What Does Jesus Want Me to Do in My Marriage?

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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

Lord,

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,

Amen!

OTHER SCRIPTURES

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

I John

A New Leader is Born

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CHANGING THE DOMINANT WIFE/PASSIVE HUSBAND DYNAMIC
When a wife has been trying to control the marriage and making most of the decisions and the husband has been unplugged for many months, years or decades – it takes TIME and practice for her to step down and learn to be a great follower and it takes TIME and practice for him to learn to become a great leader.  Men do not generally enter marriage as the most godly, wise, perfect leaders.  It takes trial and error. (Guess what, women often do not enter marriage as the best of followers, either!  I sure didn’t!)  It takes failing sometimes and learning from failure.  Honestly, our response to their failure is way more important, usually, than the fact that they failed!
This is going to require that wives demonstrate more patience, humility, trust in another person and trust and faith in God than we have EVER had in our lives!  We will need God’s Spirit to empower us.  And we will need to be sure we are putting Christ first in our hearts, not our husbands, our being in control, our feelings, our desires, our “rights,” our needs, etc.   It requires that we die to ourselves and live for Christ. But, if we can show that we will support our husbands and trust them to fix things and make things right, if we don’t make a huge deal out of their mistakes  – we will help our men climb to a kind of greatness in their leadership that we can hardly begin to fathom at first.
HUSBANDS ARE GOING TO MESS UP.  THAT HAS TO BE OK.
Of course some times our husbands’ decisions are purely selfish and not from God.  Yep.  Actually, some of my decisions are that way, too.  We are all wretched sinners in desperate need of Christ every moment! That is how it works when there is a human in a position of God-given authority – they will make mistakes and sin sometimes.  That is where I learn to trust that my God is “sovereign enough”  to lead me through my sinful husband – even if he is not Spirit-filled, even if he has idols/sin in his life, even if he is not seeking Him above everything else, even if he is not praying with me.
Yes.  My God is THAT big.
And yes, I can have total peace when my husband leads me even when I believe what he is doing is selfish, materialistic, etc.  God’s promise to me will not fail.  He WILL use all things for my ultimate good and His glory because I love Him and am called according to His purpose.  Romans 8:28-29
My husband cannot keep me from God’s will.  When I trust and obey God and live in His Spirit’s power – I AM in the center of God’s will!  A huge part of that is that I respect and cooperate with my husband’s leadership – unless he is asking me to sin.
NEW LEADERS NEED ENCOURAGEMENT
Your husband may have almost no experience making decisions for himself and leading on his own at this point – in the marriage and family, at least.  He may be a baby leader.  And maybe he is not as close to God as he could or should be right now.
Actually, if a wife has usurped the husband’s authority in the marriage – a husband is almost guaranteed to be in an ungodly state – unless he is extremely Spirit-filled.  But a Spirit-filled man rarely has trouble getting his wife to submit to him and respect him.  A man whose wife doesn’t respect him and won’t follow him will tend to wander from God.  He will be full of anger, resentment, bitterness and woundedness.  He feels disrespected and castrated as a man.  He often either reacts in anger (which does not bring honor to God), or he withdraws from his God-given responsibilities and unplugs from the family.  When anyone lives in disobedience to God’s Word and His commands – ungodliness results.
I can tell you this – the more you lecture or preach or nag or feel compelled to try to make him do things – the less he will hear God’s voice.  Your voice will drown out God’s voice in his soul.  That is what my husband was able to articulate to me long after I learned about respect and submission.  And the more you find good things in him to build him up about and praise him about (actual good things that you genuinely admire) – that will amplify God’s voice.  So does your silence about the things of God – it amplifies God’s voice for your husband when he is not close to God.
As you take off the weight of responsibility and authority in the marriage and respectfully lay it on your husband’s shoulders, or at his feet, he may balk at first.  But he was designed to carry this weight – not you!  He will actually thrive when he learns to lead.  And if you can channel your leadership abilities to support, affirm, cheer on and encourage his efforts to lead – I believe you will see God do miracles in your marriage!
What he can “hear” from you early on in this journey  is your respect for him as your husband and your respect for him handling things as he thinks is best and your support of him as the God-given leader of your family.
I think your willingness to support your husband even when you disagree with him is going to bond him to you in ways you can’t imagine.  And I think it will force him to begin to feel the weight of his leadership like never before and will make him want to start making the best possible and most selfless and godly decisions.  It might take seeing you suffer because of his poor choices.  But if you suffer for doing what is right – you are blessed!  Your goal must be to cling to Christ and not respond with evil or out of sinful motives.  If you are firm in Christ through all of this, he will clearly see the consequences of his decisions and your faith and trust in him – and he will want to do better.
A GODLY MARRIAGE IS A JOURNEY, A LONG PROCESS OF LEARNING
No one starts out being able to perfectly love and respect in a way that honors Christ – it is a process of learning and a process of discovering.  Marriage is a tool God uses to make us more holy and to see things about our relationship with Him we wouldn’t be able to see otherwise.  Sanctification takes a life time!  There will be varying degrees of hypocrisy as people are learning and growing and maturing.  That is inevitable.  We are never going to do this stuff perfectly.  But with God’s Spirit in us, we can have victory more and more.

The Blessing of Having a Husband Who Won't Pray with His Wife

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WHAT??!!!   Did you read that right?  Surely, I’ve GOT to be kidding!
Let me start by saying:
I believe that husbands SHOULD pray with their wives.  I believe it is their God-given responsibility to do so  – if they are believers in Christ.  I believe husbands will be accountable to God for their spiritual leadership – which I believe includes praying with their wives and children and teaching their families the Word of God as well as living out a godly example every day.
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But what is a wife to do if this is not happening?
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Hang with me, ladies.  This gets really good.
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REALITY IS VERY DIFFERENT FROM OUR EXPECTATIONS MANY TIMES
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I used to be REALLY upset about the fact that we didn’t pray together.  I longed for my husband to pray with me and resented every day that passed that he didn’t do it.  I wanted us to be close to each other and close to God.  What could be more beautiful, godly, intimate, holy, intoxicating and powerful than praying together as a couple?
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Unfortunately, MOST Christian husbands and wives don’t pray together.  I wish we all did. I think we all should.  But reality is that a lot of husbands can’t or won’t pray with their wives for a variety of reasons.
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Sometimes our husbands don’t pray with us because we intimidate them, criticize them, condemn them, judge their spirituality, act holier-than-thou, take over control of the marriage, disrespect them, rebel against their God-given leadership or react negatively when our men DO try to lead spiritually in some way.(For more about this – check out this post )
I CAN CONTROL ME.  I CAN’T CONTROL HIM.  I’M FINE WITH THAT NOW!
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I can ask my husband for what I want.  And I do – now – but sparingly, respectfully and with a pleasant tone of voice and a smile.  I ask him to pray about specific needs with me a few times a month – and he is always willing now if I ask him. (Each marriage and stage in marriage will be different – so pray and seek God’s wisdom about if you ought to approach your husband at all, or how often)
When I first started learning respect and submission, I had to follow I Peter 3:1-2 and be silent about spiritual things, including prayer – after so many years of trying to MAKE my husband do what I wanted him to do.  He needed time to hear God’s voice for himself. I fully understand now that I can’t MAKE him do what I want him to do.  And that is actually a very good thing.  God gave us all a free will.  Part of being a strong leader is a man makes his own choices and decisions.
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He is not always going to do things my way.  Now, I know that is a huge blessing!.  His ways are often much better than my ways – it turns out!
He may not always do things God’s way – that is part of having a human, sinner as a leader.
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But I can still put all my hope, faith and trust in my Lord that He in His amazing sovereignty will work things out for my best and for His glory because I love Him and am called according to His purpose (Romans 8:28-29).  And I can respond in obedience to God’s Word for me regardless of my husband’s behavior.  Even if my husband sins or makes mistakes, my Lord is big enough, powerful enough and “sovereign enough” to turn those evil things into something good because I trust Him.
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AVOIDING BITTERNESS ABOUT A “PRAYERLESS” MARRIAGE
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  • 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.
IT IS NOT ALWAYS A GOOD THING FOR A HUSBAND TO PRAY WITH HIS WIFE
If he prays with the wrong motive or prays for the wrong reason(s) – that is sin – it is for wives, too, of course!
Ways that him praying with you could be sin:
– to please you
– to make you feel better
– to make himself look more spiritual than he really is
– to be heard by you
– to lecture you
– to manipulate you
– if his heart is not in it, if he is not actually intimate with God, it is hypocrisy
– doing it just because you want him to will not bring you satisfaction and it will not honor God
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If a husband is not praying to God on his own – he probably has no business praying to God with his wife.  He needs to have his own strong relationship with Christ independently first.
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I think that this particular issue is actually quite clear in Scripture – that when we pray to be seen or heard by people (if our motives are not pure) – God is NOT pleased and will NOT hear our prayers.
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Matthew 6:5-6 – And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by men.  I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full.  But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, Who is unseen.  Then your Father, Who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.
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I don’t think this excludes praying together in small groups or as a couple or corporately.  But I think that our motives for prayer matter greatly to God.  If a husband only prays with his wife to placate her – but is not right in his relationship with God – it is a pretty useless activity.
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It can be a blessing for a godly wife when her ungodly husband (or a husband with ungodly motives at the time) won’t pray with her:
  • 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!

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OTHER CONSEQUENCES OF A HUSBAND’S SINFUL PRAYERS
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Besides his prayers being fruitless, not honoring to God and not be heard by God – when a husband is not right with God and is living in his own flesh:
  • 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

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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.

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OUR REAL DESIRE GOES MUCH DEEPER THAN GOING THROUGH THE MOTIONS
What we as wives want – is for our husbands to be strong men of God, thriving and growing and vibrant in their walks with Him. We want them to pray in private by themselves and come from a place of spiritual strength and to be filled with God’s Spirit – and then to pray with us.  Not praying to go through the motions or to look spiritual, but husbands who are genuinely living with Christ as Lord and totally submitted and yielded to Him.
This desires we have for our husbands  to be close to God and to be spiritually one with us are God-given desires.  And they are God’s will.  So we can pray and know that God will cause these prayers to be answered in His time, in His way, by His power and for His glory –  when we are praying with proper respect and reverence for God, our husband’s authority and proper motives.
And we can speed the answers along a bit by our obedience to respect our husbands and cooperate with their God-given leadership.  But it may be YEARS before we see our prayers answered.   There are going to be times, if we believe our husbands are far from God and acting in disobedience, that we practice I Peter 3:1-2.  That is what will bring them closer to God.
I pray for God’s wisdom for each of us about approaching our husbands about praying together. There are times when I believe it is good and important for us to ask for what we desire, “Honey, I have an idea. I want us to start praying together every day. Would now be a good time?” There are also times when God will prompt us to be quiet and pray and wait. I pray for each of us to be sensitive to God’s leading and prompting!
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https://peacefulwife.com/2012/09/03/being-a-good-follower/
https://peacefulwife.com/2012/06/28/im-the-spiritually-mature-one-in-this-marriage/
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MY HUSBAND’S PERSPECTIVE ON HOW HARD IT IS FOR HUSBANDS TO PRAY WITH THEIR WIVES SOMETIMES – http://respectedhusband.wordpress.com/2012/04/20/praying-with-your-wife/
ANOTHER RESOURCE
http://blog.christianitytoday.com/women/2012/11/hes-just-not-a-spiritual-leade.html?utm_source=hermeneutics&utm_medium=Newsletter&utm_term=12202499&utm_content=145747842&utm_campaign=2012#.UMpCmqYlwVE.email

Finding God’s Victory over Bitterness

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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

Romans 8:28-29

I Corinthians 4:4-8, I Corinthians 6:11, I Corinthians 10:13

Colossians 3:2, 14

Ephesians 4

Philippians 2:3-4

I Peter 3:9

James 1:5

I John 1:9

SOME INSIGHTS FROM A FRIEND THIS WEEK:

I realized several things:

1. I am SO quick to get angry
2. My anger and bitterness toward them is not just about this one incident-this is just one more incident that can be added to the long list of wrongs that I’ve been keeping 🙁
3. The beauty of Christ cannot be seen in me if I’m pouting and angry
4. I need to forgive these people and treat them kindly
5. I have absolutely no desire in my flesh to do that right now
6. I desperately need the Lord to bring me to that place!
April, I think your right in saying bitterness is progressive, and just recently learned that forgiveness can also be progressive. In Tim Keller’s Galatians study, there’s chapter on forgiveness. This has been very helpful to me, and I think it can be applied to bitterness as well since they seem to go hand in hand. He states:
  “When someone has wronged you, it means they owe you; they have a debt with you. Forgiveness is to absorb the cost of the debt yourself. You pay the price yourself, and you refuse to exact the price out of the person in any way. Forgiveness means you free the person from penalty for a sin by paying the price yourself.
  
   Realize that forgiveness is granted (often for a long time) before it is felt. Forgiveness is not primarily a feeling, but a set of actions and disciplines. Forgiveness is a promise NOT to exact the price of the sin from the person who wronged you. This promise means a repeated set of ‘payments’ in which you relinquish revenge. It is hard, and (for a while) constant. If this promise is kept actively, eventually the feeling of anger subsides.”
 
   He goes on to quote Dan Hamilton from his book Forgiveness: “Forgiveness is to deal with our emotions by sending them away- by denying ourselves the dark pleasures of venting them or fondling them in our minds.”  “Once upon a time I was engaged to a young woman who changed her mind. I forgave her…but only in small sums over a year…They were made whenever I spoke to her and refrained from rehearsing the past, whenever I renounced  jealousy and self-pity, whenever I saw her with another man, whenever I praised her to others when I wanted to slice away at her reputation. Those were the payments- but she never saw them. And her own payment was unseen by me…but I do know that she forgave me…Forgiveness is more than a matter of refusing to hate someone. It is also a matter of choosing to demonstrate love and acceptance to the offender…Pain is the consequence of sin; there is no easy way to deal with it. Wood, nails, and pain are the currency of forgiveness, the love that heals.”
 
WOW! How powerful is that??? Sisters, I just wonder how quickly the bitterness we’re harboring would fade away if we would begin absorbing the costs ourselves. To refuse to dwell on past hurts, to take every thought captive the moment they pop into our head, to release the offender from our high expectations, to not find our satisfaction in the approval of men, to choose to show love to those that hurt us, to remember Christ absorbed the costs of our debts… There are so many ways to make payments…and it’s so HARD! But freedom awaits us on the other side of it! I pray that the Lord will soften my heart and bring me to the place where I am delighted to make the payments, where I LOOK for ways to do it, because I know there’s no way I can do it in my own power!
FROM PEACEFULWIFE:
We will explore more about forgiveness and victory over bitterness tomorrow!  I am SO excited to share God’s wisdom and His path to freedom, joy, peace and abundant life!

Baby Steps

This is an email from a wife (with her permission) – I think it may be very encouraging to those of you who are beginning the journey to become a godly wife – to learn to submit to and respect your husband and most of all to ultimately learn to reverence and submit to Christ!
Thank you for asking….I think I am good…I continue to work on respecting my husband and being patient.  The respecting part really has been a pretty smooth transition for me…it is the patience and making sure that my prayers for my husband are not  intended for my own gain…(not for what I want him to change but) that I am actually praying for my husband’s leadership and growth.  This is the hardest part for me…
Some success stories from the past week:
1. We went to the local grocery store on Saturday morning…never would have been my choice but DH wanted to.…the place was a mad house to say the least…now in the past the trip very likely could have become stressful.
I held my tongue and allowed DH to choose things without my comments on the cost, brand or quantity.  As we went to checkout  DH chose the self-checkout…again not my first choice due to all the produce we had in the cart…not fun to enter all those individual codes. Typically I would have jumped in and took over…I am far the superior cashier:)  But instead I walked to the end of the lane and did not say a word besides helping to bag and contain our six year old. 
I was amazed to watch as my husband calmly went through the items in the cart, he actually figured it all out without my help:)  As we walked out of the store I complimented him on his check out skills…I swear I witnessed him almost stand taller…he smiled and laughed and said,  “I did well, didn’t I?”
Ok, so I know this is minor in the whole picture of things but the thing that stuck out in my mind is how this very minor incident set the tone for our whole dayDH walked away feeling good and it stayed with us all for hours.  Now in the past we would have not been in a full argument or anything but we both could have walked away feeling stressed and irritated with each other due to my need to try and take over the situation.
2. We live in a very small neighborhood and our neighbors are good friends.   DH and I try to do date night every couple of months but truthfully the cost of the babysitter can deter us from going out at times.  I started thinking last week – why do we all just keep sitting around on Saturday night in our separate houses attempting to entertain our children when we could pool our resources and give everyone a little break.  So I first asked DH if he was on board….typically I would have planned and then told him what I was up to….he agreed to my little plan.
I talked with the other wives in the neighborhood with small children and now we have scheduled date night for all couples for the next three months with free babysitting….here is how it works…we picked a Saturday in December that is free for all families…one family is designated as the stay home couple…the other two couples are free to spend a Saturday evening however they desire.  The stay home couple will provide dinner, entertainment (which truthfully with our kiddos is only supervision at this point they entertain each other), movie and snacks.  We picked numbers out of a hat….we picked the first night home.  DH comment when I told him, “You may just end up saving everyone’s marriage, this is one of your best ideas yet:)
3. I think the other thing that sticks out in my mind over the last couple of weeks is how many times in the past I have pressured and stressed about the time it was taking my husband to make a decision when truthfully he was just thinking it over in his own way.  I cannot tell you how many times I have asked my DH in the last few weeks a question, not a big decision ie, “What time do you want to leave for my parents on Thanksgiving.?”  My husband will respond, “I am not sure let me think about it.”  I have in the past gotten frustrated and impatient, really how hard is this.  Now I catch myself, remind myself that this is just how he is processes and let it go.  So much more peaceful on both of our ends…and the world has not even come to an end:)

If You Are Getting Stuck

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!

BROKENNESS

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.

THEN…

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
  • impurity
  • debauchery (excessive use of alcohol/drugs/sex)
  • idolatry
  • witchcraft
  • hatred
  • discord
  • jealousy
  • fits of rage
  • selfish ambition
  • dissensions
  • factions
  • envy
  • drunkenness
  • orgies
  • 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):

  • love
  • joy
  • peace
  • patience
  • kindness
  • goodness
  • gentleness
  • self-control
  • 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!

A Wife Answers My Question

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.

MY MESSAGE

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.

A Wife's Before and After

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.

FROM PEACEFULWIFE:

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!

When Your Husband Sins Against You.

I am not an expert, a counselor, a psychologist, a theologian or a pastor. I am just an ordinary Christian wife. My posts and my blog may be helpful for you – they may not be.  I share ideas and suggestions – they are not rules and they are not guarantees.  Ultimately, each wife must prayerfully decide what she believes God wants her to do to obey Him and to honor Him in her unique situation. God has wisdom. I do not. I write specifically for wives who tend to be controlling and dominating. Wives who tend to be more quiet and have dominating husbands may find that my blog is not a good fit for them. If your husband is abusing you, please seek godly, experienced, wise counsel ASAP! Please be safe! My blog is not written for wives who are abused.
Get ready and brace yourselves, ladies.  I am about to deliver the most shocking news you have EVER heard.
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.
I know – it’s mind boggling.  🙂  I’m sure you haven’t figured that out on your own  – so you probably don’t believe me.  You may need to go check with him on this one, right?
Just kidding!  Please do NOT go check with him! 🙂
It’s funny – all of us as wives see our husbands’ sins SO clearly.  It’s our own sin that we tend not to see.  And I usually focus on OUR sin, OUR responsibilities, OUR obedience to God and our side of the equation.  That is where our power is, after all!
But we ALL have to deal with our husbands sinning against us – just like all husbands have to deal with wives sinning against them.  Sometimes it’s much worse than others.  This topic could seriously be a book in and of itself.  So this one post isn’t an exhaustive resource on dealing with our husbands’ sin in a godly way.  But it is hopefully a starting point.
SOME BASICS
Expect your husband to sin against you at times.  He is not God.  He will mess up. He will do hurtful and hateful things sometimes.  Other times, it may seem like he is being hateful – but he may not actually intend to be hateful – it could be a misunderstanding. He is human.  And that has to be ok. Yes, he is supposed to represent Christ to you in the marriage – but he is not Christ and to expect perfection is just setting yourself up for a disaster.
Focus on your own mountain of sin on a daily basis, and try not to focus much on his.  The more I see what a wretched sinner I am  – and just how much Jesus has forgiven me for – the more grace I have to lavish forgiveness, mercy and grace on my husband.
Gary Thomas in “Sacred Influence” says, “We are most tempted to sin when we have been sinned against.”  That is SO TRUE!  So  – be Spirit-filled.  Have God’s power in you.  Repent of all your sin.  Obey God’s Word.  Then you will have the power of God to respond without sin when your husband sins against you.  Being angry is not sinful  – but in our anger, we must not sin against our husbands!
God is sovereign.  He has assigned my husband to me for my good, as a gift to me, as my leader, protector and provider.  But He has also assigned my particular husband to me to use his sins to mold me into the image of Christ.  God will use my husband’s sin against me as a hammer and chisel to create the image of Christ in my soul.  It will be PAINFUL.  It will be a cross I must bear.  And God will use it for my good and His glory.
Wow.
WE HAVE SO MUCH POWER!
We are NOT responsible for our husband’s sin.  They are accountable to God for their sin and we are accountable to God for our own sin.
But – because we are one flesh  – our response to our husbands’ sin is powerful.  We can either respond with evil and cause the whole thing to spiral downward completely towards destruction and the death of the marriage, or we can respond in the power of God’s Spirit and breathe healing, life, strength, grace, peace, hope and help into our marriage when our husbands sin against us.
BEING UNLOVING, CRUEL AND HATEFUL
It’s possible that your man is a total narcissist who is incurable and who will be chronically selfish and cruel his whole life.  There are a few of those in the world.
Thankfully, MOST men are fairly decent guys.  They are all sinners, of course.  But most men will respond well to respect.  Now if you have been extremely disrespectful for 15 years – it will take time for your husband to really trust you and begin to open up to you again.  He may continue to stonewall for a year or more from the time you implement respect and submission and stop controlling and being disrespectful.  But ultimately, you are called to respect your husband and submit to His God-given leadership out of obedience to Christ regardless of the results.  So, it is our duty to obey God’s Word and honor Christ in our marriage regardless of what our husbands are or aren’t doing.
The great news is – usually, as we get rid of disrespect and learn to speak “respect” in a meaningful way to our husbands – the verbal abuse, unloving behavior and comments usually dramatically decrease over time.
Some possible ways wives may handle such situations – say (calmly):
  • Ouch!
  • 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.

As you begin to actually stop disrespecting him – which repels him – and you learn to begin to respect him – he will likely be drawn back to you.
Then – he may eventually begin to actually care about your feelings.
When he gets used to you being joyful, happy, content, smiling, accepting and welcoming – he will probably want to keep that feeling going.  Your happiness and joy is his greatest reward.  If you are mean, negative, angry, scolding, yelling, name-calling and disrespectful all the time – he will most likely build a wall against you and shut you out of his heart.  He may decide it is impossible to please you and it’s not worth trying.  And he may not care that you are in pain.  He may be in too much pain himself to care that you are in pain.  And he may not respect you because you are so down on him all the time.  Men sometimes only let people they respect influence their decisions and actions.
But when you respect him and are a joy – he may begin to want you to be happy, to open his heart up to you slowly, and eventually he may care VERY much about your feelings and happiness. Eventually, all it may take is for that light of faith and trust in your eyes and the beautiful smile on your face to go away for a minute or two and he will be asking what he can do to make you happy again.  Yes.  Really.
The silent thing is about spiritual things.  You are silent about God and church and Bible reading, etc (I Peter 3:1-2 – if you have a husband who is disobedient to the Word of God), and show him respect.
If he is flirting or doing inappropriate things with other women (short of an affair)- some possible ideas of things to prayerfully consider saying (only if God leads you to say one of these things),
  • 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.
So – you say what you want WITHOUT lashing out in anger.  You are vulnerable and share your feelings in a pure way, a VERY, VERY, VERY boiled down and brief way.  He can hear you when you talk to him like this.  You can cry and be sad.  But if you attack him with anger and an emotional ocean of negativity – he may drown in it.
Then – as you become respectful and he begins to care about your feelings – all you have to do is look sad and say you are sad – and he will probably apologize.  If he doesn’t, you just respectfully move away and create some distance from him.  Bob Grant, marriage therapist, says “Words are for women.  Men don’t respond to words.  Men respond to pain and distance.”  So you sharing your painful feelings “I feel X”  and moving away physically and emotionally will make him feel guilt and want to make things better.  Yes – this is the exact opposite of how we as women want to handle this.  Want to dump our ocean of negativity on him and blast him for an hour or two with all our horrible emotions.  This does NOT help our husbands come back to us!  It repels them.  So it is up to us to learn to communicate in a way that is EFFECTIVE for our husbands to best hear our hearts and our main message.
You don’t have to argue.  You don’t have to lose control.  The more you do those things, the more you push him to the women you don’t want him to talk to.  He finds acceptance and validation and respect there.  He needs to find acceptance, validation, edification, appreciation, affection and respect with YOU.
LYING
If your husband is telling little lies, I think that being calm about it and not making a huge deal about it would be helpful.  And keep in mind that the more he sees you trust him as leader and you respect him, the safer he will feel with you.  He may be lying to avoid a big reaction, drama, lecture, scolding, disrespect and contempt.  My suggestion, for whatever it is worth, is to respectfully, calmly and without emotion say something like:
  • 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.

ADULTERY

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.

RELATED:

Confronting Our Husbands about Their Sin

Why I Don’t Write for Women with Abusive Husbands

Do I Condone Abuse?

 

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.