Key step before giving him advice

My. My.  I guess I’m reminded once again about the power of our words.  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, today I was reminded of 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 did this recently, and my husband acted upon it.  I hadn’t really even thought it through, let alone prayed about it. 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?

A way to soften his heart

You want to know a sure-fire way to soften your husband’s heart toward you?  Be humble and quick to apologize when you have been disrespectful toward him!  I say “when” instead of “if” you are disrespectful because ALL wives gravitate toward being disrespectful from time to time!  Much of the time, we don’t even recognize that we’re being disrespectful. 

Let me give some examples.  You roll your eyes when he forgets to do something.  You sigh dramatically and shake your head about his “cluelessness” when he doesn’t meet your expectations.  You ask his opinion about something but then point out the flaws in his thinking.  You might even be disrespectful by giving him the silent treatment when he fails to eagerly pitch in to help with the household chores. 

When a wife acts disrespectfully toward her husband, he often hardens his heart toward her as a means of self-protection.  So, if you would like to soften your husband’s heart toward you, ask God to help you catch yourself the minute you say or do something that communicates disrespect.  Then, be quick to sincerely and humbly apologize.  A powerful apology contains these words:  “I was wrong to ….” and “please forgive me”.  Your humility will go a long way in softening your man’s heart.  Humility is a virtue we need to intentionally put on every morning.  Colossians 3:12 puts it this way, “Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.”

How to powerfully impact husband

Does your husband wrestle with a destructive addiction?  Is your husband carrying way too much stress from his job?  Does your husband seem depressed?  Is your man uninterested in pursuing God?  It’s easy for you to sink into despair, but instead, I challenge you to pray for him continually, and with total faith in our powerful God!

I’m not saying that prayer is the only thing you should do, but it is one of the most powerful things you can do for your man.   Yet, often we tend to do more whining to our girlfriends than praying for our men.  We often spend too much time drowning in a pool of self-pity instead of saturating our days with earnest prayer.

Seek godly counsel from a pastor or wise female mentor to gain insights into whether you need to take specific action with your husband.  Those actions may include establishing boundaries and refusing to enable a continuing pattern of sin. Perhaps you will be directed to see a counselor yourself.  Maybe your pastor will schedule a talk with your husband to see if he can help.  However, your main job as your husband’s helper (Genesis 2:18) is to pray for him.  Pray for him throughout the day.  God says in James 5:16 that “the prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective“.  So get on your knees and get busy praying.  I have seen God do some pretty amazing things in response to earnest, continual prayer.  I have even seen the Lord change a husband’s heart!  Yes, God can change a person’s heart.  Read Ezekiel 36:26.

What to expect of husband

Revealing what a wife should expect of her husband is a tricky thing!  Yes, we should expect our husbands to love us, and even to sacrifice their interests for ours.  The Bible says so.  It’s in Ephesians 5, in case you want to look it up for yourself 🙂  It says in verse 25, “Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her

The tricky thing is that no husband can perfectly live up to that expectation.  Therein lies the challenge.  As wives, we yearn for a perfect husband who cherishes us, adores us, romances us, sacrifices himself for us, shares his feelings with us, courageously protects us, diligently provides for us, tenderly raises children with us, spiritually leads us, and on and on.  Whew! That’s a long list!  Frankly, only Jesus could hit the mark on all those expectations, and guess what?  Your husband isn’t Jesus.

So, back to the original question.  What should we expect of our husbands?  I believe we should expect our husbands to strive to be the kind of husband described in Ephesians 5:25, while at the same time we need to realize that he will fall short of that mark because he’s human.  That’s where we need to take on the character of Christ ourselves, striving to be “compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in love” (Psalm 103:8)

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 But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere.

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What wives must know about Facebook

It’s happened yet again. Another wife almost blew up her marriage, and it all started with Facebook.  Don’t get me wrong.  I’m not against Facebook.  I love keeping in touch with what’s happening in the lives of my friends and family through Facebook posts.  However, the devil takes warped delight in taking something good and turning it into something disastrous.

We need to be wise to his schemes to kill our marriages!  Here’s what the scheme looks like:  You become curious about that old boyfriend or man from your past, so you look him up on Facebook.  It seems totally innocent.  You’re just curious.  Then you pop him a little message asking how he’s doing.  He responds.  You guys reminisce about shared experiences in the past.  You begin bonding emotionally.  Then ever so slowly and slyly, Satan starts to reel you in.  Soon, you begin believing that he’s your true soul mate, and an affair is just a step away!  This is happening every day across America!  One recent post on a divorce website noted that 20% of all divorce petitions contain the word “Facebook”.  

Don’t let this happen to you.  As wives, we must be aware of Satan’s schemes and we must fight against the temptation to connect with any man on Facebook.  1 Peter 5:8-9 says, “Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.  Resist him, firm in your faith…”    Please don’t shake off this warning.   Fight against the urge to connect with men from your past on Facebook!

The key moment during conflict

I hear quite a few stories of women, both married and unmarried, who tell me how arguments get heated in their relationships.  Their husband says something critical, and they dish it right back at him.  Their boyfriend says something unkind, and they lash right back at him.  In both cases, arguments quickly evolve into a really ugly war because neither one paused before responding.  Pausing is one of the most important moments in any relationship!  It is the KEY moment!

The Bible says in Proverbs 12:18  “The words of the reckless pierce like swords, but the tongue of the wise brings healing.”   It is SO important to pause instead of reacting with reckless words!  So the next time you feel your temper about to erupt, pause for 5 or 10 seconds.  Ask God to show you in that moment how He wants you to respond. Ask the Holy Spirit to show you what will likely happen if you say what you feel like saying in this tense moment!  (Usually, the Holy Spirit will show me that those words I was about to say will cause some serious damage in the relationship!)  You may even need to leave the room during this pause. 

By the way, if you’re texting back and forth with your guy, you may need to put down your cell phone and pray before you text back!!  Remember, once those words have been voiced in person or typed in on your text, you can’t take them back.  “Pausing” is one of your best friends in any relationship!

The “power of one” in a marriage

Each weekday, I offer a devotional intended to help wives. Yet, I have a funny feeling that some of you might be questioning why I’m always urging wives to change their behavior, look for ways to bless their husbands, and be more selfless in their marriage.  I can almost hear you asking, “What about him? Am I the only one who’s supposed to work on this marriage?”

Well, here’s a news flash for all of us.  We can’t change our husbands!  Only God can change a man’s heart.  We can establish boundaries.  We can encourage our men and offer wise counsel to them, but at the end of the day, we can’t control them.  We can only control us!  However, by changing the way we interact with our men, we can dramatically and positively impact them.  It’s the amazing power of one person to make a difference!

So, let’s all commit to working on ourselves.  Let’s look for ways to encourage our men, help our men, respect our men, and serve our men.  If your husband is engaged in a pattern of sin against you or your kids, commit to respectfully and lovingly setting boundaries on that behavior.  As you continue doing this week after week and month after month, I bet you’ll see a change in your husband and an improvement in your relationship. 

Don’t give up. Don’t be pessimistic.  Press on.  Meditate on this wonderful promise found in Galatians 6:9 “And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up.”

Are you cooperating with the devil?

Your enemy has plans to blow-up your marriage.  The Bible says in John 10:10 that Satan is out to “steal, kill, and destroy“, so make no mistake.  The devil is working diligently to take down both you and your husband.  He may relentlessly tempt your husband to view pornography, and your husband may cave into the temptation.  Your heart will definitely be bruised if your husband falls into that trap.  But Satan wants more than that.  The enemy will relentlessly tempt you to treat your husband with scorn and disgust so that your marriage implodes.

This is where you have a choice.  You can cooperate with the devil and give in to his temptations.  You can allow him to have the victory.  You can align yourself with his evil plans and watch your marriage get flushed down the toilet.  Or you can refuse to cooperate with the devil.  Even when your husband does something that seriously disappoints you, you can tell your husband that you are still “for him”…that you believe he has a good heart…that you are not giving up on him.

A friend of mine recently found out that her husband had slipped up and viewed porn after over a year of being free from pornography.  Of course, she was devastated, but she chose wisely in that moment.  She chose to speak words of life to her husband.  I’d love to share the text she sent me shortly after his confession:  “So thankful he was honest.  Still hurts.  But the enemy will not win!  My marriage is worth fighting for”.  What a fantastic attitude!  She refused to cooperate with the devil.  How about you?

Help, my husband is strong-willed!

Wouldn’t it be wonderful if all husbands were gentle with their wives, always asked for their wife’s input, and took great care to meet the needs and desires of their wife?  Yep, that would be great, but unfortunately, both husbands and wives are still in the process of being sanctified (made holy) and we all have a way to go before we reach perfection!  Your husband won’t be perfect.  YOU aren’t perfect. 

That being said, a wife doesn’t need to settle for a husband who continues to run rough-shod over her, ignoring her needs and desires, dismissing her input and suggestions, and doing whatever he wants with little regard to how his decisions and behavior affects her!  In fact, 1 Peter 3:7 says… 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.   And Ephesians 5:25 says Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her.

Clearly, God is calling husbands to self-sacrifice for their wives; to treat their wives with respect and consideration; to value their wives.  So, what does this mean for you if your husband is very controlling, strong-willed and ignoring your needs or input?  I believe it’s totally appropriate to pray for the right timing and the right words to respectfully ask him to consider your needs, desires, opinions and input on matters that affect your relationship and your family.  If he agrees, great.  If he doesn’t make any changes, then its likely time to ask him to go to a marriage counselor with you.  If you don’t address your lop-sided relationship, you will likely find your heart slowly withering and becoming colder and harder toward your husband.  Don’t wait until that happens to act!  Act now.

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