Have you and your husband been butting heads lately? Can you sense resentment against him growing in your heart? Does he seem frustrated with you? Well, the good news is that you’re not alone. This is pretty common in marriage. The bad news is that if you don’t do something about this, it will likely ruin your marriage!
As my husband and I mentored couples over man years, we found a little tool to be really helpful. We asked the husband and wife to sit down over a series of “dates” and discuss each other’s expectations in all sorts of areas; everything from the balance of responsibilities for chores to what Christmas celebrations should be like. We all hold subconscious expectations in these areas, but we rarely intentionally reveal those expectations to our spouse. Then we get frustrated and annoyed that they don’t meet our undisclosed expectations!
How about if you bless your spouse by initiating a series of dates to honestly discuss expectations. Proverbs 24:26 says “An honest answer is like a kiss on the lips”. By each of you being honest and open about your desires and hopes, you will grow more intimate and truly begin to understand each other. Visit the “free resources” tab on our website (www.squadronofsisters.com) to print out a list of topics for your husband and you to discuss.
I learned something when the covid pandemic started in spring of 2020. When the stay-at-home orders first hit, my husband and I had nothing better to do in the early hours of the morning than pull up 2 chairs in front of the fireplace and start quietly talking about God, family, priorities, hopes, fears and dreams. We held our cups of coffee and talked for 30 or 40 minutes as night gave way to dawn. Sometimes we talked. Sometimes we’d enjoy quiet moments of just being together. It was…special. It was intimate. It was bonding. It was precious.
After the main lock-down ended, we engaged in that kind of special moment from time to time, but with no real regularity. Life got busy again. We both went to work, and we picked up the rapid pace of life once again.
But one day about a year later, I realized we had lost those precious, quiet moments together. So, I decided to be more intentional. Good things don’t usually happen unless we put in a little effort! So, even though it was a little chilly on a May morning in Bellingham, WA, I told my husband I’d love to join him for a sunrise chat in our backyard as birds were beginning to chirp and the sun was beginning its slow rise for the morning. It was beautiful. It was peaceful. It was quiet. We had a soft and lovely conversation, sitting there bundled in jackets and enjoying the first rays of sunshine on our faces. It reminded me that Jesus told his followers to seek out a quiet place from time to time because their soul needed that rest and refreshment. Mark 6:31 And he said to them, “Come away by yourselves to a desolate place and rest a while.”
I encourage you to think about carving out time for a peaceful, quiet, morning conversation with your husband. I think you will find it is bonding. I know it will refresh your marriage.
I’m going to give you the oddest, most counter-intuitive tip for your marriage. You’re not going to want to hear this tip, let alone do it! However, I urge you to give it a chance; maybe even do an experiment and try it for a few weeks straight. I learned in my marriage to Raul that this tip was powerful and transformative, and it drew my husband’s heart to me. Here is the tip, and it is a Biblical principle: Die to self. I know. I told you it was counter-intuitive! In short, this principle could be summed up like this: It isn’t all about me!
Luke 9:23 And he said to all, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.”
1 Corinthians 10:24 No one should seek their own good, but the good of others.
Philippians 2:3-4 Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. 4 Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.
Here’s what I know. When I focus on myself, and what I want, and what I think I need, and how the people in my life aren’t making me happy or perfectly meeting my needs….I grow depressed and resentful. I become an irritable, sour-faced woman! No one, including a husband, wants to be around that!! But, if I focus on serving God, responding to his prompts on loving and serving others….I feel fulfilled and joyful. In marriage, if you focus on being a blessing to your husband, his heart is drawn to you and your heart, believe it or not, is drawn to him. The marriage grows stronger! By the way, being a blessing to your husband can mean many things. It can mean being kind even though he’s in a bad mood from a stressful day…or getting up early to make him a great breakfast even though you’re headed off to work too…or lovingly and respectfully asking him to seek help if he has a personal problem that is spiraling out of control.
Try it for a few weeks. Ask God every morning to help you die to self-centeredness and ask Him for direction on how to be a blessing to your husband this day. Let me know how it goes!
Have you ever noticed how a man loves his dog? Maybe it’s partly because the dog is clearly devoted to his man and shows it by jumping around with giddy delight the moment his man walks in the door. Maybe it’s because the dog is his loyal companion. Maybe it’s because the dog seems to just accept his man, despite his flaws and isn’t bent on criticizing his every move. J
I can’t help but think wives could learn something from a man’s dog. (Yes, I’m saying this a bit tongue in cheek, but maybe a bit seriously too!) What if you, as a wife, rushed to the door and greeted your husband with love and excitement, just as a dog greets its owner when he comes in the door at the end of the work day? What if you, as a wife, were as eager to please as a man’s dog? What if you were as much a faithful companion to your husband as dogs are for their owners? What if you, like a lap dog, made it a practice of snuggling up close, without talking? The Bible actually has something to say about that. In 1 Peter 3:1, God says that “husbands may be won over without words by the behavior of their wives.” Hmmm.
Now, don’t get all bent out of shape. I’m just using the dog analogy to make a point. I’m NOT saying you should expect nothing from your husband, and that you should “wag your tail” with excitement even when he’s treating you disrespectfully! However, the points I mentioned earlier are worth pondering, aren’t they? Maybe there truly are a few tips we can gain from “a man’s best friend”….
Many powerful and influential male leaders have attributed much of the reason for their success to their wives. Billy Graham is one of those leaders. When his wife died in 2007, he told reporters “My work through the years would have been impossible without her encouragement and support.”
Your husband needs your encouragement and esteem in order to have the boldness and confidence to accomplish great things. In Genesis 2:18, God makes it clear that women were created because men need help. God said “It is not good for man to be alone. I will create a helper suitable for him.” That helper is you, and one of the biggest ways you can help your husband is by encouraging him with your words.
With that in mind, here are 10 words/phrases that your man longs to hear from you:
Husbands battle the world every day at their jobs. Co-workers stab them in the back. Other men put them down in order to look more important. The culture tells your man he is a failure if he doesn’t own a Mercedes and he can’t dunk like LeBron James.
So when your man comes home to you, the last thing he needs is to feel like a failure in your eyes too. However, our words often unintentionally communicate just that! Perhaps this is why God felt it necessary to actually instruct wives in Ephesians 5:33 that “the wife must respect her husband”.
Even if your husband has disappointed you, you can still be respectful as you address his behavior, request changes, and establish boundaries. However, if you condemn him and belittle him in that moment of disappointment, you shred his heart. As a result, he will likely turn his heart away from you, self-medicate his pain in destructive ways, or simply stop trying to be a good man since you don’t see anything good in him anyway!
With the need to respect your husband in mind, here are 12 words you should never say to your man:
Here are three things I learned over my years of marriage to Raul about becoming a beautiful wife in the eyes of my husband, regardless of the aging process.
1) Put effort into looking your best for your husband, just like you did when you were dating him! There are many healthy decisions you must choose to make on a daily basis so that you can look your best. For instance, build into your schedule a 30 minute walking or bike-riding time perhaps 4 days a week. Even if you have young children, there is a way to make this work. Put the kids in a stroller or have them ride their bike with you.
2) Shed insecurity and choose to have a confident attitude about your appearance and value. My husband told me several times that a woman’s confidence is VERY attractive to men. Flirt with your husband. Give him some playful, sexy, sass! He will find that quite attractive, whether or not you have a poofy abdomen following childbirth or wrinkles on your face!
3) Embrace 1 Peter 3:4 which tells wives their beauty comes from a “gentle and quiet spirit”. When I asked my husband what this verse means, he said it means that a wife is FOR her husband and not fighting him every step of the way. It means she interacts with her husband in a peaceful way and treats her husband with respect, even if she needs to confront him about a problem behavior.
Every wife wants to remain beautiful to her husband. So, ask God to grow you in self-control, confidence, peacefulness, and respect for your man.
Did you know you can enhance the relationship with your husband by allowing a gap for him to fill? It’s true. So often, women zoom in to fill all voids in leadership, responsibility, or tasks. There’s something that needs to be handled, and you might even ask your husband to do it, but if he doesn’t jump off his chair and do it in the next 2 seconds, you do it yourself! In a nutshell, you subtly communicate that you don’t really need him. But your man wants to be needed by you. That’s one of the top needs of your husband! He wants to be your hero. He wants to be your knight in shining armor.
Your man is wired to crave your admiration and respect. That’s likely why God tells wives in Ephesians 5:33, “the wife must respect her husband“. One of the ways your husband will feel respected is when you demonstrate that you value and need his abilities, strength, and character.
Start thinking of ways you can let your man know that you need him. Do you have a bad headache? Ask him to pray for you. Do you have a heavy box that needs to be moved? Ask him if he can lift it for you. Let him know he is needed. He will feel better about himself as he senses that you truly value him and need his strength, abilities, and character.
I realized the most interesting thing one day several years ago in my marriage! I was having one of those super frustrating days, where everything seems to be going wrong. It was the kind of frustrating day where you desperately want the cathartic release of smashing china dishes against the wall! Am I the only one who has ever felt that way? 🙂
Anyway, my husband walked into the house to discover a wife who was steaming from everything that had gone wrong that day. Then something strange happened. He got visibly agitated over my state of frustration. It really bothered him that I was upset. My bad mood became contagious!! He could not be at peace because I was not at peace. It reminded me that our husbands really do want their wives to be content and at peace. In fact, 1 Peter 3 tells wives to strive for the “unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit”. Hmmm. Interesting. So, how do we get this peacefulness, even in frustrating circumstances? The Bible tells us contentment comes when we trust in God, lean into God, and ask for His power to carry us! Philippians 4:13 says ” I can do all this through him who gives me strength.”
So, I began refusing to allow the frustrating moments of life to sour my mood. I began laughing off Satan’s attempts to goad me into being irritable and sharp with everyone around me. I pivoted to God in those challenging moments and asked Him to strengthen me, equip me, and give me His peace. Interestingly, when I started choosing to trust God to carry me during those frustrating moments in life, not only did I become peaceful and content, but I enjoyed the unexpected benefit of my husband and kids becoming more peaceful too!
Who does your husband encounter when he walks through the door at the end of the day? Is he happy to be greeted by a warm, gentle, loving wife…or does he encounter a “drip”? Who wants to be considered a “drip”? That’s not very flattering! However, the Bible assigns that label to a wife who is always complaining and criticizing and arguing. Proverbs 27:15 says “A quarrelsome wife is like the dripping of a leaky roof in a rainstorm.” Uh-oh. Could that label belong to you?
I’m not saying that you should sweep any sinful behavior by your husband under the rug. So don’t get the wrong impression that you must never confront immoral or destructive behavior in your marriage. If your husband is engaged in a pattern of actual sin against you, follow the instructions of Jesus in Matthew 18:15-17 and seek godly counsel. What I am saying is that we need to be careful that we don’t become a constant critic of our husband! No man wants to come home to that.
Did you know that anonymous surveys of men reveal that most guys are actually very insecure and fear failure most every day? What they need from their wives is encouragement, not complaints and criticism. Make a commitment to find something good about your husband every day this week and then tell him how much you appreciate those good qualities. Use a gentle and loving voice when you talk with him. He will actually enjoy being around you! Let’s be an “anti-drip”!!