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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.

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?

A Man's Perspective on "When a Husband Can't/Won't Lead"

Here is a comment about handling the issue of a husband’s seemingly reluctant leadership in marriage from Daniel P. Robertson at www.godshelpformarriage.com  This was his response to my post “I want to follow my husband.  What if he doesn’t lead?  How Can I Inspire His Leadership?” 

April, I think you hit the nail on the head with this. Most men find it difficult to lead their wives because of many of the reasons listed here. How is a man supposed to provide strength and leadership when every time he tries he gets shut down?

Most men love their wives, which is why her criticism is the hardest to take. The problem is, she’s often the greatest source of criticism in his life. It can be very wearing on a man’s sense of worth.

Ladies, if you want your man to lead it’s time to hand over the reigns.

And men, realize that your wife (usually) isn’t TRYING to disrespect you. Criticism is her way of communicating a need that she has. Her most important need is love, which in most cases you can show her just by listening to her and showing empathy. Once you’ve done that, try to find out if there is some other need she has as well..

“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!

"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!

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