I’ve learned something pivotal over my many years of helping women navigate marriage problems. In general, don’t share your husband’s faults and failures with your family of origin! The reason is simple. Your parents, siblings and grandparents not only love you, but are often overly-protective when it comes to you. They can’t stand the thought of anyone wounding a member of their family. Now don’t get me wrong. There’s nothing wrong with that. However, their allegiance to you can often turn into the vilification of your husband!
Allow me to explain. Once a wife openly shares the faults, failures or sins of her husband with her relatives, he may be forever stained in their eyes. Many parents and siblings will begin treating the husband as the enemy. Sometimes, those relatives develop deep resentment toward the husband. Once those strong feelings have developed, it’s often hard to turn that ship around, even if the husband has repented of wrong-doing! He will always have a black mark next to his name.
This is what I would suggest doing. You definitely SHOULD seek advice and wise counsel as you’re working through difficult seasons in your marriage, but, in general, avoid confiding in your relatives. If you sense that your relatives are quick to forgive and refuse to hold onto resentment, perhaps you can safely confide in them. Otherwise, seek counsel elsewhere, such as a women’s ministry leader, Christian counselor, or wise older Christian woman in your life. You need the kind of wisdom described in James 3:17-18 But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere. And a harvest of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace.
This old saying really is true…”If mom ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy”!! I found that out several years ago when I was having a super stressful, overwhelmingly busy day. My husband was away from the house and he called to see if I had time to take care of a low priority task. I responded by saying “I really don’t have time for that. I am so busy I can hardly breathe.” Well, as soon as he heard me say that, and as soon as he grasped my stress level, I could tell his own anxiety and stress level shot through the roof. He got increasingly agitated on the phone. It was then that I realized that a wife’s stress is contagious! I was spreading the stress virus.
Now, I’m not saying that you or I should try to hide our stress from our family members or pretend it doesn’t exist, but I did get to thinking that my husband’s anxiety and stress was directly tied to mine. As I pondered this with God, I concluded that I needed to re-examine my schedule and my priorities. Perhaps I needed to cut some things out of my schedule so that my stress level would drop. God wants us to live a peaceful life where we actually have time to spend refreshing moments with him. This reminds me of the story of Mary and Martha in Luke 10. Jesus comes to the home of these two sisters and Martha is stressed out trying to take care of the hospitality details, while Mary sits quietly at the feet of Jesus. Martha complains to Jesus about her sister, but Jesus says this in verses 41 and 42: “Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things,but few things are needed—or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better…”
Maybe it’s time for us to re-examine our busy schedules. Maybe it’s time to cut back on our activities or the kid’s activities. Maybe we need to spend less time scrolling through social media and checking the latest news, so that we are not so squeezed for time to do the tasks in front of us. Maybe we need to start each day by meditating on God’s Word and bringing all our concerns to Him in prayer. For me….it will not only be good for my health, but also for my whole family! How about you? Are you stressed out a lot? Do you need to take a hard look at your schedule? Would your anxiety and stress level drop if you spent more time with the Lord?
For you and I to become confident, dignified women who refuse to put up with disrespect or abuse in marriage or any relationship, we must begin to see ourselves the way God sees us. Emotionally-bruising words may have been spoken to you as a child and those hurtful words can easily become your identity. Perhaps you made some major mistakes as a teen or young woman, and you started calling yourself a loser or hopeless or unlovable.
God wants you to listen for His voice above all the other voices we hear both externally and internally. In John 10:27, Jesus says “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me.” Jesus wants to speak to you! He wants to let you know how He sees you and how much he delights in you. Here are 2 things that can help you truly comprehend how God sees you:
1) Meditate on Zephaniah 3:17 “The Lord your God is with you. He is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you. He will quiet you with his love. He will rejoice over you with singing.”
2) Be still and ask God to whisper a word to your spirit about how he sees you. Have faith that He WILL speak to you. Be receptive, and listen. He loves you!
When the kids are fighting with each other and you overcooked the dinner and you shrunk your favorite new sweater…it’s pretty natural to get a bit grouchy. In those moments, we usually need to “vent”. Unfortunately, our husbands often get the brunt of our “venting”! In fact, the men whom we promised to love and respect can become our scapegoats. The tragically funny thing is then we wonder why our husbands don’t seem to enjoy being around us very much!
One husband once told me that encountering his wife as he walked in the door at the end of his work day was like walking into a buzz saw. She was wired and churning and her tongue was sharp enough to slice right through him. Yikes.
Yes, ladies, we all need to vent sometimes. Some days are incredibly challenging. But let’s pick the correct scapegoat. If we need to talk to someone about our stress, anger, or exhaustion, let’s turn to God. He has really broad shoulders and he’s not afraid to hear what’s on your mind. Psalm 40:1-2 says “I waited patiently for the Lord; he turned to me and heard my cry. He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; he set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand.” Jesus is the correct scapegoat. In fact, if you study the origin of the word “scapegoat”, it was the term used by the Israelites for a goat that symbolically carried their sins away. Wow! Jesus really is our scapegoat, and he perfectly carries our sins away, as well as our anger and frustration on a really bad day.
So when you feel the frustration mounting and you can tell you’re about to snap at a family member, mentally give your irritation to the Lord. Just picture handing it over to Him. Then take a deep breath, relax your shoulders, and chuckle at the enemy’s pitiful attempt to make you lose your temper! Hah! His stupid plan is defeated once again. You are victorious through Christ!
If you love your children, one of the MOST important things you can do for them is to keep your marriage healthy and intact! Not to scare you, but the research regarding children from divorced families is alarming. Perhaps this is one reason the Bible says in Malachi 2:16, “For the Lord God of Israel says that He hates divorce”. God knows the devastating impact of divorce on children’s lives.
Research by Focus on the Family has found that teens from divorced homes are much more likely to engage in drug and alcohol use, as well as sexual intercourse than are those from intact families. Also, kids whose parents divorce are substantially more likely to be incarcerated for committing a crime as a juvenile. Plus, research from the Heritage Foundation found that children of divorced parents perform more poorly at school and have higher drop-out rates.
Yes, God can heal a child’s heart following a divorce, but the scars will remain. So, work hard to keep your marriage healthy and strong. Pray every day for your husband and pray daily for marriage guidance from the Lord. See a counselor if you guys are fighting a lot or if you are growing increasingly resentful. Don’t let your heart grow hard. Fight for your marriage. Your kids will thank you!