How can I be the wife God’s called me to be? How can I let go of expectations & let my husband lead?
This week I asked the Lord, “How can I be a better wife to my husband? How can I help our marriage grow? Are my expectations too high?” I asked the Lord to search my heart and teach me what I need to know to be the wife that HE intends for me to be. So He took me back to the beginning.
In Genesis 2:20-22 (ESV) it says:
The man gave names to all livestock and to the birds of the heavens and to every beast of the field. But for Adam there was not found a helper fit for him. So the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and while he slept took one of his ribs and closed up its place with flesh. And the rib that the Lord God had taken from the man he made into a woman and brought her to the man.
My next question was, "What does it truly mean to be a helper to my husband?
So, I searched through the bible for the word "Helper" and what I found was truly fascinating. In all the other verses, I could only find the word "helper" in reference to God being a helper to us.
It seems that God has given us wives great power to do good in our husband's lives.
Some of us may have husbands who are already leading our homes spiritually and others of us may find that our husbands aren't leading at all. So how do we handle our home if we are in the latter situation if our husband isn't leading at all? How can we still be helpmates to our husbands? How can we still show them respect?
I grew up in a home with my Mom being the only parent. She was the spiritual leader, the provider, the mom and the dad. So I learned from an early age that a woman should be independent, responsible and we had to be the leader of the home. So when I got married, I found it hard to turn over the control and leadership to my husband. I've always felt that I was the only one who could manage the home and do it well. I had this illusion that if I turned the lead of the home over to my husband, well surely, everything would fall to pieces. I had prayed for my husband to be the leader of our home, however, I found it hard to let go of the control and let him lead.
Do you ever get aggravated about the things your husband does? Maybe it's the small things, like leaving the toilet seat up, throwing his clothes on the floor or not taking out the trash. Maybe, it's bigger things, like not leading his home spiritually or an addiction. Maybe he spends all of his extra time off work, golfing or with friends. These are things that we can find ourselves completely upset and frustrated about. So frustrated, in fact, that we can find ourselves nagging. We think, maybe this is the way to get our point across and obtain the outcome that we desire. We want our husbands to change. We want them to fix what they're doing wrong and we want it done pretty quickly.
But will venting our frustrations really help fix things? Or will it only make things worse?
I've never really considered myself to be a "nagging wife”, but it seems that I find other ways to subtly let my husband know that I think he's doing things wrong. You know, like a quiet little jab here and a subtle right hook there. However, I wasn't fooling God, He was aware of my motives. The Lord spoke to my heart, "Tracy, I see what you are doing and it's not right. Your husband feels that you are attacking his character." God speaks clear in His Word that this is not the way for me to handle things.
Proverbs 21:9 (ESV)
It is better to live in a corner of the housetop than in a house shared with a quarrelsome wife.
Proverbs 21:19 (ESV)
It is better to live in a desert land than with a quarrelsome and fretful woman.
Proverbs 25:24 (ESV)
It is better to live in a corner of the housetop than in a house shared with a quarrelsome wife.
I don’t know about you ladies, but sometimes, keeping my mouth closed is the hardest thing ever. My flesh wants that last word. I wished I had a zipper or an off button and I know my husband wishes that at times too. But all jokes aside, this really is a hard one for me.
I’m gradually learning new ways to address conflict without my mouth overdoing it. This doesn’t mean that I have to bottle up my frustrations and concerns and never talk about them. But I do need to take them to the Lord first, in prayer, asking him to let my conversation with my husband be guided by the Holy Spirit. Asking that my words not be a form of nagging and strife but that they be used to express concern from a place of love and building up. We can’t avoid conflict in marriage. But there’s a way to do it and a way not do it. The way in which we communicate our concerns can either hurt our marriage or encourage it. I find that I’m constantly reminding myself and renewing my mind about this on the daily. There are so many days that I don’t get it right. But then I remember, I’m a wife in progress. I keep seeking help from the Holy Spirit because my flesh is nasty. Unless I die to it daily, it’s going to come out.
Proverbs 17:1 (NIV)
Better a dry crust with peace and quiet than a house full of feasting, with strife.
God is a God of peace. He calls us to have peace in our homes.
In this verse he basically says that it's better to starve in peace and quiet than to have tons of food and a house full of everything but have strife and arguing. How true is this!
Peace is an amazing thing to obtain. I think we, as wives, have the ability to create an atmosphere of peace in our homes. Not by our own power but through the power of the Holy Spirit.
Proverbs 14:1 (NIV)
The wise woman builds her house, but with her own hands the foolish one tears hers down.
The Word says that I have the ability to build my house up or I have the ability to tear it down. So what does this mean and how can I build my house up?
What I've come to learn as a wife is, that God hasn't called me to judge or fix my husband. Trying to fix and change my husband to fit my expectations has never had a positive result. It usually results in a tearing down of my husband and a tearing down of my house.
The changes that occur in my husband’s heart can only come from the Holy Spirit.
But the one thing God has called me to do as a wife, is to be obedient to His Word, work on myself, pray and be my husband's HELPER (Helpmate).
This is the way to build my house up. 1 Corinthians 7:13-14 (ESV)
If any woman has a husband who is an unbeliever, and he consents to live with her, she should not divorce him. For the unbelieving husband is made holy because of his wife, and the unbelieving wife is made holy because of her husband. Otherwise your children would be unclean, but as it is, they are holy.
Scripture says that even if our husbands aren't believers that they are made Holy because we are believers. This is powerful and speaks volumes to who we can be as wives.
We have a powerful influence in our husband's lives. We can choose to build him up or We can choose to tear him down.
1 Peter 3:1-5 (ESV)
Likewise, wives, be subject to your own husbands, so that even if some do not obey the word, they may be won without a word by the conduct of their wives, when they see your respectful and pure conduct. Do not let your adorning be external—the braiding of hair and the putting on of gold jewelry, or the clothing you wear—but let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God's sight is very precious. For this is how the holy women who hoped in God used to adorn themselves, by submitting to their own husbands,
Ladies, I know we want to look hot for our husbands and I'm sure they absolutely appreciate it, but this also tells me that our respectful and pure conduct has a far greater influence on our husbands than our looks do. The hidden beauty of our hearts has a massive impact on our husband's lives.
Instead of nagging about how my husband has missed the mark, I can show submission and respect by putting on a gentle and quiet spirit, which is very precious in the sight of God.
I know that this doesn't seem easy or even realistic at times. God's Word never says that it will be an easy task.
But for those of us who believe, if the Word says it, we know that we can trust that it's truth and that it works.
Ephesians 5:33 (ESV)
......and let the wife see that she respects her husband.
It seems that the two things that God is showing me that my husband needs the most is honor and respect.
"But how can I show my husband honor and respect?”
God spoke to my heart, "First, you need to hand the lead over to your husband. How can he lead if you won't let him. How can he feel honored and respected if you don't trust him to lead his own home?"
I admit, this one is a hard one for me.
I was the one who asked the Lord to show me what I needed to do to be a better wife and, well, the truth hasn't been easy. Especially, when I didn't believe that I was the one who had issues. What a surprise it was when the Lord started pointing out where I was missing the mark.
I realize now, that a lot of the time, it's me that needs to be fixed.
I needed God to help me, FIX ME!
God said to me, "Your husband needs to know that you love him just where he's at.”
He needs to know that I appreciate his commitments and I value his opinions.
I don't always show my gratitude for how amazing he truly is as a husband. I need to express my admiration for him and that I earnestly see and acknowledge his needs.
He needs to hear how much I rely on him and trust in him leading our home. That I'm one hundred percent behind him and who he is as a MAN.
1 Corinthians 13:4-7 (NKJV) says:
Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
It says, love is long suffering and bears all things. This kind of love requires me to die to self and to crucify my flesh. Only through my relationship with Christ, can I be this kind of love for my husband.
I need the Holy Spirit to love and see my husband how God does.
We are both growing spiritually at our own unique pace. We are like clay in the potter’s hands. Each trial is growing us in the fruits of the Spirit.
We are developing a love that truly does endure all things, God’s love inside of us.
Instead of seeing my husband’s negatives, I asked God to open my eyes to all of his positives.
When I started seeing my husband’s positives, I realized how much he consistently meets my needs.
He cooks, he grocery shops, he makes me laugh everyday, he always has my back no matter what.
And please, whatever you do, never gossip about me because he will seek you out and confront you, like we are told to do in Matthew 18:15-17. Yep, that’s my husband.
He works hard everyday and provides for us. He has helped carry me through the storms of chronic illness. God has placed him as a rock during some of the darkest times of our life. That is a lot for a man to carry, but he has carried it with courage.
God has placed me with this man so I know that he has equipped me with the tools that I need to be his helpmate.
I also know that I can't do this on my own but through prayer and the Holy Spirit I know I can make progress.
I'm sure there will be many days that I fail.
I'm sure there will be days that I will want to throw the toilet seat at my husband's head.
And then I will think, "I bet he wonders why I can't leave the toilet seat up for him." I mean, really, why has he got to be the one that sets the toilet up for my use each time?
God sees all the hard work and effort that we put forth in our marriages. He sees when we remove our pride and let the small things go. He sees when we choose to submit to our husbands. God sees our obedience to Him and His Word. He sees!
Marriage is hard, if anyone says otherwise, well, they’re not being truthful. It takes hard work and it takes both people. We often times have to set biblical healthy boundaries in our marriage. There are so many times that we may not know how to set loving boundaries in our relationships. In the months to come, I will be writing a blog entry on Biblical Healthy boundaries and how we can implement them in our marriages and relationships. I’ve always had a problem with being a “people pleaser”, and it has taken me thirty years to finally figure out that it‘s okay to set healthy, loving boundaries. Boundaries can sometimes protect us, others and our marriages. Boundaries can protect love and keep us from becoming resentful and bitter because of things that are out of our control.
I'm also aware that some of us have way bigger problems than just the toilet seat being up. Hang in there. Stay close to God and His Word and He will tell you how and when to move in your unique individual circumstance.
*If you are in a marriage where there is continuous physical and verbal abuse taking place, please don't think that you should submit to abuse or to someones continuous destructive behaviors. Please seek safety and counseling from your Pastor or church family.
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