Please read chapter 2, “First A: The Acceptance Lesson,” in Wife School: Where Women Learn the Secrets of Making Husbands Happy.
Week Two, Day One
Changing Your Emotions
(This is one of the most important lessons in all of Wife School Online. Please read and reread until you completely embrace the concept.)
A lot of women resist filling out the Turquoise Journal lists that the Genie gives Jessica in Wife School. Please digress with me and follow these two examples to understand why filling out these lists is ridiculously important to your marriage success.
Imagine you are in an alley, it is midnight, and you are in the worst part of town. You are alone, and you hear garbage cans tip over and see shadows move across your path. What is your emotion? Fear, right? What if I told you that the truth is that you are perfectly safe, that there is no danger anywhere in the vicinity? Do you see that your previous emotion of fear followed your thoughts instead of following reality? It is of utmost importance that you understand that your emotion of fear followed your thoughts.
Let’s take another example. Imagine you are at a park with your four-year-old and your two-year-old (either children or grandchildren). The day is sunny and warm, and the children are delighted that they are floating their sailboats on the pond. The four-year-old brings you flowers and tells you how pretty you are. Then, the two-year-old runs to you and kisses you on the cheek. What are your emotions? Joy and happiness, right? What if I then told you that the truth is that there was a kidnapper hiding behind the tree, waiting to grab one child while you were occupied with another? Do you see that your previous emotion of happiness followed your thoughts and not reality? Emotions follow thoughts, not reality!
Do you see the gigantic implications of this? Ifwe can learn that our emotions flow from our thoughts, then we can take responsibility for and choose to have good thoughts.The concept of thinking good thoughts is not my idea. Paul tells us in Philippians 4:8 what to think about (whatever is true, noble, right, pure, lovely, and admirable).
There is a term in psychology called cognitive restructuring, which simply means “learning to think different thoughts.” Paul tells us the same thing in Romans 12, to “be transformed by the renewing of your mind.” That’s what we are going to do with the Turquoise Journal lists. We are going to transform your emotions for your husband by the renewing of your mind.
When you consistently and continually bathe your mind with your husband’s virtues and gifts, you begin to have different thoughts about him, which then produces different emotions toward him. I cannot adequately express to you how important this is. Many women have completely changed the affection they feel for their husbands because they consistently wash their brains with what their husbands bring to the marriage versus focusing on what is missing. Our natural tendencies are to focus on what is missing and disappointing. You must change this normal tendency if your marriage is to see a quantum improvement. These lists are nonnegotiable.
I have lists from years ago, and I think my overflowing affection for my sweet husband is from bathing my mind for years with his virtues. As you focus your thoughts on what your husband does right (and overlook his weaknesses), your emotions for him escalate.
Collect your husband’s sweet words, kind acts, and virtues as if they were valuable stocks or bonds. Your thoughts will then begin to produce affectionate emotions, just as your thoughts in the alley example produced fear and your thoughts in the park example produced happiness.Thoughts produce emotions! You can learn to choose your thoughts and therefore change the emotional climate you live in. Astounding!
We humans read each other’s spirits. Your husband will sense your positive affection for him (versus your previous disappointment), and it will propel a new cycle in the marriage. If women do not do this step in Wife School, I cannot guarantee all the results that I have mentioned about your marriage having a quantum transformation. This step is absolutely critical to the success of Wife School.
Remember, your brain hates new ideas. It likes what it is used to and what is comfortable. My book Skinny School, Where Women Learn the Secrets to Finally Get Thin Forever uses the same principles as Wife School does in that changing our thoughts (making new grooves in the brain) is the key to permanent change.
Even if you fill out your lists and change your emotions for your husband for a season, it will be temporary if you don’t repeatedly immerse yourself in your new thinking. Our brain grooves are deep, and we return to prior thoughts if we don’t bathe and rebathe our minds. The newest psychology books on how to evoke change in a human repeatedly say find a way to change one’s thinking. That is why I am so insistent on filling out the Turquoise Journal lists. This is the means by which we override our prior cemented grooves of thinking.
You can click on the Wife School Online tab above to find the Turquoise Journal lists that the Genie assigns to Jessica. Begin to fill them out wholeheartedly, and add regularly to them. What a delight it will be in five years to read your accumulated lists.
Week Two, Day Two
But My Husband Is Very Difficult!
I recently talked with a woman who had what I would call disdain for her husband. He definitely didn’t meet her needs, he flirted with other women, he bragged, and he wasn’t really interested in their children. She said she was sick of it. I felt sorry for her pain. She had poured and poured into this man, and he was still, in her words, “a jerk.” Hearing this initial description, I thought her husband certainly did not appear to be blue ribbon material. “What do you do when your husband is such a huge disappointment?” she asked.
All husbands have a dark side, and this one certainly did. However, when we pulled apart her marriage, we both realized that her husband did bring a lot of good into her life, and we decided to focus on that. (She was able to list that he provided a decent income; he listened to her, sometimes; occasionally, he was calming to her; occasionally, he gave good advice to the children; etc.) This woman had many beautiful gifts and blessings in her life, but having a five-star husband was not one of them. By continuing to deposit the 8 A’s into her husband (especially the A of Acceptance), she was growing her garden the best she could. Actually, she later said that her husband was decently nice most of the time. And he did take the family to church (although she didn’t think he spiritually led the family).
I assured her that many women experience this deep disappointment in marriage. She didn’t actually want to leave the marriage; she just wanted more from her husband. But in truth, this was a decent man, and when she dug around to look for his virtues, many surfaced. Granted, it’s hard to see a man’s virtues when he isn’t meeting your needs or reflecting your beauty as a woman.
The best way to help a man like this grow is for you to develop your ability to influence him, and that is done by meeting his 8 A’s, by growing in Christ-likeness, and by striving toward high character. As we repeatedly say, we become like the people we hang around. Being around a godly, meek, humble, serving, grateful wife is the best way in the world for your husband to develop these qualities. I know you don’t want to hear that. You want him to be the godly, serving person. But that’s not the man you were given. This one is. And this is all about your heart. Only the very wise woman knows how to forgive, overlook, and focus on the strengths of the man, believing that depositing the 8 A’s over years is truly life and marriage transforming.
Work on the one person you can change: you. After you change, you will influence him to grow, too. I wish there were an easier way. (I promise, I have looked for an easier way to help women in their marriages, and I cannot find one.) Hard work, laying down your rights, giving in the face of not getting…this is how wise women build their homes. Foolish women want pampering and ease. Take the hand you were dealt, and play it. Miracles can occur when godly women live out biblical principles. In this life, you will have tribulation and trials. Demanding that we have heaven while we are still on Earth is lunacy.
Being a woman of joy and strength requires a lot of practice. Proverbs 31:25 says that the Proverbs 31 woman “is clothed with strength and dignity.” We don’t want to have strength and dignity. We want to be mushy and needy and for our husbands to fill us. Another translation for dignity is honor. We are to be clothed with honor. That’s not whininess, neediness, or self-pity. It’s a regal emotional nature that is calm, composed, and respectful. Get rid of the idea that your PMS craziness gives you a license to let it rip. You are to be a woman of strength and honor. I know there is a learning curve, but decide you will attain this character. Decide you will find other women who want this, and become close friends with them. Immerse yourself in good reading and prayer. There is no easy path to acquire a life of strength and honor, but it is a life that calls others up.
So, your husband has a few issues, does he? Welcome to the human race, where we all have concerns and problems. I understand that you have a difficult husband. But this is the man you were given to love. Bow down before the Lord, get full of him, and then rise and go forth to serve. This is how wise women with difficult husbands build their homes! I have seen for decades that wise women who adopt these principles can work miracles in their marriages. Your marriage is no different from millions of others. Hopefully, what will soon be different is you! And after years, your husband will see your strength and honor and will move in that direction himself.
Week Two, Day Three
A Hidden Expectation to Give Up
In our Christian culture, we women repeatedly hear that our husbands are to be our spiritual leaders. And yes, that is a beautiful thing (chapter 22 in Wife School is “How to Help Your Husband Be a Spiritual Leader”).
However, what is not beautiful and is downright offensive to husbands is when we think they owe us spiritual leadership. It’s as if it is OK to badger them to be more in this area because it is spiritual. Women! Peter wrote to women with advice on how to act if their husbands are disobedient to the teachings of the Word. In 1 Peter 3:1, he wrote the following:
In the same way, you wives, be submissive to your own husbands so that even if any of them are disobedient to the word, they may be won without a word by the behavior of their wives,as they observe your chaste and respectful behavior.
The Greek word for disobedient is this verse is ἀπειθέω. Strong’s Greek lexicon number G544 means to “refuse compliance; to disbelieve (willfully and perversely).” If your husband is not acting as he should (or is not a believer), he is not to be whipped into shape with your words. When your husband sees your purity (sincere motives to love him) and reverence (deep respect) for him, he opens to your influence. That’s what Wife School is all about. You learn to fill this man with the 8 A’s, operating out of a pure heart (not manipulation) and a reverent respect for him (not because he deserves it but because he holds the office and position of husband). The great long-term benefit is that you gain the ability to influence him! Not by beating him up with a sermon do you win him, but by your behavior, your life, and your pure motives to make him happy.
I cringe when women say to their husbands, “I need more spiritual leadership from you.” Those are simply manipulative words women use to tell husbands that their needs are not met and that the husbands are (again) a disappointment. Accept this man. Quit doing all your little tricks to change him. Yes, eventually, you will learn to ask him for what you need, but you have some major makeover to do in your heart and mind first.
Ruth Bell Graham, wife of Billy Graham, said, “God called you not to make your husband good, but to make him happy.” 1 Peter 3 confirms this. You are not the Holy Spirit in your husband’s life.
We all know deep down inside that we are all losers. And when someone accepts us as we are, we have a deep appreciation for that. Accept your husband. Maybe he doesn’t accept you and criticizes you. Again, we will deal with that in another lesson. But for now, know that your acceptance for him is healing to him, and that’s the first step in him eventually someday accepting you.
Week Two, Day Four
I Don’t Feel Loved by My Husband
The phrase I hear most often by women when discussing marriage is “I don’t feel loved by my husband.” That sentence is quickly followed by “I feel empty and sad, as well as unloved.” Interestingly, I hear this from spiritually mature women! I will address this issue in detail in the future. But because it is so prevalent, I want to give you an outline of where we are going when we solve this problem. I will discuss the solution below in outline form with four points.
One. Remove expectations from your husband that he must make you feel emotionally loved for now. Free him. We women have read the romantic Jane Austen novels and watched many romantic comedies/dramas. We naturally feel unloved at our core anyhow, and then those novels/movies don’t help. We think that when we get married, a husband will change that. What is very helpful to know is that he has no idea what you want or need. What love means to him is sex and sharing activities together. So, can you see how dumbfounded he is when you tell him you want emotional closeness, a lot of deep sharing, and lots of verbal affirmation! He thinks you’re a mental case! Give up this expectation for now.
Two. Instead of looking at how empty you are, focus on filling and filling and filling the guy with the 8 A’s. That’s right. Don’t look at how empty your tank is; instead, focus on giving the 8 A’s. In fact, when you have a thought about feeling unloved, use it as a springboard/alarm clock to ask yourself, “What A can I deposit into my husband’s tank to make him happy?”
Three. At this point, you have no expectations and are filling and filling. You are also writing down in your Turquoise Journal all the benefits he brings to your life. You are recording his strengths and virtues. You are bathing your mind daily with these thoughts. Yes, I know things are lopsided for now. Please bear with me.
Four. We have barely begun the 8 A’s. But after you fill him with them, he will say or do something nice. Record it. And then, thank him once after he does it, and (importantly!) thank him again, hours or days later. The second thank-you is the important one. This is the meaningful thank-you that begins to burn a thought in his brain that if he does such and such, then you like it. For example, one woman told me that her husband never told her she looked nice. One time, he did. She thanked him. Hours later, she said, “Honey, I keep thinking about when you told me this morning that I looked nice. I can’t explain why, but it is very important to me that you think I look nice. So, I keep thinking about that compliment. I want to thank you again for saying that to me.” That is when he realized how important the compliment was to her, not the first thank-you. You train him with thanking him twice when he gets it right.
Do you see the whole progression together? You have reduced/eliminated expectations, you have filled his tank, and now he is more inclined to do or say nice things. You catch him doing the right thing, and then he gets rewarded (twice) for that behavior. Again, we will discuss this in detail in another lesson. But for now, put down that feeling that “I don’t feel loved by my husband.” The poor guy has no idea at this moment how to do that. You will eventually teach him. That’s why this is a fifty-year plan. This takes a while. But remember, what on earth means more to you than your marriage? That’s right, nothing.
Week Two, Day Five
Getting Rid of the Resentment in Your Marriage
Resentment. I don’t think there’s a woman alive who doesn’t understand this word. Resentment comes when others hurt us or treat us poorly. Resentment is ill feeling (anger, blame) toward another. We will address the resentment wives have toward their husbands in this section, but these principles are also applicable to other people in your life whom you resent
I have received many emails with stories about husbands who are selfish with their time, energy, and money. I have also received emails about husbands who are insensitive, inconsiderate, and unkind. When husbands are repeatedly selfish and immature, it is very common to resent them. We can forgive them once or twice, but the repetitiveness of their selfishness is what brings women down and builds the resentment.
Before I address the necessity of forgiving our husbands, I want to remind you that husbands have often been selfish and immature for centuries. Wise women have the strength and dignity to forgive repeatedly. 1 Corinthians 13:5 says that love keeps no record of wrongs, and 1 Corinthians 13:7 says that love bears all things. This is how godly women have called men up for ages. They do not insist on a two-week cure. I will address the qualities needed to influence others soon. But for now, know that for you to influence others, you need self-mastery, integrity, and to be unselfish. Focus on who you are, not on who your husband isn’t. As you grow in goodness and kindness, your example will call him up. Continue to focus on the 8 A’s, and soon we will learn how to ask for one or two things at a time. Steel yourself. This is a five-year program. That is not for the weak to hear. It is for the wise and the noble. Men change astronomically in the presence of a wise, honest, kind, and unselfish wife. But you have to go first.
Now, let’s address Scripture’s call to forgive. We really do not have a choice whether we forgive or not.
In Matthew 6:14–15, Jesus says, “For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.”
You can read commentaries on those verses and get different opinions on what authors think about them. But the bottom line is that no matter how you try to spin it, we must forgive others. It is not optional. I hate this, and so do you. We don’t want to release people who have hurt us, ignored us, or hurt people we love. You have heard the cliché “To err is human; to forgive, divine.” Forgiving others is ridiculously hard.
Your job right now is to take that person who has offended/harmed you—your husband? your mother-in-law? your old best friend who dumped you? the woman who excluded your child?—and let him or her off the hook. Offer that person release and forgiveness. There are two huge reasons you must do this. First, the verse above says your Father will not forgive your sins if you don’t forgive others. That’s reason enough. Second, resentment is the poison you want the person who hurt you to drink, but instead, the poison eats you up from the inside. No woman can be beautiful in spirit when she hangs on to resentment. We’ve got to let it go. We have to. We must.
I am with you. I get how hard this is. But we are cornered and have no other choice.
Let’s say that you have forgiven the perpetrator. Now what? The standards are different, according to who offended us.
If our enemies offend us, we must forgive and then return good for evil (agape means to love them, which is choosing to do them good). If our parents/in-laws offend us, we must forgive them and still honor them (Eph. 6:2; more on this in another lesson). But if our husbands offend us, we are to forgive them and then learn how to phileo-love them. Let me explain.
When our enemies offend us, we are first commanded to forgive them and then commanded to love them (Matt. 5:44). The good thing is that we have only to agape-love them, not phileo-love them. There are four kinds of love in the Bible. Agape love means “to do good to others,” whereas phileo implies a higher standard to do good and to have affection toward them. Thankfully, we are not commanded to have affection toward our enemies but only to do good toward them.
But guess what? You are commanded to phileo-love your husband. In Titus 2, it is in plain sight, right there, in your Greek Interlinear Bible. (Plain sight in Greek.;) Young women are to phileo-love their husbands. That’s love with affection. So, if you have resentment toward your husband, you have to first, forgive him; second, do him good (agape); and third, develop phileo-love affection for him.
The Turquoise Journal lists were specifically created to help you do this. As you wash your mind with his strengths, virtues, and benefits to your life, you grow your phileo love. But again, this is third, after forgiving and after choosing to do him good all the days of his life.
Do you think you have a lot to forgive? Is your situation unusual? Do you think that maybe you should have different rules about forgiving that mean person because your situation is so extreme? While the Jews were stoning Stephen (Act 7:60), Stephen said, “Lord, do not hold this sin against them.” And when Jesus was hanging on the cross (Luke 23:34), Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” If your situation is worse than being stoned or crucified, then I understand your complaint. But most of us have normal resentment for unmet expectations of how others should treat us, and our call and duty is to forgive.
The parable of the unmerciful servant (Matt. 8:21–35) is incredibly powerful to help you understand forgiveness. The servant was forgiven a multi-million-dollar debt and then wouldn’t forgive a fellow servant who owed him a very small debt. Getting in touch with how self-absorbed and self-focused you and I really are (sorry, but Scripture says we are all like this) and then seeing how much we are forgiven for all our selfish, wrong, idiotic, stupid, rebellious, and mean choices, we can therefore begin to extend this forgiveness to others, even though they have hurt us countless times.
Are you going to dig deep and find the strength in prayer to forgive this man (or other person), even though his actions seem very selfish to you? Please believe me when I say how much another human being can change when confronted with the Spirit of God in another person. When you are remaining on the Vine (John 15) and the Sap is flowing through you, your husband will be repeatedly confronted with the fruit of the spirit in your life. Women, God changes others through your godliness! He changes others using your unselfishness. Don’t demand that others change on your timetable. I cannot tell you the times I have seen husbands wisely respond to godly wives. And in reverse, I have witnessed marriages when the woman won’t go first and demands that the husband change. This often leads to a divorce. Persevere. Be willing to be the giver and not get credit for it. You are getting credit, just not here on Earth (see Matt. 6). Forgive lavishly and extravagantly, and remember that a woman with a gentle and quiet spirit is of great worth in God’s sight (1 Pet. 3).
Healthy marriages must have vast storehouses of forgiveness. For many wives, the resentment in a marriage is toward her husband because he does not understand her. She feels unloved and is therefore disrespectful to him. Then, he develops resentment toward her for her disrespect. As I’ve said repeatedly, most men are satisfied in the marriage if there is not too much emotional turmoil and there is enough sex. We women are the stir sticks! We want x and y and z and more. These poor guys are trying to make a living, figure out how to protect us financially for the long haul, and wrestle with their daily/hourly struggle against sexual sin. And then we come in with “You don’t love me well” (as well as “You don’t do life well, either”).
Over and over again, a woman resents her husband because the husband doesn’t understand her. But you, the wise Proverbs 14:1 woman, now know he has no idea what loving you well even looks like! He says to himself, “I show her I love her when I bring home my paycheck. I show her I love her when I am sexually faithful. What is her deal?” I say the same things over and over in Wife School because we fall right back into the same patterns in marriage. Once we begin to cut our husbands some slack in this area of not loving us well (and begin to treat them with respect, demonstrated by filling their tanks with the 8 A’s), then the lightheartedness returns to the marriage.
David and I were playing cards the other night, and we began laughing at this ridiculous inside joke we share. As I sat and watched this man belly laugh, I thought about the goodwill I have toward him. Women don’t laugh when there is resentment. Don’t forget our girlfriend, the Proverbs 31 woman, who laughed at the days to come. Wrestle down your resentment in prayer. Get back your girlish spirit that can laugh and forgive. I know you’ve been hurt. We all have. So, now, who are you going to be? Are you going to be an old, cold, resentful, judging, easily offended, critical, contentious woman? Or are you going to keep your girlish heart until you are ninety—the one that is open, free, and loving? God heals broken hearts when they are offered to him. Isn’t it time you let go of all that dirt and smut that you are keeping in your heart toward your husband (or someone else)? Haven’t you wasted enough time holding on to that bitterness? Friend, you are harming only yourself (well, your children, too, because they lose when Mom has a hard heart).
Forgiveness is not for the wimpy. You are a Proverbs 31 woman of strength and dignity. She forgives. She releases others from their sin against her. And honestly, women who hold grudges and who are easily offended are downright unpleasant. Wouldn’t you agree? Is this who you want to be? A drama queen who is always obsessing about how others don’t treat her right? Of course not! You are the excellent wife of Proverbs 31!
I bring to you a cold heart today, a heart that doesn’t want to give and love my husband. Instead, I admit I want to be given to and loved by him. I feel helpless to change this mind-set that I have.
Remind me of how you want me to live. Remind my soul that I am not to follow my natural inclinations but instead that “whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it” (Matt. 16:25).
How I forget that “your yoke is easy and your burden is light” (Matt. 11:30). My constant downward stream is away from your ways. Help me remember. “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways” (Is. 55:8).
Help me find the time, energy, and desire to fill out these Turquoise Journal lists. They look like a lot of work to me. But, Lord, you designed the brain so that it has to be bathed with the correct thought to be renewed. So, I accept this work, knowing that you created the brain to change by being renewed with thought. Help me choose to bathe my mind with good thoughts about my husband.
This is only the first A, Lord, and I already want to quit. The work seems too hard. I keep wanting to ask, “What about me?” Please fill me with “the peace of God, which passes all understanding” (Phil. 4:7), and remind me that “they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength” (Is. 40:31).
God, I do want a great marriage. Help me learn the wisdom on how to do that.
In Jesus’s name,
- Begin to earnestly fill out the five lists located in the Turquoise Journal which are located under the Wife School Online tab above. Add regularly to the lists.
- Did you have expectations for a Prince Charming, only to find you married an average Joe? Did you sign up for rose petals and lace and realize your husband is average and thinks about work, money, and sex? Are you ready to free your husband from this impossible standard you have set for him and ready to accept that he is half strengths/half weaknesses? Are you willing to begin to accept and overlook his set of weaknesses for now? No husband has it all. Do you believe that? What thoughts do you have in this area?
- Women want their husbands to change, and instead of giving them the best environment to grow and change (the 8 A’s), they have chosen the opposite situation, such as whining and being critical. Do you correct, advise, hint, and suggest? How has your critical nature contributed to the tension in the marriage? Explain your thoughts.
- Do you have a very difficult husband? If so, are you willing to grow your heart and character to such a high level that your life (not your words) calls him up (1 Pet. 3)? Have you settled in for the long haul (e.g., years) of waiting while God plows his heart to grow him? Do you believe that “love never fails” (1 Cor. 13:8)?____________________________________________________________________
- Did you enroll your husband in a husband-improvement course after you got married? Do you feel he is yours to coach and maneuver? If yes, explain what you mean exactly.
- Do you understand that in your marriage, your husband wants to relax, be comfortable, and not work on the relationship but simply wants to enjoy your companionship? What do you think about this?
- Can you begin to understand that emotional intimacy is not even on his radar? Not only does he not care about it, he doesn’t realize you have these needs. And like the Genie says, you have to teach a four-year-old to read. Are you willing to meet his 8 A’s before you ask for what you need in this area? Can you give up your self-pity? What are your thoughts about this situation?
- All our naturally wrong inclinations in our marriages are discussed in the Bible. Our proclivity to be prideful, fearful, lazy, demanding, unforgiving, selfish, and inconsiderate is repeatedly addressed in the Scripture. You know that in your Christian life, your natural downward pull is away from God and doing as you want. That is why Matthew 4:4 says, “Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.” Just like we need food every day, we need the Word every day, or we cannot override our natural downward tendencies. Discuss what your intake of Scripture looks like, and comment on your struggle (or victory) in this area. _____________________________________________________________________
I feel I need to make an important disclaimer here. I heard of a husband who wouldn’t let his wife leave the house. Another husband wouldn’t let anyone speak to him unless he spoke first. That is not normal; it is mentally unhealthy, and you are not to accept this. Instead, seek help. Please get professional help if there is any kind of physical abuse, drug abuse, alcohol abuse, adultery, or serious emotional degradation. Wife School does not address mentally unstable or abusive situations. Please, please get help if you think your marriage may be in this category. Wife School addresses annoying habits but not evil or seriously mentally unhealthy habits.