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!

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!

Aim for this goal during conflict

It’s natural during disagreement with our husbands to believe you’re right, he’s wrong, and you must convince him of that!  However, if we stay stuck in that mindset, the battle only heats up.  He gets defensive.  You get defensive.  Usually, the situation either evolves into yelling and ugly accusations or a silent, but deadly cold war.  There is a better way and it begins with rethinking your end goal.

What if your goal was not to “win” the argument or change his mind?  What if the goal was to reach a compromise or solution that addresses the biggest concerns of you both?  Seriously. Think about it. Now you both win and there are no losers.  This means that you both agree to consider the other person’s perspective, fears, values, and concerns.  From there, you begin to present ideas that might address both of your main concerns.  Philippians 2:4 reminds us “Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.” 

So, the next time you and your husband start to have a significant disagreement, suggest that you would like to sit down together and better understand his perspective and concerns.  Then gently share your concerns, and ask him to join you in brainstorming a solution or compromise that would be the best fit for both of you.

Taking bold action during spiritual warfare

In my current Bible reading, I’ve been struck with how many times God used women to take a bold, courageous, and wise stand against the enemy.  There are so many occasions where a woman steps out to lead or help God’s people when the enemy is attacking.  Here are some of the examples:  Abigail (in 1 Samuel 25) acts wisely when her husband did not.  Rahab (Joshua 2) hides God’s people from the enemy.  Deborah (Judges 4) courageously leads the people of God into war against the enemy.  Esther (Esther 4 & 5) boldly intercedes for God’s people even though it was dangerous for her to do so.  The wise woman (2 Samuel 20) reasoned with an enemy who was about to destroy her city and her wisdom saved the city.

What can we learn from these women?  They were all very alert to the enemy’s schemes and they all boldly chose to take action against the enemy, trusting in God for the outcome.  So here is the question for you:  Do you see the enemy attacking your husband, your marriage, your family, or individual children?  If you do, are you going to just wring your hands in despair, or are you going to take action?  Hopefully, you will become a courageous woman of action!  What does God want you to do?  Do you need to relentlessly pray for God to intervene?  Do you need to boldly confront an issue?  Do you need to get wise counsel from a godly woman? Do you need to establish firm boundaries in a relationship? Do you need to ask others to pray with you?

— or view this topic as a 4 minute VIDEO BELOW

Dealing with a husband’s addiction

You have two choices if your husband is struggling with an addiction to alcohol, porn, gambling, drugs, video games, etc.  The first choice is to wring your hands in despair, whine to your friends, tell him how disgusted you are in him, allow yourself to grow resentful, and eventually divorce him.  Hmm.  That doesn’t sound like the best choice for your family!

The second choice is much more likely to result in his eventual release from the stranglehold of the addiction.  You can choose to pray for him daily, lovingly ask him to seek help through counseling or a 12-step program, set firm boundaries on any behavior that adversely impacts you or your family, and continue to speak “words of life” to him.  What do I mean by “speaking words of life”?  I mean reminding your husband of his many good qualities; reminding him that God has great plans for him; and reminding him that you still love him and that you are willing to stand next to him in this battle.  Your words are so very important.  Proverbs 18:21 puts it this way: “Death and life are in the power of the tongue”.

Your husband will be much more likely to put in the hard work to break free from his addiction if he feels supported, encouraged and loved by his wife.  Yes, you must have firm boundaries, but he still needs to know you are for him.

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

How husbands react to emotions

Do you tend to get loud when you get upset?  Are you prone to big, dramatic displays of your emotions, whether joy, frustration or sadness?  Well you might not know this, but most men are really uncomfortable with big displays of emotion.  This isn’t true for ALL men, but for most men.

In other words, if you’re a drama queen….your husband will likely try to escape your presence!  He just doesn’t know what to do with your larger-than-life emotions.  Maybe this is why 1 Peter 3:4 advises wives to have the beauty that comes from a “gentle and quiet spirit“.   

Most men much prefer that their wives discuss their emotions, fears, disappointments, frustrations, and joy in a calm manner.  Your husband will be much more likely to engage in a meaningful discussion with you if you can speak in a normal tone of voice, without waving around your arms.  Try it!

What is considered emotional abuse?

Yesterday, we examined what constitutes physical abuse within a marriage.  Today, let’s explore something much more subtle and overlooked…verbal and emotional abuse.  Once again, I strongly urge women to take a stand against abuse of any kind.  Keep in mind, you are showing your children (especially your daughters) that either women are supposed to be weak, helpless, perpetual victims or that women can be confident and strong while still displaying love and kindness.

After doing much research, here’s a fairly comprehensive list of behavior that constitutes verbal or emotional abuse:  Frequently calling you obscene names, often yelling in rage, a pattern of constantly criticizing you and putting you down, prolonged periods of refusing to talk to you at all, pattern of ridiculing or making fun of you, pattern of mocking you or mean-spirited sarcasm,  verbal threats of violence, intimidation through displaying knives or guns, constantly accusing you of wrongdoing, forbidding you to talk to parents or siblings, preventing you from leaving the house, refusing to allow you to talk on the phone, forbidding you from speaking to friends or neighbors.

Again, I urge you to take a stand against this kind of abuse.  You are a valuable woman.  You are God’s daughter and precious in His sight.  Don’t allow yourself to be emotionally pummeled.  You will slowly be destroyed.  That is NOT God’s plan for you. Yes, the Christian wife is supposed to submit to her husband’s leadership, but husbands are told by God in Colossians 3:19 “Husbands, love your wives and never treat them harshly.” Also, God instructs us to guard our hearts in Proverbs 4:23….”Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life“.  If you are suffering this kind of abuse, please talk to your pastor, pastor’s wife, or a certified counselor.  Your husband may be upset, but you must protect your heart.  By the way, if you fear for your physical safety as a result of revealing the emotional abuse, then take protective measures such as moving to a friend’s home or a domestic violence shelter while you work through the issues with your husband.

The tendency to compare yourself with other women

It is so incredibly easy to get out of balance as a wife, mother, employee, homemaker, ministry leader, etc. We focus on our roles and begin feeling pretty insecure. We start comparing ourselves to other women and feel we’re somehow lacking. Then we start picking up self-help books, we google “how to become a better ________”, we attend classes and workshops, we beat ourselves up for not being as “good” as other women, and we relentlessly push ourselves to be better!

The crazy thing is that we get so consumed with beating ourselves up and reading self-help books that we push our relationship with God farther and farther away! I mean, who even has time for God when we are completely focused on being as “good” as the other women around us.

As I was pondering this dilemma the other day, I sensed God convict my heart in a way that I had not expected. Instead of him assuring me that I’m amazing the way I am, God gently revealed to me that these thoughts that “I’m not good enough” are really prideful thoughts! In other words, I want people to like me, to approve of me, to think I’m pretty incredible as a wife, a mom, a ministry leader, etc! This tendency to compare myself is actually rooted in pride. Ugh. We know that pride is something God detests.

What’s a woman to do? Well, how about if we agree with God that we’re NOT “good enough” and that Jesus is the only one who is?! How about every time we start comparing ourselves to other women, we stop ourselves and remind ourselves how thankful we should be that Jesus died to save us from our imperfections and sin? Maybe at that very moment, we should turn our thoughts toward Jesus in gratitude and adoration. In that moment, spend time worshipping your creator and Savior. Colossians 3:1-2 “Since then you have been raised with Christ, set your heart on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your mind on things above, not on earthly things.”

Bonus: When I start worshipping the Lord in song, I find that I quickly gain a whole new perspective on what’s important. I am better able to choose how to spend my limited time and energy. I don’t feel so driven to compete with other women. As you focus on the majesty, grace and love of Christ, you will develop a heart posture that brings balance and peace.

— or view this topic as a 4 minute VIDEO

3 questions to ask when discouraged

Sometimes, we feel like we’ve reached the end of our rope!  You may be discouraged because you’ve been praying for God to change your husband’s attitude or behavior, and it’s just not happening.  You may be discouraged because you hoped your children would turn out a certain way, and they seem to be making bad decisions.  You may be discouraged because you’ve been searching for a new job and you can’t find one that fits your abilities and availability.  Now what?

Well, first, don’t give up praying.  In Luke 18:1, the Bible says…”Then Jesus told his disciples a parable to show them that they should always pray and not give up.”  So, keep asking God for a miracle.   However, maybe it’s time to put on a new set of glasses.  Maybe you’ve been insisting that God do what YOU think is best, instead of praying that God’s perfect will be done.  Now is the time to ask God to reveal his perspective on this issue.  Why don’t you ask him these 3 questions, and then spend some quiet time listening for his response:

1)  Lord, can you help me to see this situation through your eyes?

2)  How are you trying to change me or teach me through this situation?

3)  Is there a lie the enemy is trying to get me to believe about this situation?