Some of you are seeing huge changes in your marriage, but some of you are still just trying to keep your head above water. This is only week six of twenty-two. And three of the most important A’s—Approval, Affection (sex), and Authority—have not yet been studied! Be patient. We are still planting the seedlings. Then it’s growing season. Remember, “Love never fails” (1 Cor. 13:8).
Please read chapter 6, “Fifth A: The Activities Lesson,” in Wife School.
Week Six, Day One
Thoughts about the A of Activities
Some couples don’t struggle with the A of Activities. For example, my sister-in-law and brother share many interests. They both like to antique shop (he likes to find items to fix up the garden/yard, and she likes dishes). Also, my sister-in-law loves football (the Dallas Cowboys), and he’s the doctor on the sidelines. The A of Activities has been easy for them for the entirety of their marriage because many of their natural downhill streams are in the same direction. This isn’t so for everyone.
For example, my husband and I have to work on this A. David likes sports, and I like…well…books. After extensive work, we have figured out some activities we enjoy together. We both enjoy going to seminars to learn. Recently, we went to a Dave Ramsey event to learn how to grow and run his business better. We both enjoy Bible study, and we participated in a yearlong discipleship-growing ministry called Downline. Naturally, we enjoy anything with our kids (basketball games, outings, dinner, etc.). We both like good movies, plays, or concerts (but I’m really picky about which ones). But after that, we have to work at this. I am somewhat of a homebody, so I have to push myself to go out and do the many activities that my sweet husband enjoys. Many couples have to work hard to find mutually enjoyable activities, so don’t be discouraged if your marriage is like ours.
Having date night is very important when you have kids. Family activities are awesome, but it is important for you and your husband to leave the kids at home with a babysitter so you can focus on each other. We women are frequently reluctant to do that, and I understand. You can’t ignore this Abecause fun and play are often very important to your husband. You have to make this work for your marriage. There is not a formula. But the marriage can get boring if you do not continue to have fun and play in the partnership.
One more thought on activities. Even though you are married now, and maybe you even suggested the activity, men still think it is like the dating days, and they want to know if you are having a nice time. Tell your husband if you are enjoying yourself. Give him a little kiss, smile, or squeeze. He will take it personally and feel good that you are happy. Just lean over and whisper to your husband, “I’m having a good time.” In other words, be a good date. Smile. Thank him for dinner. Tell him how delicious the crab cakes are, as in the old days when he was paying and you were on a date. We women can settle into talking about what’s wrong and “how cold and tired” we are. Really? Is that being a good date? It is said that women start trying to change men the second they are married and that men never want their wives to change from when they were dating. (We fixed ourselves up and were in a good mood, remember?) We wives need to listen up!
Week Six, Day Two
What If You Run Out of Energy to Pour into Your Husband?
One woman in my Skinny School class has not been able to do the work to plan, prepare, or track her food, which are tenets in the program. When we dissected her situation, we found that she is so ultrabusy with her school-age children, housework, job, and volunteer work that there was simply no energy left to put into figuring out a new eating program. I explained to her that humans have only a certain amount of willpower/energy points a day, and when we run out, we run out. Her busy and hectic life left her without any reserves to invest in a new endeavor.
I once read—and I’m not sure if this is true—that President Obama couldn’t quit smoking cigarettes while he was in office because after trying to solve the world’s problems each day, there was no energy left to apply to quitting smoking. Whether that story is true or not, the principle is. We are just humans, not gods. We are finite creatures.
Now I say the same to you about your marriage. If you are running the PTA, running the women’s ministry at your church, handling three energetic preschoolers, working forty hours a week, managing your house and your aging mom and still want to love your husband to the moon and back, well, forget it. You will be out of willpower/energy points. Vince Lombardi said, “Fatigue makes cowards of us all.” You can accomplish only so much in every twenty-four hours, so be incredibly intentional about what you give your time and energy to.
Again, camp in Titus 2. Go down the list of the younger woman’s responsibilities. If you can’t outrageously love your husband and children, have a happy heart, take care of your household, then you have to stop there and get those priorities right. You can’t take care of a family on an empty tank, and that is your priority in this season. Again, learn to say no graciously to others. Give up time wasters (too much Internet, TV, etc.). Margins are necessary because cars break down, dishwashers overflow, parents get sick, and children have issues that need addressing. Quit trying to be Superwoman; instead, just attempt to be Titus 2 Woman.
Week Six, Day Three
Why Is Respecting Your Husband So Important?
The movie The Godfather II was on TV a month ago. One of the brothers, Fredo, who has no influence in the family, says to Michael Corleone, the brother with the power, played by Al Pacino, “I just want some respect.” The brother saying this is pitiful and sad, but yet I was reminded how all men want respect. It is wired into them.
As you read the next section, you are going to want to throw it down and start stomping on it. Just remember that God inspired Paul to write this.
In Ephesians 5:33, Paul wrote, “and the wife must respect her husband.”
If that’s not bad enough, Young’s Literal Translation says that “she (the wife) may reverence the husband.”
Again, I recommend Scripture4all.org to you. Click on “Greek-English Interlinear,” and then you can follow along with the following. Warning: rough water ahead.
The Greek word for reverence in that verse is phobetai. Scripture4all.org translates it as she “may be fearing.” If you research this Greek word (Strong’s G5399), the word has several meanings. This word is often used in the New Testament for fear and afraid. (You can go to blueletterbible.org and find twenty examples of this.) Another meaning of this Greek word is “to reverence, venerate, to treat with deference or reverential obedience,” and this is the meaning that we will discuss. Remember, I warned you about the rough water.
In my opinion, no husbands are worthy of being reverenced. No human is, as we are all broken. But if husbands are worthy or not is not the point. The point is that God wants wives to treat their husbands with reverence and deference. It is the positionof husband that we honor. When the judge comes into the courtroom, we all rise. We don’t rise for the man; we rise for the position of judge. You don’t rise when you see that judge in a restaurant. You are to treat your husband with reverence, not because he deserves it but because how you treat your husband is a picture of how the Church (a believer) is to treat her husband, the Lord. Once we see the spiritual analogy, we can soften to the command.
I actually think this verse gives a lot of freedom to wives. Instead of respecting or reverencing our husbands because they deserve it, we respect and reverence them because God has asked us to do this for him. I can buy into that. I can obey that. It may not be easy, but I can get my mind and will around this analogy that God gave us. This takes faith. This takes understanding.
I have a very nice husband who has integrity that is off the chart. But I still have trouble reverencing him, a mere human, even though he is a very good man. Again, whether he deserves it or not is not the point. The point is, this is God’s will for wives.
Exhale. That was pretty rough, I know. Go get a cup of hot tea, and read the rest of this later. Whew. Glad that’s over. 🙂 (Lesson nine, the A of Authority, is coming down the tracks in four weeks. It is not going to be pretty, friends, not pretty at all. This was a warm-up for that lesson.)
Week Six, Day Four
Understanding Men’s Tendency to be Inconsiderate
You have been in Wife School now for six weeks. You know the baseline principle in Wife School is to focus on how you love and give, not on how you are loved or given to. Actually, this section was strategically placed after the reverencing-your-husband section so I wouldn’t be misunderstood. With the prior biblical concepts in mind, I offer the next section with trepidation that I will be misunderstood. For example, if this next section were quoted out of context, it would be easy to call Wife School a manipulative program. But I am counting on you to have greater understanding than that. So let’s proceed.
Many of you are dealing with issues in which your husband is very inconsiderate of you. The next two examples may seem small, but the principles apply in the same way.
An older wife told me that she and her husband were invited to a Halloween party and were going out on Halloween night. She did not want to receive trick-or-treaters because she and her husband were leaving for the night. She asked him to please keep the lights off in the house until they left so the trick-or-treaters wouldn’t stop by. Her husband flipped on the laundry-room light. She asked him again to please keep the lights off because the two were going out and had no candy for the kids. He went upstairs and flipped on another bedroom light. Again, she sweetly said, “That light can be seen from the street. It is almost time to go, and I don’t have any candy.” A third time, he flipped on a light, completely ignoring her request again. He finally said, “If they knock on the door, just don’t answer it.” But she didn’t want neighborhood kids knocking on the door and her not having any candy to give them. The situation was small, but the insensitivity to the wife’s requests was not small, in her opinion.
Another example is that a wife (wife A) bought a friend (wife B) a small Christmas ornament that she knew would delight her friend. Wife A knew that her husband would see wife B’s husband in the next few days (they were involved in some church activities together). Wife A asked her husband to take the ornament to wife B’s husband so he would give it to his wife. Husband A forgot. Then, wife A asked him again. He forgot again. This went on three or four times. Wife A was frustrated that her husband couldn’t seem to remember her request.
Not that this is right, but men tend to evaluate whether they think your issues are important and then make a decision through their male mind whether they should do it or not. A lot of our female stuff is not important to them, as you will discover (turning off Halloween lights, giving ornaments to friends, etc.).
I gave you unimportant examples on purpose because that’s not the point. The point is that men will often feel your issues are not important and won’t comply with your request. You have to fill their tanks and then, in a sweet way, say, “I know this isn’t important to you, but it’s important to me as a woman. So could you please do it?” That somehow frees them when they realize that although your request is not important to them, they can still do it because it is important to you, for the standard is different for what is important to women.
And remember, when your husband does something for you that he doesn’t really want to do, you do the one-two punch of thanking him. The first time, say, “That was so nice of you. And I especially love it because you didn’t think it was necessary, but you did it just to make me happy. Thank you!” And then the killer/knockout punch comes when you thank him hours/days later. “I was thinking about how you don’t have any need for x or y, but just because I asked you, you did it for me. How understanding and unselfish that was of you. That really meant a lot to me. Thank you.” A sweet kiss on the cheek or a nice smile is good here.
The scripture says to husbands, “Live with your wives in an understanding way.” Why? Because we are so ridiculously different from them, and they can’t treat us like the boys. But men don’t usually get this the first five years of marriage (or more, unless you teach them).
When your husband doesn’t live with you in an understanding way and is inconsiderate, don’t begin a meltdown with accusations. If you are living the 8 A’s in a huge way and he disappoints you in a big way (overlook the little things), say, “I guess you didn’t understand how important this was to me or else I know you would have considered it.” No emotional hissy fits. Try to overlook everything that you possibly can. No tears unless the transgression is gigantic. (Just so you know, the more you cry, the less effective it is, so try to keep back the waterworks. Women are notorious for trying to manipulate husbands with tears.)
Husbands have been civilized by wives for centuries. Otherwise, husbands wouldn’t bathe, they would tee-tee in the backyard, and they would be semislobs. (Have you ever visited a fraternity house?) But they are to be called up by sweetness and softness, not by some army general barking orders.
Sorry, but it takes many men around five to ten years to get this. My husband is only a shadow of who he was thirty years ago (as far as how he treats me). David still opens the car door for me. Early in the marriage when he did it, I said over and over again, “I can’t believe how I’m treated like a queen and you open my car door for me. It makes me feel like a million dollars.” Every six months or so, I still comment on the door opening. Husbands want to please us. Just be adorable and grateful and give it five years. Catch them doing things right and praise them.
Another example might be, “You just listened to that whole long story of mine, and I know you aren’t really interested in the drama going on with my friends. But how wonderful to have a husband who listens well until I’m through! That makes me so happy.” Then add a sweet smile or little kiss.
Another wise woman said to her husband, “I can’t believe I have a husband who lets me take a nap and watches the children. How sweet is that? I certainly married well.” The normal wife expects her husband to watch the children; the wise wife expects nothing and thanks him all the time.
Women! Women! This is not rocket science. This is female wisdom of the ages. Be sweet, grateful, kind, and soft. Your husband wants to please you. That’s why Adam ate that apple in the garden. Eve wanted him to, and he wanted to please her. (Hopefully, God is leading your husband, and your husband will be man enough to stand up and say no to you when you are out of God’s will. More on this unpleasant situation is in lesson nine.)
Just to recap: many men come into marriage and are very inconsiderate because they do not understand your womanly mind. Give it some time. Things mightily change when women are wise.
Week Six, Day Four, Continued…
Beware of Not Feeling Appreciated
A few years ago, a woman of influence whom I respected called and asked if I would meet with her niece, Suzie, who was having serious marriage issues. It wasn’t a very good time for me to add anything else, but she sounded sort of desperate, so I acquiesced. I met with the girl many times, and that doesn’t count the phone calls and emails. We made a lot of progress.
Later, I saw this woman of influence out, and she didn’t mention all the hours I had spent (at her request) to help her niece. So before she left, I casually asked, “How’s Suzie doing?” Now here was her chance to gush me, to tell me how wonderful I was that I spent so much of my free time helping her niece. Nope. It didn’t happen. She just told me that now Suzie was pregnant.
When we parted, I was like a dog with my tail between my legs. Forlorn. Discouraged. I even said things to myself such as, “Well, I might have to think a little harder before I take on a new counselee next time if I’m going to get appreciated like that.”
You can stop gagging. Hey, I admit I’m a head case. The point of this self-pity story is, I didn’t feel appreciated. And if our goal in doing service is to get appreciation, we will be disappointed.
This is really true with your husband (and someday, adult children). Giving up expectations that your acts of kindness will be appreciated is very wise. Now that you are pouring the 8 A’s into your husband, you might be like most wives and think, “Mm, I bet he’s going to like this and thank me.” Warning: you are setting yourself up for disappointment. Give and love and then get your appreciation from the Lord (Col. 3:23). Serve others because that’s who you are, and that’s what you do. Release those you serve from appreciating you. Here we are again with our double standards: we appreciate everything the husband does, but we don’t expect appreciation from him. And you know what happens when he does appreciate you, right? You are grateful to Jupiter and back, and you write it on your lists!
Week Six, Day Five
Thoughts about the Clothes of Christian Women
In this section, I would first like to give you a few thoughts about how men feel about women’s clothes, and then we will look at a couple of thoughts about what the Bible says about women and clothes.
Men usually like feminine clothes on women that are soft and decidedly female. Men like cashmere (soft), bright colors, soft textures, and dresses! Wear something soft and colorful, and hear what your husband says. Dress for your husband. My husband likes a tailored look, whereas I’d rather dress with jeans, leather boots, and craziness. The tailored stuff is boring to me, but that’s what he likes. We are to reflect our husbands. The way we dress reflects to the world how they take care of us. Again, there are no rules, only principles and suggestions.
This is not very difficult. Simply ask your husband his opinion. (But if you ask him, then you are obligated to try to dress as he prefers.)
Now let’s briefly see what the Scripture says about clothing. In Proverbs 7:10, the Scripture says, “Out came a woman to meet him, dressed like a prostitute.” So there is definitely a way to dress that conveys we are immoral women. In contrast, the Proverbs 31 woman was “clothed in fine linen and purple.” That sounds more like regal material, doesn’t it? We have to admit that how we dress says something about us. I am not giving absolutes, but the principles are pretty clear: not raunchy but tasteful. (There is a lot of gray area here, aren’t you glad?)
However, there are some specific instructions in 1 Timothy 2 about how women who are going to worship should dress. The Scripture says women are to dress with “modesty and decency.” In church a few months ago, the girl in a couple of rows ahead of us (in shorts) was shaking her booty to the worship music. My boys were all observing the bounce. (I think a few of our boys were worshipping the created thing versus the Creator at that moment.) I wanted to tap her on the shoulder and say, “Quit shaking your booty in church!” Men go crazy at a booty that is shaking. Shake yours at home in the bedroom, but please don’t shake it at church.
A few years ago, I heard a respected preacher in Tennessee talk about another preacher who described his congregation as “fried chicken: breasts, thighs, and legs.” I know we women like to show what we’ve got—to flaunt our stuff. But scripture is specific that when you go to church, be especially mindful to be modest. Men are distracted by bare skin and supertight clothes. Don’t be that woman.
I was at a basketball game a few months ago, and a mom showed up in a very, very short tennis dress. Every single person in that gym was looking at her thighs. And then, a few months after that, a mom at a Meet-the-Teacher event was there in short-shorts. Both of these women claim to be Christians. I’m just giving you my opinion here (and yes, maybe I was a little jealous of their great legs, but that’s not the point). The point is, I really feel it was inappropriate in those settings to dress like that. I said I wasn’t giving rules, and please know that this is a discerning situation. It’s one thing to be in shorts and exercising. It’s another to be at an event where everybody else is dressed in regular street clothes, and then a woman decides to show much of her body. You will have to figure this out. You can look nice and wear fitted clothes; just don’t dress raunchy or tacky. It’s beneath your station in life as a godly wife.
We can get so mixed up. We wear low-cut blouses out in public and then wear flannel cover-up nightgowns to bed with our sex-starved husbands! I’m not saying to dress like a nun. I’m saying that we are all to be mindful of how we dress, especially when we go to public worship.
Week Six, Day Five, Continued…
When Your Husband Wants You to Work Full Time Outside the Home
This section is written for those of you whose husband wants you to work full time outside the home, and your heart is to be home. (Skip this section if it doesn’t pertain to you.) I have a lot of compassion for you. The following are suggestions, not rules. Take what is helpful to you, and throw the rest to the wind. This is a difficult situation. But again, I see miracles happen in marriages when women understand a few concepts.
First, live the 8 A’s. Get rid of your resentment, and persuade your husband that you know you were created for him (1 Cor. 11:9), that you want him to be happy and successful, and prove it. This will open him to your influence. Now, the next thing is to pray like a madwoman (see the parable of the unjust judge, Luke 18:1–18). Beg, plead, ask, seek, and knock, in prayer. Believe that God has plans to prosper you (Jer. 29:11). Tell your husband that you are asking God, in a year or so, to make provisions so that you won’t have to work full time outside the home. Giving him this yearlong timetable takes any immediate stress off him. Tell him your heart is to work part time or to work from home. If he says that is ridiculous, then respond calmly with, “This is a desire of mine, and I am asking God for a miracle.” He cannot argue with that. If he is again rude—for example, “Good luck on that”—let it go.
Then, carefully consider your lifestyle. It is definitely difficult to downsize lifestyles. But it is crazy to take fancy vacations, drive new cars, live in a big house, and go out to eat often and then for you to work full time outside the home! Camp, drive old cars, move to a smaller house, and eat at home. Then, start not spending money wherever you can. If your husband wants to go on an expensive vacation, say, “Honey, could we camp? I am trying to find ways not to spend money. I want so badly to be home so I can focus more on you, our children, and our home.”
Don’t get on him too much, but you start cutting back. Cut back on Christmas (do something free for a present exchange with extended relatives so you can save money for the kiddos). You don’t have to have new stuff; you really don’t. I know you want it. I know! But we have to get straight on the fact that we don’t get everything in life. Giving up one thing means we get another. I repeatedly like to use the example of giving up sugar (something we like) for health and thinness (something we like better)!
Start researching working from home. Ask your husband his goals and his opinion. How much money do you need to save? If you can (please do this), go to a Dave Ramsey course and get your finances straightened out. Finances are a huge area of conflict for couples. Getting on the same page as your husband with finances is one of the smartest things you can do for your marriage. The Proverbs 31 woman helped with the income; so can you. But the burden to provide lies on a man’s mind; the burden of housework lies on yours. Many men want their wives to work to help with the financial stress, and this is understandable. But when your husband feels as if it would profit him and your family for you to be home, he will begin to help find ways for you to do this. Husbands want to please adorable wives. They do.
There is not an overnight fix for this. Don’t put a time limit on this huge goal, but at least in your heart know it will take months and maybe a year. When a wife really does have a quantum switch in how she treats her husband, she will notice a quantum switch in how her husband responds to her. If your husband just agrees to thinkabout it, thank him. Then later, thank him again for just agreeing to think about it. Wise wives praise and appreciate the little things.
I am not trying to take an overwhelming issue and make it simple. But these are some thoughts for you to put into your pot to stir. Wise women are kind and patient but persistent.
We all have sorrows and battles. This one is yours. It is amazing how husbands change their minds in response to wise, prayerful, loving, noncritical wives.
Dear Father in heaven,
For now, you have allowed sorrow and grief to remain on Earth. And to be honest, I am feeling both of those enemies right now. My heart is burdened. You say to come to you, all that are weary and heavy-laden( Matt. 11:27), and you will give me rest. You are not far off. You hear when I call. Please bring your kindness to me and to those I love. Please answer me in my hurt and disappointment. Please show me how to handle the problems that are sitting on the table right before me. Please pour your wisdom and grace into my situation.
I trust you right now to untangle these knots, though I don’t see how you are going to do that. But you just say the word, and it happens (Matt. 8:9). You are not a human, bound as I am, by time and strength. You can work through my weaknesses and mistakes. Thank you, God, for listening. Matthew 7:11 says, “If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give what is good to those who ask Him!” God, I’m asking. I’m asking really hard.
I lay these requests before you. My soul waits for you, Lord, more than the watchman waits for the morning (Ps. 130:6).
In Jesus’s name,
- What activities do you and your husband enjoy together? Is the A of Activities a strength for your marriage, or do you need to work on this? _____________________________________________________________________
- Between zero and ten, where is the resentment dial pointed in your marriage (with ten being high)? What is God telling you to do in this area? ______________________________________________________________________
- Do you have energy to pour into your husband? What needs to be pared down in your schedule so you have more energy for making deposits into your husband’s tank? ______________________________________________________________________
- Did the word reverence throw you? How do you feel about this command from God to treat your husband with reverence? ______________________________________________________________________
- Now that you are pouring into your husband, are you struggling with not being appreciated for that? Explain.
- How did you feel about the section on men’s tendency to sometimes be inconsiderate with their wives? What are your thoughts about this section? ______________________________________________________________________
- What are your thoughts about women, modesty, and clothes in church? ______________________________________________________________________
- If your husband doesn’t want you to quit your full-time job, what thoughts do you now have about asking him to consider a different future situation? ______________________________________________________________________
Persevere. “Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up” (Gal. 6:9).