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. 🙂
- Our Words Can Cause Catastrophic Damage
- Portia’s Story – how she obeyed God and won her husband over without a word
- I Don’t Want to Lose My Voice, My Power and My Identity!
- Can a Wife Be TOO Submissive and Respectful?
- What Is Attractive/Unattractive to Husbands?
- Praying for Our Husbands So That God Will Hear
- I Feel Alone, Discouraged and Like I Can’t Say Anything Right
- The Frustrating Quiet Phase (this should be a phase, not a permanent thing!)
- Stages of This Journey
- Finding Her Voice