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
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.
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, 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, 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.”
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 me. Do you often get impatient when your husband is trying to express himself and end up finishing his sentences? I do. Do you interrupt your husband when he pauses mid-sentence? I do. Do you sometimes jump in and tell him how he should handle something as he’s trying to explain a challenging situation? I do. 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 ourselves at the beginning of conversations with our husbands. 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!!).
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 our husbands, our humility will draw our husbands toward us. I don’t know about you, but I’d much rather be a fragrance in my husband’s life than an odor!
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!
Okay – I’ll come clean. This might not be exactly what you expected. I’m not going to attempt to teach anybody how to kiss well…in the literal sense! However, God reveals something interesting in His Word about kisses. He says in Proverbs 24:26, “An honest answer is like a kiss on the lips”. Wow!
What if we were to bless our husband (almost as good as a passionate kiss!) and be honest with them? According to God, being honest with our men would be very well received and appreciated! Here are 3 ideas on how we can start being more honest with our guys:
1) Stop hinting and decide to directly and clearly state your needs, desires, and ideas.
2) Be transparent about your past failures and even your current struggles instead of pretending you’re perfect.
3) Be respectful but honest if something is really bothering you, as opposed to stuffing your true feelings and allowing bitterness to close down your heart toward your husband
Don’t you sometimes wish you could silence the voices in your head? You may hear the voice that runs you down and reminds you of your failures…or conversely, you may hear a voice that tells you your husband is a loser and you’re doomed to a life of misery. Either kind of thought is from the pit of hell!
We MUST examine every thought rolling around in our heads and determine whether it’s true or whether it’s a twisting of the truth that’s inspired by Satan. Remember, Satan’s mission is “to steal, kill and destroy” (John 10:10). He wants to slowly crush you with the weight of his lies about your value, your future and your husband.
2 Corinthians 10:5 instructs us to “take every thought captive” and we really need to do that. The next time a self-deprecating thought enters your mind, stop and ask God if this is really true. (I bet it won’t be!) The next time a hopeless thought enters your mind, ask God if it’s true. (I know it won’t be!). The next time you have the thought that your husband is beyond redemption, ask God if that’s true. (Absolutely not!). It’s time we stopped believing every thought that pops into our minds! We must intentionally pause and ask God whether that thought is true or from the devil. Here’s a simple, but hugely clarifying, question to ask yourself in that moment: “Does this sound like something God would say?”
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 have mentored couples, we’ve found a little tool to be really helpful. We ask 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.
Our husbands battle the world every day at their jobs. Co-workers stab them in the back. Other men put them down in order to look more important. The culture tells your man he is a failure if he doesn’t own a Mercedes and he can’t dunk like LeBron James.
So when your man comes home to you, the last thing he needs is to feel like a failure in your eyes too. However, our words often unintentionally communicate just that! Perhaps this is why God felt it necessary to actually instruct wives in Ephesians 5:33 that “the wife must respect her husband”.
Even if your husband has disappointed you, you can still be respectful as you address his behavior, request changes, and establish boundaries. However, if you condemn him and belittle him in that moment of disappointment, you shred his heart. As a result, he will likely turn his heart away from you, self-medicate his pain in destructive ways, or simply stop trying to be a good man since you don’t see anything good in him anyway!
With the need to respect your husband in mind, here are some words you should never say to your man: