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Surrendering the Burden of Controlling My Husband – by Shannon Popkin

I am so excited to have Shannon write a guest post today as we celebrate her new book releasing this month! I hope you will check it out – it has been such a blessing to me. If you tend to struggle with wanting control, this is the book for you, my precious sister!

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This post was taken in part from Shannon Popkin’s book, Control Girl: Lessons on Surrendering Your Burden of Control From Seven Women in the Bible, published by Kregel Publications, 2017.

I often use the word “providence” when I tell about the day I first heard my husband’s name.

I was moving into my new apartment, and my only two friends in town—Chris and Jamie—had brought a meal over to welcome me to Milwaukee. As we ate, Chris shared a story from his day.

Chris was a Christian education pastor and had received a call informing him that the fourth grade boys’ teacher had quit. But after the call ended, immediately the phone rang again. This time it was Ken Popkin calling to say, “I’d like to teach Sunday school. Maybe fourth grade boys?” Chris said he just happened to have an opening.

We all laughed about the providential timing of the calls. Then my new roommate, who also went to the church, mentioned, “I know Ken Popkin from the singles group. He’s really good-looking.”

As I lay in bed that night recalling the events of the day, I whispered into the darkness, “Well, at least there’s one good-looking single guy in Milwaukee. And if he’s willing to teach fourth-grade boys, he’s got to be a good guy!”

I think God was listening to my thoughts with a big grin on his face that night. Because two years later, I wore my white dress and walked down the aisle into the arms of the Sunday school teacher of my dreams. (And yes, he is quite handsome.)

My heart swells every time I consider all the details God arranged to create that bit of foreshadowing. He prompted the back-to-back phone calls on that very day, arranged the dinner guests, and inspired the conversation—all as a teaser for the new girl in town.

Losing Control

Five years later, I didn’t doubt my decision to marry Ken, but I did doubt the extent of God’s control over the details of my marriage (among other things). I wouldn’t have said it that way, but my behavior and attitudes sure did.

My new husband, who had first brought me such joy, was now causing me deep frustration.

We had just moved to a new town, and I was feeling so lonely and anxious to get connected. Then one night, a young couple from down the street invited us over for dinner! I was almost giddy, sure that they were going to be our new best friends.

Ken was less than giddy. Not only was he less social than I, he was also exhausted. Ken is a driven, self-motivated kind of guy who gets up at four thirty in the morning, leaving him little leftover energy for Friday nights.

After a lovely dinner with our neighbors, they led us to the living room. Our conversation progressed nicely, but I noticed Ken wasn’t saying much. I glanced down to where he was sitting, petting the dog on the floor, and I noticed his hand, limp on the dog’s back. And his head was drooping at a strange angle.

Oh no, I thought. He’s asleep!

From where the neighbors were sitting, they couldn’t see Ken’s face, so I crossed my fingers and hoped they would think he was just oddly staring at their dog. I tried to hold their attention by talking faster and with more animation. But then someone asked Ken a question.

I nudged him with my foot, and his head yanked upward. He made some unintelligible remark with slightly slurred speech. I was mortified.

The neighbors laughed good-heartedly and said, “You must be exhausted.” So this beautiful evening, with these people who were now not going to be our new best friends, came to a screeching halt. They showed us to the door, and we walked down the sidewalk toward home.

In that space of about five driveways, I packed a lot in.

“Unbelievable! You humiliated me! From now on, mister, you are guzzling coffee before we go anywhere!” I spat the words into the darkness, pumping my arms with disgust. My husband lagged behind, saying nothing.

As I lay in bed on that night, recounting the events of the day and listening to the soft breathing of a man who was working so hard to provide for our family and lead us well, I was filled with regret and sorrow. This is not the sort of wife I wanted to be. I felt ugly and ashamed.

God’s Perspective on Control

In the heat of the moment, control always beckons to me with logic, clear and strong. It says, “You’ve got to do something! It’s all up to you! What if he falls asleep every time you’re invited somewhere? You’ll never make friends! Everyone will shun you! If this is ever going to turn out right, you’ve got to take control!

But lunging for the control—which always seems to slip from my grasp—never brings the peace and security I’m hoping for. In fact, it just makes everyone (me included) miserable.

Do you ever wonder what God thinks of our frustration, our anger, and our disrespect toward the husbands He has given us? Do you ever consider His perspective on our fretting, fearful, control-craving hearts?

I do. I picture God’s grin fading that night, as He listened to my sharp words, echoing off the sidewalk. And I picture His heart longing for me to find the peace that comes only from surrender. Though I wouldn’t have heard it, I imagine God whispering something like this:

Shannon, Shannon… These neighbor friends, whose opinions you’re stressing over? They’re going to move away soon, and in time you won’t even remember their names.

But that man you just emasculated? He’s building his career. He’s tired. So sure, he fell asleep. Does it really matter that much? He is a good, faithful husband. He is a kind, dedicated daddy. He is my gift to you. A life partner. Sure, he has weaknesses. But why don’t you let me handle those?

And this habit that you have of trying to control him? That’s what I’m working on in YOU! Do you think that this evening in your neighbors’ living room was out of my hands? I keep adding situations to your life that you can’t control, hoping that one day you invite Me to take that burden of controlling everything off you back. It’s a burden I never wanted you to carry.

Providence

We usually only use “providence” to describe the moments God causes details to fall into place the way we’d like. It’s heartwarming to remember the way God brought our marriages together. But has control slipped from God’s hand when marriage is hard?

No, not at all. When I think back to my early marriage struggles (like the one I described), I’m actually thankful. What if God had allowed me to persist with the illusion that I could control everything? I would have gone stomping through life as a Control Girl! Instead, God used the strain of marriage—two people trying to merge their lives—to confront me with the ugliness of my controlling heart.

Trying to control my husband is disrespectful and creates tension. It makes things worse, not better. But when I lay down the burden of trying to make everything turn out right, I find peace. When I surrender the outcomes to God, I find security. And when I turn to God with the things that seem to threaten my happiness (even a husband who falls asleep on neighbors) I find hope, comfort, and joy.

Friends, God is in control and we aren’t. If we convince ourselves that the reverse is true, we only make everyone (ourselves included) miserable. Won’t you lay down your burden of control today? Whether it’s a husband, child, situation, or outcome that you’re trying to control, God invites you to surrender that burden to Him.

He’s in control, so you don’t have to be.

Comment below for a chance to win one of three copies of Shannon’s book!

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Bio

Author and speaker Shannon Popkin loves to blend her gifts for storytelling and humor with her passion for God’s Word. Shannon is the author of Control Girl: Lessons on Surrendering Your Burden of Control from Seven Women in the Bible. Go to ControlGirl.com for free downloadable resources.

Shannon is happy to be sharing life with Ken, who makes her laugh every single day. Together, they live the fast-paced life of parenting three teens. For more from Shannon, please go to shannonpopkin.com, or connect with her on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or Pinterest.

 

Facing Our Deepest Fears

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After watching my video about What Causes a Woman to be Controlling, A Fellow Wife shared with me:

I cannot speak for other wives but

For me, fear is THE driving factor to control and I realize that.

-I have tried to be controlling with how my husband loves me because I fear that he really doesn’t love me that deeply. If I can manipulate him into showing me he loves me the way I wish he does, it validates what I want.

-I fear in my deepest heart of hearts that I am not an important priority to my husband. I want to be his number relationship priority, coming only after God. This has caused me so many emotional wounds over the years. I have tried to manipulate and push him into putting me first because it is so important to me. I FEAR that he will make choices that show other people or things are more important than me.

Fear makes me attempt to control. I think when we are attempting to control, we are emotionally tensing up and bracing ourselves because maybe we subconsciously know we are crossing boundaries we have no business crossing.

When we step back and release our husbands, we feel very, very emotionally vulnerable – at least I do. I am giving him the power to prove his love in a powerful way or hurt me deeply.

But IF we pair that with expecting nothing but decide to be grateful for any good and loving gesture, we feel relaxed – again, at least I do. Taking my expectations way down isn’t holding him to a high standard that we feel he must meet. I am not constantly watching him to see how he does on my ‘checklist’.

That is where I messed up – I let go last fall but I still had high expectations. I let go of him to make those choices but I still EXPECTED him to do what I wanted. I didn’t really control anymore – I just waited for him to measure up.

FROM PEACEFULWIFE:

A Fellow Wife explains this very well, I believe. Yesterday, we began talking about that fear often fuels our desire/need/compulsion to try to control our husbands and other people so that we will “feel safe.”

Here is one very critical piece of information for us to understand:

We don’t actually have control over much in this life. We CAN’T control other people. It is not our right or responsibility to control others. God gave each person a free will and it is not our place to try to rip that away from people. Healthy relationships involve healthy boundaries spiritually, emotionally and physically. I also can’t control circumstances much. I can only really control myself – and, quite honestly – I can only control myself if I allow God’s Spirit to do the controlling.

This is where the prayer of serenity is so helpful:

God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change (my husband, other people and many circumstances);

courage to change the things I can (me);

and wisdom to know the difference.

I have two choices about control in my life:

1. I can allow my sinful nature to be in control of my life. The results are always predictable. If I have ANY of the below characteristics going on in my life (Galatians 5:19-21), the sinful nature is in firm control. And let me mention, fear is always part of living in the sinful nature.

2. I can allow the Spirit of God to be in control in my life. When God’s Spirit is in control of my life, I will have all of the following fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23) in increasing measure as God conforms me to be more and more like Christ. And when I live in the power of God, His perfect love casts out all fear (I John 4:18). The more I know God, His character and His truth, the more I understand His sovereignty, the more I walk by faith in the Spirit of God, I realize I have nothing to fear:

So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh. They are in conflict with each other, so that you are not to do whatever you want. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law. The acts of the flesh 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. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. Galatians 5:16-24

 

HOW DO WE FACE OUR FEARS?

Well, sometimes fear is necessary to a degree. If a wife is seriously not physically  safe, then, she does need to consider her safety and the safety of her children and may need to take wise and appropriate steps and reach out for qualified help (this applies to husbands, as well, if they are not safe).

Most of us, though, are not in immediate or actual danger. Most of us are married to good guys, not perfect men, but men who do love us deeply. We must examine our fears, all of them, in great detail. I personally had to write out every single fear and all of the beliefs I held and the “tapes” I played over and over in my mind and then study Scripture, God’s truth and His character. I had to ask Him to show me my errors, my sins, to expose my warped thinking and every ungodly thing in my heart and to transform me into the image of Christ.

I think it would be fantastic to write out your fears on the left side of a piece of paper, (or a lot of pieces of paper – if you have a lot of fears, like I did), and then on the right side, write down the truth of God’s Word about that issue. Then, very purposefully, consciously reject the old sinful ways of thinking and embrace God’s truth and wisdom.

Cry out to God, examine all of your motives and priorities and probe as deeply as possible into what you have built your faith and life upon. Don’t do this in a hasty, shallow way, or you will not dig up all of the sin and you will stay stuck.  To do this well requires a completely thorough soul searching where we allow the light of God’s Word to shine into the darkest corners of our souls, holding nothing back from Him. What am I holding back from God? In what areas of my life do I not trust Him fully?

This takes time. It is a process. Actually, we will always continue this daily probing search into our motives, looking for any sin and repenting of it for the rest of our lives on earth as believers in Christ.

Sometimes God reveals layers of sin or fears or unbelief or warped views of ourselves and Him over time. That is ok. We can lay ourselves before. Him and seek to yield and surrender and submit to Him as fully as we can at this moment each day. Then we can trust that as we seek Him above everything and desire to want Him more than anything else and as we seek to live in His Word and presence and as we long to obey Him and please Him and live our lives to bring honor and glory to Him out of incredible gratitude for all He has done for us – He will work in us to transform us to be like Jesus.

Until we really carefully dissect each thought and our true motives under the light of God’s Word and with the power of His Spirit working in us, we can deceive ourselves and believe that our motives are good when they are actually completely sinful. It can be very shocking to discover just how sinful our motives can be. We are ALL wretched sinners. There is NO ONE who does good, not even one. (Romans 3:12)

According to God, our greatest attempts at right living and holiness look “like bloody, dirty, filthy menstrual rags in My sight” (Isaiah 64:6).

So, we learn to monitor the voice in our head and all of the messages we are saying to ourselves and we learn to pull them apart and look for sin. We learn to compare all of our thoughts to God’s Word as we stay in his Word and stay in fellowship with Him. We shoot down the lies, the ungodly ideas, the sin and everything that sets itself up against Christ and His truth. We learn to use our negative emotions to monitor our hearts and thoughts for sin, too.

  • We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ. II Corinthians 10:5

– if I find myself feeling disappointed, that is often a sign to me to check my motives. Am I trying to find my contentment, fulfillment, joy and peace in something other than Christ?

– if I am feeling angry, why? There are some reasons to have righteous anger – if I see innocent people being mistreated, if I see God being blasphemed, if I see people sinning against other people and against God, if I see people in need with none one to step in and stand up for them… If I am angry about things that make God angry, I can ask God what He desires me to do to try to make things right, honor Him and show His love and truth. If I am angry because my husband won’t do what I want him to do, then I need to examine this closely. What do I want him to do? Are my expectations biblical or unrealistic? Are my expectations fueled by sin? Greed, idolatry, materialism, selfishness, pride, self-righteousness, envy, bitterness, unforgiveness, resentment, a desire for control, a lack of healthy boundaries?  Am I crossing over from my responsibilities into my husband’s life and trying to control him or make decisions for him that God gave to him to make, that are not mine to make?

– if I am feeling lonely… Why? Am I spending enough time with God? Am I trying to make my husband fulfill needs in my life that only Jesus can really meet? Am I willing to ask for what I need and desire but respond graciously even if my husband won’t or can’t do what I desire him to do? Am I hormonal? Do things seem worse than they really are right now? How can I share my emotions without attacking or blaming my husband?  What are my motives?  Am I seeking to honor, love and obey God and bless, love and honor my husband no matter how my husband responds? Am I willing to respond in the power of God and His unconditional love and with genuine respect even if I don’t get what I want?  Or  am I trying to manipulate my husband or give him “love”  (worldly, carnal love) when my real motive is to get what I want from him?

There are also many poisonous lies (and even heresies) we have absorbed from our culture that we don’t even realize we need to question. Sadly, many of these have infiltrated the church today:

  • humanism – People are God. People are basically good. There is no God. We know best.

This is worship of people and of self. This is blasphemy. God’s truth is that God alone is God. God has great wisdom, we do not. People are wretched sinners in desperate need of the blood, mercy, forgiveness and grace of Jesus Christ who died to give us the opportunity to be made right with God. We cannot be “good enough” to please God on our own.

  • feminism – (some of the messages of various stages of feminism have been incredibly harmful to us as believers in Christ) – Women are morally/spiritually superior to men. Men are bad. Women are good. If women are in charge, everything in the world will be “right.” Men are always evil and oppressive if they are in charge. Men are idiots. Women are smarter than men. Being masculine is “wrong.” Men should think, act and feel like women. Patriarchy is evil. God is female, or, whoever you want “her” to be. The Bible is not true. (For more on how feminism has impacted all of us, please read here.)

God’s Word declares that all people are sinful and that no one is “good” or righteous in God’s sight (Romans 3). That means men and women are all sinful. Women are not “better than” men. And men are not “better than” women. God designed the authority structure of the family, church and government to provide for, care for, protect and bring order to His people. People are sinners. Sometimes people in positions of authority use their free will to rebel against God and to abuse others. But that does not mean that God’s structure of authority is bad. God’s Word tells us that God is the head of Christ, Christ is the head of the husband and the husband is the head of the wife in marriage. I Corinthians 11:3. God put the husband in the position of spiritual leadership and authority in marriage, not because he is more “valuable” and women are “second class citizens” but because God designed marriage to be a living picture of Christ and the church where the husband represents Christ and the wife represents the church and because this is God’s wisdom. (Ephesians 5:22-33, Titus 2:3-5, I Peter 3:1-7). Where someone is given authority (husband, parent, pastor, Bible teacher, church leader, deacon, elder, manager at work, government officials), he/she has much greater responsibility and accountability before God. (God’s design for Spiritual Authority)

  • universalism – every religious belief leads to God. No one particular religion is better than another. They all lead to heaven eventually. Everyone will go to heaven.

Jesus clearly states, “I am the Way, the Truth and the Life, no one comes to the Father except through Me.” John 14:6

There are many more ungodly influences and teachings we have been exposed to in the world and in the church. It is time to question every idea and premise and to throw away the ones that are evil and ungodly and to dig down to the foundation of Christ and build our lives on the Rock of Jesus and His Word alone!

Tomorrow, we will examine Finding Victory Over Our Fears in Christ!

SHARE:

If you have done the hard work of facing your fears – we would love to hear how you did it. I believe the more wives’ stories other wives can hear, the better. 🙂

 

Fear Fuels Our “Need” to Control

 

FEAR is a major part of our motivation to grab for control as women. We are afraid we won’t be loved. We are afraid we aren’t secure in the relationship. We are afraid we will be rejected. We are afraid we aren’t good enough. We are afraid we aren’t beautiful enough. We are afraid of so very many things!  Lots of us learned fear when things were out of control and we did not feel safe as children. We also molded our image of who God is and His character from our fathers influence or lack of influence in our lives. I am going to share some extremely simplistic examples of ways our experiences in childhood may impact our view of God and our husbands. This really could be a book in itself, I am sure. It is obviously much more complicated than what I am about to describe, but hopefully these examples might be a bit helpful.

Our fathers were supposed to be godly examples of the character of God – that mysterious combination of power and gentleness, strength and meekness, holiness and mercy, unconditional love and justice. We learned from them what to expect from God and from men:

  • Girls who didn’t have fathers in their lives, learn that God/men are not there, not reliable, not dependable, and often these girls develop a fiercely independent spirit and learn to trust SELF. These girls often struggle mightily with the desire to have a father figure and to be loved and accepted unconditionally and may not think it is possible for God or men to love and accept them or to be able to grasp what God’s character and love are like  (or a godly masculinity is like) because they haven’t seen anything like it in real life.
  • Girls who had abusive fathers or father figures in their lives learn that God/men are not loving, not able to protect them, not able to stop bad things from happening to them, that God/men have evil motives and they learn that they have to try to control things themselves or they are not safe. They will easily develop an extremely warped image of God and possibly an inability to see the good in their husbands.  (These precious ladies are going to need extra specialized, experienced wife mentors/Christian counselors to help them work through the deep scars and wounds they have experienced. I have not been through abuse, and am not able to write from that perspective. My blog is not written for women in severe situations who have been through abuse, mental health issues, drug/alcohol addictions, infidelity. If you have experienced something serious like this, I pray you will seek godly, experienced, appropriate counsel. My blog may not be helpful for you. God can heal you, and His Word applies to us all, but my words may not!)
  • Girls who had domineering mothers and passive fathers learn that God/men are not very active or involved in our lives and that God/men don’t really care about women and that God is not in charge, and men are not to have leadership in marriage, women are supposed to lead and men should submit to their wives. They also learn to be very independent and to take charge and to be in control in the marriage. They may develop a very warped image of God and masculinity.
  • Girls who had very dominating, intimidating fathers may be afraid of God/men (in an unhealthy way), waiting for God to “zap” them if they do the slightest thing “wrong” and they may live in an unhealthy fear of God and masculinity, not knowing His grace, mercy, unconditional love and not realizing there is any safety or refuge in Him.
  • Girls who had overly permissive fathers may not really consider God or His Words much (or her husband and his words) and just think about what they want and ignore God’s counsel/their husbands’ counsel, His wise boundaries that are there for our protection, His holiness and the gravity of their sin.  They may not have appropriate healthy fear of God and reverence for God and may not have appropriate respect for their husbands God-given authority.
  • Some of us had pretty godly fathers but still absorbed so many lies from the world (from school, our careers, the church, friends or the media) or from traumatic situations that we still developed a very warped understanding of God and masculinity.
  • If our fathers seemed “weak” in our eyes, or “not in control,” or if they had addictions of some type, we may have felt that we had more wisdom than they did and that we were “the adult” in the relationship and they were the “children.” We may have this view of God and masculinity, as well when we are adults.

Whatever we believe about our dad and his character and his love for us, we tend to believe about God. Whatever our parents’ marriage was like, we have been “programmed” by living with them as we grew up to think that their way of doing marriage was “normal” and “right.” We often develop ideas about God and build our theology about God as children based solely on our experience with our earthly fathers (and, to some degree, our mothers):

  • He doesn’t really love me.
  • I can never be good enough for him.
  • I have to be perfect for him to love me.
  • If I could just make him spend time with me, I know he would love me!
  • He hurt me again, I can’t trust him. I can’t trust men. I can’t trust anyone.
  • He didn’t protect me. He isn’t able to keep me safe.
  • He is so harsh with me. He doesn’t have my best interests in his heart. I can’t be honest or vulnerable with him. I am not safe.
  • He ignores me. I mean nothing to him. All these other things are so much more important to him than I am.
  • I’m never going to let a man treat me the way he is treating my mom. I’ll be sure I am in charge and never let a man hurt me.
  • He has evil motives towards me.

Then, we end up believing these ideas we have about our fathers to also be true about God – no matter what the Bible says about God. We tend to believe our experiences with our fathers or father figures are more true than God’s Word. Unfortunately, every dad is a sinner – and even the best dads fail at some point or another. Sometimes we cannot shake the warped construct of God in our minds because we don’t even realize how deeply flawed our understanding of God is.

We may also have developed significant fear from having a mother who was very unloving, hateful or abusive – or from being abused by someone else emotionally/mentally/physically/sexually as we were growing up. Or, we may have had a very difficult romantic relationship in the past that created major doubt in our ability to be “worthy of love.” Maybe someone, even a pastor or a teacher, tried to use great fear and guilt to manipulate us. Or maybe we were constantly rejected by people we cared most about.

We also learned from our mothers how to biblically submit to our fathers and to those in spiritual authority over us and to God (and some of this we learned from our fathers, as well, how he related to God and those in authority.) If we did not witness our mothers respect and biblically submit to our fathers, we will have a much harder time learning to do this ourselves.

I am sure the possibilities are practically endless of all the ways that fear can become one of the biggest motivators in our lives. No matter why we have learned to do things out of fear, God calls us to learn to receive His love and healing and to learn to do things out of LOVE.

To become the godly women Christ desires us to be – we will have to be willing to examine everything we think we know about God, godly masculinity, godly femininity, marriage and living for Christ and trash everything that is not based on the truth of God’s Word. Then we will rebuild on Jesus Christ and His Word alone. Our lives require total renovation and transformation.

We also tend to take our fears and understanding of masculinity that we experienced with our fathers (or with prior boyfriends/husbands) and assume that our husbands are the same way. We want our husbands to make up for the things we were lacking as children or in an abusive relationship in the past – and to heal our wounds, many times. We easily turn our husbands into idols (something more important than Christ in our hearts) and lay certain expectations on them that they should meet spiritual and emotional needs for us that really only Jesus Christ Himself can meet. (We do need to some level of basic expectations of faithfulness, respect, love, honor, etc… But we want to watch for unrealistic, destructive, or unbiblical expectations.)

  • He has to show me unconditional love all the time.
  • He has to prove that I am his first priority in the way I think he should all the time.
  • He has to accept me no matter what I do wrong.
  • He should stop watching TV or working on the computer or working at his job and spend every possible waking moment with me and meet my needs for love, affirmation, romance and emotional connection.
  • He should just know what I need.
  • He should want to always emotionally connect with me like I want to always emotionally connect with him with words.
  • He should want to pray with me like I want to pray with Him.
  • He should be my hero.
  • He should be like Christ.
  • He should always have unwavering grace, mercy and forgiveness for me.
  • He should never sin against me.
  • He should never fail me, never leave me and never forsake me.
  • He should …
  • He should …
  • He should …

And if my husband doesn’t do what I want him to do – I WILL NOT BE OK!

  • I HAVE TO HAVE HIS LOVE.
  • I HAVE to be his number one priority.
  • I HAVE to feel loved and hear him tell me that he loves me.
  • I HAVE to have more quality time with him.

Or I will feel unloved. And that is not acceptable! I MUST feel loved all the time.

Sometimes we also make the mistake of believing our feelings all the time, even when our feelings are not telling us the truth:

  • If I don’t FEEL connected to him, we are not connected.
  • If I don’t FEEL loved in this moment, I am not loved.
  • If I FEEL lonely, I am alone.
  • If I FEEL afraid, I have good reasons to be afraid and my fear is always justifiable. (some fears are justifiable, but some are not.)

Our feelings are not always accurate about these things!

THEN WE THINK:

  • I cannot feel unloved. My worth and value as a person is completely dependent on my husband loving me the way I want to be loved. If he doesn’t love me the way I want him to, my greatest fear will come true!!
  • My happiness and contentment in life completely depend on my husband doing what I want him to do when I want him to do it the way I think he should do it.
  • My husband is responsible for my happiness, not me.
  • I am not responsible for my own emotional stability, contentment, happiness, fulfillment, peace and joy.

SO…

  • I will love him so that he will love me.
  • I will be kind to him so that he will be kind to me.
  • I will do things for him and give him things so that he will take care of me the way I want him to.
  • I will tell him what to do so that he will meet my needs.
  • I will make him love me the way I want to be loved.
  • I will dictate to him and demand my way because I WILL NOT allow myself to experience my deepest fears of rejection and feeling unloved.

If he does NOT love me the way I want him to, I am totally justified to be hateful to him, to disrespect and hurt him because he failed me. I can sin against him if I feel unloved because “he is supposed to love me the way I want him to love me.”

AS I TRY MORE AND MORE TO CONTROL MY MAN TO MAKE HIM LOVE ME (OUT OF FEAR):

  • I sabotage our intimacy.
  • I sabotage his masculinity.
  • I emasculate him.
  • I disrespect him.
  • I hurt him.
  • I push him away.
  • I become so prickly that it becomes increasingly difficult for him to love me.
  • I smother him.
  • I use negativity, criticism, lectures, ridicule, sarcasm, mockery, humiliation, manipulation, guilt, people pleasing or I play the martyr to attempt to control him if he will not do what I tell him to do.
  • I dig in my claws and try even harder to force my way because I cannot face my fears. And I don’t even see that I am creating the very thing I fear the most myself. I don’t even see that I am foolishly tearing down my marriage and my husband with my own hands and my own words and attitudes.
  • I become increasingly desperate, needy and clingy.
  • I become insatiable.

Eventually, my husband realizes he CAN’T meet my needs, please me or satisfy me and he gives up even trying. It is not worth his time because I am going to treat him with contempt no matter how hard he tries. He can never measure up and he can never be perfect – he cannot be Christ to me. He can never make me happy and he feels like a failure every time he sees me. It becomes easier for him to shut down and try to be far away from me (or to respond in anger) because he does not feel safe, respected, loved, appreciated or valued with me.

My motives are not to love him selflessly with the unconditional love of Christ and to bless him and honor God. My motives are to make him give me what I want. My motives are selfish.  My motives are fueled by fear of not getting what I want. This is not God’s brand of “love.” This is worldly, carnal, sinful “love.”

Tomorrow we will continue on to Part 2 where we will talk about facing our  deepest fears and  then in Part 3 we will talk about finding victory over our fears in Christ!

RELATED:

The Respect Dare with Peacefulwife – Laying Down Expectations, Day 1

Expectations – Part 1

Expectations – Part 2

Expectations – Part 3

Expectations – Part 4

Husbands Have Expectations, Too – GraceAlone’s Journey

Feelings

A Wife's Before and After

I heard from a wife this week… and I am thrilled that she is willing to tell her story.  I think that her “before problems” are where most wives are in their marriages.  And I can’t wait for you to see what God is doing in this precious wife’s soul and in her marriage!  THANK YOU to the wife who is willing to allow me to share her story!

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In the past year God has been teaching me so many of the things you mention in your posts.

I have been having little light bulbs go off here and there and it had all started  to come together lately thanks to your blog.

THE “PROBLEMS” WE USED TO HAVE IN OUR MARRIAGE

Should I submit to my husband’s leadership on things such as:
– Should my husband spend at least 30 mins of quiet time with God each morning (so that he can know how to lead our home?)
– Should we have a formal couples’ worship time – ideally every night or at least once a week?
– Should my husband be more active in church? Ideally in a ‘couple ministry’ scenario?
– Do we eat dinner in front of the tv or at the table?
– Do we attend every single church meeting/bible study on offer in our surrounding area?
– Do we invite EVERY single visitor to our house when we notice them at church?
– Do we really have to have a formal ‘date’ every week?
– Is Star Trek allowed to be played on our home tv
– Should we have pay tv (cos oh dear, if we do my husband will probably ONLY want to watch sports all day every day – since that is what we wants to do every time we stay at a hotel)
– Is my husband allowed to listen to sports on the radio as he knows I don’t like sports, and oh dear if we have kids he might also subject them to this!
– Do we both have to go to bed together at the exact same time EVERY night, cos  if we (don’t) do  it once or twice it might become a habit and then we will become one of those couples who sleep in separate bedrooms! And who KNOWS what he will watch after I go to sleep – ooooh!
-Do I help my husband in small ways in his business even thou I have my own career? If I start down this path he may overload me with so much work I will never be able to handle it!
-Do I demand that we adopt children (since I have always wanted to) and also we are struggling with infertility (been trying for 2 years) or do I wait on God to change BOTH our hearts if he wants us to go that way?

A NEW PERSPECTIVE

Above I have in a nutshell outlined ALL  the things that I perceived to be SINS in my husbands life over the past 7 years of our marriage. Although I now realize that part of the reason I was so controlling and fearful was that it actually took me this long to REALLY trust my husband because of some of the baggage he carried into our marriage, I now finally realize that pretty much ALL our arguments and problems were MY fault. I was disrespectful and controlling beyond measure. I can’t believe how patient he was all these years.

A NEW WIFE AND THE BEGINNING OF A NEW MARRIAGE

Since I have stepped out of the ‘control headquarters’ of our marriage these are the results:

– After YEARS of nagging him about why he doesn’t do private worship more regularly – the minute I stopped being controlling he just started doing private worship every morning and has never stopped! He does this more regularly than me now. Sometimes its 30 mins sometimes 5. Sometimes he just sings praise songs sometimes he studies a particular topic. He NEVER badgers me or treats me the way I used to treat him when I had more worship time than him.
– He now starts Sabbath in our home every Friday night (we are Seventh Day Adventists) without any prompting/cajoling from me. He gets the Bible, reads from it and picks a song for us to sing. He talks about God every day with me and feels like he has encounters every day when God takes care of him at work in different ways.
– To my shock, he accepted a leadership role at church – we work closely together and we also lead our in church together sometimes  (the difference was this time I didn’t guilt him or try to make him take on these roles I just asked and he prayed then accepted them!). He also takes the Bible study at church every few months.
– Yes, most nights my husband eats his dinner in front of the tv – but instead of making a huge issue out of it now I just let it be. He works super hard each day and I don’t eat dinner anyway but have a protein shake after gym so it works for us at the moment. Whether other people would feel this is normal or healthy doesn’t matter to me anymore. It’s what works for us and after dinner we always cuddle on the couch. If I even try to sneak away to my room to do my own thing occasionally he STRONGLY protests now. This is how we hang in the evenings and I LIKE it.
– We do NOT attend EVERY single Bible study/meeting in addition to ordinary church. Even though I personally would (like to) my husband recognizes the need to also rest on Sabbath and have family time. I don’t just go on my own because I found when I did I would just feel resentful that my husband didn’t come and it took away from our time together.

FROM PEACEFULWIFE:

I am SO PROUD of this wife and of all that God is doing in her heart! She sees that she was being controlling and disrespectful and she humbly allowed God to change her.  She has so many of the same issues I used to have!  It’s uncanny!  But look what happened when she took her hands off of her husband’s throat and let him lead and hear God’s voice without her voice overshadowing God’s anymore.  God’s ways are truly higher and better than our ways!  

There is no power in our disrespect, contempt and control.  Our power is in our godly femininity – our faith, our admiration, our genuine respect, our cooperation, our appreciation, our acknowledging our husbands’ wisdom, our support of their leadership and our trust in Christ.

It is only when I can accept my husband exactly as he is and not want to change him, and when I am obeying God and living in His Spirit’s power that God will change my husband!  But first – He changes ME!

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