After twenty-two weeks of Wife School Online, you are now a Marriage Champion. You have paid the price to study, practice, and then try again after failure (right?). Now, your husband has turned toward you with an openness that you could never have even imagined (not perfect, but hugely improved). I want to warn you though that the normal inclination of women is to revert to their former selves. The best way to cement any thinking is to teach it. Gather a couple women and take them through the material. Your depth of understanding will increase all the more. With marriage being the single most important relationship in your life, and with good relationships predicting your happiness, why would you not?
Week Twenty-Two, Day One
Struggling With Loneliness
For years, I have been fascinated by the craving women have for intimacy. Because women do not get enough intimacy, they subsequently feel lonely. Women long to be known in the deepest part of their beings and then, to be loved. It was years before I understood this craving women had, and even longer for me to recognize it in myself. We will discuss several legitimate sources of obtaining intimacy in this section which will hopefully be helpful to those of you who struggle with loneliness.
The number one place where women want intimacy is from (haha, no surprise) their husband. And truly, deep closeness and friendship in a marriage is extremely satisfying. But women, this takes years to grow in a marriage. Few women experience this deep intimacy and closeness until later in the marriage (after your husband has been taught to understand your heart). I cannot tell you how often I hear, “My husband doesn’t get me” or “I don’t feel loved by or cared for by my husband.” You are now working on growing your intimacy with your husband if you are in WSO. But as we’ve said a hundred times, this takes time. The magic word is persevere. Some husbands can be taught to listen deeply early in the marriage and some husbands learn over years. However, I have never seen a husband who was given the 8 A’s, who was hugely respected, and who was patiently taught “what the wife wanted and needed” who didn’t eventually get it. I’m sure there are some, but I have never seen them. Your husband probably gives you some intimacy now, but just know, more is coming. (Yippee!)
The second source of intimacy in which most women draw is from the women in her family. For example, two of my best friends each have multiple sisters, multiple daughters, multiple sisters-in-law, and great relationships with their mother. Another friend, Mindy, told me how her mother was her best friend, and her eyes got moist as she explained how her sweet mother is now waiting on her in heaven. If you have women in your family with whom you are close, then rejoice, because this is a gift from God to help you meet your intimacy needs. I have noticed that often, these women have less of a need to pull on their husbands because so many of their needs are met by other women in their family.
A side note: A few women have brothers that help fulfill their intimacy needs, but this is not nearly as common as female family members. Also, a very few women claim that their mother-in-law is a source of intimacy. The daughter-in-law of my friend, Paula, claims this about her mother-in-law. (Btw, this should be a goal for all of us with sons.)
Another, and not-surprising, source of intimacy is close friends. How refreshing to take off your mask and be able to let it tumble out, just like it feels! Friends are one of the best gifts on earth. Treat yours well! Bury the mistakes of your friends in the cemetery in your back yard and focus on how you love and give to your friends, not on how you’re loved and given to.
Another source of intimacy can be from an older woman who agrees to mentor you. These older women are often happy to listen to you and care for you. And actually, you can receive intimacy by mentoring a younger woman. Anyone who is “younger than you and behind you” (college? high school?) is a great person to pour into. You will be surprised how satisfying giving to a younger, needy woman is and how many of your intimacy needs are met in these relationships.
But even with all of those great sources of intimacy mentioned above, God never planned for any of us to get all our intimacy needs met. Instead, He wants to be the Friend that sticks closer than a brother (Proverbs 18:24). We are fully known by Him, and accepted in the Beloved. We are to get our most important intimacy needs met in our relationship with God! Then when we are full of that relationship, we are able to be givers, not primarily takers, in our relationships with people. Isaiah 41:10 says, “Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” Once you find deep intimacy with God, you will quit needing so much intimacy from humans. (You will still need huge doses, but bathtub portions, not swimming pool portions.)
Go to openbible.info and click on Topical Bible tab. Then enter loneliness in the search bar for a fantastic list of Bible verses on loneliness and the incredible promises that God has for us.
My husband is my closest human friend and I’m sure that is either true for you or your goal. But know that a woman’s friendships are incredibly helpful and necessary to keep the husband from having to carry the intimacy load all by himself.
Loneliness is a serious condition. If you are struggling with relationships, friendships, and intimacy, just know that you reap what you sow. If you want to know what you’ve been sowing, look around at what you are currently reaping. If you listen well, if you are deeply interested in others, if you are loyal, trustworthy, dependable, generous, sensitive, and honest, you will find deep satisfaction in relationships. Again, failure in the past does not predict failure in the future: you can change! It is hard to admit that maybe your problems with friendships are your own fault. But actually, taking the blame is a great place to get turned around. Start where you are and build some deep relationships by focusing on how you give and love, not on how you’re given to and loved.
Week Twenty-Two, Day Two
A Very Important Sentence to Frequently Say to Your Husband
In 1970, a movie came out that everyone talked about. It was Love Story with Ali MacGraw and Ryan O’Neal (I was in the ninth grade and most of you weren’t born). There’s a line from this movie that became famous and was engraved on posters, coffee cups, etc. This line, said by Ali MacGraw as she was sobbing on the steps was, “Love means never having to say you’re sorry.”
Excuse me, Ladies, but that is cow manure. Love is saying you are sorry all the time! Not only should you say you are sorry, you should say, “I was wrong. Will you please forgive me?”
I don’t know about you, but I can’t stand it when someone says to me, “I’m sorry about that…but…” and then they go on to tell me why they were not really wrong.
No one likes to be wrong. And saying I’m sorry is very difficult. But a really good sentence to add is, “Will you please forgive me?” It’s ridiculously hard to say, I agree. But it forces the other person to decide if they are truly going to forgive you or not. I can barely squeak it out but I am always glad I did. Relationships are dirty and stinky, and they need the cleansing waters of asking each other for forgiveness.
Do you need to ask your husband for forgiveness for something? Get caught up. Don’t let there be anything between you for which you have never sought his forgiveness.
Last night I said a mean thing to one of my sons. Yes, mean. And I didn’t even think about it until I had my quiet time this morning and the Holy Spirit pricked (kicked) me. And what’s worse about this situation is that the thing I criticized him over upset me so much because it is something I struggle with! (You spot it, you got it.) When I asked forgiveness this morning from this son, do you think he said, “Sure, Mom, it’s fine”? Heavens, no. He went on to tell me how bad it was, blah, blah, blah. I had to keep eating mud, saying, “Yes, you’re right. That was wrong of me.”
Friends, humble yourself and go to everyone you have offended (start with your husband and children) and ask forgiveness for your mean, critical, judgmental, insensitive, arrogant, and rude remarks. It’s not fun. But doing relationships well means a lot of non-fun things. As you know, life includes a lot of non-fun things.
Maybe you need to ask your husband for forgiveness for not considering his opinion in the past, for making decisions without consulting him, or for not being sensitive to his leadership. Wherever you have sinned against him, ask for forgiveness.
When you mess up again (which, of course, you will), ask again. Keep a clean slate with all of your close relationships.
This is huge stuff, Ladies. Asking for forgiveness may be the just the thing you need to do to un-block some clog from the past.
Week Twenty-Two, Day Three
The Importance of Church in Your Family
Today I want to discuss the importance of the Church and her influence on your marriage and family. I do not pretend that this is a treatise on the doctrine of “The Church.” These thoughts are simply to enrich your thinking in the area of the church’s importance to your marriage and to your family.
Of course it is easy to see why many people are burnt out on church. I believe the problem is in expectations. You have probably heard the quote, “The church is not a museum of saints; it’s a hospital for sinners.” If you realize that you are a porcupine, every other church member is a porcupine, and we are all going to prick each other, then we can begin to quit being offended so easily and instead, forgive each other.
Friend, the Church is God’s idea and although it is far from perfect, it is the best we have. Don’t give up on church. Instead of looking at the leaders and the members and seeing what is wrong with them, decide to be a sunrise in the lives of others at your church. Decide that you will be a woman of prayer, a woman under authority to her husband, a woman of hospitality, a women who refuses to engage in slander, and a woman who is eager to serve with her gifts. The church will never be rid of the lukewarm, the devious, and the chronic complainers. But you can be rid of that. You can show up every Sunday morning and look for what’s right, for how you can contribute, and come with a heart that is grateful for the good that is there.
In WSO, we’ve learned to list the good in our husbands and overlook his weaknesses. We need to do that to our churches. If you look for weaknesses in your church, you will find them. If you look for strengths, then that is what you will find.
Prayerfully, find a Bible-based church where you and your husband can follow the pastor and put down a stake. Be ready for problems because they will come. If you determine that your attitude is “How do I give and love” versus “What is here for me?”, then blessings will appear everywhere at your church. 1 Peter 4:10 says, “Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms.”
Who is the most important person to a man? It’s his bride. The Church is the bride of Christ. God loves the church. And He wants us to meet regularly with other Christ-followers (“not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another” Hebrews 10:25). Not being involved in church is not really an option if you follow Christ. God’s will is that we are to be actively involved with other believers, meeting together for encouragement and prayer.
I know there will be things at your church you don’t like. Overlook things you disagree with, if you can. At my church, there has been a lot of discussion as to whether Sunday School should be age-segregated or if Sunday School should include all seasons of life in each class. It is fine to have an opinion, but if the pastor and the elders want to try something new, let them. Most issues are not a hill to die on. Save your barking for extremes, like moral violations. Come to encourage, not complain.
If you are struggling with your church, maybe you could write a list of things you like and appreciate about your church in your Turquoise Journal and bathe your mind with that. I have found that most of us find whatever we are looking for. Lists of positive attributes about your church will greatly grow your affection for it.
Don’t give up on the church, no matter how hard it gets. It is God’s idea and it is a path of blessing. The Church is the lone voice, crying in the wilderness of what is True North. It is a solo voice in the world, pointing to the only path of eternal life. Only there will you find those that have also been called out of darkness. Make church a priority for your family.
Church will never be perfect. But with a renewed mindset of how you can contribute (versus focusing on what is annoying you), church will be one of the greatest blessings to your marriage and family. Community is absolutely necessary to grow a healthy marriage and family, and church is the divine choice for community.
Just because you’ve had failure in the past in the area of church doesn’t mean you will have failure in the future. Shake yourself off, talk to the Lord and your husband about church, and jump in!
“Love the brotherhood of believers.” 1 Peter 2:12
Week Twenty-Two, Day Four
The Impact You Have on Your Children and Grandchildren
A couple weeks ago I had the opportunity to spend time with a family of three generations. There were two grandmothers (80’s and 90’s!), the next generation (in their 50’s-60’s), and then the third generation (in their 30’s and 20’s—no fourth generation yet). I’ve been around these people for years in social settings where we have had small chit chat. But because of the nature of this celebratory event, the family was giving speeches and telling stories about the family’s past. Witnessing this family interact was fascinating to me. Repeatedly, the center of their stories was “what the Lord was doing”. Not just one person, but the entire family’s perspective was “how God was moving in our lives during such-and-such”. It was “the Lord” did this, and then “the Lord” did that. The 30-year-old’s were thanking the 90-year-old’s for living for Christ and for leaving a godly example.
Every family has a flavor, much like strawberry or blueberry, only the flavor is based on “what is most important to us”. For example, what is most important to this family is “The Lord” and under that, “Family”. And if you were there listening to their stories, you would hear the third most important element to these people’s lives, which was “church.” These are not rich, influential people. They are ordinary people. But I doubt God thinks they are ordinary.
What you truly value will show up in your kids. You pass down what you value, like you pass down your green eyes. If what you truly value is how you look and what kind of house you live in, then most likely, that value will be in your children. If you value being famous, being first, being the best, being rich, being the best on the team, then your children will most likely value that too. I just want you to realize that you cannot live outside the rules of sowing and reaping. Whatever is in your heart, you will give to the next generation. If you value grandparents, then your children will. If you value prayer, your children will. If you value looking ten years younger, then your children will. If you value the praise of man, so will your kids. So many people think that they can keep their pet sins deep in their heart and no one will know. Friend, God is NOT mocked. You will reap what you sow. You cannot keep a heart that secretly despises the success of others and then hope your children will be humble and loving.
Our hearts are the problem. We are rebellious, pleasure-loving, ego-crazy human beings that don’t want to be told what to do. This is a plea to become disciplined in three of the safeguards that God has given us to fight our sinful nature: (1) soaking in the Word (the gold nuggets are buried, you have to dig to find them), (2) becoming addicted to prayer (confession is where the Spirit of God changes us), and (3) finding a way to become immersed in community in the Church (not church attendance, but deep relationships where you pray for, rejoice with, and share burdens with one another). The Enemy prowls around and seeks to devour you. Have safeguards, my Friend, as protective mechanisms from your fleshly desires.
One more comment that is incredibly important concerning who you will become and who your children will become: You will never outgrow the spiritual maturity of the people you have coffee with. If you choose to hang around people who focus on restaurants, their tennis game, and exotic vacations (instead of growing in Christ, loving and serving others, and finding ways to contribute), you will never grow into the fullness of Christ. We become like the people we hang around. You will never live outside this truth.
Wife, there is a tendency to drift away (Hebrews 2:1-4). Christians don’t jump from loving the Lord with all their hearts to apostasy and heinous sin. They drift there. Put anchors and safeguards firmly in your life so it doesn’t happen to you.
Week Twenty-Two, Day Five
Spend Time to Learn and Grow
There are so many resources to help you think biblically. The main issue is, when will you listen to sermons and podcasts? When will you read? Your time is already maxed out, I understand.
Two young men I incredibly admire, Stephen and Trent, both told me that they use their exercise time at the gym to listen to sermons and podcasts. When I heard this, I had already been working out for years, but listening to music. But when they told me their habit, I switched to their habit. That was over a year ago, and I cannot tell you what I’ve learned in the last year! I’ve been studying apologetics for the last two years, and in the last year, I’ve listened to hours (!) of talks, debates, lectures, etc. about the evidence for the existence of God, the (fallacious) arguments of the New Atheists, the reliability of the New Testament documents, the scientific (!) evidence for a young earth, and on and on and on.
So, pick something productive that you want to know about, and listen to podcasts while walking, working out, driving, or even cooking. Don’t waste your precious short time on Earth with trash TV and movies! How can you be an ambassador if you aren’t knowledgeable? (If you have teens, there is especially no time to waste. When they leave your home, the atheist worldview will descend with fervor. Prepare them!)
One of my favorite resources is TheBibleProject.com. It is a masterfully done website with free animated videos to help you understand the Bible. Devour everything they have.
Another wonderful resource is the Bible commentary at EnduringWord.com. I use this website almost every time I study the Bible. David Guzik, the author, sites classic commentators (like Spurgeon) as he discusses Bible passages. Great resource!
If you go to YouTube.com, you can search for lectures on the evidence for God, on the evidence disputing evolution, etc. and for sermons galore. Don’t fill your mind with junk. Redeem the time. “All people are like grass, and all their glory is like the flowers of the field; the grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of the Lord endures forever.” 1 Peter 1: 24-25 Use your time wisely, and fill it with God’s truth.
We live lives of anxiety. Our prayerlessness causes us much grief. Please give us the faith to understand the verse, “If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him.” (Matthew 7:11)
May we spend enough time in prayer that our anxious hearts no longer condemn us. May we hear Your voice and be assured that indeed, we are forgiven. Remind us that not only will You give us good gifts, but that You are exceedingly, abundantly able to perform beyond what we ask or think (Ephesians 3:20). May we know that death has been swallowed up in victory and we no longer have to fear. Teach us, O God, to rest in You.
In Jesus name,
- Do you struggle with loneliness? What are your best sources of intimacy? __________________________________________________________________
- How are you at saying you are wrong and in asking for forgiveness?__________________________________________________________________
- Is church an important aspect of your marriage? Do you have a giver or taker mentality about your church? Are you a complainer or an encourager? Explain.
- What is the flavor of your family? What is most important to you and your husband? Explain.
Your huge problem is my huge problem, and that is our tendency to go our own way, to do what we want, instead seeking the face of God. This morning as I read Psalm 33 in my devotional time, I was reminded that “He gathers the waters of the seas into jars” (v. 7) and that “No king is saved by the size of his army” (v. 16). We must seek the One who is powerful and who is in control.
You will want to rule your husband, but that is not your assignment. Your assignment is to be a godly influencer, with a gentle and quiet spirit (1 Peter 3). The wise woman builds her house, and she does it with God’s methods. Lecturing and scolding have never made a man want to do anything but hide.
When you get pushed into a corner in your marriage, and don’t know what to do, there is one verse that will help guide you. It is Proverbs 31:12: “She brings him good, not harm, all the days of her life.” Look to God and ask Him how to bring your husband good. “Indeed, He who watches over Israel will neither slumber nor sleep.” Bring your husband goodness, as God is watching.
Blessings to you and the generations that come from you,
February 5, 2018
You can write me at JulieNGordon2012@gmail.com