Prompting empathy from husband

Are you often really disappointed in your husband because he doesn’t seem to have a lot of empathy in your times of stress or sadness?  Do you find yourself longing for him to comfort you during times of discouragement or heartbreak, but he doesn’t seem to notice your distress or understand what you need?  Well, join the club! 

For most of my marriage to Raul, I found myself getting repeatedly frustrated that he didn’t comfort me when I needed comfort or even seem to notice that I needed empathy!  Then one day about 2 years ago, I felt the Holy Spirit nudge me and say, “He doesn’t know what you need unless you spell it out to him.”  What?!  I remember thinking that if I have to tell him exactly what I need in those moments of despair or frustration, then his attempt to comfort wouldn’t be meaningful.  You might think the same thing.  However, I was wrong.

When I finally spelled out to my husband EXACTLY what I needed in moments of heartbreak, discouragement, or stress, he followed through.  He actually thanked me for TELLING him what I needed.  And guess what?  Even though I told him what I needed, it was still very comforting when he did what I instructed him to do.  Just in case you’re wondering what I asked him to do.  I said “Come up to me and wrap me in your arms and hold me tight.  Then pat my back gently 3 times and say ‘I can understand how that would make you feel and it’s going to be okay’.”  It was amazing!  I was comforted!

Husbands are not mind-readers!  If you need something, tell them!  Otherwise, your husband will sense that he’s failing you but be unsure of what to do.  Explaining exactly what you need is actually an act of compassion toward your husband.  This reminds me of the verse in Colossians 3:12  Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.

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Wisely influencing your husband

I think I can.  I think I can.  I think I can.  That’s the self-fulfilling prophecy repeated over and over again by the little train in the well-known children’s story.  The train faced an up-hill battle, but it encouraged itself by stating positive thoughts out loud.  In the end, the little engine’s encouraging words to itself spurred it on to successfully climb the hill.

Husbands are like that little train. They face an uphill battle.  The world tells our men they are failures, that they don’t measure up, that they’re not good enough.  Satan constantly whispers words of discouragement to our guys.  As a result, our men often stop attempting to grow spiritually.  They often stop taking courageous steps forward in leading their families.  Instead of boldly fighting for justice and integrity, many choose to check out through alcohol, drugs, video games, gambling or pornography.  But WE can be that voice speaking encouragement to our men!  We can say, “I think you can”.  “I know you can”.  “I believe in you”.  “I’m praying for you.”   “God’s going to give you the strength”.   Hebrews 3:13 is a good reminder to us.  It says “Encourage one another daily as long as it is called ‘Today’ so that no one is hardened by sin’s deceitfulness.”

You can help move your husband from defeat and retreat to a place of exciting victory simply by your words of encouragement.  Will you help your husband be the little engine that could?  I think you can.  I think you can.  I think you can.

Controlling your mouth!

Good grief!  Just when I think I’m finally growing a little more like Christ, my tongue trips me up yet once again!  In our marriages and in our friendships, what comes out of our mouths often tends to gravitate toward criticism, complaints, sarcasm, etc.  Try as I might, I just can’t seem to turn the corner on this problem!  How about you?

Chances are good that your tongue also gets you into trouble.  That’s because we have a common enemy.  Satan keeps subtly prompting us to spew negative, hateful, disrespectful, angry words. Thank goodness, there is One who has the power to tame our tongues!  Jesus is stronger than the enemy.  1 John 4:4 says “greater is He who is in you than he who is in the world.”  Hallelujah!

So, this morning I surrendered my tongue to Jesus and asked Him to control my tongue today.  Would you be willing to ask God to help you remember to pause before you speak to your husband, especially when you’re angry or frustrated!  Maybe you would benefit from asking God to remind you during that pause to speak words that are kind and loving, even if you’re asking your husband to stop a certain behavior or trying to explain your frustration.  I know this is a prayer the Lord will answer because God tells us several times in the Bible to speak gracious words.  Ecclesiastes 10:12 “Words from the mouth of the wise are gracious, but fools are consumed by their own lips.”

Will you courageously begin praying for God to help you catch yourself the minute you’re about to say something disrespectful, sarcastic, negative, critical, or arrogant toward your husband?

Does your marriage need this Rx?

All work and no play make Jack and Jill….grumpy.  Could this be the case for you and your husband?  Most American couples are way too busy.  We’re working exhausting hours outside the home to make more money.  We’re running the kids to 12 different activities so that they have a chance to “excel” in something.  We’re throwing dinner together while doing laundry and helping the kids with algebra homework.  We’re running on empty and then we wonder why we’re grumpy!  Duh!  We need to give ourselves permission for a mental time-out.

When is the last time you and your husband let the house chores wait and decided to watch a funny movie?  When is the last time you guys invited some adult friends over for “game night”?  You need to give yourself permission to play every once and awhile.  Your brain and your body need a rest.  You need to have fun and spend some time laughing.  Proverbs 17:22 says “A cheerful heart is good medicine“.   Maybe your marriage needs a spoonful of this medicine…the medicine called fun and laughter.  It’s a great antidote for grumpiness.  🙂

Are you spiritually-intimidating him?

Most women love words.  We love to talk.  We love to communicate.  Thus, for most women, praying to God comes fairly easily.  After all, prayer is communication. 

On the other hand, most men don’t enjoy talking as much as women, and many men find it challenging to express their deepest thoughts and feelings.  As a result, when a husband hears his wife praying an articulate, expressive, lengthy prayer…he can end up feeling intimidated.  The wife doesn’t mean to intimidate her husband spiritually, but she ends up doing just that!

If this could be the case for your man, seriously consider shortening up your prayers and using simple words.  Don’t get me wrong.  I’m NOT saying your husband is stupid.  I’m simply saying that women need to be careful that we’re not “showing off” our vocabulary as we pray!  This reminds me of something Jesus said in Luke 20:47.  He had harsh words for people who “for show make lengthy prayers”.  So, let’s be super humble and pray concise, simple, heart-felt prayers.  You may find that your man is more eager to pray with you in the future.

3 ways for wife to stop negative thoughts

After many years of listening to couples in distress, I’ve learned something really interesting.  There often seems to be a tendency for one or both spouses to make negative assumptions about the motivations of their mate or to jump to the most negative conclusions during communication!

I believe both these tendencies are instigated by the devil who would like nothing more than to get you to think negative, unflattering thoughts about your husband.  The devil WANTS you to jump to the most negative conclusions about your husband. The devil WANTS you to misunderstand what your husband is saying so that you will be hurt, frustrated and anxious. 

The first step in fighting against this tendency is to realize what the enemy is up to!  We must be alert to his tactics.  1 Peter 5:8 Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.  Applying this verse in our marital communication means that we continually check ourselves to see if we’ve started jumping to negative conclusions and assigning negative motives to our spouse.

Secondly, if we notice that we are reaching a negative assumption during communication, we ask for clarification from our spouse!  We don’t just start internally grumbling inside about what a jerk our husband is.  We don’t verbally attack them for being a horrible person. We actually pause and ask them to clarify what they meant when they said ___________.  Sometimes it’s not even the words that were said but the facial expression or tone of voice.  Again, ask for clarification.  You might say something like, “When you said that, I felt like you were letting me know that I’m not a good mother.  Is that what you meant to say?”

Thirdly, we must start training our minds to assume the most gracious motivations of our spouse instead of the worst!  It’s so easy to jump to negative motivations though, isn’t it?  Your husband forgets to do a task you asked him to do, and you mumble “He doesn’t care about anyone but himself”.  Your husband struggles with pornography, and you mumble “He’s a disgusting person who would instantly stop looking at porn if he really loved me”.  However, both these events could be framed in our minds completely differently!  When he forgot to do the task, you could say to yourself “I know he didn’t intend to forget. I bet he got busy.”  When you caught him looking at porn, you could say to yourself “I know he doesn’t intend to hurt me. He probably has an actual addiction and needs help.”

Let’s be proactive in examining our thoughts ladies!  2 Corinthians 10:5 take every thought captive to obey Christ

Creating richer intimacy with hubby

Wouldn’t it be great if you and I could stop spending energy trying to hide all our flaws, fears, and failures?  Most of us are in “hiding”.  You’re afraid that if anyone, including your husband, was to discover your flaws, they wouldn’t love you anymore.  Satan has convinced us that we need to hide who we really are. He whispers into your ear that your husband will look at you with disgust if he were to discover the real you.  Satan tells you your husband might even leave you.

Satan is a liar.  I know from experience that the opposite is true!  When my husband revealed all of his flaws (and I mean ALL) on our first date, even though I was shocked by his transparency, I found it completely refreshing and heart-warming.  It made me feel like I could trust him to be honest in the future…that he wouldn’t hide stuff from me.  We gained a kind of deep intimacy on that first date that some couples never experience in decades of marriage!  How wise to live out Proverbs 28:13 in your marriage, which says “Whoever conceals his sins does not prosper, but the one who confesses and renounces them finds mercy.”

So, my challenge to you is to take a baby step forward in being “real” with your husband.  Tell him that you’d like to be able to share with him a deep fear or failure from your past.  Tell him that you need to be able to trust him to handle this revelation with tender care.  I believe you may discover a rich new level of intimacy with your man.  Also, by you going first, he may feel more comfortable revealing more of his true self to you in return!

Your husband may have dry bones

Recently, I asked my husband what one thing most husbands really wish their wife would understand.  Here is what he said.  Most men long for their wife to notice something good about them and to tell them what they see!  It could be a positive character quality he displays.  It could be the fact that he works hard to provide for the family.  It could be a talent he has.  It could be the way you notice him submitting himself to God.

According to my husband, men desperately need this validation because they feel like a failure much of the time.  In fact, my husband described men as being a bit like dry bones in a desert, in desperate need of water.  Your words can provide water for those dry bones and breathe life back into your man!  Proverbs 16:24 puts it this way, “Gracious words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones.”

Will you commit to finding something to affirm about your husband every day for the next 7 days?  Will you commit to actually telling him about the good you see?  He will soak up those words like a sponge, and it will bring life back into the dry bones of his spirit.

This is super offensive to husbands

My husband and I have had some interesting conversations a few months ago.  One of things he mentioned several times is how devastating it is for a man to hear his wife criticize him or make fun of him in front of other people.  Even if she is trying to be funny, and even if he seems to be laughing along with everyone else, most men are quite offended by this and feel disrespected by the one person who is supposed to be for them…their wife!

So, this is just a brief reminder for all of us to be ever so careful with our men’s fragile hearts.  Even though I think my husband’s little quirks are funny, it’s probably not a brilliant idea for me to share those quirks with other people. Even though I thought one of his blunders was hilarious, he’s going to feel disrespected if I share that funny story with others.  Let’s all be vigilant in protecting our men’s hearts.  They so desire our respect, especially in public.  Maybe we all need to quote Ephesians 5:33 every morning before we start our day.  It very simply says, “The wife must respect her husband.”

Beware of this marriage-killer

From both personal experience and counseling wives in crisis, I can say with certainty that allowing resentment to go unchecked spells doom for a marriage!  Think about it.  If you are really upset with your husband about something, or really frustrated with him, or hurt by his behavior…do you respectfully discuss your feelings and concerns with him?  Do you courageously deal with the issue, or do you tend to stuff it under the rug, hoping things will just magically get better?

If you’re a conflict avoider, it’s so very easy to stuff instead of confront!  It FEELS safer and more peaceful to just hope that your husband changes his behavior.  That way you won’t have any tense moments and you won’t get in a “fight”.  Unfortunately, if you say nothing, nothing is likely to actually change.  Sometimes a husband doesn’t even know what his wife is upset about!  And here’s the real problem.  If you don’t address your resentment, it will grow bigger and bigger and bigger until you are likely to explode months or years down the line.  That resentment will have turned your heart cold and hard toward your husband, and you may end up saying those fateful words “I’m done”.  Don’t let it get this far!

Your husband needs you to calmly and respectfully explain why you are upset and what you are asking him to change.  He may disagree, but then you guys can talk about it.  Talk it through.  Ask the Holy Spirit to give you courage and the timing and the right words to bring up the concern with your husband…soon.  Seek a counselor’s help if you need to.  Just make sure you don’t let your resentment go unaddressed.  As Hebrews 12:15 say, “See to it that no one falls short of the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many.”   Don’t let a bitter root start growing that ends up causing big trouble!

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