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
I don’t know about you, but I sometimes feel my shoulder and neck muscles getting really tight. My head starts to throb. I even sometimes feel a little short of breath…or like I can’t even draw a full breath. These are all warning signs that I am filled with toxic anxiety and worry!
What is the remedy for anxiety and worry. Well, the solution is often really quite simple (although hard to remember to do!). We must remind ourselves that Jesus loves us and that he is completely trustworthy! We need to speak truth to our souls!
King David, who wrote many of the Psalms. often talked to his soul. In tough situations or when he was consumed with fear, he would basically give a pep talk to his soul. He would remind his soul of the truth about God. For instance, in Psalm 42:5, David writes “Why, my soul, are you downcast? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God.” Is it time to talk truth to your soul?
I regain peace when I remind my soul that God is loving, God is powerful, God is wise, and God is in control!
I hear quite a few stories of women, both married and unmarried, who tell me how arguments get heated in their relationships. Their husband says something critical, and they dish it right back at him. Their boyfriend says something unkind, and they lash right back at him. In both cases, arguments quickly evolve into a really ugly war because neither one paused before responding. Pausing is one of the most important moments in any relationship! It is the KEY moment!
The Bible says in Proverbs 12:18 “The words of the reckless pierce like swords, but the tongue of the wise brings healing.” It is SO important to pause instead of reacting with reckless words! So the next time you feel your temper about to erupt, pause for 5 or 10 seconds. Ask God to show you in that moment how He wants you to respond. Ask the Holy Spirit to show you what will likely happen if you say what you feel like saying in this tense moment! (Usually, the Holy Spirit will show me that those words I was about to say will cause some serious damage in the relationship!) You may even need to leave the room during this pause.
By the way, if you’re texting back and forth with your guy, you may need to put down your cell phone and pray before you text back!! Remember, once those words have been voiced in person or typed in on your text, you can’t take them back. “Pausing” is one of your best friends in any relationship!
Sometimes, life just gets plain hard. You forget to pay a bill on time and get hit with a giant “late fee”. You catch your husband looking at pornography. You teenager lies to you. Your child accidentally drops an entire jog of milk on the kitchen floor. Ugh!
At times like these, it’s easy to feel weighed down. It’s so common for us to give into despair and depression. But instead of conceding defeat, we can regain our spiritual equilibrium by practicing 3 things:
1) Recognize this is a scheme of the enemy to try to steal, kill or destroy your joy (John 10:10 “the thief comes only to steal, kill and destroy”)
2) Remind your soul of the enemy’s inability against our mighty God (1 John 4:4 “You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world.”) *Sometimes I even laugh at Satan’s pitiful attempts to drag me down! I like putting him back in his place!
3) Trust that God will carry you through this challenge and even redeem the circumstances so that something good comes about in the long run. God is an expert at turning lemons into lemonade! (Romans 8:28 “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who are called according to his purpose.”)
You’ve probably heard the saying, “If mom ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy.” Although the primary message of this saying is that mom’s attitude affects the whole family, I think a secondary message is just as significant. If a wife conveys to her husband through her constant complaints and criticisms that she’s not happy, her husband begins to feel like a failure and starts to close his heart to her.
Unfortunately, many wives get stuck in this dynamic. We tend to point out one disappointment after another to our husbands. We remind him that we notice he forgot to take out the garbage. We point out that he hasn’t communicated in our love language recently. We remind him that he hasn’t played with the kids in a while. In short, we can’t seem to resist pointing out his flaws. Adding insult to injury, we then get really upset that he seems emotionally withdrawn from us!
Perhaps it’s time to pick our battles more carefully. Maybe we should let the small stuff slide. Proverbs 12:16 says, “Fools show their annoyance at once, but the prudent overlook an insult.” Let’s ask God to help us affirm what our husbands do right, overlook the small imperfections, and only confront our husbands if they are truly sinning against us and/or the children. EVERYBODY in the family will be happier!
We’re fearless at Squadron of Sisters! We don’t shy away from tackling the big, hairy, sensitive issues that impact marriages!! (Get your seatbelt fastened for yet another sensitive topic today!) A few days ago, I wrote about common signs that a husband might have a serious problem with pornography, but the truth is many women also struggle with porn. This is not just an issue for men. If you are one of the many Christian women caught up in viewing pornography, there is hope for you to break free of the hold it has on you.
First, you need to know how important it is to break free from porn. You probably already know that God tells us to flee sexual immorality (1 Corinthians 6:18), but there is a very practical side to this as well. Just like men unintentionally condition themselves to only respond to masturbation as they view porn, women can have the same problem. If you use your hand (or other sex toys) to stimulate yourself while viewing porn, you may start conditioning yourself to only respond to masturbation. In other words, your husband may no longer be able to bring you to orgasm.
Fortunately, there are some great resources to help women who are struggling with a porn habit. Here are some websites that may help you:
In a recent prayer time, God gently confronted me. He asked me this simple question. Are you going to be a slave to your to-do-list today, or are you going to focus on bringing me glory? Another way of putting this is: Are you working tirelessly to bring yourself glory as the “perfect wife’, “perfect mother”, perfect Christian, etc, or are you releasing your day to God and asking him to show you what to do and what NOT to do in order to bring HIM glory?
Oh man! Busted. To be honest, I tend to drive myself to always do more and do it better, because I want to look good in other people’s eyes. I become exhausted and stressed in the process. The good news is that God didn’t design us to be people-pleasers. Yes, we are to love people, but our focus shouldn’t be on doing whatever they want. Our focus also shouldn’t be trying to look good in people’s eyes. The Bible reminds us in Galatians 1:10 “For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God?”
I am confident that if you and I were both to release our days to God and ask Him to guide us, we would find much more peace! We would be free of performance-exhaustion. We would find freedom from approval exhaustion. Instead, we would be free to follow God’s promptings, which will lead to greater joy and peace than we’ve ever known. In fact, if you listen for God’s voice, he might even tell you to take a nap or relax while listening to praise music! God’s Word promises that those who seek to follow Him (instead of following their own agenda) will enter peace! (Isaiah 57:2 says, “For the righteous man is taken away from calamity; he enters into peace.” And Isaiah 26:3 reminds us, “You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you.”
I don’t know about you, but I can sometimes get consumed with the “what if” questions. What if my husband were to pass away? What if we lost our income? What if my kids make a really bad life-altering decision? What if my husband becomes attracted to another woman? When I start thinking this way, my serenity level plunges, and my anxiety level shoots through the roof!
Well, here are two decisions that both you and I can make in order to regain peace of mind:
1) We must decide to follow the instructions given in Philippians 4:6-7, which says, “do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” In other words, we need to tell God all our concerns, ask Him to be in control, and then LEAVE the concerns in His hands!
2) We must remind ourselves every morning that Jesus is FOR us and that we can trust Him to bring something good out of even the most daunting or difficult situation. I mean, seriously, do we believe God loves us and that He is perfect in all His ways? If we REALLY do, then we can relax and realize that, even in difficult circumstances, He has a plan to bring about good thing in the lives of those who love Him. This is the essence of Romans 8:28… “and we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who are called according to his purpose.“
I’m on a journey of learning how to do relationships in a healthier, God-directed way! I don’t know about you, but when I get really disappointed in my husband or anybody, I tend to go in one of two unhealthy directions. 1) I avoid the potential conflict entirely by clamming up, putting up an ice shield, and then spiraling down into toxic resentment or 2) I let my tongue run wild and blast the person with both barrels! Neither one of these options yields good results.
God’s way is so much different and better! He says in Proverbs 15:1 A gentle answer deflects anger, but harsh words make tempers flare. Gentle words. Gentle words. Gentle words. I need to remind myself of this! God is saying that we can avoid a nasty argument if we speak gently and kindly and maybe even assume the best about the other person instead of giving full vent to our anger.
I got to practice this a little while ago. My husband was really stressed as we were on a long-distance drive. I was attempting to help with googling a gas station, but my phone ran out of data. Ugh. Then he started getting really sharp with me in his tone. I mean…REALLY sharp. I felt disrespected. And oh boy, I decided that I didn’t deserve that tone and that I was going to tell him what a jerk he was. Yeah, pastor’s wives don’t always have gracious thoughts apparently. Sigh.
Anyway, somehow God got my attention before I blasted him and God reminded me of Proverbs 15:1. So, I bit my tongue until we got all the way home, and as my husband was about to exit the car, I turned to him, laid a hand softly on his arm and said gently, “I know you love me and you would never intend to hurt me, but the way you talked to me back there was not okay. Please don’t talk to me like that again.” And that was that. No big blow-up. He didn’t feel condemned because I affirmed that I know he loves me. With God’s prompting, I was able to defuse the nasty argument before it could start. Gentle words. Gentle words. Gentle words. Let’s all remember that!
You may have heard of the acronym H.A.L.T. It stands for hungry, angry, lonely, tired. It is a caution often used in addiction recovery where people are urged not to make any drastic decisions when one of those 4 conditions applies.
That’s a really good caution for wives as well! Don’t make any major decisions about leaving your husband, filing for divorce, or even giving full vent to your temper if you are hungry, angry, lonely or tired. However, I would like to add one more condition. Don’t make any major decisions when….it’s that time of the month!! Women are often so overly-emotional in the days leading up to their period, that we become drama queens! Everything happening around us is exaggerated in intensity. So, even though you feel like reacting in a dramatic way, remind yourself to pause and see if you still feel the same way 3 or 4 days later.
This verse comes to mind. James 1:19-20 My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires.