Are you suffering unnecessarily?

Even though you may have accepted Jesus as your Savior and Lord, you and I will still encounter trials and hardships in this life here on earth.  They are inevitable.  In fact Jesus told his disciples in John 16:33..”In this world you will have trouble.”   Sometimes, the trouble is inside your marriage, and when that’s the case, you often find the need to practice great patience, endurance and “longsuffering”.  The Bible tells us in Ephesians 4:2 that we should act “with all lowliness and meekness, with longsuffering, forbearing one another in love…” (KJV).  Other translations use the word “patience” in the place of longsuffering.

However, the Bible doesn’t always advise us to just sit on our hands and settle into a long season of quiet endurance and longsuffering.   Jesus says in Matthew 18:15-17 that we’re supposed to confront someone who is actively sinning against us.  We always need to be respectful and loving, yet he tells us to confront that person who stubbornly continues in a pattern of sin against us, refusing to make changes.

So yes, there is a place for patience and longsuffering in relationships, especially when your husband has asked for forgiveness and is working to break free from a pattern of sin.  However, you may be “longsuffering” unnecessarily if you have never directly confronted your husband about a sin pattern and insisted that he make changes. The appropriate time for longsuffering is when you’ve already confronted the person sinning against you and they show evidence of trying to turn away from that pattern of sin.  I guess my question to you is this:  Have you lovingly and firmly confronted your husband if he is sinning against you or your children?  Have you drawn clear boundaries on what continuing behavior is unacceptable? If you haven’t, then there’s a chance you are longsuffering outside of God’s will.  Pray about it and see what God reveals.

Overcoming fear of setting boundaries

I have seen so many women wither and die emotionally in their marriages because their husband is engaged in disrespectful or sinful behavior and the wife gives up too easily in terms of confrontation.  (I should know because I was one of those women in my first marriage!)  So why would a wife give up?  I believe it boils down to one main fear.

The wife fears that if she continues to confront the issue, or heaven forbid, draws a serious boundary, her husband may decide to leave her…and in her mind, she will lose what’s supposed to make her happy and secure.  But this is faulty thinking!  Your husband is not a reliable source of happiness.  God is the only one we can depend on for unconditional love, compassion, and security.  If your husband were to leave after you draw a line in the sand, I believe God is big enough to take care of you financially.  I know He is.  Do you trust Him?  Do you believe what He says in Hebrews 13:5 “I will never leave you, nor forsake you”?

Trust in the One who will never leave your side.  Trust in the One who can provide innovative ways to take care of your financial needs.  Trust in the One who can bring supportive people into your life to stand by you as you draw boundaries.  That One is Jesus.

Examples of boundaries in relationships

I get asked quite often about boundaries in relationships. The subject of boundaries is a topic tossed around a lot, and women sort of instinctively know they need boundaries in relationships, but they don’t exactly know the how, what, when and whys of healthy boundaries!

First let me explain that there is a difference between asking your boyfriend or husband to change and setting a boundary.  A boundary is not a request for the other person to change.  A boundary is deciding what YOU will do to protect yourself physically, emotionally or mentally from the other person’s harmful or destructive behavior.  A boundary basically says to that other person, “I can’t control your choices, but there are some things I CAN do to control how your choices affect me”.

Let me give some examples:

  • A husband refuses to stop looking at pornography and that choice wounds his wife’s heart.  She makes a request for him to stop (and most likely to seek serious help for that addiction), but she can’t MAKE him stop.  So, she establishes a boundary.  She tells him if she continues to catch him looking at porn, she will move to a separate bedroom or even separate from him entirely until he gets serious help for his problem.  That’s setting a boundary.
  • A husband is emotionally abusive and that wounds his wife.  She makes a request for him to stop, but she can’t MAKE him stop. So, she establishes a boundary.  She tells him if he screams obscenities at her or degrades her even one more time, she will immediately leave the room (or the house) because she won’t tolerate that kind of behavior.  If the emotional abuse continues, she might set an even larger boundary and tell him she will need to separate until he seeks serious help.  That’s setting a boundary.

By the way, boundaries are Biblical.  Here’s an example from Titus 3:10 Warn a divisive person once, and then warn them a second time. After that, have nothing to do with them.  And 1 Corinthians 5:11  I am writing to you that you must not associate with anyone who claims to be a brother or sister but is sexually immoral or greedy, an idolater or slanderer, a drunkard or swindler. Do not even eat with such people.

Reasonable boundaries in bedroom

Insist on being yourself in the bedroom, ladies!  What do I mean by that? Well, unfortunately, I frequently hear stories from women about how their husbands are asking them to do increasingly bizarre things in the bedroom.  Their guys want them to perform rather perverse sex acts, or dress like a stripper and do a pole dance, or dress like a dominatrix with whips and chains.

Why are many husbands asking these things of their wives?  It’s likely because they’ve seen such stuff in pornography and they’re trying to replicate it with you!  I don’t know about you, but I don’t think this is ok.  Does it seem right that your husband would use you to try to recreate a fantasy featuring another woman he saw on a porn site?  At that point, your husband isn’t even making love to you.  It’s only about the sex act and you’re just playing a role.

The Bible instructs husbands in 1 Peter 3:7 “Husbands, in the same way be considerate as you live with your wives, and treat them with respect as the weaker partner and as heirs with you of the gracious gift of life, so that nothing will hinder your prayers.”  It is not respectful for your husband to ask you to play the role of some fantasy character from a porn site!  I believe it’s right for you to insist that you get to be yourself in the bedroom.  Yes, as a wife, you can wear sexy lingerie and be adventurous and playful in the bedroom, but let’s agree that a wife should be herself, and not play some fantasy role of a high school cheerleader or dominatrix!  That’s my take on the subject. What do you think?

3 ways to protect your marriage

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.

** or view this topic as a 3 minute VIDEO BELOW

Scared to set boundaries?

Have you ever caved in when you should have set boundaries in a relationship because of the “what if” questions?  What if he leaves me?  What if he leaves me and I won’t be able to take care of myself?  What if he gets really upset if I confront him?  What if….?

When you find yourself paralyzed with fear because of the “what if” questions, it usually means one of three things.  Either you don’t really trust God when he says in Hebrews 13:5 that he will “never leave you nor forsake you”.  Or it means you have allowed the spirit of fear to dominate your thoughts.  Or it could mean that you have become your own worst enemy and convinced yourself you’ll never be able to set boundaries and stick to them.  In other words, you’ve pummeled yourself with negative self-talk!

You CAN overcome these paralyzing fears.  How about choosing to trust God’s promise to never leave your side (Hebrews 13:5)?  Maybe it’s time to command the spirit of fear to leave you, in the name of Jesus (2 Timothy 1:7).  Perhaps you need to stop telling yourself that you’ll fall to pieces if you respectfully draw a firm boundary. Coach your soul just like King David did throughout the Psalms.  Tell yourself you will not crumble.  Remind yourself you will not fall apart.  Philippians 4:13 says “I can do all things through Him who gives me strength.”  With Jesus by your side, you have all you need.  You’re not doing this alone!