A Wake Up Call for Wives

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We all hear in the news about cyberbullying and how many teenagers commit suicide over being bullied online as well as in person at school.   I know that all of us want to see bullying stopped and all of us want to see all suicides and suicide attempts stopped.  We don’t ever want anyone to feel that suicide is a good option.

BULLIES  DO THINGS LIKE:

– call people awful names

– insult people

– assassinate people’s character, worth and dignity as human beings

– say negative things about them to others

– bash their victims verbally on Facebook or in social media

– try to make their victims look dumb, incompetent or bad in front of others

– send frequent messages to people to devalue them, put them down and ridicule them

– use condescending words, tone of voice and body language to try to humiliate their victims

– try to turn other people against their victims

– act like they are “better than” those they hurt

– try to cause as much emotional pain as possible to others

– show no remorse, in fact, they seem to delight in inflicting as much pain as possible

  • We as moms and women want our children – and all children – to feel safe, accepted, loved, respected and precious.  We want them to know that God loves them and that He has amazing purpose for them.  We want them to know that they are image bearers of God and that their lives are important and sacred – not to be trashed and wasted.

Most of us would do almost ANYTHING to keep our children from being bullied.

What about our husbands? 

I believe most of us DEEPLY love our husbands.  You wouldn’t be reading about becoming a more godly wife if you didn’t love your man.

What if we found out that someone was using these same bullying tactics on them?

Take a look at that list about what bullies do to their victims again.   Think about how you would feel if someone was mistreating your husband in these ways.

Now…

Let’s think about how WE treat our husbands.

Yikes.

I am ashamed to say it now,  but I did some of these things.  I didn’t see it at the time.   I felt unloved. He was so shut down, I felt justified in how I treated him because of my own pain. I didn’t think he had feelings.  He never verbalized that  I hurt him.  I had no idea my husband was shut down and unplugged mostly because my behavior wounded him. 🙁

If you are using even one of these bullying tactics on your husband, today is the day for this behavior to stop.  It is NOT right for us to treat anyone like this!

The tongue has the power of life and death. Proverbs 18:21a

HUSBANDS ARE IMPORTANT PEOPLE, TOO

There are husbands out there, even in Christian marriages, who feel extremely unappreciated,  disrespected, unloved, unvalued, depressed and hopeless.  I don’t want ANY of our husbands to feel that way – not if there is anything we can do about it!

We are not responsible for our husbands’ feelings and emotions.  Each person is responsible for himself or herself before God.

We ARE responsible for how we treat our husbands, how we speak to them, how we act around them, making our marriage our first human priority and becoming more and more the godly wives God desires us to be.  God commands us to treat our husbands with honor, respect, godly love and cooperation – working toward unity on our end of the marriage.

  • I pray that we will all desire our husbands to feel safe, accepted, respected, loved and precious.  I pray that we will want them to know that God loves them and that He has amazing purposes for them.  I pray that we will want them to know that they are image bearers of God and that their lives are important and sacred – not to be trashed and wasted.  They are sons of God if they are believers.  If they are not believers, Christ still died for them and desires them to come to Him and become sons of God. 

I pray that our husbands will see in the way we treat them that they are valuable and greatly treasured by us and by God – not only for what they do but mostly for who they are.  Let’s think about how God might desire us to treat His sons, whom He dearly loves.  And let’s remember that Jesus counts the way we treat our husbands as if we are doing and saying those things to Him.

SOME RISK FACTORS I BELIEVE EVERY WIFE SHOULD KNOW ABOUT

I heard some very sad news recently – that inspired me to want to write about this topic. So, let’s talk about something that is very serious.

I don’t know if you have looked at national suicide statistics recently.   It is a most unpleasant topic, to be sure.  I am going to list a few suicide risk factors our husbands may have that might surprise us as wives (These are risk factors for both depression and for suicide.  Not everyone who experiences these issues will be depressed and not everyone who experiences these situations is at risk for suicide – but some men are. I think it is worth a minute or two of our time to really think about these issues.):

  • unemployment – facing unemployment is more difficult for many men than facing terminal cancer. (Sadly, I cannot remember for sure which book this is from.  I will add the name of the book when I can think of it!). Men tend to find a huge part of their identity in their careers and ability to provide financially.  Unemployment is often a time of serious depression for men.  Our husbands are especially spiritually/mentally/emotionally fragile during this kind of stress.   They need our support, faith, understanding, love and respect more than ever in these kinds of situations!
  • marital tension – If he believes his opinions, desires, feelings and ideas don’t matter or aren’t important to his wife, that is demoralizing for a man.  If he tries to fulfill his God-given role as leader of the family (I Corinthians 11:3), but his wife won’t cooperate with his leadership or usurps his authority and takes over, insisting she is always right (like I used to) –  it is a lose/lose situation for a husband AND for the wife, too – although she cannot see it at the time.   He may allow her to do as she wishes to try to keep the peace, even if he strongly disagrees with his wife’s decision- but he knows he is not fulfilling his role as the leader, protector and provider for his family.   He knows he can’t force her to follow him.  Even the best leader on the planet has to have willing followers.   If he desires to please his wife but she seems impossible to please and is never happy with him, that is extremely depressing for many men.  If all he sees from his wife is contempt for who he is, that she thinks of him as a failure, that she looks down on him and that she doesn’t respect him – that is a very heavy, lonely, painful burden to bear for most men.  If he longs for physical intimacy with his wife, but she often refuses him – that can be another source of excruciating pain for many men.
  • separation and divorce – divorced men are four times as likely as married men to commit suicide.  They have often lost most of their income, their children, their home, usually their friends, many times their church, their wives… and they often have very few people they can go to for emotional/spiritual support.  Men do not like to be “failures.”  “Failing” at marriage can be more painful to many men than any other pain they ever experience in their lifetime.  Marriage is supposed to last “till death do us part.”  When we divorce, it is like tearing out half of our souls.  The damage can be incalculable – and, men are often much less able to handle that kind of pain than women are (Check out the CBS news report link at the bottom).

These are not remotely all of the risk factors that could trigger a man to feel very depressed or to consider suicide.  Some other things that increase risk factors are substance abuse, isolation, family history of suicide, personal history of suicide attempts and having access to a gun.  This is not a comprehensive study of depression in men or all the reasons why men commit suicide.

But this is, I hope, a wake up call, to us as wives to consider how we might bless our men and not hurt them, especially if they are already in a dark place.

SOME OTHER IMPORTANT POINTS

  • Men often have different symptoms of depression than women do:  (From WebMD – Common symptoms of depression include loss of interest in usually pleasurable activities, fatigue, changes in appetite, sleep disturbances, and apathy. In women, depression may be more likely to cause feelings of sadness and worthlessness. Depression in men, on the other hand, may be more likely to cause them to be irritable, aggressive, or hostile.)
  • If your husband talks about wanting to die, wanting to kill himself, wanting to hurt others, wanting to end it all – please take him seriously and try to get help!
  • Men can be extremely depressed and not talk about it.  This makes it easy for some wives not to realize the seriousness of the problem before it is too late.
  • If your husband says that he feels hopeless about your marriage, disrespected, unimportant or like he doesn’t matter to you – please take his feelings seriously!  Please listen to him just as attentively as you would want him to listen to you if you told him you were feeling unloved.
  • If a man has multiple risk factors going on at once – he is at greater risk for depression and possibly suicidal thoughts.  Be sensitive to the strain that is on him – be his partner and teammate and helper to work through the issues together instead of turning on him.
  • When men are stressed because of marital conflict/separation/divorce, they are also more likely to have heart problems, high blood pressure and physical health issues than women are.

Men tend to measure their success as men by the happiness of their wives.  

I am not saying they SHOULD measure their success as men by our happiness.  But they often do.

  • I wish they would measure their success as men by seeking to please Christ alone and seeking His approval alone – just like I desire to see wives measure their value and acceptance by the love and grace and mercy of Christ not by what their husbands do or do not do.

I know men seem SO BIG and tough.

They ARE on the outside.

But men have tender hearts.  They have emotions and feelings, too!  They may not verbalize them like we do.  But they hurt and hurt deeply when we disrespect them, treat them with contempt, laugh at them, bash them in public, make fun of them in front of others, undermine them as fathers, minimize their concerns and ideas, belittle them and use sarcasm to cut them down.

A man’s wife has the power to hurt him emotionally and spiritually in ways that no one else on the planet has the power to do.  She is past his walls and defenses.  She has the ability to destroy him with her words, her disapproval, her rejection, her self-righteousness, her withholding herself sexually from him and how she talks about him and to him – if she chooses to.

Or – a wife can use her incredible power over her husband to bless him and do more good to him than anyone else on the planet can do. She can build him up, encourage him, honor him, admire the good in him, see the hero in him and inspire him to be his very best self!

*** If you have SERIOUS issues in your marriage – if one or both of you are depressed, if there is physical abuse going on, substance abuse, uncontrolled mental health disorders, infidelity or you are considering separation/divorce – please find appropriate, godly help ASAP!

RESOURCES:

CBS News – Men Wear Divorce Badly

WebMD – Depression in Men

National Institutes of Mental Health – Suicide Statistics and Prevention

Protective Factors to Help Prevent Suicide (CDC):

Protective Factors

  • Effective clinical care for mental, physical, and substance abuse disorders
  • Easy access to a variety of clinical interventions and support for help seeking
  • Family and community support (connectedness)
  • Support from ongoing medical and mental health care relationships
  • Skills in problem solving, conflict resolution, and nonviolent ways of handling disputes
  • Cultural and religious beliefs that discourage suicide and support instincts for self-preservation

CDC Statistics

FROM PEACEFULWIFE:

Could My Disrespect Contribute to My Husband’s Depression?

Being a Good Follower

Dealing with Financial Stress in Marriage

Supporting My Husband’s Leadership

Ways Husbands Lead that Wives Don’t Often Notice

Husbands Share What is Disrespectful to Them

Signs that Your Husband May Be Feeling Disrespected

I Want a Divorce

A Wife Battles Pride

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Here is an email from a wife that I think many other wives will relate to!  Thank you to this wife for sharing your heart!  This is part of how this journey looks as God shows us our sin and we hash through these issues, seeking to learn all we can and to humble ourselves and allow God to change us.  She read some of my posts about how I used to act towards my husband:
One  (post I read) was your incident with the A/C guy and “cleaning the garage”. WOW, did THAT speak to my heart. I praise God for putting you in my life. It’s like we speak the same language (pride). If God changed you I BELIEVE He can change me. You give me hope and encouragement.

I got mad at my hubby AGAIN today. Yes, the root was pride. It took a while for God to expose it, I just kept hanging on TO WHAT I THOUGHT WAS TRUE. I kept hearing, “Do you want to be right or be happy?”. “I want to be right!” was my response.

You see, that’s one of my big problems. I think I’m right all the time. Being like that makes it IMPOSSIBLE to have peace with others.  (From Peacefulwife – that was me, too!) You’re in a dark room BUT insist that you see clearly and everyone else is unable to see. Now that God is showing me how deceived I’ve been (in my own pride and need to be right), I realize the battle is within.  It’s like I’ve been conning myself all these years, the flesh, you know?

You will know the truth and the truth will set you free. The truth about me is a very freeing thing, but sometimes this flesh doesn’t want me to see or know the truth. It convinces me I am the victim and I DESERVE better. Or, it makes me think that “if only he saw it my way” everything would be good. He’s wrong, and when I show him how wrong he is then we can be okay again.

I get hung up on his role…..this is a very bad habit of mine. Thinking how he ought to be as a husband.

I kinda know I’m being disrespectful, but I’m so blinded by my own desires I can’t see straight.

It took the Holy Spirit about 20 min or more to finally convict me of why I was so upset.  It’s weird because I see God CHANGING ME FOR GOOD, but He just keeps digging deeper, showing MORE AND MORE sin.  God will not settle for second best. He wants the very best for me and He will keep chipping away….burning off that dross so I will reflect Jesus.

Why do we have SO MANY LAYERS OF PRIDE????

I talked it out with my husband (sadly we were both yelling at FIRST). Then I apologized and admitted my struggle. I shared where it was coming from, but I also confessed that I have a problem wanting HIM TO MEET MY NEED. I want him to value me (like Christ tells us a husband to). I just let it all hang out 🙁   My hubby was so sweet and kind, just listening.  I gave him a big hug and told him I knew we both loved God and that we are going through a LOT, the house being under construction, my mother in-law moving into our home and his work being unsteady. There are so many uncertainties in our life right now. God/Jesus really is our Rock and we have been standing on Him and it IS NOT HOPELESS. We might fail, but God is there lifting us up and changing us.

April, I used to get so DISCOURAGED and believe it was hopeless. I just wanted to throw in the towel. We are in 8 and 6’s on the drama scale. God keeps them to a 2, but every once in a while the heat turns up and it feels like a 10. I find myself falling on my face, needing His grace….

I also read your blog about not complaining…OKAY that is a HUGE problem for me. It kinda comes and goes?

I will try for 2 weeks to not complain, even to God. With the Chronic Fatigue and stuff, I will need to use discretion on when to say something? Because even there, not everyone wants to hear I’m tired or hurting. So, God can help me with that too.

What is Respect in Marriage?

half man's face

There is a whole masculine WORLD of respect that I was completely unaware of until 4 years ago.  Men have their own unwritten and unspoken methods of communication and expectations – and because so many women are oblivious to the customs and norms of how men think, feel, process and see life – many of us come across very disrespectfully without even realizing or intending to.

When I first began to study showing respect for my husband as a form of obedience to God’s command for me as a wife – I was SO CLUELESS!  I read the book Love and Respect by Dr. Emerson Eggerichs.  That is the book that opened my eyes to my sin and my husband’s legitimate masculine needs that I was unaware of.

Eggerichs has this amazing little diagram about marriage:

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For the first time ever, I understood why God gave the commands He did for each spouse in marriage and that what God was doing was commanding each spouse to meet the other’s God-given legitimate need.

When a husband shows love for his wife >> that motivates her respect.

When a wife shows respect for her husband >> that motivates his love.

Usually!

This is a principle of marriage that is generally true across religious backgrounds and cultures.  Of course, there are some exceptions where one spouse is not good-willed towards the other, or where one or both are so wounded, that it takes a VERY long time to rebuild the trust.  But in general, MOST spouses are good-willed towards each other and want to please one another.  We are just built SO differently, that we often misunderstand and misinterpret the messages the other is sending.  Men tend to think in the realm of respect (blue – says Eggerichs).  Women tend to think in the realm of love (pink).  Unfortunately – what men often do to be respectful, can feel unloving to their wives.  And what wives often do to be loving, can feel disrespectful to their husbands.  By learning to stretch and reach our spouse and meet his/her needs, we achieve God’s glory (royal purple).

We are responsible to God to obey His commands for us as wives regardless of what our husbands do or do not do and regardless of the “results” we can see when we respect our husbands and cooperate with their God-given leadership.  Our priorities must be to honor God and to obey Him – and we leave the results and timing in His hands.

MY PARTICULAR HUSBAND’S FAVORITE WAYS FOR ME TO SHOW RESPECT TO HIM:

My husband explained  to me that what he really wants in marriage is pretty simple. For him, it is not a big to-do list. It is not about me being “the perfect wife.” He likes things like for me:
– to genuinely smile and be happy
– to be truly peaceful and not stressed (because if I am stressed, he is stressed)
– to be his friend
– to be a safe, welcoming place for him
– to treat him like a grown adult and equal
– to just sit with him in the evenings, cuddle with him, and enjoy being with him while he watches TV
– not to “try too hard”
– not to ask what I can do for him
– not to ask how I can improve
– to appreciate the many things he does to show his love for me
– to give him time to think and process with decisions
– to honor his parenting
– to use a respectful, friendly tone of voice and friendly facial expression
– to make changes for the family slowly rather than to make sweeping changes all at once (he doesn’t like change very much)
A LIST OF POSSIBLE WAYS TO SHOW RESPECT TO YOUR MAN

I think having a list of specific, concrete things that men find to be respectful and disrespectful is SO important for wives who are just beginning to learn to be godly wives and to obey Ephesians 5:22-33.

Some things are disrespectful to all husbands across the board.  And some things are respectful to just about all husbands.  But each husband is unique and there will be some things that would drive one husband crazy but would make another husband feel super respected.  My suggestion to wives is to read the list, and think about implementing some of the ideas.  But if you aren’t sure about one, ask your husband sometime if he would find that behavior or attitude to be respectful or disrespectful.  Then go with what he thinks!  His opinion is what matters most here!

Some of my readers helped me with this new list – it is not exhaustive.  THANK YOU to all who contributed!

  • listen without interrupting
  • don’t think for me.
  • don’t use your “dumb guy” voice when repeating what I’ve said that you don’t agree with/think is stupid
  • refrain from explaining how to handle the children
  • do not correct my handling of the children or anything else in front of anyone, ever
  • talk me up in front of your family/my family
  • support my decisions, and if you disagree, do so in private
  • be my friend
  • tell me what kind of physical intimacy you like – it makes me feel more at ease and more purposeful in pleasing you
  • don’t over-talk things — try to use short sentence and direct words (I’m not dim, but I’m a guy … we don’t do big conversation)
  • let me know I’m enough, more than enough if you can — financially, emotionally, physically, mentally
  • When a big decision comes up and the husband says he needs time to think about it let him think about it. If you tell him, “Don’t bother. I’ll just do it my way,” then what’s the point of asking in the first place?
  • When you tell your husband not now or not tonight how about tomorrow (about any topic) then keep your word and re-arrange whatever you are doing to make sure you keep your word.
  • Find out what your husband takes as his most important responsibility and praise him for it.. (being a great father, being a great provider, being a great husband, etc).
  • Find out what his love language is and surprise him with something spontaneous that’s just for him.
  • Flirt with him in public, at a party, where other people (especially his friends/co-workers) can see it.
  • Offer up a back rub. Even if physical touch is not his love language most men carry a large burden (physically, spiritually, emotionally) on their shoulders and to offer up a back rub without being prompted is a wonderful release.
  • If your husband comes to talk to you (about anything) put down the phone/tablet/computer with facebook/texting and give him your full attention. It’s no different than when you want him to pause/turn off the TV when you want to talk to him.
  • Let him know when he does things that make you happy. Most husbands biggest goal in marriage is to make their wife happy.
  • She never ever speaks “bad” about me to anyone – not a best friend or a family member
  • She yields to me when I am at home when it comes to our children’s discipline
  • My wife also seeks me out if there is a “big” decision to be made about the home, children or finances, even if it is something she knows I trust her with and don’t have an opinion either way, she realizes that I may see things from a different angle and wants to affirm the decision.
  • She respects me by involving me.
  • Most of all, she allows me to be me.
  • I have a passion for the out of doors and she has come along side me in these endeavors. She may not always think it is “fun” to hike when it’s muddy and cold but she goes along for the ride
  • She also encourages me to have time with the children one on one and also have time just by myself or with a friend standing in a river fly-fishing.
  • She realizes that I am ultimately responsible to God for the family she also knows that I trust her to make great decisions and that I support her doing so.
  • Put me, your husband, first and NOT the children.
  • Do not compare me with a pastor, a elder, another husband or a woman’s advice. I’ve already prayed and gone over it in my mind, it’s my decision I don’t want it to be someone else’s.
  • Try to have 100% faith in me! Try to build me up – with work, Bible study, my involvement with church. I believe God put you in my life to be a helpmate, not a tear down. I really don’t need you telling me to get a better job, or that I’m way off on my when I share a insight that I’ve had with scripture.
  • Anticipate my needs, wants and desire. In the bedroom and out of the bedroom.
  • Don’t yell and argue with me in front of the children.
  • Just remember I love you , chose you, I know you have feelings, as hard as you think I am, I have deep feelings also.
  • Put me above your friends and extended family and ministry to others outside of our family.
  • Care about things that matter to me.
  • When I ask you to do something, show me you really do respect me by making it a priority for your to-do list.
  • Listen to my advice sometimes.  I actually have some important wisdom and a different perspective to share that just might make your life better and less stressful!
  • Keep emails BRIEF and to the point.  We hear your message more clearly with less words and a lower intensity of negative emotions.  Too many words and emotions makes us feel like we are drowning – it is too much to process all at once sometimes.
  • If I’m driving, let me drive in peace (don’t tell me what lane to take or what road to take or ask me why I’m going the way I am going because your way is 30 seconds faster).  If I ask for help, then you can help me.  Having your trust and faith in my ability to drive around town is much more valuable to me than saving a few seconds or minutes in traffic.
  • Men don’t offer unsolicited advice or help to other men.  Show me that you trust me by allowing me to figure things out without feeling like you have to rescue me or do things for me.
  • Smile at me a lot – I love that!
  • Make sure that you have close friends who are godly wives, who show respect for their husbands and who will show respect for me as your husband.  Don’t let your girlfriends’ advice tear down our marriage.  Notice what kind of marriage your friend has before assuming she has wisdom to share about marriage.  Make my opinions and feelings much more important in your life than the opinions and feelings of your friends.  You are in a covenant with me, not them.
  • Talk to me with a friendly tone of voice when possible.  I usually know for sure that you love me.  But sometimes I wonder if you actually still like me or not.
  • Enjoy being with me.
  • Realize that I may take longer to process ideas, decisions, emotions and feelings.  If I do not have answers for you in 30 seconds, that does not mean you need to take over or that I won’t lead.  I just means I operate on a slower time table and need a little understanding and patience from you.  If you are able to wait patiently and be supportive, I am plenty capable of leading and making wise decisions.  (If there is physical violence, and untreated mental disorder, a drug/alcohol addiction – please find godly, experienced help ASAP!)
  • I may not show love with words as much as you would like, but stop and notice all the things I DO to show you my love for you.  To me, my actions speak much more loudly than my words.  And to me, your actions speak much more loudly than your words, too.
  • Don’t verbally push God, the Bible and church on me.  Nagging, preaching and lecturing make me want to run away just because of your approach.  It is your ability to be silent about the things of God  coupled with your gentle, peaceful, respectful spirit that is not anxious and worried that will help me better hear God’s voice.  I need to SEE you live out your faith, not hear about it.  Words don’t impact men the way they do women.
  • Realize that I am not a woman.  Make sure that it is safe for me to be a man – that I am not punished for being masculine.  I am different from you. I think and feel differently – but that doesn’t mean I am wrong.
  • Dress nicely and fix your hair and makeup the way I like it sometimes.  That actually makes me feel like  you respect yourself and like you respect me.
  • Flirt with me and no one else!
  • Act like you are happy to see me when I get home!
  • Give me that adoring look that says you trust me and have faith in me.  That means more to me than any words.
  • Tell me when you like what I am doing.
  • Tell me that you are proud of me.
  • Accept that I am human.  Accept that you are human, too.  Have grace for me when I make mistakes.  Your ability to forgive me and see the best in me can sometimes make the difference between me becoming paralyzed or between me learning and moving forward as a better man.
  • Look at me as an equal in God’s sight.  Realize that we are both sinners in need of Jesus.  Don’t look down on me.

Additional resources:

Why It May Be Wise to Keep This Respect Thing a Secret from Your Husband

Respect 101

What Does Respect Look Like to Husbands?

Could My Disrespect Contribute to My Husband’s Depression?

Husbands Share What is Disrespectful to Them (AWESOME  and EYE- OPENING LIST!)

Hear a Disrespected Husband’s Heart

One Husband’s Wish List

How Do I Respect My Husband if He Won’t Go to Church/Isn’t a Christian?

Respecting My Husband’s Parenting

My Husband Doesn’t Deserve MY Respect! (Peacefulwife Youtube video 7 minutes)

Avoiding Nonverbal Disrespect is VERY Important! (Peacefulwife Youtube video 7 minutes)

Ways Husbands Can Be Unloving to Their Wives  – on my husband’s site