You are wondering: Why is my marriage so hard?
(I’m going to get to this in a second, and you’ll need to hang with me here. I know that if your marriage is so hard you are grasping at anything, you’re going to want to read this AND stick it out to the bottom – you’ll see the radio shows that are airing today that explain WHY the Greater Impact materials aren’t books, they are life-changing experiences – and they can impact YOU. 🙂 )
Your struggle is one that is common to women in this culture. I’m not going to talk about that here. There’s a hundred reasons in the culture, our upbringing, etc., to blame for this, but the source of the struggle when we know the Truth is different.
We can only blame the damage from our childhood for so long – and then we need to let Him make us new – and stop being victims. And before you think I don’t understand what it’s like to be an abused child, or to suffer at the hands of a man, I can tell you I do, so don’t discount this response just because you think I don’t get it.
What we’re dealing here with is a struggle of faith and a lack of reverence for Who God is and what He commands.
Why This Happens
This results in TWO things that impact our marriages negatively:
- At the core of the respecting our husbands issue is simply, “Do I trust God enough to believe His Word to be true, and respond with obedience?” Most of us really don’t believe that He has good things in store for us if we obey Him. So we don’t. And we’re naturally wired (thanks, Eve) to be controlling, so we try to manage our lives without His input. We’ll sign up for salvation, peace and comfort, but that’s about it. Most of us don’t want to “give up” anything…we just don’t know Him well enough to trust Him that much.
- To the degree with which we respect ourselves, others respect us – and some women throw themselves under the bus in the name of “submission” and “respect,” giving up on “self-respect” by confusing it with “selfishness.” (want to know more about that? Read With All Due Respect and pay attention to Dare 18…just sayin’)
And believe me, I totally understand your conflict.
I have been there!
Being on the other side of this now, however, I want to help you and share the reasons we can, and as wives, should, do something about the states of our marriages. First, Luke 6:32, 33 says, “If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners love those who love them. And if you do good to those who are good to you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners do that.” So, God’s attitude is that we should have Christ’s attitude (Phil 2:5) and pick up our cross and follow Him.
Even if your husband is a jerk.
If we are going to wait for our husband to show love to us before we will take action, show him love (through his language of respect) or do good to him, then we aren’t doing what God asks. Combine this with the “you must be a doormat” attitude conveyed about submission and we end up with a bunch of resentful women.
And that’s not what God wants, either.
How It Usually Works
But we wives must FIRST submit and respect before we can have the relationship we want. And WE CAN HAVE THE RELATIONSHIP WE WANT… hear that… yes, we CAN be treated with love… but yeah, first we have to die to ourselves and our sinful selfish nature, obey God, then learn the next steps.
And sometimes those next steps take a loooooooooonnnnnnng time…
And if you trust God, you know He has a purpose for His timing.
So we need to be cool with that. But we won’t, unless we wrap our identity up in His opinion of us, and not people’s.
The women who have done this have shared the horrors of the influences they’ve been under – everything from satanic ritual abuse, abortions, affairs, incest, murder, spousal abuse – you name it, we’ve seen them liberated. I watched one woman confront her imprisoned father, who impregnated her as a child, (and by the way her entire family didn’t speak to her and her mother forced her to have an abortion) turn her marriage around by applying respect…and she even pursued her husband intimately. Now that’s victory! But all these ladies had one thing in common – they submitted to Christ’s authority, making Him Lord of their lives, obeyed His Word, and lived their lives with the purpose of delighting God. They all trusted God enough to do what He asked them to do, even when it was hard.
Why is it our responsibility as wives to move forward FIRST in our marriages? Is this a burden or a privilege? I think it’s exciting and wonderful, but then again, I like being able to take responsibility for how I feel. I find that empowering, freeing, and not a burden. And I’d like to take credit for that, but it’s not “just because I’m wired a certain way.” I’ve asked Him to help me follow Him. Asked Him to help me obey. And He did. His Word is full of ways to help us, if we just read it and follow – it’s all for good.
I believe God’s Word has revealed something about wives, too. Psalm 19:1-6 says we can know God through His creation. Just as women are designed by God to breastfeed (we have breasts, we lactate upon giving birth, our milk will “let down” at a baby’s cry, etc., without any conscious action on our part – we can know His intention is for women to nurse babies, not men, because we see it in His creation), we can look at our brain chemistry (having more connections between the “thinking” and “feeling” sides of our brains) and the fact that we produce bonding hormones in dramatic magnitude compared to men and conclude also from His creation that women are more relational than men. In the Bible, where God tells us how to do marriage, He tells the wife FIRST to take action. Ephesians 5:22-33, Colossians 3:17-19, 1 Peter 3:1-7.
Look them up for yourself if you don’t believe me. He tells the wife what to do FIRST.
I think that’s significant.
(so here’s the thing. I almost NEVER mention the books I write or the classes I’m teaching. Here’s why: I really struggle with the aspect of ministry that feels like “promotion” because I don’t want to come off as “selling something.” You need to know I don’t make money from doing this. I’m a volunteer. I don’t do ads because I’m not about the money. This is a problem… because our ministry functions on money. All the stuff we print, the websites, the security for the websites, yada yada… it all costs money. So on the rare occasions that I actually mention that I have written stuff out there… it always makes me feel a little… I don’t know… something. Which is not awesome, because I need to be able to wrestle through that to grow our organization… So I mentioned the books. And our ministry. All in the same post. Deep breath. So. I said it. Now I can keep going. 🙂 thanks for letting me get that off my chest :))
How We are Wired
Knowing that one of women’s strengths is relationship-building and communication, given also, that in Luke 6:41 and Matthew 7:3, we are asked to pay attention to our own plank instead of another’s faults, and the tons of other verses about daily behavior and the fact that we are called also to be our husband’s “helper” – all these things add up to the privilege and exciting opportunity in front of all wives and that is to be the relationship architects in their marriages, helping their husbands learn to communicate love (and not just to us, but also to our kids).
But FIRST, we must learn to speak their language of respect, so that they will receive our help, and because God calls us to do so and He’s right for a whole host of reasons.
The alternative is to sit around and wait for him to change, being miserable and angry.
And that’s not what He wants.
But will we open our hands, holding loosely everything we have, surrender to His will instead of ours for our lives, and trust Him enough to obey?
We don’t even realize that we’re making it harder by not obeying. By not trusting Him. By not asking Him to help us trust Him, which He will be delighted to do.
That’s always the question. And until we get that right, there is no lasting joy or peace that surpasses all understanding.
I so want all wives to experience those things. To wrap their identity up in the One Who Made them so they can handle the difficulties in their lives. To not be so devastated by another human’s response, or lack thereof, but to have a healthy identity. To create this reality and model it for their own children, so they can get it right, finding peace and joy in marriage, representing Christ and the church. But it starts with their obedience.
Will you obey?
Dare you today to simply ask Him to help you obey. 🙂
Can’t wait to hear from you in the comments! 🙂 (and if you liked the article today, consider yourself invited to join us by signing up in the sidebar for the marriage tips articles – don’t worry, I won’t flood your email, and I promise not to share it with anyone else)
And here’s the radio shows:
Here’s a few more articles you might find interesting:
Struggling with Life Balance? (aka, “How’d we get in THIS mess?”) *If you are chauffeuring kids everywhere all the times, you’ll want to check this out!
And if you are struggling with a man who is angry, defensive, and you’ve lost yourself and are super discouraged… you can get on our waiting list for the Strength & Dignity class that starts in two weeks. 🙂 And it is free. 🙂
If you aren’t signed up in the sidebar for the Marriage Tips be sure to do so and you won’t miss a thing!
What do you think? Where are you in the journey – chime in below!