R is for Relationship

C is for Conquest

H is for Hierarchy

A is for Authority

I is for Insight

R is for Relationship

One of the highest indicators of marital success is whether or not a couple are friends.  When you dated you showed interest in his hobbies, spent time with him in different activities, and in general, acted as a friend.  Patty went so far as to go squirrel hunting with me one time.  She was amazing.  She was silent as we walked towards the limbs in the tree that were moving.  She helped me find the squirrel walking along the limb, and was quiet as a mouse until I flipped the safety off.  Then she ran through the underbrush like a mad woman yelling “run squirrel, run!”  Like I said, she went hunting with me once.

It is difficult to maintain a friendship even with a person you love dearly and see every day.  Distractions from work, household chores, church, other friends and children may serve to undermine the work and time it takes to maintain a friendship with your husband.  However, it is the friendship that will last when the kids leave, passion wanes, and other friends move on.  The best known wife in the bible describes her bride groom as follows:  “His mouth is full of sweetness; Yes, he is altogether lovely and desirable.  This is my beloved and this is my friend, O daughters of Jerusalem.”  The bride has it right, to be a successful couple he has to be your groom, your lover, and your friend.

The good news is that being a friend to a guy does not require much energy.  In fact, sometimes all it requires is presence and attention.  In his book, Love and Respect, Dr. E writes the following:

One wife decided to go deer hunting with her husband, who uses the bow and arrow. She helped him set up the blind, and they both sat there for hours waiting for a deer to happen by. They saw nothing, they shot at nothing, and they said nothing. Finally, they took down the blind and headed back to the car. To this point she had said not one word the entire time. As they were walking down the trail, her husband turned to her and said, “This was awesome!”1

I know, it doesn’t make sense does it?  They spent all that time and never talked, never chatted, didn’t even look at Facebook.  How could this build a relationship.  Truth be told, I don’t know.  However, this type of uninterrupted time spent in each others presence without the need to talk energizes guys.  Even better, find something you can do together.  Patty and I picked up Kayaking a few years back and some of the best time we have spent together is in the backwaters quietly paddling through Cypress trees and watching wildlife.

Spending time in activities that build your friendship adds depth to the other aspects of your relationship as well.  Friends make better parents; friends make better ministry partners; and friends make better lovers.  Time focused on improving your friendship is time spent ensuring a stronger marriage.

1.  Eggerichs, Dr. Emerson. Love and   Respect: The Love She Most Desires; The Respect He Desperately Needs (p. 241). Thomas Nelson. Kindle Edition.

I is for Insight

C is for Conquest

H is for Hierarchy

A is for Authority

I is for Insight

One of my favorite video’s is “It’s Not About the Nail.”  Watch it and then return to this post.

Hilarious and true.  But here is the thing, sometimes it is about the nail.  Sometimes a wife wants a listening ear and sometimes a wife needs wise counsel.  A woman will most often desire the former at home but a man will default to the later.  Remember, at work he may often times come into contact with people who are pointing out deficiencies, identifying problems or complaining about a situation.  They come to him at work for solutions and he may have some excellent advice.  He gives his advice, his coworkers appreciate and affirm his wisdom, he feels valued and then he moves on to the next problem starting the cycle again.  However, he comes home and listens to his wife vent while still in the framework of “fixing the problems.”  Then the crazy cycle starts.

Patty and I have learned I am a fixer, most men are.  I do not naturally understand the need to vent.  So, we have learned to ask for what we need.  When she wants a listening ear she starts the conversation with “I need to vent.”  When she fails to do this and starts venting I ask, “Am I supposed to be in venting mode or advice mode?”  She smiles, let’s me know what she needs, and we continue with the conversation.  After a while a man will start to learn to listen to venting a little more naturally.  However, it seldom happens easily without professional training.

It is worth noting that men at work feel validated and appreciated for being recognized as the “answer guy.”  If he is not getting the same type of validation from you it can often create problems in a marriage.  Some of the people he is being validated by at work are women.  No-one should be validating your man more than you.

H is for Hierarchy

It is important in a Christian marriage to recognize the Hierarchy that God has put into place.  Read just a few scriptures related to marriage and you will see that the man is assigned by God to be the head of the family.  It is important to realize this is not an assessment of value. God does not value man above woman, nor does he give men the authority to treat their wives as a second-class citizen.  It does not mean that the woman is not smarter, wiser, or more spiritually mature; they may very well be. It simply means that in order for the marriage to operate in a structured manner someone has to lead.  In a Christian marriage this burden falls to the man.

 

I know this may cause some fear to surface.  What if he takes advantage? What if he treats me like a doormat?  What if he becomes abusive? These are valid concerns. However, if you married a good-willed man, he can learn to bear the burden of leadership with wisdom and grace.  It often takes time, especially in a world where their father’s may have “checked out” during their childhood so that have no role model. There is fine line that family leaders walk between struggling with “control” and exercising “leadership.”  Pride and immaturity often get in the way as we learn leadership. There are a couple of things you as a wife can do to help him grow in this process.

 

  1. When he leads, follow.  Every woman enters a marriage with baggage and often it is the baggage of distrust.  Boyfriends, lovers, family members, husbands and even strangers may have hurt you deeply resulting in a lack of trust and a need for control.  However, if you are trying to be in control, you are saying he should submit to you. This is the reversal of the hierarchy provided in the bible.  As he is called to lead, you are called as a helpmate to encourage him when he leads and follow his lead whenever possible.
  2. Have a discussion on what leadership means to each of you.  When should he ask for input? How should it be provided when not asked for?  Talk about the differences in how you see things and the value of having your opinion.
  3. Offer your input and then let it go.  Trust that God is working in your life to learn how to follow and is working in his life to learn how to lead.
  4. Expect failure.  Learning to lead is a process and he is only human.  When he fails, encourage him when you can, take the opportunity to learn and then move forward in humility and forgiveness.
  5. Encourage him to attend men’s events and groups through the church.  Events like “Band of Brothers” addresses leadership in the family and puts him in contact with other men of different ages that can act as a mentor.
  6. Attend women’s events that have biblical teaching on family.  Events like Hearts of Beauty allow you to meet women of different ages that help you learn how to positively influence your husband and deal with some of your past.

CHAIRS

It has been a couple of weeks since the Workshop where we discussed what respect looks like to a man.  If you remember, during the workshop we used the acronym CHAIRS:

C – Conquest

H – Hierarchy

A – Authority

I – Insight

R – Relationship

S – Sexuality

Conquest

Today let’s visit conquest, the importance a man places on his work.

Most men have an innate drive to accomplish something in their life.  We look back at stories of old where Louis and Clark mapped the way west or Daniel Boone conquering the wild frontier.  We love the stories of men and their flying machines or of Henry Ford changing the landscape of work as he formed the first assembly line. Men often find their drive for conquest through their work.  The need to be successful, to move “up the ladder,” or create something that has never before been seen is a normal drive for many men.  Like everything else this can become an idol, but for most men the need to succeed at work is a significant part of their life and their job is often a significant part of their identity.

Today take a moment to text your husband and say thanks for how he provides for and serves your family through his work.  Express appreciation for what he brings to his work whether it is fresh ideas, experienced leadership, or a kind heart.  Validating the importance of his work is one way you can show respect to your husband.

Trust

Do you trust your husband?  I know you probably did at one time because you married him.  Often times the trust that was once present has been eroded by bad decisions, angry outbursts, selfish acts, and sheer stupidity.  The problem is that really great marriages are built on a foundation of trust and often times, trust is lost when our unrealistic expectations are not met.

At the age of 19 I walked the isle and said, “I do.”  Patty had some expectations of me that turned out to be unrealistic:

  • Michael will make good financial decisions – Michael got us into $50,000 worth of unsecured debt.
  • Michael will consult with me on issues of significant importance – Michael joined the Air Force without even discussing it.
  • Michael will help me take care of our child – Michael had no idea how to handle a child.

The list is long and distinguished.

I know what you are thinking; these are not unrealistic expectations.  This is what a husband does if he loves his wife. That maybe true when you marry a mature 35 year old, but not a 19 year old.  It is a realistic expectation now, but may not have been then.

Here is my point; if you have a lot of baggage from early in your marriage it may be time to unpack it and put it at the feet of God.  Your husband is not the man he was 15 years ago, maybe it is time to look at him for who he is now and not what he was then and issue some forgiveness. Maybe it’s time to forgive and trust God that he is continuing His work in your husband just as he is in you.

You may note that this is a somewhat personal entry for me.  Anyone would have fully understood if, after 15 years of struggle, Patty had left me because of my immaturity and stupidity.  However, she made a different decision. Along the way she stopped focusing on trying to change me and started focusing on trusting God and letting God be in charge of changing me.   That is exactly what happened. I am convinced when she starting trusting God and stopped trying to be my Holy Spirit, God got to work in our marriage. We love being married and we are thankful for each other and what God has done in our relationship.  Ultimately, we are thankful that we can trust God and can rest in his provision in our marriage. Because we trust God we can trust each other. It is that foundation of trust, both in God and in each other, that makes all the difference in our marriage.

The Strength of a Woman

Women love the story of Cinderella.  A woman, mistreated by her step-sisters (the world) is then discovered by her prince (Jesus represented by your husband) who sweeps in on a White horse and saves her from her condition (that time is coming).  Women love the story because there it is a reflection of the reality of a Christian woman and marriage.

A woman who humbly understands how much she is loved is a woman who understands her value and place in the world.  It is the foundation of self-control and self-esteem. It is the building block of submission and strength. It is captivating.

Here is a document that Patty obtained somewhere over the years.  It has the scriptural references regarding your true identity. Your challenge is to print it and place it somewhere you will see it every day.  Look up a listed scripture at least once a week and let the truth of who you are percolate daily. It may take some time to assimilate these truths, but it is worth the effort.