The Snare of People-Pleasing

We are continuing our series about ways that controlling people try to control others.  You can check out the posts about control and boundaries, the trying to manipulate others with guilt, and playing the martyr from earlier in the week.  Today’s topic is how we sometimes try to manipulate others and maintain control by being  people-pleasers.

Is “peace” at any cost a good thing?  Is it really peace?

PEOPLE PLEASING

Being a “People-Pleaser” SOUNDS like a virtue, right?    I mean, isn’t it great to try to make everyone be happy with you and not have people angry at you?  The Bible says we are supposed to live in peace as far as it depends on us, after all.  It is easy for people-pleasers to take certain scriptures and believe that what we are doing is godly. But often, we have a very warped definition of love and we trust self more than God and feel we have to be “in charge,” not understanding God’s sovereignty and not submitting fully to Christ as Master.

Here is a list (from Vickie Champion – a psychologist/life coach) of attributes of people pleasers. I have not researched her methods and approach.  So I am not endorsing her counseling techniques, but this list may be helpful.

Here are 52 Ways to Recognize the Chronic, Ingrained People Pleaser…

The perpetual people pleaser…

1   Always avoid conflicts or even disagreements.

2   Makes it a habit to say yes when he or she wants to say no.

3   Constantly worries about hurting others’ feelings.

4   Has no idea what their dreams or goals are.

5   Feels they are never “good” enough.

6   Would rather be nice and perfect than happy.

7   Functions totally from “shoulds.”

8   Assures they always do more than their share.

9   Rarely makes decisions, putting it off on anyone else to do it.

10  Is baffled by the concept, take it easy and relax.

11  Confuses being “needed” with being “loved.”

12  Has a never-ending time management problem.

13  Avoids giving themselves credit for anything.

14  Makes it a practice to please strangers and neglect loved ones.

15  Easily attracts people who need to be rescued and consoled.

16  Strongly believes they need to “do” something to be “loved” or even “accepted.”

17  Is very insecure about their abilities, knowledge or just about anything they do.

18  Routinely operates on auto pilot.

19  Jumps to volunteer, especially for jobs that no one else will do.

20  Feels exhausted from always trying to be “perfect.”

21  Has a huge fear of letting their friends, family and even strangers down.

22  Almost always feel undeserving.

23  Thinks nothing of telling lies to not rock the boat.

24  Overpromises.

25  Constantly seeks approval from others, but could care less about their own opinions.

26  Overapologizes.

27  Wastes time with people who really don’t care or consider their needs.

28  Think they are solely responsible for others’ happiness.

29  Are scared to death of being called selfish, even for an instant.

30  Rarely, if ever, asks for help or accepts help.

31  Constantly suppresses anger, fearing rejection.

32  Would much rather be nice than be real.

33  Has no desire to listen and follow their intuition.

34  Continuously holds back from saying what they really think and feel.

35  Often feels trapped.

36  Are scared to death of being wrong or taking any kind of risk.

37  Reduces their own anxiety by focusing on others’ needs.

38  Comes unglued easily when under pressure.

39  Has plenty of regrets.

40  Tries to provide and control everything in the relationship without considering their own feelings and needs.

41 Are willing to bend over backwards to make unhappy, self-centered, controlling people feel better about themselves.

42  Becomes paralyzed with little nightmares we make up about “if we said and did this, they will say and do that.”

43  Is extremely critical of themselves.

44  Has a really hard time accepting kindness from others.

45  Has poor problem-solving skills.

46  Is unable to direct or supervise others.

47  Feels guilty about not accomplishing enough or not being able to make everyone happy.

48  Runs on the praise and appreciation of other people.

49  Seldom, if ever, expresses an opinion of their own.

50  Is secretly terrified of being “found out” that they are not as good as they appear to others.

51  Displays a bland personality. They don’t want to appear interesting, unique, or challenging. Nope, too risky.

52  Wonders why everyone seems to take advantage of them and why they get little respect?

WAS I EVER A PEOPLE-PLEASER?

YEP!!!!!!!!!!  I sure was.  This mindset was another core part of my sinful heart and a big part of why I was controlling and disrespectful.  That probably seems contradictory that a people-pleaser would be a controlling and disrespectful wife.  But I was more concerned about pleasing strangers and people outside of my family than my husband.  I didn’t want my husband to be mad at me – EVER.  But I also didn’t realize that he actually was upset with me a lot because he didn’t say how he felt – he was so distant.

I was ALWAYS worried about what other people thought and would play conflicts over and over every waking moment for weeks and months trying to decide what I could have/should have said.

I thought if I was NICE enough and kind enough that I could keep people from being mad at me.  (Have you ever worked in a retail pharmacy?  Yeah.  This strategy got me some customer service awards, but it doesn’t work on everyone!  Some people are going to be angry at me.  It won’t matter what I do.  Well, if I gave them drugs illegally, they might be happy with me, but then I will have other problems!)

I was terrified of conflict. Lots, but not all, of the things on this list applied to me.

PEOPLE-PLEASING = IDOLATRY!!!!!

People pleasing is an insidious form of idolatry, unfortunately – and it brings a whole host of other sins along with it – as idolatry always does!  I white wash it and try to believe that my motives are pure – and that it is good not to ever have someone be upset with me.  But my true motives are not pure at all.  What I am really doing is:

  • putting the approval of others above the approval of God (and often above the approval of my husband).  This is idolatry!
  • fearing men (people) rather than fearing God in a proper, respectful, healthy way. I am allowing others to control me instead of making Christ truly Lord and Master.
  • attempting to have peace on a false premise (doing anything to prevent others from being upset) instead of on the truth of God’s Word (love God, love others).
  • I fear the anger of other people and base my behavior on avoiding the possibility of some person’s anger instead of living to honor God.
  • BEING DISHONEST.  I am not saying how I feel.  I am not saying what I want. I   am not saying what I don’t want and then I am resentful of other people for “making” me do what I don’t want to do.  Then I can’t forgive them for my feeling obligated to do things for them and am tied up with the sin of unforgiveness, too!  WHEW!
  • Unforgiveness may seem small – but it is a huge sin!  The Bible teaches that even allowing anger/resentment to continue over one night gives the enemy a foothold.  Imagine what happens when unforgiveness, bitterness and resentment take deep root and grow unchecked for YEARS!
  • avoiding saying “no” because I am not strong enough to say no to things I don’t want to do.  I am allowing others to be responsible for me instead of being responsible for myself before God.  That is poor stewardship and it won’t wash before our holy God!  He will hold me accountable for my own behavior, sins and actions.  He will hold others accountable for theirs.
  • instead of being arrogantly prideful – I am prideful in a false-humility kind of way.  I put myself down and feel unworthy and speak terrible things about myself in my mind and to others.  I do not believe God’s Word about who I am in Christ.  I do not acknowledge  that I am made in the image of God and am fearfully and wonderfully made.  I do not acknowledge that my purpose in life is to glorify God.  I do not allow God’s power to flood my soul and fill me to empower me to be the godly woman God has designed me to be.  I stay in a prison of my own making, feeling sorry for myself, wallowing in my unworthiness, wasting my true potential, burying my talents in the dirt.  I don’t really believe I am a daughter of the King,  and I go voluntarily sit in the dungeon instead of at the King’s table.
  •  I have not fully yielded my heart to Christ as LORD.
  • REFUSING TO HAVE FAITH IN GOD.
  • giving up my influence authority in my marriage by refusing to speak up about my desires, my needs, my wants and my perspective.  My marriage and family suffer when I don’t know my mind, don’t know my feelings, don’t know my desires and don’t share my important perspective.  How can my husband lead properly if I am not fulfilling my responsibilities and providing important information for him to make the best decisions?
  • refusing to have any dreams.   I do need to die to myself and live for Christ.  But when I am living for Christ, He will give me dreams, desires, goals and His will.  I will be full of life, zeal, purpose, joy, peace, love and all the fruit of the Spirit.
  • setting a very negative emotional/spiritual temperature for the family.  Everyone is affected by my depressed mood, my negativity, my hopelessness, my anxiety, my fear, my worry and my lack of God’s presence.
  • setting an ungodly example of femininity and marriage for my children.
  • idolizing “being nice” instead of loving God and loving people.
  • my motives are fear based, not love based.
  • avoiding obeying God’s Word about how to handle conflict  when I am sinned against. Matthew 7:1-5 and Matthew 18:16-18. I am to go to the person who sinned against me (NOT to other people in gossip!) and tell them their sin (gently, humbly, respectfully, lovingly and only after I have repented of any sin in my life).  If they do not listen, I am to take another believer with me as a witness and confront them gently, respectfully and lovingly – and if they will not listen to two people, the Bible says they are to go before the church and if they will not repent, they are to be shunned.  I don’t know many churches that actually practice church discipline anymore.  But, we can do the first few steps.  Unfortunately, most believers today think it isn’t “nice” or isn’t “Christlike” to confront people about sin.  NOT SO!  Love DOES confront sin.  Love does not allow sin to go on and on wounding everyone.  Yes, it is hard!  Yes, it is uncomfortable.  But it is our responsibility to confront sin AFTER we have confronted and repented of ALL sin in our own life first!

WASN’T JESUS “NICE”?

We tend to think that Jesus was a “nice” pushover and a wimp.  We do that because He allowed Himself to be tortured and crucified for us – which actually was an act of great strength, sacrifice and submission to God and not at all the act of a coward, pushover or wimp.  But look at the way He handled Himself with those who opposed God.  He was not “nice.”  He was to the point.  He was strong.  He was love.  He had endless courage.  He stood up for holiness.  He threw tables over in the temple to defend His Father’s house as a house of prayer.  He rebuked people when they were sinning and arrogant about it.  He rebuked self-righteousness and hypocrisy.  He was not “nice” and trying to make everyone like Him at all costs.  He didn’t shrink back from speaking the truth.  He wasn’t afraid to say what He believed and He didn’t say “yes” when he wanted to say “no.”  He never sinned in His anger.  But He did have anger.  He did confront when necessary.  He did not cower from standing for the truth and what was right.

And look at how He will come in the clouds when He returns as the triumphant King of kings and Lord of lords.  He will be on a white horse with a sword coming from His mouth and He will kill all of His enemies with one Word from His mouth.

He is a holy God.  He is just.  He is righteous.  He is ALL-POWERFUL.  He is sovereign.  He does not tolerate sin.  And at the same time, He is love.  He is mercy and grace.  What an incredible combination of strength, power and love.

Being “nice” is really not part of being Christlike.  It is culturally acceptable.  But you can be “nice” to someone as you seethe with resentment.  You can be “nice” as you stew about how much you hate them or hate what you are doing for them.  Being nice does not = being godly.  And I don’t believe that being “nice” has anything to do with what Christ has commanded us to do. The two greatest commandments are to love God with all our hearts, minds, souls and strength and we are to love others with God’s love. I John 4 says we cannot hate people and love God. And Jesus says in John 14:22-24 that anyone who loves Him will obey Him – in everything.

HOW TO SAY “NO.”

If someone is using guilt on you, THE WORST thing you can do is give the REASONS WHY you can’t do something.  They will almost always shoot down any reason and explain why that is not valid.  If you truly don’t want to do something, simply say, “I’m so sorry, I can’t.” And when they ask why, you just continue to say, “I can’t.”  Eventually, they will relent!

But it is also ok to just say

  • No, thanks!
  • I am not going to be able to do that.
  • Let me check with my husband first (if it is someone else asking for your time, money or efforts).

Remember – don’t get into a long drawn out debate or discussion with a controlling, emotional manipulator!  A brief answer of “no” that is pleasant and polite will suffice.  Then the other person is responsible for his/her reaction and emotions.

You cannot MAKE them be angry.  They choose to be angry or to hang on to anger.  That is their choice.  You do what is right in God’s eyes, and let other people handle their emotions.  Apologize if/when you sin against others, and try to live in peace.  But you are not responsible to make other people not angry or make them happy.  That is their own responsibility!

FREEDOM FROM PEOPLE-PLEASING

To be free from this idol.  I have to rip the idol out by the roots and be sure I am building only on the foundation of Christ and His Word.  I must build my life on His truth alone.  I completely repent of every sin.  I must face every fear and combat it with God’s truth, discarding all the lies.  I have to study God’s BIGNESS and sovereignty.  I must study how small I truly am.  I must see His power and my weakness.  He must become MORE and I must become less.  I totally yield my heart to His.  I give up my will for His.  I die to myself.  I live for Him as a living sacrifice every day.  I decide to fear God much, much more than I fear any person.  I decide to desire God’s approval WAY above any human’s approval.  And I decide to obey God’s Word and to abide in Him daily and feast on His Word and ask Him to fill me with His power to be the woman, wife and mother He desires me to be.

 

There is so much reason for HOPE!  Jesus is able to deliver us from the prison of being a people pleaser, or from being a martyr, or from being filled with worldly sorrow and guilt – from any sin.  And He is able to give us a life of joy, love, peace, patience and all the abundant spiritual riches of heaven!

The Voice in His Head

by the Respected Husband

On Sunday, September 23rd, the Peacefulwife ran a guest post by Kayla Gulick titled My Demon. In the article, Kayla described how all of the voices in her head accuse her husband of the worst. This prompted a discussion between the Peacefulwife and me. She then asked me about whether a guy has similar voices in his head that paint a bad picture of his wife’s intentions.

FROM A HUSBAND’S PERSPECTIVE

I told her that husbands do have a voice in their head, but it rarely talks about their wives. It is a voice telling them “You don’t have what it takes to do ……,” “You are a failure at …..,” “You are an inadequate husband, father, or son”, and “You are not good enough.” Now, I need to clarify that this voice isn’t on all of the time and usually confined to one topic at a time. This is very different from how the Peacefulwife has explained to me about women’s brains where you have an internal voice coming at you accusing your husband and justifying your disrespect and need for control almost constantly (when a wife is cherishing sin in her heart and is not filled with God’s Spirit).

Much to my surprise, after I had made that statement I turned to find the Peacefulwife with mouth agape, stunned, and fascinated with my response. Shortly, after a little water and some cool compresses on her forehead, she said, “Hmm…Satan’s strategy is to attack the God-given spiritual authority from two sides. The accuser fills the wife’s head with a barrage of ammunition against her husband about how he is not worthy of respect and how she is totally justified in her disrespect and contempt. AND the accuser fills the husband’s head with thoughts about how he is not worthy of respect and that his wife is absolutely right in her observation of his faults. The two accusing voices paralyze leadership in the marriage, in the church, in business, and in government.”

IS THIS NORMAL?

Not wanting to jump to conclusions too quickly, we wondered if this theory held up in other marriages. Understanding that a voice in my head just started saying, “Yeah….Sure, check this out…You will only find that you are different than other guys. Other guys are better than you and wouldn’t think like this at all.” So, the Peacefulwife posted the question on the Facebook page. Shortly, Kayla Gulick responded that she had just asked her husband the same question without giving him my response and he said THE SAME EXACT THING.

Another reader, a husband, responded, “I ditto your husband. We fight the fear that we may not be ‘up to the job’ almost every day. But we are men, so it is shameful to talk about it.”

A husband wants to hide any insecurities or faults that he thinks he has because he is afraid that his wife or family will not respect him.  He is afraid that he might lose any clout that he might have with his wife and family if he was to let a weakness be revealed.

Wow….So far so good with testing this theory. At church on Sunday evening, we asked the same question to several men to see if they responded in the same way. Their responses seemed to first indicate that maybe I do think like a man and secondly, and probably most importantly, that the idea of Satan attacking the spiritual authority of the marriage from both sides was probably true.

So I started searching for a way to describe what a man hears in his head and I came to the conclusion that the voice in his head is all about exposing his insecurities. I found the following quote from Jake Dudley, a 24 year old blogger, to be a really good description of how a man thinks.

And that’s all insecurity is – FEAR. Fear of things we have no control over in the first place. I know what it feels like. I’ve been faced with the doubt you experience when you are staring at a person of the opposite sex wanting soooo badly to tell them how you feel. But instead you stand there frozen from the insecurity of thinking they’ll NEVER like someone as ugly as I think I am. I’ve stood at the crossroads of a major life decision thinking that no matter which I choose I will fail, so instead I turn into a little boy and run away from all possibilities. I’ve ended things and started things and ignored people and ran away from opportunities all because somewhere along the way I believed my self-inflicted insecurities defined who I was as a man.

But here’s the thing: insecurity has NOTHING to do with who I actually am as person. Instead, it has EVERYTHING to do with who I’m terrified of becoming if I take a risk. I usually think I’ll fail. I usually think I’m not good enough. I usually think girls think I’m ugly. I usually think my time has run out. I usually think and think and think my way into a pity party of self-loathing and doubt that I forget that I was created in the image of an extraordinary God.

One Man’s Insecurities by Jake Dudley, www.corycopeland.net

A WIFE’S ROLE

A guy is always going to have insecurities and feel inadequate to fulfill his role as a husband and father. How can a wife work to control the demons that are not only speaking to her but her husband as well?  Your husband needs your respect, your trust, your belief in him, your admiration, and your affirmation. These are the confidence pills for the common insecurity. With a little boost of encouragement your husband can overcome and lead your marriage. I found the following quote from www.greatdatespot.com to be a great description of the role of a wife in handling his insecurities:

But here’s the thing- a man’s wife has a special place : she can truly build him up and quiet all other voices of insecurity -or- she can be the loudest voice of insecurity in the world. It’s a strange and magnificient power that you women yield. And it’s a power given by the source of security.

And while it may seem that these two oppose one another- they don’t. After all- a marriage is supposed to be mirror image of a person’s relationship with Jesus- so if it’s Jesus that a man’s security comes from- then it makes sense that a wife can wield similar power…if she chooses.

Ladies- you should understand- you have two choices here- to be the voice of encouragement and bolster your husband’s security or to be the voice of insecurity and rejection and crush your man (yes- you have that power). There is no third choice- if you choose to disengage and try to be in the middle- you are choosing the latter.

Ladies- your acceptance is not just vocal- though it is that. It’s not just sex, though it is that as well. It’s not respect, though it is that too. It’s all encompassing. Give him great compliments, give him great sex, give him great respect and you will see your husband be spurred on to become the man he was always meant to be. Think about it- the key to your husband becoming who he was meant to be- who you really want him to be – lies with you. Jesus could fully do it without you- but he chose to give you as a gift to your husband to speed it along. And I know, that seems like a tall order. That seems like a lot of weight on your shoulders. But it is your burden- or your joy- depending on how you look at it. Now that is your choice.

http://greatdatespot.com/2010/05/21/a-husbands-insecurity-from-10-things-men-wish-their-wives-knew-about-men/

Every wife wants her husband to be the moral authority for their family. Every husband wants his wife to be his biggest supporter, confidence booster, and encourager. When he can feel that he has your trust and appreciation it is like giving him a shot of energy.   That is why it is so easy for a man to literally become unplugged when he does not feel he is getting this support.  So what do you have if your husband is the moral authority of your family and you have the gift of energy he needs?

Moral + (e)nergy = Morale

Your marriage will have great morale. If my equation is correct the more of the energy you give him the greater the morale will be in your marriage. He will have the self confidence, self esteem, and drive to be the leader in your marriage and family.

But I know there are many who might say that, “My husband is definitely not the moral authority in our family and there is no way I can affirm him after what he has done.” Unfortunately, these husbands probably need the most support from their wives and yet their life yields very few opportunities for their wife to show praise and compliment thim. I think Priscilla Shirer addresses this pretty well in the following quote:

Now perhaps your husband has consistently proven that he’s not worthy of your trust. He’s been careless with money, drawn to addictions, perhaps even unfaithful to his marriage vows. The reason you can’t ascribe high value to his character, you say, is because he hasn’t shown you very much of it. And you’re right—his carelessness, laziness, or lack of integrity is not your fault. You are not responsible for what he’s done and is doing, even if you’ve been less than careful about loving him well and feeding his ego.

But even you—even now—can resolve to affirm your husband and to promise that your trust in him is not gone forever. It may need to be reconstructed with the aid of outside help and ongoing accountability, but he needs to know that your heart’s desire is to reestablish confidence in him.

Your Husband’s Two Biggest Fears, Priscilla Shirer

If we understand the destructive nature of the voices in our heads and that Satan’s plan is to attack our marriage and family we can start silencing the voices. I know when I feel that my wife is in full support with me about something the voice I hear is, “You can do this because she trusts and believes in you.” The Peacefulwife is very good at saying, “I am going to look out for the good in my husband and let God deal with his sins.”

Let’s build up the morale in our marriages starting now.

When a wife refuses to obey God’s commands by disrespecting her husband, she cooperates with Satan and becomes a megaphone that amplifies the accuser’s message to her husband.  But when a wife respects and follows her husband, she cooperates with God and becomes an amplifier for God’s voice and His will.  WOW!  This is POWERFUL stuff!  May we use our power for great good, ladies! – The Peacefulwife

Other Wives Have "Demons," Too!

Kayla authored a guest post last week that really caught the attention of so many wives – and my husband and me.  There were LOTS of lightbulb moments.  I want to share some of the comments two other wives made that I think might be especially helpful for wives.  We also had a LOT of discussion on the Peacefulwife Blog Facebook page about these things over the weekend that you may want to check out, too!

Please check out my Peacefulwife Blog Facebook Page.  There are a few new videos and posts.  I would especially encourage wives to watch the one about “Judging Our Husbands Wrongly.”  MANY of us are very guilty of this.  I sure was!  It’s time for God to open our eyes to how we are sabotaging our husbands spiritually.

WIFE #1

It’s good to know I’m not the only one battling a demon. Mine works a little differently, but hurts my marriage just as much. Mine questions the motives behind my husbands compliments, turning “you look beautiful today” into there is something wrong with my appearance on other days. Then I don’t accept his compliments with grace. When my husband little things to show his love, my demon twists that into my husband thinks I can’t do that for myself. And my poor husband who is just trying to love me is turned into a bad guy. Questioning his love and his motives is just as disrespectful as belittling him.
I’m just now learning that the demon’s voice is not godly, but is in fact from the father of lies who wants to destroy my marriage. And I’m working on listening to my husband who loves me and listening for the Holy Spirit.

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WIFE #2

This post is amazing! Because I read this post, an unwanted situation was avoided this afternoon between me and my husband. I’m going to share because I am so thankful for the wives who share their progress with us and help us to all grow together in Christ.

I share your views regarding the t.v. I also don’t care for loud sports games screaming into the house via the t.v. Today, my husband was wearing his headphones listening to the Sunday football game as he worked in the yard. I was happy to not have to hear it. He came inside and asked me if I would like to share a cold drink with him on the deck. I said SURE! I was happy that he wanted to take some time out to be with me.

Well…….the headphones did not come off. He smiled at me across the picnic table and gave me the thumbs up every time there was a good play and frowned when his team messed up. If I had not read your post earlier, I would have listened to the demons in my head that were saying, “OMG! Is this man crazy?” “Does he really think I want to sit here and watch him listen to a stupid football game?” “How can he be so insensitive?” “The nerve of him to come ask me to share a cold drink with him and he doesn’t even have the decency to give me his undivided attention!”

Thankfully, your post and your story was fresh in my mind. Because of your insight and willingness to share, I was able to kick the demons out and notice what else was going on. He kept his hand on mine on the picnic table the entire time. He verbalized the play by plays as though he thought I was interested and cared about his team. He was sharing something he loves and enjoys with me, his companion and friend.

I decided to smile back and stay with him in spite of feeling as though I was just a spectator and realized that to him, we were sharing a “moment”. When the game ended, which was only about 20 minutes later, he took off his headphones and said, “Wanna take a walk?” We walked hand in hand enjoyed each other the rest of the afternoon.

If I had not read your story, I feel sure that I would have responded to the “demons” and ruined a perfectly good day!

Thank you, April for providing this wonderful place for wives to grow and share. Thank you kaylagulik for sharing today!

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FROM PEACEFULWIFE:

For me – focusing on a list of my husband’s strengths and adding to that as I thought about it each day was extremely helpful. And I didn’t allow myself the luxury of wallowing in his “failures” anymore. I also began focusing on MY sin – that was humbling. When I saw myself more accurately – that helped me not be so judgmental – I had more sin than he did! And then when I saw God – and began to understand the vastness and power of His sovereignty – I held onto that and scripture and praises for God to fill my mind. Sometimes I would play praise music loudly and sing at the top of my voice. And I immediately confessed sin to God. I hope that helps.
I think it is also helpful to realize that a lot of what that horrible voice says are assumptions – NOT facts! Thinking and meditating on the Philippians 4:8 things about my husband was a good way to counteract the lies with truth.
This DOES get easier. As you resist Satan and have God’s Spirit more and more in control – the accuser’s voice gets softer and softer until – for me – I hardly even hear it anymore. That is where so much peace comes from! I hear God’s voice strongly now and barely hear Satan’s voice. And when I do hear that accuser’s voice – I know to ignore him. I actually kind of smile when I hear it now and think to myself – I am NOT going there again! I pray for all of you to find this supernatural peace of God and the joy that comes with it. :)

I can’t keep this news to myself! Have to share it with all my sisters in Christ that I love!

A Wife Learns to Stop "Coaching" Her Husband

Here is a message I received from a reader about the post yesterday.  She has some really amazing insights to share.  Thank you for sharing your story, Theresia!

About the “Are We Deceived about How to Find God’s Will?” post. 

This makes me think about when God learned me that respect towards my husband is the only thing that works.

For half a year me and my husband had a great phase when we were praying a lot together, were united in our goals and he was also fasting for 21 days. After that I felt like things were getting a little less good and I was afraid that we should lose out on this intimacy both with each other and God. I think the best way to describe it is that I more and more turned into becoming my husbands coach. I was trying (I thought very respectfully) encourage my husband to pray and on on, how he should think, do, act… everything. The intimacy surely diminished and we argued more and more.

Then came a weekend when we had a babysitter, we went out of town to go to a christian meeting, sleep at a hotel and go to a wedding the next day. Church was awesome, and afterwards I thought – now we’re going to live really close to God and each other again. The next morning I wanted to spend a lot of time praying with my husband but he wasn’t as motivated as me – I became anxious and started to be a coach again. I felt almost like it was now or never – now we have to be close to God or we will loose the chance. That morning we argued more and more. Everything was terrible as we sat in the car on our way to eat lunch before the wedding. Then I suggested – let’s pray each of us on our own. We did, I hoped God would say something good to my husband, but as I was listening for myself God said to me – Can’t you see this is not working? You’re only making him miserable. The only thing that works is my Word.

In my heart I understood what God was trying to say. The only thing that gives me what I want is giving my husband what God said I should give him – my respect, honor and admiration.

Before we had lunch I told my husband what God told me, I repented and told him I would change.

And so I did. I quit being that coach, realizing that was God’s job. I repented from trying to be God to my husband. Maybe you could say I went from being coach to cheerleader. I tried my best every day to only talk encouraging words and let my husband think, act and choose on his own.

Now I know that in times when I’m successful at being that good wife the Bible talks about my husband is happier and more confident about his abilities to take care of us as a family and make wise decisions.

He has actually said – since you’ve honored me more I feel more led by God! He also shows me much more love!

I’ve also noticed that as I’ve stepped down from being a coach to instead be my husband’s follower I’ve become much more happy and relaxed. Overall I feel safe. There’s just a whole lot of stress going away. I understand that that’s how it feels when you do what you’re supposed to do. Trying to act God is not my job – not strange that makes me tired and anxious.

So, God’s way is the only way, at least the only way that will work! 

Since I repented that day I’ve repented many more times. It’s so ironic how until then it was always my husband who repented, never me, and I thought that was right. He was the one doing wrong, not me. I’m so happy my eyes were opened to my own sin.

A Peacefulwife VIDEO!

 

My Old Ways vs. My New Ways.

For those of you who have missed out on my Facebook videos – here is a brand new one – my first on my blog!  WOOHOO!

You are welcome to comment or ask questions on the post.

Being a Good Follower

If you tend to be a controlling, contentious, “always right,” resentful, disrespectful wife – like I used to be – learning to follow your husband can be a big challenge.  You may not think he is leading at all, or that he can’t lead or won’t lead.  Or you may not like the way he is leading.

Here’s the deal.

Most men WILL lead if we get out of the way.   REALLY.  They are designed by God to be the leaders in marriage.  If we can step down, stop trying to control everything, embrace humility and acknowledge that we might not be right about everything, be still, be PATIENT (and willing to wait as long as it takes) and LISTEN – our husbands will lead. (Ephesians 5:22-33, Titus 2:5, I Corinthians 11:3)

(If you have a husband who has an active addiction, active infidelity or serious mental health problem that is not being controlled or he is being physically abusive-  you may need outside help from a godly, experienced counsellor/pastor/mentoring couple.  In those situations, it may not be safe to follow your husband until he repents and shows fruit of repentance in his life.)

SOME FOLLOWING BASICS:

  • Don’t rush or push him to make decisions.  Give him as much time as he needs.  If there is a deadline on something, you may try handing him the paperwork and say, “I want to do X.  The deadline is September 15th.  Here’s the form.  I trust whatever you decide on this.  Thanks for handling it!”  And then don’t bring it up again.
  • I find it works better if I email my husband my ideas or things I want to do, or say them in passing and then leave him alone to think about it so that I am not sitting there impatiently like I used to – scowling and tapping my fingers, angry that he wasn’t answering faster.  So now, I just say, “Honey, I’d like to think about giving money to X charity.”  And then I leave it.  If he doesn’t bring it up – then it’s not God’s will for us right now.  I trust my husband and God to hash things out.
  • I don’t expect him to read my mind.  I tell him what I want and how I feel.  Then I trust him to make the best decision for our family, and I trust God to lead my husband.
  • When your husband is speaking to you – STOP what you are doing and listen carefully.  Act like what he is saying matters!  Whether it is about his work, or what he wants to do around the house – or something he is asking you to do or stop doing – give him ALL of your attention!  Your husband’s feelings and wisdom are important.  God may be trying to communicate to you through your husband – but you have to be willing to listen.  When he says things like, “That friend is taking up too much of our family time,” “I feel like I am not one of your top priorities,”  “I am feeling disrespected by you,” “I think we need to do X about the situation with our children” – HE IS trying to lead you spiritually.  If we can listen – we will hear the leadership.
  • Do not interrupt him or answer for him.  We do this sometimes and don’t even realize it.  But that is REALLY disrespectful.  We need to slow down and listen carefully.  Many times our husbands ARE TRYING TO LEAD US and we are not listening.
  • Do not assume the worst and have a whole conversation with him in your head and think you know what he will say.  Let him respond to you the way he wants to.  Try not to peg him in a hole and have him declared guilty of something before he even has a chance to have the conversation with you himself.
  • Watch your body language.  Men are not as verbal as we are – in general.  But they pay VERY close attention to our eyes, our facial expressions, our tone of voice, our crossed arms and the scowl on our faces.  It’s good to eliminate disrespect from our speech.  We must do that.  But we have to eliminate disrespect from our body language and our soul, too!  At first, you have to hold things in and not say what you want to say.  But as God changes your heart and renews your mind, you learn not to even think disrespectful thoughts anymore!  Concentrate on the good, don’t focus on the bad!
  • I don’t question my husband’s decision.  I don’t ask, “Why would you?”  “Why did you?”  “How could you…?”  Those questions may seem innocent to a woman, but to a man, they imply that he is incompetent and incapable.  That sounds very disrespectful to most men.  I can ask for clarification or say, “I’m confused about X” and I can tell him what I want and desire.  But then I allow him to make the final call.  (I would need to resist him only if he is asking me to sin or he wants me to condone sin – that is sin according to God’s Word not in my opinion!)
  • If he makes a mistake – that is OK!  Leaders are human.  They aren’t perfect.  I’m sure not perfect!  Especially when husbands are first learning, they may make mistakes.  The most important thing is NOT the mistake, it is how YOU handle his mistake.  You can crush him with your condemnation and criticisms or you can support him and show faith in him as a leader and communicate to him that you trust him to make it right, and you stand by him.  THAT will teach him to be a better leader much more than negativity ever could!
  • Men respond to praise, encouragement, respect and admiration.  That is where your power is as a follower – that is a special kind of power called influential power.  Use your words to build up your man!!!
  • It is easy to criticize.  But criticizing only paralyzes your husband and beats him down.  The foolish wife tears her home down with her own hands (and words).
  • Be full of grace, mercy and forgiveness towards him as Christ has for you!  Read the verses after the Lord’s prayer – if we don’t forgive those who sin against us, God will not forgive us!
  • Accept his compliments, gifts, time and efforts with GRACE and gratitude!  Husbands mean what they say when they give compliments.  It’s insulting and disrespectful to argue with anyone when they give you any kind of compliment.  At the MINIMUM – please smile graciously, and say, “Thank you very much!”  And if he takes you out to dinner – please do not criticize his gift, enjoy his thoughtfulness and generosity and THANK him.  He is showing you how valuable he thinks you are.  Don’t say, “You shouldn’t have.”  Say, “You’re the BEST!” If he buys you a gift, THANK him and do not criticize his taste, the color, the style… show gratitude and genuinely appreciate what he did to try to bring a smile to your face.  Your delight is your gift back to him!
  • Be excited about his ideas.  At least give him a chance.  Try to love his ideas for 10-15 minutes before you think of problems.  And if you do have concerns, try saying things like, “I’m confused about…”  “I don’t understand…” because those phrases don’t sound disrespectful to most men.
  • On the rare occasions when he decides to go against your desires – cooperate willingly, cheerfully and joyfully.  Tell him, “Thank you for hearing my heart and considering my perspective.  I trust you to do what is best for our family in God’s sight.  I know you are accountable to God for your decisions, not me.  Thank you for your leadership.”  This will help him feel the whole weight of his decision and the consequences – and helps him REALLY seek God’s voice and God’s will instead of his own.  Knowing all your faith and trust are in him helps him grow as a leader!  Then take your concerns to God and trust that God is big enough to work things out for your best and your family’s best even though the direction may not seem right to you at the time.  Thank God for His sovereignty.  Thank God for your husband’s leadership.  God can and does lead you through your husband (if your husband is not asking you to sin).  If you fight your husband, you may be fighting God!
  • Praise everything he does that you admire!
  • Be friendly – act like you like your man.  SMILE at him.

Ways Husbands Lead that Wives Often Don’t Notice

This is a continuation of the post two days ago about how wives tend to have VERY specific and high expectations of exactly what it means to be a spiritual leader – and how many of the things we expect aren’t even biblical.  Not only that – but our expectations can lead to sin in our hearts (contempt, bitterness, resentment, disrespect, rebellion against our husbands or God, divisions, factions, fighting, hatred – and ultimately lost unity in our marriages and families).  When our children (and those around us) witness a marriage like this, they are repelled from Christ.

Let’s look at ways that husbands actually DO try to lead in their families.

There is a REALLY good chance that your husband is trying to lead you – but – are you listening?  Are you following?  Do you even acknowledge his attempts at leadership?

In real life, some husbands tend to lead in subtle ways.  They don’t necessarily announce – “We will now begin our 6:30pm nightly Bible study time.  Here is an outline of the books of the Bible we will be covering for the next 12 months.  There will be  a test every week and here is a list of all the Bible verses I expect each family member to memorize each week.  You will all be graded. There will be an essay question once a month, with extra credit options.”

I think sometimes we as wives tend to expect our husbands to stand in front of our families like a pastor or like a Sunday School teacher and teach for 1 hour every night.

I would like to suggest, that MOST husbands don’t follow that type of style, but they DO try to lead their families in many ways.

EVERY HUSBAND IS UNIQUE

Each husband has his own style, personality, perspective, gifts and strengths.  Each one will have his own particular brand of leadership – and it will change as he grows and matures.  But keep in mind that NO husband arrives to marriage completely spiritually mature and with a total grasp on godly leadership.  Godly maturity and leadership are developed over many years, decades even.  And the more we cooperate and support our husbands’ attempts at godly leadership, the more quickly they will learn and grow and honor God.

Also – remember that for a husband to be a great leader – he needs a great follower – you!  If you are trying to lead – you are not following.  If you are busy criticizing, you are not following.  It’s time for us to learn to be fantastic, supportive, encouraging, amazing followers!

MY HUSBAND’S BRAND OF LEADERSHIP

This section is a description of my husband’s particular style and how our marriage works now.  Your marriage may look different.  That’s ok.  Follow YOUR husband’s leadership and appreciate his strengths.  Admire and thank him often for what he does for you and your family.

My husband leads first of all by example, I believe.  Even when I was so disrespectful and controlling – my husband was peaceful, forgiving, patient, kind, generous and loving.  Back then, I thought I was so spiritually mature and “above” him because I read my Bible daily, I prayed a LOT (sometimes 4 hours/day), I wrote my prayers in a notebook, I could quote lots of scripture, and I “knew” how things should be.  But I held grudges, didn’t forgive, was very impatient, rude, condescending, holier-than-thou, disrespectful, prideful and was committing constant idolatry –  putting my own self and trying to have control up as idols in my heart.  I also put my husband and our marriage as idols in my soul.  And I didn’t even see it.  Like Eve, I was so blind and deceived, but I thought I knew best.  Imagine the blessings and miracles I missed out on for 15 years because of my disobedience to God’s Word and the sin I cherished for so long in my heart.

My husband leads in subtle ways, ways I used to miss:

  • He gives me direction and guidance.  Often what he is saying is really God’s Word to me – if I will but listen and cooperate.  My husband may say, “I think you are spending too much time blogging.  I want you to take a break and spend some time with the family for awhile.”  THAT IS SPIRITUAL LEADERSHIP, LADIES!  Or he may say, “I think you need to take a nap today.  You haven’t been getting enough sleep and I can see you are really worn out.” Sometimes, he just makes suggestions. That is his way of leading me. He doesn’t usually give me “commands.”  I am wise when I listen to his suggestions.  The whole family benefits from my husband’s wisdom and leadership.
  • He helps me say no to unhealthy commitments.  He sees where I get out of balance or zealous to do something that might take too much of my energy and leave me drained with nothing but scraps for my family.
  • He disciplines our children.  My husband may be more strict or harsh with our children than I am.  Or sometimes, he may be more relaxed with them than I am.  But his powerful influence on our children is a HUGE way that he leads spiritually in our family.   If I cooperate with him, tell him my feelings and perspective, but trust him to handle situations as he sees best – my children learn real discipline, they learn to have godly character, they see the unity in our marriage and they see my example of how to submit to God-given authority.  My example is the standard upon which  they will base their own future submission to God and God-given authority.
  • He desires physical intimacy with me.  God designed sex to be the glue that holds a married couple together physically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually.  Both the husband and wife are bonded to one another during the one flesh relationship with a cocktail of neurotransmitters and endorphins (a natural “high”).  And sex unifies the married couple spiritually in ways we can’t begin to fathom.  It helps to keep divisions away.  It removes tension and helps promote forgiveness.  This needs to be a HUGE priority whenever physically possible in marriage.  And I count this as one of the ways my husband gently leads me and creates a very loving, strong, tight-knit, unified, vibrant, flourishing marriage relationship.  It’s important to stop serving the family and just enjoy and savor each other.  Kind of like our quiet time with God rejuvenates our soul.  The relationship and intimacy is much more important than the to-do list. (If your husband is not interested in sex, check out this post. If you feel like a piece of meat to your husband, check out this post. I also have a number of others, send me a comment if you need more resources.)
  • He handles the salesmen and solicitors.
  • He gently confronts sin in me when he sees it.
  • He tends to see the big picture.  My husband doesn’t get bogged down in every little detail like I tend to do.  Sometimes, I get overwhelmed with all the daily little details and having my husband there to help me step back and look at the bigger picture saves my sanity many times!
  • He takes care of his own spiritual connection with God.  He decides how, when, where he reads the Bible and prays.  He seeks God’s will for his life and our family. I encourage and support him. But I don’t interfere with his relationship with the Lord or try to tell him what to do anymore.
  • He doesn’t get swayed by emotions like I do.  There are definitely times when my hormones and emotions completely engulf me and I feel like I am drowning.  My husband is my “second rock” (Jesus is my first!) and he can help pull me up onto dry ground if I am willing.  There are times when I know I can’t rely on my feelings, and during those stormy days, I trust my husband’s words, his love for me, God’s Words and His love for me – and I don’t trust my feelings.  I keep my eyes on Christ and I keep my eyes on my husband and hang on tight, knowing that my feelings will settle down in a few days.  I don’t allow myself to be tossed about by my hormones and feelings.  I trust God and my husband and don’t lean on my own understanding.  My faith in Christ and my man are much greater now than my faith in my own wisdom or my emotions.  My husband can pull me up onto the rock of his steady soul and he is a resting place, a safe place for me.
  • He takes responsibility now for the ultimate decisions.  This is a HUGE relief for me!  I couldn’t carry all that weight.  It overwhelmed me before.  Now, I am so FREE!  I can share my perspective, my feelings and desires, but then I trust my husband and God to work out each decision for what is in my best interests.  I can’t always see what is best.  When I try to lead, I take us the wrong way. I feel such weight off my soul since I know HE is the one who will answer to God, not me.  What a blessing!  I feel safe, protected and cherished.
  • He handles the finances now.   I took care of the finances for the first 16 years of our marriage or more.  And that was ok.  But it ended up that I was telling my husband what to do (when my hours were suddenly cut at work) – and that didn’t really work well.  I told my husband, “I can’t handle the finances anymore.  Here are the accounts and passwords.  Thank you for taking over.”  And then I left it with him and never touched it again.  He is saving us money in ways I had never even thought about!  And he feels the full weight of his accountability this way.  So he makes very wise decisions.  Also, he is able to treat me by taking me out to dinner or buying me things and I’m not telling him he can’t do that.  He is MUCH more generous with me AND even more responsible now that he is in charge!
  • He drives when we are together.
  • He gives me the better vehicle.
  • He researches books on marriage for me and buys me lots of books about respect, biblical submission, godly femininity and godly marriage.  He lets me share what I am learning and he listens and discusses things with me and shares his insights and perspective.
  • He takes time for himself to recharge.  Unlike wives, husbands are usually careful to have some down time so that they don’t burn themselves out.  I really admire this about men!  And he encourages me to slow down and just savor cuddling together and being together without running around like a crazy woman all the time.  That has been very healing for my soul!
  • He has fun with me and our children.  This creates a much more healthy balance for all of us than my constant seriousness did.  He definitely brings an amazing balance to our family that I was not able to bring when I tried to be in charge.
  • He stays calm and collected under pressure.  His ability to face difficulties with dignity, poise, strength, courage and self-control helps me be able to have those same qualities, too!
  • He is my compass.  If I am having a particularly difficult time with our children, I will ask my husband if he thinks I am being too hard on them, or unreasonable, or if he thinks I am being too easy on them.  His perspective helps me steer straight and not veer off too far one way or the other like I am prone to do on my own.
  • He makes the final decision.  I am free to suggest anything, to ask for anything, to want anything, to feel any way.  And most of the time, my husband does what I ask since he loves to see me happy.  But if we don’t agree – I willingly and cheerfully cooperate with his call on that issue.  If he made a mistake, I don’t hold it against him.  I trust God to use even his mistakes for our ultimate good.  I thank him for his decisions and for looking out for the best interests of everyone in the family. (There are times when a wife would not be able to submit to her husband, in certain situations.)
  • He is the one I go to first (outside of the Lord).  Whether it is good news, or a decision that must be made, or awful news – I call/text/email/talk to my husband FIRST about things.  I seek out his opinion and his wisdom before I make decisions.
  • He does a lot of behind the scenes work on my blog.  He helps find an audience for me and finds guest writers for me.
  • When I am confused about something – I go to him.  He also is always willing to listen and talk with me about issues that come up and spiritual topics – whether they are things I am writing about or situations people are in or family situations at home.
  • He decides how to use his time.  He decides what house project he wants to work on and when.  He decides his own priorities.
  • He arranges our vacations and finds great deals on them.

There are other ways, too.  But maybe this will give you a few things to think about.

What are some ways your husband leads you?  You are welcome to share!

Gentlemen, what are some ways you try to lead in your marriage and in your families?  What is your definition of spiritual leadership and what do you believe God calls you to do?