You’ve probably heard the saying, “If mom ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy.” Although the primary message of this saying is that mom’s attitude affects the whole family, I think a secondary message is just as significant. If a wife conveys to her husband through her constant complaints and criticisms that she’s not happy, her husband begins to feel like a failure and starts to close his heart to her.
Unfortunately, many wives get stuck in this dynamic. We tend to point out one disappointment after another to our husbands. We remind him that we notice he forgot to take out the garbage. We point out that he hasn’t communicated in our love language recently. We remind him that he hasn’t played with the kids in a while. In short, we can’t seem to resist pointing out his flaws. Adding insult to injury, we then get really upset that he seems emotionally withdrawn from us!
Perhaps it’s time to pick our battles more carefully. Maybe we should let the small stuff slide. Proverbs 12:16 says, “Fools show their annoyance at once, but the prudent overlook an insult.” Let’s ask God to help us affirm what our husbands do right, overlook the small imperfections, and only confront our husbands if they are truly sinning against us and/or the children. EVERYBODY in the family will be happier!
There are a lot of dangers for a wife who gives into the temptation to look backward. Allow me to reveal two specific ways in which we tend to look backward, as well as the resulting danger.
1) Since almost the beginning of creation, we’ve had a tendency to want to look back at our past. I think of Lot’s wife who looked back at Sodom and Gomorrah and suffered for that decision by being turned into a pillar of salt! God may have asked us to move forward in serving him, or perhaps we’ve entered a new relationship, but we tend to look back with longing at how things used to be. In modern day, many wives are tempted to “look back” at their old high school boyfriend by checking them out on Facebook. But that is dangerous. It opens the door to make a connection that can slowly develop into something that pulls you away from your husband.
2) As wives, we also tend to “look back” at the past failures or sins of our husbands. We often replay the hurtful incident over and over again, even 10 or 20 years later! That always ends badly. Resentment rises up again and causes continuing damage in the relationship. We need to have a forward gaze. Philippians 3:13-14 says, ” Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.” Deal with any sinful behavior going on today, but let’s decide to leave the past in the past.
How many times have you muttered to yourself “He should just KNOW!”. Most wives have muttered this time and time again. I know I have, and just the other day, my husband and I were counseling a couple where this communication pitfall rose to the surface so clearly. She needed her husband to romance her a little before physical intimacy and he had no clue! She started getting resentful. He most definitely felt her cold shoulder, but was oblivious to the problem!!
Expecting your husband to know what you want and need without clearly telling him…is a common communication pitfall. Unfortunately, your husband doesn’t just “know” because he doesn’t think like a woman and most men have no idea what a woman wants or needs from her husband. We can’t assume our husbands know what we want!
Avoiding this communication pitfall is so easy. As a wife, clearly, concisely, and directly tell your husband what you want. Clearly tell him what you need. Let him know the specifics as well! Let me give a simple example. Let’s say you have company coming over and the house is a mess. Plus, you’re trying to make a dessert to serve. So, you’re feeling stressed. Meanwhile, your husband is oblivious to your inner turmoil. He’s contentedly watching ESPN. In most cases, the wife would finally say “Hey, can you vacuum the house please?”. To which the husband says, “sure” and continues watching ESPN. At this point, the wife blows a gasket in frustration. Here’s the thing. She didn’t give him the details of what she was asking for. Instead of simply asking, “Can you vacuum?”, she needed to say “Can you vacuum right now?” She needed to clearly spell out what she was asking for and when.
Clear, honest communication is a gift to your husband! It reminds me of Proverbs 24:26 An honest answer is like a kiss on the lips.
There is a particularly vicious cycle that can start in a relationship. It’s super common but also super subtle. Trust me. You don’t want to enter this cycle. The cycle goes like this:
My husband does something wrong, so I feel completely justified in my critical and disrespectful response. Or my husband does something that really annoys me so I feel totally justified doing that certain thing that I know really annoys him. In both cases, of course he responds with his own counter move, and the vicious cycle has begun. We give into the subtle, destructive temptation to “hurt him just like he hurt me”. We feel justified in our reactions, but we’ve just escalated the war. Unfortunately, in this war, there are no winners…just losers.
I know! Here’s an idea! (yes, you noted some sarcasm there). How about if we decide not to play the justification game anymore? How about if we, as our husbands’ helpers, decide to respond to our husbands with grace, love and respect, even when they annoy us? How about if we choose to stop trying to punish them every time they upset us? Romans 12:18-19 directs us to live this way…”If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: ‘It is mine to avenge; I will repay,’ says the Lord”.
Now, don’t get me wrong. This doesn’t mean we keep totally quiet all the time. You may need to establish boundaries on sinful behavior. However, even if you’re confronting your husband or establishing boundaries, you can do so with love, compassion, respect, and gentleness!
When we first pledge our love to each other on our wedding day, we never think either one of us could possibly end up having an affair years later. Tragically, it happens quite frequently, and even among Christian couples. We can’t be ignorant of Satan’s mission revealed by Jesus in John 10:10 where He says Satan is out to “kill, steal, and destroy”. Satan would like nothing better than to rip apart your marriage. He is always plotting ways to get you or your spouse connected with someone of the opposite sex. That’s why we have to be vigilant from day one!
James 4:7 advises us…”Submit yourselves to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.” One of the ways we can resist the devil’s schemes to destroy our marriages is to talk with our husbands about rules we will both follow relating to the opposite sex. Agree that you will never spend time alone with another man and your husband will never spend time alone with another woman. If your job requires you to be in a one-on-one meeting with someone of the opposite sex, agree that the door will always be left open. Agree that you will never share anything personal about your marriage with a member of the opposite sex. If at all possible, agree to never work as a two-person team with a member of the opposite sex on a project or at your job. That feeling of being a “team” is extremely bonding!
Safeguard your marriage. You may think you don’t need all these strict rules, but I know from personal experience that you do. Many solid Christians have fallen into Satan’s trap by failing to follow these safeguards. Don’t let your marriage be another notch in the devil’s belt.
Our men are bombarded daily with temptations to lust. They drive down the freeway and there is a billboard featuring a sexy woman. They go to work and encounter a female co-worker showing too much cleavage. It seems like there is no safe place to avoid the temptation to lust!
However, your home could be one of those safe places, especially if you choose to avoid watching TV shows that feature scantily-clad women! Personally, I would love to watch Dancing With The Stars. I so enjoy watching a dancing novice grow into a fabulous dancer in just a few weeks. But I know that watching that show with my husband will likely cause a huge challenge for him regarding lust. So, I choose not to watch that program. The same thing is true for many other shows. We apply the same rule of thumb to the movies we watch. I check beforehand to see if a movie features sexual scenes or partial nudity. We don’t watch those movies.
Are you helping your husband avoid sexual temptation through your choices of media? 1 Corinthians 10:32 says “Do not cause anyone to stumble“. Are you allowing things into your home that could cause your husband to stumble? For instance, I called Victoria’s Secret many years ago and asked them to stop sending their catalog to our home. That magazine is soft porn to men and boys! Should you make similar changes at your home?