Chapter 19 in Wife School is What to Do When the In-laws Are a Problem. This is one of the top struggles that couples face in marriage. For more review on in-laws, see Week Seven, Day Five and also, Week Sixteen, Day One.
Week Nineteen, Day One
Celebrating Your Husband’s Victories With Him
We have discussed how you need to show up with empathy when your husband has a trial or failure (see Week Three, Day Two). Today we will also discuss how you need to show up in a magnificent way when your husband has a victory. There is one main person a husband longs to celebrate his achievements with…and that’s you, his sweet and encouraging wife!
When your husband has a victory, either small or large, you don’t just say, “Well done. Good job. So, what time is the game on?” No, instead, you ask him ALLLLLL about it, wanting as many details as possible (he will love this). You are excited and happy for him, as well as proud of him. Don’t assume he knows this. Tell him. How we all long for someone to be proud of us. So you say something like, “I can’t believe you were chosen with so much other competition!” Later you might say, “Your persistent work ethic really paid off. I am bursting open because I am so proud of you!” Possibly, you could bring it up in front of his parents (he especially likes this), the kids (always, always), and if appropriate (and not too braggy), your friends. (FYI: Praising your husband in front of friends is tricky. Friends get annoyed with very much of this. Spread your bragging around about your husband, and not very much with any one person. Strangers are great. Ha ha. Your husband will love it all.)
Just remember, you are the main one he wants to be excited for him. As I said, we all desire our spouses be excited with us about our wins and achievements. But remember, we have double standards in celebrating victories. We celebrate victories to the max with others and yet we try to have no expectations that others will do that for us. We endeavor to get our affirmation from the Lord. Anything anyone else gives us is a bonus.
Just know that celebrating your husband’s victories in spades is guaranteed to delight him.
Week Nineteen, Day Two
Getting Hold of Your Emotions When You Have Conflict
The most common problem that I see with wives is that they speak to their husbands with emotional turmoil or with disrespect. This tenet of Wife School is so important to your husband’s affection for you (and for him to open to your influence!) that I am addressing it again.
Recently, David and I had a unique situation/problem that we needed to address. We had talked about it and talked about it. I then told him that I had given this circumstance a lot more thought and wanted to give him my opinion and ideas on how to handle the situation. So I took a couple of days and thought even more about it and presented my new suggestions/ideas to him. At first, David shot my ideas down. He didn’t like them at all. I sat there, looking at him, thinking, “Oh, dear. Oh, dear. Here’s another hard marriage conflict to navigate.” Wring, wring hands. But I didn’t let any disappointment show.
Instead, I said, “What about x?” and I offered an additional idea.
Again, he didn’t like it. With much restraint, I hid my large disappointment. No emotional escalation, although I was definitely feeling a little.
Honestly, I wanted to say some rather rough things here. It would be easy to be sarcastic, snide, or unpleasant because after all, I had given this situation a lot of thought (my sin nature obviously still lives in full force!). However, I know that “life and death are in the power of the tongue” so thankfully, this time, I held mine.
Back to the story. After a long silence, David said, “Well, what I think we should do is Y.”
What if I had unloaded on him? What if I had expressed great disappointment for his lack of excitement at my ideas? (Believe me, I have done this wrong too many times to count.) Wives, we have to get control of our emotional reactions. There are often presents with big bows right around the river bend!
What is amazing about this story is that the end result is exceedingly, abundantly over what I had ever hoped for in the beginning. In fact, it took me a little while to believe that this was happening. I kept thinking that he was going to withdraw the suggestion in a moment, saying, “Oh, I didn’t understand you at first. No, that’s not what I meant. I take it back.”
But he did mean it. He was being crazily generous.
There were a few places, as I said, at the beginning of our conversation, when the thought came to my mind, “Oh dear. He’s acting out of his weakness set here. This is bad. This is not good at all.” But I didn’t let those thoughts out and I didn’t give any hint that I was thinking negative things. I corralled those monkeys. And look what happened! Look what I would have missed if I had let those wild monkeys out of their cages. Holding your tongue when the urge to be unpleasant arises is one of the most phenomenal relational skills you will ever develop.
This turned into a fabulous marriage moment, where David was extremely generous to me with his decision and I was able to tell him how loved and cared for I felt. As I’ve said before, husbands love it when you are satisfied and happy in the marriage because it tells them they are good husbands and they like feeling that they are good in their areas.
Women, you will have conflict in your marriage. That is the norm. What is not the norm is to hold your tongue, to speak respectfully, to ask your husband’s opinion, to continue to negotiate without negative emotion, to let the matter rest and come back to it without snide remarks, and then to gush it big with praise and admiration when your husband gives you something. This is not rocket science. This is baseline behavior for wise women. But just know, the conflict will never be over between the two of you. You and your husband will wrestle with different opinions until one of you is in the dirt. But learn to have healthy conflict, with great self-control.
A wise woman builds her home with self-control of her tongue. You cannot be an amazing wife until you get hold of that snake.
I was at a shower yesterday and two of the sweetest, most godly young wives told me how their husbands said some ridiculous stuff and yet, they didn’t react. They both talked about how the husband did this and did that, and still they didn’t react. They spoke of the trials their husbands had and how they tried to be a source of comfort to him, instead of a mother fixing them. What is so interesting about these young wise wives is that their husbands adore them. These young women are women of prayer, of goodness, and who love the Lord. And they have learned that is it not necessary to confront every one of the husband’s crazy ideas and suggestions at the moment. They have learned great self-control, great reverence for their husbands, and are happy, sweet wives who hugely deposit the 8 A’s. Their husbands are normal husbands but these are not normal wives. All is lost in WSA if you do not get control over your emotional hysteria, contentiousness, and unpleasant words.
This next paragraph may sound like it is a little out of place, but actually, I feel this is an important concept to mention right here since we are discussing emotional escalation. Many women in my Skinny School groups have said that they recovered their sanity by getting sugar and refined carbs out of their life. We are spiritual/mental/physical beings. You know what a wet noodle you are when you are physically exhausted. Similarly, when you are eating sugar and refined carbs, you are jacking up your hormones and that messes up your emotions. Women who were easily set off before they got off sugar have said over and over that they have gained a calm by ditching sugar and refined carbs. Just FYI to those of you still eating junk. In Skinny School, we call that food Trash Food. Remember, even though it tastes great for 20 seconds, it messes up your hormones, your blood work, your emotions, and your hip size! It affects your children’s behavior, too. Learn to eat food that God created, not the man-made trash that harms our bodies and makes you an emotional wreck. (Reread Week Eleven, Day Five if you want to review more on health.)
Week Nineteen, Day Three
What to Do When Your Husband is Bossy and Inconsiderate of Your Opinion, Part A
Husbands fall into two ditches as far as leadership. We have repeatedly discussed the passive leader, in which he sits back and you fill in the space with your opinions, ideas, and actions. Today we will discuss the other ditch, when husbands want to run the show exclusively without your input and without considering your desires and opinions.
The Scripture is repeatedly crystal clear in that the husband is the head of the family. (1 Corinthians 11:9, Genesis 2:18, Ephesians 5:22, Colossians 3:18, etc.) In the military, it is understood that you salute and obey the officer in a higher position, but actually you are saluting the uniform, not necessarily the man. As we know, often the man with less authority is smarter, wiser, etc. Many people like to use this analogy for marriage.
However, a marriage is not a military organization. The woman is a help-meet. She is “bone of his bones and flesh of his flesh” (Genesis 2:23). This is not a master-slave relationship, but two people “joined to become one flesh” in order that together they might mirror Christ and His bride, the Church. Yes, the wife is to submit, but if you have carefully studied Scripture, you know that the Church appeals (prays) all the time to her Authority, Jesus. Jesus was a servant-leader, not a harsh dictator. He did not come to be served, but to serve others.
Some of you are married to men that misunderstand the role of leader. They think that their role gives them power to make decisions alone, instead of using their power to serve. These men can be very inconsiderate to their wives at times.
This is one of the hardest situations in marriage because you are faced with a man who thinks he is the center of the wheel, and that he has a spoke called work, a spoke called ministry, a spoke called wife, and a spoke called kids. He sees all of these spokes as extensions of himself and thinks he is the center and most important part of the wheel. Instead of his true calling to “empty himself and take the form of a servant” (Philippians 2), he becomes a Boss and is inconsiderate of the desires of his wife.
If you have been with me for these nineteen weeks, you know that I believe women should be under the authority of their husbands. But what I want to be very clear about is WSO is not a doormat approach with a “whatever-you-say-Dear” mentality. You are a gift from God to help your husband think and to help your husband navigate life.
Just a little rabbit chasing here: Scripture does teach that a wife is to learn in silence (1 Timothy 2:11) but that is only in the church meeting. I personally think we women talk too much in church meetings. I think it dishonors a man for his wife to be a big mouth and always give her opinion in a church setting. Instead, encourage your husband to give his opinion at church, then admire it! You are very smart so give your opinion other places besides a church meeting. Business, school, and community are not the same as church. I am not trying to give hard, legalistic rules. Just know that when you are gathered in a church setting and your husband is present, it is wise to not talk too much and to let your husband be the primary speaker for your family.
(Getting back on track…) A woman is definitely allowed to appeal her husband’s opinions (see the book of Esther) and discuss matters with him. She is God’s gift to him to help him be successful and he needs her input. But her words must always be bathed in humility, respectfulness, and self-control.
To be continued below…
Week Nineteen, Day Four
What to Do When Your Husband is Bossy and Inconsiderate of Your Opinion, Part B
Luke 18:1-8 is the parable of the persistent widow and the judge. It is one of my favorite passages on marriage. Yes, marriage. The woman is humble, respectful, and has self-control, but she is persistent. “Grant me…” she implores. Wives, you are allowed to ask your husband for good things, even things with which he disagrees (be sure you have God’s go-ahead). When he says no, and you feel God wants this, you have to submit for now, but you can continue to appeal.
How tricky this whole subject of appealing is. Knowing when it is time to lay down the appeals and to let your husband make the final decision is one that you must find in prayer. We are to submit as well as we are allowed to appeal. I wish I could give you an easy formula but walk in the Spirit is the best advice I can give you.
When husbands pull the “I’m-in-charge” card and make big decisions without consulting you, or are reluctant to receive your input about family matters, you can respectfully, with humility and great self-control, say “Honey, I know you are the head of this family and you have the final decision. And I want you to know that I respect the position you have. However, I was given to you by God as a helper. That is not only a sex partner and a housekeeper, but someone who helps you think. I am not trying to control you, but I do want to give you my input and opinion. I want you to consider it. Yes, I am the weaker vessel, but that is physically. I am not weaker mentally. I want to have my opinion considered and feel heard.”
Now, if you have a Boss husband, know that he will balk at this. He will give you reasons why he’s exclusively in charge and you are to follow. He will challenge your right to give input. This is the hardest kind of man to reach. You must maintain a calm, forgiving, loving, patient outlook when trying to beseech him to listen to and consider your input.
Know that this is definitely a difficult thing to do. Teaching boss husbands to slow down and listen to your input can be very energy-draining work. Always reassure your husband that you know he is the ultimate decision maker and that your input is from a heart that ultimately wants to make him successful and happy. (If you are really rocking the 8 A’s, they already know this, and are softening to your influence.)
Do not be discouraged if you have to have this soft conversation 50x-100x. If you are truly loving and giving, your husband will eventually soften. Never go into Commander-mode or speak with disrespect or emotional turmoil, because if you do, all your good work is wasted. He will think, “She’s a crazy. I don’t have to listen to her.” But if you can unemotionally appeal, talk sanely and calmly, not get upset when he doesn’t immediately receive your words, and persevere, these men can be softened and taught over the years to consider your input.
What a long road this is. You cannot let yourself get discouraged. Boss husbands are difficult to win. Boss husbands think that because they are the man, they can make decisions without your input. But that is not what Scripture teaches. It teaches that husbands are to…
- give their wives’ desires equal weight (“husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies.” Ephesians 5:28),
- demonstrate self-sacrifice for their wife (“Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her” Ephesians 5:25), and
- be considerate of the wife’s views and mindset (“husbands, live with your wives in an understanding way, showing honor to the woman as the weaker vessel” 1 Peter 3:7).
Be prepared for a long journey to address this untrained and erroneous mindset of a Boss husband. Forgive him. Accept him. But stay in the struggle to explain to him the true, Biblical model.
There are many things you can say to your husband when he balks about receiving your input. One thing is “I’m bone of your bones. I’m created to make you successful and I want to do so. But I also want you to live with me in an understanding way. I want you to give me honor as 1 Peter 3:7 says, and listen to me. I want to make you happy, but I also know that God gave me to you to help you think.”
If you have the emotional turmoil out of your house and are making huge deposits into your husband’s tank with the 8 A’s, he will eventually turn to you and open to your influence.
If he is disrespectful, you will have to confront it later, not when it happens. Everyone is too stirred up. (Reread Chapter 14 in Wife School about being mistreated, etc.) But remember that when you discuss his inconsiderateness with him, you always start with, “One of my top goals in life is to make you happy and when I feel hurt like I do now, that is difficult for me to do.” Always frame how you feel as being hurt, not angry. Dear Wife! Death and life are in the power of the tongue! “A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in settings of silver” (Proverbs 25:11).
I’d like to address something else that will definitely help your husband see your view point, and that is your ability to admit when you are wrong. If you see you are wrong and he is right about something, be humble and tell him. Say, “I see that you were correct and I was wrong. I really appreciate your wisdom in that and how it protected me.” You aren’t weak when you say that! You demonstrate your maturity and humility by admitting you were wrong! You gain his influence by being able to admit you are wrong. (Few people can do this because they have too much pride.) You also model for him how to “admit when he is wrong.” He says to himself, “Wow. She can admit when she is wrong. Huh! That is impressive. I can listen to her input because she is demonstrating how mature she is.”
God may have given you a Boss husband, but with patience, kindness, forgiveness, and perseverance, Boss husbands can be reasoned with and taught to consider your input.
Week Nineteen, Day Five
Cynicism and the Continual Disappointment in Others
An easy thing for humans to do as they age is to become cynical. Cynical means “distrusting of the motives of others.” The longer you live, the more opportunities you’ll have to be mistreated, to be disappointed in how others give to and love you, and to see that mankind is deeply sinful and broken, especially in that most humans basically mainly care about themselves. The deep brokenness of the world continues to find you.
Meeting with women is one of my favorite things to do. Probably, the most common issue is that they are having issues with another person, such as a husband, a child, a relative, a friend, or a co-worker. People don’t get counseling because of the evil in the world, but because of the evil and mistreatment by others toward them in their lives. No one has ever sat down in my living room with me and said, “I’m overwhelmed by the conditions in the Middle East. Can we talk about it?”
Being mistreated by others is nothing new. I think about the original twelve apostles, and how they were horrifically mistreated. Beaten, whipped, stoned…you name it, they suffered. All but the Apostle John were martyred for their faith. But at the end of their lives, they still lived with great joy, love, and purpose. How is it that you and I become cynical with the weaknesses and disappointments of others, but the apostles—who were much more mistreated than we’ve ever even thought about—remained as ones who contributed, gave, and loved?
It’s an interesting question. And I think I’ve found the answer. You and I are not great at forgiving. That’s where it all starts. People sin against us all the time and we don’t empty their accounts. We allow accumulations in their accounts of offenses. And because we are not steeped in the Word (distracted by consumerism, mostly), we forget that we are to forgive 70 x 7.
The apostles knew that Jesus was raised from the dead. They knew that “ease of life and pleasure” were not their goals, but pleasing their Commanding Officer. They saw Him resurrected. They knew it was true. They didn’t waste time or energy thinking about being takers, about “who wasn’t loving them or giving to them enough.” They were intentional, knowing that when Jesus invades a soul, it is new life, and changes the person astronomically.
And as far as when other Christians were self-centered, selfish, and sinned against them (remember the lists who deserted Paul and tried to harm him?), they forgave. They focused on their mission which was to tell everyone about the resurrection and that new life could be found in Jesus. They were intentional with their mission, not letting the naysayers drag them down.
Becoming cynical says a lot about how you don’t believe that Jesus rose from the dead. It says that you are letting the schemes of Satan enter your life. Forgive and open your heart to the world again. Jesus did rise from the grave and He is going to come back and you will stand before Him and give an account. Just like the servant who was forgiven a billion dollar debt couldn’t release his fellow servant from a debt of a few dollars, we refuse to forgive others when we’ve been forgiven so much.
I struggle with this, just like you. It’s a conscious decision to hand over my resentment to the Lord. But it frees my soul again. I can focus on my mission, which is to love God and love others—not sit in my room and stew over how others disappoint me.
You and I know this, and yes, we should be past this, but that’s why Jesus taught and taught about forgiveness, because we are dumb sheep, and have a hard time learning things. Take those two or three people who continually disappoint or hurt you, or who cheated you and mistreated you, and forgive them. God only uses clean vessels to do His work, and resentment clogs up pipes more than anything I know.
How easy it is to sometimes get discouraged with life. Trials abound everywhere, and there is a strong current pulling me to focus my mind on all that is difficult. I’m pretty sure this is the Enemy who would love to devour me.
To fight discouragement, You have repeatedly told Your children to be thankful as that is the secret weapon to being happy. Focusing my mind on the abundance that You have given me (as well as the fact that You are right here in the midst of my hardships) helps eclipse the trials that I face. Please help me choose to set my mind on You and all the good in my life. May I find nourishment in Your Word, peace in prayer, and encouragement from other Christ-followers.
Fill me, Lord, so that I may run the race marked out for me and finish well. Pull the veil from my eyes, and let me see that the resentment that I want to hold on to is injurious to me and distasteful to You.
In Jesus name,
- How good are you at celebrating your husband’s victories? Explain.
- Are you able to get hold of your emotions when you and your husband have conflict? Explain.
- Do you have a husband who is bossy and inconsiderate of your opinions? What was helpful to you in this section? Explain.
- Have you become cynical? Do you hold on to any resentment toward anyone?
Friends, addictions are predictable sources of pleasure and soothing. That’s where alcohol, Trash Food, gambling, drugs, and porn get their power…they are predictable (though unhealthy) sources of those two needs of the human heart. Wives! Why can’t you be a predictable source of pleasure and soothing to your husband? Yes, let him get addicted to you! Be a predictable source of pleasure and soothing to your husband. Talk about opening your husband’s influence to you! The idea of being a source of pleasure and soothing to your husband is one that I think King Lemuel’s mom had in mind when she said that a virtuous wife “brings him good, not harm, all the days of his life.” Of course, implied in that verse is also integrity, diligence, goodness, godliness, and humility (and much more). But men need sources of pleasure and soothing…so let that be you, WSO friend!