Is there collateral damage in your family?

I don’t know about you, but sometimes I can get pretty grumpy when events become challenging in my day.  When the internet goes down while I’m trying to work on my computer, I get super frustrated.  When I accidentally drop a bunch of flour on the floor while baking, I get grouchy.   When I get an unanticipated bill in the mail, I get really irritated.  Unfortunately, if my husband happens to walk by at that particular moment, I inflict collateral damage!  Collateral damage is a military term where civilians, who were minding their own business, are injured unintentionally by a military strike.  Hmmm.  Yes, my husband is sometimes that innocent civilian who is injured by the bullets coming from my mouth and the darts shooting from my eyes during moments of irritability!

How can you and I prevent this collateral damage?  Here are two possible remedies: 

1)  Pause before you react!  Before a word comes out of your mouth, pause.  During this pause, remember who your enemy is.  Your enemy is NOT your husband…or your children.  Your enemy is Satan and he is TRYING to provoke you!  1 Peter 5:8-9 says “Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.  Resist him, standing firm in the faith…”  

2)  Claim two specific Bible promises and pray that God would fulfill those promises for you in this moment…Isaiah 54:17 “No weapon forged against me will prevail” and Romans 8:28 “we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who are called according to His purpose“. 

When facing marriage difficulties

It’s so very easy to sink into self-pity, despair or flat-out depression when you become disappointed in your marriage.  It happens when your husband doesn’t have the same perspective as you, or when he doesn’t meet your expectations, or when he does something hurtful. 

However, you do have a choice in how you’re going to view this challenge in your marriage.  You can choose to feel sorry for yourself and become consumed with resentment and hopelessness….or you can choose to do much more productive things!  You can choose to make the most of your hardship by….

1. Praying without ceasing for God to intervene in the situation. (read Luke 18:1-8) 

2. Seeking guidance from God on what possible actions you should take.  Sometimes God may want you to extend grace, realizing that your husband will never be perfect, just as you will never be perfect. Other times, God may want you to courageously establish boundaries with your husband, especially if he is sinning against you.  Consult the Lord for guidance through His Word and through listening prayer. (read Psalm 32:8)

3. Asking God what He wants you to learn through this situation so that you grow in character and faith. (read Romans 5:3-5).  Is he trying to teach you patience?  Is he trying to teach you how to communicate your frustration in a more respectful way when your husband upsets you?  God is always trying to mature us!

4. Seeking God through Bible-reading and worship so that you can experience his comfort at a new and deeper level than you ever knew was possible!  (Psalm 34:18)

— or view this topic as a 2 minute VIDEO BELOW

Dealing with laziness

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?

3 keys when asking him to change

If your husband has an addiction or often engages in some kind of destructive or sinful behavior, you have 2 choices.  Choice # 1: You can wring your hands in despair and do nothing…which means that his disturbing behavior will likely continue, and your heart will slowly grow cold toward your husband.  Choice #2:  You can courageously talk to your husband and request him to change his behavior (or get help in changing his behavior).  From personal experience, I highly recommend choice #2!

Here are 3 keys that are especially important if you choose to address this issue with your husband.

  1.  Be very specific about what you’re asking your husband to do in order to change his behavior.  For instance, if he has a drinking or pornography problem, he will almost certainly need help in disentangling himself from this addiction.  So search out helpful 12-step programs or reputable counselors in your area ahead of time and tell him that in order for you guys to keep moving forward in your marriage, you need him to attend a specific number of sessions over a specific period of time.  I would certainly recommend that he attend some kind of program/counselor at least once a week for at least 6 months.  Addictions and other sinful patterns are hard to break. He will need sustained help.
  2. Expect your husband to be unhappy about this request!  Many husbands will try to blame you or other circumstances for their personal problems.  Many husbands will also attend a program or see a counselor for one or two sessions and then say “it isn’t helping me”.  That’s usually just an excuse.  Don’t accept that answer, unless they are willing to try a different program or counselor right away.
  3. Balance your request with words of hope and encouragement.  Proverbs 18:21 says Death and life are in the power of the tongue.  Remember, you’re asking your husband to do some very hard work, so speak life-giving words to him. Tell him that you see good qualities in him, and that you will do anything you can to help him on his journey to break free from addiction

2 tips for a disappointed wife

If you find yourself disappointed with your husband, ask yourself this question:  Is he sinning against me or am I just disappointed with him?  If he is actually sinning against you (looking at porn, being abusive, drinking excessively, etc), then consult with God and perhaps a godly mentor to determine if you should respectfully confront your husband and establish boundaries, using the Biblical model laid out in Matthew 18:15-17. 

However, if you’re simply disappointed with your husband because he’s not meeting your expectations, then try these two things:  1) Simply and clearly let him know what you desire….because he is not a mind-reader!  It’s so funny how we expect our husbands to meet all our needs and desires because “he should just know”.  Lol  Well, guess what?  He doesn’t “just know”.  Sometimes, you need to actually tell him what you’re hoping for and what your expectations are.

2) If he still doesn’t fulfill your desires and expectations, take a moment and remind yourself that he can’t be perfect and he can’t perfectly meet all your needs!  Now, if someone were to ask us if we expect our husbands to be perfect, we would answer “of course not!”, and yet, at a subconscious level, most of us DO expect our men to be perfect. We pretty much expect them to be Jesus!  It’s time to let them off that hook.  After all, God makes it clear in Psalm 53 “there is no one who does good, not even one”. 

So, maybe it’s time you stop expecting your man to be perfect in every way. How about, instead, you decide to be thankful for the good things about him?  In fact, every time I start to get disappointed with my own husband, I try to stop and begin to list the things that he does right. Let’s see. He works hard to provide for me.  He doesn’t drink or drug. He has stopped looking at porn.  He reads the Bible every day. Wow!  I’m not so disappointed anymore!

This will endear you to your husband

After years of working alongside my husband to counsel and mentor couples in distress, I’ve noticed a common issue.  Even though many of the husbands have greatly disappointed or frustrated their wives, the wives come across as condemning and arrogant.  Ouch!

When a wife is perceived as being arrogant and self-righteous, the husband usually avoids her, becomes passive aggressive, and self-medicates his pain through destructive choices such as alcohol, pornography, or even other women.

What if you were to choose to deal with your frustration and disappointment in a different way?  What if you were to display humility, kindness and love…even when confronting destructive behavior?  One quality that will really endear you to your husband is humility, and it’s Biblical!  Philippians 2:3-4 says “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility, consider others better than yourselves.  Each of you should look not only to your own interest, but the interest of others.”

Catch yourself if you start talking down to your husband or start treating him like he is disgusting or inferior to you.  In that moment, ask God to give you His perspective on your husband.  Ask God to remind you that you’re not perfect either and that you’re both a work in progress…in the master’s hands.

If he doesn’t notice your efforts

Have you found yourself really frustrated with your husband because you put a bunch of effort into making a great dinner and he didn’t voice appreciation?  Have you found yourself really bummed out because you took great pains to dress up for date night and your husband didn’t seem to really notice?  What gives?

First, it’s important for you to realize that just because he didn’t voice appreciation, doesn’t mean he could care less about what you’ve done!  I bet he loved your dinner and I’m sure he liked the way you looked for date night.  Here is the possible reason for the disconnect.  Men are wired to be providers.  God created men to work and take care of creation (Genesis 2:15 says “The Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it.”)  It’s only natural that men are focused on their work.  So, when they step through the front door at the end of their work day, their brain is still engaged in work.  They are still thinking about their job and what’s coming up tomorrow at work.  They may be physically present at home, but their minds are often still back on the job. 

So, instead of getting frustrated, tell your husband how much you appreciate his hard work for your family.  Be his chief encourager.  Then, after he’s had awhile to unwind from his day of work, ask him how he liked the dinner.  Tell him you put some extra effort into your hair and makeup and ask him if he likes it.  I know you feel like you shouldn’t have to prompt him with these questions.  You would like your man to notice and voice appreciation without your prompting, but most men simply aren’t wired that way.  So simply ask him, and then listen to his response. More than likely, he will say the dinner was good.  More than likely, he will say you look great.  Accept the compliment!  Embrace the compliment, even though it may come with little emotion and yes, even though he had to be asked. 😊

A wife’s guide to controlling her mouth!

Some women bottle up their frustrations in marriage and in life in general.  These women are uncomfortable working through conflict and try to ignore the problem, defaulting to a cold war or silent treatment.  However, some women find themselves at the other extreme.  When they get irritated or frustrated with their husband, they let him have it!  They often speak critical, bitter words to their men, and those words cut their men deeply.  The wound is especially deep because a man is wired to crave respect.  That’s why the Bible instructs wives in Ephesians 5:33 “The wife must respect her husband“.

So, what can you do if you’ve tried to stop spewing mean, harsh, bitter words, and your attempts seem to fail most of the time?  Well, the Bible gives us a big clue on what you need to do.  Luke 6:45 says “The good person out of the good treasure of his heart produces good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure produces evil, for out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks.”   The cure for a quick temper or critical tongue is to pray for God to change your heart!  Ask God to fill your heart with love and compassion and patience for your husband.  Pray this daily. 

P.S.  In addition to praying for a heart of love, make sure you don’t have major unaddressed issues with your husband.  If you hang onto resentment over unresolved conflict, that’s like covering a skillet of oil with a tight lid, setting it to simmer and then walking away expecting it to stay at a calm simmer.  Without a vent, it will eventually explode, splattering the scalding oil everywhere!   If you have unresolved conflict with your man, decide to respectfully and gently confront these issues so your simmering heart doesn’t explode through your mouth!

Don’t miss out on your life!

We are all so prone to dwell on what we don’t have.  For instance, you might spend lots of mental time and energy longing for a more romantic husband.  Or maybe you rehearse over and over again the many qualities your husband lacks!  You may be a single woman reading this devotion, and you may be spending lots of energy and time trying to capture a man who can become your husband!

Here’s the thing.  We can easily spend so much time focusing on what we don’t have…and trying to manipulate people and circumstances to get what we want…that we don’t even enjoy the many blessings God has actually given us.  We can miss out on the life we have!

Colossians 2:6-7 reminds us, “So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live your lives in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness.”  You and I need to focus on the many things for which we can be thankful.  What good people has God placed in your life?  How has God provided for you?  Dwell on those things and be thankful.  When you stop focusing on what you don’t have, you’ll finally be able to truly enjoy all the blessings that you do have!

Try this when discouraged

In our marriage and in all our relationships, we will face challenges.  In response, we often wring our hands in despair, get mad at God, sink into depression, lash out at people around us, get really grouchy, and on and on.  We act as if we’re surprised that we’ve encountered heartache and trials.  Well, here’s a news flash for you.  Trouble is normal and to be expected.  After all, Jesus says in John 16:33 “In this world you will have trouble“.  Drat.

However, God has a plan to do something wonderful in the middle of our challenges…if we decide to move out of despair and self-pity.  God wants to teach us something.  He doesn’t waste any opportunities for our personal growth!  In the middle of our suffering, God gives us the choice to either wallow in depression or contemplate what He might be trying to teach us.  Romans 5:3-5 sums this up well: “We also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope.  And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.”

The choice is yours.  You can stay mired in despair if you want to, or you can anticipate a time of great personal growth and shaping of your character.  Could God be teaching you patience, or perhaps teaching you to be courageous in confronting abuse, or maybe teaching you to help and comfort others who share a similar heartache?  Maybe the Lord simply wants to teach you to draw even closer to Him and to trust in Him completely.

Maybe the Lord is planning to answer your prayers in a way that will blow your mind!  When I’m in a time of discouragement or challenge, I like to give my concern to God in prayer and then encourage myself by saying this…”I can’t wait to see what God is going to do!!!”