Measuring Intimacy

(NOTE – This post is not for wives experiencing severe issues in their marriages – like infidelity, a very controlling husband, an abusive husband, a husband who is not in his right mind due to mental illness/drug abuse/alcohol abuse, etc… If you are in such a situation, please seek appropriate one-on-one help and godly counsel.)

I used to try to use the frequency of intimacy, date nights,  deep discussions/emotional connection, or the frequency of loving emails from my husband to measure the quality of our marriage and to attempt to measure Greg’s love for me. When I saw that we had a day with one or more of these things, I would mentally check things off on my list and conclude – “Check, check, check. Yes! Our marriage is awesome! We are close and everything is good. Greg obviously loves me today!”

I thought I was “more secure” in his love if he did these things on my list.

I didn’t count the things that I didn’t think of as being loving – things like Greg taking my car to get new tires, renovating the house, helping with the children, taking care of the yard, taking out the trash, sitting beside me and cuddling quietly while he watched TV, eating supper with me, coming home right away to be with me, etc…

The next day or the next week, if there was nothing to check off (in the specific way that I counted things), then I was upset. My emotions were at the mercy of what Greg did or did not do for me on my narrow checklist.

The problem is – real intimacy isn’t about checklists.

It isn’t about a formula. It isn’t about me sitting back and expecting to be catered to and holding a checklist over my husband every moment to make sure he is doing the things I want him to do. It isn’t about me being entitled. It isn’t about something that is necessarily measurable or something that could be charted on a graph each week or each month.

I am not a boss doing a job performance review. I am not a kindergarten teacher monitoring and judging his behavior – giving him a smiley face or a frowny face each day.

I mean, there can be SOME value in realizing, “We are not talking, not having physical intimacy, and not doing anything together at all for weeks on end.” That means there is a problem – unless you are in a major crisis at the time or under very severe stress. So – yes – it can be good to be aware if things suddenly plummet and seek to address any issues.

Real intimacy is about a relationship with a person who is unique and who has his own feelings, issues, problems, triumphs, challenges, and baggage. It is about seeking to understand my husband better and to discover his perspective and his masculinity. It is about us getting to know each other and being a safe place for each other. It is about creating a harbor of peace and a sanctuary where authenticity and vulnerability are cherished and protected. It is about allowing him to be himself. It is about enjoying each other.

In real intimacy:

  • There is freedom. We both have free will to make our own decisions. Neither tries to control or dominate the other.
  • There is joy in being together and getting to know each other’s worlds and explore each other’s minds, hearts, perspectives, and bodies.
  • I understand that my husband always feels connected to me and bonded with me unless I say that I don’t feel connected. So I am free to rest in his love for me – even when it is unspoken. (Perhaps your husband feels the same way?)
  • I enjoy and appreciate what he gives me.
  • I learn to understand and marvel at the ways he shows love to me.
  • I approach my husband and his masculine world with wide-eyed wonder at the opportunity to get a glimpse into his world.
  • I share my feelings, needs, perspective, desires, and concerns respectfully and lovingly in a way that honors Christ and my husband.
  • If I think he acted or spoke in an unloving way – I do not take offense immediately – but rather seek to understand his perspective in order to avoid making wrong assumptions.
  • I am not afraid to be with my husband or to be away from my husband.
  • I am stable when he is there and when he is gone – because my emotional/spiritual well-being depends on Christ every moment of every day, not on my husband.
  • There is some healthy emotional/spiritual space between myself and my husband.
  • I share my feelings simply and let them go. I ask for what I would like simply, briefly, without pressure or coercion. I don’t have to use guilt/manipulation/playing the martyr. I know my husband can hear me when I speak my concerns and emotions simply and briefly. I trust he will think about what I said and seek to do what is best.
  • I know how to confront my husband if necessary about sin in his life in a godly, productive, Spirit-filled way.

Now I realize that if I am more focused on being able to chart or check off things to prove to myself that my husband loves me – I have some motive checking to do in my own heart with God.

  • Am I trying to find my fulfillment or security in what Greg does for me?
  • Am I expected Greg to fulfill the deepest needs of my heart that only God can really fulfill?
  • How do I respond when he doesn’t do what I want him to and I can’t check off my list? Do I respond with resentment or bitterness?
  • Am I content in Christ alone?
  • Am I finding all of my fulfillment, acceptance, love, peace, strength, purpose, power, and identity in Christ Jesus alone?

When I stop idolizing my husband and put Christ alone on the throne of my heart – I am free! I am free to engage in intimacy on every level and to enjoy it with my husband. But I am also free to be content and stable emotionally/spiritually if my husband is not available to do things with me that I would enjoy or if he slips up and has a moment (or even a season) of being imperfect and human. I can be content when my husband does loving things for me or when he doesn’t. I have received God’s grace, mercy, forgiveness, and unspeakable love so I have these things to give in abundance to my husband, who is my teammate and fellow traveler.

I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through him who gives me strength. Phil. 4:11b-13

RELATED:

How to Make Your Husband an Idol

Is My Husband Bound by My Personal Convictions?

25 Ways to Be a Safe Place for Your Husband Emotionally

Expectations

Security in Christ

The Wrong Counselor Can Be More Dangerous Than No Counselor

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There are many Christian counselors, pastors, friends, family members and godly mentoring wives who do great GOOD, who help to point hurting women and men to Christ and to His Word and who help people walk through difficult trials. These are the people who help people to primarily look at their own lives and their walk with God and help them evaluate anything God may want them to work on, encouraging them to trust God to work in their spouse’s lives as they focus on their obedience to God and their walk with Christ. I would like to encourage women to seek out godly mentoring wives or female Christian biblical counselors if at all possible.

There are also many counselors and friends, even some Christian ones, who do irreparable harm and who undermine people’s marriages and give unbiblical, ungodly advice. A wife shares her story and warning in today’s post. I appreciate her willingness to share so very much! This is a really important topic – one I have seen come up countless times. 

I personally didn’t have a counselor or godly mentor on my journey. It was just me, God, the Bible, about 30 books on godly femininity and being a godly wife and a bunch of college ruled notebooks. I spent a good 2-4 hours per day most days for 2.5 years reading, praying, searching, studying, begging God to teach me, begging God to change me, asking God to remove the worldly ideas I had absorbed and give me His wisdom. I did have the advantage that I had a solid Bible background. So I was able to evaluate the books I was reading in light of the Bible to weigh what was being said, rejecting things that were not biblical. Not everything that every Christian writer says is biblical! We are each responsible to carefully weigh whatever anyone says against Scripture. It takes the Spirit’s power and wisdom to do that properly, not my own human wisdom.

God, His Word, His Spirit’s power and our faith in Him are the real keys on this journey.

A WIFE’S STORY (the same wife who shared in the post last week about the idol of happiness):

When my husband said he wanted out of our marriage, but would stay while I “got help and fixed myself”, I looked for a counselor that specialized in family issues and someone who had a base of Christian faith. He told me that he had helped many relationships that were in the same place. I felt safe opening up and sharing with him. He had some suggestions that seemed very good and practical…..except every single one of his suggestions backfired.

My husband refused to go with me, but went solo once to explain his side of things and his frustrations. I went twice a week for six months and I noticed that my husband would get extremely touchy and easily agitated on my therapy nights. I would try one of my therapist’s suggestions and my husband would blow up and tell me that I was not a psychologist and I was not going to control him with my “cult techniques” that I learned from my therapist.

I would relay this to my therapist and he would get very angry with my husband.

  • He then started to blame my husband for all that was wrong in the relationship.
  • He would bash my husband and call him derogatory names in our sessions.
  • He kept telling me that I deserved better. That became the theme of our sessions.
  • He would tell me how wonderful I was and how I was doing all the work in this relationship and that I was probably always going to have to do that.
  • He would compare his marriage to mine and tell me how respectful and kind and loving he was to his wife in the same situations I was facing with my husband. He told me that’s how “normal,” healthy couples are and that I was never going to have that with my husband.

The last few sessions became all about him pressuring me to leave my husband. He told me that if I stayed with my husband, I was dooming myself to an unhappy, unfulfilled existence and that I was selling myself short if I stayed and put up with it.

Notice a theme? Every session was all about feeding the monster of SELF….the very thing that had brought my relationship to the breaking point. :-/

I left the last session in tears.

  • He had told me there was no hope.
  • That I was doing everything right, but my husband was a lost cause.

I called my mom and she joined me in prayer. It’s too long to go into, but she did some spiritual warfare on my behalf and my eyes were opened to what had been going on in those sessions and why it was having the opposite effect…..because my SELF could not die while it was still being fed so heartily. (From Peacefulwife – PRAISE GOD for this godly mom!!!!!!)

I shared the experience with two close friends, who have been my prayer champions and encouragers along this journey. They told me that they both (independent of each other) felt strongly in their spirits that I should not go back to this counselor. My mom confirmed it when she said God had spoken the same thing to her. I never went back…..and I was afraid to tell my husband, because he was only going to stay while I “got help”….but he was relieved.

I had to give it all to God and trust Him to show me what I needed to change.

I started listening to sermons on my way to and from work…..praying with my mom or my friends when I wasn’t doing that…..and slowly, God began to reveal the problems and sins that were inside me. There were a TON of them. As I gave those things to God, He would start to heal them. Some of the things were healed almost instantly…..some took longer…..some are still in the process of being healed. As God heals those ugly things inside of me, I am noticing a healing in my marriage and I thank God every day for this. He has done SO MUCH healing. There is still A LOT of healing that needs to happen.

The process of God bringing things to the surface to be healed is very painful, but it is worth it.

Sorry for the long story, but I am very passionate about this. Counselors are trained a certain way. I do believe they can be helpful in many different circumstances and situations. If the problem is a spiritual/sin issue, (some counselors may) make things worse because of they way they are trained. I would encourage everyone to get a spiritual mentor and and check what the counselor tells you with God’s word. God will speak to you if you earnestly seek Him. He may tell you to do things that don’t make logical sense, but they will be exactly what you needed to do for healing. God sees the whole picture….the past, the present, the future. He made us and our spouses. He knows the deep hurts, the buried fears, the reasons we do the things that hurt the ones we love. Always, always pray about what your counselor tells you and make sure it is supported by what God says in His word.

FROM PEACEFULWIFE:

1. Here are some things I would want to see from a godly, biblical counselor or mentor for a wife – someone who…

  • upholds the covenant of marriage and respects it deeply
  • does not consider divorce to be an option
  • wants to help a wife focus on what she can control – herself – and her walk with Christ
  • shows respect for a wife’s husband and does not speak disrespectfully about him to her
  • does not tell a wife what her husband should do
  • is able to be impartial and willing to ask questions to better understand the husband’s side of things, too – there are always two sides to the story
  • encourages a wife to seek God with all her heart, to feast on Scripture and to pray fervently in faith for God’s will and His healing – not for her will
  • is willing to address any sin in the wife’s life gently but firmly and who is strong and courageous enough to give life giving rebukes when necessary
  • can help a wife identify idols or sin in her heart, pride, self-righteousness, unforgiveness, bitterness, resentment, gossip, slander, hatred, etc…
  • will love a wife with the very love of God and stand with her compassionately, praying with her and walking beside her when things are hard and painful
  • encourages a wife to find all of her peace, joy, acceptance, purpose, identity, hope, faith and strength in Christ, not in her husband or her marriage or any worldly thing
  • can help explain the biblical concepts of respect, submission, I Peter 3:1-6, godly femininity and godly marriage and who is living these things out herself in real life 
  • can point a wife to valuable resources if a wife is truly in danger or a husband is involved in serious sin or abuse
  • can recognize when things are too dangerous for a wife and/or children to stay in a home and help them get somewhere safe quickly
  • seeks to honor Scripture and to use Scripture to give godly counsel 

Ideally, husbands would also receive godly, biblical counseling from a male mentor or pastor or counselor, as well, who would do these same kinds of things for him. But even if a wife is seeking God alone for healing in her marriage, God’s power is able to change and heal!

If a couple is being counseled together, I believe it is best for them to have a male counselor (or, even better, a godly mentoring or counseling couple) – because of Scripture’s admonition that women are not to have authority over men in the church. If a wife is being counseled separately, I believe it is generally wise for her to have a godly, experienced, wise, female counselor (as described in Titus 2:3-5). I want us to be cautious about being alone with men talking about marriage problems and deep emotional and spiritual struggles. That can easily be a recipe for infidelity. Please check out this pastor’s guest post “Pastors Are Human, Too

2. Here are some things I want to see in wives who are receiving counseling or who are having problems in their marriages…

  • You must be willing to put in time daily (unless providentially hindered, of course) with God for your own Bible study and fervent prayer, seeking to abide in Christ and to be filled with His Spirit. This is your power source – If you are not plugged in, a counselor cannot possibly begin to help you. You won’t have the strength to do the things God asks you to do.
  • You must be willing to believe that the Bible is the absolute truth of God and His wisdom and that all ungodliness and worldliness has to go and you must be willing to toss out everything you think you know about marriage, being a woman, God and living as Christian and build your life on Christ and His Word alone.
  • You must be willing to focus on asking God to change you, not your husband. This is ALL about you and Jesus.
  • In time, as you are able to check your motives and be sure you are praying from pure, not selfish, motives – you can start asking for more specific things in your husband’s life in line with God’s will (please check my response to PrayingLikeHannah in the comments about this one and, “Praying for Our Husbands So That God Will Hear” and “Praying with Respect” may be helpful).
  • You must be willing to want to learn to find all of your contentment in Christ alone and to completely submit to Him as LORD of ALL in your life – even if you don’t know how right now, you must be willing to want to do this.
  • You must be willing to stay in this thing for the long haul, realizing it is a lifelong journey, not a quick or instantaneous process to become a godly wife.
  • You must be willing to do the hard, painful work yourself. A mentor/counselor can point you to Christ, but he/she cannot change anyone or open anyone’s eyes. Only God can do that. And a counselor cannot do the actual wrestling with God for you. That will be for you and God to hash through together privately.
  • You must be willing to accept that your husband may not ever change. If you want to do this journey with Jesus – your prayer has got to be “Change me, bless my husband.” There are no guarantees here that your husband will change. But if you are willing to seek God with all your heart, I CAN guarantee you that He will radically change YOU! 🙂 And that is the whole point!
  • You must be willing to accept biblical truths and be willing to repent of any sin in your own life. If you refuse to repent of sin, a counselor cannot help you. You will be stuck. If you hold on to pride, bitterness, resentment, unforgiveness, gossip, lust, greed, idolatry, envy, materialism, worldliness, etc… you cannot have the full power of God’s Spirit flooding your life and you won’t have the power to be the wife God commands you to be. Every trace of sin has to go. Will we stumble? Yes. At times. Then we confess our sin to God, repent and ask Him to empower us to live and walk in obedience again. God can give us the power to walk in victory over sin as we allow His Spirit to flood our hearts and allow Him to regenerate our souls.

RELATED:

Giving Godly Marriage Advice to Friends

Don’t Expect Outside Support

Choosing Our Counselors Wisely

Husband Bashing Is SUPER Contagious 

 

The Idol of Happiness

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We tend to think that “idolatry” means someone bowing down to a statue and praying to it in a shrine. It’s really easy to dismiss that practice as not even remotely a temptation to us today in our culture and to discount everything the Bible says about idolatry as being irrelevant to us. Big mistake! Idolatry was one of the most offensive sins that God’s people committed against Him in the Old Testament times and it is one of our most offensive sin against God today, too.

“The human heart is an idol factory.” – John Calvin

I don’t know if y’all realize this – but happiness is one of the biggest idols in our culture today.

An idol is anything we put above Christ in our hearts. It is something we worship, are desperate to have, will give anything to try to obtain, will sin in order to get, will give up lots of money and time to pursue, will sacrifice all other relationships for and believe we can’t live without. It is something we believe will bring us true fulfillment and satisfaction that is not God. If we are desperate for something/someone, are terrified to go without that thing/person and are willing to sacrifice anything to have it – and that thing is not Jesus – it is time to do a very deep spiritual evaluation of our motives.

How many times have you heard someone say (or have you said to yourself – consciously or unconsciously):

  • Well, I am just not happy in this marriage, I feel unloved right now, my needs are not being met – so I need to get out.
  • I’m not happy, so I am totally justified in treating my husband this way (sinning against him – disrespect, name calling, verbal abuse, emotional abuse, control, contempt, hatred, unforgiveness, bitterness, resentment, malice, gossip, slander, violence, sabotage, flirting with other men, adultery, etc…).
  • I’m not happy in our marriage, so it’s ok if I destroy my family, no matter what the price may be to my husband and our children and extended family (and ultimately, to myself and to my relationship with God).
  • I deserve to be happy. If I’m not happy, then my husband must do anything and everything I believe he should do so that I am happy. My happiness is entirely HIS responsibility.
  • I have the right to demand things from  and control my husband as much as I feel is necessary until he submits to me and makes me happy. I have self on the throne of my life and I demand my husband must bow to me, as well. I will have my way.

Let’s remember, there are only a few biblical reasons for divorce that may possibly be justifiable (and still, divorce is never a command for believers).  Unhappiness is not one of them!

Some trials may be quite painful and difficult, absolutely. I don’t intend to minimize that some struggles in marriage, and in this life in general, are HARD. They are. And, in very severe situations, there are times when a wife may need to separate from her husband, at least for a time, praying for God to work and for reconciliation.

We have a COVENANT before God and our husbands in our marriages. God can and will use our greatest trials to help us grow and mature in our faith and become more like Christ. Nothing can touch us that has not passed through His sovereign, loving hands. When we love Him wholeheartedly, He promises to use ALL things for our ultimate good (by His definition) and His glory (Romans 8:28-29, and, see the story of Joseph in Genesis 37-39).

No fault divorce may be legal in our culture today – but it is not of God, my precious sisters! And it is sin. No fault divorce hurts and destroys everyone it touches. God hates divorce.

If you have never read about what a covenant truly means, please check out this guest post – Brides and Butchers. Or, please read John Piper’s two part series on the marriage covenant “What God Has Joined Together, Let Man Not Separate.” There are several interpretations about what believers should do if they are already remarried – Piper explains his position in Part 2. There are other possible interpretations to prayerfully consider, as well. But most of all, I pray we will each seek to listen to God, His Word and His Spirit. (If there are very serious issues in your marriage – adultery, drug/alcohol addictions, severe pornography addictions, actual abuse, uncontrolled mental illness – please, please seek godly, biblical, experienced, wise counsel and compare everything your counselor says to the Bible. If you are not safe, please seek help right away! I do not condone abuse in marriage of either spouse. Please click here for the National Domestic Violence Hotline)

OTHER IDOLS OFTEN COME WITH THE IDOL OF HAPPINESS

As we idolize happiness, it has been my observation that we also tend to idolize self, feelings, romance and control (having our way).  This leads us to pride, self-righteousness, disrespect, resentment, bitterness, jealousy, ungratefulness, discontentment, arguing, complaining and all kinds of other sin. When we are involved in idolatry of any kind, we tend to trust our own wisdom instead of God. We tend to focus on “ME” instead of obedience to God and dying to self. We easily rationalize and justify our own sin in order to get what we really want – HAPPINESS! All the time! We want what we want when we want it. God becomes more and more distant. We won’t let anyone get in our way of us getting what we want. If we hurt someone else in the process, oh well … we need to be happy.

As long as we are happy right now this moment, that’s all that matters in the universe, right?

Do we ever stop to realize – this is the mentality of a two year old? I had this mentality for a long time, myself. When God finally showed me just how sinful my attitude and my motives were, I was MORTIFIED! I spent weeks on my face before God repenting of all the sin He revealed to me. This is NOT the mentality of a spiritually mature, godly woman! We have unknowingly absorbed some of the most ungodly messages ever from our hedonistic, humanistic, secular culture!

The scariest thing to me is that I didn’t even see my own sin. Not at all – for many, many years. How could I have been so blind and deceived?

WHO IS RESPONSIBLE FOR MY HAPPINESS AND EMOTIONS?

Sadly, as we idolize our own temporary happiness, we also tend to make other people responsible for our emotions and happiness instead of taking responsibility for our own emotions and spiritual well-being. Here are a few questions for us to ponder:

  • What if my husband is NOT responsible for my happiness?
  • What if each person is responsible for himself/herself emotionally and spiritually?
  • What if my circumstances are actually a tool in God’s hand – a chisel –  to help me mature and grow?
  • What if my circumstances are a spiritual test for me to learn to respond to with a godly attitude through the power of God living through me?
  • What if only Christ Jesus can give me real contentment, peace and joy and things/people of this world can never bring me true satisfaction?
  • What if I am expecting my husband or marriage to meet needs that only Jesus can actually fulfill and satisfy?
  • What if I can have contentment right now in Christ no matter what my situation may be?

What if my temporary happiness is not God’s biggest goal in my life?

GOD’S PERSPECTIVE

As believers in Christ, we can see clearly in the Bible that:

  • Happiness is not the greatest and most ultimate goal in life, our knowing God is the greatest goal and our becoming holy and more like Jesus, being totally submitted to Him, obeying Him, loving Him and bringing great honor and glory to Him are to be the ultimate goals in our lives (John 17, Matthew 22:38-39, John 14:22-24).

The amazing thing is, as we focus on obeying and loving God and others with all our hearts, and as we fully yield ourselves in total submission to Him, He fills our souls with His Spirit – and the results ALWAYS are His supernatural: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, gentleness, goodness, faithfulness and self-control (Galatians 5:19).

Paradoxically, when we seek God first, He blesses us with real joy and supernatural peace that are so much more fulfilling than any temporary happiness that this world or anything in it could ever offer.

We CAN choose to be content as we focus on being thankful, focus on the good and the blessings God has given us and as we allow Christ to empower us.

  • Rejoice always, pray continually,  give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. I Thessalonians 5:16-18
  • Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Philippians 4:8
  • I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.  I can do all this through him who gives me strength. Philippians 4:11b-13

FROM A PRECIOUS WIFE:

I bought the lie and worshiped it for so long, never bothering to notice how the more I pursued happiness, the harder it was to attain. I find it is much easier to simply be content with what God has given you and where He has placed you…..to find and celebrate His goodness and blessings every single day.

As I practice contentment, I experience happiness.

Isn’t that interesting? I spent so many years chasing happiness, instead of being content, I failed to enjoy the blessings God had given me and missed out on so much. I know for a fact, it was this attitude that led to the breakup of my first marriage. Make no mistake…

Seeking your own happiness will eventually hurt everyone around you.

My heart breaks for the hurt I caused my daughter and first husband, but I know that God is changing me and I trust Him with that process and the healing He is bringing to all I have hurt in the past.

I was just talking with one of my friends yesterday about the idol of self. It’s so easy to slip into that mode of worshiping self and doing whatever self tells us will make us happy. My theory is that it’s a natural human, survival mechanism…..maybe something that we’ve been stuck with since we we tossed out of the garden of Eden and had to fend for ourselves in a rough world?  (From Peacefulwife – this is our sinful nature!) Even then, in God’s infinite  grace and love, He is there for us…..He fights the battles for us when we can’t do it. All He wants is for us to give it to Him and let Him do it. I think sometimes, He allows difficult situations in our lives so we will give up and give it to Him. That’s how he strengthens our faith.

 

SHARE:

Have you had happiness as an idol? How did God reveal this idol to you?

How did you repent?

How did you learn to look at life differently in a way that honors God?

What have you learned about the sufficiency of Christ and finding all of your contentment in Him if you have been on this journey for awhile?

We’d love to hear your insights and the gems and pearls that God has shown you through your trials.

ADMINISTRATIVE NOTE:

I hope to be able to respond to comments this evening. 🙂 Y’all are welcome to discuss as much as you would like. I will join in when I can.

RELATED:

The Real Secret to Contentment Is Having Jesus Christ as LORD of My Life

A Huge Key to Contentment! By Still Jennifer

How to Make Your Husband an Idol

The Idol of Control

How to Stop Idolatry and Truly Live for Christ

“I Really Want HIM to Change, Too!” – GraceAlone

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We are continuing to follow GraceAlone as she works through the first few steps of her journey. This is day 2 of our correspondence. (Post 1, Post 2 today’s is post 3, Post 4)  If you want to see how she is growing and be more up to date, you can check out some comments she left on yesterday’s post. 🙂
GRACE ALONE’S EMAIL – Day 2
I started reading John 1 yesterday and John 2 today – Something you said triggered the idea to keep a journal of my journey- so I am keeping a journal every day of what my emotions are like and what I feel like God showed me that day. I think keeping this journal helps me better articulate things, and my prayer is that I will be able to look back years from now and that I can know beyond a shadow of doubt where I was/am and where God led me.

You gave me the assignment of 1 Peter 3:1-6.

Wives, in the same way submit yourselves to your own husbands so that, if any of them do not believe the word, they may be won over without words by the behavior of their wives, when they see the purity and reverence of your lives. Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as elaborate hairstyles and the wearing of gold jewelry or fine clothes. Rather, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight. For this is the way the holy women of the past who put their hope in God used to adorn themselves. They submitted themselves to their own husbands, like Sarah, who obeyed Abraham and called him her lord. You are her daughters if you do what is right and do not give way to fear.

  • I believe God is trying to show me that nothing I say or do can change my husband. I have said all that I can say, tried to get him to read books, seek counseling etc and nothing has changed as a result. If anything, I think things have gotten worse because of my constant talking about things.

After getting married and gaining a lot of weight – I don’t know what it feels like to be beautiful anymore. I cannot tell you the last time my husband gave me a compliment without me first prodding. I always felt so ugly on the outside. Well, it’s way worse to feel ugly on the outside and the inside. Reading this passage about letting your beauty come from the inside resonated with me. Maybe I won’t feel pretty again til I lose the weight, but maybe, just maybe, my husband will find me attractive again if I have a beautiful spirit. See, this is hard to separate for me – because, believe it or not, I feel like a lot of our problems are connected to my weight- my physical beauty.

I think what God is trying to say is, yes, while I do need to work on my health, what is more important is that I work on my spirit. I do want and desire to have a gentle and quiet spirit. I am terribly afraid of not getting there.

  • Yesterday, I had a great time in the Word and prayer- better than I have had in a very long time.
  • I chose to be happy when my husband came home.
  • I did not say anything unpleasant to him the whole night.

But sure enough, as I woke up this morning, doubts were there:

  • “What if my husband is right when he says, ‘I have seen this before and it lasted about three days.'”
  • “What if this gets too hard when my husband does something to hurt my feelings – will I explode and lash out?”

It seems I can do alright when he is doing alright – but the first time he hurts me – it’s game-over for me.

I think something else I am afraid of is no change on his part at all. I realize that you said in one of your emails that change must take place in me because it pleases God, even if my husband does not change. This is very HARD.
It almost seems I cannot help my selfish motives of “If I am changing, he needs to change, too.”
I worry that if I do not see change in him, than I will give up – even knowing that is not the right attitude. I don’t know how to fix that. I secretly am still hoping that my husband will change and that one day he will want kids. As much as I want to let that go, it is very hard.
FROM PEACEFULWIFE:
A journal is a great idea!  I journaled the whole way through my process.  But I threw away my journals from the first few years. I didn’t want to have Greg or our children discover them later and read all the sinful awful filth that was in my head in the beginning!  Keep your journals somewhere safe! Sometimes, I would rip up what I wrote right after I wrote it. Sometimes the thoughts in my head were that evil. Of course, now I could have used those journals and quoted my struggles from back then word for word. Maybe I should have kept them!
You are correct – God is showing you that you cannot change your husband.  In fact, the more you try to control him, the more you will repel him.  Laura Doyle, “The Surrendered Wife” says
“You can have control or intimacy, but you can’t have both.”
SO TRUE!
Your words about God, the marriage, spiritual things or children are going to be like nails scratching a black board to your husband’s masculine soul right now.  The more you try to control him and put your hands emotionally/spiritually around his throat, the more he will fight you and go the opposite direction just to prove to you that you cannot control him and that he is a grown man and can make his own decisions.
  • You are going to have to accept him as he is right now – even if he never, ever changes.  This is a very important step in this process. It is part of realizing you are not God’s Spirit. It is part of acknowledging that he is a grown adult to whom God has given free will to make his own choices. And it is part of godly, unconditional I Corinthians 13 love – accepting someone without making demands that he change for my benefit. It will take some time to process and hash through all of this. That is ok.
You have a number of idols that have to be torn out by the root.  This is not a one time thing. It may take months or years to completely deal with your idols. It is exactly like dealing with an addiction – because it IS an addiction! The temptation to re-erect your idols will continue to be an issue for a long time. Your job is to tear them completely out of your soul and put your faith and trust totally in Christ alone. Ask God to show you just how ugly idolatry is to Him. Ask Him to show you just how much it grieves His heart and looks like “adultery” to Him. That makes it a lot easier to get rid of the “detestable” idols. You may have to tear them out every day or every hour for a long time. That is ok!
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A few assignments (ladies at home, you may do these, too!):     🙂
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1. Please list all of your idols in your journal Every single one you can identify. You may want to have a page reserved for this.
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2. Please start a list of all the things you admire and respect about your husband. Leave several pages for this list! When you start to dwell on something negative about him, try to immediately recognize you are not focusing on Philippians 4:8 things and you are going to replace those thoughts with good thoughts and grateful thoughts about his strengths. You are going to starve your negative thoughts about him and feed your positive thoughts about him. Add positive things to the list every time you think of something.
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3. Please start a list of all of the sin in your heart. Add to it every time you see another sin.
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4. Please think of 2 things you can verbally admire about your husband about this week.  Then, just briefly thank him or share with him a sentence or two once or twice in the next few days about what you admire about him.
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5. Smile at him whenever you walk into the room.  Just to bless him. Expect nothing in return.
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Your health is an idol-related issue, I believe.  As you get your heart right with God – I believe you will be able to get your health right, too. But if you don’t address the spiritual issues of seeking comfort from food instead of from God, you will continue to sabotage yourself, in my view.  I want you to take  GREAT care of this valuable life and body God has entrusted to your care and stewardship.
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You will have TONS and TONS of selfish, sinful motives to hash through in the coming months and years – we all do! When your husband doesn’t change – which he probably won’t for a long time (that is normal) – you will have to refine and purify your motives over and over again – to be sure you are only doing this for God.  It is actually sometimes a blessing that husbands are so skeptical and that they don’t trust us and the changes in us for so long many times-  because as they continue not to change, it FORCES us to purify our motives in ways that we would not have to if they changed quickly.
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  • So, do not go into this expecting your husband to change. Pray for God to change YOU for His glory!  Pray for God to make you faithful to His Word and to Himself, no matter what the cost, no matter what the earthly results, no matter what your husband does.
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I cannot do the wrestling part for you. You will have to do a LOT of wrestling with God, His Word and yourself. Take all the time you need.
Dying to Self and giving up idols and learning to fully trust God is HARD!  It is painful. It is terrifying at first.  But it is so worth it!
UPDATE 9-2016:
Both GraceAlone and her husband have changed a lot. In God’s timing. They are both healing and doing SO much better! 🙂 PRAISE GOD!
RELATED:
If you haven’t, you may want to read my FAQ series.

My Struggles Today – Part 2 (of Has This Journey Gotten Easier for Me?)

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Yesterday, I posted part 1 of this series. And I am EXTREMELY thankful for Kayla’s post two days ago. I always learn so much from her. God uses her and all of the other wives here (and husbands, too) to sharpen me. I love sharing the stories and different perspectives of as many wives as I can. Each person reflects and shines something of Christ in his/her own unique way that is precious and priceless.

Do I have struggles?

YEP!

I don’t really think of a lot of these things as struggles. But – I guess you could call them that. I don’t think of myself as having a super hard life right now. I am not facing a terminal illness, or severe crisis in my family or life threatening persecution or poverty the way many people are all over the world right now. But there are potential temptations for me. Sometimes some of these issues can be struggles at times.

Here is a shocker – you may want to all sit down.  I am human!!!!!!!!!!  I am nowhere near perfect. I have thousands of miles to go on this journey and so much to learn that it is going to take me the rest of my life to learn it! And even then, I won’t have learned anywhere near a fraction of all there is to learn about God and about living for Him.

The struggles have changed somewhat as I have continued on this journey.  I no longer agonize about how to respect my husband and biblically submit to Him and to God.  I have learned God is trustworthy and developed a new history of practicing trusting Him and Greg. So, in my view, trusting them has become “easier” the more I have practiced trusting them. Most of my temptations no longer revolve around disrespecting Greg or God or trying to control them. There are other challenges and obstacles, including some new ones I didn’t have before.

My primary temptations/struggles now would probably be:

  • BALANCING my time wisely between God, my family, my job, my home and ministry.
  • I have to be SO careful to keep God central, then my husband and children and not let ministry overtake everything.
  • Being still before God. I have to force myself and quiet myself and make myself turn off any distractions (have to mute the computer so I don’t hear emails come in) and just be in complete silence with just me, God’s Word, a pen, my notebook and maybe some coffee and oatmeal or french toast. 🙂 I LOVE that time with Him. But I can be so easily distracted.
  • Remembering that I cannot open anyone’s eyes. Sometimes I get frustrated when someone’s eyes are not opening… and not opening… and not opening. I tend to not want to “give up” on anyone and keep trying to explain and explain and explain.

But – I am not the Holy Spirit. I have to remind myself of that OFTEN! I have to totally depend on God for that part!

  • Usually, I am able to lay the weight of someone’s very burdensome situation at Jesus’ feet and not pick it back up. But there are times when I obsess for a few days about particular people and I struggle with laying them down.
  • God must greatly increase and I must greatly decrease, that can be a struggle!
  • Resting and relaxing – Greg says I have done much better the past week! WOOHOO!
  • I am looking at a much more global scale than just my marriage now. I am also always mindful that everything I think, say and do is an example to thousands of other women (not to mention my own two precious children).  I try to share when I sin or when I have struggles so that y’all can see I am human, not some perfect wife who is “better than” anyone. I am definitely not better than anyone!!!! I am but dust. And I am the chief of sinners. Any good in me is totally a God thing. I know that SO MUCH MORE hangs in the balance than I was ever aware of years ago when my only concern was my way, my will and my happiness.
  • I have to remember I do this only to please God, not people. I SURE wouldn’t write about these things if my goal was to have the approval of people!
  • I don’t always know what a wife should do in certain situations. I don’t have the perfect answers to everything. My ideas and opinions are fallible.
  • Wives don’t need my advice and suggestions nearly as much as they need to be plugged in and sensitive to God’s Spirit and obedient to His Word and to understand biblical principles.
  • I cannot allow pride to creep in and deceive me that I have all of this mastered. I do not. It is only GOD’s power that allows me to do anything. “Pride comes before a fall.” I am always aware that something could throw me in 5 minutes that I didn’t expect. I am not a “super wife” and I am not above sin.
  • I am not always very good at predicting how other women may interpret what I say. I am sometimes very shocked at how differently people take what I write from my intentions. Sometimes, communicating by writing without being face to face can be extra challenging!! That is probably why I get pretty OCD and edit dozens and dozens and dozens of times on each post, trying to be sure I think of every possible angle. But – I don’t always do this well. I appreciate the feedback of wives because otherwise I assume we are all on the same page.
  • I don’t have experience with abuse and severe situations (with drug/alcohol addictions, uncontrolled mental disorders, demon-possession situation even, infidelity) and I hate to think that women in those situations might try to apply my words to situations I am not writing about. That scares me. God’s Word applies to all of us in every situation, but my words do not.
  • I know I am accountable to God for every single word on my blogs, comments and emails. That is a lot of weight and responsibility that I do not take lightly! I don’t ever want to mess up the tiniest little thing or misspeak one word about God. But I am sure that I have and don’t realize it. I pray often that God will reveal anything to me that could be misconstrued so that I can speak only His truth. And I pray people will forget anything I say that is not of God and that His Spirit might speak powerfully here in spite of my fallibility, frailty, sinfulness and weakness.
  • I tend to veer towards being overly responsible for women. That is not a gift to them! I want so much to help and bless women – but it HAS to be God’s way, not my way. I want to see them out of pain and misery and experiencing God’s peace, joy and abundant life – and I want that ASAP for everyone. I have to be very careful that I am pointing them only to Jesus not to myself.
  • I also have to be careful not to try to rush people but allow them to take this journey at the pace they need to take it. It is SO HARD to watch people destroying themselves and to see the truth and to know what miracles God would do for them if they trust Him and then to watch them reject Jesus. I have a REALLY tough time accepting that outcome! I have so much to learn about being a godly mentor. I am learning as I go. I stumble and fall often.
  • It is REALLY, REALLY hard for me to listen to people talk trash about God. I can’t stand to hear anyone disrespect Jesus, God or the Bible. It’s one thing if you insult me, but if you insult my Lord????  Ooooh! That gets me fired up like nothing else! When people act like God is evil, wimpy, untrustworthy, incompetent, unjust, etc… Whew! And if someone blasphemes God – GOODNESS! I am NOT a happy camper!!!! But, I thought a lot of these same lies and wrong things about God, too, in the past when I was deceived myself. So – I pray that God might use me to speak truth and give grace to these precious people for whom Jesus died  and that He might open their eyes so they can come to Him.
  • I love my brothers in Christ. It breaks my heart to see men feeling disrespected by their wives, knowing how they could blossom and grow so much stronger if they had their wives’ respect – and, especially, if they had the power of God’s Spirit full blast in their lives. I understand a lot more now about what they need as men than I ever have in my life. But I cannot be the one to give them this feminine respect. I must very diligently guard my heart and seek to honor Greg, God, our marriage, other people’s marriages. I can give a very small amount of respect (as believers we are to show proper respect to everyone). But I have to keep the “respect volume knob” WAY DOWN LOW and minimize my contact with them. I do always copy Greg on any emails with men. But I don’t email men much at all – it is just so much better for me that way. I know the enemy would love to take me down here. I try to immediately share any concerns or temptations or issues with Greg and with my prayer team. I pray God would take me home before I would so dishonor Him!
  • A year and a half ago, I was writing posts for men – when God convicted me that I have no scriptural authority to teach men. So, I repented to everyone and took down the posts. Men do come to me for advice. I will sometimes share what I have learned about myself and other wives. But I try so hard not to “tell them what to do.” I have seen God use my blog to bless and bring healing to many husbands (and their wives through them) – but there is a line there that I don’t want to cross out of reverence for God and His Word.
  • Being patient when we are running late as a family.
  • I really hate mess and disorganization. I used to be pretty perfectionistic about that. I try to let a lot of things go now because they are just not eternally important – but on my PMS days, I definitely get a lot of cleaning done!  Now, I try to remember that people and God are much more important than a super clean and spotless house. I used to get SO UPSET about this kind of stuff. Now, I still don’t like it. But I am able to overlook it and remember I won’t have my husband and children with me forever.
  • Having too much stuff and clutter makes me feel smothered. I like getting rid of stuff and having lots of empty space. Of course, Greg loves finding great deals at the flea market and bringing home lots of stuff. That can be a struggle.
  • Responding firmly but still gently when my children are not obeying – if I am going to lose my temper, it will usually be about this! I try to whisper or sing when I get frustrated to keep myself from raising my voice if at all possible!
  • Hearing women bash their men/disrespect them/try to control them is REALLY a struggle for me!
  • If I ever see anyone disrespect my own husband, I have an extremely hard time with that.
  • I have some medical issues that present challenges at times.  Chronic, incurable sinusitis, some extremely bizarre tummy issues, severe allergies (sometimes asthma), eye problems, severe menstrual cramps, a sun allergy. Yep. I am allergic to the sun and break out in itchy whelps if I am even in the sun for a minute or two in the spring, summer and fall. I feel kind of like a vampire – it’s only safe for me to go out at night! 🙂 When I am not feeling well, my attitude can be a struggle. I usually don’t complain (or argue) these days – which is a God thing. I try to tell Greg, hopefully just once, when I am not feeling well. But there can be temptations to be grumpy and irritable. I so don’t want to go there!
  • If Greg asks me to do something, I almost always have to write it down or I will forget. My memory is not very good sometimes.
  • I have insomnia, and have for over 8 years. I slept 6 hours a handful of nights last year. Most nights, I sleep 4-5 hours. Sometimes less. It can get tempting to be irritable and to feel “justified” to be grumpy. But even though sin is definitely more tempting when I am exhausted, it is still sin. God is able to give me victory over these temptations, too.
  • I don’t handle super high stress jobs very well.
  • I ALWAYS have to check for pride or self-righteousness and “crucify my old sinful self” as soon as I see it rear its head, then I have to turn to Christ immediately in repentance. I have to have the hammer and nails ready all the time.
  • If I allow myself to get way out of balance and try to give too much of myself without being filled with God – I will crash and burn. I CANNOT DO THIS ON MY OWN! I HAVE HAVE HAVE to be filled up with God! If I start to feel overwhelmed, that is a good sign to me that I need to stop talking to anyone and go be still before God. I struggle because I am human and have limitations, and I don’t like it!!
  • Handling people who are very hateful can be a challenge sometimes. My husband says to “not waste your time” on people that are extremely verbally abusive and spend time on the people who want to learn. I tend to want to try to reach out to them and share the love of Christ and hope with them. I want so much to bless them (and every single person on the planet) with the power of God. So, I do struggle with how exactly to respond at times when people attack me and vehemently oppose me – particularly when they completely misunderstand me and misrepresent me and my husband and our marriage and make all kinds of false accusations and wrong assumptions. That hurts. I want very much to honor Christ and Greg in the way I respond.
  • PMS is so much better now than it used to be for me. Sometimes, I will have a day or two where I am quite emotional and I have to be sure not to give weight to my feelings those days. I do have to be careful not to let evil thoughts get a foot in the door, especially on those hormonal days. I haven’t hit peri-menopause yet. That will probably be an extra special long term challenge!
  • One of my closest friends will not talk with me about her marriage or read my blog. That is humbling and helps me remember that people need God, not me. And her situation is very different from mine, so my slant is not helpful for her.  That is good for me to know.
  • If there is constructive criticism, I am usually open to learning and being sharpened and thankful for it. But it definitely takes the power of God to respond in a godly way even to constructive criticism.
  • I wouldn’t own a TV if it were up to me. TV is Greg’s favorite pastime. I watch TV with him, and sometimes struggle a bit because that is definitely not my thing. But, I try to sit and cuddle with him and relax because it means a lot to him. I used to get REALLY upset about the TV being on. I don’t anymore. I ask about doing other things sometimes. And, now, if I ask, Greg will usually turn off the TV if there is something major I want to talk about. I don’t ask for him to do that often, but I can say that he NEVER turned off the TV for me when I was disrespectful! And, unlike before, Greg is almost always open to having conversations with me even when the TV is on now.
  • I don’t watch romantic movies or read romantic books. It is too easy for me to feel jealous or to want that fictional romantic connection. But even more than that – now – there are just more important things I would rather do!
  • I cannot read about what husbands “should” do. That is just a disaster waiting to happen for me. I can’t read about a husband’s “super godly leadership” – it knocks me off balance if I do that. I have to keep my mind on Philippians 4:8 things and being thankful for what I have, trusting God to work in my husband’s heart for His will and His glory in His way and His timing.
  • God has not answered all of my prayers for my marriage yet. That’s ok. I wait and trust Him and seek Him with all my heart!

Praise God He is not done with me! I love living in His joy and peace daily. I am completely addicted to Him. It is my prayer that each of you might experience the abundant life Christ has for you.

Much love, my precious sisters!

RELATED:

HisHelper Reflects on Her Journey This Far

Kayla’s follow up post to her post this week, “Easy?”

Stages of This Journey – Part 4

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In Part 1 of this series, we looked at some of the first stages on the journey of becoming a godly wife (based on my observations – this is not scientific!  You are free to comment about how the stages are going for you!):

  • 1. Conviction
  • 2. Repentance
  • 3. The Frustrating Quiet Phase
  • 4. Seeking God First – The Lordship of Christ

In Part 2 of this series, we looked at more stages:

  • 5. Giving Him Space
  • 6. Feeling Totally Overwhelmed
  • 7. Learning to Use our Words and Emotions to Bless
  • 8. Dying to Self
  • 9.  Developing a Grateful Heart
  • 10. Taking Every Thought Captive
  • 12. Feeling Discouraged because Your Husband Isn’t Changing

In Part 3 of this series, we looked at

  • 13. Extending Grace on a Greater Level
  • 14. A Greater Sensitivity to God’s Voice
  • 15. Finding a New Balance of Intimacy/Space/Closeness

16. WE SEE OUR HUSBANDS IN A NEW LIGHT

We are able to see that we and our husbands are fellow travelers on the same journey.  We see that we can support, encourage, cheer and pray for our husbands, but that only God can change them and open their eyes.  We see that we are on level ground with our husbands at the foot of the cross.  That we are equally sinful.  We approach our husbands with humility.  We have the grace of God and the mercy and forgiveness that Christ has given us and we are able to extend these gifts to our husbands freely as well.

There is a new deepening intimacy with our husbands, a greater friendship, a greater unspoken understanding.

We begin to see our marriage run more smoothly as we build it more and more according to God’s design.  We stand in awe of what God is doing in us, in our husbands and in our marriage.  We can be patient as God works in our husbands to accomplish his will – we are truly able to accept them and respect them as they are.

17. A PLATEAU (THE FIRST OF MANY)

Respect has become a fluent language for us now.  We don’t have to figure out exactly what to do in every situation like we did at first.  We are amazed at the masculine world in which our husbands live and we see that to understand masculinity helps us to achieve a much deeper understanding of God’s heart.  The more we learn about our husbands, the more we understand about God.  The more we learn about God, the more we understand about our husbands.  We can also see the world of masculinity that other men live in.

There is still much to learn – and we can’t wait to learn more, grow more and become the women of God’s dreams more and more each day.  We can see that we have scaled some mountains already, and that there are more in the distance ahead.  But we are undaunted.

At this point, it seems to me that many wives experience a time of prolonged peace and have more of a feeling that they “know what to do” – it isn’t emotional and spiritual contortion anymore to respect and to honor our husbands and to avoid control and disrespect.  Things begin to feel more “natural” and “normal” and the marriage is at a really amazing place.  There are some husbands who still have “not come around” by this point, but even if the husband hasn’t changed, the wife is in an amazing place with God.

Of course, it is still possible to stumble and fall.  But it seems like the tripping and falling happens less frequently and when it does happen, the couple is able to recover much more quickly now than before.  What used to take days or weeks to recover from now seems to usually only take minutes or hours.

We are becoming much better followers of Christ and our husbands.  Submission now seems like such a gift and blessing, not oppression.  We long for all women to get to experience this kind of joy!

Now, we can see what we are doing very quickly when we do get off track, and we know what we need to do to get back on track.  By this point, we are generally able to monitor our thoughts and take the sinful thoughts captive pretty quickly by God’s Spirit working in us.  We don’t usually even think the sinful, disrespectful thoughts.  We actually normally think about Philippians 4:8 stuff, thankful stuff, joyful things and meditate on God’s Word throughout the day and worship songs.  We truly find our joy in Christ.

Our hearts and minds have been regenerated.

Our prayer becomes:

“Lord,

I give myself FULLY to You.  I hold nothing back.  I want to know You more!  No matter what happens, only let me have Your Spirit and Your Word.  Use me to bring the greatest glory to Your Name.  I want your will and only Your will.  I long to be useful to You in Your kingdom.  I trust You whatever comes.  I thank You for the trials that You have used to strengthen my faith and to help me to grow in Christ.  Make me faithful to You.  Let my faith increase greatly.  Make me a big pipe through which Your Spirit can flow like Niagra Falls into the lives of all those around me.  I am so thankful for all You have done for me!  It is a joy and delight to obey You!

In the Name of Christ,

Amen!”

We realize that the things that seemed like such a sacrifice at first that we had to give up – our idols and our wisdom – were filthy garbage.  They were no sacrifice at all.  God wanted us to let go of dirty rags so He could give us true spiritual riches and treasures.

There is still much to learn, but it is not the daily and even minute by minute struggle that it was at first.

It took me about 3 years to get to this point – that was a total God thing.   It took Nina Roesner about 10 years, according to her, to get to this point.   I have seen some wives reach it in about 8 months to 1 year.  The length of time depends on how much we study, how willing we are to obey God no matter the personal cost to us, our access to resources that explain God’s truth, the depth of our understanding of our sin and the depth of our repentance, our willingness to allow God’s Spirit to work in us, etc…

18. WE REALIZE HOW CAREFULLY WE MUST GUARD OUR HEARTS WHEN WE ARE AROUND OTHER MEN NOW THAT WE HAVE ALL OF THIS KNOWLEDGE

A woman’s respect is extremely powerful to men.  It is tempting, when we understand men so much better, to want to give them respect if they are not getting it at home.  We now can see and feel their pain so deeply.  Our hearts ache for husbands who are wounded and hurting.  BUT – we must keep “the respect knob” turned down to “low” with men other than our husbands and sons.  We cannot be the primary source of feminine respect and admiration for other men.  Yes, we know what they need.  Yes, we know how to give them what they need.  But that is a dangerous road to walk down.  We must carefully guard our hearts and primarily use our respect skills on our husbands, our sons and in teaching other wives how to respect their husbands.

19. TESTS

The enemy is not happy about godly marriages or about people abiding in Christ and being full of His Spirit.  We will be targeted for attack.  It is crucial that we continue to stay in God’s Word and abide in Christ because if we begin to try to do this in our  own strength, we will crash and burn quickly!

We can expect times of suffering, trials and temptations.  God’s Word promises that to believers.  (I Peter, James 1, Hebrews 12)

  • God does not promise “health, wealth and prosperity” to anyone.  He promises that we will suffer, but He promises to use our suffering as a tool to make us more mature, holy and Christlike.

We long to obey God in everything, no matter the personal cost to us.  We are able to see the beauty, the blessing and the learning in our suffering.  We are even able eventually to rejoice in our suffering, knowing that God will use it to bless us.  And we can even look ahead to see that God will use our suffering to bless others.  We don’t have to fear suffering as long as we know God is with us.

I’d highly recommend that you listen to David Platt’s 4 part series on Youtube called “The Cross and Suffering.”  – POWERFUL STUFF for all of us to embrace and learn!

19. TEACHING/MENTORING

At some point, God may prompt us (through our husbands or others) to begin to teach what God has shown us to other wives.  Of course, “not many should presume to be teachers… because we who teach will be judged more strictly.  We all stumble in many ways.  If anyone is never at fault in what he says, he is a perfect man; able to keep his whole body in check.”  James 3:1-2.

God calls older wives to teach the younger in Titus 2:3-5:

3 Likewise, teach the older women to be reverent in the way they live, not to be slanderers or addicted to much wine, but to teach what is good. 4 Then they can urge the younger women to love their husbands and children, 5 to be self-controlled and pure, to be busy at home, to be kind, and to be subject to their husbands, so that no one will malign the word of God.

There are so many women who have never had a godly example of femininity or how to be a godly wife or mother.  The needs are infinitely great.  It is my prayer that God might raise up at least one godly, Spirit-filled couple in every church of His around the world to teach His people His design for masculinity, for femininity, for living out our faith, for marriage and for family.  The last few generations dropped the ball in the most tragic of ways.  But now, God is calling our generation to rise up and become a godly generation in His sight and to pass down His wisdom to those who come behind us.

We become aware of the needs around us and the pain in so many marriages.  We become aware of God’s movement among His people around the world.  We have a heart for making disciples and for sharing the treasures of heaven that God has so graciously and generously given to us.  We can’t possibly keep this good news to ourselves!  We develop a global-minded prayer focus, seeking God’s will, His power and His movement among His people in churches around the world.  We yield ourselves and make ourselves completely available to whatever God may desire to do in and through us – no matter the personal cost to us.

Stages of This Journey – Part 3

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In Part 1 of this series, we looked at some of the first stages on the journey of becoming a godly wife:

  • 1. Conviction
  • 2. Repentance
  • 3. The Frustrating Quiet Phase
  • 4. Seeking God First – The Lordship of Christ

In Part 2 of this series, we looked at more stages:

  • 5. Giving Him Space
  • 6. Feeling Totally Overwhelmed
  • 7. Learning to Use Our Words and Emotions to Bless
  • 8. Finding Contentment in Christ Alone
  • 9. Dying to Self
  • 10. Developing a Grateful Heart
  • 11. Taking Every Thought Captive
  • 12. Feeling Discouraged because Your Husband Isn’t Changing

Part 4 (next post)

We will often cycle through many of these stages multiple times.  And, please keep in mind, these are my observations – they are not scientific, statistic based stages!

Some will happen at the same time.  This is not a linear process.

  • Somewhere along the way, we begin to be full of God’s Spirit and begin to experience His supernatural love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.

This is a refining process where God turns up the heat and we face difficulties and trials – more sin rises up to the surface – God uses that opportunity for us to repent and for Him to skim the impurities out of our lives.  We are never  completely “done”  or perfect until we reach heaven.  But God can empower us to walk in victory on a daily basis when we abide in Him.  If we stumble, we repent and get back up.

  • We can count on God testing us (for our own benefit, not His) so we can see if we will choose live in His peace and to live by faith during uncertainty and trials.

13. EXTENDING GRACE ON A NEW LEVEL

As we work through the process of growing spiritually – gaining knowledge, practicing perseverance, increasing in our faith in Christ, learning to live by His Spirit, dying to self, taking thoughts captive and as we come out of feeling discouraged with renewed determination to do this only to please and obey Christ and bless our husbands, we learn a deeper and deeper level of giving grace.

We begin to see that we do the same things to God that we feel our husbands to do us.

  • We want our husbands to WANT to be with us, not because we ask them to, just because they want to.
  • We want our husbands to WANT to connect with us emotionally and spiritually and to set aside significant amounts of time to do this.
  • We want our husbands to make US their first human priority.

Then we begin to understand that these things are exactly what God wants from us, but we have been withholding these things from Him many times.  He wants our whole-hearted devotion, all of our attention and a deep spiritual oneness with us.

We see a greater view of our sin and begin to see a more panoramic view of God’s love, mercy, forgiveness and grace.  We stand in  increasing  awe of God.

Then His Spirit floods our souls with a greater understanding and we are able to give genuine, godly grace, mercy and forgiveness to our husbands as we imitate God and abide in His presence.  We begin to see with God’s eyes and love with His heart.

We see that our husbands are not our enemies.  We begin to understand their masculine perspective and how different it is from our own.  We begin to assume the best instead of the worst about them.  We see they are on our team and we are on their team.  We understand who the real enemy is.  We see the beauty of God’s grace and we allow the power of heaven to pour through our hearts into our marriages and into our husbands’ lives no matter what they do or do not do.

If our husbands are sinning against us – we are able to respond with grace.  We may have to set healthy boundaries and even consequences sometimes – but we are truly able to forgive in God’s power and we begin to soar on wings like eagles by God’s Spirit living in us.

We know at this point beyond any doubt – that as long as God is with us – nothing else matters in this world.  It is truly now ALL about Him in our hearts, souls and minds.

14.  A GREATER SENSITIVITY TO GOD’S VOICE

As we grow in maturity, we begin to be able to not even listen to the voice of the enemy anymore. (My Demon)  We begin to TRULY recognize the voice of God and we become increasingly sensitive to His voice and His Words.  We LONG to hear and obey Him more than anything.  We are willing to do ANYTHING for Him.  We can recognize the source of the words streaming through our heads and we are able to resist Satan and come near to God.

His voice is a quiet voice – not a fuzzy, warm voice – but a gentle yet firm, quiet voice of conviction that compels us to do what is right even when it is against our sinful will.  The wrestling and battling in our souls between our flesh and God’s Spirit become less and less as we go to deeper and deeper levels of submission to Christ, trust in Him and faith in Him.

We have a constant and abiding peace that passes all understanding – even in trials.  The fruit of His Spirit continue to grow and ripen in our hearts on a daily basis.  We become unshakable in Him.  We truly begin to understand the treasure God has given to us that He allows us to carry around in these bodies of ours – these “jars of clay.”

15. FINDING A NEW BALANCE OF CLOSENESS/INTIMACY/SPACE WITH OUR HUSBANDS

If you have given your husband space – to stop having him as an idol and to give him personal emotional and spiritual space to breathe and make his own decisions and to hear God’s voice for himself – this will not be a one time adjustment.

You will strive to not make him an idol again, and to not make him responsible for your spiritual growth or happiness again.

  • But there will be a process of adjusting to finding the right level of emotional/sexual/physical/spiritual closeness and intimacy that is right at a given time.

What usually happens, is that after you have given your husband space in a respectful way, in a month or two (maybe many months, possibly a year or more) he may begin to come back toward you.  This can be a shock for some wives because they have gotten so used to giving him space and not pursuing him, that they don’t know what to do when their husbands begin to pursue them in their own way and when their husbands begin to ask for more closeness again.

Sometimes there is a bit of a “pendulum swing” of overcorrecting by giving too much space, then not enough, then a little too much space … it is a process of finding the right balance.

My suggestions are to:

  • Joyfully receive him.
  • Be available to him emotionally, physically, sexually, spiritually.
  • Be glad to be together.
  • Graciously receive any kind or generous gestures he offers to you.
  • Come a bit closer if he asks you to.  Don’t smother him or take control again – be relaxed and content in Christ.
  • Be receptive if he begins to pursue you.
  • Be willing to learn about his new-to-you world of masculinity.  Approach him as if you don’t understand his perspective, ways of thinking, ways of feeling with wide-eyed wonder at his world.  Be friendly and curious, asking questions (as he is open to that) about how he sees the world.  Really listen and take notes, if necessary, to begin to understand how different he is from you.  A great resource to understand your man better would be Shaunti Feldhahn’s “For Women Only.”

What will it look like if he does start to pursue you?  Well, every husband is different.  I have seen some husbands begin to do this within a week or two of their wives starting this journey.  Some husbands, I have seen it take over a year.  Some husbands may never change at all (although that is more rare).

  • He may begin to call you pet names he hasn’t called you in a long time.
  • He may start to confide in you slowly.
  • Some husbands get angry – because they are finally free to express themselves and they finally feel heard.  This usually doesn’t last too long, thankfully!
  • Some husbands are skeptical and want to wait a LONG, LONG time to be sure that these changes in their wives are real before they open up to them or trust them.
  • Some husbands, most of them, will be pretty confused for awhile and will not know what is going on!  My husband talks about that here.
  • Some husbands will say they don’t want to lead and they don’t want “respect” – in that case, just keep obeying God and don’t do a lot of talking about respect and your husband’s leadership.  But do respect him and honor his leadership.  The idea will probably grow on him in time.   He may have been raised with a domineering mother, which may be why he is comfortable with a domineering, controlling wife. He may be afraid to try to lead. He may feel like he doesn’t know how to lead.  He will need your gentle encouragement and praise when he does things right.  He will need to see your faith and trust in him.  He will need to know that he will not get reamed out and verbally crushed if he makes mistakes.
  • He may want you to go with him and sit and enjoy each other’s company as he works on his car or the house or as he fishes or goes hunting.  Go with him if at all possible if he asks you to go somewhere.  Listen to him.  Smile at him.  Give him the floor to talk if he wants to, or to just quietly enjoy being with you.  A lot of men bond by being together just doing an activity together without talking.  That may be bonding for him.  It’s ok if there is no talking.  This is romantic to HIM.
  • He may start to hold your hand.
  • He may try to get you to engage in conflict like before.  It is comfortable for him to be able to blame your sin for the problems in the marriage.  When your sin begins to significantly decline, all he has to see is his own sin.  That is painful.  Many husbands will try to get their wives to do the old “dance” as Laura Doyle calls it.  Don’t fall for it!  He may up the pressure on you and try to get you to explode on him or to take control again or to disrespect him.  Don’t fall for it, precious sister!  Sometimes as God works in our husbands’ hearts to convict them, they may lash out at us in anger or try to blame us for their sin.  But as we obey God and walk in His power, our husbands have to face their own sin and that is a GOOD thing.  At that point, we must try our best to stay out of God’s way and allow Him to work conviction in our husbands’ hearts.  We are not the Holy Spirit.  It is not our job to convict our husbands.  God is capable of doing that without our help.
  • He may begin to step up and slowly begin to lead, stand taller, begin to have more confidence and begin to ask you to do things.  Most of the time, what I have seen is that husbands who were passive and unplugged, begin to say things like, “I want you to try to take a nap today,  you didn’t get much sleep last night.”  or “I think you need to get off of the computer by X time, so we can just relax together in the evenings.”  or “I think we need to handle this situation with our daughter like this.”  It can be strange when you are used to calling all the shots to suddenly hear your husband saying he wants you to do certain things.  But, this is part of him becoming a godly leader.  Most of the time, the things he will ask are things that he believes will increase the peace in the home, help save your sanity, improve  your health, improve your happiness, benefit the children in the long run and things he believes will most honor God.  Do  your best to thank him for his leadership and to cooperate with him and appreciate his wisdom and insights.
  • He may begin to share his emotions more with you.  Be a safe place for him to share.  Don’t share his private thoughts with others.  Be loyal to him and be trustworthy.  If he shares his temptations or vulnerabilities, these are not things to broadcast to other people.  Be on his team and let him see that you want to support him as he faces difficulties and temptations, even if his temptations are things that aren’t tempting for you.  Figure out how to best honor and support and minister to him in ways that meet his unique needs.
  • He may begin to desire you more sexually.  If you have been rejected a lot in the past by him because he felt disrespected, and you were the main one initiating, and you decide to stop initiating to give him space and time to begin to pursue you, he may begin to initiate sex with you a month or two or more after you stop trying to make him have sex with you. (The Devastation of Sexual Rejection in Marriage has more on this issue, so does Respect, Biblical Submission and Sexual Attraction)  If you are not excited about him desiring you more sexually, check out “Sometimes I Just Feel Like a Piece of Meat to My Husband” and be sure to read some of the husbands’ comments.  They are very helpful!)
  • He may begin to talk about what God is speaking to him.  Please listen and encourage him.
  • He may begin to share negative feelings he has been bottling up for years.  Sometimes, a husband can seem more unloving as his wife focuses on respect and biblical submission at first.
  • He may seem frozen and unable/unwilling to lead.  A husband talks about what may be going on in that situation here.
HERE IS FELLOW WIFE’S APPROACH:
I really think I need to revamp my goals as I go into this next phase…. as dh has shown he no longer feels smothered and wants more from me in terms of affection, attention, etc.  Copy & pasting a few former goals from my post on your site (“I’m Going to Stop Pursuing My Husband”) that I feel need a bit of revamping and add a few, keeping the rest of the former.  I would love your thoughts on if I am going in the right direction.  Using caps to differentiate- not shouting.  🙂
  • Stop calling him so often. (Limit calls to when issues are immediate/letting him know about the kids & I after dr appts) –I STILL THINK THIS IS A PRETTY GOOD IDEA TO KEEP AROUND… I THINK AN OCCASIONAL EXTRA CALL IS OKAY BUT I DON’T WANT TO GO BACK INTO OVERDRIVE ON THIS ONE.
  • Allow him the time and space to be affectionate and sexual. KEEP IT….. BUT BE SURE TO BE RECPTIVE TO HIM AND BE AFFECTIONATE WITH HIM WHEN I FEEL THE DESIRE TO DO SO… AS LONG AS IT DOES NOT GET EXCESSIVE.
  • Give him more time and space overall… pulling back a bit can draw him to me. (Men respond to distance, not words). Allow my distance to speak rather than my words. IN A HEALTHY WAY… BE ACCEPTING WHEN HE NEEDS TIME AND SPACE.  ONLY USE DISTANCE WHEN NECESSARY.
  • Remember that it is not healthy for me to pursue him for either me or our marriage. Remember it should be him pursuing me. Give him that chance. I THINK IT WILL ALWAYS BE HEALTHIEST TO ALLOW HIM TO BE THE LEAD PURSUER… I THINK THAT IS JUST HOW IT WORKS BEST AND HOW GOD DESIGNED IT TO BE, DON’T YOU? IT FEELS RIGHT WHEN HE PURSUES ME… IT DOES NOT FEEL RIGHT WHEN I PURSUE HIM.

(From Peacefulwife – if a husband asks his wife to initiate more or to pursue him more, I think she may be able to do that some.  But there will be a delicate balance of just the right amount of her initiating and pursuing so that he does not feel smothered or pressured)

And a few new goals:
  • Hold him loosely, remembering that he belongs to God and is on his own journey.  Any changes that occur are between he and God- he is on his own personal journey with God and I am on mine and that is where my focus needs to be.  Another reason for holding him loosely is to allow GOD that space to work. It is not my place to correct, teach or control dh.
  • Continue to daily make the choice to let go of him and let God have him….
  • Continue to appreciate any effort and gesture of love he makes toward me.  (I think I have been forgetting to do this).
  • Make every effort to assume the best of  him or at least assume that I do not understand his thoughts, motives and actions.  Use Philippians 4:8 as the filter for my thoughts toward him.

Stages of This Journey – Part 2

Dirt Road with Maple Trees in Winter Sunrise

In Part 1, we talked about the beginning stages of the journey to becoming a godly wife

  1. Conviction
  2. Repentance
  3. The Frustrating Quiet Phase
  4. Seeking God First (tearing out idols and making Christ Lord)

Today, let’s continue on…  But please know that these stages are not always linear.  We cycle through some of them over and over again at times as we grow.  Some of them happen at the same time.  This is a refining process. We stumble at times.  We may not always be moving forwards.  That is normal.  But we continue to repent, get back up, seek God first and desire to obey Him above all else.  This is a LONG journey of many thousands of miles that we walk by foot.  It is not an instant thing.  You will not be the most godly wife in 1 day or 1 week or 1 month.  This is a process of many, many months and years.

5.  GIVING HIM SPACE

Giving our husbands more space is not usually a permanent phase in some ways.  It is possible it could be a long term thing, but once your husband begins to approach you and close that gap – then it is time to find a new balance and level of connection.

  • The permanent part is that we don’t make them idols again – as soon as we notice we are feeling disappointed in them, we check our motives to be sure we are only seeking our contentment in Christ, not in our husbands.

At first, we may give a little “too much space” – but that is ok.  It is important for us to do this, in my view, as we spend more time with God and try to learn and figure out how to stop disrespect and control and how to begin to be respectful and learn to be godly followers.

Giving more space is part of tearing out the idols of “trying to control our husbands,” “wanting to feel loved” and “wanting them to meet the needs we have that only Christ can meet” as well as our idols of “romance.”

If you had been smothering your husband, constantly calling/texting/emailing, expecting him to call/text/email/pursue you… if you have been pursuing him constantly and are being rejected often – then you may need to give him space so that he can breathe and begin to hear God’s voice himself again and so that you can be sure he has the freedom to make his own decisions.

The Separation-Leads-to-Greater- Intimacy  Paradox

6.  FEELING TOTALLY OVERWHELMED

Eventually, every wife feels overwhelmed in this process – not just once – but many times.  This can happen at any point along the way.

When you feel this way.  It is actually a good thing!  It usually means that

  • it is a flag that you are attempting to do this in your own strength
  • you may be allowing perfectionism to take over (that is an idol in and of itself, too!)
  • you may be trying to tackle too much at once – there is only so much you can learn and change at one time usually
  • you NEED Christ to be able to do this!!!!!!  Discouragement, discontentment and frustration are signals to set our eyes back on Jesus.

So, it’s time to slow down, breathe, and focus on Jesus.

  • You are going to basically have to “eat an elephant” on this journey.  You can’t do it all in one day or one week or one month.
  • Absorb what you can.
  • Allow God to change you.
  • Take a nap if you are exhausted
  • Take a break from studying about respect and biblical submission for a few days or a week or two as you regroup, but continue with Bible study and prayer and submitting fully to Christ.
  • Focus on a few things at a time.  If possible, you can ask your husband for the 3 biggest things he’d like you to stop doing and the 3 biggest things he’d like you to start doing.  Don’t argue.  Don’t justify yourself or explain why you were doing what you were doing before.  Thank him for his wisdom and insights and then get to work focusing on those things.  He may need a few days to think about those things, that is ok.  If he can’t verbalize what he needs, you can look at the lists at the top of my home page about what is disrespectful and respectful and begin to tackle those.  Some wives print out the lists and ask their husbands to check the things that would be the most meaningful to them.
  • If you are doing this in your own strength or you find ungodly motives or idols, repent and fix your eyes back on Christ

7.  LEARNING TO USE WORDS AND EMOTIONS TO BLESS – coming out of the quiet phase

As we get better at  NOT saying the negative sinful things, we can also begin to learn to speak this new language of respect.  We begin to learn to use words that genuinely and sincerely affirm, encourage, praise, build up and bless.   We are beginning to be able to speak with wisdom and discretion and to know when it is best to be silent and how and when to use words to edify.

This is going to feel foreign and awkward.  Much like learning to speak a new language.  At first, you will want to go back to your “native language” of disrespect because it feels normal and natural.  But, in time, as you practice this new language, eventually it will feel normal and natural and  your old sinful language will feel awkward and foreign and awful!

We still may not talk as much as we used to when we were stressed, worried, afraid, trying to control everything.  But we begin to find beautiful things to talk about, good things, and we begin to verbalize our positive feelings:

  • I’m so glad you are here
  • I love being your wife
  • I feel so full of joy today
  • I am overwhelmed by how blessed I am
  • I feel like the happiest woman on the planet!
  • I love  spending time with you
  • Thanks for listening to me
  • Thanks for eating supper with the kids and me
  • I appreciate how hard you work and how well you provide for us.
  • I love your strong work ethic
  • Thank you for your godly influence on our children
  • Thank you for being such an involved, loving father
  • I appreciate your wisdom and your willingness to share your ideas with me
  • Thank you for your leadership

By the way – I began to thank Greg for his leadership long before he began to lead.  I stepped down first.  I began to thank him for carrying the weight of responsibility, accountability before God and leadership before God in our marriage.  I thanked him for carrying that weight that was too heavy for me.  I told him I trusted him to lead us.  I told God I trusted Him to lead me through Greg and if God wanted me to do something, He would figure out how to lay it on Greg’s heart.  I told God I would not run ahead or take control anymore but just wait on God and Greg to lead me.  I told God I would be content to wait right there until I was 80 years old if I had to, but I was going to follow Greg, not lead anymore.

This involves A LOT of waiting.  I was pretty awful at waiting and possibly one of the most impatient people on the planet before.  But, thankfully, there is much to learn in the waiting and, eventually, waiting becomes sweet.

8. FINDING CONTENTMENT IN CHRIST ALONE

We begin to recognize disappointment, discontent and negative feelings as flags to help us evaluate our motives and set our eyes back on Christ to find our joy.

9. DYING TO SELF

We lay down our desires, our dreams, our plans, our goals, everything we have, everything we are, our wisdom, our lives – at Jesus’ feet.  We nail our old sinful nature to the cross to die with Christ and to be buried with Him.  We give Him all that we are.  We are “living sacrifices” for Him every day.  We learn to say in sincerity in every area of our lives, “Not my will but Yours be done.”

We put on our new self in Christ.  Then, we pick up Jesus’ desires, His dreams, His plans, His goals, His priorities, His wisdom, His identity, His heavenly riches and we seek His greatest glory.  This becomes the focus of our lives.

Now, our lives are all about Jesus, not about us.

  • We do lose our old sinful selves.  We die to that old self. (Eph 4:20-24, Romans 6:6, Galatians 5:24)
  • But we gain our new selves in Christ.  We put on “the new man” in Christ.

10. DEVELOPING A GRATEFUL HEART

We focus on Philippians 4:8 and on being thankful in everything.

  • Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable–if anything is excellent or praiseworthy–think about such things.

We focus on obeying God’s command in Philippians 2:14-16 to do all things without complaining or arguing.     Complaining comes from an ungrateful spirit.  That does not ever honor God.  Arguing comes from pride – thinking I am always right.  We focus now on humility and thankfulness as we learn to praise God in every situation and trust His sovereignty and His wisdom not our own.

  • Do everything without grumbling or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, “children of God without fault in a warped and crooked generation.” Then you will shine among them like stars in the sky as you hold firmly to the word of life. Phil.2:14-16 

We learn to look for the good and focus on the good in our husbands and in life in general.

We begin to speak up about the things we are thankful for, the things that are good, the things we admire, the things we see that are beautiful and praiseworthy in our husbands, in our children, in those around us, in our day, in life – and we begin to become genuinely thankful women.

The sinful thoughts happen less and less frequently and when they do pop up, we recognize them more quickly and know how to shoot them down and not dwell on them when we have God’s Spirit empowering us.

11. TAKING EVERY THOUGHT CAPTIVE

The only way to truly become a godly wife is to allow God to change your mind, heart and soul completely.  A big part of this is learning to capture each thought and evaluate it against the truth of God’s Word and reject sinful thoughts, only holding on to the godly, biblical thoughts.

This means you will have to recognize your thoughts.  For me, I had to write down the “tapes” that would play over and over in my head.  Then I had to compare what I was saying to myself with God’s Word.  I had to replace the lies and sin with the truth of God’s Word.

Eventually, the sinful “tapes” stop playing in our minds all the time.  The worry, resentment, fear, bitterness, etc… go away as we kick them out and as we replace those thoughts with meditating on God’s Word, memorizing scripture, meditating on worship songs that exalt Christ…

One day, you realize that there is no constant chatter going on in your head and that you are not worrying anymore – and there is this amazing calm in your soul – God’s peace!

WOW!

God is REALLY addictive!  In the BEST way! You will want to do anything to keep God’s peace flowing in your heart.   We can do this by staying in God’s Word, seeking Him first, repenting of every sin as soon as we are aware of it, and focusing on learning more about God’s sovereignty and being thankful.

12. FEELING DISCOURAGED BECAUSE YOUR HUSBAND “ISN’T CHANGING”

When our husbands don’t change right away, we can easily think, “Respect doesn’t work on my husband.”  But this long time of focusing on becoming a godly wife while not seeing changes in our husbands is often good for us.  God refines our motives during this time.

As soon as you think, “Why should I do all this work and he doesn’t have to do anything?!?!”  or “Why should I have to change first?” Let that be your flag to remember why you are doing this.

  • You are doing this to please and honor and obey Christ.  You are doing this to bless your husband.

If these are not our only motives, there is work to do in prayer. It is a good thing to desire a healthy marriage and close intimacy with our husbands. But our ultimate goal must be Christ!

God and your husband will handle your husband.  Husbands will not instantaneously change in most cases.  That’s ok.  We can decide to accept, love, respect and honor our husbands as they are right now – even if they never change.  That is the kind of love God desires us to have toward everyone.  We learn to love unconditionally and respect unconditionally just because God asks us to, not because we think the other person “deserves it” or because we will get something in return.

This is a fantastic opportunity to commit yourself to obeying God’s commands for you as a wife no matter what your husband does or does not do.  And it is a great chance to learn to love with the unconditional agape love of God.  It is also quite a peek into God’s heart to see how He loves us even when we don’t love Him in return.

This is also a good chance to look to see if there are still ways you may be unintentionally disrespecting your husband (tone of voice, pressuring him to do things, body language, scowling, sighing, rolling your eyes, etc…)

STAGES OF THIS JOURNEY

Part 1

Part 3

Part 4

RELATED:

Nina Roesner’s description of stages of this journey to become a godly wife

A Wife’s Path to Peace

Couple in convertible

A wife’s response to  “But I’m right!  I’m the better leader.  I should be in charge.”

A SISTER IN THE LORD:

Wow.

I saw myself (thankfully how I used to be) in your post. I, too, saw myself as always right and the better person in my marriage. The fact that my husband and I have just celebrated our 30th anniversary is, first, because of God’s love and mercy, and second, because my husband is such a good, gracious man. For the last few years I have been learning more and more about how to be the woman God wants me to be. Your blog has so much God inspired wisdom. I truly thank you for sharing!

It feels so wonderful and, yes, PEACEFUL to release my death grip of control and relax in God’s and my husband’s care. I am truly feeling “the peace that passes all understanding.” My husband is smiling now and being sweeter to me more and more every day.

PEACEFULWIFE

Congratulations on celebrating your 30th anniversary! What a blessing! :)

I am so excited about what God is teaching you and all that He is doing in your heart.

Tell me something, please, many women in the early stages of this journey are terrified to give up control – looking back now – do you feel like you had to sacrifice anything that was actually valuable to do this God’s way? It sounds to me like it has been more than worth it to you. :)

I love that you are living in God’s supernatural peace and resting in His love and your husband’s love. I know I NEVER want to go back to my old ways of doing things! You could not PAY me to do that stuff anymore!

A SISTER IN THE LORD
The changes in me did not happen overnight. You speak of a journey. That is exactly what it is and the destination is personal joy and peace.

As far back as I can remember, being in control of my own life was prominent in my attitudes and actions. My father left my mother for another woman when I was five. I was home and witnessed the horrible verbal and physical fight that culminated in his squealing car tires as he left. I saw my Mom weeping and begging him not to leave. I guess this was my first lesson in self-reliance.

I’d never put myself in a position with anyone where I would need them so much I’d fall apart if or really WHEN they left.

I truly thought that self-reliance was evidence of personal strength and was a laudable trait. Asking for help was a sign of weakness. Being too attached to someone was just asking for trouble. I was saved by Christ and believed the Bible but I had no understanding of my own sin: arrogance, pride, and distrust of everyone INCLUDING God. I was blind to my own sin and was convinced I was better than most people.

This spilled over into my marriage in a poisonous tide. I “grabbed onto the steering wheel from the passenger seat” all the while thinking I knew better. And the most incredulous thing? I thought my husband would be pleased that I wasn’t a needy woman, that he would be happy that he didn’t have to see after me! Boy, oh, boy.

So, have I given up anything of value?

No, I think I have FOUND that treasure in a field that Jesus spoke of. I have traded my ashes for beauty. I have a growing relationship with Jesus that is real. I trust God to take care of me. My realization that I am as you said a “wretched sinner” was the best thing that ever happened to me! Because of this, the poisonous tide in my marriage has changed to the sweetest water. I am not perfect in this journey but I want my life to be a testimony to what following God’s plan can do in a marriage. My husband responded positively almost immediately to the changes in me. Where before he never mentioned God, now he occasionally reaches out to take my hand to pray over our meal. Where before he was sullen and absent, now he plans things for us to do TOGETHER.

But the greatest change has been in me.

I am calmer and more joyful. I have discovered that from the passenger seat one can truly enjoy the scenery! I can rest when I get tired or dance in my seat if I want to! :) I look forward to the rest of my journey.

I am thankful for your blog. It is such a blessing to have this helpful resource readily available. You and your husband are on my list of people I thank God for in prayer.

PEACEFULWIFE

Wow! Your experience with your parents BREAKS MY HEART!!!!!!!

You learned to expect men to leave and to expect to have to take care of yourself. That dramatically impacted your understanding of God, men, marriage, masculinity and femininity… I can’t begin to imagine how big the scars would be from that devastating experience.  Thank God He is working in your life!

I LOVE your story! Gives me chills!

I am so excited about what God is doing in your life and marriage!!!!! WOOOOOOOHOOOOOOO!

Yes – this is the treasure Jesus was talking about- it is worth giving up everything else in the world to have it.

That part about you describing enjoying the scenery, resting if you want to or dancing in your seat – makes me smile.  What a beautiful picture!

Much love to you my precious sister! Thank you for shining for Him and allowing Him to work in you!

 

“So, When Do I Get to Feel Peaceful?”

I’d like to welcome a number of new wives who are just beginning this journey toward becoming the godly wives God calls us to be.

It can be a bit overwhelming at first as you begin to look at all that you don’t know and all that it seems needs to be changed.  A lot of you have very valid concerns and questions.  If you have a question I have not addressed here, please leave it for me in the comments and we will talk about it!

  • This seems like more than I can handle.
  • When does the peaceful part start?
  • I feel like I am losing myself. (Part 2)
  • I don’t want to lose my voice and power in the marriage (Part 2)
  • I feel so lonely. (Part 3)
  • I don’t know how to say things respectfully to my husband, so I am just not saying anything at all. (Part 3)
  • My husband isn’t changing at all.  Respect doesn’t work on my husband. (Part 4)
  • My husband doesn’t love me and is not on board with this marriage. (Part 4)
  • But I’m right! (Part 5)
  • I’m so scared to give up control!  I am the better leader.  I should be in charge! (Part 5)
  • He doesn’t deserve my respect! (Part 6)
  • Why can’t HE change first?  Why do I have to change when he’s the one who is so far from God and so unloving? (Part 7)
  • Wives who have been on this journey for awhile – please share your wisdom with the wives who are at the beginning of the trail.  I may anonymously share your comments in another post, too, if that is ok. 🙂

1. This seems like more than I can handle.

YES!  If you feel that way – that is a GOOD THING.  It means that you realize that you can’t do this on your own – that it is IMPOSSIBLE to be the godly woman God commands you to be in your own power.  That is a critical first step because it is only through the power of God’s Spirit filling you up and giving you supernatural power that you can be the wife of His dreams.  You can’t do this without Him.  In your own power, all you can do is have the sinful nature in control.

The results of the sinful nature being in control are predictable and written for us in Galatians 5:19-21:

The acts of the sinful nature are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies and the like.  I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.

The thing to realize is that if I have ANY of these things going on in my life and mind and soul – I am being powered by the sinful nature.

When God’s Spirit is in charge, the results are also predictable and are written for us in Galatians 5:22-25:

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.  Against such things there is no law.  Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires.  Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit.

If I don’t have all of the fruit of the Spirit growing in us on an increasing basis pretty much daily – something is SERIOUSLY wrong with my walk with Christ Jesus.

Either:

1. I never actually received Him as my Savior and Lord – accepting His gift of His death for me in my place as payment for all of my sins against God and giving my life completely to Him for Him to now be in charge.

2. I am not living with Him as Lord and am cherishing sin in my heart.  Often, the biggest ones are

  • PRIDE – thinking I know best and I know better than God and His Word doesn’t apply to me, I am justified in not obeying His Word
  • idolatry  – making something else most important in my life – I MUST HAVE THIS THING to be happy.  If that thing I must have to be content is not Jesus – I am in sin.
  • unforgiveness – If I refuse to forgive others when they sin against me, Jesus says God will not forgive me – Matthew 6.

If I have grieved the Spirit of God – I don’t have His power blasting through my soul and empowering me to do things that I cannot do on my own.

I need to:

  • admit my sin is wrong and offends God’s holiness. (I John 1:9)
  • ask for forgiveness through the blood of Jesus that He shed for me.  He paid for all of my sin as if He had committed the wrongs I have done.  He bore the full wrath of God that I deserved in my place so that I can be made right with God by His goodness.  He puts His holiness and righteousness (right standing before God) in my account and He puts my sin in His account when I trust Him and put my full faith in Him.  He took my death and punishment and when I receive this gift He gives me, He gives me His life with God and the spiritual riches of heaven.  I don’t deserve this.  I deserve hell.  I can’t earn God’s favor.  I can’t earn God’s pleasure with me on my own.  But Jesus can give me a new heart and soul and I can stand before God with the righteousness of Jesus as my robe – so that when God sees me – He sees His perfect Son.  I don’t understand how all that happens.  But I am SURE THANKFUL He is able to do that for me!  WHAT GREAT NEWS!
  • turn away from my sin 180 degrees and stop doing it and turn to God.
  • die to my old sinful self – nail it to the cross to die and be buried with Christ – then I can  put on my new self in Christ. (Galatians 5:24)
  • seek to obey God in EVERYTHING and allow His Spirit to fill me daily. (Ephesians 5:18)
  • have my only goals in life to be to know God, to desire to please Him, to obey Him, to do His will and to bring Him the greatest glory
  • give myself as a living sacrifice to Jesus daily.  I lay down my rights, my wisdom, my plans, my life, my desires, my possessions, my future, my family, my marriage, my everything.  Then I pick up His wisdom, His plans, His desires, His power, His strength, His holiness, His will and I seek His glory alone.
  • focus on the good things God has done for me and given to me and have a thankful heart. (Ephesians 5:20, Philippians 4:8)
  • do not worry or trust SELF anymore, but trust God with all my heart. (Philippians 4:4-8)

Jesus replied, “If anyone loves Me, He will obey My teaching.  My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make our home with him.  He who does not love Me will not obey My teaching.”  John 14:23-24a

If Jesus is my LORD – my answer to Him is always, “Yes!!!”  There is NOTHING He can ask me to do that I won’t do.

2. When Does the Peaceful Part Start?

You actually control a lot of the speed of this process.

Becoming a peaceful wife has NOTHING to do with our husbands or our marriages – it has EVERYTHING to do with our relationship with Christ.

If you cling to sin and cherish it more than you cherish obeying Jesus and being full of His Spirit and repenting of sin – you will have a long time of pain, frustration and struggling.

The beginning of this journey is PAINFUL.  It is hard to give up idols and face our sin!  And it is terrifying to stop trusting self and seeking to feel loved and to learn to trust God if we have not done that before.

The sooner you learn to trust God and put all your faith in Him and the sooner you embrace His wisdom and repent of your sin – the sooner you will experience His supernatural peace and joy.

  • I must be willing to give up EVERYTHING that offends God.  Every single thing.
  • I must be willing to obey Christ and make Him LORD of everything in my life.
  • I must submit 100% of myself and my life to Jesus.  I have to wrestle with my fears and beliefs and God’s Word until I can get to the point that I can honestly say, “Not my will but Yours be done, Jesus.”
  • I must be willing to obey Him no matter what the personal cost to myself.

When your sinful nature is no longer in control – but you have died to your old sinful self – and God’s Spirit is in control and you are walking in obedience to His Word – the peace will come automatically.  God gives His spiritual gifts to those who live by faith, who trust Him completely and who obey Him, even when there is suffering and hardship.

  • It was really shocking to me at first when I began to experience it.  I usually had worry and anxiety and fears running constantly through my head all the time.  But when I finally repented of all my sin and idols and unforgiveness – I realized one day that that voice wasn’t going all the time.  Things were still and calm in my head.  That was WEIRD and DIFFERENT. Then it dawned on me that this strange feeling was PEACE.

Wow!

It felt SO GREAT!!!!!

Let me warn  you – God’s peace is SUPER addictive.  Once you experience it-  you will be willing to do anything to have it again if you lose it. 🙂

I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. 13 I can do all this through him who gives me strength.  Philippians 4:12-13

You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in you.  Isaiah 26:3

SOME OTHER WIVES SHARE THEIR EXPERIENCES:

1. Angelique:

I have been on this journey for 17 months and it does take a while! I, too, am so glad you are on this journey. It takes so much courage and strength to do this. There are days that are so hard and days that are so wonderful. I tell April all the time, “I hated you and loved you at the same time.” I hated that my old self had to die to its old ways of wanting to be pleased all the time but then I loved her because of the truth she was fueling me with. The truth has truly changed me and my marriage.

So don’t give up and if you feel like you want to, just reach out and we are all here on this journey with you. Trust in God’s perfect plan. The Bible says, He is a rewarder of those that diligently seek Him. (Hebrews 11:6)

The one thing I learned early on was – I had made my husband an idol in my heart. I had to learn to replace Jesus as my one and only God. That was extremely hard for me because I had my whole identity wrapped up in how my husband made me feel. So if I didn’t get the warm and fuzzies from him that day then chances were, I was having a crummy-feeling day.

I had to learn how God felt about me. I had to daily and moment by moment remember God’s intense love for me – that I was uniquely and wonderfully made. That He had a great plan for my life. That I was beautiful and precious to Him. When I knew that, like really knew that, there was this overwhelming peace and joy that flooded my heart. Sure, I still wished my husband would be romantic and pursue me more ,but my world didn’t get shaken when he didn’t.
I also had to notice the ways my husbands was showing his love or trying to be romantic. Some times I needed a magnifying glass to actually see them, but I delighted in each one.

The more I began to focus on God, the happier and more peaceful I became. The less I controlled him and nagged my husband, the lighter I felt. The more I focused on my sin, the more gracious I became.

Then somehow like magic, my husband started to miss me and wanted to be with me more. And the more I invested into my husband’s life as an act of love (not wrong motives…you have to be careful with that) the more intrigued I became with this person I married. God gave me a window into my husband’s heart and I began to see things and learn things about him I never knew after 8 years of marriage. Now I truly delight in just being with him, even if its watching him build things in the garage. Sometimes he invests back into me and sometimes he doesn’t. I’m okay with that! God knows the desires of my heart and I fully trust God with them!

I am so glad you are here and working on improving your marriage. I know God is pleased you are trying to honor Him by being a godly wife.

2. A Fellow Wife

We all have down days.

There is a sadness in realizing that things are not going to be like you thought they would. But I promise you, there is true peace in this path. I have been on this journey for 13 months but things really just started clicking into place for me 2 months ago. It takes time. And you can do this.

Realize this – God’s plan is good. It may not feel good at the moment but some day you will look back and see that His plan is so much better than what you originally thought you wanted in marriage.

I once heard this in a marriage seminar and it has helped me tremendously. God does not tell us to submit to our husbands because he thinks we are inferior. He is giving us the KEY to our husbands heart by telling us to submit. Our soft, submissive behavior draws our husbands to us and makes them respond in ways that we have long dreamed they would. They don’t always do it exactly when we want them to. But it does happen.

You can certainly tell your husband things you want in your marriage. But letting him decide when to give you these things is giving him the ability to give you a very sweet gift that you will savor and treasure. Instead of him giving it to you because you are demanding it, he is giving it to you – when he chooses to do so – as a gift from his heart.

Yes, you are a sheep but that does not mean you are not infinitely precious to God. Do you know that God has your very name written in the palm of his hand? (Isaiah 49:16) If you were the only one on earth, He still would have sent His Son for you. Don’t doubt your worth. God’s Word also says that we are fearfully and wonderfully made. (Psalm 139:14)

I do this when I am feeling down. Write down 10 wonderful things about your husband. Things like he is affectionate or he tells you he loves you daily. Whatever they are. Even going to work for your family makes the list- that is a huge thing and how most men feel is a way they can show love the best. Making a list like this always makes me feel better and reminds me how blessed I am to have my husband.

Coming to that place where you decide you can be okay either way is HARD. There is no getting around that fact. I had some real days of grieving when I realized that I had to give every hope and dream into God’s hands to see what He would do.

But He has not failed me. I did this with no expectation of return. BUT my husband has actually done some very sweet and unexpected things since that time to show his love for me. Are they things on my time table? Nope. Are they exactly what I would have ‘ordered’ him to give me? Nope. But they are honestly much, much sweeter.

FROM PEACEFULWIFE

We’ll look at the other questions from the top of this article in the next few posts.

OTHER RESOURCES:

Nina Roesner wrote a post about the normal stages that wives go through on this journey.

My YOUTUBE CHANNEL – “April Cassidy”