If you’re anything like me, there’s a good chance that you may sound too much like a “mother” instead of a wife when talking to your husband, at least from time to time. I still remember the time a few years ago that I caught myself sounding like my husband’s mother. He was heading out the door and for some reason, I felt compelled to say, “Don’t forget to eat some breakfast before you go”. Really? Did I need to say that?! Did my husband really need me to point out that he should remember to feed himself? What? Is he 3 years old or something? Oh brother.
When we remind our husbands about things that would be obvious to any adult, we’re actually being disrespectful. Ouch. It’s as if we’re telling our husbands that we don’t think they’re capable of making basic, reasonable decisions. We sound like we’re talking to a toddler! “Don’t forget to take a coat.”…”Be careful that you don’t hurt yourself with that hammer”…”Let me explain to you how to do _________.”
Let’s keep in mind the Bible’s instruction to wives in Ephesians 5:33, where God says “the wife must respect her husband”. Men crave the respect of their wives just like women desire to be deeply cherished. Don’t communicate disrespect to your husband by talking to him like he’s an ignorant or helpless child who needs a mother to guide him.
I wish I had known about the blessings of a fire pit a long time ago! I had no idea that a fire pit could pave the way to more intimate, deep conversations than we routinely have in marriage. But I’ve discovered it’s true! There’s something bonding and safe about sharing your deepest thoughts, feelings and dreams in the flickering light coming from your backyard fire pit. Maybe it’s because it’s quiet and peaceful at night and, when sitting in front of the fire, we tend to talk in soft voices. Proverbs 15:1 says “A soft answer turns away wrath…” Well, maybe it’s that soft conversation in front of a fire that breaks down our defenses and helps us to open up.
We’ve built a fire pit in our backyard at our last 2 homes. They cost less than $100. We thought a fire pit would be fun for the grandchildren to toast marshmallows and roast hot dogs. But it turned out that my husband and I enjoyed it just as much…for different reasons than the grandkids! As the sun went down, we lit the fire, and then my husband asked what the topic of the night should be. Sometimes, we talked about our dreams for ministry. Some nights, we talked about our concerns for our children and we prayed for them. Other nights, we talked about our dream vacation ideas. Try building a fire pit. You may be pleasantly surprised by the emotional intimacy you gain as a result!
I have had some deep conversations with several women recently, and I walked away from those talks with spirits lifted. In fact, my heart seemed lighter and my path ahead seemed clearer. Even though I used to have some pretty good talks with my husband, it was so delightful to have an extended chat with some females. Talking with women filled a definite need for empathy. It also really helped me to more clearly process some things going on in my life as I verbalized what was happening and how I felt about those events in my life. These women were good listeners. They were able to handle my long and detailed account. They were able to empathize with my feelings. I’m so glad I have friendships with women, and not just with a man.
How about you? Do you have at least 2 deep friendships with other God-believing women? Do you have at least 2 women in your life who encourage you, empathize with you, or make you laugh? We NEED each other! A husband cannot possibly meet all your relational needs. Men aren’t wired the same as women. In case you haven’t noticed, most women need to talk about all the things happening in their lives, and we need listeners who will empathize with us! Most men are not wired to listen to a lengthy discussion, and they generally aren’t wired to express a lot of empathy either. But a good female friend can fill that void for you, and you can do the same for her. We need another woman to speak sweet words of empathy and encouragement in a way that most men just don’t understand. Proverbs 16:24 reminds us, “Gracious words are like a honeycomb, sweetness to the soul and health to the body.”
So, be intentional about making some solid female friendships. Invite a woman from church or work to coffee. Be a good listener yourself. Ask her to tell you about herself, her children, her challenges, her successes, her spiritual giftings, her hobbies. Be a good listener. You’ll be on your way to developing a good friendship.
Many women get so discouraged about the lack of emotional connection with their husbands. Wives desperately desire their husbands to open up and share their deepest thoughts and feelings, but often it just doesn’t happen. Well, one of the things I’ve learned is that most men will do almost anything to avoid looking weak or being vulnerable to criticism. So, they don’t share their hearts. They don’t want to risk your scoffing or criticism. They’re like a turtle that tucks its head inside a protective shell.
But there is a way to prompt your husband to take the risk of sharing his heart with you. You need to be a safe place for him to share his heart! What do I mean by that? Well, I’ll tell you what it looks like if you’re NOT a safe place. Do you roll your eyes at his ideas? Do you explain why he’s wrong when he shares his thoughts, beliefs, or ideas? Do you criticize him or complain all the time? Those kinds of words and actions don’t exactly make him feel safe in terms of opening up his heart at the deepest level!
God instructs wives in Ephesians 5:33 “the wife must respect her husband.”, and if you consistently show that respect…day after day…and month after month….your husband may start feeling it’s safe to risk opening up his heart to you. Starting today, try looking for ways to encourage your husband. Listen attentively to what he talks about. Ask gentle (non-snarky) questions to dig a little deeper into his thoughts and dreams. Affirm him in any way you can. You might find that he will enjoy talking to you a whole lot more! And that turtle just might poke his head out from underneath the shell.
It’s actually a really awesome thing when you talk about your husband in public! Well, it’s really awesome if what you’re sharing is complimentary! In fact, it’s one of the kindest things you can do for your husband. Men are wired to crave respect and affirmation. That’s why God instructs wives in Ephesians 5:33 to respect their husbands. I saw my husband begin glowing (in a masculine sort of way!) when I affirmed him in front of his friends or our family members.
However, there is a flip side to this business of speaking publicly about your man. My husband always told me one of the very worst things a wife can do is to disclose some of her husband’s failures, character deficiencies or mistakes in front of other people. He said when a wife shares her husband’s personal failings, he is absolutely devastated and emasculated. Don’t emasculate your man! Don’t cross that boundary when speaking about him in front of others! If he begins feeling emasculated, he will likely subconsciously gravitate toward another woman who will build him up instead of tearing him down.
My. My. I guess I’m reminded once again about the power of our words. A few days ago, I wrote a devotional about the power of pausing during a heated conversation with our men so that we refrain from responding with words that are harsh or mean….something we’ll likely regret later. Well, today I was reminded of another reason to pause. As women, we need to pause before we offer casual bits of advice or “wisdom” to our husbands.
I don’t think we realize how our guys are greatly influenced by us! We might think they aren’t really paying that much attention to a casual suggestion we toss out, but often they are. In fact, many husbands in the Bible were greatly influenced by something their wives said, and the wives rarely had good advice! I think especially of Sarah telling Abraham to sleep with her servant in order for him to have a son, since she was getting impatient waiting for God to fulfill his promise to give her children! Read the story in Genesis 16:1-4 and you will find out Sarah’s decision didn’t turn out so well!
So, let’s think twice before we offer a morsel of our brilliant counsel during a conversation with our men. I did this recently, and my husband acted upon it. I hadn’t really even thought it through, let alone prayed about it. Thankfully, there was no harm done, but it got me to thinking about the need to really pause and pray about any suggestions or counsel I decide to pass on to my husband. How about you?