From Our Hearts to Yours
I love music, orchestras, and concerts. Perhaps that’s because I played the violin in my junior high school orchestra. I like to think that I did my part and made a positive contribution to the group and those in our audiences.
But what do you think would have happened if, on Day One of my violin undertaking, I grabbed my new school-issued violin, ran onto the concert stage, plopped down in a chair, and began playing with the other members of the group? What a racket you would have heard! What squeaks, screeches, squawks, and scratches you would have been forced to endure!
Both you and I know what it requires to play in harmony in any setting, whether in an orchestra, in a choir, in a drama troupe, on a sports team…or in a marriage. It requires learning the proper techniques. And it demands time as you practice, practice, and practice!
If I could say one thing to you about the vital skill of communicating with your husband, I would say this: Don’t just run in to talk to your husband, plop down, grab at anything your sometimes-empty brain ﬁnds handy, and blurt out thoughtless or insensitive words. Instead take the time to prepare your heart and your words. Pray about timing, tone, and topics. Ask God for help with godly discipline over the thoughts of your heart and the words of your mouth as in Psalm 19:14:
Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in Your sight, O Lord, my strength and my Redeemer.
Make it your aim to convey information, to bless your precious husband, and to create harmony. Seek to do an excellent job of verbalizing your heart to your husband in a godly way and with godly wisdom. By all means, make an effort and take the time to learn—and apply—God’s rules for communication. You’ll be glad you did. And I guarantee your husband will, too!
Question: Is there a specific topic with your husband that could benefit from this type of purposeful communication?
One morning while I was reading my Bible, I came to a passage that really challenged me in my own spiritual growth:
In the time of Herod king of Judea there was a priest named Zechariah, who belonged to the priestly division of Abijah; his wife Elizabeth was also a descendant of Aaron. Both of them were upright in the sight of God, observing all the Lord’s commandments and regulations blamelessly.” (Luke 1:5-6, emphasis added)
These two people — Zechariah and Elizabeth — were about to become the parents of John the Baptist, the herald of the Messiah, Jesus Christ. God desired a special set of parents for a special child who would have a special mission. As I read this passage, I noticed an immediate application for me: God is asking that both my wife and I be growing spiritually. To have the greatest spiritual impact not only in our family but also in ministry, we both need to be growing.
Once you and I as husbands grasp this reality and start growing, we can then begin to assist our wives in their growth. Our assistance may be as simple as having a daily Bible reading schedule that we follow individually and then coming together at the end of the day to compare notes. It may mean we study through a book of the Bible together. Fortunately, there are many study tools that couples can use together. So a lack of resources is no excuse. We as men just need to take the initiative to have a more active role in leading our family spiritually.
Encouraging my wife’s spiritual growth doesn’t always mean that I have to personally be a part of the growth process. Sometimes I only need to be a “spiritual cheerleader.” My role is cheering her on in her growth as she studies the Bible on her own or as she participates in a woman’s Bible study. I am still fulfilling my role as the spiritual leader, even though I don’t personally teach my wife. I’m there to give her encouragement and direction.
Again, remember your wedding day? You made a vow to nurture your wife. Nurturing her involves both the physical and spiritual areas of life. Therefore you must see that your wife is growing spiritually! And the first step, of course, is asking God to give you a fresh commitment to grow yourself. Then ask your wife how you can best help her grow.
Question: How about it, men? What are some of the ways you’ve helped nurture your wife’s spiritual growth? (Ladies, feel free to share examples of what your husband has done, too.)
Wives, here a quick list of five little things that can make a bit difference in your marriage this week!
1. Thank your husband for living out his roles.
Specifically remark on a decision your husband has made regarding the direction the two of you will take. Thank him that he works hard on his job. Instead of complaining if he gets home late or puts in extra hours or goes the extra mile at work, praise him for his diligence, his desire to do things excellently, and his efforts in providing for you and your family. Let him know, too, that you notice the many ways he helps you out. These are ways that your husband expresses his love for you, so thank him! And don’t worry if he doesn’t do these things. Just keep your eyes and ears — and your heart! — open so they catch the ways that he does express his love. Then, of course, thank him!
2. Ask your husband how you can help.
Every day ask your husband two questions: “What can I do for you today?” and “What can I do to help you make better use of your time today?” Stand by with a willingness of schedule, and a prayer in your heart, to help your husband in the ways he believes he can best be helped.
3. Show greater respect for your husband.
God wants you to show your respect for your husband. So think of one way you can do just that. Then, of course, follow through. Let your admiration shine forth for all to see, especially him! Do you look at him when he’s talking? Do you refrain from interrupting? Do you ask him to do things instead of telling him? Do you practice sweet speech in your conversations? Do you need to stop putting him down when you talk to others? It wouldn’t hurt to keep a list of ways to show respect as a reminder…in case you slip up. It happens!
4. Think of a way the two of you can have fun this week.
Your marriage was founded on friendship, and you need to nurture that friendship “love” spoken of in Titus 2:4. So be creative! Your fun time together doesn’t have to cost any money — it might only cost the time to think of an activity, set it up, and make it happen. Let the fun begin!
5. Pray to follow God’s plan for a wife.
Consider God’s four guidelines for you as a wife (see Genesis 2:18; Ephesians 5:22; Ephesians 5:33; and Titus 2:4) and pray over them. Take your time and express your heart to God. Make your commitments, purpose in your heart to pursue God’s plan for you in each area, and then move ahead through your day seeking to comply with God’s blueprint for a wife. To stay on your wifely toes, pray every day to be a wife after God’s own heart!
Question: Can you share one thing from the list above that spoke to you the most?
Do you know how some wives follow God’s plan? They become husband-watchers. You see, they know what God says their husbands are supposed to do and be. They know how their husbands are supposed to treat them. But instead of taking care of their own faithfulness to their God-given assignment as wives, they take on the self-appointed role of playing “Holy Spirit” in their husbands’ lives, pointing out their faults and shortcomings. You know…helping! But, maybe we should call it like it really is…attacking!
God teaches us some valuable lessons in His word about our roles in marriage as husband and wife. But, many of us have ignored His guidelines and tried to go it on our own, as I did for the first eight years of my marriage. You are welcome to read some more discussion about God’s roles for both husbands and wives at http://www.elizabethgeorge.com/books/a-wife-after-gods-own-heart/ in an excerpt from my book, A Wife After God’s Own Heart.
I know that when I became aware of both my own and my husband’s roles, I became more understanding of the pressures on him and became a better helper rather than an attacker. A memorable, yet challenging way to reflect on our role as wife includes the list below:
W – Warm up his life with your love
I – Improve his life as a helper
F – Follow his leadership with a willing heart
E – Esteem him highly with utmost respect
Many wives assume a “when…then” attitude. In their hearts (and maybe even verbally), they say, “When he does this or that, then I’ll do this or that.” They postpone obedience to their roles as a wife and make it conditional to that of their husband’s. But God always calls us to first search our hearts. Instead of rating our husbands, let’s check our own score in the “wife department.” How do you fare when it comes to following God’s plan for a wife? Are there any pitfalls in your marriage that may be directly attributed to neglecting to do things God’s way? Is there any tension caused by a failure to adhere to God’s recipe for a happy marriage, a recipe made up of four basic ingredients: help, submit, respect, and love?
So now I ask you to please stop, pray, and revisit God’s blueprint. Refresh your commitment to actively follow His plan for your roles in your marriage. Your commitment to follow God’s plan for a wife makes a tremendous difference. How? It will make a difference in your communication as a couple, in your heart as love for your husband blossoms and abounds, and in the way you treat him with greater respect. It will also improve the climate of your marriage, paving the way for the two of you to dwell together in harmony. Any children will be the blessed inhabitants of a pleasant and peaceful home-sweet-home! When you and I are faithful to follow God’s plan for us, the possibilities are spectacular!
Question: Can you share a marriage situation where turning from an attacker to a helper changed the outcome of the situation?