.

Even though husbands have a God-given position of authority, it is not a position of absolute authority.

God doesn’t ever give a human a position of absolute authority. All authorities on earth answer to Him and He has put all authority in heaven and on earth under Christ’s feet. Human authorities often answer to other earthly God-given authorities, as well. Husbands answer to the church, the government, and the police, for example. If there is abuse going on, these other authorities are there to help stop that. Any human authority must have limits. We know that “absolute power corrupts absolutely” for sinful humans. Thankfully, God’s Word has answers for us – I share some resources below that may help, as well.

I pray you will take the time to really study this issue and seek to understand God’s teaching rightly. Misunderstandings on this issue lead to great dysfunction and harm to husbands, wives, children, and the Body of Christ.

WE CAN BE GODLY WOMEN NO MATTER WHAT OUR HUSBANDS DO

If our husbands are involved in unrepentant sin or are not in their right minds, that does not mean we get to sin against them. It doesn’t mean we get to treat them with contempt or disrespect. But it does mean that we may have to spend much time wrestling in prayer to discern God’s wisdom and direction for us and how to best handle these very difficult situations. There is not always a one-size-fits-all formula for what a wife should do.  I would encourage women with extreme situations to seek one-on-one, experienced, godly counsel and much prayer.

 

For More Clarification on Spiritual Authority and Biblical Submission:

NOTE – please compare EVERYTHING any human author says to the Bible, my precious sisters!

Spiritual Authority – by Rev. Weaver from my church

A Husband’s and a Wife’s Authority in Marriage – by Rev. Weaver from my church

What Does “Submit in Everything” Really Mean? The Nature and Scope of Marital Submission by Steven R. Tracy – Overall I agree very much with this paper, there is only one point towards the end that says if a wife ever disagrees with her husband on anything, the husband should always seek outside godly counsel before leading in that direction. I can think of some possible exceptions to that. If you want to talk about that, please let me know.

The Danvers Statement  – from The Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood

Husbands Are Never the Absolute Authority

My Husband Gets Upset If I Respectfully Disagree with Him

What Is Biblical Submission?

Biblical Submission Is Not Passivity

Do I Condone BDSM or CDD? – (The short answer is – no, those things are not what I am teaching at all.)

Biblical Submission Does Not = the Husband Is Always Right

What Biblical Submission and Headship Look Like at Our House

Husbands May Not Force Their Wives into Biblical Submission

The Pendulum Effect – men and women must avoid being dominating and avoid being passive

Godly Leadership

Healthy Relationships

25 Ways to Respect Myself

Do I Condone Abuse?

Recovering Biblical Manhood and Womanhood – edited by John Piper and Wayne Grudem

Secret Church – Biblical Manhood and Womanhood – David Platt

The Peaceful Wife – Living in Submission to Christ As Lord – April Cassidy  – There is a whole chapter on submission in marriage, after a whole chapter on submission to Christ as Lord.  I talk about what biblical submission is not, and what it is.

  • It is not an invitation to abuse.
  • It is not agreement.
  • It does not mean I can’t have my own opinion.
  • It is not mutual (in the way that many evangelical feminists describe it).
  • It is not absolute.
  • It is not related to value.
  • It demonstrates trust – in God but also in our husbands.
  • It allows God to work.
  • It promotes real romance.

 

DEFINING ABUSE:

I want to be clear about a definition of “abuse.” This term is so overused. Some women who truly have godly husbands claim their husbands are “abusive” because their husbands want them to check with them before the wives making purchases over $500 or because their husbands would like them not to show rated R movies to their young children. These kinds of things are not abuse! That is godly leadership. Other women don’t think they are being abused, but they really are and don’t recognize it. Other women truly are being abused, severely sinned against, and mistreated, but think they have to stay and take it. They think that is what “submission” means in Scripture and are told they are “bad wives” or “sinning against God” if they leave.

thelawdictionary.org’s definition of abuse – “Cruelty that causes harm to another.”

legaldictionary-thefreedictionary.com’s definition of domestic violence – “Any abusive, violent, coercive, forceful, or threatening act or word inflicted by one member of a family or household on another can constitute domestic violence.”

I would argue that all sin is abusive. All sin causes harm to those we sin against and to ourselves – as well as our relationship with God. But there is a continuum and  progression of sin where it becomes more and more toxic. There is a point at which it can be too poisonous for a spouse and/or children to stay with the abusive spouse. Sometimes both spouses are abusive.

What is the Biblical Perspective on Domestic Violence – by www.gotquestions.org

Nina Roesner’s eCourse Becoming a Woman of Strength and Dignity is for women in very difficult marriages for them to find healing in Christ and to learn to think rightly about themselves and to learn healthy boundaries and biblical principles so that they have God’s wisdom and Spirit to know how to handle the marriage issues.

www.thehotline.org – a secular resource for those in physically or severely emotionally abusive situations

When a Husband “Doesn’t Buy” His Wife’s Changes

From a sister in Christ who has been on this journey to become a godly wife for a year and a half – I am so thankful for her willingness to share:

 

My husband insists I will always be who I was. He asks “is THIS the REAL you, now?” I replied that “I won’t be done till I die. I will continue to improve and learn every day I breathe.” He just threw his hands up at me, exasperated. But it’s a pride sin to think that we “know it all” and have nothing left to learn. Where is the reality or growth in that?

There is still much hope. I haven’t wanted to believe it, but my husband has been much less aggressive and mean for the past 2 weeks (after a year and a half of this journey). He is thanking me for things I do and has stopped being paranoid about things he thinks I’m doing and am not.

I really think that when a wife begins this journey of respect and truly changes her whole attitude on marriage, life, and herself, this is a massive change for men to try to understand.

It’s as if they don’t know who we are, have no idea if they will like who we are or becoming – and yet they are used to a certain kind of shrew-ness from us that they have built up defenses against. And (now) they are married to a stranger. It’s like they are putting on armor, carrying 3 swords, a mace, and bludgeon and ready for a fight that doesn’t come anymore. They are all amped up from our constant disrespect in the past. So they actually “hunt” for the fight. But, because we are no longer fighting, they feel like some kind of trick or sorcery is going on. They just can’t believe a person can up and change their whole personality.

  • My husband often has told me that he is not mad at me, I am who I am. He cannot change that. He just didn’t think it could change at all.

He was right, HE could not change me, I could not change me, but GOD could. He just didn’t like who that person was… well, that was before God. I didn’t even like who I was. We all have this spouse itching to fight because the battle was never ending and they are ready. We have dropped all our weapons and they don’t know what to do. So they provoke, prod with hurtful words, try to find that monster inside us they are sure is just hiding or waiting for the right moment to rear it’s ugly head so they can strike at it with all their weapons. Yet, we have let that monster die… our old self.

I think it takes a lot of testing, and time for our spouses to poke, prod, stomp around to finally feel secure that the monster is gone before they can start laying down their weapons and trusting again.

I think it is very important that a sense of worth and value has to be developed inside us as well. We have been the mouth, then maybe the mouse. There is a balance of graceful control and wisdom that I think God is trying to grow in us. A sort of confidence that endures no matter who comes and goes from our lives. When we can live in a way that other people’s chaos doesn’t affect us as much, and we are able to look at God and say, “Thank you Lord, for not making me have to be responsible for this other person’s choices in life” then we can live much more free and as victors over our own life, not victims of other people’s lives.

I have a real sense after a long-awaited talk on the phone last night with my husband that he really is accepting the change in me and trying hard to think of his words before saying them. Right now, he kind of stinks at it. But, I did too – when I first started. I feel true hope for a restitution of our relationship for the first time in a long time. It is obviously too soon to bank on such a statement, but I know I may not get that glorious apology or huge hug asking for forgiveness. If I think about it, do I need that? No, not really. I might WANT that, but if I never get it, I’m ok.

I know I have done what God asked me to do in this marriage… to love him “even though” he didn’t love me/was being a jerk/said and did hurtful things/rejected me/gave up on his family/ acted like a put out teenager, etc. Frankly, he didn’t deserve that love from me. But here is the thing – none of us deserve that kind of love, but we have it in God. God loves us in our imperfections and when we act like jerks and do/say hurtful things, etc. Look how we turn from God and reject Him. Yet, He loves us through it all, so much, that He gave up His only Son to save us from death… because He loves us like that. To obey Him, we are asked to love others in the same way “as you do for the least of them, you do unto Me.” It is His overflowing love poured into us that allows us and gives us the strength to pour love into others… even our spouses.

I look at my husband as very lost, struggling and drowning. When I keep that in mind, I keep my compassion toward him. Yes, I tried to throw out life preservers and reached for him, but if he didn’t use them, well, that was his choice. Sink or swim. There are many things my husband can grab onto, but he has to do it now, I can’t make him. I’m just not shoving his head under water anymore.

For those who are struggling, I pray so much that you can lift your eyes away from your husband and marriage right now and start growing yourself to become more confident, secure and strong as a person in your own merit (in Christ). God has given you gifts and blessings just for you. Not just you with your husband. You want something right now that you cannot get from your husband. The store is closed, no one inside, shut up tight. If you break in, it will go really badly. Stop knocking on that door! You need to look to God for what you want. I suspect it is acceptance, value, feeling good enough, affection, closeness, security, trust, and partnership.

I challenge you to look into the Bible and find verses where God can fill these needs for you. Maybe you can see how He can do that and really take it into your mind and heart. You need God first. Then, if others can add to that on earth, here, then it’s icing and sprinkles on the cake…but you need the cake first (God). I hope that makes sense. Here is my example: I can get trust from God and I can trust Him, Psalms 9:10 “Those who know your name trust in you, for you, Lord have never forsaken those who seek you.”

In this way, you can verify God’s promises to you, rise above the shortcomings and disappointments of human failings and lean onto God for all your needs. My favorite is Matthew 6:26, “look at the birds in the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your Heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?” This is God’s word that He will provide for us. He is the great I Am.

I just know that I saw my husband as my god for so long, that when his human failings started to show, disappointment and fear took hold in me. The best lesson I learned from any of this is to not put a human into that god position, he/she is certain to let you down. That also includes not putting myself (who is also human) into that god position. Only our true Lord God holds that position… that is why no other thing or person should be above Him. He is a jealous God, and it is idolatry when we don’t put Him first. Kids, marriage, friends, hobbies, fame, fortune, need for approval from others… there are so many sneaky ones too. (Kids as an idol for me was a surprise).

I pray for all of us with wayward spouses to be able to let them go. I pray that God helps them find their own way without our demands,  wishes, control, and fears getting in the way. I pray that each one of us can see our true self as God sees us; cherished, loved, valuable and important to Him. I pray we can let go of the things we want from our spouses so bad, but are not there yet inside of them, but I pray God helps them find what they need to heal, grow and be drawn to Him. I pray that each of us learn to stand with strength, dignity and courage as children if God, to wear our birthright proudly and without shame. We are children of God, “If He is with us, who can be against us?” I pray that we can grow in God’s design to have the control of our emotions and resist the enemy to become followers of Christ who are strong against the stormy winds of life, trusting our Lord is still in control.

RELATED:

Why Isn’t My Husband More Supportive of Me As I Change?

Things Got Worse At First When I Began to Change – The RestoredWife

25 Ways to Respect Myself

My Security and Identity Is in Christ

25 Ways to Show Real Respect for Your Husband

25 Ways to Show Reverence for God

Husbands Share What Speaks Disrespect to Them

Signs Your Husband May Be Feeling Disrespected

23 Signs Your Husband Is Beginning to Trust You Again

"Being Vulnerable and Direct Feels Wrong!"

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I’m going to share one wife’s “gut reactions”  to the list I gave of ways we can speak and communicate directly and honestly. It’s worth the time to really hash through these objections in our self-talk together. My original statements from a post last month about how to directly communicate our needs and desires are in bold. Keep in mind, when you read the statements I am sharing – that I am talking about a wife sharing these statements with pure motives, respect, a genuine smile, and a pleasant tone of voice. I am also talking about a wife sharing difficult things only after much prayer and in the wisdom and direction of the Holy Spirit. I don’t intend to say that we should share out of selfish or sinful motives.

I greatly appreciate this wife allowing me to share her thoughts – (they are in red):

 

1. “I need this, please.”

(Yikes! Do not tell anyone what you need or you will sound needy! And whiny. And do you really need it? No. Be grateful for what you already have.)

If I were being whiny, I would repeat myself over and over again and verbally try to force other people to do what I wanted and I would continue to verbally pressure them until they did what I wanted them to do. That is not a godly approach. But to share my desire or need one time in a pleasant way (or to share when needed, not in a nagging way) – is perfectly acceptable. There are a lot of verses that tell us to ask for what we need and desire – but that we are to do so with godly motives, not sinful motives.

Verses about asking for things

There are times we genuinely do need things. I think it is important to differentiate between a need and a want. There are things I want that I can live without. But there are some things I truly need – or that others truly need. We all do have legitimate needs – air to breathe, water to drink, food to eat, shelter, love, acceptance, purpose, forgiveness, grace, help, etc…

2. “I would really love to do that.”

(Maybe someday. Maybe after everyone else has their turn it would be okay to say what you’d love to do. Otherwise you risk upsetting someone who wants to do something else. But do not tell anyone or you’ll sound selfish and demanding.)

Perhaps you are thinking of this passage:
Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves; do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others. Philippians 2:3-4

But let’s read that closely. The key is that we don’t do something from selfishness, not that we have needs or desires. We are to think about others and their needs, considering other people more than we consider ourselves. But look at the last part, it doesn’t say, “don’t look out for your own interests and only look out for the interests of others.” We are allowed to look out for our interests – but we are not to do so in a selfish way or with sinful motives. And, ultimately, we are to seek God’s will above our own.

3. “I don’t like X.”

(So what? Am I queen of the world? We all have to deal with things we don’t like. Deal with it!)

God never says that we cannot have our own opinions, desires, preferences, and emotions. We are free to express them to Him and to others – again, as long as we do so with pure motives and we don’t try to force our way on others.

It is not sin for me to say, “I prefer Japanese food.”  Or “I don’t like being around a lot of cigarette smoke.” Or, “I don’t like for my children to see movies that are over PG.” Or, “I don’t like that color for the dining room – I like this other color the best.”

If others don’t agree, over the color of the paint for the walls at church – I can submit myself to whatever they would like and not cause a fuss. If my husband and I don’t agree on a paint color, I can decide to selflessly allow him to choose the color he prefers. But there is nothing wrong with me stating my preference calmly and respectfully. If we can’t agree, I may decide to acknowledge that the color of the room isn’t a big thing in the light of eternity.

4. “I want Y, please”

(Oh my goodness! This is the worst one on the list. Do not tell people want you want. Again, selfish. Begging. It’s worse than being forced to tell someone what you’d like for a gift. Who begs for gifts? This list is insane! This list is starting to frustrate me…)

God invites us to share our desires with Him. Jesus certainly expressed that He didn’t want to go to the cross. But then He submitted Himself to God’s will. Prayer is about our praising God, thanking Him, confessing our sins – but then it is about our sharing our desires and our seeking to line up our desires with the desires and will of God. As we approach God in prayer with our desires and seek His desires above our own, He helps transform our desires to match His own. But there is nothing wrong with us asking God for what we desires if our motives are pure.

James 4:1-10 is all about this. We don’t have because we don’t ask God, and when we do ask, we ask with wrong motives, that we might spend what we get on our own pleasures. The problem is not that we shouldn’t ask for what we want. God invites us over and over to ask of Him. But we do need to watch our motives.

Those who came to Jesus for healing, He often asked, “What do you want me to do for you?” And then, whatever they asked Him for, He would do for them. He healed them. There is no one I can think of who asked Jesus to heal them whom Jesus ultimately refused.

I can say,

  • “I really want another baby.”
  • “I want to spend some time together this week, Honey.”
  • “I want to think about changing careers. Would you pray about that with me, please?”

Verses about desires

5. “I feel scared/sad/upset/angry/happy…”

(Keep your feelings to yourself. Smile. If you share your real feelings you will be judged. People may get upset. You will look weak).

There is nowhere in Scripture (that I can think of) where we are commanded to be fake or told not to have or not to express our feelings. We are told not to “give full vent” to our every emotion – that would be foolish. We are not to share in sinful anger or in sinful manipulation. We are not to try to make other people do what we want. We do need to watch our motives and attitudes. Our feelings are not the source of absolute truth. We don’t have to be slaves to our feelings and emotions. But we are responsible to share our own feelings and concerns with God and with others when appropriate.

David shared all of the range of human emotions with God in the Psalms. Did God consider him to be weak because of that? No! God said David was “a man after My own heart.”

Sharing feelings and being vulnerable is  not “weak” – it is essential! Apart from vulnerability, there is no true intimacy or authenticity.

Verses about emotions

In the next post, we will address the issues of people pleasing that this wife voiced.

SHARE:

Do you feel safe to be vulnerable and direct in your marriage and relationships? If not, what fears do  you have that keep you from feeling like you can share?

 

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Two Examples:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Alternatives to Sharing My Needs and Feelings Directly:

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

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

SHARE:

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

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

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

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

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