Signs husband has a big problem

In case you weren’t yet aware, pornography is a gigantic cancer that is rapidly destroying marriages and entire families.  Hundreds of millions of men regularly view pornography (and many women too), and even among Christian men, the problem is rampant.  Goodness, even a majority of pastors admit to struggling with temptations to view porn.  Back in 2001, a survey found that 54% of pastors had viewed pornography in the past year.  I’m sure the numbers are much higher these days.

Why is pornography such a big deal?  Well, marriage counselors will tell you, and I will tell you from counseling many women in crisis in their marriages, that pornography usage almost always escalates into something truly horrific.  When a man starts viewing pornography, he almost always progresses to more and more perverse pornography as he chases that “buzz” from viewing something sexually arousing.  Unfortunately, in many cases, the man can no longer get his “fix” from pornography and ends up committing sexual acts outside of marriage.  In either case, the marriage is often destroyed and families are torn apart.

What are some signs of a possible porn problem for your husband?   Some common signs include no longer being interested in sex with you, coming to bed after you or exiting the bedroom in the middle of the night, and requesting increasingly perverse or odd sex acts from you.  If you notice some of these signs, it may be time to have a serious talk with your husband.  However, don’t approach him as an enemy.  Approach him in love, as his helper. Remember, in Genesis 2:18, God says “It is not good for man to be alone; I will make a helper suitable for him.”  Approach your husband kindly, but firmly, and let him know you want to help him tackle this problem that could harm both him and your family.  Insist that he seek serious, long-term help and accountability.

2 decisions to combat worry

I don’t know about you, but I can sometimes get consumed with the “what if” questions.  What if a loved one passes away?  What if I don’t have enough money to be secure in old age?  What if my kids make a really bad life-altering decision?  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.

Defusing argument before it starts!

I’m on a journey of learning how to do relationships in a healthier, God-directed way!  I don’t know about you, but, in the past, when I got really disappointed in my husband or anybody, I tended to go in one of two unhealthy directions.  1) I avoided 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 blasted the person with both barrels!  Neither one of these options yielded 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 vividly remember when I put this into practice about a year 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!

Handling devil-inspired thoughts

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?”

Try this during marriage conflict

Conflict and disagreement is inevitable in marriage.  However, conflict need not lead to the formation of two enemy camps!  Here’s something that can greatly change the dynamics during conflict and actually move you closer to resolution.  Pause and ask God to help you see the situation through your husband’s eyes. Ask the Lord to show you what is truly prompting your husband to say what he’s saying or do what he’s doing. Is he stressed?  Is he discouraged?  Is he still affected by emotional wounds from his childhood?  Does he simply have a different idea on how something should be done, and could his idea actually make sense?

When we intentionally pause and try to consider the vantage point of our husbands, we begin to have compassion, or at least an understanding of why he is thinking or acting the way he is. Instead of only focusing on our desires, Philippians 2:4 instructs us, “Look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.” When you truly stop and try to look at the situation from his perspective, you may see some actual merit to your husband’s point of view!  You might also start to realize how your husband’s past hurts in life (or current fears) are playing a role in his actions or reactions.

When we ask Jesus to help us see the situation through our husband’s eyes, we start to soften and feel compassion.  As we have compassion and understanding, it will be much easier to compromise or find resolution.  Try it!

**or view this topic as a 2 min VIDEO BELOW

Avoid this cycle in marriage

There is a particularly vicious cycle that can start in a relationship. It’s super common but also super subtle.  Trust me. You don’t want to enter this cycle.  The cycle goes like this:

My husband does something wrong, so I feel completely justified in my critical and disrespectful response.  Or my husband does something that really annoys me, so I feel totally justified doing that certain thing that I know really annoys him.  In both cases, of course he responds with his own counter move, and the vicious cycle has begun.  We give into the subtle, destructive temptation to “hurt him just like he hurt me”.  We feel justified in our reactions, but we’ve just escalated the war.  Unfortunately, in this war, there are no winners…just losers.

I know!  Here’s an idea! (yes, you noted some sarcasm there).  How about if we decide not to play the justification game anymore?  How about if you, as your husband’s helper, decide to respond to your husband with grace, love and respect, even when he annoys you?  How about if you choose to stop trying to punish him every time he upsets you? Romans 12:18-19 directs us to live this way…”If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.  Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: ‘It is mine to avenge; I will repay,’ says the Lord”.

Now, don’t get me wrong. This doesn’t mean you should keep totally quiet all the time and tolerate abusive or harmful behavior.  You may need to establish boundaries on sinful behavior.  However, even if you’re confronting your husband or establishing boundaries, you can do so with love, compassion, respect, and gentleness!

Wait for God’s timing!

When we feel angered, or disappointed, or frustrated with our husband, it’s so natural to immediately give in to our emotions and let our husband know exactly what a failure he is!  We feel entitled to unleash our fury and it actually feels kind of cathartic for a moment.  It lets the pent-up steam out of our bodies. Whew!

However, the damage we cause to that person in the process of our “venting” can have the opposite effect of what we desired.  We were hoping the person would immediately grasp how wrong they’ve been, quickly apologize, cheerfully repair the damage they’ve done and humbly seek to win back our trust and respect.  Unfortunately, when we give full vent to our anger and disappointment, without waiting on God’s timing, we can crush that other person with condemning words spoken in the heat of the moment.  In response to our anger and harsh words, that other person usually becomes defensive and lashes back at us…or withdraws from us and goes off to self-medicate in an unhealthy way.  Neither option is good!

It’s so much better for us to pause before venting our anger!  During that pause, you might have to leave the room to spend a moment with God, but it’s so worth it!  Ask God to show you when to speak to your husband, what exact words to use, and how to offer encouragement and hope…even if you’re asking for him to change his behavior.

Here are 4 Bible verses that might be worth printing out for yourself.  They remind us to be patient, to wait for the Lord’s guidance and to do what HE says you should do instead of reacting impulsively!

Romans 12:12 Rejoice in our confident hope. Be patient in trouble, and keep on praying.

Proverbs 3:5-6 Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding.  6 Seek his will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take.

Psalm 27:14 Wait patiently for the Lord. Be brave and courageous. Yes, wait patiently for the Lord.

Psalm 32:8 The Lord says, “I will guide you along the best pathway for your life.     I will advise you and watch over you.”

Recognizing codependency

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?

What conflict avoiders must know!

I’m an expert conflict avoider.  How about you?  I grew up in a household where there was a lot of yelling and rage and verbal abuse.  As a result, everything within me always tried desperately to avoid anything in my marriage that could have resulted in tension, raised voices, or anything remotely resembling conflict.

However, avoiding conflict is a recipe for disaster in a marriage.  I learned that the hard way in my first marriage, which failed.  Here’s the thing.  If you don’t address the things that are really bothering you about your husband or your marriage, a seed of bitterness is planted in your heart.  That seed slowly takes root and grows, and after months and years go by, you will most likely grow to despise your husband and want a divorce!  Not good.

So, commit to respectfully, lovingly, and diligently address the things that are bothering you within your marriage.  Hebrews 12:15 warns us not to let “any bitter root grow up among you to cause trouble…”  So, ask God to give you the courage to gently and respectfully discuss your concerns with your husband.  Ask God to give you the courage to express your needs and desires to your husband.  Do not become invisible.  When you start stuffing your feelings and immediately cave in during disagreements, toxic resentment will start to grow inside you. Don’t let that happen!

Best question when frustrated

There’s a golden phrase I discovered many years ago.  When I started using it, I found it helped prevent my husband from getting defensive when I was upset or frustrated about something he had said or done.  Instead of accusing him of doing something wrong, I learned to kindly and sincerely ask this question: “Help me understand why…”

This simple question prevents the monster of defensiveness from raising its ugly head.  By asking your husband to “help me understand”, you’re communicating two things to your husband.  1) You really do care about his perspective and feelings, and 2) You’re acknowledging there may actually be a legitimate reason for why he did or said whatever.  At least, you’re giving him a chance to explain himself before you start arguing with him or condemning him!!  

By asking your husband to help you understand his behavior or perspective, you’re avoiding a foolish argument.  Proverbs 18:2 says “Fools find no pleasure in understanding but delight in airing their own opinions.”  By asking your husband to help you understand his perspective, you’re pleasing both God and your husband by living out the instructions in Philippians 2:4 “Each of you should consider not only your own interests, but also the interests of others.”

Try this phrase when you sense a potential ugly argument is headed your way.  You can not only use this phrase with your husband, but with your children, your in-laws, your co-workers, your boss, and more.  Again, the phrase (actually a question) is….”Help me understand why…”

** or view this topic as a 2 minute VIDEO BELOW