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A Wife Learns to Stop "Coaching" Her Husband

Here is a message I received from a reader about the post yesterday.  She has some really amazing insights to share.  Thank you for sharing your story, Theresia!

About the “Are We Deceived about How to Find God’s Will?” post. 

This makes me think about when God learned me that respect towards my husband is the only thing that works.

For half a year me and my husband had a great phase when we were praying a lot together, were united in our goals and he was also fasting for 21 days. After that I felt like things were getting a little less good and I was afraid that we should lose out on this intimacy both with each other and God. I think the best way to describe it is that I more and more turned into becoming my husbands coach. I was trying (I thought very respectfully) encourage my husband to pray and on on, how he should think, do, act… everything. The intimacy surely diminished and we argued more and more.

Then came a weekend when we had a babysitter, we went out of town to go to a christian meeting, sleep at a hotel and go to a wedding the next day. Church was awesome, and afterwards I thought – now we’re going to live really close to God and each other again. The next morning I wanted to spend a lot of time praying with my husband but he wasn’t as motivated as me – I became anxious and started to be a coach again. I felt almost like it was now or never – now we have to be close to God or we will loose the chance. That morning we argued more and more. Everything was terrible as we sat in the car on our way to eat lunch before the wedding. Then I suggested – let’s pray each of us on our own. We did, I hoped God would say something good to my husband, but as I was listening for myself God said to me – Can’t you see this is not working? You’re only making him miserable. The only thing that works is my Word.

In my heart I understood what God was trying to say. The only thing that gives me what I want is giving my husband what God said I should give him – my respect, honor and admiration.

Before we had lunch I told my husband what God told me, I repented and told him I would change.

And so I did. I quit being that coach, realizing that was God’s job. I repented from trying to be God to my husband. Maybe you could say I went from being coach to cheerleader. I tried my best every day to only talk encouraging words and let my husband think, act and choose on his own.

Now I know that in times when I’m successful at being that good wife the Bible talks about my husband is happier and more confident about his abilities to take care of us as a family and make wise decisions.

He has actually said – since you’ve honored me more I feel more led by God! He also shows me much more love!

I’ve also noticed that as I’ve stepped down from being a coach to instead be my husband’s follower I’ve become much more happy and relaxed. Overall I feel safe. There’s just a whole lot of stress going away. I understand that that’s how it feels when you do what you’re supposed to do. Trying to act God is not my job – not strange that makes me tired and anxious.

So, God’s way is the only way, at least the only way that will work! 

Since I repented that day I’ve repented many more times. It’s so ironic how until then it was always my husband who repented, never me, and I thought that was right. He was the one doing wrong, not me. I’m so happy my eyes were opened to my own sin.

Are We Deceived about How to Find God's Will?

This is a comment I received from a husband on a post I did about Finding God’s Will.  I think he is onto something really important.  And he graciously allowed me to share his comments with you.

Reading your post turned a lightbulb on for me. I think I now actually have a much better understanding of a key element of my wife’s long-term disrespect for me. Here’s what I think I’ve realized:

Knowing the will of God and/or how to know the will of God was actually a big reason for my wife’s pervasive disrespect in my marriage.

We had both been raised to believe that in every decision, and especially in every “big” decision (college, career, spouse, church, house, etc.), there was one and only one choice that was God’s will. All other choices would put you permanently in “Plan B” (and the next time you missed the will of God, you’d be in Plan C, and so forth).

It wasn’t until I was in graduate school that I figured out, thanks to Dr. Garry Friesen’s book “Decision Making and the Will of God,” that this “specific will” view of decision making was not biblical. Instead, as you’ve described above,

God’s concern is that we seek to glorify Him and, with that motive, that we make the wisest decision we can, taking into account whatever the Bible says about the subject, all the facts we can learn, wise counsel, etc. Then — the best news — He will take care of us. We’re free to fail, in the sense of making a bad (i.e., unwise) decision, because God in His sovereignty and love will “work together for good” even those things.

And we’re free to change course when things don’t work out as expected (for example, bailing out of a start-up business that doesn’t catch on or even a career choice that isn’t working) without berating ourselves for “missing God’s will” in the matter. All of this assumes that the range of choices we’re considering are all within the moral will of God set out clearly in the Bible.

Unfortunately, my wife never understood this alternative (and more biblical) approach to decision-making. As a result, for the remaining 28 years of our marriage, she had to worry that because I was using the “wrong” approach to decision-making I was likely missing God’s will for myself and for her (and the kids) on a regular basis.

Under this reasoning, virtually every major decision — and certainly every decision where we didn’t agree — became a significant spiritual event in which I was leading the family astray. And, by definition, if I was missing God’s will in the matter, we were going to suffer the adverse consequences (Plan B, Plan C, etc.) and there was nothing God could do about it. His sovereignty and His love for us were handcuffed by my failure to discern His specific will. AND, because every decision was fraught with spiritual significance, she had a quasi-biblical basis for resisting my leadership. After all, even the strongest advocates of submission and respect acknowledge that the wife doesn’t have to allow herself to be led into sin.

I wonder if any of your readers are facing a similar thought process that has wives deceived into disrespecting their husbands while believing that they are actually abiding by their duty not to submit to sin?

FROM PEACEFULWIFE (my response)

I LOVE your lightbulb moment.

YES.

Many wives subscribe to the ideas that you are talking about. I used to think like that, too. I thought that if it was God’s will, for instance, for me to be a missionary to Africa/a stay-at-home-mom/a homeschooler or whatever – that if I submitted to my husband, and my husband wasn’t tuned in to God – I would completely miss God’s will for me and it would be all my husband’s fault. How selfish of me, I wasn’t even thinking in terms of God’s calling on my husband! Just me. Sadly.

So I was terrified to submit to my sinful husband at first because I thought God was too small to direct my husband.  And I thought my husband’s faith was too weak for him to really follow God.  I thought I was responsible for causing God’s will to happen and for knowing what God’s will was.  I thought I could discern God’s will much better than my husband could.  Never mind that God didn’t give me the position of spiritual authority and responsibility in the marriage.  I knew I was better for the job and I was totally justified in taking over because my husband OBVIOUSLY wouldn’t/couldn’t lead.

I didn’t think my husband could hear God.  And you know something?  He was having a hard time hearing God’s voice.  The reason?  ME.  My voice was SO loud and obnoxious – my voice drowned out God’s voice for my husband.  I caused us to miss God’s will.  Not my husband. (And yet – God has used even MY sin and mistakes and rebellion for His glory now!  HOW AWESOME HE IS!)

That was my biggest struggle at the beginning of this journey – is God really big enough to lead me through my sinful husband?

I started out knowing that my answer SHOULD be “yes.”  The God I knew should be big enough.  But I didn’t feel like He was big enough.  I couldn’t see how big He was and how small I was. The more I understood about God and how HUGE He is and the more I understood about how wretched and spiritually poverty stricken and sick I was – the more I realized how ludicrous my fears were.

The scary thing is NOT for me to trust God to lead me through my husband. The scary thing is for me to trust MYSELF to take charge and try to be in control of God and my husband.

I grossly misplaced my fear. I trusted myself and doubted God. That was so backwards.  I am nothing and I know nothing beside the God of the universe.  My pride was astronomical.
Yes, I thought if I trusted my husband, he wouldn’t lead and we would sit in spiritual stagnation for the rest of our lives.  I was constantly trying to run ahead of my husband and trying to drag him towards God.  My husband wouldn’t let me do it.  I’m SO THANKFUL NOW!  I hated to wait.  I was extremely impatient.  I got ideas in my head and ran with them at 100 mph, assuming my ideas were of God.  They weren’t.

I didn’t understand that God was big enough to lead me through my husband. Turns out He IS PLENTY BIG ENOUGH. And, it turns out, that when I stopped all my disrespect and was quiet about things of God (like I Peter 3:1-2 commanded me to do if I really thought my husband was being disobedient to the Word) – my husband did begin to hear God’s voice and to lead.  He hadn’t had a lot of experience, due to my taking over for 15 years.  But he grew stronger and stronger in his faith and as a leader when I stepped out of the way and supported him.  Now I know that my Lord is SO sovereign that He will change my husband’s heart and mind to conform to His will whether my husband is close to Him or not.  Now I also know that God’s sovereignty is big enough to break my pride and humble me and open my blind eyes.  I PRAISE AND THANK HIM FOR THAT EVERY DAY!

Now I know that when I trust God to lead me through my husband and I am obeying HIm, walking in faith and full of His Spirit, He will cause miracles to happen and He will take me to a much better place than I could ever have taken myself. Now I also know that if I fight my husband’s decisions, I am likely fighting God. So I don’t fight anymore. I share what I want and desire with my husband and God, and then I trust them to lead me. Even if it looks “wrong” to me. Even if I don’t like the direction. That is ok.

I know that God has infinitely more wisdom than I do now.  So I trust Him. And I know that I CAN’T LOSE.

  • If my husband sins – my God is big enough to use that for His glory.
  • If my husband makes “mistakes” – my God is big enough to use that for His glory, too.  And God will use it to discipline us, train us and prepare us for things we can’t begin to imagine.  Even bankruptcy.  Even financial struggles.  Even big mistakes with family relationships or drama.  There is NOTHING beyond the reach of God!!!  Nothing is too difficult for Him.  Nothing paralyzes Him.  Nothing will stump Him and make Him scratch His head and decide that no good can come from that situation.
  • If my husband follows God, God is glorified and we are filled with joy.

I have no fear anymore because God is working all things for my good and for His glory – and I know that I don’t know how to get there, only He does.

I also know that God can take the things that caused me the deepest pain and my own years of sin and rebellion and turn them inot something that brings glory to Him and draws others to Christ.

The keys that I was missing were God’s sovereignty, power and wisdom and my weakness, foolishness and smallness .

Something else stood out to me that you mentioned.  You talked about your wife not wanting to follow you into sin.  Wives – a husband leading us in the direction he believes is God’s will towards a certain job, a certain house, a certain church, specific decisions IS NOT SIN.  If our husbands think differently from us or have a different idea of what God’s will is – THAT IS NOT SIN!  We are to give them our perspective, share our feelings, and cooperate with their decisions – trusting God’s sovereignty.

Your husband leading you into sin is something like:

  • He wants you to cheat on the taxes.
  • He wants you to steal.
  • He wants you to ignore his pornography addiction or worse, he wants you to participate with him or have a threesome or go to a strip club.
  • He wants you to gossip.
  • He wants you to lie.
  • He wants you to commit idolatry with him.
  • He wants you to do something illegal.
  • He wants you to kill someone or have an abortion.
  • He wants you to not forgive someone.
  • He wants you to not pray or study your Bible.
  • He wants you to go against God’s Word in a significant way (not just some minor little interpretational difference).

THEN – we need to respectfully but firmly resist our husbands.

But most of the time – they are NOT asking us to sin!  Most of the time, they are TRYING to lead us, but we won’t follow.  If your husband asks you to do one of the following, tell him your feelings and then please cooperate with him joyfully with your trust in God:

  • tithe or not tithe according to his definition (not tithing is not a sin – not from what I can tell in scripture.  But trying to force a man to give under compulsion is wrong according to the Bible.  He has to be free to make this decision – with your input – but then he makes the call.
  • take another job
  • go to a church of his preference (unless it is a cult)
  • not go to church on Wednesday nights because he wants the young children in bed on time (that is not sin!  Please respect his priorities.  Tell him what you want and then allow him to make the final call if you disagree)
  • move to another town
  • start a new business
  • have you home with the family more
  • start stricter discipline with the children
  • follow a tighter budget

The vast majority of decisions will fall into this category – he will have to determine what he believes God’s will is on things that have no clear direction in the Bible.  So he needs the freedom to be able to decide according what he believes God is calling him to do.

We label so many things our husbands do as SIN – and often, we are WRONG.  We easily make ourselves judges of our husbands.  We are in serious sin when we do this.  Not only is our judging them sinful – but then we rebel against our husband’s authority or try to usurp our husbands’ authority and THAT is also sin on our own heads.  It’s time for believing wives to repent and become the godly wives God desires us to be who will bring healing to our marriages and great glory to Christ and His gospel!

Thank you to this precious husband for sharing. I completely agree that the mindset you are describing contributes to great disrespect among wives for their husbands. I appreciate your wisdom and insights very much!

Being a Minister's Wife

My Beautiful Mother-in-Law and Our Son

I started something new on my Peacefulwife Blog Facebook page yesterday!  For those of you who prefer to learn by listening – I have posted a few of my first VIDEOS!  Now you can be in “my class” – even though you’re not at my church. 🙂  Let me know if you like that medium and if you find it helpful.  Thank you!

 

I have not been a minister’s wife myself.  But I have been a pastor’s daughter-in-law for 18 years, and although I was not quite as much under the spotlight and scrutiny that my mother-in-law was – I definitely was close enough to see how wonderful and how difficult it can be to be in the “glass fish bowl” – as my husband likes to say.

A number of ministers’ wives have written to me.  I know that being in this position of influence and pressure is a DIFFICULT and CHALLENGING place to be.  There is nowhere to go to hide when things aren’t going well.  Those who are in a pastor’s/minister’s family, but especially his wife – will be held to MUCH higher standards by those in the church, those outside of the church and also by God Himself.  So it is REALLY critical that the ministers’ wives out there become as godly, holy, mature and Spirit-filled as possible.

OTHER PEOPLE ARE ALWAYS WATCHING

A pastor’s wife is under a great deal more scrutiny about everything than almost anyone else in the church (except maybe the pastor): her attitude, speech, tone of voice, behavior, habits, spending, parenting, modesty, cooking, eating, clothing – EVERYTHING is monitored.  She is constantly watched.  If she makes a mistake – everyone will know about it. Some may follow her ungodly example, or they may talk about her behind her back, confront her or the pastor about it or her husband may lose his job.  If she does something godly and sets a beautiful example, people will model after her, too – especially the women in the congregation.

THE POWER OF A PASTOR’S WIFE TO DESTROY

I have seen pastors’ wives (not my mother-in-law!) use their position of influence and exposure to completely and utterly destroy their marriages, their husbands’ ministries and entire churches.  One woman in the position of a minister’s wife can do all an incalculable amount of damage.  All wives can cause complete devastation and damage in their husbands’ lives on some level.  But for a pastor – his wife’s sins, rebellion, idolatry, discord, hatred, unforgiveness, etc… carry much more weight than they would in most marriages.

How could a minister’s wife destroy her husband and his ministry?

  • showing blatant and/or subtle disrespect for her husband in front of church members or other leaders in the church
  • gossipping about her husband or other church members
  • slandering someone in the church
  • using her words to tear down her husband in public and in private
  • calling people in the church and trying to handle personality disputes or leadership disputes herself
  • being very critical of her husband’s abilities as a pastor, demeaning his abilities, calling him lazy or a hypocrite (even if only in private – that is incredibly demoralizing)
  • correcting her husband in front of others
  • having hatred, resentment, contempt, animosity, anger, bitterness and unforgiveness in her heart towards people in the church or her husband
  • cherishing sin in her own life
  • wearing immodest clothing
  • flirting with other men
  • questioning her husband’s decisions constantly – especially in front of others
  • refusing to cooperate with her husband’s spiritual authority in church or in the marriage
  • trying to control the church herself or control her husband as a puppet for her own agenda and desires
  • having an emotional or sexual affair
  • undermining her husband’s spiritual authority at church, in the marriage or as a father
  • not having the love of Christ in her heart
  • having a critical, judgmental, condemning spirit
  • embezzling money or being involved in a scandal
  • refusing to go to the church service
  • arguing with her husband in front of church members
  • bad mouthing her husband to others

This is not an exhaustive list, but hopefully wives can see the idea.  This stuff applies to ALL wives – but ministers’ wives must ESPECIALLY be on guard against this kind of disrespect and any attempts to usurp their husbands’ God-given authority in the church, the marriage and the home.

THE POWER OF A PASTOR’S WIFE TO BUILD UP

There are wise pastors’ and ministers’ wives in the church who understand the enormity of their responsibility before God to obey Him and to show respect for their husbands and to cooperate with their husbands’ leadership.  They understand God will judge them more strictly.  They understand the eyes of the congregation and community are on them all the time.  They know that they are co-laborers with their husbands – they are teammates – to minister for the gospel together.  They know that their husbands’ ability to do his job depends on their wives’ ability to behave themselves in a Christlike way.

A BEAUTIFUL, GODLY EXAMPLE

My mother-in-law has been an incredibly godly pastor’s wife for about 50 years now.  She was able to watch her own behavior, speech, dress, manners and respect for her husband and I have NEVER known her to cause a problem in one of her husband’s churches.  The beautiful qualities I observed in my mother-in-law that other ministers’ wives ( and really, ALL wives) may want to imitate:

  • She always takes care to dress in a feminine, conservative, modest way (beautiful long dresses or skirts with jackets and a blouse, usually).  She knows that she represents Christ, their church, her husband and their congregation when she is at church or even just out in public in town.  She makes sure she looks decent and put together because she knows she is a reflection of her husband and she wants to be sure she makes him look good.
  • She willingly plays the piano and/or teaches children’s Sunday School classes. She is always a genuine helpmeet to her husband, using her talents and abilities to contribute to the needs of the church.
  • She doesn’t complain or argue in front of others.  I am not aware of a time when she complained about the church or about her husband or someone in the church to a church member.
  • She always upholds her husband’s decisions and cooperates with him and shows a united front at church.
  • She does NOT get involved in gossip or drama.  It is difficult to have close friends when you are the pastor’s wife – you know so much about what is going on and private affairs of so many people – especially in a smaller church (100-300 people).  But she was always SO VERY careful not to create divisions, contention, gossip or spread slander.
  • She always smiles at each person at church, hugs them, is friendly to them, welcomes them and shows as much hospitality as possible in every situation.
  • She always comes to church to support her husband – unless she was sick or in pain.
  • She doesn’t begrudge him the many, many hours he spends away from her and their family (when their children were at home) visiting the sick in the hospital or going to someone’s house where there was a death or counseling people or working on the leaky faucet at the church or someone’s house.
  • She is a wonderful cook and always had a delicious lunch and supper ready for her husband each day and enjoyed the time she got to share with him.
  • She lets her husband lead the conversation about spiritual things with people.
  • She doesn’t do anything that might cause someone to stumble – no alcohol, no working on Sunday, no inappropriate behavior or questionable activities – she avoids even the appearance of evil.
  • She is very responsible and takes good care of her home and was (and still is) a great mother to her boys.
  • She never tells her husband what to preach or how to preach.
  • She trusts her husband to handle his job and calling with wisdom.
  • She knows her husband is responsible, capable, dependable, intelligent and able to do his job well and she shows faith and confidence in him.
  • She always dressed her children well and made sure they behaved well in church.  They also behaved well outside of church, too!
  • She stands by her husband when there is strife in the church.  She is quiet and doesn’t try to defend him herself.  But she is there and offers her supportive presence, showing her respect for him and her belief in him.  But she doesn’t take over in business meetings or try to control things or fix things herself.

Lord,

I lift up all wives who belong to You, but especially ministers’ wives.  Help them to choose to live by Your power to be the wives You want them to be.  Let them honor You and their husbands in their speech, attitudes, behavior, priorities and choices.  Let them point many to You by their obedience to Your Word and their willingness to follow Your design for marriage in Ephesians 5:22-33.  Bless these women richly in their walk with You.  Satan would like to destroy them.  Protect them and their husbands from evil.  Keep them close to Your heart.  Use them to gather a large harvest for Your kingdom and to teach, preach and live well with Your Spirit of power, love, courage and self-control.

In the Name and power of Christ,

Amen!

My Demon.

From Peacefulwife:

I am SOOOOO proud of this precious wife who is absorbing God’s Word and truth like a sponge and striving to obey Him and learn to respect her husband in ways that actually meet his deepest masculine needs.  She is learning so much!  God is truly at work in her heart and it is a beautiful thing to watch – even from over the internet! 🙂  I wanted her to share this post with all of my readers because I believe wives NEED to hear this.  This wife’s description of her “demon” is DEAD ON.  I wonder if husbands know about this stuff?

PS – I have my FIRST Peacefulwife VIDEO up on the Peacefulwife Blog Facebook Page today.  Check it out!  

I started the blog Lessons of Mercy as an accountability to myself, but also to those out there who have found themselves at a place where they see things in their life that need to be transformed into Christ-likeness, however, need a practical way to take the first steps.

Let me tell you a story about Wednesday night.  I really debated writing about this, because my husband reads my blog, however, I’m going to ask him to skip this one because I think the women reading this blog, need to hear about Wednesday night.

I’ve already posted on the this blog about discovering some major disrespect for my husband.  The kind that doesn’t even appear like disrespect in the world we live in today, that seems completely justified, and is so intertwined in my every day life that it’ll be like lifting boulders 100 times my own weight to remove these nasty habits. Yeah, that kind of disrespect.

Wednesday was just an ordinary day until my husband got home from work.  We haven’t been sleeping very well, and he’s been tired.  So he sat down in the chair and turned on the TV while I started fixing supper.

((There is too much back story about the TV “issue” to tell you everything but I will say that I do not have a TV addiction. I actually almost hate the TV.  I never watch it unless he is watching it. Though I have learned to enjoy a couple of the shows. We went 1 1/2 years without any television at all, and recently fixed our antenna so we get all the local channels, which is quite a few more than our parents use to get, but we still don’t have satellite or cable. Even with the absence of TV, we did not take complete advantage according to *me* for what we could do with our time as a family, which tends to make me resentful toward my husband, and with it available in our home again, it is quickly escalating in more time being on and watched than I personally care for it to be on.))

One little thing like the TV being on, quickly invites my demon (yes, I believe everyone has a demon that studies them and tempts them constantly) into a conversation with me.  He says “you’re headed right back to the life where you only speak to your husband on commercials.  Even re-runs are more important than you and the kids.”

I know my Savior. And I can feel the Holy Spirit move.  However, I don’t hear from God like I hear from my demon.  I can pray and spend time in silence after begging God to speak, and feel like after a day of fasting, I still am clueless what God is saying to me, or if He is speaking at all.  But the very moment something pulls on my frustrations, fears, insecurities, or weaknesses, I can hear so vividly and clearly the voice of my demon and am able to carry on long detailed conversations in good or bad directions.

On Wednesday when my demon started talking to me, I spoke back.  But not in my normal fashion.  I said “Get behind me Satan.  I’m not going down this road anymore.”

My husband left to go play guitar.  He’s been doing this once a week after the kids go to bed and I LOVE it!  It gets him out of the house, the chance to play and grow in his talent, and me plenty of time to play around on the computer, crochet or do anything I want without the guilt of ignoring him or the kids.

When my husband left, my demon started talking to me again.  “He was tired tonight, but he has enough energy to go play guitar and stay out til midnight?”

For 11 years, I have taken the bait and spun totally out of control.  I’d spend HOURS at a time ripping my husband to shreds to myself because I let my demon control where the conversation went. But in the last month, God is teaching me things and exposing my sins in grave detail in a way I’ve been so blinded to in the past.

I took those temptations to rip my husband apart and I purposely did the opposite.  I sent him a text thanking him for folding the clothes.  How could I almost have missed that he did that for me?  Remember, it’s because I was being coached to be mad about the TV being on?

I spent time praying for him and thinking about how much we’ve grown in our marriage.

When he got home, I had just headed to bed,  which I don’t normally do.  I am always up waiting for him to get home.  But like I said, we haven’t been sleeping well and I was really tired.  (Which also could have been from such spiritual warfare going on in my heart.)

When he came to bed, he turned on the TV.  I know I know, the stinking TV is like the center of my Wednesday!!  See, we’ve fought quite a few times, jokingly and in some very heated and hurtful conversations about the TV at night.  I like total darkness and complete silence.  He likes the TV being on.

I bet you know what happened.  My demon whispered so tenderly to my ears it practically gave me chills down my neck.  “How come for 11 years he is the one who always gets to go to bed the way he prefers?  Why did he automatically decide *you* have to learn to go to sleep with the TV on?  Why can’t he learn to go to sleep with it off?”

I was so afraid of what I was about to do next that I kissed my husband on the cheek, said “I love you” and then told him I was going to go ahead and sleep on the couch.  When he asked why, I just said as respectfully as I could, “I can’t sleep in here tonight.”

I had to remove myself.  Do you have any idea how many times we’ve fought while trying to go to bed because I’ve had hours of husband bashing sessions with my demon and then I take the opportunity to slay him apart to his face for how awful he is, how bad he messes up, how much he hurts me and every other thing I’m TOTALLY justified and entitled to say?

I laid down on the couch and quickly heard “Why isn’t he out here?  He knows the TV is bugging you, why isn’t he saying you should jump back in bed and he’ll sleep on the couch? Oh yeah, and don’t forget about this…. even though you told him you really need it, he still isn’t praying with you.”  Ouch.  The most tender point of devastation and he HAD to go there.  I tell you what, my demon knows me SO well.  The TV has NOTHING to do with praying together, and he brought it up as a last resort to get me to walk back in that room and destroy our intimacy, respect, trust and unity in our marriage.

I prayed and I told my demon that I have so much sin of my own and I am called to respect my husband no matter what I *think or feel* in any given moment.  I purposefully for the VERY FIRST TIME IN MY LIFE took my thoughts captive, stopped the demon from talking to me, and went to sleep.

I woke up so relieved!!  I didn’t say a bunch of really mean or hurtful things I couldn’t take back.  I kept the TV in perspective and didn’t allow that to be the standard by which I measure him as a husband and father.  I took my thoughts captive and spoke truth over the lies.

I can do this with the help the Holy Spirit is providing.  These boulders can be moved and these habits can be changed.

There are two main reasons why I am finally finding freedom and success.  And they have NOTHING to do with who my husband is, how he acts, or how he treats me. (Because ladies, I got a REALLY good one.  Bragging for another post : )

The first thing I’m really understanding for the first time in my life is that I have thought for 11 years that I’m better than my husband.  It comes out in a few different ways but mostly in the attitude that he sins more than me, and worse than me.  I’ve undoubtedly entertained this lie intimately with thoughts, actions and words that say “I would never have a TV addiction.”  “I’m so much better than him because I’d never do _______.”  “If he was really walking with the Lord he would do xyz.”

Hello pride.  No, I don’t have a TV addiction.  But I have an internet addiction.  No, I wouldn’t ever do _____ but I have spent multiple conversations “gossiping” to my friends.  No, he isn’t doing xyz right now, but I don’t do ALL KINDS of commands in scripture.   It’s disgusting how blind I’ve been to my own sin and how much pride has taken residence in my marriage.

And secondly, I will answer for my actions as a wife.  And God is not going to accept from me “Well, he did this or that.”  My sins will have no justification. And if I really love the Lord and want to serve Him in obedience, I can’t keep looking at someone elses actions and let that decide how I react to the commands my Savior has given me.  I have resolved in my heart that I want to live by the authority of God’s Word, not because of what I have or don’t have but because I have the opportunity to be obedient and give my life in service to become as christ-like as I can this side of eternity.

The Holy Spirit will empower me to live my life with purpose IF I choose to participate.  My only other option is to live my life in reaction to the way other people act by default. That really leaves me trapped and defensive. Feelings I’m definitely no stranger to, but have never been happy to claim as my identity.

Practical Application:

Stop having conversations with my demon.

Take my thoughts captive.

Meditate on the two truths I’m learning from above.

Own freedom.

Live with purpose.

Bring God glory by being obedient to the call on my life no matter if others are doing the same or not.

Respect my husband. Always. In ALL ways.

I had this same LOUD voice in my head all the time – every waking moment – that was constantly accusing my husband of evil – evil motives, evil desires, evil intentions towards me.  I trusted that voice.  I thought that was normal. Turns out the voice was WRONG.  I was greatly deceived.  Learning to respect our husbands involves silencing the demon and our sinful nature.  It means staying on top of sin and repenting for ever single thing that has the slightest offense in God’s sight.  And it means being empowered by God’s Spirit to do what we can’t do on our own.  This is a process.  I am so thankful for this peek into a wife’s thinking and into her heart.  What she is describing is the battle to slay sin and crucify ourselves so that we can live for Christ – it’s part of learning.  She does a FANTASTIC job describing this stage of the journey.  Thank you SO MUCH, Lessonsofmercy, for sharing this powerful piece with us! (PS – my demon had used ALL of those exact same lines on me for 15.5 years.  WORD FOR WORD!  The tv, the praying, everything.  He still tries it on me sometimes – but I cling to Christ and my husband and don’t listen to the accuser anymore!)

FROM PEACEFULWIFE:

PLEASE check out the post my husband wrote in response to this “The Voice in His Head”.

SOMETHING TO CAREFULLY CONSIDER:

Demons are real according to the Bible and they are extremely powerful. It is dangerous to try to have conversations with them. God is much more powerful than demons are, but we are not. Here is what Scripture has to say about some false teachers and the casual way they spoke of demons:

Bold and arrogant, they are not afraid to heap abuse on celestial beings; 11 yet even angels, although they are stronger and more powerful, do not heap abuse on such beings when bringing judgment on them from the Lord. 12 But these people blaspheme in matters they do not understand. They are like unreasoning animals, creatures of instinct, born only to be caught and destroyed, and like animals they too will perish. II Peter 2

8In the very same way, on the strength of their dreams these ungodly people pollute their own bodies, reject authority and heap abuse on celestial beings. 9But even the archangel Michael, when he was disputing with the devil about the body of Moses, did not himself dare to condemn him for slander but said, “The Lord rebuke you!” 10Yet these people slander whatever they do not understand, and the very things they do understand by instinct—as irrational animals do—will destroy them. Jude

A Disrespected Husband's Perspective

Thank you from the bottom of my heart to the husband who took the time to answer these questions in such detail.  Wives – please hear this husband’s heart and consider – does your husband feel like this man does?  My husband wasn’t able to articulate himself and verbalize how disrespected he felt before God opened my eyes to my sin 4 years ago – he just withdrew.  Some husbands react with great anger.  Some husbands TRY to tell their wives how disrespected they feel – but the wives can’t “hear” their pain.  How that breaks my heart!  Please listen to this husband’s legitimate masculine needs and to his perspective.  Please don’t justify any disrespect towards your husband or say that your husband deserves this kind of treatment.  Disrespect never “corrects” a bad situation.  It only makes things infinitely worse. Look at the damage we can do when we don’t know how to respect our men and when we try to take over the marriage.  We deserve hell and condemnation – all of us – but God gives us grace, the gift of salvation by Jesus’ blood, mercy and He exchanges our sin for His glory.  We are called to do the same – to give respect, grace, mercy and cooperation even when it appears to be “undeserved” – because God said to do it.  That is how marriages are healed and maintained.  We die to ourselves and our wants so we can give life to our spouse and bless him. 

What does your wife’s happiness mean to you?
I suppose it depends on what she’s happy about.  I care about her being happy, but only about the things that matter.  If she is happy about honoring and loving God and others, treating me like a friend and husband with love and respect, and seeking to walk closer with the Lord Jesus, then that will make me the happiest man alive.  Okay, maybe not, but it will sure feel like it. However, if she gets her happiness from the fading things of this world, the latest fad, or following after her own heart, then her happiness doesn’t really mean anything to me.  I hope that makes sense.

How much harder is it to feel love for your wife when she is disrespectful/controlling?
It seems impossible to feel love when she is like that.  Not only that, but depending on how long or how often it happens, the feelings don’t come back very often. However, I am called to love her no matter what I feel.  It makes it a lot harder to love her without the loving feelings and even having bad feelings about her, but that is where I have to rely on His Spirit and ask for help to give me the grace to love her as God calls me to.  I need to care for her because God tells me to, not because I feel like it.  I wish I felt love for her, but I haven’t for a while now.

What things would you ask your wife to change if you knew she would listen and cooperate with your leadership?

  • I would ask her to stop telling me she loves me and start showing it.  (Remember ladies – words don’t carry a lot of weight with men!)
  • I would ask that she listen to me attentively instead of interrupting me to get to her point or asking about something that I answered five minutes ago.
  • I would ask that she know and care about things that I like and not argue about them or tell me what I should and shouldn’t like.
  • I would ask that she care about “us” in our marriage.
  • I would ask she understand that decisions I make are for “us”, not against her.
  • I would ask that she would let her “yes be yes and her no, no” instead of thinking she has this “right to change her mind” just because she’s a woman.
  • I would ask that she would care about her appearance and what I would enjoy and seek to please me in her appearance.

How difficult is it to lead when a wife is disrespectful/controlling?

Very hard because I just want to give up.  In my case, and as I hear about men in general, it would seem better to have peace then conflict, so it is easier to give up trying to lead and have her get own way then it is fight about it.  When the fighting happens, the man is usually disrespected even more and the woman tries to become even more controlling.   The initial action of controlling/disrespect feels like a knife in your heart and the fighting/arguing feels like twisting the knife while it’s already in.   Sorry about the graphic description, but that’s how it feels.

How does her disrespect affect your sexual desire for her?
It kills sexual desire for me.  I know men are supposed to have this raging drive that can never be quenched, but I don’t. Not only do I not desire her when I am disrespected, I fell like don’t even want to be around her.  Even Proverbs says a bit about it better being on a rooftop or in the desert than be with a contentious woman.  It sure feels that way sometimes.  Anyway, The past few years have been really tough in our marriage.  I can honestly say that I don’t even know if I have desired her in those few years.  Between the controlling, disrespect, and gaining significant weight and telling me it shouldn’t matter to me, I have no desire, but I am there for her since “my body is does not belong to me, but also to her” (1 Cor 7:4).

What would it mean to you if your wife trusted your decisions and supported your leadership? How would that affect you in every area of life? How would it affect your feelings of love for her?
That would be great!  It would mean that she loved me. (Ladies – please hear this!  Husbands don’t feel loved when we don’t trust them and don’t let them lead!)  It would mean that she “safely trusted” in me.  (Pro. 31:11).  It would just give me a great feeling that my wife loved and trusted me.  I don’t how else to say it.  It would definitely increase my feelings of love for her because she trusts me and is not trying to hijack everything I do.

If your wife were to biblically submit to you and respect you – how would you treat her differently?
I wish I could say that nothing would change because I am treating her the way I should now, but I can’t because I know I’m not doing that.  I really don’t know how I’d treat her differently.  I know it would probably be easier to show her love.  However, to say, “I would do this or that differently if she submitted to and respected me” is the wrong attitude to have. If there was any way I would treat her differently in a positive way if she were to submit and respect me, then it is something am not doing now that I should be.  I hope that makes sense.  I should be treating her the way God calls me to whether she submits and respects or not.  I am not accountable for her actions as I am for mine.  I just know it would probably be a lot easier to do the things I am supposed to if she did those things because the feeling of love would probably be there.

Can you describe how much more effective a wife can be at getting her husband to draw nearer to God when she follows I Peter 3:1-6 instead of preaching, lecturing, nagging, criticizing?
The disrespect will only give occasion for him to resent her for doing the things you listed.  However, if 1 Peter 3:1-6 is lived out, he will see a woman who loves God with her heart, not only her words.  He will see that she is not like the other women in the world that rip on their men.  He will see that, because of how she treats and loves him, that she truly cares about him.  She is not trying to “make” him do anything, but may mention it once and then demonstrates it with her life.

How important are your wife’s feelings when you are making decisions?
My wife’s feelings are very important when making decisions. We are a team.  I may not take every feeling as a fact, but still consider them, at least, and let her know they matter.

What Is Disrespect in Marriage?

UPDATED 6/24/2016

I am going to share about things that cause men to feel disrespected by their wives. (Many of these things would feel very disrespectful to wives, as well.) Every man has his own list of what feels disrespectful and respectful to him.  Some things are almost universally one way or the other to almost all men.  Some things are particular to your husband.  So – what matters most is what is respectful and disrespectful to YOUR man. That’s why it is important to ask him about his preferences and what bothers him and what speaks respect to him.  When things are not tense – you could ask him about some of the things on this list and get his take on the different items.  I wouldn’t ask him about all of them at once – but maybe ask about a few at a time every few days or so and REALLY pay attention to his answers.  Maybe print this out and check the ones that bother him so that you don’t forget.  You’ll need to custom-tailor your respect to your husband for best results!

Keep in mind, too, that a lot of the things that really feel disrespectful to our men are things God labels as sin. Sin is destructive, even if we think it is a “small thing.” Ultimately, the greatest goal is to please Christ and to bless our husbands. We have so much power to destroy our husbands or to build them up.  How I pray God will convict us and open our eyes and that we might learn to be respectful, cooperative wives who value our husbands’ leadership and who honor Christ with every thought, attitude, word and action!

Some of these things will seem like small things because we have been desensitized to disrespect in our culture. Disrespect for men is mainstream now. But just because this is how all of the other women at work or even at church act – that doesn’t mean that is how God desires us to act. The way I treat others is about my character and whether God’s Spirit is in charge of my heart and life or my flesh is in charge. And honestly, most of the things on this list of sin in one way or another – either with our attitudes, motives, words, or actions. As believers in Christ, we are called to live in holiness – not for our spouses, but to please God. And He gives us the power we need to live in victory over sin and in obedience to Him in Christ.

NOTE – I am not writing this post for wives whose husbands have severe issues like major uncontrolled mental health problems, is involved in an active addiction, is truly abusive to you or your children, or is involved in unrepentant infidelity. If you have really serious issues in your marriage, please seek godly, one-on-one, appropriate counsel from someone you can trust.

A GENERAL LIST OF THINGS THAT TEND TO FEEL DISRESPECTFUL TO HUSBANDS/MEN:

– constantly questioning him
– having a critical/judgmental spirit toward him about many things
– acting like he can’t handle his life and responsibilities
– treating him like a child
– using an “angry mama” tone of voice
– scolding him
– frowning a lot
– lots of negative emotions almost all the time
– making demands
– giving directives (bossing him around) rather than polite requests or suggestions “You should,” “You better,” “You need to…”
– freaking out rather than trusting God and trusting him (whenever possible – men tend to respond much better to our trust than to our worry or fear)
unhealthy boundaries where we try to be responsible for things for which they are actually responsible (their spiritual choices, their emotions, their decisions) or we try to make them responsible for things for which we are actually responsible
– humiliating him, especially in front of other people
– being very negative about him in private, but especially in public
– biting sarcasm that is meant to cut him down
– using our words to destroy
– bringing up things from the past that were supposedly forgiven
– keeping a record of every wrong thing he has ever done or said
– attempting to be his conscience or his Holy Spirit
– telling other people negative things about him (If we really have a problem, we should go to God first and then to our husbands. If they are involved in serious unrepentant sin, we may have to involve a trusted counselor, mentor, or pastor. But this stuff doesn’t generally need to be shared with our coworkers, family, friends, church members, neighbors, or Facebook friends.)
complaining
– arguing rather than respectfully discussing
– forcing a very important conversation when he is not ready yet and still needs a bit of time (minutes, hours, maybe days) to process his thoughts or strong emotions
– leaving the room in anger
– criticizing him to the kids
– rolling my eyes
– sighing in exasperation
– undermining his authority to the children
– jumping in to help him when he didn’t ask for help
– giving unsolicited advice
– pride/self-righteousness – looking down on him, thinking I am so much more spiritual than he is
– labeling his sin/temptations as much worse than my sin/temptations
– bitterness
– insulting him
– playing the martyr
– trying to put him on a guilt trip
– manipulation
– refusing to believe him when he is actually trustworthy
– making plans without checking with him (especially big plans)
– spending a lot more money than you had both agreed to, blowing the budget, being irresponsible with money
– not appreciating his contributions to the marriage and family
– demanding sex when they are sick, hurt, exhausted, or feeling extremely disrespected
– withholding sex as punishment
– doing nothing to show respect for our own appearance
– acting like things that are important to him are not a big deal
– taking over and making decisions without giving him a voice
– sharing nothing ourselves and giving up all of our thoughts, opinions, insights, and wisdom – giving up our personhood and expecting him to handle absolutely everything as if he is the dad instead of the husband
idolatry of him, the marriage, happiness, or romance
– expecting him to fail
– expecting him to be perfect and to meet the deepest needs of our soul that only Jesus can meet

REALLY SERIOUS DISRESPECT:

– screaming
– cussing
– throwing things/destroying property
– threatening physical harm
– actually trying to physically harm him
– purposely alienating his children from him
– lying (especially about really big things)
– flirting, infidelity
– total refusal to cooperate with him
– initiating a divorce (unless I have biblical reasons)
– very public extreme humiliation
– comparing him to other men sexually
– insulting his abilities sexually/his manhood
– insulting his abilities to provide financially

RELATED:

What Is Respect in Marriage?
My Husband Shares What Really Speaks Respect to Him
25 Ways to Respect Myself
25 Ways to Show Real Respect to Your Husband
Confronting Our Husbands about Their Sin
Abuse
Signs Your Husband May Be Feeling Disrespected and Unloved
23 Signs Your Husband Is Beginning to Trust You Again

If you have a really difficult husband, please check out Nina Roesner’s Strength and Dignity eCourse.

Ways Husbands Lead that Wives Often Don’t Notice

This is a continuation of the post two days ago about how wives tend to have VERY specific and high expectations of exactly what it means to be a spiritual leader – and how many of the things we expect aren’t even biblical.  Not only that – but our expectations can lead to sin in our hearts (contempt, bitterness, resentment, disrespect, rebellion against our husbands or God, divisions, factions, fighting, hatred – and ultimately lost unity in our marriages and families).  When our children (and those around us) witness a marriage like this, they are repelled from Christ.

Let’s look at ways that husbands actually DO try to lead in their families.

There is a REALLY good chance that your husband is trying to lead you – but – are you listening?  Are you following?  Do you even acknowledge his attempts at leadership?

In real life, some husbands tend to lead in subtle ways.  They don’t necessarily announce – “We will now begin our 6:30pm nightly Bible study time.  Here is an outline of the books of the Bible we will be covering for the next 12 months.  There will be  a test every week and here is a list of all the Bible verses I expect each family member to memorize each week.  You will all be graded. There will be an essay question once a month, with extra credit options.”

I think sometimes we as wives tend to expect our husbands to stand in front of our families like a pastor or like a Sunday School teacher and teach for 1 hour every night.

I would like to suggest, that MOST husbands don’t follow that type of style, but they DO try to lead their families in many ways.

EVERY HUSBAND IS UNIQUE

Each husband has his own style, personality, perspective, gifts and strengths.  Each one will have his own particular brand of leadership – and it will change as he grows and matures.  But keep in mind that NO husband arrives to marriage completely spiritually mature and with a total grasp on godly leadership.  Godly maturity and leadership are developed over many years, decades even.  And the more we cooperate and support our husbands’ attempts at godly leadership, the more quickly they will learn and grow and honor God.

Also – remember that for a husband to be a great leader – he needs a great follower – you!  If you are trying to lead – you are not following.  If you are busy criticizing, you are not following.  It’s time for us to learn to be fantastic, supportive, encouraging, amazing followers!

MY HUSBAND’S BRAND OF LEADERSHIP

This section is a description of my husband’s particular style and how our marriage works now.  Your marriage may look different.  That’s ok.  Follow YOUR husband’s leadership and appreciate his strengths.  Admire and thank him often for what he does for you and your family.

My husband leads first of all by example, I believe.  Even when I was so disrespectful and controlling – my husband was peaceful, forgiving, patient, kind, generous and loving.  Back then, I thought I was so spiritually mature and “above” him because I read my Bible daily, I prayed a LOT (sometimes 4 hours/day), I wrote my prayers in a notebook, I could quote lots of scripture, and I “knew” how things should be.  But I held grudges, didn’t forgive, was very impatient, rude, condescending, holier-than-thou, disrespectful, prideful and was committing constant idolatry –  putting my own self and trying to have control up as idols in my heart.  I also put my husband and our marriage as idols in my soul.  And I didn’t even see it.  Like Eve, I was so blind and deceived, but I thought I knew best.  Imagine the blessings and miracles I missed out on for 15 years because of my disobedience to God’s Word and the sin I cherished for so long in my heart.

My husband leads in subtle ways, ways I used to miss:

  • He gives me direction and guidance.  Often what he is saying is really God’s Word to me – if I will but listen and cooperate.  My husband may say, “I think you are spending too much time blogging.  I want you to take a break and spend some time with the family for awhile.”  THAT IS SPIRITUAL LEADERSHIP, LADIES!  Or he may say, “I think you need to take a nap today.  You haven’t been getting enough sleep and I can see you are really worn out.” Sometimes, he just makes suggestions. That is his way of leading me. He doesn’t usually give me “commands.”  I am wise when I listen to his suggestions.  The whole family benefits from my husband’s wisdom and leadership.
  • He helps me say no to unhealthy commitments.  He sees where I get out of balance or zealous to do something that might take too much of my energy and leave me drained with nothing but scraps for my family.
  • He disciplines our children.  My husband may be more strict or harsh with our children than I am.  Or sometimes, he may be more relaxed with them than I am.  But his powerful influence on our children is a HUGE way that he leads spiritually in our family.   If I cooperate with him, tell him my feelings and perspective, but trust him to handle situations as he sees best – my children learn real discipline, they learn to have godly character, they see the unity in our marriage and they see my example of how to submit to God-given authority.  My example is the standard upon which  they will base their own future submission to God and God-given authority.
  • He desires physical intimacy with me.  God designed sex to be the glue that holds a married couple together physically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually.  Both the husband and wife are bonded to one another during the one flesh relationship with a cocktail of neurotransmitters and endorphins (a natural “high”).  And sex unifies the married couple spiritually in ways we can’t begin to fathom.  It helps to keep divisions away.  It removes tension and helps promote forgiveness.  This needs to be a HUGE priority whenever physically possible in marriage.  And I count this as one of the ways my husband gently leads me and creates a very loving, strong, tight-knit, unified, vibrant, flourishing marriage relationship.  It’s important to stop serving the family and just enjoy and savor each other.  Kind of like our quiet time with God rejuvenates our soul.  The relationship and intimacy is much more important than the to-do list. (If your husband is not interested in sex, check out this post. If you feel like a piece of meat to your husband, check out this post. I also have a number of others, send me a comment if you need more resources.)
  • He handles the salesmen and solicitors.
  • He gently confronts sin in me when he sees it.
  • He tends to see the big picture.  My husband doesn’t get bogged down in every little detail like I tend to do.  Sometimes, I get overwhelmed with all the daily little details and having my husband there to help me step back and look at the bigger picture saves my sanity many times!
  • He takes care of his own spiritual connection with God.  He decides how, when, where he reads the Bible and prays.  He seeks God’s will for his life and our family. I encourage and support him. But I don’t interfere with his relationship with the Lord or try to tell him what to do anymore.
  • He doesn’t get swayed by emotions like I do.  There are definitely times when my hormones and emotions completely engulf me and I feel like I am drowning.  My husband is my “second rock” (Jesus is my first!) and he can help pull me up onto dry ground if I am willing.  There are times when I know I can’t rely on my feelings, and during those stormy days, I trust my husband’s words, his love for me, God’s Words and His love for me – and I don’t trust my feelings.  I keep my eyes on Christ and I keep my eyes on my husband and hang on tight, knowing that my feelings will settle down in a few days.  I don’t allow myself to be tossed about by my hormones and feelings.  I trust God and my husband and don’t lean on my own understanding.  My faith in Christ and my man are much greater now than my faith in my own wisdom or my emotions.  My husband can pull me up onto the rock of his steady soul and he is a resting place, a safe place for me.
  • He takes responsibility now for the ultimate decisions.  This is a HUGE relief for me!  I couldn’t carry all that weight.  It overwhelmed me before.  Now, I am so FREE!  I can share my perspective, my feelings and desires, but then I trust my husband and God to work out each decision for what is in my best interests.  I can’t always see what is best.  When I try to lead, I take us the wrong way. I feel such weight off my soul since I know HE is the one who will answer to God, not me.  What a blessing!  I feel safe, protected and cherished.
  • He handles the finances now.   I took care of the finances for the first 16 years of our marriage or more.  And that was ok.  But it ended up that I was telling my husband what to do (when my hours were suddenly cut at work) – and that didn’t really work well.  I told my husband, “I can’t handle the finances anymore.  Here are the accounts and passwords.  Thank you for taking over.”  And then I left it with him and never touched it again.  He is saving us money in ways I had never even thought about!  And he feels the full weight of his accountability this way.  So he makes very wise decisions.  Also, he is able to treat me by taking me out to dinner or buying me things and I’m not telling him he can’t do that.  He is MUCH more generous with me AND even more responsible now that he is in charge!
  • He drives when we are together.
  • He gives me the better vehicle.
  • He researches books on marriage for me and buys me lots of books about respect, biblical submission, godly femininity and godly marriage.  He lets me share what I am learning and he listens and discusses things with me and shares his insights and perspective.
  • He takes time for himself to recharge.  Unlike wives, husbands are usually careful to have some down time so that they don’t burn themselves out.  I really admire this about men!  And he encourages me to slow down and just savor cuddling together and being together without running around like a crazy woman all the time.  That has been very healing for my soul!
  • He has fun with me and our children.  This creates a much more healthy balance for all of us than my constant seriousness did.  He definitely brings an amazing balance to our family that I was not able to bring when I tried to be in charge.
  • He stays calm and collected under pressure.  His ability to face difficulties with dignity, poise, strength, courage and self-control helps me be able to have those same qualities, too!
  • He is my compass.  If I am having a particularly difficult time with our children, I will ask my husband if he thinks I am being too hard on them, or unreasonable, or if he thinks I am being too easy on them.  His perspective helps me steer straight and not veer off too far one way or the other like I am prone to do on my own.
  • He makes the final decision.  I am free to suggest anything, to ask for anything, to want anything, to feel any way.  And most of the time, my husband does what I ask since he loves to see me happy.  But if we don’t agree – I willingly and cheerfully cooperate with his call on that issue.  If he made a mistake, I don’t hold it against him.  I trust God to use even his mistakes for our ultimate good.  I thank him for his decisions and for looking out for the best interests of everyone in the family. (There are times when a wife would not be able to submit to her husband, in certain situations.)
  • He is the one I go to first (outside of the Lord).  Whether it is good news, or a decision that must be made, or awful news – I call/text/email/talk to my husband FIRST about things.  I seek out his opinion and his wisdom before I make decisions.
  • He does a lot of behind the scenes work on my blog.  He helps find an audience for me and finds guest writers for me.
  • When I am confused about something – I go to him.  He also is always willing to listen and talk with me about issues that come up and spiritual topics – whether they are things I am writing about or situations people are in or family situations at home.
  • He decides how to use his time.  He decides what house project he wants to work on and when.  He decides his own priorities.
  • He arranges our vacations and finds great deals on them.

There are other ways, too.  But maybe this will give you a few things to think about.

What are some ways your husband leads you?  You are welcome to share!

Gentlemen, what are some ways you try to lead in your marriage and in your families?  What is your definition of spiritual leadership and what do you believe God calls you to do?

Support and Encourage His Hobbies

the deck my husband built at our old house

SC State House

A man receives a great deal of his identity from his work. He often thinks of himself in terms of what he does and that he has value in the world because of his career and contribution to the world. Sometimes he also gets a huge part of his identity from his hobbies, especially if his work isn’t bringing him very much fulfillment at the time. He may think of himself in terms of his dream that is outside of his career – his ministry, his athleticism, his remodeling/handyman abilities, his musical abilities, his gardening talents, his artistic and creative streak… All people need and deserve time to recharge and do something they love. Like Laura Doyle says in “The Surrendered Wife,” everyone needs time to dream big dreams and not have their ideas stomped on. But our men ESPECIALLY need this outlet. God designed them to conquer the world and make their mark. A supportive wife makes ALL the difference in the world to a husband in this area!

Notice your husband’s dreams. What are the things that energize him and really give him a love for life? Even if his hobbies don’t get you all excited, I want to encourage you to do your best to support his hobbies, dreams and desires. Who knows? It’s entirely possible that if he is allowed to follow his dreams and make big plans that he might find a new career path that he loves, or add another source of income, or build you a dream house, or just plain enjoy his life to the fullest and have the most to give to your marriage and your family.

If you find yourself being jealous because you don’t seem to have time for your own hobbies and relaxation, that doesn’t mean he doesn’t deserve his time to himself! But it might mean that you need to be more proactive about finding time for yourself, too. Then both of you can be at your best and have the most to give to each other and your family. Husbands and wives both need time to do things they enjoy on their own, to develop their interests, and to take good care of their own souls, minds and bodies. If we are spiritually/emotionally/physically depleted, we don’t have anything to give to our loved ones. We must take responsibility for filling ourselves up and taking good care of ourselves in these areas so that we can bless our families. In fact, if a wife is feeling particularly frustrated and irritable, it is a good idea to look at your own needs and make sure you are getting the rest, nutrition, time with God, time with friends, time for hobbies that you need to be at your best – then little things won’t seem like such a big deal.

Think of the things he loves. Honor what he loves. Listen to him talk about it. Be excited with him. Dream with him. Don’t criticize or put him down about his hobbies and passions. Don’t tell him to hire someone else to finish the house if he wants to do it himself – that is SUPER disrespectful to a man! He wants to complete the challenge and prove to himself that he can do it and he wants you to smile and applaud him and have that wonderful look of pride in your eyes about his abilities. He doesn’t need you to tell him how to do things, just to tell him that you have faith in him that he’ll figure it out, that you trust him. That little bit of encouragement and trust from you will motivate your husband like you cannot imagine! Give him some space to think, dream and work and you will be amazed what he may do for you and your family!!!!

One time at our old house, Greg and I were talking about getting a bay window to replace a picture window. There was a very unkempt crepe myrtle tree outside that window. I asked Greg if he would mind trimming the tree and maybe he could put some pretty white rocks and a bench under the window so that the view would be better. He shocked me by announcing that he was going to build a deck. He had never built a deck before. But I knew he was a super resourceful, intelligent, talented guy, so I said, “Ok!” Then he drew out a design. It wasn’t just a 10X10 deck. He had a 4 level 1000 square foot deck in mind. Wow! That was A LOT more than I had asked for. But I said, “Great! That would be amazing!” He built that whole deck all by himself and it was stunning. He even painted a compass rose on one of the platforms later that was accurate with true North, South, East and West pointing in the proper directions.

When I was pregnant and found out that we were having a boy, I told Greg I would love to have the nursery painted half as night time and half as daytime sky with the tops of pine trees along the floor. He said, “I’m going to do a mural of Columbia.” I said, “Ok!” He had never painted a wall anything but one or maybe two colors before. But I knew he was super talented and gave him all the space he wanted to do what he thought was best. We spent a few weeks riding around town taking pictures of the most beautiful landmarks in our town and deciding what would be in the mural. Then I would sit in the glider rocking chair in the nursery every night for 5 months and feel our baby kicking in my belly and watch while he painted the most incredible mural. It was GLORIOUS! How I hated when we moved away and couldn’t take the mural with us. I was tempted to cut out all the dry wall and move it to the new house!

What dreams does your husband have? What if I had squashed my husband’s dreams? Imagine the beauty and the priceless gifts he has added to our lives that I would have missed!! I pray that we might give our husbands room to soar and do all that they can dream of doing. I pray that we might encourage and inspire them with our trust, faith, admiration and confidence to reach heights we could never have fathomed! A man can move mountains when he has a wife who believes in him!


“I Want to Follow my Husband. What if He Doesn’t Lead? How Can I Inspire His Leadership?”

 

It is a VERY tough position to be in to want to be close to God, to want to obey God and to feel like you can’t follow your husband. You may long for him to lead a family devotion time, or prayer time. You may want him to be the one to tell the children why it’s important to go to church or to plan out character lessons to teach each child. You may want him to work with the kids on memory verses. You may wish that your husband spent more time with the family and not so much time at work. You may feel like you HAVE to take over the leadership role because it doesn’t seem like he wants it. You might be praying every single day for God to change your husband and cause him to be more like Christ. You may feel like your husband isn’t as close to God as he should be. Maybe you don’t see him praying. Maybe you are in charge of the finances and working full time and keeping the house and taking care of the children and it seems like an unfair majority of the burden is on your shoulders. Maybe you ask your husband to help you, but he just ignores you and keeps watching tv. Maybe you tell him how unhappy you are and what you need and it feels like you are talking to a wall. Or maybe you try to draw near to him and tell him about your pain so he will see how much you hurt and fix it, and he gets REALLY angry and lashes out at you and begins talking about your faults. Maybe you ask for your husband’s input or decision-making and he just never answers or says the dreaded, “I don’t know” phrase or he ignores you, or just tells you to do whatever you want and you feel like he doesn’t care and isn’t plugged in to the family and the marriage.

If these things sound familiar to you – you are not alone! Many wives feel like this and struggle daily with these same issues. Yes, this situation is extremely discouraging and may begin to make you think that your husband just doesn’t love you anymore or that following your husband’s leadership just isn’t possible in your case. You might think he can’t lead the family. You might just write him off as not being able to ever “man-up” and take care of family responsibilities. You might be wondering why God isn’t answering your prayers? Why isn’t your husband changing? You are praying clearly for God’s will – a godly husband who is a strong, Christ-like leader for your family. Why on earth have your prayers gone unanswered for months or years or decades? Why doesn’t God hear?

Precious, beautiful wife, I obviously don’t know your situation. But God does! There is GREAT HOPE in Christ!!!! I am EXTREMELY far from being perfect. I have a very long way to go to be what God desires me to be. But God has brought me such a long way from where I was – and I thank and praise Him daily for that! He gets ALL the credit for anything good in me. And I get ALL the credit for anything ungodly in my life. I don’t deserve His grace, forgiveness and mercy. But I NEED HIM DESPERATELY!

I know the pain of thinking that my husband wasn’t leading me and our family. I know the burden of believing that I had to carry all that weight myself and it was too heavy for me! Maybe something about my journey can shed new light on your marriage, too? I pray that God will use my journey into being a respectful, submissive, joyful, peaceful, strong wife to teach other women and to bless other marriages.

There are several very central, CRITICAL truths I have learned as a Christian and as a wife that have changed my life and my marriage that I want to share (with my husband’s whole-hearted approval) with wives who might be in a similar place to where I was years ago:

  • GOD IS SOVEREIGN – EVEN OVER MY MARRIAGE, EVEN OVER MY HUSBAND, AND OVER MY LIFE.
  • I CANNOT CHANGE MY HUSBAND AND MAKE HIM MORE LIKE CHRIST. I can aggravate him, push him away from God, make him want to be far away from me and make us both miserable by trying to change him, make him dread being in the same room with me, but I cannot change him – not for the better! I am not the Holy Spirit!
  • GOD IS THE ONLY ONE WHO CAN CHANGE MY HUSBAND – HIS WAY AND HIS TIMING IS BEST.
  • MY JOB IS TO OBEY GOD ON MY END AND NOT WORRY ABOUT MY HUSBAND’S SIDE OF THE EQUATION, BUT TRUST GOD AND DO MY PART.
  • WHEN I DO OBEY GOD AS A WIFE, I OPEN THE FLOODGATES OF THE POWERS OF HEAVEN TO WORK IN MYSELF, MY MARRIAGE, MY HUSBAND AND OUR CHILDREN.
  • MY OBEDIENCE CAN REALLY SPEED UP THE PROCESS FOR GOD TO CHANGE MY HUSBAND.
  • MY DISOBEDIENCE CAN KEEP MY HUSBAND FROM HEARING GOD’S VOICE AND CAN PUSH MY HUSBAND AWAY FROM ME AND FROM GOD.
  • I HAVE A FOREST OF TREES IN MY OWN EYE THAT NEEDS TO BE ADDRESSED BEFORE I COMPLAIN ABOUT THE SPECK IN MY HUSBAND’S EYE.
  • I CAN DO NOTHING GOOD APART FROM CHRIST AND HIS POWER WORKING IN ME.
  • I AM UTTERLY SINFUL AND WRETCHED ON MY OWN.
  • I NEED TO LIVE IN HUMILITY WITH A VERY REAL AWARENESS OF THE MAGNITUDE OF MY OWN FAULTS AND HOW SMALL AND IMPOTENT I AM AND HOW HUGE, POWERFUL, SOVEREIGN, ALL-KNOWING, WISE, LOVING, MERCIFUL, FORGIVING AND HOLY GOD IS!

Whew! This stuff is ugly. I don’t really enjoy this part, but unless we open up our own souls and allow God’s Word to shine in there to the darkest corners, we can’t move on to the great stuff. I would like for you to consider some things and whether or not these may be possibilities in your heart and in your marriage as we think about the issue of your husband’s leadership in your home. We are only going to look at ourselves as wives in this exercise and how we may be contributing to the success or failure of our husband’s leadership in our marriages. Please stop and pray and ask God to give you insight and wisdom into your own heart and life, as well as conviction wherever it is needed from His perspective. Please meditate and pray about how many of the following may apply to you and your marriage – many applied in mine, but not all –  (if you are dealing with an active addict, someone chronically unfaithful, a hardened criminal, or someone with an uncontrolled mental health disorder – please get godly, experienced help ASAP! Following a husband in these cases could be very dangerous. Safety for you and your children is the priority if you are in a physically abusive situation!!):

  • If I ask my husband to make a decision, and he doesn’t give me a “real” answer within 5-30 minutes, I get angry.
  • I yell at my husband, throw things at him, and call him horrible names.
  • I attack my husband’s character when we argue.
  • If my husband asks me to do something I don’t like or don’t agree with, I refuse to go along with him. I will only follow if he leads where I want to go.
  • If my husband comes up with an idea or plan, I find fault with his thinking and his solutions and tell him that his way won’t work, only my way will.
  • I criticize my husband’s opinions, preferences, tastes, wardrobe, hair style, hobbies, thoughts, suggestions, and plans.
  • I react negatively when my husband tries to help me. He just doesn’t load the dishwasher right, or change the baby’s diaper right, or fold the laundry right. He never hears me praise him and say, “Thank you SO much for the help!” He only hears me say, “I’m going to have to redo it all the RIGHT way!” Or “Why can’t you ever get it right?” or “That is C+ work, not A material.” Or “You’re not doing it right!”
  • If my husband tries to please me, what he does is never enough, I always want more than what he delivered.
  • I frown at my husband a lot.
  • I sound angry, frustrated, impatient, and like I am reprimanding and scolding a naughty little boy many times when I speak to my husband.
  • My facial expressions, my tone of voice, my words sound condemning of my husband often.
  • I act disrespectfully towards my husband to show him that he needs to pull his weight more and love me more and to show him how unhappy I am.
  • I withhold physical intimacy with my husband to punish him.
  • My husband often rejects me physically – it feels like I am pursuing him and it seems like he has lost his attraction for me.
  • My husband tends to ignore me a lot.
  • I feel very lonely, like the whole weight of the entire marriage and family is on my shoulders alone. I feel overwhelmed by all that has to be done.
  • I have to take over leadership because my husband won’t lead.
  • I have very specific ideas about what a husband’s leadership should be and my husband is not meeting my standards.
  • I am always “right” and I make sure my husband knows that he is always wrong. My way is best. I know best what our family and marriage needs.
  • I don’t trust my husband’s ideas.
  • If I let my husband be in charge he’d destroy our lives.
  • I think my husband’s ideas are ridiculous.
  • I don’t think my husband can be an effective leader.
  • I think my husband is an overgrown boy.
  • I have to correct my husband when he is talking with other people or he gets things wrong.
  • I have to tell my husband what to do or he does nothing.
  • I’m very intelligent, strong-willed, perfectionistic, opinionated, and possibly some family members might say I could be “controlling.”
  • Thinking of yielding my control makes me have a panic attack. THE WORLD WILL FALL APART IF I AM NOT IN CHARGE!
  • I am exhausted from trying to take care of everything myself all the time. I don’t relax.
  • I resent my husband for relaxing and taking time for himself to recharge.
  • I cannot or will not forgive my husband for how he has hurt me in the past.

If some of these statements resonate with you – and you may or may not have been consciously aware that these are the things you have been thinking – I’d like for us to consider some things together. These may be kind of shocking to you. They may not all apply, but the ones that do apply to you definitely need to be dealt with between you and God.

  • Many of these ideas have a VERY prideful origin. “I know best.” “I know better than he does.” And it might even be, “I know better than God does.” THAT IS HUGE PRIDE! This is some of the most repulsive, nasty, cancerous sin from God’s perspective. I had to confess DUMP TRUCK LOADS of my own pride to God for a long, long time to begin to get my perspective straightened out and really see what God saw in me.
  • When the wife puts herself in charge (even if she thinks she “has” to – unless there is serious illness or an extended absence of the husband in the home), and takes over the husband’s God-given place of authority in the marriage, husbands usually either react with great anger or by unplugging completely and letting the wife be in control by herself. Husbands who feel steam-rolled by their wives are not going to sit there and take it. They go as far away physically and emotionally as they can or they fight and fight to the death for their honor.
  • Most of the sentiments above contain a large dose of DISRESPECT for our husbands. Disrespect isn’t really talked about much in our culture anymore. God commands wives to respect their husbands (I Peter 3 and Ephesians 5:22-33) and we may think that we are doing fine with that verse and easily gloss over one of the most critical components of a successful marriage – genuine respect for our husbands. I read that verse plenty of times and checked off, “Yep! I’m doing that!” and moved on through the rest of the chapter. I had no idea that there was an entire world of respect that I was totally unaware of. I had no idea how many seemingly insignificant comments and remarks I made, and the tone of my voice conveyed an almost constant disrespect to my husband. I HAD NO IDEA THAT I WAS WOUNDING MY HUSBAND AND BRINGING MISERY ON BOTH OF US! I always thought HE needed to change. I didn’t have a clue that my disrespect and my controlling attitudes were destroying our marriage. THAT WAS A BLOW THAT TOOK MY BREATH AWAY. It sent me reeling for days at first. Then I decided that I was going to study respect and submission and become the best wife I could possibly be! I was so thankful there was something I COULD CONTROL and do to make things better!
  • Is it possible that your husband may feel so beaten down, so criticized, so condemned, so hated and so much like a failure that he has given up even attempting to lead? Every time he tried to lead, my way was better. Whenever he suggested something, I had all the answers and he was wrong. When he had an idea, it wasn’t good enough. Eventually he realized that there was no point trying to lead someone who “is always right.” OUCH! He NEVER said anything. He never said he felt disrespected. He couldn’t verbalize the problem. I had a toxic, critical, judgmental, un-forgiving, ungodly, negative attitude that is poisoning our marriage.
  • Especially Christian women tend to have very high expectations of husbands as leaders. We often expect them to lead Bible studies and prayer sessions out loud in our families. We expect them to know more of the Bible than we do. We expect them to talk about spiritual things a lot. We expect to see them studying their Bibles and praying on their own for hours every week. We want them to initiate prayer time with us every night. Unless your husband had a lot of experience praying out loud, he may not be comfortable praying out loud even in front of you – ESPECIALLY if you come across as being more spiritually mature than he is and as being better with words and knowing the Bible more than he does. He may be intimidated by you. He may feel like a spiritual failure compared to you. Maybe our expectations are unrealistic? Maybe our husbands lead in a lot of ways that we don’t acknowledge or even notice. It takes many years, even decades for a lot of men to learn to be strong spiritual leaders. We can be extremely impatient with our men and destroy their ability and desire to grow as leaders. If I really am more mature, I will be patient and not try to pressure or force things. I will remember I Peter 3:1 – Wives, in the same way be submissive to your husbands so that, if any of them do not believe the word, they may be won over without words by the behavior of their wives.
  • Is it possible that my husband sees me as being “holier-than-thou?”
  • Men need encouragement, praise, admiration, a cheerleader, someone to say when they are doing things right! THEN they will have the courage to forge ahead into the unknown and intimidating world of leadership and try new things and grow stronger. He has to know he has my unwavering support and faith. He has to know that if he makes a mistake, I am not going to make a big deal of it. He has to know I trust him. THEN he will grow and become so much more the godly man that God desires him to be.
  • Sometimes husbands lead in subtle ways. They forgive easily. They don’t hold grudges. They are patient. They try to do what is best for the family. They continue to give of themselves even when their efforts are not appreciated. They have talks with the children about their attitudes and behavior. They try to help out when we are sick. They are generous. They are kind. They are faithful to us. They work hard to provide for the family financially – this is one of THE BIGGEST ways that most husbands try to show their love and leadership. They live with integrity. They try to do what is right. They show respect to others. I can learn to appreciate all that he does right and not try to put him in a little box of my specific expectations.
  • Maybe he DOES try to lead – or maybe he used to try. But whenever he would lead in a way that you didn’t agree with, you wouldn’t follow. That’s what I did, too! After a few years of leading and no one following, understandably, a lot of men give up.
  • If I am disrespecting the spiritual authority of my husband over me and trying to go around him to God to complain about my husband – God will not be pleased! My disobedience will grieve the heart of God more than my view on my husband’s lack of leadership abilities. My critical, judgmental, disrespectful attitude towards my husband means that I also have a critical, judgmental, disrespectful attitude towards the One that put my husband over our marriage. God does not hear my prayers when they are steeped in sin, pride, judgment and lack of respect for God-given authority!!!!
  • My faith in God is small. My understanding of God and picture of Him is small.
  • I am a pretty horrible follower and supporter!
  • I may be committing idolatry by putting myself in God’s place and trying to be God in my life.

If your husband has given up trying to be the leader in the marriage – you can give him the beautiful gift of your submission to his leadership! You can make things right!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Here are a few things you may want to do to begin to get back on track (pray and see if these might apply to you or if God might show you other ideas that fit your situation and marriage):

  • Confess to your husband what you did wrong and apologize. HUSBANDS ONLY REALLY NEED/WANT A SINCERE APOLOGY ONE TIME!!!!!!! “I realize now that I have taken over the leadership role of our marriage and I am WRONG for doing this! I have sinned against God and against you and our family. I apologize for not following your leadership. I’m so glad that God gave you the position of authority over me and over our family. I am stepping down and I want to support your decisions and trust you to do what is best for us from now on.”
  • Accept your husband for the man he is right now today even if he NEVER changes!!!
  • I am responsible to God for my own sanctification, growing in Christ. I don’t have to wait on my husband to help me grow or wait for him to “catch up.” If I am really growing in my relationship with Christ, I will be humble towards my husband and towards God and let them work out my husband’s spiritual growth. I will concentrate only on my own spiritual maturity and I WILL BE PRETTY QUIET ABOUT SPIRITUAL THINGS if this is a difficult area for my husband. I will let my husband see my joy in Christ, my humility before my husband, my respectful attitude and willingness to follow where he leads… THAT is what will help make my husband hunger for God!
  • Make decisions for yourself about things you are doing, eating, wearing, how you spend your time, but let him make his own decisions for himself and let him make decisions for the family.
  • Uphold his decisions in front of the children.
  • Speak and act respectfully towards him. Ask if you are in doubt, “Is this respectful?” “Was I just disrespectful?”
  • Listen when he talks to you – put down what you are doing and listen like you are interested.
  • Be encouraging about his ideas. Try not to squash his creativity, plans and ideas. Let him have room to think, dream and plan.
  • Don’t tell him what to do – if he asks, you can offer your perspective humbly.
  • Praise him whenever he leads the family, even in the smallest of ways, and does a good job!!!! THIS IS SUPER IMPORTANT! You will help him build confidence in his abilities. If he hasn’t ever been the leader, be patient, it will be baby-steps but that’s fine!
  • If he makes a decision, back him (unless he’s asking you to sin) and support him graciously, joyfully, cheerfully. You may tell him your needs and desires and your feelings, but ultimately the decision is up to him. God gives him insight and wisdom he doesn’t give to you. This is about trusting God to lead you through your husband – it is about your faith in God!!!
  • Get rid of negativity!!!
  • Ideally, give him the finances. It often works SO much better when I am not telling him what to do and how to spend money.
  • If he decides to give you something, take you out to eat, go on a spontaneous vacation, SMILE, accept graciously and don’t question if he should or should not give wonderful things to you. Say, “Thank you! You are SO generous! You’re such a wonderful husband!”
  • Even if you feel like he is “leading you nowhere” – that is ok! At one point, I prayed, “God, I am willing to sit RIGHT HERE spiritually and geographically and never move another inch if this is where you want me. I trust You to lead me through my husband. I am NOT going to run ahead anymore. I will patiently wait on You if I sit here until I am 80!” It’s funny, it wasn’t long after I adopted that attitude that things began to go full-throttle!
  • Thank God for your husband’s leadership and spiritual authority over you daily.
  • Thank your husband for his leadership and spiritual authority over you – even if he is not a believer! Even if he is an immature Christian! God said the husband IS the head of the wife in Ephesians 5:22 – take God at His Word and thank God for His provision for you. God can and will use even a non-believer or a very immature husband to lead a believing wife who trusts in Him!
  • Have a willing spirit to be led by your husband and by God.

Maybe none of these things apply to your marriage, if so, I pray that God will direct you to the resources you need to apply to your situation. But if some of these things have been eye-opening for you, I’d encourage you to repent and commit to seeking God’s face and His will in your life and your marriage starting today!

I believe it is God’s plan to teach husbands to be effective, humble, servant-leaders in the world by learning to be a leader at home first. I believe that God desires to use the respect, admiration and cooperation of godly wives to shape men and instruct them in leadership in marriage. God CAN use your willing spirit to help mold and influence your husband if your heart is right with God and you are respectful of the God-given position of authority God gave your husband. What a high calling! We will also be influencing our children and showing them how to have a godly marriage – AND our obedience to God will draw many others to Christ!!!!!! MUCH IS AT STAKE HERE! I pray we act wisely and in full obedience and surrender to God.

Lord,

I know this is a very tough and very painful subject! You know how many tears I cried myself over these issues for so many years in my own marriage. My heart breaks with wives who are anxious, afraid, lonely, overwhelmed and scared to make these changes. I pray that You might show each wife how to take that step of faith and trust You to work through our husbands for our good and Your glory! Help us to see that You will catch us and that what seems so terrifying is actually a gateway to peace and the life we have always longed for. Give us girlfriends to encourage and sustain us! Give us prayer partners to pray with us. Help us desire to obey You even when we don’t completely want to and don’t understand Your wisdom. Help us trust You with all our hearts, minds, souls and strength! Open the floodgates of heaven on the women who have the courage to obey You in this area of following their husbands’ leadership! Let them see Your miracles! Let them find the beautiful place that this painful path brings us to – a place of joy, love, peace, hope, deep intimacy with You and with our husbands and abundant life! Don’t let Satan retain a stronghold in our hearts any longer! Let us sincerely repent of our sin! Let us turn to Your ways and begin the adventure of following You each day, anticipating all the wonderful things You will do to provide for us, protect us, and guide us through our husbands. Thank You for Your design for marriage! Help us to embrace Your wisdom and learn it and live it and then teach it to other wives! Use us to greatly bless our husbands, marriages and children. And use us to greatly bless the world with the fragrance, salt and light of Christ!

Amen!

Bonding in a Meaningful Way with our Husbands

God designed men to need and love to have hobbies. They need time to recharge and prepare for “slaying the dragons” all day at work like Dr. Laura likes to say. Men love keeping up with all the stats on their favorite teams, racecar drivers, and with all the latest technological gadgets, and hunting and fishing gear. They are designed by God to need and want competition, battles, conquests, victories, hunting and all the surge of adrenaline and emotion that goes with it. 

Excuse me, did you just say ’emotion’?” Why, yes, yes I did! Women are designed by God to have very easy access to emotions and words and emotions flood our thoughts constantly and our greatest emotions swirl around our dearest relationships all day long every day. It’s INTENSE being a woman! But men don’t access their emotions very easily. One of the few things that help men access their emotions is competition, sports, games of strategy and skill, seeking victory over an opponent.

(PS – the other main way men access their emotions is after experiencing the one-flesh relationship with their wives – one of the only times that the bonding hormone, oxytocin, gets anywhere near the levels that women normally experience is in this brief time window. A man must have a physical relationship with his wife to open up his heart. A wife must have an emotional/spiritual relationship to prepare her body. God did this on purpose! We each have to grow, mature and stretch to have a working relationship! But I digress!)

Women bond by talking and emoting.

We love to sit face-to-face and drink coffee or tea and we could sit for 6-8 uninterrupted blissful hours with a girl friend talking about our marriages, our children, our ideas, our dreams, our problems, and anything else that is important to us! And when we want to connect and bond with our husbands, we want to sit down face-to-face and talk and talk. That works REALLY well with girlfriends.

Problem is – our husbands aren’t girls! We sometimes expect them to act like our best girl friends and love to just talk and chat with us for hours. Men aren’t generally wired to be able to do this. They can do it before we get married because it’s part of pursuing us and getting to know us better, and they usually don’t have to do it for long spurts every day of the week when we are dating. And we get the impression that our husbands will be able to verbally and emotionally bond with us for hours every day once we are married, too. That is generally a pretty unrealistic expectation of most men (of course there are exceptions). Men can learn to spend time listening to us and letting us talk. They can learn to appreciate that we need that time in order to feel intimate with them emotionally so we can open up to them physically. But men, in general, don’t need  or necessarily want hours of talking and don’t feel better after talking about feelings. We will all be a lot happier when we realize that men are not women!!!

Men bond by sitting shoulder-to-shoulder doing activities together.

There is sometimes some talking – but mostly, there is silence. Men sit together working on projects, or hunting or fishing, or watching their favorite sports. Sometimes they will yell and cheer out loud together, or pick on each other in a friendly way. Lots of times, they just sit quietly. This kind of rocks a woman’s world! Women tend to interpret silence as anger. Men do not! The fact that a man is being quiet and not talking has nothing to do with him being angry. It’s possible he might be angry at his wife, but most likely, he is just resting his brain and not thinking about anything. Really. I know, I am so jealous! I WISH I could turn off my brain sometimes!!!!

So if a woman is interested in building her marriage, she would be wise to take some interest in her man’s hobbies. (For more info, check out “Love and Respect” by Dr. Eggerichs) Here is what I want you to try:

  • Ask your husband if you can join him as he is working on a project in the garage/watching a game/going hunting/going fishing
  • Plan to be friendly, but silent. You will want to talk. It just doesn’t feel like connecting time if you’re not talking. I KNOW! Hang in there, just sit with him, enjoy his company. Relax. Be still. Smile at him when he looks at you.
  • Let HIM lead the conversation.
  • It’s ok if he isn’t looking at you when he’s talking. It’s also totally fine if he doesn’t talk at all.
  • Do anything necessary to keep yourself focused on the fact that you are bonding with your husband in a way that is important TO HIM. Yes, the laundry is calling your name. The dishes are not getting done. The carpet is filthy. The bathrooms need cleaning. You need to paint your nails. You need to go to the store. Supper needs to get started. You have 10,000 things you could be doing. Yes, it feels like you are wasting your time sitting here doing nothing. BUT TO HIM, this is HUGE bonding time with the woman he loves more than anything in the world. For him to see you voluntarily making the effort to step into HIS world and do things that are important to him is A MASSIVE GIFT to your relationship! This means as much to him as if he took you shopping and you had lunch at a restaurant and talked and laughed for 2 hours.
  • Be open to trying things if he wants to teach you something.
  • Try to pay attention if he explains about the game, or some players or what he is doing and retain as much of that info as you can to use in the future. He will be SO impressed!!!
  • Plan to spend at least about 30 minutes with him like this. It’s up to you how often, but once a month at least! Or shoot for once a week!
  • If you are getting really bored, you can silently be praying for him and blessing him.
  • Wink and flirt occasionally and let him see that YOU ARE A LOT OF FUN TO HAVE AROUND!

That’s your assignment! Give it a try. LET ME KNOW HOW IT GOES!!!!  You may even find out that you even enjoy your husband’s passions and that eventually he might even talk a lot with you and you will feel the bonding with him, too.

Praying for intimate, joyful, healthy, vibrant marriages!!!

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