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"MY Man Doesn’t Deserve my Respect!!!!"

If this is how you feel about God’s concept of respecting your husband – YOU ARE ABSOLUTELY RIGHT! You know, probably just about every wife on the planet feels this way at some point in her marriage (or every day in some cases!) And it’s a legitimate statement that husbands don’t always deserve respect from their wives. There is no perfect man on earth. I won’t argue with that one lick! Husbands struggle just as much with the command of God to love their wives as Christ loved the church and gave Himself up for her. They also think, “You don’t know MY wife! No man on earth could love HER! She’s impossible to please! She’s impossible to understand! She HATES me and doesn’t respect me as a man.” And husbands are absolutely right, too! There is no wife who always deserves love. There is no perfect woman on earth either.

So we are at a terrible stalemate. It kind of sounds like marriage is a recipe for total disaster and torture. Husbands don’t always deserve respect. Wives don’t always deserve love. Men really aren’t made to give selfless love naturally. And women aren’t really designed to give respect naturally. We are all miserably sinful people. When two sinners are married, they will deeply wound one another, misunderstand each other, think the worst of one another, and may eventually declare an all out war on each other – destroying themselves and their children, but not knowing what else to do.

THE SHOCKING TRUTH:

Husbands don’t deserve respect – but THEY NEED IT DESPERATELY!

Wives don’t deserve love – but THEY NEED IT DESPERATELY!

Sometimes when we as women least deserve our husbands’ love is when we most need it. Sometimes when men least deserve our respect as their wives is when it is most critical for us to give it.

IT ONLY WORKS GOD’S WAY

God designed marriage. God gave us commands in marriage – and they aren’t random or extraneous. The commands God gave us are THE ONLY WAY that marriage works!

  • Sex is only for inside the marriage relationship – there is NEVER, EVER an exception.
  • A husband and wife must forsake every other relationship, including their parents, and cling to each other.
  • A husband must love his wife selflessly, putting her needs and interests ahead of his own.
  • A husband IS the head of the wife as Christ is the Head of the church.
  • A wife must respect her husband.
  • A wife must acknowledge her husband’s God-given authority and headship (leadership) in the marriage and family and cooperate voluntarily with his leadership (unless he asks her to do something wrong).

If we insist on going our own way, we will destroy our marriages and families with our own hands and words. We have much power in our marriages to build each other up and make our spouse’s life heaven, or to devastate and kill our relationship and experience spiritual/emotional/sexual death at our own hands. Doing things by our wisdom and what we or the world think is best or think is right is a guaranteed ticket to pain, loneliness, anger, bitterness, resentment, hatred and suffering for all involved.

If we follow all of these patterns in the way that God prescribes, we will experience marriage to the fullest sexually, emotionally, mentally and spiritually. It is a process. It won’t happen overnight, necessarily. God’s way is narrow and hard to accept. His way is VERY UNPOPULAR. But God’s narrow, difficult path leads us to holiness and to the most joyful, peaceful, blessed marriage relationship possible between every husband and wife! IT DOESN’T WORK ANY OTHER WAY! God’s way is the only way that leads to real intimacy and a healthy, thriving, beautiful marriage. And His way is the only way that produces godly children and prepares our children for healthy marriages, themselves.

First we have to die to ourselves, our desires, our plans, our thoughts, our wisdom. We need the power of God’s Spirit at work in us. We must humble ourselves before God and seek His face, acknowledging that He knows much better than we do. I must be willing to examine MY OWN contribution to the marriage and I must be willing to repent of every sin on my end. I have to stop looking at my husband’s laundry list of sins and only look at mine. I have to give up my MASSIVE pride and thinking I know best. I must become a diligent student of God’s Word and of what God says my husband needs and not focus on my own needs. I can look to God to meet my needs, and trust Him that He is going to take me and my marriage somewhere beautiful beyond description if I will commit to yielding myself to Him. EVEN IF MY HUSBAND CHANGES NOTHING ABOUT HIMSELF – God will change me, my husband and our marriage and family even if I am the only one who starts out on the path of obedience to God’s Word. Our God is a God of miracles and wonders! He is the loving, all-knowing Creator of the Universe and Designer of marriage. He alone holds the keys to abundant life in marriage.

God is concerned much more with using marriage to make me holy and more Christ-like than He is about my happiness. This is not a popular message in our culture of wanting everything instantly and where our own happiness is ultimate goal. I must be willing to lay down every idol that I have put before God in my life: my pride, my dreams, my goals, my happiness, my wants, my feelings, my money, my career, my health, my resentment, my anger, my bitterness, my grudge-holding, my refusal to forgive, my critical spirit. I must be willing to give up all of that and stop cherishing those things in my heart. And I must be willing to FORGIVE my husband LAVISHLY just as in Christ, God forgave me – or I will not be forgiven myself! I must be willing to embrace humility. I must be willing to give up MY rights. I must be willing to look out for the best for my husband instead of only looking out for myself. I must be willing to be the more spiritually mature one. I must be willing to live out the example of Christ’s love for my husband WITHOUT NAGGING OR PREACHING AT HIM! As I Peter 3 says, I can win my husband “without a word” by the reverence and purity and behavior of my life.

WITHOUT A WORD:

To a woman, there is no more difficult command than NOT TO TALK to our husbands about our faith, God and the Bible when we think our husbands aren’t right with God. (Our insight into our husband’s exact location in his faith can be very faulty, by the way!) The amazing thing is – our behavior is MUCH MORE POWERFUL than our words to our men! Our words, lectures, sermons, preaching, nagging, etc… just push our men away from us AND from God! If my husband believes that I hold contempt for him as a man and don’t respect him spiritually at all, my attitude will likely force him away from God, never to return again. But when my husband sees me serving him and God joyfully without mentioning his faults at all, and he sees me cheerfully accepting his decisions even when I strongly disagree with him, and he sees me putting all my trust in God and in him to work things out for my best… he is going to be DUMBFOUNDED. He will be confused. He will be intrigued. He will marvel at the Holy Spirit working in me to empower me to be pleasant, smiling, friendly, kind, and to admire him in spite of his faults. His own faults will be clearer and clearer to him without my constant rambling about it. Eventually, and it may take many years, he will want what I have! God can use the godly, Spirit-filled, respectful, peaceful, joyful character of a wife to draw a man to Himself. But our silence is pretty important! Our words about God/faith/the Bible must die and leave a respectful, quiet space for our men to hear themselves think and to be able to hear God’s still, small voice.

Precious wife, I know the struggle and the terror of realizing that I was not obeying God about respecting and submitting to my husband. I hurt our marriage deeply with my lack of respect (that I didn’t even notice!) and by me taking over and controlling things that were not rightfully mine to control. I am not speaking from some platform of perfection. But the GREAT NEWS that I want to share with you is that if you are willing to move in faith to obey God in spite of your fears, God can take you to the same beautiful place He has brought me! YOU can be a joyful, peaceful woman with a gentle and quiet spirit that does not give way to fear. YOU can learn to respect your husband – no matter who he is! REALLY!! You can learn to follow your husband and trust God to lead you and your family through this imperfect, sinful man.

God does not ask us to follow our men into sin. He does not ask us to respect what is sinful or unworthy of respect in our men. He does not leave us alone to learn to follow our husbands – this is about my trust in MY BIG GOD. I am ultimately not trusting my husband to lead me, I am trusting God to lead me through the spiritual authority of my husband over me. I believe this is my biggest test of faith as a woman of God! Do I trust God enough to allow Him to lead me through my husband?

Look for things in your husband that you can respect. Talk about those things. Build him up with your words. Give up the criticism, nagging, complaining, whining, correcting, instructing and overwhelming avalanche of negativity – which looks like hatred and contempt to your guy. Smile at your man. Praise him whenever you see him doing something you admire. Look at him with real adoration in your eyes again. Step back and follow his leadership even if and especially when you don’t agree. See what happens. He’ll start taking his decision-making much more seriously. He’ll feel all the weight of responsibility on him, and he will likely seek your opinion. Watch him stand taller as he becomes more confident in his leadership abilities. Watch what God does with his career and with his abilities as a dad and as a husband. God intends to use our respect and admiration to shape our husbands into the godly men God wants them to be! WOW! See if God doesn’t do some MIND BLOWING MIRACLES in your marriage like He has in mine!

Lord,

Help us to be willing to surrender to Your wisdom and Your plan. Help us to commit to obey You even when we don’t agree, can’t understand and are terrified. Give us the faith to live the way You want to. Cleanse us of our own hideous sin and make us godly wives who can bless, build up, encourage and bring joy to our husbands! Let us model godly femininity for our children. Let us model a godly marriage for our children. Empower us by Your Spirit! Let us find the grace, mercy and strength we need at the foot of the cross of Jesus to become the women of Your dreams! Use us to change our homes, our husbands and our nations to honor You and to restore stability, joy, peace and strength to marriages in our homes and in Your church across America and around the world! Let these precious women discover Your adventure for them. Give them courage to step out and follow You in faith! Use them to shine brightly for Christ and to change the world for Your glory – starting with each of our own marriages.

Amen.


Before and After Pictures of My Soul

I love before and after pictures.  I love to see before and after house renovation pics and also makeover pictures of people.  There is something amazing about being able to witness huge visual/aesthetic improvements in a place or a person.  Here I am going to give you some “before and after” pictures from my own soul.  The transformation has been extremely dramatic- and God is NOT remotely done with the renovations yet!  I am going to answer some of the questions from my last post from my own experience.  I really hate the before pictures, but they do help a body appreciate the after pictures even more!

BEFORE – when I was trying to be in control, or thought I HAD to be in control and when I didn’t realize I was being disrespectful to my husband:

  • I was NOT at peace – not with myself, not with my husband and not with God.
  • The thing that scared me the most was that if I gave my husband the leadership, he might ask me to do things I didn’t think were God’s will for me.   Or, he might not lead and we might just sit in one spot for the rest of our lives.  My biggest fear was that he would insist I would have to work more.  He talked about that a good bit since my hours had been cut a few years ago, and I really believed my calling was to be home with my children.  My job at the time was extremely stressful and I dreaded every minute of it.  I was SURE that if I submitted to my husband he would force me to work several more days per week and that it would be torture.  Not only would I NOT be home where I believed God wanted me to be, but I would be living under extreme pressure and stress without even the time to go to the bathroom or eat in an 8 hour shift.  We were so understaffed at the pharmacy where I worked I also was very afraid that I would accidentally hurt someone by misfilling something because I had to constantly rush and hurry and was still always behind.  If I was forced to work more against my will, I was very afraid I would greatly resent my husband and not sure how I could deal with that.
  •  I felt very lonely many times.  I wanted to be close to my husband.  I tried to be emotionally/spiritually close to him by talking about a lot of my thoughts and feelings, but he seemed closed off and far away.  I didn’t know how to reach him, where he had gone, or why.  Our marriage wasn’t bad (no abuse or major problems), but I knew it could be so much better and that we were missing out on a lot of intimacy.  But I just didn’t know how to make it better.  Giving him more love didn’t seem to help, if anything, I think it made things worse.  I didn’t recognize that I was in control and had left him out of the leadership position in many ways.  He didn’t seem to want to lead.  I would ask him to lead, and wait about 5-10 minutes – then if he didn’t answer or respond, I thought I “had” to take over.  I was IMPATIENT.  I didn’t realize that I was disrespectful and that he was protecting himself from my criticism and verbal attacks.  I didn’t know that he felt like there was no use even trying to lead me since I was “always right.”
  •  I often felt unloved and unappreciated.  I felt invisible.  I felt like I was unnecessary and unimportant in my husband’s life.  Telling him about these feelings didn’t draw him closer to me, it just pushed him farther away.  I didn’t know what I could offer to my husband that would be meaningful to him.  I used to ask him about that a lot.  But he couldn’t verbalize an answer.  I didn’t know what his real needs were and how much I could contribute to his sense of manhood.  And I didn’t understand the power in my own femininity or what made me valuable in our marriage.
  • My husband didn’t seem very happy to me.  And I didn’t seem very happy to him, either.  He kept saying he wanted to see me get my “joy” back.  But I didn’t know how to have joy when I felt so alone and ignored.  I think I was expecting my husband to meet a lot of my needs that really only God could meet.  My expectations were through the roof and extremely unrealistic of a man.  I easily made an idol of my husband – and of being in control myself.
  • I was afraid,  worried a lot, and anxious.  I cried a good bit.  I felt the weight of the family on my shoulders and I couldn’t carry that load – it was SO heavy!   I didn’t have peace.  I was constantly trying to figure out what I thought needed to happen and how I could MAKE things go the way I thought they should.  I was extremely impatient and had a critical spirit towards myself and my husband and probably everyone else.  That just seemed normal.  I held grudges.  I was bitter and resentful and unforgiving and didn’t know how to let go of all of that yuckiness.  I was prideful beyond belief- but I didn’t see it.
  •  I wanted to be close to God.  I prayed a lot.  I prayed mostly for God to change my husband, sadly.  And I didn’t see the dump truck loads of sin in my own heart and the strongholds of Satan.  I didn’t understand why my prayers weren’t being answered. 
  •  I didn’t see miracles when I was trying to be in charge (although God did keep us together and brought us to the place where I could change – and I am SO thankful for that!).
  • My husband would do kind things for me and take me out sometimes.  He would always get me nice gifts for my birthday and Christmas.  I wasn’t great at receiving things graciously, but he has always been generous.  Not a lot of romance at that time, but he was still generous and kind.
  • I tended to be negative, critical, pessimistic and stressed.
  • We were NOT working together as a team at that time.
  • Our children were not as respectful as I thought they should be towards either of us.
  • I could see some of my husband’s strengths, but I was much more focused on the negative things that I wanted to change.  I was not very thankful for the man I had.  I didn’t accept and love him for who he was right then.
  • I did NOT like the way I sounded when I talked to my husband.  My voice was often irritated, exasperated, impatient, frustrated, and unpleasant.
  • I didn’t focus much on finding positive things to think and say about my husband.  I did a good bit of complaining, even to other people and my girl friends.  There were some things he did well that I praised him about, but I didn’t have a habit of looking for the positive and ignoring the negative.
  • At the time I didn’t regret my disrespect and control issues because I didn’t even recognize that was what I was doing.  But I knew things were NOT working the way they should have been.  As soon as I saw myself through my husband’s eyes (after reading Love and Respect by Dr. Emerson Eggerichs), I immediately realized I was the problem and regretted my behavior terribly.  THIS WAS A TOTAL SHOCK!  I had thought for 15 years that HE needed to change and HE was the spouse who wasn’t doing a good job loving me.  I could not believe it when I saw that I had been doing a bad job as a wife.  I was devastated.
  • I wanted much better for my children’s marriages than I had.
  • I was not focused on building my husband up.  I was actually tearing him down in many little ways.  The main changes I saw during that time were that he distanced himself from me emotionally/spiritually and he was very quiet a lot.  He watched a lot of tv and loved to work on projects much more than to be with me.
  • I knew things could and should be better, and I prayed a lot.  I did believe God would help us somehow.

AFTER my blinding-light on the road to Damascus experience, I decided that I was going to be the most respectful and submissive wife on the planet- if I could just figure out what exactly that meant!  The changes I have seen since that moment over 3 and a half years ago have been MIRACULOUS!

  • For about the first 10 months or so of deciding to surrender to my husband’s leadership, I kept getting job offers for more hours every month from out of the blue.  My biggest fear in submitting to my husband was that I might have to work more hours as a pharmacist, and that my husband would say I had to do that.  Every month (for at least 8-10 months) there was a week or two where things would be all up in the air for me and I would be waiting anxiously for Greg’s decision.  God made me practice this lesson over and over until I could be at peace either way.  Greg ultimately had mercy and compassion on me and never forced me to work more.  I do work extra now when I can to show him I am on his team and that I am supporting his efforts to provide well for our family.  I told Greg how I felt,  what I wanted, cried a lot and prayed a lot, and left things up to Greg and to God.  Eventually I did get a different job- that is much less stressful.  Now I don’t get stressed about going to work.  That’s a huge blessing!  But I also learned to live with peace in the face of some of my biggest fears and learned to trust that my husband and my God have my best interests and those of our children at heart.
  • Things did not fall apart.  At first it felt very scary – and quiet.  I didn’t know what to do with so much quiet in the beginning.  I felt very out of my element.  I learned to keep things to myself a lot more and not say every little thought and feeling I had constantly like I used to.  I learned to stop thinking and speaking negatively and to focus on the good and use my words to build up my husband.  It felt awkward for a few months as I began to learn the ropes of respect and submission.  At first, I felt so clueless, I didn’t even know what was respectful or disrespectful.  But I began seeing wonderful changes in myself, our marriage and my husband pretty quickly.  I learned not to get too attached to the answers to my questions or too attached to certain plans and learned how to rest in God’s love and my husband’s love and go with the flow and be thankful for the adventure each new day brings. (“The Surrendered Wife” by Laura Doyle and “The Respect Dare” by Nina Roesner gave me a lot of practical steps of giving up control to my husband and respecting him.  Those were kind of my boot camp books to learn the basics).
  • Now I have peace and joy every day.  I don’t get worried about my husband anymore, or his decisions.  Eventually, being a more godly wife became a habit (and living with His Spirit in control did, too!) and once I learned my new habits, things got a lot easier and more certain.  Now I have a long track record of letting my husband be in charge and trusting God, so I see my trust and faith grow in both of them even more.   It gets easier to trust when I know more and more deeply the love that God and my husband have for me.  And I have God’s Spirit continually feeding me and giving me His peace and joy.  Those strongholds Satan had erected in my heart have been thrown down and God’s Spirit is free to speak to me, correct me, convict me, guide me and instruct me as He sees fit.  My ears are much more sensitive to His voice now.
  • I NEVER, EVER, EVER want to go back to trying to be in control again.  I don’t EVER want to go back to being disrespectful again.  I deeply regret that there was even one day (much less many years) in my marriage in which I tried to be in control and was disrespectful to my husband.  I LOVE the way things are now!!  It took a good 2 years to really feel like I began to be fluent in the language of respect and a lot of research on my part.  And I had a lot to learn about being a gracious and supportive follower.  But my husband has been extremely patient and forgiving as I learned and for him, just knowing I wanted to give him what he needed in our marriage went a long way, even when I wasn’t great at it at first.
  • I continue to see more and more that I respect and admire and the more I praise my husband and God for all the wonderful things about my husband, the more great things keep cropping up!  I barely even notice his faults anymore.  They are there.   He isn’t perfect – and that’s ok!  God even uses my husband’s faults to make me more like Christ.  God’s sovereignty is at work in every little detail!  Now I see my faults much more clearly and I keep all of his many strengths in the forefront of my mind .  It is MUCH better this way!
  • I immediately began trying to be respectful and trying to give my husband control when I realized the problem.  Things immediately began to improve.  But it took two years before we really hit our stride.
  • The first few months were the hardest.  I needed a Respect 101 class and How to Be a Follower for Dummies.  And there were no such things to be found!  Thankfully, God brought me a lot of resources and books, and even Greg scoured the internet to find the most helpful books for me.  Now, the submission and respect thing are so deeply ingrained that I don’t have to think much about doing them.  And I have so much joy as a result of obeying God that I want to keep obeying Him, no matter what the consequences may be.
  • Now we both feel like we are working very well together as a team.
  • Now I feel very close to God and to my husband.  I am extremely happy, content, joyful and at peace.  I have a huge sense of purpose in my life for my faith, my marriage and my children.
  • The past 3 .5 years, and especially the past 2 years  have been the best of our 18 years of marriage.  We laugh and talk daily.  I feel adored, loved, cherished, protected and well-provided for.  I can see Greg’s love for me in his eyes.  He smiles at me when I come in the room now.  He and I are both so happy to see each other again when he comes home from work.  Now, I have a long list of my husband’s strengths in my mind all the time, and I don’t think about his faults much at all.
  • Now, I consciously look for positive things to tell others about my husband.  I am careful to build him up in front of others.
  • Our children immediately began speaking more respectfully to both of us when I began speaking respectfully to my husband.
  • I like the way I sound when I talk to my husband now.  I rarely have regrets.  That alone brings a lot of peace to my soul!
  • I do pray that our children will have a marriage as vibrant, intimate, healthy and wonderful as ours now!  And now that they have a better and more Christ-like example, they are in the best possible position to be able to learn to have a healthy marriage themselves.
  • There have been times that my husband made decisions that I wouldn’t have made – and then I have seen God literally do miracles and cause things to fall into place in ways that I could never have imagined.  It’s been amazing!
  • The changes I have seen in my husband since I have become respectful towards him and follow his leadership are incredible. He will bend over backwards to help me now and to do little things to make me happy.  He still loves to do projects and watch tv, but he carves out time for me, too, and we talk a lot more than we used to.  He cares very deeply about my feelings and concerns.   He wants to do things he knows I will enjoy and appreciate.  He is even more generous and kind now.   He plans surprises for me now.  If he finds out he has hurt me, or that I am hurting about something, he immediately does all he can to help me and make things better.  He is tender and romantic now.  And I am extremely appreciative for every little thing he does.  I don’t take my man for granted.  I am thankful for him exactly the way he is.
  • I can’t wait to see all that God has in store!

Last spring, my husband asked me to teach other wives what I have learned.  To me, that was the pinnacle of the changes God has made in me so far.  I cannot fathom a better compliment from my husband.  I  REALLY hate my spiritual “before picture”, but the before picture sure does help me appreciate the “after picture” a whole lot more!  And I pray that my mistakes might help other women learn more quickly than I did.  I don’t want any of us to live with regrets.  I pray we might all find the beauty, the romance, the adventure and the joy and peace that God has in store for us when we follow His incredible design!

A Different Kind of Valentine's Card

Valentine’s paraphernalia is everywhere at Wal-Mart and all the grocery and drug stores- it’s hard to miss!  And there are lots of great lovey-dovey cards that appeal to women.  But what about the guys?  A love note doesn’t usually speak to a man’s soul the way that it would to a woman’s, but the greeting card industry pumps out thousands of cards about love written for men to receive.

I have a radical suggestion!  Maybe I need to ask Hallmark to hire me to start a new line of cards, but I believe that men would much rather receive respect notes than love notes.  I know this concept seems strange to women, but I think men would actually keep a card from his wife/girlfriend that talked about all the things she admires and respects about him.

I’d like to encourage the women out there- you may have to make a handmade card since the whole respect theme isn’t very mainstream- but how about making a respect card for your husband.  It doesn’t have to be long, but just tell your man some of the wonderful things about him that you really look up to him about and some of the things you admire about him.

Some wives have a really tough time with this, so here are some suggestions- talk about his:

– physical manly build – his muscles, his strong jaw line, his strength, his height, his ability to lift heavy things and handle difficult jobs around the house.

– career – his strong work ethic, the fact that he goes to work daily to provide for his family (regardless of whether the wife works, too) without complaining, that he is great at what he does and contributes to the betterment of the world through his talents.

– leadership and character – the way he sees the big picture and makes wise, responsible choices, his generosity, his kindness, his loving nature, his thoughtfulness, the way he sacrifices his own desires in order to please his wife and take care of his family, the way he stays calm under pressure, the way he protects his family from spiritual/financial/physical harm, the way he teaches his children about life and God, his priorities, how responsible he is, how much he researches things before making a decision, his wisdom and insight.

– talents – his abilities with fixing cars or doing renovations around the house, his athletic ability, his creativity, how great he is at hunting/fishing/hobbies.

– his abilities as a dad and husband

Mention a few of these things and see if your husband doesn’t keep that card for a long time.  Your respect means the world to him!  Your respect and admiration inspire him to become his very best self.  Your trust and faith in him motivates him to move mountains and do the impossible.

Lord,

Help us as wives to become students of our husbands and of how to show respect to them in a way that really honors the needs of their souls as men.  Help us to see better from their perspective.  Help us to inspire our men with our godly femininity and our admiration, praise, encouragement and respect.  Let us be the best wives we can be, and the wives our husbands desperately need us to be!

Amen.

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