Body image matters

We all know that women are greatly concerned about their body image….maybe even obsessed about it!  But did you know that men are also hyper-sensitive about one aspect of their body image?  Almost every man really wants to be perceived as strong and muscular.  This means your husband yearns for you to notice and appreciate his muscles!  He’s not going to tell you that, but he really wants to be perceived as strong!

Perhaps this is why the bride in the Bible’s Song of Songs continues to tell her groom over and over again how she values his strength and muscular body.  Here are some examples of what she tells him:  Song of Songs 2:8-9 “Behold, he comes, leaping over the mountains, bounding over the hills. My beloved is like a gazelle or a young stag.”   Song of Songs 5:14-15 “His arms are rods of gold set with topaz. His body is like polished ivory decorated with lapis lazuli. His legs are pillars of marble set on bases of pure gold. His appearance is like Lebanon, choice as its cedars.”

When’s the last time you verbally admired your husband’s strength?  When is the last time you noticed his biceps and made a little comment about how impressive they are?  Your husband craves those comments!  As you vocalize your appreciation for his physical strength, he will be drawn to you!

Husbands find this disrespectful

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.

Strive for this kind of pride

Normally, pride isn’t a very good thing. In fact, God tells us over and over again throughout His Word that we need to get rid of pride.  I think we’ve all heard the Bible verse “Pride goeth before a fall” (Proverbs 16:18).

But here’s the thing.  I believe God is talking about getting rid of pride in ourselves.   He doesn’t want us to be puffed up and arrogant.  God wants us to attract people to Him through our humility.   However, I don’t see any place in Scripture where God tells us to avoid telling our loved ones that we are proud of them.  That kind of “pride” isn’t arrogant.  It’s extremely encouraging to the recipient! 

In fact, telling your husband “I’m proud of you” can move your husband out of paralyzing insecurity into confident, positive action.  When you say, “You’re a good man”, or “you have a good heart”, or I’m so proud to be your wife”, you are speaking words of life to your husband.  He longs to hear those words.  It’s time we stopped focusing only on what’s wrong with our husbands, and looked for some things that we can honestly affirm.  Our men need our encouragement!

This hit home for me a couple of years ago in my marriage to Raul.  My husband took the time to tell me that he felt tremendously encouraged when I would occasionally pop into his home office and tell him I’m proud to be his wife.  That tiny little statement built him up.  It helped him press back into the challenges that awaited him.  It helped him feel like he could slay dragons.  His wife was proud of him.  She believed in him.  He had the courage and confidence to keep moving forward.  Your words are powerful!  Have you told your man that you’re proud of him lately?  Are you speaking those essential words to your husband?

Consider Proverbs 14:1  A wise woman builds her house, but with her own hands a foolish woman tears hers down.  Are you building up your husband, and thereby, building up your marriage and family?  Or are you tearing down your husband and demolishing your home?  Something to ponder!

God’s guidance for your marriage

If you’ve hit a rough patch in your marriage, and if you’re a believer, you’re likely dying to know what God wants you to do in this marriage challenge.  You desperately need his guidance and counsel!  The good news is that He loves it when his children seek his guidance.  He loves his people to inquire of him!

The question is how.  How do you receive his guidance for the issue in your marriage.  Well, the first and most obvious answer is to study God’s Word.  He has placed so many super helpful instructions on relationships in the Bible.  2 Timothy 3:16  All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness.

Secondly, it’s almost always helpful to consult a godly mentor or counselor or pastor.  Sometimes we need someone who can look at our marriage situation more objectively than we can, as well as someone who will remind us of God’s instructions for relationships.  Proverbs 12:15 The way of a fool is right in his own eyes, but a wise man listens to advice.

But thirdly, and often most importantly, we should seek guidance from the Holy Spirit because God is the only one who actually knows the future.  He’s the only one who knows if your husband is going to change.  He’s the only one who knows exactly what to do and when.  John 16:13  When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come.

So ask God specific questions about specific issues in your marriage.  Ask what He wants you to do and then strain to sense the nudges from the Holy Spirit.  You probably won’t hear God speak out loud, but Jesus does say his sheep will hear his voice.  John 10:27  My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me.  So pray, and then be quiet and listen for those nudges from the Holy Spirit.  Jesus wants to guide you!

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Marriage communication tip #1

You might recall the opening theme to the original Superman TV series.  The announcer proclaims that Superman is “faster than a speeding bullet”. Well, God has been showing me how a part of me is also faster than a speeding bullet….and can cause as much damage as a live round of ammunition.  That part of me is my mouth!

You may have the same challenge as I did in my marriage to Raul.  Do you often get impatient when your husband is trying to express himself and end up finishing his sentences? I did.  Do you interrupt your husband when he pauses mid-sentence?  I did.  Do you sometimes jump in and tell him how he should handle something as he’s trying to explain a challenging situation?  I did.  Do you get frustrated with him and react with harsh, disrespectful words that you can’t take back?  Hmmm. 

Let’s pray that God would give us the ability to be good listeners, patient talkers, and respectful communicators!  This is definitely God’s will for us, as revealed in James 1:19:  “My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry…”   The first step is to coach yourself at the beginning of a conversation with your husband.  Remind your soul…”I will honor the Lord and my husband by listening quietly and responding respectfully”…”listening quietly, responding respectfully”…”listening quietly, responding respectfully”…(repeat as necessary!!).

Start praying big, bold prayers!

Does your husband have a destructive addiction? Do you have a serious problem with self-control yourself?  Are you and your husband arguing so much that you’re not sure your marriage will survive?  There are some practical things you can do about all the above scenarios, but more than likely, what you really need is a miracle.  You need God to supernaturally intervene to change hearts, expose schemes of the enemy, and fill both of you with the Holy Spirit so that you are radically changed.  The good news is He can do all that!

Your part in all this is to pray…earnestly, without ceasing, and with total faith in the power of Jesus Christ to perform a miracle!  It really is critical for you to trust in the power of God to do the impossible!   In fact, when Jesus walked this earth, he was unable to do miracles of healing in towns where there was too much unbelief!  (Mark 6:5-6)  

I have seen God perform modern-day miracles, and I know he can do a miracle in your marriage, your finances, your health, etc. I have seen him change the heart of a husband who was dead set on divorcing his wife, and now they are still married 5 years later and better than they were before! I have seen God miraculously provide financial provision at the last minute, and in a totally unusual way! I have seen God heal a man who doctors said would be brain dead, but he is functioning totally normally years later.

Here are 2 verses that may encourage you to pray with great faith. Matthew 21:22 says “If you believe, you will receive whatever you ask for in prayer.”  And in Matthew 9:29, as Jesus is about to heal some blind men, He says, “According to your faith, will it be done to you.”

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How encouragement changes husband

I remember the time a little over a year ago when I realized how much impact a wife’s words have on her husband.  I was having a super frustrating day and I was kind of sharp with my husband.  He seemed to withdraw emotionally and within moments, he physically removed himself from the room.  Hmmm. 

Then fast forward to a different day, and I decided to purposely look for something good about my husband and to actually tell him about that “good” that I see in him.  The minute I did that, he got a little spring in his step.  His entire countenance changed.  Interestingly, he also seemed to be even more thoughtful and gentle toward me.  It was as if my encouragement and respect made him feel so much better about himself that he now felt secure enough to be kind and loving and patient with others. Wow!

This reminded me of the Lord’s instructions for us to encourage each other.  1 Thessalonians 5:11  “Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing.”  We need encouragement, but so do our men!  When was the last time you intentionally looked for good qualities in your husband and told him about those things?  When was the last time you took note of him taking time to play with the kids, or handling a household chore without being told, or being kind to others? 

Let’s commit to building up our guys.  They need our steady encouragement, and we’ll also benefit as they begin to feel valued and respected.

What I wish my mom had told me

I wish my mom had told me sooooo many things! 

  • I wish she would have warned me that high school age boys with raging hormones would pressure me to have sex and use the infamous line “If you love me, you will….”  
  • I wish she would have told me that following God’s ways, instead of the ways of the culture, leads to great blessing and peace.  Isaiah 26:3 You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in you.
  • I wish I would have known that a marriage will never survive if your husband is sinning against you, and you avoid addressing the issue because of fear of conflict.
  • I wish I would have known that if you continue avoiding conflict, your heart will start to grow so hard and cold toward your husband that the devil will gain a huge foothold in your marriage, and you will likely spiral down into divorce.  Ephesians 4:26-27   “In your anger do not sin”: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, 27 and do not give the devil a foothold.
  • I wish my mom had told me that a Christian woman CAN and should set boundaries on sinful behavior of her husband, and perhaps even separate for a while if necessary.  (Matthew 18:15-17)
  • I wish my mom had told me that a marriage can be better than you ever imagined if both spouses follow the Lord, die to self, and strive to be a blessing to the other.  That is the secret sauce of marriage!  Galatians 5:13 says “serve one another humbly in love.”
  • I wish I would have known that even after your spouse is ripped away from you in death, that God is still good to those who trust in Him, and He can and will bring beauty from ashes.  Psalm 103:4-5  who redeems your life from the pit and crowns you with love and compassion, who satisfies your desires with good things so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.

I may not be your mother, but now you know!!!

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Change your inner spouse-talk

We’ve all heard of self-talk, but allow me to introduce a different kind of internal narrative that can be just as negative as your self-talk. It is the internal talk about your spouse!

The things you say, whether out loud or in your head, greatly influence the way you feel and act.  In fact, Proverbs 18:21 says “the tongue has the power of life and death“.  In other words, when your inner spouse-talk is constantly pointing out your husband’s flaws or rehearsing the past ways he’s let you down…your words reinforce a negative attitude and behavior toward your husband.  If not corrected, this negative attitude and behavior on your part can eventually lead to prolonged bitterness, depression, and even the death of your marriage.

Ladies, we must do what the Bible says in 2 Corinthians 10:5…”take every thought captive“.  Start noticing the things you are saying in your head about your husband.  If a negative thought enters your mind, don’t give it room!  Instead, look for something positive to say about your husband.  He DOES have some positive qualities.  Make sure you spend time engaging in positive inner spouse-talk more than the negative kind!

5 verses to help you be bold!

If you are a follower of Jesus, I’m sure you are so very grateful for his presence in your life and for the sacrifice He made so that you can be guaranteed a forever life in paradise with God.  But don’t you want other people in your life to find the same rich relationship and promise for the future that you have discovered?  You probably do, but aren’t quite sure how to share the Gospel message with relatives, friends, co-workers and neighbors.  Maybe you shrink back due to fear of what others will think.  Perhaps you need help in becoming more confident and bold.

Allow me to share 5 Bible verses that can be somewhat of a guide as you consider sharing the Gospel message with others.

  1.  Ask God to show you who you are supposed to talk to about Jesus and invite to accept Jesus as their Lord and Savior.  God may be assigning you that job, or perhaps God has appointed someone else to be the person.  So ask God!  Psalm 32:8  I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with my eye upon you.
  2.  Ask God to show you the right time to present the Gospel.  Ecclesiastes 3:1  There is an appointed time for everything. And there is a time for every event under heaven—
  3. Ask God to give you confidence and boldness instead of fearing the person’s reaction!  Romans 1:16  For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes…
  4.  Study Bible verses that reveal the path to salvation, and also equip yourself with Bible verses that may address any objections or questions that person raises.  2 Timothy 4:2  Preach the word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage—with great patience and careful instruction.
  5. In the end, rely on the Holy Spirit to give you the exact words to say to that specific person.  Luke 21:14-15 Settle it therefore in your minds not to meditate beforehand how to answer, for I will give you a mouth and wisdom, which none of your adversaries will be able to withstand or contradict.

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