Marriage communication tip #1

You might recall the opening theme to the original Superman TV series.  The announcer proclaims that Superman is “faster than a speeding bullet”. Well, God has been showing me how a part of me is also faster than a speeding bullet….and can cause as much damage as a live round of ammunition.  That part of me is my mouth!

You may have the same challenge as I did in my marriage to Raul.  Do you often get impatient when your husband is trying to express himself and end up finishing his sentences? I did.  Do you interrupt your husband when he pauses mid-sentence?  I did.  Do you sometimes jump in and tell him how he should handle something as he’s trying to explain a challenging situation?  I did.  Do you get frustrated with him and react with harsh, disrespectful words that you can’t take back?  Hmmm. 

Let’s pray that God would give us the ability to be good listeners, patient talkers, and respectful communicators!  This is definitely God’s will for us, as revealed in James 1:19:  “My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry…”   The first step is to coach yourself at the beginning of a conversation with your husband.  Remind your soul…”I will honor the Lord and my husband by listening quietly and responding respectfully”…”listening quietly, responding respectfully”…”listening quietly, responding respectfully”…(repeat as necessary!!).

Drawing out the best in husband

Our words are SO powerful!  If you frequently tell your husband how he’s falling short, he will likely close down emotionally and search for an escape door.  He may turn to alcohol, porn, excessive recreational pursuits, or even other women.

However, if you choose to tell him about the good things you see in him, he will begin to grow in confidence.  I believe this is why God instructs wives in Ephesians 5:33, “the wife must respect her husband“.  Your respect and admiration mean everything to your man.  If you intentionally take note of his talents as well as the effort he puts forth, and then tell him you are proud of him, his feelings of inadequacy will fall away.  He will start believing he can be successful in what he tries.  He will gain courage to try tackling even bigger things.

If you notice his positive character qualities (and every man has at least one!), and tell him how much you respect him for those qualities, he will be built up on the inside.  He will likely begin believing that he can become a man who makes a difference in his family and for God.  A wife’s words of respect and encouragement can propel her husband forward to be an even greater man than he would ever have been without her!

Improve marriage by fixing this

Have you and your husband been butting heads lately?  Can you sense resentment against him growing in your heart?  Does he seem frustrated with you?  Well, the good news is that you’re not alone.  This is pretty common in marriage.  The bad news is that if you don’t do something about this, it will likely ruin your marriage!

As my husband and I mentored couples over man years, we found a little tool to be really helpful.  We asked the husband and wife to sit down over a series of “dates” and discuss each other’s expectations in all sorts of areas; everything from the balance of responsibilities for chores to what Christmas celebrations should be like.   We all hold subconscious expectations in these areas, but we rarely intentionally reveal those expectations to our spouse.  Then we get frustrated and annoyed that they don’t meet our undisclosed expectations!

How about if you bless your spouse by initiating a series of dates to honestly discuss expectations.  Proverbs 24:26 says “An honest answer is like a kiss on the lips”.   By each of you being honest and open about your desires and hopes, you will grow more intimate and truly begin to understand each other.  Visit the “free resources” tab on our website (www.squadronofsisters.com) to print out a list of topics for your husband and you to discuss.

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!

The power of a wife’s words

Proverbs 18:21 says “the tongue has the power of life and death”.  Oh my.  Consider how many words a woman usually speaks in just one day, and you can see the potential for disaster!

It took me a couple decades to really understand this fact.  The words spoken by a wife to her husband can either build him up and give him confidence to step up and be an even better man…or her words can tear him down to the point that he emotionally withdraws from her and doesn’t try to accomplish much of anything because he believes he’s a failure.

What kind of words are you speaking to your husband?  Are you his biggest cheerleader?  Do you intentionally encourage him every single day, or do you give in to the temptation to point out his many flaws on a regular basis?  He NEEDS you to believe in him and encourage him.  By the way, this doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t hold him accountable or put boundaries in place if he is actively sinning against you.  However, even then, you can address sinful behavior with an attitude that is loving and hopeful.  You can still let your husband know that you see something good in him.

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!

Laziness problem in marriage

I bet you are checking this out because you think I’m talking about your husband’s laziness…but I’m not.  I’m actually talking about our own tendency to become lazy in terms of putting effort and intentionality into our marriages.  

Laziness is kind of like lighting a really long fuse.  You don’t really notice anything for the longest time….that is, until the explosion!   Many a wife has been burned, ending up with a husband who seeks attention from other women or who even ends up divorcing her.  We can’t afford to be sluggards in our marriages!  The Bible has lots to say about sluggards.  Proverbs 13:4 says “A sluggard’s appetite is never filled, but the desires of the diligent are fully satisfied.”  This can be applied to your marriage!  Only when you are diligent in investing in your marriage are you likely to have the kind of marriage you desire.

What can you do to strengthen your marriage?  Do you need to get a babysitter and go on more dates with your husband?  Do you need to find out his love language and start speaking that language more often?  Would your marriage be strengthened if you looked for ways to encourage your husband every day and show him respect?

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

Try this experiment with husband!

I have taught women for a decade about the Bible instruction for wives to display a respectful attitude toward their husbands (Ephesians 5:33), but apparently, I have had problems over the years perfecting this myself!  I still vividly remember an occasion about 5 years ago that underscored the problem.  I was in the process of texting back and forth with two different women about a need within the Squadron of Sisters wives’ ministry…when my husband came into the room and stood in front of me for at least a minute.  I didn’t look up right away because I just wanted to finish my text and be done with that task.  My husband turned around and left the room, obviously a bit irritated.  My thought was…”huh? What just happened?”

Later, I asked my husband why he was upset.  In a nutshell, it turns out that he felt as if he didn’t matter to me.  He felt that other things came before him.  He had wanted to talk with me about something important and I didn’t even look up when he stood in front of me.  He felt disrespected.  Oops. 

I spent some quiet, reflective time with God afterward, and I believe he showed me that respecting your husband means treating him with great honor.  In fact, the original Greek translation of that word “respect” in Ephesians 5:33 means “to have reverence for” or “to be in awe of”.   Wow!  Those words seem applicable to how a servant would treat a king!  Hmmm.  Maybe God wants a wife to treat her husband as if he is as important as a king or prince.  What if you tried an experiment this week?  Would you be willing to attempt to honor your husband, and pay attention to your husband, as if he were a top official or a prince (without making it too goofy or weird!!).  Are you willing to try this “respect experiment”?  I can’t wait to hear how husbands will be impacted and how marriages may be changed for the better!

5 keys to a great marriage

One thing I’ve learned over my many years is that a great marriage doesn’t just magically happen.  Being “in love” when you exchange vows on your wedding day isn’t going to be enough.  You must be intentional.  Please allow me to share 5 simple but profound keys to building a strong, lasting, healthy marriage.  Conveniently, God gave me this acrostic to help both you and I remember these 5 keys!  Together, the letters spell G-R-E-A-T.

G:  stands for God, as in making sure that God is your number one relationship instead of trying to get your husband to meet all your emotional needs and expecting him to be your source of happiness.  (Matthew 22:36-37)

R: stands for resentment, as in making sure that you address resentment quickly so that it can’t choke the life out of your marriage.  (Hebrews 12:15)

E:  stands for effort, as in being diligent to speak your husband’s love language, show respect to him, pay attention to him, create fun moments with him, do small things he appreciates, and build a vibrant sex life with him!  (Proverbs 13:4)

A: stands for ask God to show you how YOU need to change, grow, and eliminate old unhealthy patterns in your own life such as conflict avoidance or having a critical tongue.  (Colossians 3:5-10)

T:  stands for treasure, as in purposely reminding yourself of the good qualities you can treasure in your husband instead of allowing yourself to dwell on his imperfections.  (Philippians 4:8)

Try using God’s unusual formula!

Recently, God has prompted me to consider who is truly on the throne in my life.  Am I really putting God at the center of my focus, or is everything actually about me?  Drat.  I have to be honest and say that when it comes right down to it, I tend to filter everything in my life and my relationships through the question “what will make me happy”.  How about you?

What if we changed the question?   I am suggesting that we start looking at our husbands, our marriage, our children, our work, and everything through the question “how can I please God at this moment?”  I believe this could radically change our relationships.  In Matthew 6:33 Jesus reminds us to “seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well“.  In other words, we should strive to please God in all we do, and we can trust Him to meet all our needs in return.

The world tries to convince you to focus on you.  The message is “you should focus on what makes you feel happy at the moment and you will be fulfilled.”  Unfortunately, this “formula” almost never works.  The Bible turns that equation upside down.  God tells us to focus on pleasing Him even when it doesn’t seem like you will be happy, and then you will indeed find true fulfillment and joy. 

What if you were to ask the Lord to show you how HE wants you to treat your husband this week and how HE wants you to handle difficult situations with your husband?  I wonder how your marriage would change?  Shall we try God’s upside-down formula this week?