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"Being Vulnerable and Direct Feels Wrong!"

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I’m going to share one wife’s “gut reactions”  to the list I gave of ways we can speak and communicate directly and honestly. It’s worth the time to really hash through these objections in our self-talk together. My original statements from a post last month about how to directly communicate our needs and desires are in bold. Keep in mind, when you read the statements I am sharing – that I am talking about a wife sharing these statements with pure motives, respect, a genuine smile, and a pleasant tone of voice. I am also talking about a wife sharing difficult things only after much prayer and in the wisdom and direction of the Holy Spirit. I don’t intend to say that we should share out of selfish or sinful motives.

I greatly appreciate this wife allowing me to share her thoughts – (they are in red):

 

1. “I need this, please.”

(Yikes! Do not tell anyone what you need or you will sound needy! And whiny. And do you really need it? No. Be grateful for what you already have.)

If I were being whiny, I would repeat myself over and over again and verbally try to force other people to do what I wanted and I would continue to verbally pressure them until they did what I wanted them to do. That is not a godly approach. But to share my desire or need one time in a pleasant way (or to share when needed, not in a nagging way) – is perfectly acceptable. There are a lot of verses that tell us to ask for what we need and desire – but that we are to do so with godly motives, not sinful motives.

Verses about asking for things

There are times we genuinely do need things. I think it is important to differentiate between a need and a want. There are things I want that I can live without. But there are some things I truly need – or that others truly need. We all do have legitimate needs – air to breathe, water to drink, food to eat, shelter, love, acceptance, purpose, forgiveness, grace, help, etc…

2. “I would really love to do that.”

(Maybe someday. Maybe after everyone else has their turn it would be okay to say what you’d love to do. Otherwise you risk upsetting someone who wants to do something else. But do not tell anyone or you’ll sound selfish and demanding.)

Perhaps you are thinking of this passage:
Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves; do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others. Philippians 2:3-4

But let’s read that closely. The key is that we don’t do something from selfishness, not that we have needs or desires. We are to think about others and their needs, considering other people more than we consider ourselves. But look at the last part, it doesn’t say, “don’t look out for your own interests and only look out for the interests of others.” We are allowed to look out for our interests – but we are not to do so in a selfish way or with sinful motives. And, ultimately, we are to seek God’s will above our own.

3. “I don’t like X.”

(So what? Am I queen of the world? We all have to deal with things we don’t like. Deal with it!)

God never says that we cannot have our own opinions, desires, preferences, and emotions. We are free to express them to Him and to others – again, as long as we do so with pure motives and we don’t try to force our way on others.

It is not sin for me to say, “I prefer Japanese food.”  Or “I don’t like being around a lot of cigarette smoke.” Or, “I don’t like for my children to see movies that are over PG.” Or, “I don’t like that color for the dining room – I like this other color the best.”

If others don’t agree, over the color of the paint for the walls at church – I can submit myself to whatever they would like and not cause a fuss. If my husband and I don’t agree on a paint color, I can decide to selflessly allow him to choose the color he prefers. But there is nothing wrong with me stating my preference calmly and respectfully. If we can’t agree, I may decide to acknowledge that the color of the room isn’t a big thing in the light of eternity.

4. “I want Y, please”

(Oh my goodness! This is the worst one on the list. Do not tell people want you want. Again, selfish. Begging. It’s worse than being forced to tell someone what you’d like for a gift. Who begs for gifts? This list is insane! This list is starting to frustrate me…)

God invites us to share our desires with Him. Jesus certainly expressed that He didn’t want to go to the cross. But then He submitted Himself to God’s will. Prayer is about our praising God, thanking Him, confessing our sins – but then it is about our sharing our desires and our seeking to line up our desires with the desires and will of God. As we approach God in prayer with our desires and seek His desires above our own, He helps transform our desires to match His own. But there is nothing wrong with us asking God for what we desires if our motives are pure.

James 4:1-10 is all about this. We don’t have because we don’t ask God, and when we do ask, we ask with wrong motives, that we might spend what we get on our own pleasures. The problem is not that we shouldn’t ask for what we want. God invites us over and over to ask of Him. But we do need to watch our motives.

Those who came to Jesus for healing, He often asked, “What do you want me to do for you?” And then, whatever they asked Him for, He would do for them. He healed them. There is no one I can think of who asked Jesus to heal them whom Jesus ultimately refused.

I can say,

  • “I really want another baby.”
  • “I want to spend some time together this week, Honey.”
  • “I want to think about changing careers. Would you pray about that with me, please?”

Verses about desires

5. “I feel scared/sad/upset/angry/happy…”

(Keep your feelings to yourself. Smile. If you share your real feelings you will be judged. People may get upset. You will look weak).

There is nowhere in Scripture (that I can think of) where we are commanded to be fake or told not to have or not to express our feelings. We are told not to “give full vent” to our every emotion – that would be foolish. We are not to share in sinful anger or in sinful manipulation. We are not to try to make other people do what we want. We do need to watch our motives and attitudes. Our feelings are not the source of absolute truth. We don’t have to be slaves to our feelings and emotions. But we are responsible to share our own feelings and concerns with God and with others when appropriate.

David shared all of the range of human emotions with God in the Psalms. Did God consider him to be weak because of that? No! God said David was “a man after My own heart.”

Sharing feelings and being vulnerable is  not “weak” – it is essential! Apart from vulnerability, there is no true intimacy or authenticity.

Verses about emotions

In the next post, we will address the issues of people pleasing that this wife voiced.

SHARE:

Do you feel safe to be vulnerable and direct in your marriage and relationships? If not, what fears do  you have that keep you from feeling like you can share?

 

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To Speak or Not to Speak…

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A lot of wives ask me this question…

“How do I know when to say how I feel and when I should not say anything?”

This can be such a quandary! Especially at first when we are just realizing our former disrespect and we have not yet figured out what exactly is respectful or disrespectful.

Unfortunately – or fortunately – depending on how you look at this topic – there is no formula or pat answer. I am going to offer some guidelines that I am seeking to base on Scripture. These are not exhaustive lists. You are welcome to share your concerns, ideas and insights. 🙂

(If you have severe problems in your marriage – abuse, addictions, infidelity, uncontrolled mental health disorders, please seek experienced, godly, wise counsel. I am not able to address these issues in a general blog post, and I am not a counselor, pastor or therapist.)

There are times when SILENCE is the best choice:

  • When we are first beginning this journey and we have been voicing disrespect, complaints, criticism, arguments, anger, negativity, hostility and contempt for months or years and we have not learned the wisdom of being silent about sinful things and disrespectful thoughts and controlling thoughts. We must take time to learn godly wisdom and discretion. At first, we can begin to have wisdom by being silent instead of sinning with our words and using our words to bring death. In time, we learn to use our words to affirm, encourage, breathe life, build up, bless and heal.

Even fools are thought wise if they keep silent, and discerning if they hold their tongues. Proverbs 17:28

  • When what we are about to say is not motivated by the love of God – being rude, rehashing past, supposedly forgiven sins, impatience, etc… (Please see what God ‘s love looks like I Corinthians 13:4-8)
  • When our motives are sinful – pride, blame, condemnation, a critical spirit, selfishness,  self-righteousness, sinful jealousy,  idolatry (putting our husbands, our children, self, money, romance, feeling loved, etc… above Christ in our hearts), resentment or bitterness. If we have sin in our hearts, let’s go spend time in repentance humbly before God asking for His forgiveness and crucifying self, dying to our sin before we venture to speak with our husbands (or anyone). I John 1:9, Matthew 7:1-5
  • When our husbands are not feeling well, are exhausted, are sick, are under a great deal of stress (there can be exceptions when an issue is very important or pressing, of course, or where the stress, illness or exhaustion lasts for a long time).
  • When WE are hormonal, hungry, exhausted or sick – that may not be the best time to have a big, life-changing discussion. It could be wise to wait until we are physically stronger before approaching really important topics or big decisions.
  • When words are many, sin is not absent.  Proverbs 10:19
  • When our sinful nature is in control. (Galatians 5:19-21)
  • When God’s Spirit prompts us to be silent.
  • When our husband is far from God and unable or unwilling to hear our words, we then seek to obey I Peter 3:1-6. Sometimes our words about spiritual things, the Bible or God will make things worse when our husbands are not close to God. In such circumstances, God commands us to show respect and honor and to live out godly lives in our attitudes, speech and behavior without preaching at or nagging our husbands. God knows this approach will speak much more powerfully to a husband who is in rebellion against Him and will allow the husband to more clearly hear God’s voice. There will be times we may need to say certain things in this situation, we will need to be very sensitive to God’s Spirit to know what and when to speak. There is also the possibility that we may think our husbands are far from God, but that we could be wrong and we could be misjudging them. God knows our husbands hearts – we do not. If we approach our husbands with a prideful, self-righteous spirit, we may push them far from us and farther from God.

There are times when speaking humbly, honestly, respectfully, lovingly, gently and vulnerably is the best option:

  • When the timing is right (as we listen carefully to God’s Spirit) and our husbands are receptive. (Of course, there may be times we do need to speak even if our husbands are not receptive – but that will take great sensitivity on our part to the Spirit of God.)
  • When our motives are pure in God’s sight and we are fully submitted to Christ and are resisting the enemy. (James 4:7-12)
  • When we are walking in the power of God’s Spirit (Galatians 5:22-26)
  • When our goals are simply to honor and obey God and bless our husbands. (The two greatest commandments – to love God and to love others. Mark 12:28-29)
  • When we need to communicate critical information to our husbands so that they will have our important ideas, perspective, feelings, needs and desires available to them.
  • When we have feelings to share – I feel sad, I feel afraid, I feel nervous, I am worried, I feel so happy, I feel upset, I am lonely, I want X, I don’t want Y. (Laura Doyle “The Surrendered Wife”) We share our emotions and desires without blaming our husbands, pressuring them or trying to control them.
  • When we want to talk through our feelings. But, it can be important and helpful for us to share exactly what we need because our husbands often don’t have the same kinds of verbal needs to talk and emotionally connect that we do, ie: “I am not sure how I am feeling about this. It would help me so much if you would please listen to me for about 5-10 minutes while I talk through things. Talking is how I process my feelings. Just knowing you are listening is such a blessing to me.” But then, it would be great to let our husbands know we would like to hear their thoughts many times, too, and we can show our husbands that their thoughts are very important to us and that we appreciate their wisdom and leadership.
  • When we are sharing a thankful heart.
  • When we have a pressing problem and need our husbands’ help, wisdom, leadership, comfort, love or guidance.
  • When we want to express our genuine respect or appreciation (for some husbands, brief messages are the most powerful. Other husbands like large amounts of discussion or sharing.) I Thessalonians 5:18
  • When we are using our words to build up, affirm, encourage, breathe life, bring healing and bless our husbands. (Sometimes husbands do not believe our respectful words at first if we have been very disrespectful and controlling for a long time.  But we can continue seeking to show respect as best we know how. As we continue to practice and seek to honor God and our husbands, we will learn to do this more effectively and our husbands will eventually begin to believe our respect in time, most likely.)

A wise woman builds her house, but a foolish woman tears hers down with her own hands. Proverbs 14:1

  • When we have special expertise in an area and our husbands appreciate our sharing.
  • When we are helping our husbands in a way that they agree is helpful and/or that honors God. (We were created to be their helpmeets)
  • When our husbands delegate decisions to us.
  • When our husbands want to please us and want to know what we would like. If they want to know what we would like for our birthday or what restaurant we want to go to – let’s share what we would like and not try to make them read our minds. 🙂
  • When we are having times of emotional closeness.
  • When we ask if it is a good time to share, and our husbands are receptive.
  • When our husbands have sinned against us, and we have repented of all of our sin and God’s Spirit gives us wisdom about how to approach our husbands according to Matthew 7:1-5 and Matthew 18:15-18
  • When we need to repent to our husbands for our sins against them or others.
  • When we want to share Philippians 4:8 things that we are thankful for.

 

I have a new Youtube video about this topic, too, if you would like to hear me talk about this subject. 🙂

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Why the “Rapid Fire” Method of Talking Doesn’t Work with Our Men.

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My husband actually asked me to write this post and it is an honor to write about this topic!

Greg and I have been talking about how differently men and women process, speak and think during conversations. What I am about to share with you is REALLY FOREIGN to our female minds – but it is fascinating to me to discover more about how men think and process and how we can learn to better communicate with them.  So I am excited to share this information with you and I think it will prove to be very helpful.

SHAUNTI FELDHAN’S book FOR WOMEN ONLY

(a new, revised version just came out this past week!  It is REALLY good!)

Shaunti describes that a woman’s mind is like a computer with many “windows” always open at the same time.  We are ALWAYS thinking about something – usually way more than one or two things.  That is part of why we are good with details and multi-tasking.  We can jump back and forth between the windows very easily and quickly.  We can close windows as we check things off of our to-do list.  It is our goal to close as many windows as possible – too many windows open is very stressful – we can actually crash if we get too overloaded.   And with our verbal skills, we can and do talk about all the windows all at the same time sometimes.

Men don’t think like that.  Shaunti describes that a man’s mind is like a computer that only opens one “window” at a time.  And – they have the ability to close that window and have NOTHING on the screen!?!?  (I have to admit, I am pretty jealous of that ability!)  It’s important for us to acknowledge and appreciate this when we have conversations with our men.  And it is also important to keep in mind that most men do not process emotions verbally the way we usually do.

WHAT THIS MEANS IN CONVERSATION:

Sometimes, we are thinking about a certain issue all day, or a number of issues.  And when our husband walks through the door, we blast him with 10 different things in “rapid fire” succession.    My husband says that a wife may already be to her 8th point, but her husband is still back on #1.  He gets overwhelmed with so many issues and so many words coming at him so quickly.

It’s not that husbands are “slow” or “dumb.”  Not at all!  They can just have one window open at a time – which makes it possible for them to really concentrate on something and not be distracted – that is a great thing for their jobs many times!

My husband can best hear me if I:

  • wait for a time when my husband is rested, in a decent mood and available for me to talk with him whenever possible.
  • only bring up one issue at a time.
  • don’t overload him or flood him with thousands of words – too many words can drown a man and make it really hard for him to decide what to focus on.
  • think “bullet points” not “thesis” or “filibuster.”
  • keep my voice calm and voice and words pleasant (emotionally charged words, especially with negative emotions take men much longer to process – up to 8 hours according to His Brain Her Brain by Dr. Walt Larimore MD.)
  • realize that he may need time to process and decide what he thinks.
  • realize that he doesn’t make decisions quickly like I do, and that is not wrong!  It doesn’t mean he doesn’t care or doesn’t love me or is withholding his answer purposely.  It means he is opening each window and closing it and opening another and thinking and weighing things carefully.

Let’s think of it as if we were throwing balls to our husband.  Each issue is a new ball.  Some people are really talented at juggling many balls – I am not one of those people!  Some people can only handle catching one ball at a time.  That’s me!

Let’s throw him one ball at a time.  And let him catch the ball you threw (and open that window and think about that issue and process it) before throwing another “ball”.

LET YOUR HUSBAND ANSWER FOR HIMSELF

When we have been having imaginary conversations all day long in our minds and assume we know what our husbands are going to say and then we are already angry at them before they even walk in the door for things they haven’t even said – that is really overwhelming and frustrating for our men.   Not to mention – it is disrespectful.

I used to do this A LOT!  My husband says he – and other husbands – appreciate it if we don’t assume we know what they will say and if we will actually give them the chance to answer for themselves.

Let’s focus on

  • praying for God’s wisdom for ourselves and for our husbands.
  • narrowing down what we want to say and boiling it down to the basics so that our husbands can actually hear what is important to us.
  • knowing our own desires and feelings and expressing that.
  • being open to our husband’s unique masculine perspective and wisdom.
  • listening to what God may want to tell us through our husbands.
  • living in TODAY, not in the future.
  • trusting God’s sovereignty to guide us and our husbands.
  • praising God.
  • not arguing or complaining.
  • listening attentively when our husbands do have something to say to us.
  • being present when our husbands speak and stopping our other activity when at all possible.
  • being thankful for all the blessings God has given to us.
  • resting in God’s love and our husbands’ love.
  • generously and joyfully giving our husbands time to think if needed.
  • appreciating the differences between masculinity and femininity.
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