For over a dozen years, I tended to constantly pick at a dysfunctional relationship in my life. It drove me a little crazy that I was estranged from some relatives. I kept on feeling like I needed to “fix it”. This went on for so many years! And I think Satan had my number on this. Just when I thought I had sorted through my responsibility in the situation and had come to the conclusion that I had done everything I should, Satan whispered into my ear once again “this is your fault”…”you aren’t handling this correctly as a Christian”…blah, blah, blah. And the cycle repeated itself every few months…for years!
I was feeling that way again a couple of years ago, and I rehashed that fractured relationship once again with my husband. Bless his heart! I’m so thankful that he was actually be patient with me as I talked through that situation over and over again every few months. Anyway, he quickly reminded me that I had done everything I could. He helped me to see the situation objectively. Where I was consumed with emotions and doubt, he could see more clearly and objectively. As Ecclesiastes 4:9-10 says “Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil.For if they fall, one will lift up his fellow. But woe to him who is alone when he falls and has not another to lift him up!”
Sometimes, you and I really do need our husband’s counsel. Often, they are less emotional than we are. Many times, they can see the situation much more objectively and correctly assess how it should be handled. Plus, our husbands love it when we come to them for advice, because it signifies that we actually respect their opinion. Is it time to seek your husband’s counsel on a situation in your life? Two are often better than one!
I have seen so many women wither and die emotionally in their marriages because their husband is engaged in disrespectful or sinful behavior and the wife gives up too easily in terms of confrontation. (I should know because I was one of those women in my first marriage!) So why would a wife give up? I believe it boils down to one main fear.
The wife fears that if she continues to confront the issue, or heaven forbid, draws a serious boundary, her husband may decide to leave her…and in her mind, she will lose what’s supposed to make her happy and secure. But this is faulty thinking! Your husband is not a reliable source of happiness. God is the only one we can depend on for unconditional love, compassion, and security. If your husband were to leave after you draw a line in the sand, I believe God is big enough to take care of you financially. I know He is. Do you trust Him? Do you believe what He says in Hebrews 13:5 “I will never leave you, nor forsake you”?
Trust in the One who will never leave your side. Trust in the One who can provide innovative ways to take care of your financial needs. Trust in the One who can bring supportive people into your life to stand by you as you draw boundaries. That One is Jesus.
I get asked quite often about boundaries in relationships. The subject of boundaries is a topic tossed around a lot, and women sort of instinctively know they need boundaries in relationships, but they don’t exactly know the how, what, when and whys of healthy boundaries!
First let me explain that there is a difference between asking your boyfriend or husband to change and setting a boundary. A boundary is not a request for the other person to change. A boundary is deciding what YOU will do to protect yourself physically, emotionally or mentally from the other person’s harmful or destructive behavior. A boundary basically says to that other person, “I can’t control your choices, but there are some things I CAN do to control how your choices affect me”.
Let me give some examples:
A husband refuses to stop looking at pornography and that choice wounds his wife’s heart. She makes a request for him to stop (and most likely to seek serious help for that addiction), but she can’t MAKE him stop. So, she establishes a boundary. She tells him if she continues to catch him looking at porn, she will move to a separate bedroom or even separate from him entirely until he gets serious help for his problem. That’s setting a boundary.
A husband is emotionally abusive and that wounds his wife. She makes a request for him to stop, but she can’t MAKE him stop. So, she establishes a boundary. She tells him if he screams obscenities at her or degrades her even one more time, she will immediately leave the room (or the house) because she won’t tolerate that kind of behavior. If the emotional abuse continues, she might set an even larger boundary and tell him she will need to separate until he seeks serious help. That’s setting a boundary.
By the way, boundaries are Biblical. Here’s an example from Titus 3:10 Warn a divisive person once, and then warn them a second time. After that, have nothing to do with them. And 1 Corinthians 5:11 I am writing to you that you must not associate with anyone who claims to be a brother or sister but is sexually immoral or greedy, an idolater or slanderer, a drunkard or swindler. Do not even eat with such people.
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!
Can a Christian woman be too helpful? Can she be too nice? I believe the answer is yes. When we are so “nice” that we enable our husband or adult children to act irresponsibly or to stay immature, we are being too nice. And many of us fit this description. We are too helpful. We are codependent. We train our loved ones to be dependent on us, instead of God. We train them to rely on us to do things for them that they should really do themselves as responsible adults. Often, we also train them to expect us to bail them out of the natural consequences of their foolish or sinful decisions.
Why are many women codependent? We become codependent when we subconsciously depend on others to meet a deep emotional need of our own, such as feeling loved, secure, or important. Instead of looking to the Lord for love, security and significance, we exhaust ourselves trying to get people to meet those needs. Then, because we pin all our hopes on these people, we MUST cater to them in order to keep them in the relationship with us. We fear that our “source” of love and security will leave us or withdraw their love if we don’t cater to them. We start walking on eggshells. We bend over backwards to keep them happy because we fear losing them. However, the Bible says in Proverbs 29:25 “Fear of man will prove to be a snare, but whoever trusts in the Lord is kept safe.”
Now, I’m not saying that we shouldn’t be loving and kind. Of course, we should. However, we go too far when our “kindness” enables immature and irresponsible and even sinful behavior in others. We go too far when we try to spare our loved ones from consequences and when we carry their responsibilities. We go too far when we become neurotic people-pleasers in the relationship just so the other person is more likely to make us feel better about ourselves!
Here are 2 questions you can ask yourself today:
1) Are my actions preventing my husband or children from becoming mature and responsible?
2) Am I expecting my husband or child to meet my deepest emotional needs or am I seeking a deeper relationship with the Lord to meet those needs?
Recently, God has prompted me to consider who is truly on the throne in my life. Am I really putting God at the center of my focus, or is everything actually about me? Drat. I have to be honest and say that when it comes right down to it, I tend to filter everything in my life and my relationships through the question “what will make me happy”. How about you?
What if we changed the question? I am suggesting that we start looking at our husbands, our marriage, our children, our work, and everything through the question “how can I please God at this moment?” I believe this could radically change our relationships. In Matthew 6:33 Jesus reminds us to “seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well“. In other words, we should strive to please God in all we do, and we can trust Him to meet all our needs in return.
The world tries to convince you to focus on you. The message is “you should focus on what makes you feel happy at the moment and you will be fulfilled.” Unfortunately, this “formula” almost never works. The Bible turns that equation upside down. God tells us to focus on pleasing Him even when it doesn’t seem like you will be happy, and then you will indeed find true fulfillment and joy.
What if you were to ask the Lord to show you how HE wants you to treat your husband this week and how HE wants you to handle difficult situations with your husband? I wonder how your marriage would change? Shall we try God’s upside-down formula this week?
We’ve all been betrayed and we’ve all betrayed others. I can almost guarantee this is true for all of us, although we only seem to remember the times when we’ve been betrayed. We conveniently “forget” the times we’ve betrayed others, in big and small ways.
Here’s the thing. When we allow our focus to remain on the deeply hurtful things people have done to us, it’s as if we tie a heavy chain around our ankles and toss ourselves into a deep, dark lake. We slowly sink deeper and deeper into murky darkness. We’re starved for life-giving oxygen. We slowly drown in self-pity. We become enveloped by resentment and that resentment becomes a poison to us and everyone around us!
Cut the chains of bitterness and resentment! Come up for air. Drop the “victim” attitude. The Bible tells us in Hebrews 12:15 to “see to it that no bitter root grows up among you to cause trouble and defile many”. Your choice to embrace and coddle your bitterness will surely be the death of your joy and the joy of those around you.
How can you get rid of this super destructive attitude of resentment? Here are some insights. Stop hitting the replay button on past hurts! Choose this day to be thankful for what you do have. Make a choice to have compassion on your offender, realizing that you’re not perfect either! If the resentment stems from current behavior, then seek godly counsel on establishing boundaries in that relationship. Finally, ask God to redeem your painful experience in some kind of way. He loves to do that! Romans 8:28 promises us that “in all things God works for the good of those who love Him who have been called according to His purpose.”
When you think of the curses placed on Adam and Eve after they ate the forbidden apple, you probably think of Adam having to toil to bring food to the table and you likely think of Eve having to endure pain in childbirth. However, there is another curse placed on Eve that may have escaped your notice. It’s found in Genesis 3:16 where God says “Your desire will be for your husband, and he will rule over you“. Oh my. This explains a lot!
Almost all women struggle with almost an insane desire to secure a man. In fact, I was observing my 3 year old granddaughter a few months ago. Even at that tender age, she gravitates to men and boys. She likes her female cousins, but oh boy, she practically worships her brother and adores her young boy cousin. When my husband and I walked in the room together months ago, she glanced at me but she ran to Raul. Hmmm.
My point is this. If we recognize this curse, we will be more able to deal with it. The curse may explain why it’s so difficult for most women to establish and enforce boundaries with their husbands when their men are sinning against them by using pornography, drinking excessively, gambling large sums of money, spending time with other women, etc. If we do indeed have a deep instinctive desire (curse) to desperately hang onto our guy, we believe we can’t do anything to threaten our grip! This explains a lot, doesn’t it? Knowledge is the beginning of understanding. Ask Jesus to give you clarity about how your thoughts and actions are being affected by the curse. Then ask Him to give you courage and strength to make wise decisions. Tip: When you stop making a man the most important thing in your life and make Jesus your main relationship, then you will have the courage and confidence to set wise boundaries in your marriage (or dating relationships)!
Have you ever caved in when you should have set boundaries in a relationship because of the “what if” questions? What if he leaves me? What if he leaves me and I won’t be able to take care of myself? What if he gets really upset if I confront him? What if….?
When you find yourself paralyzed with fear because of the “what if” questions, it usually means one of three things. Either you don’t really trust God when he says in Hebrews 13:5 that he will “never leave you nor forsake you”. Or it means you have allowed the spirit of fear to dominate your thoughts. Or it could mean that you have become your own worst enemy and convinced yourself you’ll never be able to set boundaries and stick to them. In other words, you’ve pummeled yourself with negative self-talk!
You CAN overcome these paralyzing fears. How about choosing to trust God’s promise to never leave your side (Hebrews 13:5)? Maybe it’s time to command the spirit of fear to leave you, in the name of Jesus (2 Timothy 1:7). Perhaps you need to stop telling yourself that you’ll fall to pieces if you respectfully draw a firm boundary. Coach your soul just like King David did throughout the Psalms. Tell yourself you will not crumble. Remind yourself you will not fall apart. Philippians 4:13 says “I can do all things through Him who gives me strength.” With Jesus by your side, you have all you need. You’re not doing this alone!