Read Chapter 18 in Wife School or reread it if you have not done so in a while. The chapter is When Your Husband Doesn’t Reciprocate or Try to Meet Your Needs. You will be reminded that contradicting, correcting, and negatively teasing your husband upsets him. These foxes in the vineyard may unknowingly be under your radar. Little things count in marriage.
Week Eighteen, Day One
Two of the Most Important Wife Skills
There are numerous wife skills that we have learned in Wife School Online, but I want to again re-emphasize what is the Big Kahuna and what is the Big Cheese. Even women who have been studying this material for years admit they continue to wrestle with doing/giving these two skills/concepts to their husbands.
The first of the two most important wife skills/concepts to master is to quit trying to fix, change, or lead your husband. Of course, you give your input to him and WSO discusses multiple times how to appropriately do this. But being in commander-mode is a wife’s natural propensity and this tendency absolutely slays a husband’s affection toward his wife. Men do not like being bossed around.
Yes, I realize that your husband’s weakness set drives you bonkers, so therefore you try to fix, change, and lead him. How interesting it is to note, however, that a woman’s weakness set doesn’t drive her husband bonkers (as long as there is not too much emotional turmoil and he’s getting enough sex.) Did you get that? Husbands are not the primary ones who try to change and fix us; we are the ones who want to change and fix them. (Reread chapter 2 in Wife School on Acceptance for more review.)
And guess where this struggle comes from? “Your desire will be for your husband, and he will rule over you.” That’s right, your desire to change, fix, and lead your husband has been going on since Genesis 3. This trait of contentiousness has been in the female DNA since the Garden.
Even with you becoming the new and improved Wife of the World, your husband will still have his weakness set until the day he dies. If you don’t deal with this issue of accepting his weakness set, you will communicate disapproval to him. And Friend, communicating disapproval to your husband is Trouble with a capital T. Men do not feel affection toward women who communicate disapproval towards them.
I absolutely love the way Scripture nails it when it discusses our greatest struggle of contentiousness as early as Genesis 3. But then, just as remarkable, the antidote to our struggle is given in 1 Peter 3: “…your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight.”
The antidote for fixing, changing, and leading your husband is to instead have a gentle and quiet spirit. There is only one way to get a gentle and quiet spirit and honestly, it’s not very glamorous. It is found by asking yourself the biggest question of any woman’s life: “Who will rule my life? Who will sit on the throne of my heart and rule?” That is the million dollar question for any woman. You can learn charm, good sentences to say to your husband during conflict, and all sorts of wonderful strategy to help him understand you, but until your heart is surrendered to the One who created it, you will not have a gentle and quiet spirit. And without a gentle and quiet spirit, you will attempt to fix, correct, and lead your husband. This boxing match between you and your husband will continue until either the day one spouse dies or until you get your commander-personality in check.
Realize that every day, your tendency to fix, change, and lead your husband will surface. This one action of yours—slaying your contentious spirit—will do more to change and improve your marriage than anything else, uh, well, except skill/concept number two, which we will now discuss.
Here comes number two. Maybe you should go get acup of coffee first. Then, take a deep breath before you jump into this next tank of cold water.
Women, the number two skill/concept we have to learn is to understand the enormity of a man’s sex drive. Actually, there is so much science available now that documents the huge discrepancy between a man’s desire and a woman’s that this is no longer an issue that women have to take on faith from their mothers. (Again, I remind you, this is only true in 80% of marriages. Reread chapter 32 in Wife School if your marriage is in the 20%). Understanding and accepting men’s voracious appetites for sex is difficult because it’s like telling you that although you need to sleep 8 hours a night, this other person needs to sleep 16 hours a day. No, that’s not even a good analogy, because the numbers are much larger than just double. The numbers are as large as “men want sex 37 times more than women”. I can’t even think of anything that is an analogy where something else is up to 37 times more. I mean, it’s a crazy difference. It’s not your experience and you don’t have this appetite. So it’s very difficult for women to accept something they don’t feel and don’t see. It’s like saying there is a new color in the rainbow, sloom, and you can’t see it or experience it. That’s what it’s like for women to understand this appetite of men for sex. We can’t see or feel it. So our tendency is to dismiss it, or at the least, minimize it.
If you reread chapter 9 in Wife School, you’ll be reminded how to navigate this discrepancy in sexual appetites. Again, you’ll see that the first step in sex is not arousal but willingness. You’ll also be reminded how we give our husbands a drink of lemonade when they are thirsty because we love them. This whole paradigm stands on the premise that we meet a need in our husband because that’s what love looks like. We figure out how to make our husbands happy because as Proverbs 31 women, we “bring them good, not harm, all the days of our life” (Proverbs 31: 12).
Let me remind you once again that you, the wife, are the only legitimate sex that your husband is allowed. That’s right, just you, Babe.
And guess what else I’ve recently learned? Sex is incredibly good for men. And lots of sex. Just explore this on the internet and see. The studies abound. Forbes.com on NBCnews.com said “that by having sex three or more times a week, men reduced their risk of heart attack or stroke by half.” By half! Many other healthy side-effects from sex abound, also. What may seem like an inconvenience and burden to you is lifeblood to your husband. When women learn about men and their sexual appetites, and then make huge allowances to satisfy men in this area in the marriage, men get happy.
And when husbands get happy in the marriage, they turn to you, open to you, and allow you to influence them. And there, My Young Chickadee, is where you become satisfied in the marriage. Researcher John Gottman found that husbands who accept their wives’ influence are four times less likely to divorce or have an unhappy marriage. When you win the ability to influence your husband, then you become happier in the marriage.
There are umpteen-and-one skills to learn to become a Marriage Champion. But rules number one and two cannot be overlooked.
Week Eighteen, Day Two, Part A
How to Give Your Husband Your Input
I wish I had known the skill of how to give my input to my husband years ago. Learning this skill is actually easy and has hugely changed how my husband receives my input. I used to tell my husband, “I think you should do X”. Men don’t like that. They feel you are telling them what to do. Now I say, “I want to give you an idea that you may or may not like. It is only a suggestion. I want to give it to you as input, so that you can consider it when you make your decision.” La la la, much, much better.
Some other sentences I say before I drop suggestions are, “This is only a suggestion and an idea. It may not work, but here’s the idea.” Then, he feels the freedom to take it or reject it. Another sentence you can say is, “I’m only brainstorming with what I’m going to tell you. These ideas may not work at all. But maybe this idea will help you think of the right one.” Fingertip-offer your opinion like that. Not, “Do this, Bozo, because your way is ridiculous.” (That’s how our husbands hear our commands.)
Do you see the quantum difference? In my old style, there was a pressure to do what I recommended. In the new-and-improved-me, I am only giving input and possible suggestions. It is obvious to my husband that he is still in control of making the final decision. Men can take input all day long as long as they know they are the final decision makers.
Honestly, I must use a version of the input paragraph five times a week. Yes, really, I do. I help my husband with the marketing of his business so it is especially tricky when I give suggestions about his work. He does not want me telling him what to do, but he appreciates my input when it is offered as take it or leave it.
I have written this before but it is important so I will repeat it again: Once you give your husband your advice, suggestions, input, remember, they are now his. Later, you don’t say, “Wow, I’m so glad I thought of that. I’m a pretty savvy cookie.” No, it’s now his idea if he takes it. You were created to be a help-meet so don’t get all bent out of shape when you don’t get the credit. (Re-read Chapter 24, When Your Husband Doesn’t Appreciate You in Wife School for more review.)
Week Eighteen, Day Two, Part B
When You Are Grieved by Your Husband’s Lack of Spirituality
Many women ruminate over their grief that their husband is not more spiritual. He doesn’t desire the Word or prayer as much as the wife would like. Possibly, the husband has some sin habits that aggravate the wife. And for sure, the husband doesn’t lead the family as he should. What’s a wife to do?
Before we get started, let’s examine how well you’re doing spiritually as a wife. I will give you the “Philippians 2 Test” and you rate yourself on each of these. Score yourself 1-10, with 10 being “Yes, I am excellent at this.” Ready?
- Phil 2:3a “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit.” Do you obey this verse?
- 2:3b “Rather, in humility value others above yourselves.” Is this how you live?
- 2:4 “… not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of others.” Are you a Mother Theresa here?
- 2:7 We are to have the mindset of Christ, such as, “by taking the very nature of a servant.” Is this you?
- 2:14 “Do everything without grumbling or arguing.” Well, how are you doing?
- 2:21 “For everyone looks out for their own interests, not those of Jesus Christ.” Do you mainly look out for the interests of Jesus Christ?
How did you do on the test? I imagine you were pierced to the heart, just like I was. We are sinners, Friends, in need of fresh mercy every morning (Lamentations 3). We keep forgetting that. We live far below where we are called to live. And we keep forgetting that our husbands are merely human, too. What often happens in marriage is that wives blame husbands for not being more spiritual. Honestly, we need to look in the mirror.
We want our husbands to be Jesus and lead us. But contrarily, the Scripture says if our husbands are disobedient to the Word, then we are to “call them up” with our gentle and quiet spirits (1 Peter 3), not with emotional turmoil and a lecture.
Here are some Scriptural truths to think about when your husband sins or fails:
When a woman was caught in adultery, Jesus said, “Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.” (John 8:7)
Jesus’ advice to his disciples when they wanted to judge others was, “…first take the plank out of your eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.” (Luke 6:42)
Paul’s advice to the church in Rome was to “…Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you.” (Romans 15:7)
It is possible that you have been given to your husband to “draw him up”, though not by your words, but by your heart. This is what influence is all about. Focus on your heart, your life, your sin, and work on that. Live purely. This lifestyle will call him up.
Be grateful for what your husband brings to the marriage instead of focusing on what is missing and what is disappointing (the WMD). This incessant thing we do as women where we repeatedly attempt to change our husbands is insane. Change yourself. I’m pretty sure that the items in the Phil 2 Test are enough to keep you busy for a while (and maybe off your husband’s back.)
Of course, of course, there’s a time to speak the truth in love. But most women err on the side of too much judging, correcting, and criticizing. Hopefully, not you, My Proverbs 31 Friend.
Week Eighteen, Day Three, Part A
The Advanced Wife Skill of Communicating Contentment
A man wants a happy wife. Not only does he enjoy her delightful spirit, but it also tells him he’s doing a good job as a husband. Get your heart happy in the Lord and then out of the blue, unexpected, text or tell your husband how happy you are living life with him.
For example, when one woman was out-of-town and away from her husband, she texted him, “When I woke up, I looked over to see if you were awake. And then I realized you weren’t there. I’m so glad you are there most mornings. Then I thought about how happy I am with our life and how I love being married to you.”
When women text these emotional things to their husbands, they expect the husband to text back, “And you are the queen of the world.” But often they text back, “Thanks.” Please, don’t get offended. Your husband recorded your gift in his mind. He doesn’t know you’d like a mushy text back but you have 30-40 years to teach him, right?
Again, do not be offended at your husband’s lack of emotional/romantic words and gestures. This need you have is not on his radar yet. As you know, it’s hard to teach kids to pick up their rooms, to not use their sleeve to wipe their noses, and to say thank you. But it can be done and your husband can learn that you have needs for expressions of affection. Just be patient, be patient some more, stay in the game, not slamming him, but filling him with the 8 A’s. When you see a glimmer of a behavior that you like, praise it once, praise it twice, praise it thrice.
You should be starting to get the male psyche by now. You should be beginning to understand how to coax this tiger. Tell him and show him often, in a million different ways, “I’m happy being married to you.”
Week Eighteen, Day Three, Part B
Handling “The Crummies and Bunk”
You get up, have a quiet time, and feel okay. The day has now started.
Then, the Crummies begin to barge into your day. You know, that Bunk stuff that brings your spirit down. The trash didn’t get picked up and you’re on hold for 30 minutes and they still can’t come get your garbage. You hardly ate a thing and gained two pounds. You are responsible for an event and no one else is pulling their weight. The girl who was supposed to come help you with a project said she doesn’t feel well and can’t make it so now it’s all on you. Your husband asked you to do one of his jobs in the marriage. The school called and little Johnny threw his pencil and hit Sally in the head. The Crummies have walked into your mind and you can feel the downward pull.
These aren’t sin areas, they are just the little things of everyday life. But this is the point where we have to choose if we are going to let those disappointing circumstances stay in our mind or we are going to boot them out and set our minds on other things. You don’t have a choice whether Bunk happens, but you have a choice whether you are going to ruminate about it. Discouragement only happens if you let disappointments get to you. Fight the thoughts of what is disappointing and what is missing (WMD) by choosing to think about something positive and you will largely conquer discouragement.
Listen in on your thoughts. “I’ll never lose this weight.” “I’m always going to have to struggle with this child’s situation.” “No matter what I do, he (or she) doesn’t act right.” “The finances are always going to get me down.” “I don’t want to have to deal with this issue but it seems like it’s not going away.” Do you hear the permanence and the lack of faith in those sentences? Those are not Philippians 4:8 thoughts!
Those are Bunk thoughts. Those are the Crummies. Write those annoying sentences down in your TJ and then (here’s the money), dispute them!! Proverbs 4:23 says, “Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.”
You can learn to have a positive, encouraging, upbeat mind and heart. But you will have to learn to fight the Crummies and Bunk in your brain. 2 Corinthians 10:5 says,“…we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.” Every thought is to be taken captive. They are not to run around like some undisciplined hooligans. This is where you win this battle against discouragement, by girding up the loins of your mind, and booting out those negative thoughts and replacing them with hopeful thoughts, thoughts of how God will figure this out because you “can do all things through Christ.” Write down proactive ideas. Pray like a madwoman. You do not have to stay in a ditch with the Crummies and Bunk running the show.
Week Eighteen, Day Four
More on a Happy Heart
I know I pound this topic, but a happy heart is imperative in order to delight your husband.
Another aspect to learn in order to have a happy heart is that you must learn to frame things in the best light in your mind. This morning I texted a person to invite them to dinner. They texted back, “I’ll have to let you know later.” Just being honest, I was a little offended. (Hey, just because I’m the teacher doesn’t mean I have this stuff mastered!) I thought to myself, “Well, they want to keep their options open and see if something better comes up.” See how negative that was? I had no idea why this person needed to let me know later. Maybe they already had plans and super-want to be with me for dinner (ha ha) and they are going to see how they can rearrange their schedule so they can come.
Now that is Philippians 4:8 thinking, framing things in the best light. (The exception for this is if a woman is single and a guy sends messages to her like that. He is saying, “I’m Just Not That Into You” so she should take off and bat her eyes at someone else.)
To continue, you have one of two habits. One is that you tend to think the worst. Or two, you automatically reframe things for the best. Actually, either ditch can be a problem, but if you have to err, err on the side of reframing the situation for the best. I’m not encouraging you to live pie-in-the-sky with your eyes closed to reality. I am trying to tell you that you have so much control over your thoughts, and therefore, your subsequent emotions. Sometimes we have to face the truth of a bad situation, I agree. But there is facing the situation with hope…or despair. You can always choose the thoughts you let into your brain.
Viktor Frankl was in a concentration camp in Germany during World War II. Later, he wrote an excellent book called Man’s Search for Meaning. Even with the atrocities and horrors of Auschwitz, some people still chose to share their bread. Frankl wrote, “The last of human freedoms – is the ability to choose one’s attitude in a given set of circumstances.” (If you are struggling with self-pity, just search the internet for images of the concentration camps at Auschwitz. You will quickly blast out of your self-pity.)
Years ago I heard the phrase, “Bloom where you are planted.” When I heard that, I thought, “Impossible. No one could bloom here with the heaviness of what I have.” Friends, I was ridiculously wrong! We can be a sunrise in the lives of others, no matter where we are planted. At that time, I was eaten up with self-pity. I didn’t know how to think at that point in my life. I let Mr. Disappointing Thing rule the landscape of my mind, walking in whenever he wanted and staying as long as he decided. No longer! He has been booted to the alley.
It will be an amazing day when you take responsibility for having a happy heart, not blaming anyone else. The day when you decide to bloom where you are planted, your life will change. This is not accomplished by looking at how others give to and love you, but by looking at how you give to and love others. God says that His grace is sufficient. I’m pretty sure that verse covers both you and me.
Just to be super clear here, I am not talking about true grief and sadness. Of course, those are normal human reactions to deep tragedy. But Friends! We get all wadded up over not being invited, not given enough attention, or by being overlooked when the high treatment was passed out! It is time to lay down our self-pity, dear Friend. It’s past time.
Week Eighteen, Day Five
Are You a Marriage Champion Yet? A Test to See.
This is Week Eighteen out of Twenty-two. Four more weeks of lessons coming down the pipe. How are you doing in Wife School Online? Today we are going to have a little test. If you score 6 out of 6, then you are already a Marriage Champion. I will pick one of our past lessons, Asking Your Husband for What You Want, and we’ll see how you do.
Here we go:
- Before you ask your husband for what you want in your marriage, what two major premises/situations should you first be rocking?
- Before you ask your husband for what you want in your marriage, what strategy do you apply to the list of all the things you want?
- When you ask your husband for what you want in your marriage, what is your demeanor? And what about the timing?
- When you ask your husband for what you want and he balks, what do you say?
- If your husband continues to not give you what you want in the marriage, how do you respond in your mind?
- If your husband gives you what you want, how do you respond?
Okay, here are the answers. Score yourself. Give yourself one point for every question you answered right.
- Before you ask your husband for anything, you should get the emotional turmoil out of your life (chop off her head, remember?) and you should be daily rocking the 8 A’s, especially the 7th A of Affection which is Sex (see this lesson, Day One).
- Before you ask your husband for what you want in your marriage, you should rank everything you want and only ask for the top one (or two at most) things, knowing you are on the 50-year-plan and will eventually be able to ask for all you want. Asking him for a lot a once overwhelms him.
- When you ask your husband for something in your marriage, your demeanor should be sweet and soft, not commander-mode of “you better do this, Buddy, or else.” Also, you should select a good time, not when he is upset or tired.
- When your husband balks at what you want, you sweetly say, “I try to meet all of your needs. I try to not ask for very much, only my very top things. I want you to give this to me just because you love me.” And then, you drop it. You don’t continue to argue your case. You repeat, “I want you to give this to me just because you love me.” Note: This would be very manipulative if you are not seeking to meet your husband’s needs with your whole heart. I am assuming you are.
- If your husband does not give you what you want the first time you ask, you realize it may take 1-50 times of asking. Teaching husbands what you want is like teaching someone Chinese. Don’t resent this. This is a law of marriage, just like gravity is a law of physics.
- If your husband gives you what you want, you praise him to the moon and back at least two times, and preferably more. Your happiness is very satisfying to your husband. He feels like a good husband according to your happiness in the marriage.
How did you do, WSO student? Anybody get 6 out of 6?
I come into your gates with thanksgiving and enter your courts with praise. Today, I thank you for my eye sight and that I can therefore see the sweet faces of my children. I thank you for legs that can walk and enable me to do my daily tasks for my family. Thank you that I have healthy food nearby to buy for my family as well as good hospitals if I need them.
I thank you for indoor plumbing, heat, and air conditioning. I thank you for soft beds, comfortable house shoes, apples, white jeans, and flip-flops. I thank you for friends to laugh with, family that shows up when I need help, a husband who is kind, faithful, and employed, and children that rise up and praise You.
I thank you for a mind that can read a recipe, figure out how to use an iPhone, and can read your Word. I thank you for sunshine, clean air, and a free hour to lie in the sun.
Thank you, God, for books, for blogs, and for the internet. Thank you for daughters that radiate goodness, for sons that understand the call to provide and protect, and for healthy parents.
Thank you for roses, for swimming pools, and for strawberries.
Thank you for the ability to enjoy life. Thank you for the peace that comes from being forgiven. Thank you for the comfort of Your presence and the gift of Your guidance. Thank you for this one chance at life. May I honor You with my entire being during my short stay on planet Earth.
And when hard things come, which they will as surely as the fact that I will soon need another breath, may You give me the grace to believe that You’re in control, that You will do me good through the situation, and that You can find a way to bless those I love, even though I can’t see any of that. May I remember that when the winds blow and the storms beat down that You created the winds and the storms and can stop them whenever You choose.
In Jesus name,
- In Day One, Two of the Most Important Wife Skills, how are you doing? Where do you still need to improve? _______________________________________________________________
- How are you doing at giving your husband your input? Explain. _______________________________________________________________
- Are you able to get hold of your emotions when you and your husband have conflict? _______________________________________________________________
- Are you grieved at your husband’s lack of spirituality? How did you do on the Phil. 2 test?
- Do you often tell your husband how happy you are just to be married to him? If not, why not?
- Do you let the Crummies and Bunk bring you down? Explain.
- How would you rate your happy heart? Great? Moderate? In need of an overhaul? Explain.
- How did you do on the Marriage Champion Test?_______________________________________________________________
I recently met with a woman who told me about multiple trials she was facing. Honestly, they were pretty significant in my opinion. However, she then told me that she had a heart full of gratefulness, that she continually “guarded her thoughts” and focused on the good in her life, not on the WMD (what’s missing and disappointing). Gratefulness is indeed the key to happiness. Friends, this is beautiful. Are you doing that? Are you living above your circumstances because you focus on all the many benefits and blessings that you have? Or are you still wallowing around in self-pity? My prayer is that your life will be grafted into the Vine and His sap will flow generously through you (John 15) teaching you to become an extremely grateful and happy person.