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 couples 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. 🙂
I don’t know about you, but I am often reactionary in my relationships. I get upset or frustrated or worried, and I react emotionally. Sometimes, this doesn’t cause any damage, but other times, it’s not exactly helpful or beneficial!
I’m trying to operate under a new and improved system, and I’m finding it works far better, probably because it’s God’s plan for his people. Hah! I’m earnestly seeking to submit myself to God moment by moment and I’m asking his Holy Spirit to nudge me and instruct me during every single interaction with others. In other words, I’m inclining my heart and spirit to listen intently for the gentle whispers and nudges of the Holy Spirit every time I interact with family members, neighbors, friends, coworkers, church members, and even the grocery store clerk and the UPS delivery guy!
God designed us to operate this way. Psalm 123:2 Behold, as the eyes of servants look to the hand of their master, as the eyes of a maidservant to the hand of her mistress, so our eyes look to the Lord our God. This is such an inspiring word picture! We are designed to be so watchful and intent to notice the Lord’s slightest instruction to us that we immediately obey.
Let’s commit to seeking the Lord’s guidance through his Holy Spirit, moment by moment, especially in marriage and family relationships. This will likely be life-changing, and in a good way! God alone knows how to improve every relationship, how to truly help others, and how to advance his kingdom here on earth. We need his guidance.
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?
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
You want to know a sure-fire way to soften your husband’s heart toward you? Be humble and quick to apologize when you have been disrespectful toward him! I say “when” instead of “if” you are disrespectful because ALL wives gravitate toward being disrespectful from time to time! Much of the time, we don’t even recognize that we’re being disrespectful.
Let me give some examples. You roll your eyes when he forgets to do something. You sigh dramatically and shake your head about his “cluelessness” when he doesn’t meet your expectations. You ask his opinion about something but then point out the flaws in his thinking. You might even be disrespectful by giving him the silent treatment when he fails to eagerly pitch in to help with the household chores.
When a wife acts disrespectfully toward her husband, he often hardens his heart toward her as a means of self-protection. So, if you would like to soften your husband’s heart toward you, ask God to help you catch yourself the minute you say or do something that communicates disrespect. Then, be quick to sincerely and humbly apologize. A powerful apology contains these words: “I was wrong to ….” and “please forgive me”. Your humility will go a long way in softening your man’s heart. Humility is a virtue we need to intentionally put on every morning. Colossians 3:12 puts it this way, “Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.”
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.”
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!!).
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.
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?!
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!