Do 4 things when he disappoints you

Every wife is going to have moments (or weeks or months!) that she’s disappointed with her husband.  No man is perfect, and your husband is bound to frustrate you, annoy you, or fail to meet your expectations from time to time.  The question is:  How can you keep from being seriously discouraged or resentful during those times?  I have found 4 things to be really helpful:

1) Clearly communicate your expectations and desires!  Men are not mind-readers, yet often wives expect their husbands to “just know”!  So, think about the areas in which you’ve been frustrated or disappointed. Then calmly and clearly tell your husband what you desire or need, as well as how much you’d appreciate him making an effort to meet those needs and desires.

2) Be grateful for what he does right!  Isn’t it strange how most wives tend to gravitate to focusing on what their husband is doing wrong, but barely give a second thought to what he’s doing right?!  Stop right now and ask God to help you see the many good things about your husband and the positive things he does.  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 thing.”

3) If your husband is actually sinning against you, it’s time to stop wringing your hands and it may be time to take action!  In Matthew 18:15-17, Jesus instructs us to confront the person who sins against us, and to even get others involved if necessary.

4) Pray, and never give up!  Prayer truly can move mountains, and Jesus tells us in Luke 18:1 that we “should always pray and not give up“.  So go to battle in prayer, and ask God to reveal His love to your husband and to mold and shape your husband’s heart.

Don’t tolerate abuse or disrespect

It is not okay for your husband (or anyone) to treat you disrespectfully.  Let me just say that again.  It is not okay.  I know far too many beautiful, kind Christian women who, for some reason, allow themselves to be verbally, emotionally, or physically abused by their husbands or boyfriends.  It’s heartbreaking.  I heard yet another story from a highly-intelligent, gorgeous woman recently.  She came to me in despair, wringing her hands over her abusive situation.  Yet, she didn’t clearly see that she needed to draw a firm boundary and impose consequences on such behavior.  In her case, she needed to leave until he showed serious, sustained repentance.

Ladies, do you think God winks at a man who is abusing his wife or girlfriend?  Absolutely not.  In fact, God tells husbands they are to lay down their lives for their wives.  Ephesians 5:25 says, “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her.”  If your husband or boyfriend is emotionally, verbally, or physically abusing you, you need to take a stand.  If you don’t take action, you’re basically enabling his destructive behavior to continue.  Read Matthew 18:15-17 and ask God to reveal His plan for you to take a stand when someone is sinning against you. 

This is toxic in marriage!

Do you keep replaying your husband’s past mistakes over and over again in your mind?  Do you find yourself dwelling on how he’s disappointed you in the past?  Let it go!  Thoughts like that become toxic…to you and your marriage.  Hebrews 12:15 makes this point:  “See to it that no bitter root grows up among you to cause trouble and defile many.”  If you keep rehearsing your husband’s past failures, you will end up growing more and more resentful of your husband.  The resulting bitterness acts like poison to your own heart.  You become a dried up, miserable woman. 

Even more damage is caused when you verbalize those past mistakes to your husband.  Yet many wives do that.  They repeatedly bring up their man’s past mistakes and almost wield them as a weapon against their husband.  His heart gets sliced and diced in the process.  His heart becomes poisoned against his wife as well.

It’s time to decide to release your husband from his past failures. The Bible is pretty clear about your need to release bitterness and resentment. Ephesians 4:31 says “Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger…”  Sochoose to exercise the same grace God has given you!!  News flash:  You’re not perfect either.  By the way, releasing your man from his past mistakes doesn’t mean you should ignore current sin.  If he is currently sinning against you, determine to respectfully confront him and work through the problem, perhaps with the help of a counselor or pastor.

What conflict avoiders must know!

I’m an expert conflict avoider.  How about you?  I grew up in a household where there was a lot of yelling and rage and verbal abuse.  As a result, everything within me always tried desperately to avoid anything in my marriage that could have resulted in tension, raised voices, or anything remotely resembling conflict.

However, avoiding conflict is a recipe for disaster in a marriage.  I learned that the hard way in my first marriage, which failed.  Here’s the thing.  If you don’t address the things that are really bothering you about your husband or your marriage, a seed of bitterness is planted in your heart.  That seed slowly takes root and grows, and after months and years go by, you will most likely grow to despise your husband and want a divorce!  Not good.

So, commit to respectfully, lovingly, and diligently address the things that are bothering you within your marriage.  Hebrews 12:15 warns us not to let “any bitter root grow up among you to cause trouble…”  So, ask God to give you the courage to gently and respectfully discuss your concerns with your husband.  Ask God to give you the courage to express your needs and desires to your husband.  Do not become invisible.  When you start stuffing your feelings and immediately cave in during disagreements, toxic resentment will start to grow inside you. Don’t let that happen!

Your signature temptation

About 25 years ago, I heard a line in a sermon that will always stick with me.  The pastor said we all have a “signature sin”…a sin that has our name written all over it!  Do you have a signature sin or temptation?  Is there one particular thing that trips you up all the time?  Yes, that’s what I thought.  And I’m sure Satan laughs his butt off every time you and I give into that temptation.

Well, we all might have a signature sin or a specific temptation that seems insurmountable, but Satan doesn’t get the last laugh!  Jesus promises to provide a way out of every temptation.  I just need to ask Him to give me eyes to see the avenue of escape and for Him to give me the strength to turn from my old patterns and take that escape exit.  1 Corinthians 10:13 says “…God is faithful; He will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear.  But when you are tempted, He will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it.

I’ve learned that the first step in overcoming that signature sin in my life is this: discovering the lie I’ve believed!  For me, the “way out” of temptation to eat the wrong food is uncovering the ridiculous lie I’ve believed about food.  God is showing me that I have somehow been deluded into thinking that eating a boatload of sugary treats and a ton of french fries would make me feel better!  That’s a lie.  The truth is that eating healthy will make me feel better, so that’s what I’ve been choosing to do for the last 8 years.  And you know what?  I feel great…physically, spiritually and emotionally.

Do you keep repeatedly falling into the same temptation because you’ve believed a lie?  It’s food for thought (pardon the pun!).

Finding hope when life is hard

We’re all a bit anxious right now…some are even downright fearful.  How will we make it through skyrocketing inflation that’s draining our bank account?  Will I be one of the people who gets seriously ill from covid-19?  Are we on the verge of World War 3?  And, if you’re not worried about that, then there are a myriad of other things that might be stealing your joy and your hope.  Perhaps your marriage is falling apart or your kids are making poor decisions. 

The truth is that, until we get to heaven, we will all experience tough times here on earth.  And of course, Satan loves to pile on by whispering negative, hopeless thoughts into our minds when he sees that we’re struggling.  We tend to start reciting a list of complaints and fears…about people in our life, health problems, finances, the way we look, and on and on.  Instead of reflecting the love of Jesus to those around us, our facial expression portrays “woe is me”.

For a believer, that’s ridiculous!  If you’ve made Jesus your Lord, you have his protection and power at your disposal.  Your prayers are powerful!  James 5:16  “The prayers of a righteous person are powerful and effective”.  And even if your prayers aren’t answered EXACTLY how you think God should, you can trust Him to redeem every hardship in your life.  I love what He tells me in Psalm 103:4 “He redeems your life from the pit and crowns you with love and compassion”.  When life gets discouraging…when anxiety starts eroding your hope…bring your concerns to Jesus and relax into his strong arms.  

I grasp hope and peace when I choose to trust in Jesus.  He is at work!  His ways are perfect.  Seek His perspective on all that’s happening. Ask him to help you understand what he’s doing in this challenging moment.  Ask him to redeem your seemingly hopeless situation.  He’s so creative!  He’s working behind the scenes right now. 

Best question when frustrated

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…”

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Are you giving Satan this foothold?

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.

Handling selfishness

Selfishness. It’s such an unattractive character quality, right?! I’ve always thought most men are pretty selfish, and perhaps many are.  However, God’s been convicting me of my own selfishness! Ugh. It can be a very subtle thing for women.  In fact, selfishness is often found in a woman’s thought-life.  She may think things like this:  My husband should be more romantic toward me. How can I convince my husband that my way is right?  My husband isn’t really making me happy anymore.  I married him because he’s supposed to make me happy!  And the thoughts go on and on. 

I’m becoming convicted neither wives nor husbands will find much joy in marriage when we only look out for what we want and what we think will make us “happy”.  Actually, true joy comes from serving others and thinking of how we can bless them.  It is so counter-intuitive!  However, it is also so Biblical.  Philippians 2:3-4 says “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourself.  Each of you should look not only to his own interests but also to the interests of others.”  Maybe you should try to look at life from your husband’s perspective this week and really try to understand his point of view during disagreements. Maybe you could intentionally build him up each day and voice your appreciation for big and small things he does.  How could you bless him this week?

P.S. I know some of you are thinking, “Why should I be the only one doing this? What about my husband?”  Well, how about if you clean up your side of the street first?  I have a strong hunch that your entire marriage will improve and your husband’s heart will be drawn to you.  Are you willing to give it a try?

Feeling alone in your struggle

We’re all struggling with something.  It could be your marriage or your kids or your finances or your health or the political divisiveness that is separating longtime friends!  Often when we’re in the middle of a big challenge, we can feel very alone, even if we’re surrounded by people.  It seems like no one really understands what we’re going through.  We feel all alone in the battle.

But we’re not alone!  And this is not just a Christian bumper sticker or a warm and fuzzy saying on a Christian greeting card.  As some of you know, I recently lost my husband to illness.  He was the love of my life, my companion, my best friend, my encourager, my partner in ministry, and so much more.  Talk about feeling alone when he departed this earth!

For several months, I grieved, and that is totally appropriate and necessary.  That grief turned even more heavy when I realized I was all alone.  I might have family and friends, but I had lost my constant companion and best friend and partner in life.  But then I sensed God bringing to mind some of Jesus’ final words to his disciples.  In Matthew 28:20 he told his disciples something HUGE!  “And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”  

God was reminding me that Jesus is truly with me…every day…in every struggle…during my reflective morning coffee time to my search for guidance during the middle of a struggle.  He is my constant companion.   I’m finding that in the middle of a challenge, the question has changed from “What should I do?”  to “What should WE do, Jesus?”   I’m even inviting Jesus to join me during mundane tasks and grocery shopping and an afternoon walk.  He is always with me.  I’m not alone.  Is it time to invite Jesus to be your constant companion?

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