Deciding to remove your mask

Have you ever felt trapped in a dysfunctional part of your marriage?  Do you struggle with feeling hopeless about something in your marriage?  Do you hide your insecurities in general behind a “I’m just fine” mask? Well, over the years, I’ve learned that I begin to break free from that hopelessness and oppression when I drag the problem into the light!  Here’s what I mean by that.  I mean doing something extremely courageous by revealing the problem, your insecurities or your frustrations to a godly friend or counselor.  This means, not only revealing what your husband is doing, but also bravely revealing your own part in any dysfunction. 

Proverbs 28:13 says this:  “Whoever conceals their sins does not prosper, but the one who confesses and renounces them finds mercy.”   This is a wonderful verse to live by!  You will most likely find that as you begin to drop your “everything is just fine at our house” mask, that other women will begin dropping their masks as well.  You will find it comforting to realize you’re not the only one struggling with issues.

You will also find that dropping the mask means you will be more open to receiving godly wisdom and direction.  Instead of pretending that everything’s great, you’ll be in a position for God to speak counsel into your life, through both the Bible and wise people.  This doesn’t mean you go around telling everyone about your husband’s faults!  It means getting real with a few trusted, wise, godly women or a trained counselor who can help you apply Biblical principles to your marriage challenges.  You will also receive encouragement, prayer support, and hope in the process!

The hidden struggle of many women

We’re fearless at Squadron of Sisters!  We don’t shy away from tackling the big, hairy, sensitive issues that impact marriages!! (Get your seatbelt fastened for yet another sensitive topic today!)  A few days ago, I wrote about common signs that a husband might have a serious problem with pornography, but the truth is many women also struggle with porn.  This is not just an issue for men.  If you are one of the many Christian women caught up in viewing pornography, there is hope for you to break free of the hold it has on you.

First, you need to know how important it is to break free from porn.  You probably already know that God tells us to flee sexual immorality (1 Corinthians 6:18), but there is a very practical side to this as well.  Just like men unintentionally condition themselves to only respond to masturbation as they view porn, women can have the same problem.  If you use your hand (or other sex toys) to stimulate yourself while viewing porn, you may start conditioning yourself to only respond to masturbation.  In other words, your husband may no longer be able to bring you to orgasm.

Fortunately, there are some great resources to help women who are struggling with a porn habit.  Here are some websites that may help you:

http://www.dirtygirlsministries.com

http://www.walkinginfreedom.net

http://www.porntopurity.com

Your girlfriend shouldn’t be his too

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!

Do NOT make major decisions if…

You may have heard of the acronym H.A.L.T.  It stands for hungry, angry, lonely, tired.   It is a caution often used in addiction recovery where people are urged not to make any drastic decisions when one of those 4 conditions applies.

That’s a really good caution for wives as well!  Don’t make any major decisions about leaving your husband, filing for divorce, or even giving full vent to your temper if you are hungry, angry, lonely or tired.  However, I would like to add one more condition.  Don’t make any major decisions when….it’s that time of the month!!  Women are often so overly-emotional in the days leading up to their period, that we become drama queens!  Everything happening around us is exaggerated in intensity.  So, even though you feel like reacting in a dramatic way, remind yourself to pause and see if you still feel the same way 3 or 4 days later.

This verse comes to mind.  James 1:19-20  My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires.

How to bounce back

We’re all going to encounter some tough times in our marriage.  We’re all going to experience heartbreak and challenge in our lives in general.  The question is this.  Why are some people able to bounce back from adversity relatively quickly, and why do others seem to remain stuck?

At the risk of you hating me 🙂 …I’ll be honest and let you know that I tend to be very resilient.  After an initial period of shock and grief, I’m usually able to quickly pick myself up, dust myself off and move forward.  After pondering this ability with God, allow me to share a 3 word insight that might help you become more resilient too.

I trust God.  Period. Three little words that mean everything!  I have decided to believe that God of the Bible is indeed in control and that His ways are perfect.  I have decided to believe that God can and will bring something good out of my hardship.  This is what we learn at the end of Joseph’s painful story in Genesis, where Joseph proclaims in Genesis 50:20, “You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good…”   I also take heart from Romans 8:28, where God says “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”

I can bounce back because I trust God and because He says He will never leave me nor forsake me.  (Hebrews 13:5) Do you truly trust God?  It’s a decision you get to make, and it makes all the difference.

The art of being still

If you’re like most women, you’re busy…REALLY busy.   Most of us are multi-taskers to the max.  We are trying to balance housekeeping, with nurturing children, with investing in our marriage, with maybe even working full-time outside the home.  Oh, and you might be trying to help out at the local food bank or your church too!  More than likely, you’re exhausted, stressed, and maybe even a bit cranky.  Did I hit that nail on the head? 

How about if we all intentionally slow down?  What if you and I were to ask God in prayer for His direction on where we can cut something out of our busy lives?  Is there a better way to divide responsibilities in our home?  Should you cut out one of the kid’s activities? 

Do you simply need to take 10 or 15 minutes twice a day to be still with God?  Psalm 46:10 says, “Be still, and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!”.  Maybe it’s time for us to carve out some time to be still for a few minutes each day, perhaps with a cup of lemonade sitting outside on a summer day or snuggled in a comfy chair listening to soft worship music.  I have a feeling that we will find our stress drain away as we enter a time of stillness, and as we become less stressed, everyone around us will benefit!  In fact, your husband may become the biggest fan of your “be still” time with God!  You’ll probably be less cranky. lol

2 benefits from going “natural”

I’m coming to believe more and more that we would all benefit from living a more natural lifestyle…as in the way God created things to be!  Let me give two examples that might apply to you as a wife:

1) Did you know that most husbands, when surveyed, say they prefer their wives to wear less makeup?  The clear majority of men say they actually like their women to wear either no make-up at all or just light make-up.  In other words, they prefer a natural look…the appearance that God gave you in the first place!

2)  If you’ve been battling your weight, did you know that going all-natural can greatly assist you in dropping those extra pounds?  Let me tell you from personal experience, it’s true!!  For over 7 years now, my husband and I have been eliminating all refined and processed foods from our diet, and wow!  We are enjoying wonderful whole grain foods, cheeses, meats, fruits, veggies, etc.   We have both lost a lot of weight, my early on-set arthritis has disappeared, and we feel great!

Maybe God knew best when he created us 🙂    Deuteronomy 32:4 says “He is the Rock, his works are perfect…”   Maybe it’s time we got back to living the way God intended when he created us!

A wife’s need for talk & empathy

I went out to dinner with a couple girlfriends recently, and it was….ahhh…refreshing!  We talked and laughed and talked some more.  Words were flying around faster than a cheetah on steroids.  Even though I love talking with my husband, it was so delightful to have an extended chat with some females for a change, and thus, I’ve decided to become more intentional about scheduling get-togethers with other women.

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 or make you laugh?  We NEED each other!  My husband cannot possibly meet all my 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 gifts, her hobbies.  Be a good listener.  You’ll be on your way to developing a good friendship.

Finding spiritual partners

I was reminded recently of how valuable it is for Christian women to gather with other godly women.  A wife recently told me that, beyond learning valuable insights from God’s Word during Bible studies, what has really helped her is the encouragement, support and accountability from other godly women. 

It’s true.  Sometimes, we need that kick in the pants from another woman when we have wandered off track.  Sometimes, it’s that empathy and warm hug from another woman when we are going through a challenging situation.  Sometimes, what matters most is knowing friends in your women’s group will be praying for you during the week.

God’s Word tells us in Hebrews 10:24-25… “And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another…” Our adversary wants us to isolate because then we’re more vulnerable!  Without encouraging voices in our ear, all we hear are the enemies whispers of discouragement and hopelessness.  So, the question is:  Are you acting as a lone ranger or are you carving out time in your schedule to meet regularly with other godly women?  We need each other.  We are stronger together. Search for a women’s ministry in your area and start attending. If you live in northwest WA state, come join us at Squadron of Sisters. 🙂

— or view this topic as a 3 minute VIDEO BELOW

How to handle frustrating moments

When the kids are fighting with each other and you overcooked the dinner and you shrunk your favorite new sweater…it’s pretty natural to get a bit grouchy.  In those moments, we usually need to “vent”.  Unfortunately, our husbands often get the brunt of our “venting”!  In fact, the men whom we promised to love and respect can become our scapegoats.  The tragically funny thing is then we wonder why our husbands don’t seem to enjoy being around us very much!

One husband once told me that encountering his wife as he walked in the door at the end of his work day was like walking into a buzz saw.  She was wired and churning and her tongue was sharp enough to slice right through him.  Yikes.

Yes, ladies, we all need to vent sometimes.  Some days are incredibly challenging.  But let’s pick the correct scapegoat.  If we need to talk to someone about our stress, anger, or exhaustion, let’s turn to God.  He has really broad shoulders and he’s not afraid to hear what’s on your mind.  Psalm 40:1-2 says “I waited patiently for the Lord; he turned to me and heard my cry.  He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; he set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand.”  Jesus is the correct scapegoat.  In fact, if you study the origin of the word “scapegoat”, it was the term used by the Israelites for a goat that symbolically carried their sins away.  Wow!  Jesus really is our scapegoat, and he perfectly carries our sins away, as well as our anger and frustration on a really bad day.

So when you feel the frustration mounting and you can tell you’re about to snap at a family member, mentally give your irritation to the Lord.  Just picture handing it over to Him.  Then take a deep breath, relax your shoulders, and chuckle at the enemy’s pitiful attempt to make you lose your temper!  Hah!  His stupid plan is defeated once again. You are victorious through Christ!