Marriage is HARD.
Really – I would even say it is impossible – in human strength and effort alone.
Men and women are SO different. We think and feel entirely differently. We have different priorities and needs many times. We approach things from completely opposite perspectives. We have very different strengths and weaknesses. Marriage is practically a recipe for torture – apart from Christ.
That is the key. If we look to our husbands or to ourselves – we will destroy our marriage. I must keep my eyes on Christ! He is the only source of power that will enable our marriage to be what He designed it to be. I must daily live for Him and abide in Him!
THE PURPOSE OF MARRIAGE
God designed people. And God designed marriage. He designed marriage for several purposes:
- to be a living parable of the intimate spiritual relationship and the oneness of Christ and His church
- to provide a stable, loving, nurturing, secure, safe, healthy place for children to be born and raised to know God and love Him and to learn how to love others and be prepared to be responsible, faithful, fruitful servants of Christ.
- to form us more and more into the image of Christ – to make us holy (NOT primarily to make us happy!)
- to teach children how to have a healthy, vibrant and flourishing marriage and how to be godly parents themselves
- to provide a solid foundation and building block for healthy, secure, productive and godly societies.
- to provide companionship and unity in the most intimate human relationship.
- to provide a safe, loving, perfect place for sex and procreation
- as a classroom to learn to love and forgive
- because it is not good for man to be alone – God designed a helpmeet suitable for him
This list is not exhaustive – but it provides a good glimpse into some of the biggest reasons why God chose to design and institute marriage.
WHEN MY HUSBAND SINS AGAINST ME
The problem with two sinners being married is – they WILL sin against each other and they WILL hurt each other. There is no perfect marriage partner (except Jesus). So it is our job to learn to be great forgivers and to tap into God’s power to be able to do this. When I am putting Christ first and setting my heart on Him, His will, His Word and His glory, He will empower me to deal with anything my husband might do – and I can trust that He will use even my husband’s sin and mistakes ultimately for my good and His glory.
What would Jesus tell me to do when my husband is unkind, verbally abusive, arrogant, demeaning, mean, belittling, disrespectful, unloving, selfish, hateful, prideful, refusing to be intimate with me, trying to force me to be intimate with him, flirting with other women, lying, being irresponsible with money, not taking the best care of our children (in my view), not praying with me, not abiding in Christ, not reading his Bible, being materialistic, putting other things ahead of Christ or ahead of our marriage that are inappropriate…?
LET’S APPLY LUKE 6:20-49 TO OUR MARRIAGES
(I am going to alter the words a bit to fit to our marriages)
Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God.
Blessed are you who hunger now, for you will be satisfied.
Blessed are you who weep now, for you will laugh.
Blessed are you when your husband/extended family members/coworkers/neighbors/others hate you, when they exclude you and insult you and reject your name as evil because of the Son of Man.
Rejoice in that day and leap for joy, because great is your reward in heaven. For that is how (people) treated the prophets.
But woe to you who are rich, for you have already received your comfort.
Woe to you who are well fed now, for you will go hungry.
Woe to you who laugh now, for you will mourn and weep.
Woe to you when (everyone in your life) speaks well of you, for that is how (people) treated the false prophets. (People pleasing does not please God!)
But I tell you who hear Me:
- Love your husband when he acts like he is your enemy
- do good to him if he hates you
- bless him if he curses you
- pray for him when he mistreats you.
- If your husband strikes you on one cheek, turn to him the other also. (I would add, get some godly, wise, experienced help ASAP!)
- If he takes your (coat), do not stop him from taking your (shirt/dress).
- Give to him when he asks you
- if your husband takes what belongs to you, do not demand it back.
- Do to your husband as you would have him do to you (meet his needs and be a godly wife, just like you want him to meet your needs and be a godly husband)
- if you love him only when he loves you, what credit is that to you? Even (unbelievers) love those who love them.
- If you do good to him only when he is good to you, what credit is that to you? Even (unbelievers) do that.
- If you lend to him (give something to him or do something for him) and expect repayment, what credit is that to you? Even (unbelievers) lend to (unbelievers), expecting to be repaid in full.
- love your husband when it feels like he is your enemy, do good to him, and lend to him (do kind, respectful things for him) without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be (daughters) of the Most High, because He is kind to the ungrateful and the wicked.
- Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.
- Do not judge your husband, and you will not be judged.
- Do not condemn your husband, and you will not be condemned.
- Forgive your husband, and you will be forgiven.
- Give to your husband, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.
Can a blind wife lead a blind husband? Will they not both fall into a pit? A student is not above his Teacher, but everyone who is fully trained will be like his Teacher.
Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your husband’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you tell your husband, “Husband, let me take the speck out of your eye,” when you yourself fail to see the plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your husband’s eye.
No good tree bears bad fruit, nor does a bad tree bear good fruit. Each tree is recognized by its own fruit… The good wife brings good things out of the good stored up in her heart (her husband doesn’t MAKE her act good, the Spirit of God inside of her causes her to act good!), and the evil wife brings evil things out of the evil stored up in her heart (her husband doesn’t MAKE her act bad, her own sin and fleshly nature cause her to react in sin). For out of the overflow of her heart, her mouth speaks.
Why do you call me, “Lord, Lord,” and do not do what I say to do for your husband?
I will show you what she is like who who comes to Me and hears My words and puts them into practice. She is like a man building a house (a life, a marriage, a family), who dug down deep and laid the foundation on rock When a flood came, the torrent struck that house but could not shake it, for it was well built.
But the wife who hears My words and does not put them into practice is like a man who built a house (a life, a marriage, a family) on the ground without a foundation. The moment the torrent struck that house, it collapsed and its destruction was complete
Give us ears to hear and hearts that are willing to obey. Tear down any strongholds of the enemy in our souls. Give us Your power to humble ourselves and submit to You and honor You in our marriages!
In the Name and power of Christ,
Ephesians 5 – God’s design for marriage
I Corinthians 11:2-13 – God’s authority structure for marriage
I Corinthians 13:4-7 – God’s definition of love in marriage
Galatians 5:19-22 – a comparison of a life powered by self vs. a life powered by God’s Spirit
- Now, I have laid down my expectations. I don’t expect my husband to pray with me. I don’t demand that he pray with me. I am thankful for what he gives to me in our relationship – and I graciously (by the power of God in me) accept when he does not do things I would like.
- My goal is to be receptive to God’s Spirit, my husband’s leadership, to be a safe place for him to know that he won’t be criticized or judged and to make sure I am abiding in Christ and praying for my husband fervently and passionately myself.
- It takes MANY years for a man to become a godly leader. I must be patient for God to work in my husband and focus on what God wants to do in ME!
- I also keep in mind that scripture never says, “Husbands must initiate prayer with their wives.” I also can’t find a verse that commands husbands to pray with their wives. I think it is clearly implied! But I have to be very careful about my expectations and what I label as sin or about coming across as being spiritually superior, self-righteous or condemning and critical. Nothing will turn off a husband faster to spiritual things than catching a whiff of those prideful, self-righteous attributes.
- I have prayer sisters! I get to pray with my Christian prayer partners and watch God at work together. It is AMAZING! I would strongly recommend that wives pray about finding a godly mentor wife and prayer partner.
- I am free to grow in Christ – I do not have to “wait for my husband.” I am to work out my own salvation with fear and trembling and trust God to work in my husband. The closer I am to Christ, the MORE respectful, kind, gracious and merciful I will be to my husband – and that will influence him to draw nearer to God, too.
- I now know that I can have total access to God’s will when I am trusting in my God. My husband cannot thwart God’s plans for me. My husband cannot take me out of the sovereignty of God. God is powerful and sovereign and will accomplish His purposes in my life whether my husband prays with me or not. My faith is in my Lord alone!
- I also know that there are MANY aspects to spiritual leadership that go way beyond whether my husband is initiating prayer. And many of those things – demonstrating love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self control, obeying God’s Word, being filled with the Spirit of God – are MUCH more important and vital than whether he initiates prayer or not. I believe a husband can be a strong, godly, spiritual leader as long as he is tuned into God HIMSELF. Praying together would be great. But it does not mean our husbands are spiritual failures if they don’t grab us by the hand and have a daily prayer time with us. Check out my youtube video about this if you’d like! http://youtu.be/CgB9SiV9ZgI.
- He would do more harm than good if he did.
- She needs to learn to depend solely on Christ, not her husband. This issue can sometimes reveal that a wife has her husband as an idol, or has his praying with her or his spirituality or his sinlessness as an idol in her heart.
I am SO glad God gave me time to learn to depend on Him alone!
- he may use prayer as an opportunity to try to humiliate his wife before God
- he may use prayer to criticize his wife’s faults and flaws
- he may pridefully brag about himself before God and his wife, bringing God’s opposition against him
- he may use prayer to try to manipulate his wife into doing what he selfishly wants
- he may claim something is “God’s will” just to try to get her to go along with it when it really is not God’s will at all
- he may be cruel, critical and belittling to his wife as he “speaks to God” because he is not full of God’s Spirit
- he may be arrogant and try to make himself look better and more spiritual than his wife
Something that is much worse than having a husband who won’t pray with you is having a carnal/sinful husband who WILL pray with you in ways that dishonor God and seek to control, disrespect and manipulate you.
Yesterday, we looked at many of the causes, signs and consequences of bitterness – if you missed that post, you can find it here.
I have discovered that I have to dig down deeply and examine all of my angry thoughts, write down exactly why I am upset and then compare my thoughts to the truth of God’s Word and trash the things I am thinking and believing that aren’t true. (But I need to throw away the list of wrongs I have suffered after I have examined them!) I also need to identify all of my sinful reactions and repent of each individual sin towards each individual person and memory that contains the smallest root of bitterness. I realize now that even old memories from long ago need to be uprooted and inspected for hidden traces of bitterness to get all of that before God and remove even the smallest particles – or it will fester. I lay still before God on the operating table as He opens up my heart and examines every dark crevice. I need God to renew my mind by the power of His truth and His Word. I must take each thought captive for Christ and allow Him to examine my heart and mind and extract every offensive way in me. I desperately need time in His Word daily and time in confession of my own myriads of sins daily and time praising and thanking Him. I pray we will be sensitive to God’s Spirit and able to hear His voice:
- pride – “I am better than so and so.” “I would NEVER do what he/she did.” “I am so much more spiritually mature than him.” I have to ALWAYS be on the lookout for pride. God opposes the proud and gives grace to the humble. James 4:6 Pride is a HUGE source of fuel for bitterness in my heart. “I deserve better.” “I know better than her what we should do.” “I am not that sinful.” “He doesn’t deserve my forgiveness.” “I am above THAT sin.” “He/she is SO spiritually weak to fall into THAT temptation.” “That is unforgivable. I will NOT forgive that!”
- ungodly motives – I am VERY SINFUL and wicked on my own. I am in desperate need of Jesus! I have to constantly check WHY I want to do things and allow God to expose sin, pride, desire for glory for myself, selfishness, and many other sins! The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it? Jeremiah 17:9 I can easily be blind to my own sinful motives. I need God to show me my sin, and other believers and other people to tell me the sin they see in me.
- unforgiveness – Jesus commands us to forgive so that God will forgive us. Matthew 6:14-15 Unforgiveness is HUGE sin in the sight of our holy God.
- gossip – usually born from my pride and wanting to prove how much better I am than someone. MORE PRIDE! Gossip is part of the fruit of the flesh, it is NEVER of God! What are my motives when I am sharing stories about others? Am I looking out for their best and for God’s glory? Or am I trying to make them look bad and make myself look wise, am I trying to hurt the person and ruin his/her reputation and turn others against them or using their sins/errors for entertainment?
- fear – I need to think about God’s Word and that perfect love drives out all fear, and that the only One I truly need to fear is God – “what can man do to me?” If I have God’s power in me and His Spirit filling me, He will give me the strength, courage and wisdom to handle another person’s sin in His way for His glory. I don’t have to be afraid of another person’s attempts to control me, their disapproval, their unkind words, their anger. If I am paralyzed by fear, I am not trusting God. I have a lack of faith in His sovereignty and power to work in my life. Without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to Him must believe that He exists and that He rewards those who earnestly seek Him. Hebrews 11:6 I don’t have to be swayed by sinful attempts of others to control me. I don’t have to get upset or react sinfully myself. I am no longer a slave to sin! Now I am a slave to Christ! I may calmly respond in the power of the Holy Spirit and refuse to cooperate with sin and ask God to give me His love for them. (If someone is violent towards you or threatening you physical harm, please do not trust your safety to them. You may need to get away, may need to involve the police. Please find godly, local, experienced counsel if you are in physical danger!) I can forgive, but I don’t have to trust until the person earns my trust back. But I need to desire to work towards reconciliation as far as it depends on me and God working in me.
- idolatry – wanting people’s approval, wanting to please people, wanting people to think I am perfect, expecting other people to make me be happy, demanding things of others, insisting on MY will, MY way, MY desires, MY goals, MY needs, MY feelings of being loved… If I am giving other people power over my emotions and feelings and believing evil things they say, but ignoring what God’s Word says – I have a big problem! It is what GOD says that matters – not what others say! If their opinions and statements and condemnation don’t line up with scripture – I don’t hang onto their words! Just because someone says something about me, does not mean it is true. It is up to me to take that statement to God and His Word and examine it. There is no reason to blindly swallow poison from other people. If that person could act in spiritual maturity, love and wisdom – he/she would! But right now that person may be held captive by sin or by the enemy – and may not be able to be the person God desires them to be. God may want to use me and His Spirit in me to show His love, mercy, kindness and grace to that person who is acting hatefully to draw him/her to Himself. When others mistreat me – God is watching carefully! There are many tests of my faith each day. I pray we will hear God’s voice and honor Him! My reaction to others’ sin reveals my character. Other people cannot MAKE me fly into a rage. God’s Spirit is to be in control of me – not my sin nature! If I am not seeking God’s will, His dreams, His goals, His presence, His righteousness, His Word, His power and His pleasure – I may be dealing with idolatry.
- undealt with sin – if someone sinned against me, but I didn’t go to them in love and truth and tell them that they hurt me, I was wrong. It is my responsibility to tell someone (calmly) if they wrong me.
Martha Pearce in The Excellent Wife has a chart of Bitter Thoughts and Kind, Tender-hearted, Forgiving thoughts to replace the bitter thought. This same concept can be applied to ANY relationship. What a fantastic place to start!
She lists many of the bitter thoughts wives think, and replaces it with a truth from scripture and with a kind thought. What a GREAT way to counter bitterness and find victory in Christ!
Verses she used for the godly thoughts:
Matthew 18:32-33, Matthew 19:6
I Corinthians 4:4-8, I Corinthians 6:11, I Corinthians 10:13
Colossians 3:2, 14
I Peter 3:9
I John 1:9
SOME INSIGHTS FROM A FRIEND THIS WEEK:
I realized several things:
The times I have gotten stuck on my journey to obey God’s Word as a wife and to totally submit to Him in my entire life, including my marriage and to learn His design for me to respect and submit to my husband – there is usually one or more of the following going on:
- bitterness – I am hanging on to resentment and unforgiveness. When I do this, I forfeit God’s Holy Spirit abiding in me and empowering me. It is IMPOSSIBLE to be a godly wife and to live in constant fellowship with Christ if I am cherishing ANY sin in my heart. I MUST sincerely, humbly and deeply repent.
- pride – I start thinking I know best. I know better than God. I know better than God’s Word. I know better than my husband. I should be the one in control. I’d do a much better job than my husband at leading. He’s messing everything up.
- lack of faith in God or my husband – without faith it is impossible to please God (Hebrews 11:6). And without faith in my husband, it is impossible for me to show respect to him in a way that will mean anything to him.
- idolatry – I started looking to other things besides Christ for my fulfillment, contentment and happiness. THIS IS VERY EASY TO DO! I have to CONSTANTLY check my motives. WHY am I doing what I am doing? Am I really doing this to honor God? Or am I doing it to try to control my husband and make him love me more? Am I doing this to try to force my husband to make me feel loved? Am I doing this because I love God with all my heart, want to know Him more and want to obey Him? Or am I doing the respect thing because I want to try to CONTROL God? Motive matter GREATLY to our husbands and to God.
- self-righteousness – I start thinking I am better than my husband. This is sin!
If I do not start from a place of total humility and brokenness – weeping over the magnitude of my own sin in God’s sight – I still have a lot more repenting to do.
It is only when I am utterly humble and contrite before God and tear down all my idols and all my false understanding of him and of myself that I can please Him. I have to see how utterly spiritually poor, impoverished and critically ill I am to be in the right place.
I must be willing to lay everything down on the altar and sacrifice it to Jesus. I have to die to myself – willingly.
If there is something that I am holding back from Him and afraid to trust Him about – I have an idol – and I have a lot more work to do.
His perfect love drives out all fear. The one who fears has not been made perfect in love.
The power of God will begin to move in my own heart in extremely powerful ways.
God’s power is fiercely strong in me when I look to Him to be the only source of my identity, the only source of my joy, the only source of my strength and the only purpose in my life. I must want His will much more than my own – even if I don’t know exactly what His will might involve. I trust Him.
My highest goal is to bring honor and glory to my Lord.
This is the secret of contentment, joy, peace and abundant life!
THE LITMUS TEST
If I am acting in my own strength and have sin in my heart, I will see multiple characteristics of the flesh predominantly in my heart on a daily basis – and in increasing measure (Galatians 5:19-21):
- sexual immorality
- debauchery (excessive use of alcohol/drugs/sex)
- fits of rage
- selfish ambition
- and the like
If I have things in my heart from the above list, I have either not accepted the gift of Jesus Christ to pay for my sins and asked Him to be my Savior and Lord – or I am not living with Him as Lord. I have grieved His Spirit and am clinging to sin more than to Jesus.
If His Spirit is in charge – I will see ALL of the fruit of the Spirit in my life daily and in increasing measure (Galatians 5:22):
- no envy
- no boasting
- no rudeness
- no pride
- no self-seeking
- not easily angered
- keep no record of wrongs suffered
- forgiveness (unforgiveness = wickedness, the parable of the servant whose master forgave him a great debt, and then the servant wouldn’t forgive his fellow servant a small debt – the master called him, “You wicked servant!”)
- no delight in evil (ie: unforgiveness, idolatry, control, pride, selfishness, lust and gossip)
- rejoice with the truth
- I protect my husband
- I trust my husband (or want to move towards being able to rebuild trust) and even more, I trust my Lord
- I hope in my husband and my Lord
- I always persevere in my marriage by God’s strength
When I am living in the power of God’s Spirit – these things on this list will be a daily reality and become normal. God does this. I cannot do these things AT ALL on my own. I just have to be plugged in to His power source, spending time in His Word, surrendering my heart, yielding my life completely and without reservation, praying constantly, praising Him constantly, meditation on His Word all throughout the day.
This is what a “normal” Christian life is supposed to look like!
Here is a really fascinating email I received last week from a wife. I know you are going to love hearing her story. Be prayerful and alert for anything God may want to speak to YOUR heart as you read her message.
I want to start with a huge thank you for your ministry. I stumbled onto
your blog about six weeks ago and it truly has changed my/our marriage. I saw your Facebook request for comments from a wife who has learned to respect a husband that has more defined standards and desires control of home decisions. I have to smile because my husband and I were just discussing this last night…I think I just might qualify:)
A LITTLE HISTORY
I have been on this journey now for almost two years…my journey to being a peaceful wife began a little differently than yours. My husband and I went through a very difficult time about four years ago. He is a small business owner and the recession hit us very hard. We were newly married (three years in ) and had just had our second child. It was rough…our marriage remained intact but I think, or I should say now I know we both retreated to our own corners instead of growing closer together.
I adore my husband, he is an incredible man – but when it came to family issues I really did think I was more qualified than he to direct. So at this time not only was my husbands professional life spinning out of control but so was his personal life due to my sudden pressure to take control of our household and new family. I am a cradle Catholic that had very little understanding of my faith and even littler understanding of the Bible. We stopped going to church and forged forward. I convinced my husband to have a vasectomy in the Fall of 2009, I remember telling him and others that there was no way I could ever handle another baby, I basically had three already, having to take care of him also. It makes me physically ill to even think of saying this of him now.
MY FAITH JOURNEY
Ok so to make a long story short, two years ago I found my way back to the Catholic church and have embraced my faith like never before. I am in awe of the churches teaching on sexuality, marriage and families. However with this new found understanding has come pain and suffering. Yes I know I am forgiven, I went to confession and confessed our
decision of the vasectomy but is this what it is really all about. My own forgiveness. What about the grace our love making will never again experience? What about the loss of the souls that we might have conceived? What about the potential of our family and love that
will never be achieved?
A STICKING POINT
So this is where I was six weeks ago before finding your blog….our marriage was back on track to a point. However what I did not realize is that the devil was still lurking in the shadows. I had taken on a new role….to convince/pressure my husband with all my being to have his vasectomy reversed. I want to fix the evil we committed and since I had God on my side I have been badgering him like no other. God had tried in the past 18 months to show me how wrong I was…our priest told me, “(Your husband) will not tolerate your nagging, it will just push him further away.” My husband had actually said to me, “The more you push me the more I close my heart to all of it.” (all of it being not just the vasectomy reversal but his own faith journey.) Oh, but I had God on my side so watch out there was no stopping me….
And then I found your blog…it was like a cold slap in the face. The way you have presented the husband’s role as the role of Christ and the (wife’s role as the role of the) Church is almost blinding. I get it!!
I was a road block for my husband for the past 18 months instead of his helpmate. I now understand why when he considers possibly having another baby with me it makes him shudder…why would he want that (old me) back? My husband is very aware of his shortcomings, he knows that things were rough four years ago but until recently he truly put most of the blame on himself. I was the strong one that kept everything together, the perfect mom and wife supposedly helping his sorry self stumble along. I have apologized to him multiple times in the past six weeks for the role that I played in his despair four years ago. We are still new at this though. My husband is a believer but an independent one of sorts. I so want him to prayer with me daily but am scared to even ask….I just do not know if he is ready yet.
He takes he role as a father, husband and provider of our family very seriously and always has. He is a man’s man. We have both often questioned in the past few years where have all the men gone in this fallen world or ours. I fills my heart with great hope and joy to think of what God may have planned for my husband…I just pray that I am able to be his helpmate on he faith journey and not a road block.
SUBMITTING TO AND RESPECTING A MAN WITH EXACTING STANDARDS
Ok so now to actually comment on your Facebook post….for an overachiever like myself meeting my husband’s standards with an open heart has actually been self motivating in sort….prior to understanding my role, my husband’s standards seemed unfair and overbearing. We have been together for 14 years – it seriously has taken my husband 13.5 years to trust me to do his laundry because he likes his shirts/pants folded just a certain way. I have, in the past, just thrown my hands up and said he was being irrational….now I listen to what he is asking and I have come to realize it really is not that much more than I am already doing it is just a little different. My husband is a fanatic about having the kitchen clean….at all times…even in the middle of meal preparation:) I on the other hand am kind of a messy cook…I clean in the end and that is good enough. This was a very sour point in my husband’s day because he would come home from a long day at work and typically find me in the midst of a kitchen full of boiling water, empty cans, and half cut up vegetables. (I also like to consider myself a multitasker so I may be in the middle of three different recipes, have over the entire neighborhood for a play date and be just finishing up cleaning out the pantry!!) In the past I have often just left it with a deal with it…I am getting things done.
A HUGE CHANGE
In the past six weeks, I have taken a different approach. I have moved up my dinner prep time and will typically have the kids fed prior to my husband coming home. The kids are of course thrilled to see Daddy and now will greet him for a few minutes but know that it is Daddy’s quiet time. They have learned to play in their rooms, I have relaxed on the screen time restrictions (actually I have adjusted the screen time allowance…meaning I limit their time during the day more, so in the evening my husband does get a little more quiet time to unwind without the kids jumping all over him) I have candles lit, music on, the fireplace going and the kitchen clean. I am ready to give him my full attention as he discusses his day and will typically sit and massage his feet while he unwinds. (I am a physical therapist by education so I have in the past provided massage to my patients but never even considered it for my husband)
Ok I know some may say…really does he deserve all that prep…he does. He works so hard and we appreciate all he does, it has only been recently that I have come to understand how to show him.
MY HUSBAND’S RESPONSE
He has thanked me repetitively and has said, “You really do not need to do this. I know you have other things to get done.” He has stated numerous times how he feels like pinching himself he can’t believe how happy he is coming home. Now don’t get me wrong this is not a man that dreaded coming home before but now it is just different. He no longer has to worry about what multitasking explosion he may walk into, how long he will have to sit next to our three year old and beg her to eat her dinner as she is trying to dance around the dining room (seriously it can take her 45 minutes to eat dinner at times). I think at this point he is still not sure if this will last.
If you would ask any of our friends/neighbors they would probably
tell you that my husband’s position of the head of our family has never been doubted…which is true to some point. However before I think he felt somewhat guilty about taking this role and still is not sure of my respect/appreciation. I have in the past given it but much more begrudgingly.
I guess this is my recommendation for every wife out there embrace your role has your husband’s helpmate. Take pride in the managing of your home. If you strive to meet the expectations of the workforce/your boss to move up the corporate ladder previously treat your home in the same manner…strive to meet the expectation of your husband. I am humbled and honored to have been blessed with the opportunity to serve my husband and children on this Earth. God knew what he was doing when he led me to this man. But what I have come to realize is it was not as I had previously thought….I am not leading my husband down the right path. He is leading me.
God knew that it would take one strong man to stand up to my self righteousness. If it was anyone but this man- I would have walked all over them without even realizing it. I have never meant to be so controlling. I did not realize I had such a problem with
respecting authority until recently. I was the authority.
Where do I go from here? ….pray pray pray…..this past year has been the first time I can honestly say I have been open to the Holy Spirit working in my life and actually giving the credit due where it is owed. It is hard at times for me to be patient to see the path. I have always run through life at full speed…set a goal and strive for that goal to set another…now to sit back and be led is very difficult. I want to make the plans and set out to complete them…but instead I am praying for my husband and following his lead. My husband is one of the good guys. He is a natural leader and full of charisma that can light up a room if allowed. I want more than anything to be his helpmate and encourage him to reach his
fullest potential…to reach our family’s fullest potential. I pray that I am no longer standing in his way of following our Savior home.
Thank you again for your ministry. I hope that the above helps. Keep us in your prayers.
I heard from a wife this week… and I am thrilled that she is willing to tell her story. I think that her “before problems” are where most wives are in their marriages. And I can’t wait for you to see what God is doing in this precious wife’s soul and in her marriage! THANK YOU to the wife who is willing to allow me to share her story!
In the past year God has been teaching me so many of the things you mention in your posts.
I have been having little light bulbs go off here and there and it had all started to come together lately thanks to your blog.
THE “PROBLEMS” WE USED TO HAVE IN OUR MARRIAGE
Should I submit to my husband’s leadership on things such as:
– Should my husband spend at least 30 mins of quiet time with God each morning (so that he can know how to lead our home?)
– Should we have a formal couples’ worship time – ideally every night or at least once a week?
– Should my husband be more active in church? Ideally in a ‘couple ministry’ scenario?
– Do we eat dinner in front of the tv or at the table?
– Do we attend every single church meeting/bible study on offer in our surrounding area?
– Do we invite EVERY single visitor to our house when we notice them at church?
– Do we really have to have a formal ‘date’ every week?
– Is Star Trek allowed to be played on our home tv
– Should we have pay tv (cos oh dear, if we do my husband will probably ONLY want to watch sports all day every day – since that is what we wants to do every time we stay at a hotel)
– Is my husband allowed to listen to sports on the radio as he knows I don’t like sports, and oh dear if we have kids he might also subject them to this!
– Do we both have to go to bed together at the exact same time EVERY night, cos if we (don’t) do it once or twice it might become a habit and then we will become one of those couples who sleep in separate bedrooms! And who KNOWS what he will watch after I go to sleep – ooooh!
-Do I help my husband in small ways in his business even thou I have my own career? If I start down this path he may overload me with so much work I will never be able to handle it!
-Do I demand that we adopt children (since I have always wanted to) and also we are struggling with infertility (been trying for 2 years) or do I wait on God to change BOTH our hearts if he wants us to go that way?
A NEW PERSPECTIVE
Above I have in a nutshell outlined ALL the things that I perceived to be SINS in my husbands life over the past 7 years of our marriage. Although I now realize that part of the reason I was so controlling and fearful was that it actually took me this long to REALLY trust my husband because of some of the baggage he carried into our marriage, I now finally realize that pretty much ALL our arguments and problems were MY fault. I was disrespectful and controlling beyond measure. I can’t believe how patient he was all these years.
A NEW WIFE AND THE BEGINNING OF A NEW MARRIAGE
Since I have stepped out of the ‘control headquarters’ of our marriage these are the results:
– After YEARS of nagging him about why he doesn’t do private worship more regularly – the minute I stopped being controlling he just started doing private worship every morning and has never stopped! He does this more regularly than me now. Sometimes its 30 mins sometimes 5. Sometimes he just sings praise songs sometimes he studies a particular topic. He NEVER badgers me or treats me the way I used to treat him when I had more worship time than him.
– He now starts Sabbath in our home every Friday night (we are Seventh Day Adventists) without any prompting/cajoling from me. He gets the Bible, reads from it and picks a song for us to sing. He talks about God every day with me and feels like he has encounters every day when God takes care of him at work in different ways.
– To my shock, he accepted a leadership role at church – we work closely together and we also lead our in church together sometimes (the difference was this time I didn’t guilt him or try to make him take on these roles I just asked and he prayed then accepted them!). He also takes the Bible study at church every few months.
– Yes, most nights my husband eats his dinner in front of the tv – but instead of making a huge issue out of it now I just let it be. He works super hard each day and I don’t eat dinner anyway but have a protein shake after gym so it works for us at the moment. Whether other people would feel this is normal or healthy doesn’t matter to me anymore. It’s what works for us and after dinner we always cuddle on the couch. If I even try to sneak away to my room to do my own thing occasionally he STRONGLY protests now. This is how we hang in the evenings and I LIKE it.
– We do NOT attend EVERY single Bible study/meeting in addition to ordinary church. Even though I personally would (like to) my husband recognizes the need to also rest on Sabbath and have family time. I don’t just go on my own because I found when I did I would just feel resentful that my husband didn’t come and it took away from our time together.
I am SO PROUD of this wife and of all that God is doing in her heart! She sees that she was being controlling and disrespectful and she humbly allowed God to change her. She has so many of the same issues I used to have! It’s uncanny! But look what happened when she took her hands off of her husband’s throat and let him lead and hear God’s voice without her voice overshadowing God’s anymore. God’s ways are truly higher and better than our ways!
There is no power in our disrespect, contempt and control. Our power is in our godly femininity – our faith, our admiration, our genuine respect, our cooperation, our appreciation, our acknowledging our husbands’ wisdom, our support of their leadership and our trust in Christ.
It is only when I can accept my husband exactly as he is and not want to change him, and when I am obeying God and living in His Spirit’s power that God will change my husband! But first – He changes ME!
Your husband is a HUGE sinner. Like… he is in SERIOUS need of Jesus. On his own – apart from Christ – he is selfish, unkind, unloving, mean, cruel, difficult to deal with, too passive or too aggressive, ungodly, an idolator and he possibly even struggles with lust, greed, lying, stealing, hatred, un-forgiveness, bitterness and ALL KINDS of heinous sins.
- That really hurt my feelings.
- Did I do something disrespectful just now? That felt unloving to me.
- Please don’t speak to me like that or I will need to leave the room. (And then, respectfully, with dignity and poise, leave the room if he cannot control his temper.)
- Please don’t yell. I feel so scared when you do that.
- Please don’t say things like that – it hurts me so much.
Hopefully, just saying something like that will elicit an apology.
If not, you may want to give him some space, respectfully, to process his feelings for a few hours or over night. And keep some distance. Then when he approaches you, you can say, “I’m still upset/hurt/sad.” And you really don’t have to go into much more detail than that. He will probably apologize.
But also, consider that Jesus calls us to bless when we are cursed and to repay evil with good and to pray for those who mistreat us. So during that time of giving space, we can be praying for our husbands and for Satan’s strongholds to be torn down. We can pray that God will help us to forgive and have wisdom about how to bless our husbands. And we can pray about what kind thing we could do to show respect and love.
Please do not go on a big emotional tirade against your man! Then he will be thinking about YOUR anger, bitterness, rage and sin and he won’t have to think about his sin! If you can respond WITHOUT sin to him when he sins against you – he will have SO MUCH weight of conviction and he will eventually apologize on his own.
The more respected he usually feels -the more it will tear his soul apart to see that he has hurt you, the woman he loves most in all the world. Your distance and pain will make him feel AWFUL and he will try to make things right.
If he feels constantly disrespected – he may not care much about your feelings – and you may have to pray and wait on God to work in his heart as you continue to obey God yourself, expecting God, not your husband, to meet your emotional and spiritual needs.
- I don’t want you to have women friends. I think that is dangerous. I don’t have male friends – there are too many temptations in those situations for anyone. No one is exempt from the temptation to have an affair. Everyone has to guard their hearts, even pastors and strong Christian leaders. No one plans to have an affair – it happens because we don’t prevent it and protect our marriage with a hedge of precautions and boundaries.
- I feel so hurt when you flirt with women.
- I only want you to flirt with me.
- I feel so sad that you are talking with other women.
- I am scared that you don’t let me be your friend on Facebook. I feel afraid to trust you when I see you shut me out from certain areas of your life.
- I want to trust you and respect you- and I am scared to right now. Please make it easier for me to be able to totally trust you and respect you as the God-given leader of our marriage.
- I want you to stop talking with her.
- I want to feel completely safe and protected with you.
- I want to know that you are protecting our marriage and your heart.
- honesty is REALLY important to me.
- PLEASE tell me the truth. We will work through this issue together. I want to try to stay calm and hear what you have to say. I don’t want you to be afraid of me freaking out and losing control of my emotions. I want to respect you, and for me to be able to fully respect and trust you, I need to know for sure that you always tell me the truth.
When he does tell you the truth, maybe say:
- THANK YOU SO MUCH for telling me the truth. It’s painful for me to hear. But I admire you greatly for having the courage to tell me the truth. I feel so much safer knowing that you are being honest with me. When you tell me the truth, even about little things, I REALLY respect that about you.
- It means SO much to me that you have the courage to tell me the truth. That helps me to respect the man you are so much. I admire your willingness to be honest. Thank you.
Then keep up the respect and nix all the disrespect. As he sees he is safe – I think you’ll see the lying fade away in a few months, most likely.
If your husband is telling bigger lies, you may have to calmly and respectfully (and probably with great sadness) prayerfully consider saying something like:
- dishonesty/lying is not OK.
- I REALLY want to trust and respect you – but I just can’t respect lying.
- I need to see you do X, Y and Z to help me rebuild my trust in you. I need total honesty and transparency from you in order to work to be able to give you all of my respect and admiration again.
- I’m really disappointed.
- I am devastated.
- I think we need to have some help.
You can do this WITHOUT attacking him.
If you catch him in big lies again or other major sin (adultery) – you may need to follow the Bible’s advice about when a brother sins against us (Matthew 18). First we are to go show him his fault, just between the two of us in private (which means, NOT bashing him on FB or to friends, coworkers or family!) If he doesn’t repent, then we take another believer – probably a strong Christian mentor or friend or pastor and respectfully confront him with that witness present and helping us. Then the Bible says to take the matter before the church if he still won’t repent and treat him like an unbeliever. Most churches don’t do discipline anymore. Sadly. But if he is living in habitual sin, you will have to treat him like an unbeliever – because he is not living at all with the power of Christ. I Peter 3:1-2 would apply here. You may have to implement consequences with gentleness, respect, poise and dignity.
Please keep in mind that God can and does heal marriages that have suffered the devastation of adultery. I know MANY marriages God has healed and that are very godly and strong now – stronger than ever – and the growth began after adultery. This is not to say adultery is fine and not a big deal. It is a huge sin. It is not ever ok!
Adultery is not necessarily a death sentence for a marriage. But contempt and unforgiveness will kill any relationship.
But there is help and hope and our God is a God of miracles and He is able to heal broken relationships and people when we trust and obey Him. Please seek godly, wise, experienced, biblical counsel!
PHYSICAL ABUSE/SUBSTANCE ABUSE
Please get some godly, experienced help. This issue is more than I can address – and you will need major help ASAP.