At the risk of you thinking I’m totally looney, may I suggest that you talk with your husband about clear boundaries regarding your female friends? In other words, he should not be a close friend of any of your own girlfriends! I know this might seem old-fashioned or even ridiculous, but many affairs start out with a husband “just talking” with another woman. We need to be careful and alert to the schemes of the enemy!
1 Peter 5:8 says “Be alert and of sober-mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.” So, be alert to the enemy’s scheme to get your husband emotionally entangled with one of your friends. He should not spend time with her without you. He should not even be spending time on the phone with her giving advice or listening to her woes. Without him intending to do so, he will slowly find himself developing an emotional bond with your friend, and she will start bonding with him. Danger lies ahead!
Does your mouth often cause trouble between you and your husband (or between you and other people)? If you’re one of many women who end up “venting” on their husband or saying harsh words you later regret, God’s Word gives us 3 clues on how we can respond appropriately when we start to feel our anger rising.
1) Pause. Just stop. Leave the room for a moment if you need to. Don’t react in the moment because your gut-level reaction will almost always cause trouble! James 1:19 puts it this way, “My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry.” So pause before you react verbally.
2) During the pause, consult the Holy Spirit and ask the Holy Spirit to help you understand how to love and respect your husband with your response. Would your husband be positively impacted by a gentle and encouraging word from you? Would your husband be more willing to make changes that you’re requesting if you showed him respect by asking him to help you understand his perspective? Philippians 2:4 says “Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interest of others.“
3) When you’re ready to address the issue with your husband, say a silent prayer and ask the Holy Spirit to be the one speaking to your husband by using your mouth. Trust me. The Holy Spirit will come up with much better words than you ever could, and will utter those words in a much more respectful way! When speaking to his disciples, Jesus said in Matthew 10:19-20, “But when they arrest you, do not worry about what to say or how to say it. At that time you will be given what to say, for it will not be you speaking, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you.”
I get asked quite often about boundaries in relationships. The subject of boundaries is a topic tossed around a lot, and women sort of instinctively know they need boundaries in relationships, but they don’t exactly know the how, what, when and whys of healthy boundaries!
First let me explain that there is a difference between asking your boyfriend or husband to change and setting a boundary. A boundary is not a request for the other person to change. A boundary is deciding what YOU will do to protect yourself physically, emotionally or mentally from the other person’s harmful or destructive behavior. A boundary basically says to that other person, “I can’t control your choices, but there are some things I CAN do to control how your choices affect me”.
Let me give some examples:
A husband refuses to stop looking at pornography and that choice wounds his wife’s heart. She makes a request for him to stop (and most likely to seek serious help for that addiction), but she can’t MAKE him stop. So, she establishes a boundary. She tells him if she continues to catch him looking at porn, she will move to a separate bedroom or even separate from him entirely until he gets serious help for his problem. That’s setting a boundary.
A husband is emotionally abusive and that wounds his wife. She makes a request for him to stop, but she can’t MAKE him stop. So, she establishes a boundary. She tells him if he screams obscenities at her or degrades her even one more time, she will immediately leave the room (or the house) because she won’t tolerate that kind of behavior. If the emotional abuse continues, she might set an even larger boundary and tell him she will need to separate until he seeks serious help. That’s setting a boundary.
By the way, boundaries are Biblical. Here’s an example from Titus 3:10 Warn a divisive person once, and then warn them a second time. After that, have nothing to do with them. And 1 Corinthians 5:11 I am writing to you that you must not associate with anyone who claims to be a brother or sister but is sexually immoral or greedy, an idolater or slanderer, a drunkard or swindler. Do not even eat with such people.
There’s a golden phrase I’ve discovered. It prevents my husband from getting defensive when I’m upset or concerned about something he has said or done. Instead of accusing him of doing something wrong, I have 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 my husband to help me understand, I’m communicating two things to my husband. 1) I really do care about his perspective and feelings, and 2) I’m acknowledging there may actually be a legitimate reason for why he did or said whatever. At least, I’m giving him a chance to explain himself before I start arguing with him or condemning him!!
By asking my husband to help me understand his perspective, I’m avoiding a foolish argument. Proverbs 18:2 says “Fools find no pleasure in understanding but delight in airing their own opinions.” By asking my husband to help me understand his perspective, I’m pleasing both God and my 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…”
If your husband has an addiction or often engages in some kind of destructive or sinful behavior, you have 2 choices. Choice # 1: You can wring your hands in despair and do nothing…which means that his disturbing behavior will likely continue, and your heart will slowly grow cold toward your husband. Choice #2: You can courageously talk to your husband and request him to change his behavior (or get help in changing his behavior). From personal experience, I highly recommend choice #2!
Here are 3 keys that are especially important if you choose to address this issue with your husband.
Be very specific about what you’re asking your husband to do in order to change his behavior. For instance, if he has a drinking or pornography problem, he will almost certainly need help in disentangling himself from this addiction. So search out helpful 12-step programs or reputable counselors in your area ahead of time and tell him that in order for you guys to keep moving forward in your marriage, you need him to attend a specific number of sessions over a specific period of time. I would certainly recommend that he attend some kind of program/counselor at least once a week for at least 6 months. Addictions and other sinful patterns are hard to break. He will need sustained help.
Expect your husband to be unhappy about this request! Many husbands will try to blame you or other circumstances for their personal problems. Many husbands will also attend a program or see a counselor for one or two sessions and then say “it isn’t helping me”. That’s usually just an excuse. Don’t accept that answer, unless they are willing to try a different program or counselor right away.
Balance your request with words of hope and encouragement. Proverbs 18:21 says Death and life are in the power of the tongue. Remember, you’re asking your husband to do some very hard work, so speak life-giving words to him. Tell him that you see good qualities in him, and that you will do anything you can to help him on his journey to break free from addiction
One way to bond with your husband (and your children) is to share fun, wacky, or unique times together. When we laugh together, we bond. When we share a silly or wacky moment together with others, then we bond. When we share a unique adventure or event, we bond. Sharing those fun moments brings a smile to our face….and that smile is very healing for relationships! In fact, the Bible says in Proverbs 17:22 “A cheerful heart is good medicine.”
To obtain this good “medicine” for your marriage and your family, you need to be intentional. Get out your calendar and make a note at least every other month to plan a special, wacky, or unique event! Let me give you some examples of things our family has done together.
We have all dressed up in our PJs and gone to Dairy Queen for ice cream. We have hosted costume theme parties where the entire family gets dressed up and comes together for dinner. We have had dinner with a “lights out” theme, where we could use no appliances for cooking and we had to eat by candlelight. We did a caveman dinner where all the food had to be eaten without utensils, even pork ‘n beans!! Be creative. Be silly. Laugh. You will bond and create warm memories.
Most women love words. We love to talk. We love to communicate. Thus, for most women, praying to God comes fairly easily. After all, prayer is communication.
On the other hand, most men don’t enjoy talking as much as women, and many men find it challenging to express their deepest thoughts and feelings. As a result, when a husband hears his wife praying an articulate, expressive, lengthy prayer…he can end up feeling intimidated. The wife doesn’t mean to intimidate her husband spiritually, but she ends up doing just that!
If this could be the case for your man, seriously consider shortening up your prayers and using simple words. Don’t get me wrong. I’m NOT saying your husband is stupid. I’m simply saying that women need to be careful that we’re not “showing off” our vocabulary as we pray! This reminds me of something Jesus said in Luke 20:47. He had harsh words for people who “for show make lengthy prayers”. So, let’s be super humble and pray concise, simple, heart-felt prayers. You may find that your man is more eager to pray with you in the future.