How to seek marriage advice

If you’re going through some challenges with your husband right now, it’s really wise to seek godly counsel from another woman. Often another woman can see the situation more objectively.  A godly woman can encourage you to persevere through challenges instead of giving up.  Sometimes, another woman can help you see the need to set wise boundaries on unacceptable behavior.   It’s also really wise to reach out to a few godly women who you know will pray for you and your husband.

However, there’s a fine line between seeking godly support and husband-bashing!  Sometimes, we go beyond seeking advice and prayer support and we start gossiping and whining about our husbands.  That’s not constructive and it’s very disrespectful to your husband.  Let’s keep in mind God’s instruction to wives in Ephesians 5:33…”The wife must respect her husband“.

So check your heart before you pick up that phone to whine to a friend.  Check your motives before you start complaining about your husband to another woman. Are you telling dishonoring stories about him in great detail and listing all of his faults…or are you actually looking for guidance and prayer support? Pay attention to the words you’re texting or speaking.  Are they disrespectful or honoring to your husband? 

Do this before giving hubby advice

A wife’s words are so impactful!  A few days ago, I wrote a devotional about the power of pausing during a heated conversation with our men so that we refrain from responding with words that are harsh or mean….something we’ll likely regret later.  Well, there’s also another reason to pause.  As women, we need to pause before we offer casual bits of advice or “wisdom” to our husbands.

I don’t think we realize how our guys are greatly influenced by us!   We might think they aren’t really paying that much attention to a casual suggestion we toss out, but often they are.  In fact, many husbands in the Bible were greatly influenced by something their wives said, and the wives rarely had good advice!  I think especially of Sarah telling Abraham to sleep with her servant in order for him to have a son, since she was getting impatient waiting for God to fulfill his promise to give her children! Read the story in Genesis 16:1-4 and you will find out Sarah’s decision didn’t turn out so well!

So, let’s think twice before we offer a morsel of our brilliant counsel during a conversation with our men.  I remember so clearly a time I did that several years ago with my husband and he immediately acted upon it.  I hadn’t really even thought it through, let alone prayed about it. It wasn’t actually a good suggestion that I tossed out at him carelessly!  Thankfully, there was no harm done, but it got me to thinking about the need to really pause and pray about any suggestions or counsel I decide to pass on to my husband.  How about you?

Don’t confide in your relatives

I’ve learned something pivotal over my many years of helping women navigate marriage problems.  In general, don’t share your husband’s faults and failures with your family of origin!  The reason is simple.  Your parents, siblings and grandparents not only love you, but are often overly-protective when it comes to you.   They can’t stand the thought of anyone wounding a member of their family.  Now don’t get me wrong.  There’s nothing wrong with that.  However, their allegiance to you can often turn into the vilification of your husband!

Allow me to explain.  Once a wife openly shares the faults, failures or sins of her husband with her relatives, he may be forever stained in their eyes.  Many parents and siblings will begin treating the husband as the enemy.  Sometimes, those relatives develop deep resentment toward the husband.  Once those strong feelings have developed, it’s often hard to turn that ship around, even if the husband has repented of wrong-doing!  He will always have a black mark next to his name.

This is what I would suggest doing.  You definitely SHOULD seek advice and wise counsel as you’re working through difficult seasons in your marriage, but, in general, avoid confiding in your relatives.  If you sense that your relatives are quick to forgive and refuse to hold onto resentment, perhaps you can safely confide in them.  Otherwise, seek counsel elsewhere, such as a women’s ministry leader, Christian counselor, or wise older Christian woman in your life.  You need the kind of wisdom described in James 3:17-18 But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere. And a harvest of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace.

God’s guidance for your marriage

If you’ve hit a rough patch in your marriage, and if you’re a believer, you’re likely dying to know what God wants you to do in this marriage challenge.  You desperately need his guidance and counsel!  The good news is that He loves it when his children seek his guidance.  He loves his people to inquire of him!

The question is how.  How do you receive his guidance for the issue in your marriage.  Well, the first and most obvious answer is to study God’s Word.  He has placed so many super helpful instructions on relationships in the Bible.  2 Timothy 3:16  All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness.

Secondly, it’s almost always helpful to consult a godly mentor or counselor or pastor.  Sometimes we need someone who can look at our marriage situation more objectively than we can, as well as someone who will remind us of God’s instructions for relationships.  Proverbs 12:15 The way of a fool is right in his own eyes, but a wise man listens to advice.

But thirdly, and often most importantly, we should seek guidance from the Holy Spirit because God is the only one who actually knows the future.  He’s the only one who knows if your husband is going to change.  He’s the only one who knows exactly what to do and when.  John 16:13  When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come.

So ask God specific questions about specific issues in your marriage.  Ask what He wants you to do and then strain to sense the nudges from the Holy Spirit.  You probably won’t hear God speak out loud, but Jesus does say his sheep will hear his voice.  John 10:27  My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me.  So pray, and then be quiet and listen for those nudges from the Holy Spirit.  Jesus wants to guide you!

** or view this topic as a 2 minute VIDEO BELOW

What I wish my mom had told me

I wish my mom had told me sooooo many things! 

  • I wish she would have warned me that high school age boys with raging hormones would pressure me to have sex and use the infamous line “If you love me, you will….”  
  • I wish she would have told me that following God’s ways, instead of the ways of the culture, leads to great blessing and peace.  Isaiah 26:3 You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in you.
  • I wish I would have known that a marriage will never survive if your husband is sinning against you, and you avoid addressing the issue because of fear of conflict.
  • I wish I would have known that if you continue avoiding conflict, your heart will start to grow so hard and cold toward your husband that the devil will gain a huge foothold in your marriage, and you will likely spiral down into divorce.  Ephesians 4:26-27   “In your anger do not sin”: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, 27 and do not give the devil a foothold.
  • I wish my mom had told me that a Christian woman CAN and should set boundaries on sinful behavior of her husband, and perhaps even separate for a while if necessary.  (Matthew 18:15-17)
  • I wish my mom had told me that a marriage can be better than you ever imagined if both spouses follow the Lord, die to self, and strive to be a blessing to the other.  That is the secret sauce of marriage!  Galatians 5:13 says “serve one another humbly in love.”
  • I wish I would have known that even after your spouse is ripped away from you in death, that God is still good to those who trust in Him, and He can and will bring beauty from ashes.  Psalm 103:4-5  who redeems your life from the pit and crowns you with love and compassion, who satisfies your desires with good things so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.

I may not be your mother, but now you know!!!

** view this topic as a 3 minute VIDEO BELOW

Don’t make big decisions if…

You may have heard of the acronym H.A.L.T.  It stands for hungry, angry, lonely, tired.   It is a caution often used in addiction recovery where people are urged not to make any drastic decisions when one of those 4 conditions applies.

That’s a really good caution for wives as well!  Don’t make any major decisions about leaving your husband, filing for divorce, or even giving full vent to your temper if you are hungry, angry, lonely or tired.  However, I would like to add one more condition.  Don’t make any major decisions when….it’s that time of the month!!  Women are often so overly-emotional in the days leading up to their period, that we become drama queens!  Everything happening around us is exaggerated in intensity.  So, even though you feel like reacting in a dramatic way, remind yourself to pause and see if you still feel the same way 3 or 4 days later.

This verse comes to mind.  James 1:19-20  My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires.

This could change your marriage

I wonder what would happen if you asked God to transform your character into His character and then you actually began striving to display His character in your marriage?  I bet your marriage would begin to thrive!

God describes His own character in Psalm 103:8, where the Bible says “The Lord is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love.”   Even just pressing into one of those 4 qualities could make a huge impact in your marriage.  What if you started displaying grace toward your man?  Grace simply means giving someone undeserved favor and loving kindness.

I’m not saying you should ignore destructive patterns of sin in your husband’s life.  However, I am recommending that you work to extend kindness to your husband even when they’ve annoyed you or disappointed you in small ways.  In fact, what if you were to extend grace by choosing to believe that he didn’t mean to disappoint you?  What if you were to give him the benefit of the doubt?  Extending that kind of grace could change your whole attitude toward your husband…and could draw his heart toward you!

Perhaps, we could sum it up this way. The appreciated wife leaves a fragrance, not an odor!

Best question to ask when dating

If there’s one thing I’ve learned after observing many Christian marriages over several decades, it’s that ANY two people can build a fantastic marriage IF they both are seeking to honor the Lord and seek his guidance on all things.

Think of it this way.  Whoever you date is going to be imperfect, just like you also are imperfect.  However, if both of you are regularly seeking God’s guidance in His Word and seeking to obey his guidance, God can then start smoothing out the rough edges!  When a husband and wife are both striving to follow the Lord and his promptings, God can refine them day by day.  He can heal their broken places. He can teach them new healthier ways to communicate and handle conflict. 

It’s all about seeking God above all else!  This reminds me of the verse that finishes the famous section of Scripture about worrying in Matthew 6.  Jesus says stop worrying about everything and seek to follow him and he will take care of everything.  Matthew 6:33 But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.  Another verse also comes to mind.  Proverbs 3:5-6 Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make you path straight.

So what is the number one question to ask a person you’re starting to date?  Here it is:  What has God been teaching you lately?  Then be quiet and listen.  If the person has that “deer in the headlights” look, that’s probably a good indication that they really aren’t seriously seeking God and his guidance! 

Leave room for the Holy Spirit

The other day, a relative said some things about a person I love that I really found hurtful.  My first instinct was to emotionally withdraw from that person…but that’s a dysfunctional behavior I’m trying to end.  So, I started to tell that person what I really thought about their comments!  Thank God, the Holy Spirit gently stopped me.

You see, sometimes God wants us to confront someone who is sinning against us or doing something wrong.  But other times, God wants us to step back and allow His Holy Spirit to do the convicting in that other person’s heart, especially if that person is a believer.  In John 16:7-8, Jesus tells his disciples, “I tell you the truth: it is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you. But if I go, I will send him to you. And when he comes, he will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment”   Jesus was talking about the Holy Spirit, and he explained that one of the Spirit’s jobs is to convict people of sin.

What I’m learning is that I need to pause and consult God when someone is doing something that wounds me or bothers me.  I need to ask God for direction.  Does God want me to respectfully and lovingly confront that person, or does God want me to step back and allow His Holy Spirit to do the confronting. 

Back to my story. When God stopped me from laying into my relative the other day and I decided to leave the “confrontation” up to the Holy Spirit…that relative actually came to me and apologized within a few hours. Today’s question for you:  Do you pause long enough to get guidance from God before reacting?

Be a smart, intentional wife!

So many women (like me) grow up thinking once they find their Prince Charming, they’ll get married, he’ll be perfect, and they’ll live happily ever after.  It’s as if we think we’ll be sprinkled with fairy dust or something and our marriages will thrive with no hard work on our part.  Not true!

The smart wife MUST intentionally work on her marriage.  When you start neglecting your husband, or when you fail to remember to press into the Bible instructions for wives, your relationship with your husband starts to get a bit more like you’re roommates who simply tolerate each other.  It happens so slowly that wives often fail to notice the slow crumbling of a once-vibrant marriage.  Don’ let this happen to you!  Be intentional.  Proverbs 21:5 says “The plans of the diligent lead to profit as surely as haste leads to poverty.”  So, be diligent in working on your marriage.  Wives who intentionally nurture their marriages have the most fulfilling and joy-filled marriages! 

Here are just a few ideas on how to nurture your marriage. Ask God every morning how you can bless your husband this day, perhaps with a small act of kindness or a word of appreciation.  Ask God if there’s any small seed of resentment toward your husband that’s taking root in your heart.  If there is, ask God for wisdom in respectfully addressing this issue with your husband.  Carve out time for date nights or date lunches with your man every single week.  You may have to trade babysitting with another woman, but do whatever it takes to intentionally nurture your marriage.  Also, make sure you create opportunities to laugh together and have fun together. Those kind of moments are very bonding.

Great marriages don’t just happen.  They take effort….and it’s worth it!