Chapter 13 in Wife School is called How to Explain Anything to Your Husband. It is actually a chapter about word pictures. Word pictures take time to think of, but are tremendously effective in communicating something your husband has trouble grasping. Save them for your top one or two issues, though. Word pictures are annoying and ineffective if used too often.
Week Thirteen, Day One
How Husbands Feel About Your Birthday, Anniversary, and Other Holidays
The Valentine’s Day before David and I got engaged, he called to tell me that he was going to the Memphis University Tigers basketball game with his dad. I will not print my response to that here, but let’s just say that he was wildly unaware of how important that day was to me.
And after my cute sister-in-law married my brother, her birthday rolled around and he had not gotten the memo about “how to celebrate the birthday of a wife.” I’m not sure what she said to him about her birthday, but to me, she said she wanted a card (mushy), a present (wrapped), a cake (with candles), Happy Birthday sung to her, to be taken out to dinner, and a parade. For years, we have texted/emailed each other on our birthdays, and said, “Hope you get your parade today.”
Of course, we are silly and kidding, but maybe—if the number of emails that I receive about how husbands hurt wives by forgetting their special days indicates anything—then there is definitely something here to talk about!
Why? Because women have this ridiculous notion that how others treat us on our birthday (Valentine’s Day, etc.) shows how much they care about us. But, actually, the real truth is, others treat us on our birthday/holidays as they have been trained to and not necessarily according to how much they love us.
Women, we have to give our husbands a break. They tell us they love us by being sexually faithful, by bringing home their paycheck, and countless other dutiful ways. They do not understand this desire to be treated as royalty on our birthdays/special days.
And to be honest, it is a burden for them. Many men have financial pressure to just pay the bills and now, he’s expected to drop a wad on this woman in order to express affection. It’s not his idea of a good time. If you are having financial issues, please give your husband some slack. Help your husband navigate this day by giving him some ideas that are not expensive but are meaningful to you. (Only give him ideas if you are sure he wants your ideas. Some husbands see this as pushy.) You might tell him that you would really love a nice card and that’s enough. Or, maybe he could write you a poem, if he’s bent in that direction. Give him some ideas that are not too difficult for him to pull off.
Recently I heard of a wife emailing her husband a link and a picture of a necklace she wanted for one of her special days. Then she emailed again and said to ignore the first email because this email now had the link to the necklace she wants. And then she sent him a third email, changing the necklace and the subsequent link again. Wives, most men don’t have the patience for this (but some do, so rejoice if yours does). Another wife, in contrast, was asked by her husband what she wanted for one of her special days. She sent him a text, telling him about a bracelet, and at the end, she wrote, “but whatever you give me, I’m sure I’ll be happy with it.” Which wife do you think is probably easier to live with? Which wife probably wears her husband out? These are small things, but small things add up. Try not to be so high maintenance. Try to be content and grateful for small things, not demanding and always manipulating, trying to get everything to work out just right for you.
We have to say here, again, that most men are not good at celebrating our special days. They are just not. Do you see the ridiculousness of getting mad at a first grader who doesn’t understand algebra? Men that have been married a while to women who give them the 8 A’s begin eventually to understand the need to show up for special days. But honestly, this can take years. You might have a mountain of a man, but he doesn’t know that you love lace, roses, and to get gussied up. You have to realize over and over again that the creature who loves football, work, and sex is not put together like you. So, we give him a break. Eventually, we softly tell him what we’d like, and then when he still doesn’t get it, we give him another break. We don’t expect kids to get fractions and decimals easily and we don’t expect husbands to understand the heart of a woman easily. We give them grace, stay in the game, and know that wise wives eventually influence husbands!
What women want their husbands to do is…ready for this?…is to read their minds. That’s right. They want their husbands to know them so deeply that they read their mind and know what they want. They want their husband to find a way to adequately express to them that they are adored, known, understood, and cherished. There are some men out there like this. There are some men who have a knack for this, but honestly, it is pretty rare. So what I have found to be helpful is for women to help their husbands by asking for something on their special days that is not too difficult for their husbands to do. The best advice is to realize that celebrating your special days in a way that excites and pleases you is…well…actually, a big burden for them. So, give them a break and then, give them another break. Over the years, you will be able to tell your husband what you want. Men improve tremendously in this area after years.
Of course, there are ditches that women fall into when they react to their husband’s non-celebratory behavior. Let’s look at two ditches.
Ditch One when husbands fail to adequately celebrate The Big Five (birthdays, anniversaries, Christmas, Valentine’s Day, and Mother’s Day) is to give the husband the silent treatment. The wife thinks, “Why, if he doesn’t love me more than this, he certainly won’t be getting any great treatment from me.” The simmering begins.
Ditch Two is an emotional turmoil outbreak. Usually, it is about something else, though, because we hate to harp that others don’t celebrate our day more. So we find something else that is “legitimate” that the husband did wrong and let him have it for that when in fact, it is a punishment for failing to celebrate “us” better.
What I’ve found over the years is that if women repeatedly and faithfully write down in their Turquoise Journals their husband’s sweet gestures along with his self-sacrifice to the family, they begin to understand that this is how he expresses his love. It is not about flowers and presents to him. Retailers have blown up these holidays to make money, and now, husbands must scramble to ring bells and jump through hoops or women are dissatisfied. Re-read in your Turquoise Journal all of the sweetness your husband brings to your family, and let go of wanting a circus and a parade for your special days. Whatever he gives, it is enough for now.
One more remark on this subject: Facebook and the beautiful pictures of roses and the huge boxes of chocolates that some husbands give wives don’t help you feel loved when your husband works late on Valentine’s Day and you eat leftovers. When I see some grand gesture that another husband does to his wife, I realize that that husband has his set of weaknesses, too, and the flowers, although nice, do not speak of a perfect husband. They speak of a husband who is smart in this area. Try not to envy others. There is pathology in every marriage. If your husband is faithful and hard-working, accept him, pour in the 8 A’s, and give him a few years to learn to celebrate holidays in a manner he can handle. Give up wanting high treatment all the time. It is an unhealthy symptom of addiction, if you remember (see Week Eleven, Day Three).
I do want to say again that he cannot read your mind. You have to fingertip tell him what is in your heart. But then also remember, that you can only ask for the top one to two things in your heart. And if gift-giving is not in the top things, I suggest letting it go. The poor guy is trying to understand you, and it is ridiculously difficult for him. Be dutiful in focusing on what he brings to the marriage. Do not decide how much your husband loves you by how he celebrates your special days. Instead, be grateful for his many acts of self-sacrifice and dutiful giving to the family. Romance is nice, but it can take years to train a man how to do it as it is not programmed into his DNA (unless it is the mating season as he has extra hormone support at that time).
If your husband goes without new golf clubs or drives an old used car so your kids can have braces, then that is true love. Write that down in your TJ and be grateful for his faithfulness. Don’t let the culture decide if your husband loves you. His faithful actions say he does.
(See Lesson Thirteen, Day Four: Bump. It. Up. Story #2 for an idea of what to give your husband for Valentine’s Day this year.)
Week Thirteen, Day Two
Examining the Choices in Educating Your Children
What a gigantic and often, heart-wrenching decision it is for Christian parents to decide how to educate their kids. Public school? Private school? Home school? If there is a subject that strikes angst into the heart of Christian parents, it is, “How are we going to educate our children?”
At a Sunday School event over twenty years ago, Dr. Adrian Rogers was asked this question, “What is the best way to educate children?” Being a homeschooler at the time, I thought there was only one path and I was doing it.
But Dr. Rogers didn’t agree. He thought all three avenues might be God’s will. He said it was up to each family to hear from God and of course, now I agree.
Let’s discuss the pros and cons of the different education systems. Obviously, you will have to discern what God’s will is for your family. The following discussion is only offered as input to your thinking. What I do want to acknowledge, though, is that godly kids come out of all three educational systems. And also, some kids with…eh…issues…come out of every system. Finding God’s will for your family will be your job.
First, let’s talk about homeschooling. Having total control over a child’s environment and his influences can be a phenomenal method for rearing kids. And if a family feels called by God to do this, I have seen quite fabulous results. One thing I repeatedly notice is the creativity in these kids. Not being a victim of the system, they often develop an outside-the-box approach, which is quite refreshing. And of course, there is an obvious benefit that you do not have the competing forces of opposing value systems. The problem is, of course, how tired Mom gets. If Mom is teaching all day, and then expected to run kids to ballet and soccer as well as keep up with the house and meals, you will often find one exhausted mom. When it is time to take off the Teacher Hat and put on the Mom Hat, she is often without energy to do so. Obviously, the more kids a family has, the harder homeschooling is. One of the girls in one of my very first groups over 25 years ago, Jessie, has 13 kids and has homeschooled them all. They are one amazing family!
Secondly, let’s discuss the private school. This is a favorite choice for many. Some faithful Christians certainly come from this system. Many of these schools have dedicated teachers who feel a calling to Christian education and who will positively influence your children. And then, also, you have the advantage of your children socializing with children of Christian families. But, as you know, there is a financial output for any private school and this is a huge hindrance for many. Some people simply cannot afford this choice.
The third choice is public schools. Many of my friends from two decades ago would have screamed if you told them their children would have to go to public school. My husband was a lawyer for Home School Legal Defense for seven years, and we were immersed in a homeschool culture that bashed public education, and many times, rightfully so. However, some people cannot homeschool and cannot afford private schools. That is a tough situation, my friend. A young couple we know just moved to another city for the sole reason that the public schools were good in that city. Definitely, moving to a school district with the best public schools is a wise choice, if you are going this route. David and I have godly friends who chose public education twenty years ago. The parents were incredibly involved in everything at the school, and their three kids all turned out exceptionally well with a deep love for the Lord. In some ways, when Christian kids go to public school, the parents step it up, knowing that they must learn and confront the lies of evolution and the pagan worldview. (Creation.com has the most amazing DVD ever on the false lies of evolution called the Achilles Heel of Evolution. I’ve watched it ten times.)
In the Old Testament, I do not see much regarding education except Deuteronomy 6, which calls the parents to train up the children for God. Ultimately, it is the parent’s responsibility to be sure their children know what they need to know.
The Bible commentator, Matthew Henry, writing on Galatians 3, said that school masters were servants who led the children whom they had care of, to school. So we know going to school is okay. Paul was said to be tutored by Gamaliel, which again says, you don’t have to be homeschooled. Timothy learned from his mother and grandmother, but that was spiritual truths, not necessarily education as we now know it. The Scripture, as I see it, is not adamantly clear about how to educate your children, only adamant that we train them spiritually. I know many Christians go beserk at the thought of sending their child to public school, but honestly, many Christians have done it with success. They just make sure that the influencing factors at home are stronger than those outside the home.
I do not have answers for you in this area. Actually, I am concerned for the education of my grandchildren. Each system has its pros and cons. I know how much wear and tear homeschooling is on the mom (especially if there are many children). I also realize the dangers of the public school, as well as the cost of the private school. Prayerfully, prayerfully, handle this decision. But in the end, God seems to have apples fall from apple trees. Your children will be a lot like you, a chip off the old block, regardless of where you send them to school.
At this point in our family’s journey, the one child still at home is enrolled in a public school, but he went to private school for years (and was homeschooled some, too). Our daughter says she is probably going to homeschool for the first few years and then, she doesn’t know after that. She is thinking of moving to a school district where the public schools are good, if they cannot handle the private school tuition or if she does not think she can continue to homeschool. One of our sons thinks that the public schools in his town are fine, and many people in his church are sending their kids to the town’s public schools and are happy about it. So, I am not giving you answers or even direction. I am with you in the seriousness of the issue, as well as the heaviness that I know many of you are experiencing.
We haven’t even touched the issues of learning disabilities, medical issues, and immature or problem behavior that makes these choices even more difficult. You love your kids and you want what’s best for them. You are to be applauded for that. May God make His will clearly known to you. Education is a gigantic and difficult decision.
One of my favorite think-tank friends told me about a woman who was working ridiculous hours and was almost never home, just so her kids could go to private school. That wouldn’t work for me. Again, I do not know what God is telling you. But if you can move to a school district that is acceptable, it seems better to me to go to public school than for mom to be gone all day. Homeschooling works for some families, but not for all. Each family must decide. May God reveal His will to you and may all your children be blessed.
What I have observed after many years, is that most of the time (certainly not all), the huge factors in rearing kids for the Lord is not what school they go to, but how much the parents love and obey the Lord, how spiritually and emotionally healthy the parents are, and (choke on this one) if the mother submits with a happy heart to the father, thereby creating peace in the home. But then, of course, God operates outside this box however He wishes. The race does not always go to the swift.
If I had to do it over, knowing what I know now, I would do many things differently. (Remember last week’s lesson on regrets? I have had to take my own advice here.) There is one piece of advice that I always know is the right choice: obey God and seek His face.
Week Thirteen, Day Three
If You Don’t Feel Loved By Your Husband
Many women are disappointed with the fact that their husbands don’t know how to love them in a language that they (the wife) can hear. Many women do not understand that a husband has to be taught to love you, just like a four-year-old has to be taught to read. He does not come into the marriage understanding your longing for intimacy, tenderness, deep sharing, and romance. He does not understand your desire to feel his appreciation for your unique gifts and beauty. We have to remember that there is an order in teaching him how to love you. Just like you don’t learn algebra until you understand multiplication and fractions first, you can’t teach a husband to love you until you first understand his needs and fill his tank with the 8 A’s.
This order of the woman going first seems to be where women get hung up. God made women to be the influencers and He decreed that “wise women build their homes and foolish women tear theirs down.” This is the way God created the marriage, with the woman being the influencer. Wise women know the tides are coming in and that they cannot change nature, only adapt to universal truths. Demanding that the relationship is 50/50 may sound right, but you will constantly be disappointed since he has no clue what your 50 looks like.
Your husband is wildly different from you and you must repeatedly remind yourself that he wants different things than you do. What is important to him is not the same as what is important to you. This man thinks about his job, money, and sex. You think about your children, your home, your health (weight/looks), relationships, emotional intimacy and closeness, and the list of what you have to do. Women expect to come into the marriage and have both spouses give the same effort toward the things that she wants. She doesn’t realize that he basically doesn’t care about many of the things on her list. So after the initial hormones of the engagement die down, she realizes that she is married to a man who does not think about or care about what she does—at all! Why, he is interested in his own goals, not hers!
What a disappointment marriage is now! Why, she thought there would be roses, candlelight, and deep sharing in which she would feel like the most beautiful, adored woman on the planet. He, on the other hand, thought there would be sex and someone to applaud him while he made his mark on the world. Oh dear, oh dear.
Once we accept and understand a man, that he is wired radically different, we can begin to minister to this creature. As we progress in Wife School Online, we understand that our husband needs constant encouragement about who he is. He also needs recurring, engaging sex, and he needs a deep understanding from you of the struggles and pressures he faces daily with his job/calling. As women, we are engineered to perfectly supply these needs. We listen deeply, admire, appreciate, and soothe. When the beast comes out in the husband, we step it up, and soothe even more. The comfort and faithfulness we exhibit to our husbands is like a deep healing balm to a wound. How a man longs for a woman who refuses to see him through his failures, but insists on seeing him through his virtues. This man’s soul is attached to the soul of his wife.
Women are full of emotional tension, just like men are full of sexual tension. Much of her emotional tension is a negative tension toward her husband because he does not love her well and he does not understand her.
If a newlywed wife understood her husband, and then won his heart by meeting his needs, and then gave him a pass on knowing her until she has an opportunity to teach him (years needed!), then marriage in Christianity would turn around. When the wife has the husband’s heart open to her, she gently influences it, not demanding that things change today. He is learning Chinese (how to love a wife) and it will take a few years.
After his needs are met, a man’s shield falls off his heart. He begins to trust you and to want to please you. Then you slowly ask for your legitimate needs in a sweet way. I’m sure there are some hard-hearted, thick-brained men who don’t respond to this, but I have never seen one. Men respond to this, as plants respond to sunlight, good soil, and water. But most women don’t want to pay the price of persevering. They want to unleash their emotional tension and they want to feel loved today.
I hear story after story of husbands turning and opening to their wives’ hearts as husbands begin to feel admired and their 8 A’s are met. If your husband is still not responding, then stop and think if you are still bringing emotional turmoil into his life. Are you meeting his 8 A’s? Do you have a gentle and quiet spirit that God has bathed with Himself, so that it is a calming influence, instead of a stirring and disruptive influence? God made woman to be the influencer and if she wisely builds her home, she will reap the benefits.
As I repeatedly say, men don’t usually come into the marriage knowing what women want. You have to win the right to be heard, and that is by your gentle and quiet spirit and the 8 A’s. You will have to teach him to love you in a language you can hear. But that is after, after, after, his tank is full.
What power you have. What influence you wield. But it’s not in demanding or blasting him with his inadequacies. It’s in your kindness, your comfort, and your goodness.
If you don’t feel loved by your husband, back up, re-organize, get your needs met in the Lord, meet his needs, and when his tank is full, ask for the top one or two things you want/need. I know there’s a list of thirty, but ask for the top one or two things. Praise him to the hilltop when you see any evidence of him responding. And live like this for years. Know that he will not get it the first, second, or even third attempts in which you try to explain things to him. Really, maybe not even after the first twenty attempts by you. But eventually, a man with his soul needs met, will respond to his wife. Mark this down: you won’t even recognize a man in five years as the same man if he has had the 8 A’s poured into him by a loving and sweet wife. It is quite the miracle. Love never fails. Men are created to want to please their wives. However, wives have not understood the playbook.
Word pictures (chapter 13 in Wife School) are magnificent for explaining foreign concepts to husbands. Use them wisely, but sparingly.
Week Thirteen, Day Four
Bump. It. Up. Story #2 (And a Word to You 20%-ers)
My, my, so many of you are certainly rockin’ Bump. It. Up. I’m so proud of you!
One of the cutest, sweetest girls in my classes decided to Bump. It. Up. To appreciate this story, you have to know that she is working full-time and having trouble finding time for herself. You also need to know that sex is not one of her top needs, desires, or anything of the sort. However, knowing how important sex is to her husband, she decided to give him a little surprise.
He was gone for this certain day and she was home. She decided to make him a nice meal. But in addition, she put on her little outfit, along with thigh high stockings, high heels, and an apron. Oh my goodness is all I can say.
What I thought was so extra adorable about this story is that this girl is having trouble finding time for herself. And as I said, her top need is certainly not sex. But this isn’t about her. This is about loving her husband in a language he can hear. This is love that seeks to minister to another in a way that is meaningful to them. This is unselfish love.
I talk to many women who read sections like this one and they are hurt, because they are in the 20% and they feel like they beg their husbands for sex. Women, there is nothing wrong with you if your sex drive is higher than your husband’s. All marriages have incompatibilities, and you will have to work on this one in your marriage. But I want you to hear again that if 20% of marriages are like this (and they are!), then nothing is wrong with YOU. Nothing. So do not get offended by your husband’s lower sex drive. This is not about your desirability as a woman or about his manhood. (Read chapter 32 in Wife School.)
Week Thirteen, Day Five
A Superior Wife Skill
Imagine you are the CEO of a huge non-profit business. Whether you keep the doors open or not depends on the contributions of your supporters. Let’s suppose that you are in a board meeting, and your biggest contributor, Mr. Smith, says something like, “I think we should have hot dogs and french fries at our events, to make everyone feel comfortable and more at home.”
You are abashed. Shocked. What a terrible idea that is. Number one, you are trying to get your folks to eat healthy, and number two, there is neither time nor manpower for this idea, etc. But you don’t start laughing at him. And you certainly don’t say, “Mr. Smith, that is absolutely looney. Stupid. That will never work and is a terrible idea.”
No, instead you say, “Hot dogs? French fries? Let’s think about that, Mr. Smith. I realize that you are trying to grow community and for everyone to get to know each other a little better. I certainly love that goal! So, let’s consider hot dogs and French fries. Let’s think about that some more. I am so glad you are giving ideas!”
Then, when the topic comes up again, and Mr. Smith is excited about his hot dog event, you say, “Well, I don’t know for sure. Have you decided who would buy the hot dogs and serve them?” He will tell you how easy it all will be. Then you say, “Well, I’m not sure. I want to sleep on it some more, Mr. Smith.” He is beginning to see that you are not all in. Yet, you have been respectful and instead, have listened thoroughly to everything he has had to say.
Can you imagine the difference in marriages if wives treated their husbands with this kind of respect and courtesy? What wives often say to a husband’s ridiculous idea is, “You’ve got to be joking. You’re joking, right? Please tell me you’re joking.” Some wives respond to husband’s suggestions with what is equal to throwing a cold glass of water in his face. Why can’t you treat your husband with this kind of fingertip kindness and respect?
“Well”, you say, “that’s a lot of work. I want to let loose in the marriage and be the real me.”
That’s fine, and I want you to be authentic. But don’t be mean and authentic. Don’t be rude and authentic. Speak the truth in love, with delicate kindness, always guarding his ego. This is how you would treat anyone who was important and your husband is the most important person in the entire world, as far as you are concerned.
Do the work and pay the price of handling your husband with kid gloves. You will get to say everything you want; just maybe not as directly and not as quickly. Wise women build their houses by controlling their tongues.
The amount of affection a man has for his wife is very tied to how she makes him feel. Remember that. It will change your marriage.
Hello, it’s me again. I’m doing better, Lord, have You noticed? I’ve held my tongue (some), I’ve praised my husband (a few times), and I even Bumped. It. Up. a little. (That was pretty wild, Lord. I will have to ask You about why You made men like this when I get to heaven.)
But, just being honest, God, I still sometimes wrestle with not being understood by my husband. I still wrestle with not feeling loved in the way I thought I would be when I took my vows. I mean, presents and poems and candlelight are in my heart, not cars and tools and electric bills.
But I am sticking with this, Lord. I believe your Word that says a wise woman builds her home. I believe your Word that says a gracious woman attains honor. And I trust 1 Peter 3 that says that a disobedient husband can be won with a gentle and quiet spirit. So I continue to choose against my natural inclinations, Lord. I continue to do what is right, not what is easy.
Forgive my self-pity. Forgive my pride. Forgive my judgmental spirit. Forgive my fear and my worry. Please grow a calm spirit in me, that builds others up, that doesn’t envy, that doesn’t slander, that doesn’t seek to win the applause of men, but rather, to serve. I have a long way to go, huh, Lord? A looonnnngggg way. But I’ve got Your Word. And I’ve got Your Spirit. So I’m good. I can stay the course.
Thank you for calling me out of darkness, Lord, and into Your marvelous light…the light of seeing how to have an awesome marriage. I’m not a Marriage Champion yet, Lord, but I do feel like I’m on my way. May my marriage be a picture of You, the husband, and Your bride, the Church.
Please bless and protect my home, my marriage, and my children. Oh, how I love them all.
In Jesus name I pray,
- What kind of expectations do you have for holidays, such as Valentine’s Day? How do you feel differently about this day after reading Day One? What can you do to take pressure off your husband, but at the same time, sweetly communicate what’s in your heart?
- Has the issue of education been a source of friction in your life? What are your thoughts about education? What are your husband’s? Do you have thoughts you’d like to share about this?____________________________________________________________________
- How are you doing with understanding that your husband says “I love you” differently than the romantic notions we have come to expect? What are your plans to teach him in a language that you can hear, while all the time, patiently knowing that this is a difficult subject for him? Explain your thoughts.
- If you are in the 80%, how have you been doing with Bump. It. Up? If you are in the 20%, how are you doing with accepting that this is normal in many marriages?___________________________________________________________________
- If your husband gives you a terrible idea, how are you doing with letting him know gently that you are not “all in”?
- Are you aware that the amount of affection a man has for his wife is very tied to how she makes him feel? Are you therefore extremely guarded with your words of correction and disapproval? ____________________________________________________________________
Your marriage is now changing and this will affect future generations, as well as those around you. Not to mention how amazing it is to have a soul-stirring marriage!