The power of one in 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.  We can pray for God to transform 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, pray every single day for God to break him free!  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.”

** or view this topic as a 2 minute VIDEO BELOW

Marriage communication tip #1

You might recall the opening theme to the original Superman TV series.  The announcer proclaims that Superman is “faster than a speeding bullet”. Well, God has been showing me how a part of me is also faster than a speeding bullet….and can cause as much damage as a live round of ammunition.  That part of me is my mouth!

You may have the same challenge as I did in my marriage to Raul.  Do you often get impatient when your husband is trying to express himself and end up finishing his sentences? I did.  Do you interrupt your husband when he pauses mid-sentence?  I did.  Do you sometimes jump in and tell him how he should handle something as he’s trying to explain a challenging situation?  I did.  Do you get frustrated with him and react with harsh, disrespectful words that you can’t take back?  Hmmm. 

Let’s pray that God would give us the ability to be good listeners, patient talkers, and respectful communicators!  This is definitely God’s will for us, as revealed in James 1:19:  “My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry…”   The first step is to coach yourself at the beginning of a conversation with your husband.  Remind your soul…”I will honor the Lord and my husband by listening quietly and responding respectfully”…”listening quietly, responding respectfully”…”listening quietly, responding respectfully”…(repeat as necessary!!).

How encouragement changes husband

I remember the time a little over a year ago when I realized how much impact a wife’s words have on her husband.  I was having a super frustrating day and I was kind of sharp with my husband.  He seemed to withdraw emotionally and within moments, he physically removed himself from the room.  Hmmm. 

Then fast forward to a different day, and I decided to purposely look for something good about my husband and to actually tell him about that “good” that I see in him.  The minute I did that, he got a little spring in his step.  His entire countenance changed.  Interestingly, he also seemed to be even more thoughtful and gentle toward me.  It was as if my encouragement and respect made him feel so much better about himself that he now felt secure enough to be kind and loving and patient with others. Wow!

This reminded me of the Lord’s instructions for us to encourage each other.  1 Thessalonians 5:11  “Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing.”  We need encouragement, but so do our men!  When was the last time you intentionally looked for good qualities in your husband and told him about those things?  When was the last time you took note of him taking time to play with the kids, or handling a household chore without being told, or being kind to others? 

Let’s commit to building up our guys.  They need our steady encouragement, and we’ll also benefit as they begin to feel valued and respected.

This attitude is a marriage-crusher

Nothing will repel your husband (or boyfriend) more quickly than….you acting all self-righteous!  However, this is exactly how women act much of the time.  We don’t intend to come across as self-righteous, or “better-than”, or arrogant, or “experts” on everything, but we can definitely come across that way to our men!  Having that kind of attitude ruins relationships.  As Proverbs 18:12 says: “Before destruction a man’s heart is haughty, but humility comes before honor.”

So let’s examine ourselves.  Do you often correct your husband, giving the impression that you know more than he does?  Do you give long-suffering sighs when he forgets to do something, giving the impression that YOU would never do such a thing?   Do you make sure you let him know he has disappointed you, while being quick to defend yourself if he says you’ve disappointed him?

Maybe it’s time we stopped acting “better-than” our men!  We are ALL a work in progress.  Let’s strive this week to display a humble spirit.  Instead of repelling your husband, your humility will draw your husband toward you.  Wouldn’t you much rather be a fragrance in your husband’s life than an odor?!

Change your inner spouse-talk

We’ve all heard of self-talk, but allow me to introduce a different kind of internal narrative that can be just as negative as your self-talk. It is the internal talk about your spouse!

The things you say, whether out loud or in your head, greatly influence the way you feel and act.  In fact, Proverbs 18:21 says “the tongue has the power of life and death“.  In other words, when your inner spouse-talk is constantly pointing out your husband’s flaws or rehearsing the past ways he’s let you down…your words reinforce a negative attitude and behavior toward your husband.  If not corrected, this negative attitude and behavior on your part can eventually lead to prolonged bitterness, depression, and even the death of your marriage.

Ladies, we must do what the Bible says in 2 Corinthians 10:5…”take every thought captive“.  Start noticing the things you are saying in your head about your husband.  If a negative thought enters your mind, don’t give it room!  Instead, look for something positive to say about your husband.  He DOES have some positive qualities.  Make sure you spend time engaging in positive inner spouse-talk more than the negative kind!

Common communication pitfall in marriage

How many times have you muttered to yourself “He should just KNOW!”.  Most wives have muttered this time and time again.  I know I have, and just the other day, my husband and I were counseling a couple where this communication pitfall rose to the surface so clearly.  She needed her husband to romance her a little before physical intimacy and he had no clue!  She started getting resentful.  He most definitely felt her cold shoulder, but was oblivious to the problem!!

Expecting your husband to know what you want and need without clearly telling him…is a common communication pitfall.  Unfortunately, your husband doesn’t just “know” because he doesn’t think like a woman and most men have no idea what a woman wants or needs from her husband.  We can’t assume our husbands know what we want!

Avoiding this communication pitfall is so easy.  As a wife, clearly, concisely, and directly tell your husband what you want. Clearly tell him what you need.  Let him know the specifics as well!  Let me give a simple example.  Let’s say you have company coming over and the house is a mess.  Plus, you’re trying to make a dessert to serve.  So, you’re feeling stressed.  Meanwhile, your husband is oblivious to your inner turmoil. He’s contentedly watching ESPN.  In most cases, the wife would finally say “Hey, can you vacuum the house please?”.  To which the husband says, “sure” and continues watching ESPN.  At this point, the wife blows a gasket in frustration.  Here’s the thing.  She didn’t give him the details of what she was asking for.  Instead of simply asking, “Can you vacuum?”, she needed to say “Can you vacuum right now?”  She needed to clearly spell out what she was asking for and when.

Clear, honest communication is a gift to your husband!  It reminds me of Proverbs 24:26 An honest answer is like a kiss on the lips.

Drawing out the best in husband

Our words are SO powerful!  If you frequently tell your husband how he’s falling short, he will likely close down emotionally and search for an escape door.  He may turn to alcohol, porn, excessive recreational pursuits, or even other women.

However, if you choose to tell him about the good things you see in him, he will begin to grow in confidence.  I believe this is why God instructs wives in Ephesians 5:33, “the wife must respect her husband“.  Your respect and admiration mean everything to your man.  If you intentionally take note of his talents as well as the effort he puts forth, and then tell him you are proud of him, his feelings of inadequacy will fall away.  He will start believing he can be successful in what he tries.  He will gain courage to try tackling even bigger things.

If you notice his positive character qualities (and every man has at least one!), and tell him how much you respect him for those qualities, he will be built up on the inside.  He will likely begin believing that he can become a man who makes a difference in his family and for God.  A wife’s words of respect and encouragement can propel her husband forward to be an even greater man than he would ever have been without her!

Course-correcting your relationships

If you’re a follower of Jesus, you can expect that God is constantly transforming you to be more like his son Jesus.  His Holy Spirit is gently but consistently convicting us of both known sins and subtle sin patterns in our lives, and he’s urging us to turn from those patterns. He’s urging us to choose to be more Christ-like.  2 Corinthians 3:18 And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory    For me, he’s been slowly and gently convicting me and transforming me in the area of subtle self-focus.  And I know I’m not alone in this pattern!! 

We ALL tend to be subtly self-centered in our relationships.  We want and expect others to make us happy, do things our way, commend our wonderful deeds, make us feel valuable, always treat us fairly, make us feel loved, and on and on.   However, as we become more mature Christ-followers, God is urging us to be Christ-like in our relationships.  He’s asking us to do what’s best for others instead of focusing on how others should treat us better!  Take a moment to really absorb what God is saying to us in Philippians 2:3-7  Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, 4 not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.  5 In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus:  6 Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; 7 rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant…

What does this look like in your relationships?  How is God asking you to course-correct?  It might mean actually confronting a loved one caught in sin and discontinuing a conflict-avoider pattern where you’ve made it easy for that person to stay stuck in a destructive sin.  It may mean choosing to reflect Christ around your rude boss by being kind and humble no matter how he treats you.  It may mean using a respectful tone with your husband even when he has disappointed you.

Reflecting Christ in every relationship is challenging for sure, but the eternal rewards are worth it, AND, you may very well find when you get to heaven one day that your Christ-like interactions with others impacted people so much that they became true followers of Jesus as well!

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

Improve marriage by fixing this

Have you and your husband been butting heads lately?  Can you sense resentment against him growing in your heart?  Does he seem frustrated with you?  Well, the good news is that you’re not alone.  This is pretty common in marriage.  The bad news is that if you don’t do something about this, it will likely ruin your marriage!

As my husband and I mentored couples over man years, we found a little tool to be really helpful.  We asked the husband and wife to sit down over a series of “dates” and discuss each other’s expectations in all sorts of areas; everything from the balance of responsibilities for chores to what Christmas celebrations should be like.   We all hold subconscious expectations in these areas, but we rarely intentionally reveal those expectations to our spouse.  Then we get frustrated and annoyed that they don’t meet our undisclosed expectations!

How about if you bless your spouse by initiating a series of dates to honestly discuss expectations.  Proverbs 24:26 says “An honest answer is like a kiss on the lips”.   By each of you being honest and open about your desires and hopes, you will grow more intimate and truly begin to understand each other.  Visit the “free resources” tab on our website (www.squadronofsisters.com) to print out a list of topics for your husband and you to discuss.

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.