A Story of Forgiveness

From a wife…. thank you for sharing!!!   I know many of you will relate.

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I don’t know why my mom hated homeschooling so much.  I don’t know even that it was so much homeschooling, or that it was just my life choices in general that she didn’t appreciate, and homeschooling was the last straw for her.

Basically, as long as I agreed with her opinions and let her have her way in my life direction, it was great between us.  But as soon as I differed from her she was greatly offended.  After becoming a wife and mom with a family of my own, our relationship became more strained with every passing year.  My husband would tell me in later years that for the first 5 years of our marriage it felt like he was married to my mom.

When I became a Christian, it wasn’t received well.  She said I was already a Christian because she got me baptized when I was a baby.  I tried to explain to her that this was different, that God was really real and that I had never had Jesus before.  That getting me baptized when I was a baby was a great thing for a mom to do; but it wasn’t my choice, and it needed to be my own choice.

Although I let this conversation lay, she wouldn’t let it be.  It became a ‘back burner’ kind of point of contention between us.  When I did decide to get baptized on my own, she considered this a personal attack on her parenting, reiterating again, that she had already taken care of it.  That I was only doing this to ‘get back at her.’  I tried to help her understand that I thought she had been a fantastic mom and there was nothing I wanted to ‘get back at her’ for – but I couldn’t get her to see that I was a different person then her.  It seemed everything I did that was different than what she wanted, she saw as not only a negative reflection on her somehow, but also an attack on her person.

As the stress grew, parenting our first child became a challenge to her at every turn.  I’m not going to go on and on about it but only share a few examples so that you understand the temperature of the relationship.

-Beavers.  We were struggling with our son because he was an introverted ‘bookie’ type kid, favouring long hours of reading, drawing, playing legos and building models and creating things out of raw materials.  At her leading we thought we’d try him in Scouts (Beavers was his age group).  He hated it.  But we made him stay for two months, finally allowing him to leave.  She chastised me for this and considered it a grave mistake to let him drop it.  Her words were, “Shelly, YOU AND I agreed this would be a good thing for him.”  Now, whether or not it was a good parenting decision isn’t the point.  The point is that he was mine and my husband’s son and we made a decision to drop it.  Yet she insisted, insisted that I change my husband’s mind and put our son back in Beavers.  When I didn’t, but instead, supported my husband’s decision to take him out, this became another point of ‘back burner’ contention between us.  It was constantly brought out in conversation.

-Gameboy.  We didn’t want our kids playing electronic games (screens) until they were a certain age.  We preferred more tactile stimulus for their brains.  But according to my mom all the kids were playing with these electronic gadgets and she could see no reason for him to not have one.  She tried over the course of a year to talk me into it.  This would be going against what my husband and I had agreed to.  She bought it for him anyway and gave it to him on his birthday.

The most overarching contention that I dealt with on a regular basis was that I was not bringing in an income, but was instead staying home to homeschool.  She didn’t like that we didn’t drive a nice car and only had one, didn’t have new clothes but bought second hand instead.

And then – the needling directly at the kids started.

-“don’t you miss having lots of other kids to play with?”

-“don’t you miss field trips to this place and the other place?”

-“wouldn’t it be fun to do such and such?”

Our kids were involved in extracurricular activities.  They were in sports (if they wanted) music, homeschool groups and functions, volunteer work, newspaper routes, dog walking businesses, yard care businesses, church activities etc. But for some reason these things were not acceptable – because they didn’t come through the school system.

On and on it went – for far too long.  And yes, it was that blatant.

Finally, God stepped in.  He told me I had to stand up to her and not back down.

I was physically sick at the thought.  You see, I was wounded and terrified when it came to my mother.  The thoughts of really challenging her and not backing down frightened me.  Over the years I had been freeing myself from the control of her personality, bit by bit and this was the strain on our relationship.  I believed God thought I was strong enough now to be direct with her.  He told me what to say and how to say it to keep me on track.  Prepare your thoughts in point form.  This is what He wanted me to say:

-Hey mom, I’ve got to ask you to please not talk negatively about our choices to the kids anymore.

-There is nothing wrong with our choices to have one income so that we can homeschool, so please don’t make any more negative comments about it.

-It’s not fair to try and get the kids to go against our choices for them.  This cruel to do them, they don’t have a choice – it’s our choice as their parents.

I started to cry after I saw what God wanted me to say, because I knew that she would not accept it.  I knew she would take offense af it.  But also, it seemed confusing to me, there were no other Christians in my family, I know He knows what will happen.  He told me to call her in the morning.

But I didn’t.  He told me to call her the next morning but I didn’t.  This played out every day for 1 ½ weeks.  And then God said something to me that changed my life.  I was standing in the kitchen looking at the phone, list in hand, and God said, “Do you realize you are more afraid of your mother than you are of ME?”

Scales fell from my mind (so to speak) – and the phone rang.  It was my mom (too weird, right?)

I followed God’s directions and tried to plead with her to accept our choices.  This was a ‘no-go.’  She felt that it was wrong for me to try and tell her what to think and say around the kids.  That everyone who comes into our home isn’t going to share our opinion of homeschooling.  I tried to get her to understand that I didn’t want her to change her opinion about homeschooling, and that my husband and I, together would be willing to sit down and address any concerns that her and dad had (which we had done already, a few times over the years); but it had to stop with the kids.

The conversation fell into its familiar circular pattern:  it was turned so that somehow it was me attacking her.  (which is why God told me to write down the points and stay on track and stay calm)  At this point I asked the ending question:  “What are we going to do about this mom?”  And I heard the words that no kid wants to hear from their mother, “Well, I guess this is good-bye then because I’m not going to have people in my life that won’t accept me for who I am.”  That was the last time I talked to my mom.

For those of you who don’t know, this is what the narcissistic personality is like.  I only found this out a few years ago, I thought my mom was just super controlling.  As is common with this personality, when there is this type of conflict, it is necessary that everyone else (in the family, or wherever) know just how offended they were; how right they were; and how wrong the offender (me) was.  This is how they segregate you out, not just away from themselves, but the rest of the family.

But that doesn’t change anything, really.  I still needed to forgive her (and my dad), and my brother and sister.

For the great news!

What happened is that when I turned to God instead of my own pain and gnawing rejection, He freed me.  (a LOT more difficult than it sounds, all neat and tidy in one sentence)

PLUS He became much more real on so many levels.  How does God become more real than REAL?  If you allow Him, He’ll meet you EXACTLY where you are.

I had sinned against God.  Yes, I was the one that suffered the abuse, however, I had also sinned myself.  My identity was completely entwined with my mothers, this was her doing; but I had tried to fix myself by my own methods – this was MY sin.  God is God, and He will have nothing between us and Him.  He is first and although I said I believed that and thought I believed it, as I went through this experience it allowed me to see into myself in a way that I never would have otherwise.

Pain, if you’ll let it, will peel back all the self-made barriers (self-vindication and self-protection) so that you can see your real self. These barriers do a very scary thing – they separate you from others – and God.  But I didn’t see this, and once you start building them, it is virtually impossible to stop without God’s intervention – it just becomes who you are.  You make a little protective cocoon around your heart, weaving strand by strand, ever so slowly.  You don’t think you are doing this and you can’t see it, and no one else can – only God.

Inside this cocoon I had hidden my wounds.  This is what God wanted to get at and heal.

The first place God met me was here:  Although my father and mother have forsaken me, yet the Lord will take me up [adopt me as His child]. –Psalm 27:10.  When God lead me to this verse I actually cried out in anguish.  I’ve never experienced anything like this since.  When you experience this kind of rejection it feels negatively surreal.  It is as though you are losing your  footing mentally and emotionally.  I could feel God behind me saying, this is real.  What you are feeling IS real – but I’m here, right behind you – fall into ME.

Forgiveness allowed me to see clearly.  This isn’t about me and my mom (as much as it seems like it is), it’s about God and me.  It’s about Satan hating God and hating me because I’m His daughter.  This is what the adversary does to us:  he uses people to do to us what he wants to do to us.  Without forgiveness I would never have seen the truth of it.  Vengeance does not belong to me but to God.  I don’t know His plans, He does.  People do bad things to us, but God means it for good.  He will bring the good out of ugly – if we will just trust Him and wait for Him. (Gen 50:19-20; Rom 8:28)

I can now say like Job did, “I had heard of You [only] by the hearing of the ear, but now my [spiritual] eye sees You.

 

RELATED:

Forgiveness

Bitterness

Do Not Expect Outside Support

Control and Boundaries

Using Guilt to Manipulate

Playing the Martyr

The Snare of People Pleasing

Handling External Pressure on This Journey1087378_14693479

The Wash Cloth Incident

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An email I received from a wife – thank you to this wife for allowing me to share!
Hello April…
Wanted to share something funny.

Our bathroom has been torn up for over a year now. So, I have bathroom stuff in 3 rooms (the kitchen, my bedroom and the tiny spare bath). I already caught my daughter using my face wash cloth (in the kitchen) to wipe up balsamic vinegar. yuck, it left a huge brown stain on my white wash cloth. Today, I caught my husband using a new wash cloth to wipe up coffee spills.

“AAAAaaahhhh don’t do that!” I squeal!

He momentarily freezes, totally shocked.

“That’s my face rag!” I explain (with boldness)

“Well, you’ve got your stuff all over, how am I supposed to know?” he retorts angrily.

“Well, IF the bathroom would be done, I wouldn’t have to have my stuff ALL OVER THE PLACE!!” proudly defending myself.

(((((Yikes….))))))

Then I hear YOUR voice reminding me that an unsubmissive wife is prideful. That the way we speak to our husbands reveals how much better than them we think we are.

I guess I was thinking ‘I deserve a bathroom. Shame on him for not having a nice bathroom for me. I’ll make him feel stupid for not having the bathroom done BY NOW!!’

I apologized to him (and I praise God that He is faithfully showing me attitudes of pride and entitlement in my heart).

It’s so freeing to let it go…just let God take the junk and replace it with joy and peace.

 

You are right, He died for me, I didn’t deserve that. I deserve hell. I don’t deserve my nice life today and I should stop acting like I do. (I go to a church that teaches this fact, but sometimes we need to see where it really applies: to me, I’ve really got some “I don’t deserve this” issues going on.)

FROM PEACEFULWIFE:

I am so excited about what God is doing in this wife’s heart! She caught the pride right after she spoke and apologized. THAT was wise – and it honored Jesus.

She is beginning to realize that intimacy with her husband and with God is more important than being “right” about the bathroom, or her face rags. WHAT AN IMPORTANT THING TO SEE!!!!

You begin to get used to eating humble pie as you learn to do things God’s way. And, you know what? It’s really not that bad. The taste kind of grows on you!

Eventually, God’s Spirit will help her to catch things BEFORE she says them.

Over time, God’s Spirit will transform her mind and replace the negative thoughts and pride with humility, peace, joy and thanksgiving – so one day, she won’t even think the prideful thoughts. There will be some slip ups – but God can give us many victories over sin!

It is ok to say, “I can’t wait to see how beautiful the new bathroom will be! Thank you for working on it. I really appreciate your willingness to make our home beautiful!”

More Mens’ Emotions

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Several other husbands have answered these questions for me in the past few weeks. (Post 1, Post 2, Post 3)  But I appreciate each husband’s answers.  I think we can learn something new from hearing different men’s perspectives.  A huge thank you to this husband for sharing with us!

1. How affected are you by your wife’s emotions (good and bad)?

A lot.  If she is happy and cheerful it makes me happier too.  I delight doing things to make her happy.  If she is down, stressed, upset feeling ill etc. I find myself wishing I had the power to clear all those things away so she can be cheerful again.  My protective instincts extend into the emotional side of things.

2 . How important is your wife’s happiness is to you when you feel respected vs. disrespected?

If I feel disrespected by her, I’m not really going to be paying much attention to her happiness, I’ll be focused on dealing with the negative impact of feeling disrespected and I won’t feel motivated to do something nice for her.

3.  How difficult is it to put your emotions in words?  Do you need time to be able to do this, or can you talk about emotions immediately during the conflict?

I need time.  It’s kind of like being in a dark room with a statue, and you know it’s there but you don’t know what it is and you need time to run your hands over it and get the shape of it.  Once you figure out what it is then the lights come on.

4. What makes you feel emotionally safe or unsafe with your wife?

Acceptance, empathy, understanding, her coming to my defense, those make me feel safe.  Being judgemental, demanding, critical, disrespectful make me feel unsafe.

5. How easily can a wife wound her husband with angry/hateful/disrespectful words?

Very, one sentence can keep me up all night, too angry or hurt to sleep.  I have no defence against her, she is already past all my walls.

6. Is there a dark side to your emotions that you don’t share with anyone, not even your wife, to protect her?  Would you be willing to describe a bit about this, please?

Yes.  When she hurts or angers me I often go silent because I know if I tried to speak while feeling that way I would say some very cruel things that I would deeply regret later.    The thought of what may happen to me if I ever lost her makes me seriously concerned that I would become self destructive in some way.

7. How would it affect your communication with your wife if you knew that your wife would be on your team and support you even if you were honest about your negative emotions and feelings?

I think it would have to be more than just ‘on my team’ for me to feel safe talking about those things.  I know she is committed to our marriage, but I want her respect and deep admiration, not just loyalty to a promise made years ago.  I would have to feel confident that I would not lose any respect or that she would think any less of me.

A Minivan Update!

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This is a follow up to my first post about the possibility of selling my 2006 minivan and how I trusted God and my husband with the outcome. I had wanted to possibly sell my minivan because we don’t really need so much space now that we aren’t lugging strollers, pac-n-plays and high chairs around. And the gas milage isn’t the best on my van – just 18 mpg.

I know you are all on pins and needles! 🙂

WHAT I DID

I cleaned the inside and outside of the van to the best of my ability. It was a bit of a birthday gift to myself  (I don’t splurge on car washes very often!  And the one I go to has a FREE VACUUM that works really well).  I also figured I would be prepared in case we did end up trying to sell the van.

I waited patiently several days to see if my husband mentioned anything. He didn’t.  That’s fine.

I looked online to see what the blue book value of the van would be.

It’s SOOOO CLEAN inside!  Mostly! 🙂

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THE CONVERSATION

Wednesday night, I said (in a pleasant, cheerful, nonchalant voice), “I looked up the blue book value of the van today.”

He said, “$7,000 – $8,000”

I was surprised! He had already looked it up, too. 🙂

He said, “The kind of car that would really save money on gas would be something pretty small that I don’t think you would be very happy with. If we got a car like that, I calculated that we would save about $1000/year on gas. But it would probably cost us $10,000 – $12,000 more than what we would get for your van to get a car that would be that good on gas milage. There are some other cars that would get slightly better gas milage, like 25mpg, but the savings on gas costs wouldn’t be very significant just changing from 18mpg to 25mpg.”

So I said, “Thanks for checking into that! I really appreciate it. Hmm… I see how the gas savings wouldn’t really pay off right now.”

I love how my husband often gives me an explanation for his reasoning. That helps me understand and trust him more. But there are some times when husbands don’t have the time to explain their reasons for things, and I still cooperate with my husband now even if he doesn’t explain.

I didn’t allow myself to get super attached to the idea of selling the van and getting something smaller.  That is a HUGE reason why I can have peace no matter what way decisions go now.

There was no argument. There were no raised voices, stomping or slammed doors. I didn’t try to force my way. I didn’t take over and just make a decision on my own. I didn’t freak out or worry at any point during the week. There was no resentment on either side. Each of us felt heard and understood. And I believe we have a great decision for our family!

A TANGENT

In 1996 my husband and I visited Olympic Centennial Park in Atlanta – the same year that the Olympics were held there. A man started running past us with a gun drawn. I totally panicked and took off running away from the gun guy. Greg tried to stop me, but I didn’t listen and kept running away from the man with the gun.

What Greg realized, and I hadn’t  – was that the man with the gun I had seen was an undercover cop/government agent. And  Greg also saw that there was another man with a gun – the bad guy – and I was running TOWARDS the bad dude.

Thankfully, Greg got to me and steered me to safety. No shots were fired that I know of.  Greg whisked me quickly away.

My point?

There are some times when I just need to listen to Greg without an explanation. He will probably tell me his reasoning later.  Then I can thank him for being my HERO and the best husband in the world!

MY PLAN

I will call the gentleman who was interested in buying our van in a few days and tell him, “My husband is not interested in selling, but thanks for the offer!”

And then I will enjoy my van, my children and my husband. 🙂

RELATED POSTS

If you are new to my blog – you may not have seen some of my other real life examples.  That is the kind of thing I think would have been super helpful to me 4 years ago when I was first learning this stuff.  Check out these posts, too:

The Harry Potter Ride Issue

Handling Adversity with Joy and without Complaining

A Real Life Example of Submission and Respect

HELP ME!

So – it was a really bad idea (in hindsight) to ask my daughter to draw a birthday card for her cousin 2 summers ago and leave the crayons in the car armrest when it was over 100F outside.  I tried to chisel the melted crayons out this week – not working.  Any suggestions?

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Baby Steps

This is an email from a wife (with her permission) – I think it may be very encouraging to those of you who are beginning the journey to become a godly wife – to learn to submit to and respect your husband and most of all to ultimately learn to reverence and submit to Christ!
Thank you for asking….I think I am good…I continue to work on respecting my husband and being patient.  The respecting part really has been a pretty smooth transition for me…it is the patience and making sure that my prayers for my husband are not  intended for my own gain…(not for what I want him to change but) that I am actually praying for my husband’s leadership and growth.  This is the hardest part for me…
Some success stories from the past week:
1. We went to the local grocery store on Saturday morning…never would have been my choice but DH wanted to.…the place was a mad house to say the least…now in the past the trip very likely could have become stressful.
I held my tongue and allowed DH to choose things without my comments on the cost, brand or quantity.  As we went to checkout  DH chose the self-checkout…again not my first choice due to all the produce we had in the cart…not fun to enter all those individual codes. Typically I would have jumped in and took over…I am far the superior cashier:)  But instead I walked to the end of the lane and did not say a word besides helping to bag and contain our six year old. 
I was amazed to watch as my husband calmly went through the items in the cart, he actually figured it all out without my help:)  As we walked out of the store I complimented him on his check out skills…I swear I witnessed him almost stand taller…he smiled and laughed and said,  “I did well, didn’t I?”
Ok, so I know this is minor in the whole picture of things but the thing that stuck out in my mind is how this very minor incident set the tone for our whole dayDH walked away feeling good and it stayed with us all for hours.  Now in the past we would have not been in a full argument or anything but we both could have walked away feeling stressed and irritated with each other due to my need to try and take over the situation.
2. We live in a very small neighborhood and our neighbors are good friends.   DH and I try to do date night every couple of months but truthfully the cost of the babysitter can deter us from going out at times.  I started thinking last week – why do we all just keep sitting around on Saturday night in our separate houses attempting to entertain our children when we could pool our resources and give everyone a little break.  So I first asked DH if he was on board….typically I would have planned and then told him what I was up to….he agreed to my little plan.
I talked with the other wives in the neighborhood with small children and now we have scheduled date night for all couples for the next three months with free babysitting….here is how it works…we picked a Saturday in December that is free for all families…one family is designated as the stay home couple…the other two couples are free to spend a Saturday evening however they desire.  The stay home couple will provide dinner, entertainment (which truthfully with our kiddos is only supervision at this point they entertain each other), movie and snacks.  We picked numbers out of a hat….we picked the first night home.  DH comment when I told him, “You may just end up saving everyone’s marriage, this is one of your best ideas yet:)
3. I think the other thing that sticks out in my mind over the last couple of weeks is how many times in the past I have pressured and stressed about the time it was taking my husband to make a decision when truthfully he was just thinking it over in his own way.  I cannot tell you how many times I have asked my DH in the last few weeks a question, not a big decision ie, “What time do you want to leave for my parents on Thanksgiving.?”  My husband will respond, “I am not sure let me think about it.”  I have in the past gotten frustrated and impatient, really how hard is this.  Now I catch myself, remind myself that this is just how he is processes and let it go.  So much more peaceful on both of our ends…and the world has not even come to an end:)

When Your Husband Sins Against You.

I am not an expert, a counselor, a psychologist, a theologian or a pastor. I am just an ordinary Christian wife. My posts and my blog may be helpful for you – they may not be.  I share ideas and suggestions – they are not rules and they are not guarantees.  Ultimately, each wife must prayerfully decide what she believes God wants her to do to obey Him and to honor Him in her unique situation. God has wisdom. I do not. I write specifically for wives who tend to be controlling and dominating. Wives who tend to be more quiet and have dominating husbands may find that my blog is not a good fit for them. If your husband is abusing you, please seek godly, experienced, wise counsel ASAP! Please be safe! My blog is not written for wives who are abused.
Get ready and brace yourselves, ladies.  I am about to deliver the most shocking news you have EVER heard.
Your husband is a HUGE sinner.  Like… he is in SERIOUS need of Jesus.  On his own – apart from Christ – he is selfish, unkind, unloving, mean, cruel, difficult to deal with, too passive or too aggressive, ungodly, an idolator and he possibly even struggles with lust, greed, lying, stealing, hatred, un-forgiveness, bitterness and ALL KINDS of heinous sins.
I know – it’s mind boggling.  🙂  I’m sure you haven’t figured that out on your own  – so you probably don’t believe me.  You may need to go check with him on this one, right?
Just kidding!  Please do NOT go check with him! 🙂
It’s funny – all of us as wives see our husbands’ sins SO clearly.  It’s our own sin that we tend not to see.  And I usually focus on OUR sin, OUR responsibilities, OUR obedience to God and our side of the equation.  That is where our power is, after all!
But we ALL have to deal with our husbands sinning against us – just like all husbands have to deal with wives sinning against them.  Sometimes it’s much worse than others.  This topic could seriously be a book in and of itself.  So this one post isn’t an exhaustive resource on dealing with our husbands’ sin in a godly way.  But it is hopefully a starting point.
SOME BASICS
Expect your husband to sin against you at times.  He is not God.  He will mess up. He will do hurtful and hateful things sometimes.  Other times, it may seem like he is being hateful – but he may not actually intend to be hateful – it could be a misunderstanding. He is human.  And that has to be ok. Yes, he is supposed to represent Christ to you in the marriage – but he is not Christ and to expect perfection is just setting yourself up for a disaster.
Focus on your own mountain of sin on a daily basis, and try not to focus much on his.  The more I see what a wretched sinner I am  – and just how much Jesus has forgiven me for – the more grace I have to lavish forgiveness, mercy and grace on my husband.
Gary Thomas in “Sacred Influence” says, “We are most tempted to sin when we have been sinned against.”  That is SO TRUE!  So  – be Spirit-filled.  Have God’s power in you.  Repent of all your sin.  Obey God’s Word.  Then you will have the power of God to respond without sin when your husband sins against you.  Being angry is not sinful  – but in our anger, we must not sin against our husbands!
God is sovereign.  He has assigned my husband to me for my good, as a gift to me, as my leader, protector and provider.  But He has also assigned my particular husband to me to use his sins to mold me into the image of Christ.  God will use my husband’s sin against me as a hammer and chisel to create the image of Christ in my soul.  It will be PAINFUL.  It will be a cross I must bear.  And God will use it for my good and His glory.
Wow.
WE HAVE SO MUCH POWER!
We are NOT responsible for our husband’s sin.  They are accountable to God for their sin and we are accountable to God for our own sin.
But – because we are one flesh  – our response to our husbands’ sin is powerful.  We can either respond with evil and cause the whole thing to spiral downward completely towards destruction and the death of the marriage, or we can respond in the power of God’s Spirit and breathe healing, life, strength, grace, peace, hope and help into our marriage when our husbands sin against us.
BEING UNLOVING, CRUEL AND HATEFUL
It’s possible that your man is a total narcissist who is incurable and who will be chronically selfish and cruel his whole life.  There are a few of those in the world.
Thankfully, MOST men are fairly decent guys.  They are all sinners, of course.  But most men will respond well to respect.  Now if you have been extremely disrespectful for 15 years – it will take time for your husband to really trust you and begin to open up to you again.  He may continue to stonewall for a year or more from the time you implement respect and submission and stop controlling and being disrespectful.  But ultimately, you are called to respect your husband and submit to His God-given leadership out of obedience to Christ regardless of the results.  So, it is our duty to obey God’s Word and honor Christ in our marriage regardless of what our husbands are or aren’t doing.
The great news is – usually, as we get rid of disrespect and learn to speak “respect” in a meaningful way to our husbands – the verbal abuse, unloving behavior and comments usually dramatically decrease over time.
Some possible ways wives may handle such situations – say (calmly):
  • Ouch!
  • That really hurt my feelings.
  • Did I do something disrespectful just now?  That felt unloving to me.
  • Please don’t speak to me like that or I will need to leave the room.  (And then, respectfully, with dignity and poise, leave the room if he cannot control his temper.)
  • Please don’t yell.  I feel so scared when you do that.
  • Please don’t say things like that – it hurts me so much.

Hopefully, just saying something like that will elicit an apology.

If not, you may want to give him some space, respectfully, to process his feelings for a few hours or over night. And keep some distance.  Then when he approaches you, you can say, “I’m still upset/hurt/sad.”  And you really don’t have to go into much more detail than that.  He will probably apologize.

But also, consider that Jesus calls us to bless when we are cursed and to repay evil with good and to pray for those who mistreat us.  So during that time of giving space, we can be praying for our husbands and for Satan’s strongholds to be torn down.  We can pray that God will help us to forgive and have wisdom about how to bless our husbands.  And we can pray about what kind thing we could do to show respect and love.

Please do not go on a big emotional tirade against your man!  Then he will be thinking about YOUR anger, bitterness, rage and sin and he won’t have to think about his sin!  If you can respond WITHOUT sin to him when he sins against you – he will have SO MUCH weight of conviction and he will eventually apologize on his own.

The more respected he usually feels  -the more it will tear his soul apart to see that he has hurt  you, the woman he loves most in all the world.  Your distance and pain will make him feel AWFUL and he will try to make things right.

If he feels constantly disrespected – he may not care much about your feelings – and you may have to pray and wait on God to work in his heart as you continue to obey God yourself, expecting God, not your husband, to meet your emotional and spiritual needs.

As you begin to actually stop disrespecting him – which repels him – and you learn to begin to respect him – he will likely be drawn back to you.
Then – he may eventually begin to actually care about your feelings.
When he gets used to you being joyful, happy, content, smiling, accepting and welcoming – he will probably want to keep that feeling going.  Your happiness and joy is his greatest reward.  If you are mean, negative, angry, scolding, yelling, name-calling and disrespectful all the time – he will most likely build a wall against you and shut you out of his heart.  He may decide it is impossible to please you and it’s not worth trying.  And he may not care that you are in pain.  He may be in too much pain himself to care that you are in pain.  And he may not respect you because you are so down on him all the time.  Men sometimes only let people they respect influence their decisions and actions.
But when you respect him and are a joy – he may begin to want you to be happy, to open his heart up to you slowly, and eventually he may care VERY much about your feelings and happiness. Eventually, all it may take is for that light of faith and trust in your eyes and the beautiful smile on your face to go away for a minute or two and he will be asking what he can do to make you happy again.  Yes.  Really.
The silent thing is about spiritual things.  You are silent about God and church and Bible reading, etc (I Peter 3:1-2 – if you have a husband who is disobedient to the Word of God), and show him respect.
If he is flirting or doing inappropriate things with other women (short of an affair)- some possible ideas of things to prayerfully consider saying (only if God leads you to say one of these things),
  • I don’t want you to have women friends.  I think that is dangerous.  I don’t have male friends – there are too many temptations in those situations for anyone.  No one is exempt from the temptation to have an affair.  Everyone has to guard their hearts, even pastors and strong Christian leaders.  No one plans to have an affair – it happens because we don’t prevent it and protect our marriage with a hedge of precautions and boundaries.
  •  I feel so hurt when you flirt with women.
  • I only want you to flirt with me.
  • I feel so sad that you are talking with other women.
  • I am scared that you don’t let me be your friend on Facebook.  I feel afraid to trust you when I see you shut me out from certain areas of your life.
  • I want to trust you and respect you- and I am scared to right now.  Please make it easier for me to be able to totally trust you and respect you as the God-given leader of our marriage.
  • I want you to stop talking with her.
  • I want to feel completely safe and protected with you.
  • I want to know that you are protecting our marriage and your heart.
So – you say what you want WITHOUT lashing out in anger.  You are vulnerable and share your feelings in a pure way, a VERY, VERY, VERY boiled down and brief way.  He can hear you when you talk to him like this.  You can cry and be sad.  But if you attack him with anger and an emotional ocean of negativity – he may drown in it.
Then – as you become respectful and he begins to care about your feelings – all you have to do is look sad and say you are sad – and he will probably apologize.  If he doesn’t, you just respectfully move away and create some distance from him.  Bob Grant, marriage therapist, says “Words are for women.  Men don’t respond to words.  Men respond to pain and distance.”  So you sharing your painful feelings “I feel X”  and moving away physically and emotionally will make him feel guilt and want to make things better.  Yes – this is the exact opposite of how we as women want to handle this.  Want to dump our ocean of negativity on him and blast him for an hour or two with all our horrible emotions.  This does NOT help our husbands come back to us!  It repels them.  So it is up to us to learn to communicate in a way that is EFFECTIVE for our husbands to best hear our hearts and our main message.
You don’t have to argue.  You don’t have to lose control.  The more you do those things, the more you push him to the women you don’t want him to talk to.  He finds acceptance and validation and respect there.  He needs to find acceptance, validation, edification, appreciation, affection and respect with YOU.
LYING
If your husband is telling little lies, I think that being calm about it and not making a huge deal about it would be helpful.  And keep in mind that the more he sees you trust him as leader and you respect him, the safer he will feel with you.  He may be lying to avoid a big reaction, drama, lecture, scolding, disrespect and contempt.  My suggestion, for whatever it is worth, is to respectfully, calmly and without emotion say something like:
  • honesty is REALLY important to me.
  • PLEASE tell me the truth.  We will work through this issue together.  I want to try to stay calm and hear what you have to say.  I don’t want you to be afraid of me freaking out and losing control of my emotions.  I want to respect you, and for me to be able to fully respect and trust you, I need to know for sure that you always tell me the truth.

When he does tell you the truth, maybe say:

  • THANK YOU SO MUCH for telling me the truth.  It’s painful for me to hear.  But I admire you greatly for having the courage to tell me the truth.  I feel so much safer knowing that you are being honest with me.  When you tell me the truth, even about little things, I REALLY respect that about you.
  • It means SO much to me that you have the courage to tell me the truth.  That helps me to respect the man you are so much.  I admire your willingness to be honest.  Thank you.

Then keep up the respect and nix all the disrespect.  As he sees he is safe – I think you’ll see the lying fade away in a few months, most likely.

If your husband is telling bigger lies, you may have to calmly and respectfully (and probably with great sadness) prayerfully consider saying something like:

  • dishonesty/lying is not OK.
  • I REALLY want to trust and respect you – but I just can’t respect lying.
  • I need to see you do X, Y and Z to help me rebuild my trust in you.  I need total honesty and transparency from you in order to work to be able to give you all of my respect and admiration again.
  • I’m really disappointed.
  • I am devastated.
  • I think we need to have some help.

You can do this WITHOUT attacking him.

If you catch him in big lies again or other major sin (adultery) – you may need to follow the Bible’s advice about when a brother sins against us (Matthew 18).  First we are to go show him his fault, just between the two of us in private (which means, NOT bashing him on FB or to friends, coworkers or family!)  If he doesn’t repent, then we take another believer – probably a strong Christian mentor or friend or pastor and respectfully confront him with that witness present and helping us.  Then the Bible says to take the matter before the church if he still won’t repent and treat him like an unbeliever.  Most churches don’t do discipline anymore.  Sadly.  But if he is living in habitual sin, you will have to treat him like an unbeliever – because he is not living at all with the power of Christ.  I Peter 3:1-2 would apply here.  You may have to implement consequences with gentleness, respect, poise and dignity.

ADULTERY

Please keep in mind that God can and does heal marriages that have suffered the devastation of adultery.  I know MANY marriages God has healed and that are very godly and strong now – stronger than ever – and the growth began after adultery.  This is not to say adultery is fine and not a big deal. It is a huge sin. It is not ever ok!

Adultery is not necessarily a death sentence for a marriage.  But contempt and unforgiveness will kill any relationship.

But there is help and hope and our God is a God of miracles and He is able to heal broken relationships and people when we trust and obey Him.  Please seek godly, wise, experienced, biblical counsel!

PHYSICAL ABUSE/SUBSTANCE ABUSE

Please get some godly, experienced help.  This issue is more than I can address – and you will need major help ASAP.

RELATED:

Confronting Our Husbands about Their Sin

Why I Don’t Write for Women with Abusive Husbands

Do I Condone Abuse?