You may be a wife (like I have been in the past) who is stunned when her husband does or says something that isn’t exactly kind and loving. To be honest, at some subconscious level, I guess I expected my husband to always make me happy and do the right thing. In short, I rather expected him to be like Jesus. I mean, after all, he was a Christian, for heaven’s sake!
Hmmm. On the other hand, the Bible makes it clear that no human being is perfect. Psalm 14:3 says, “there is no one who does good, not even one“. So, perhaps it’s time for you to take your husband off the hook. I’m not saying that you should give him a free pass on blatant, destructive sin. Jesus makes it clear we should confront someone who is truly sinning against us. You can read his instructions about that in Matthew 18:15-17.
However, I do believe it’s time for Christian wives to start being gracious to their husbands in terms of looking beyond their minor faults and annoying quirks. Does he sometimes drive more aggressively than you would like? Maybe you can be gracious about that (while praying for safety!). Does he fall short in the romance department? You can be gracious about that too. Does he sometimes snap at you when he’s stressed. That makes him human! Remember he is a flawed person, just like you! We’re all a work in progress…in the master’s hands.
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 you, as your husband’s helper, decide to respond to your husband with grace, love and respect, even when he annoys you? How about if you choose to stop trying to punish him every time he upsets you? 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 you should keep totally quiet all the time and tolerate abusive or harmful behavior. 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!
Life often seems like a winding highway full of potholes. We get bounced around by people who disappoint us. We disappoint ourselves. Satan loves to plant that seed of doubt about whether we can make it through current challenges in our marriage, with our kids, at our job, etc. We wonder if we can handle what’s around the bend.
That’s why we need encouragers in our lives! 1 Thessalonians 5:11 says “encourage one another and build each other up.” My question for you is: Do you have a friend who encourages you? Or do you spend a lot of time with women who are negative, critical, and “downers”?
If you don’t have an encouraging woman in your life, ask God to reveal a woman who seems to have the gift of encouragement. Then ask her if you could regularly get together, perhaps once a week or every other week, just to chat and mutually encourage each other. That’s right. You can be her encourager too. We all need it! Let’s link arms together ladies!
There’s a golden phrase I discovered many years ago. When I started using it, I found it helped prevent my husband from getting defensive when I was upset or frustrated about something he had said or done. Instead of accusing him of doing something wrong, I learned to kindly and sincerely ask this question: “Help me understand why…”
This simple question prevents the monster of defensiveness from raising its ugly head. By asking your husband to “help me understand”, you’re communicating two things to your husband. 1) You really do care about his perspective and feelings, and 2) You’re acknowledging there may actually be a legitimate reason for why he did or said whatever. At least, you’re giving him a chance to explain himself before you start arguing with him or condemning him!!
By asking your husband to help you understand his behavior or perspective, you’re avoiding a foolish argument. Proverbs 18:2 says “Fools find no pleasure in understanding but delight in airing their own opinions.” By asking your husband to help you understand his perspective, you’re pleasing both God and your husband by living out the instructions in Philippians 2:4 “Each of you should consider not only your own interests, but also the interests of others.”
Try this phrase when you sense a potential ugly argument is headed your way. You can not only use this phrase with your husband, but with your children, your in-laws, your co-workers, your boss, and more. Again, the phrase (actually a question) is….”Help me understand why…”
The Bible says in Ephesians 4:26 – 27, “In your anger do not sin”: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, and do not give the devil a foothold.”
Well, over the years of my marriage to Raul, I didn’t always obey that instruction and my disobedience was almost disastrous! One occasion comes to mind as a good example. My husband had acted in a way that really bothered me. I was steaming for hours and couldn’t even bring myself to talk to him about it because I feared we’d get embroiled in a huge conflict. So, I went to bed early, by myself. I went to bed by myself, wrapped in a blanket of resentment, bitterness, and ugly thoughts about my husband. As I lay there steaming, that resentment started morphing into thoughts such as “I’d be better off without him” and “He’s such a jerk. I’m going to be cold as ice toward him from now on.”
I am so thankful the Holy Spirit finally broke through and prompted me to get out of bed and go speak with my husband. I sensed that I was giving the devil a “foothold” in my marriage through me stuffing the issue and letting resentment grow. So, I went and found my husband in the living room, knelt by his side as he was sitting on the couch and told him that I truly do see so many good qualities in him. I also told him why his behavior had bothered me.
I know you’re thinking he agreed with my assessment, but he didn’t!!! However, a good thing did happen. We calmly acknowledged our difference of opinion, and I was able to go to sleep in peace. There was no wedge between me and my husband. Don’t allow the enemy to gain a foothold in your marriage. Resist the temptation to go to sleep with simmering anger and resentment.
Are you feeling weary, discouraged or burdened? Perhaps you’re feeling frustrated with others or even yourself. This remedy might seem strange, but God says that when we meditate on His principles and begin applying them in our lives, our souls will be refreshed! Psalm 19:7-8 says “The law of the Lord is perfect, refreshing the soul. The statutes of the Lord are trustworthy, making wise the simple. The precepts of the Lord are right, giving joy to the heart. The commands of the Lord are radiant, giving light to the eyes.”
Maybe your soul is weary or discouraged because you’ve been trying to handle difficult people and circumstances with your own wisdom. Maybe it’s time to search out God’s wisdom instead. For instance, if you are depressed about your husband’s continuing verbal abuse toward you and your children, maybe your soul will be refreshed as you read God’s instructions for dealing with someone who is sinning against you. You might want to read Matthew 18:15-17.
Perhaps you’re dealing with a rebellious child who isn’t responding to your explanations about why he or she should listen to you. Maybe your soul will be refreshed as you read God’s instructions for molding your children into people of character. You might want to read Proverbs 13:24 “Whoever spares the rod hates their children, but the one who loves their children is careful to discipline them.”
Christmas can be one of the happiest times of the year. However, it can also be one of the hardest times of the year for those who have lost a loved one, or find themselves alone in a new town, or have little money to buy presents because of a recent job loss. No one really embraces heartbreak or suffering. We usually do everything we can to avoid it, and we often complain to God when He doesn’t put an end to it at our first request. But maybe he is allowing the suffering for a really good reason. Maybe He has purpose even when he allows us to experience disappointment or even heartbreak.
I think of several stories from the Bible. Joseph’s story in Genesis, chapters 37-50, is a prime example. Even though Joseph endured great suffering for many years as he wrongly spent time in prison, God had a masterful plan he was executing behind the scenes….a plan that would involve Joseph rising to great power in Egypt and helping his family gain food during a famine in Israel. I also think of the great apostles Peter and Paul. They were beaten and thrown into prison, but God later miraculously freed them from prison and their story inspired many to follow Christ.
The Bible reveals that there is purpose in suffering and heartbreak. Romans 5:3-5 says “…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.” So, perhaps instead of feeling sorry for ourselves or feeling anger toward God, maybe you and I should choose to trust God even in the midst of heartbreak. Maybe we should ask God to use our suffering to build our character. God won’t waste your heartbreak. He will use it to do something beautiful.
In every marriage, there will certainly be times where you find yourself disappointed or frustrated with your husband. The question isn’t…how can you and I avoid those challenging times? The question is…how are we going to respond to the challenge?
I’ve met many wives who allow themselves to sink into self-pity or get all riled up with anger toward their husband. Neither one of those responses is helpful! In fact, a crazy cycle begins in the marriage. The wife lets her husband know how disappointed she is in him…he feels like a failure so he either responds with mean words or withdraws…she gets even more disappointed…and the cycle continues! Please allow me to suggest a couple of new ways to look at those times when your husband has frustrated or disappointed you:
Instead of focusing solely on what he’s doing wrong, choose to rejoice in what he’s doing right. This is the essence of Philippians 4:8 “whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable – if anything is excellent or praiseworthy – think about such things.” In other words, instead of developing a sour taste in your mouth by dwelling on his every fault, choose to look at your husband as a work in progress. God doesn’t transform a person overnight (including you!). So, choose to relish in the sweetness of every good thing your husband does and every good choice he makes. For your soul, it will be like sipping on sweet lemonade instead of sucking on bitter lemons.
P.S. You’ll look a lot more attractive to your husband when your mouth isn’t puckered up like you’ve been sucking on sour lemons!
P.S.S. If your husband is WAY out of bounds with his behavior and actually sinning against you, you may need to establish some firm boundaries, while at the same time choosing to remind yourself of his good qualities as well!