I hear from men all the time who are looking for ways to change their marriage. As these men share their stories they start by talking about how much they desire to have a good biblical marriage, how much they love their wife, and how hurt they are when she rejects them. Then the conversation shifts. The next thing they say is “I just wish my wife would…”
That is a dangerous statement for any husband to make. “I wish my wife would make time for me”, “I wish my wife would pay as much attention to me, as she does to the kids”, “I wish my wife would be more interested in sex” or even “I wish my wife would want a better marriage too”. All of these sound like perfectly natural statements. But they are all missing the most important component of change.
How does positive change happen in marriage? Many of you have read our story of coming to an breakthrough point in our marriage through some very difficult times. I recognized re-reading our story recently it would be easy to assume that God challenged Kate, who made some changes and then our marriage changed, but that would only be part of the story.
Yes it is true, that it was God’s prompting of Kate that started the shifting. After several weeks of Kate increasingly “clinging” to me, to use her word, I started to notice a change. At first, I was just excited by the opportunity to spend some very wonderful time with my wife. It was great that in the midst of a lot of life stress she was able to find and treasure special alone time for me. For a while, that is what it was in my eyes, wonderful time.
Eventually, through the distinct whispers of the Holy Spirit I started to change too! The word that I got was not “cling” as it was for Kate, the word was “cherish”. Cherish your wife!
As I started to hear that word and figure out what it really meant I kept being drawn to God’s instruction in Ephesians 5:25. “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy.”
That verse always scared me. I think it was because I felt the standard was so high that I could never dream of achieving it. There are some parts of me that still feel that way! I know during my life I have seen vivid examples of how much Christ loves me, time and time again, and I am only one of the millions who make up “the church”. How could I ever live up to that standard?
One of the personality flaws I wrestle with is procrastination. When I am faced with a task that I don’t have confidence I can complete and complete well, I procrastinate. This is a good description of what had happened in our marriage. I didn’t think that I could be the kind of husband that God wanted me to be, that Kate wanted me to be, so I stopped trying. I stopped leading, I stopped encouraging, I stopped initiating, I stopped doing.
When the Holy Spirit was leading me to cherish my wife, it was a very nice way of saying “Man UP! And get to work.” Stop expecting your wife to do everything. I opened my eyes to all of the work she was doing, all of the change that she had made for us and I started to find out what it really meant to cherish her! I started to put into practice I AM rather then I wish!
Do I meet that standard every day? No. I still fight the selfishness of “I wish”, and “me first”. I still fight the laziness that procrastination brings. But every day I pray that God will help me to love Kate like He loves her. That has made all the difference. Now the tasks I used to dislike, I do out of love.
Guys, if you want to have a better marriage stop saying “I wish my wife would…” and start saying “I am going to…” The only way that change will every come to your marriage is if you dare to give I am going to… a try!
When the dishwasher is full of clean dishes, I don’t discreetly open it up, take out one clean bowl and then lock it again so Kate won’t know I saw it needed unloading. Now I AM says “open it up and put away the dishes!”
What is it that you can do for your wife that will show her the sacrificial love? How can you turn the I wish’s into I am? Need some more suggestions? Check out this awesome video, it is 14 minutes long but it is well worth watching!
Kate says . . .
Change is a huge theme that we talk about on our blog. It is also a huge theme in all of the emails and comments we get from our readers! There needs to be change! But many times when we get these emails and comments, it is one spouse pointing at the other, stating what they are NOT doing for the marriage. The same spouse is stating to us, what areas their spouse is lacking in, what they have stopped doing for the marriage. This seems to be a theme that often runs parallel with the “there needs to be change” theme! Brad just encouraged husbands in his post “The Energy of I am”. Today I want to encourage wives to think about change.
Let me share first off, that I too used to think along these lines. When I was frustrated in my marriage, I would immediately think of what Brad was not doing for me, or where he was being lazy or where he was only thinking of himself. I would get very aggravated and let him know it by my body language and tone of my voice. I would also pick fights with him over little things that really had nothing to do with what was bothering me. I used negative communication to express my anger and all the while pointing out why I was right and Brad was wrong. I then would unload all of the frustrations I had been feeling for a while over whether or not he “changed the light bulb” as I asked him to. Of course, my unloading had nothing to do with the “light bulb” but had everything to do with me keeping pent up frustration on Brad about his not stepping up to the plate around the house, with me and with the kids. Sound at all familiar?
In talking with wives, I realize that many struggle with this very same attitude. We want our hubbies to go to work, provide for the family and then come home and give 110% to us, the kids, and the house. Many times on top of that we are frustrated with what they are not doing. While we are frustrated, we are not communicating well and not connecting as one flesh at all! There is very little intimacy on all levels (spiritual, emotional, intellectual and physical). We even get annoyed and huffy when they initiate their need for physical intimacy with us. We allow the disconnect and yucky attitude from all else to effect our intimate time with our hubbies! The old saying, that “sex is the farthest thing from our mind”, many times that happens because we are frustrated with our hubbies and allow ourselves to become overwhelmed and consumed by life! Again, does any of this sound familiar?
So, you can relate?!? And you would really like to see some change in your hubby? I remember thinking the same exact thing!
Then … God worked in my heart and showed me how to change my own life! I am the wife. I am called by God to do certain things for our marriage. I am called to follow God’s word on how a wife is to treat her husband and what role she is to take! I have heard many people speaking to husbands, to “man up!” or to “step up to the plate”. Well today, wives, I am challenging you to “wife up!” Step up to the plate and “wife up!” What does God ask of us as wives?
In Ephesians 5:21-24 says, “For wives, this means submit to your husbands as to the Lord. For a husband is the head of his wife as Christ is the head of the church. He is the Savior of his body, the church. As the church submits to Christ, so you wives should submit to your husbands in everything.”
This verse was written specifically to us wives. Not to the husbands, but to us! God designed our amazing hubbies to need our respect. This is how we can show them how much we love them, by showing them our respect as the head of our marriage and family. God created men this way for a reason and in the same way created us wives to need to be loved! Submitting to your hubby is not about losing who you are, it is not about being a doormat, it is about loving your husband, lifting him up in all that he does. It is about discovering who you are together as “one flesh”!
How do you treat your husband in the area of respect? Do you constantly assert yourself as the “leader” over your husband? Do you have a need to control all that goes on in your family? Or do you stand beside your hubby when he leads the family? How you handle these situations shows your husband loud and clear whether or not you respect him. You may say to others that you respect your hubby, but do your actions and your need for control show him otherwise?
Later in Ephesians 5: 31-33 Paul goes on to say:
“As the Scriptures say, ‘A man leaves his father and mother and is joined to his wife, and the two are united into one’. This is a great mystery, but it is an illustration of the way Christ and the church are one. So again I say, each man must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.”
1 Corinthians 7:3, 4 says:
“The husband should fulfill his wife’s sexual needs, and the wife should fulfill her husband’s needs. The wife gives authority over her body to her husband, and the husband gives authority over his body to his wife.”
These two scriptures talk specifically to the husbands and then to the wives. What wives can we take away from these scriptures?
An important word of warning!! In all of these scriptures the husband is addressed and so is the wife. I would strongly suggest to you, that if you want to change and want to see good change in your marriage, ONLY READ THE PARTS ADDRESSED TO THE WIVES!!!! Let me say that again, only read the sections talking directly to the wives. We tend to read the part about the husbands and get stuck. We get stuck because we sit and contemplate what our hubbies are NOT doing on that list. How they are not loving us, how they are not nurturing us sexually. We get so stuck on what they are not doing that we lose focus on improving ourselves. This is a great plague with Christian marriage self-help books as well (definitely another post)! We tend to look at what our spouses are not doing, and then focus on how they are not meeting our needs and how they need to change.
You may think this is crazy coming from Brad and me, when we are always encouraging you to read both my blog (the wife’s perspective) and his blog (the hubby’s perspective), but there is a big difference between reading them for information and further education and reading them for ammunition! What you read should never be used as ammunition against your spouse! But instead be used to encourage, to challenge and to propel you forward in your journey with your spouse.
So after reading God’s word on what a Christ-centered wife should be, how do we bring about change in our marriage??? The answer is simple! Be the change you want to see in your marriage!!!!
Remember I said the answer is simple, not easy! This comes from one of my favorite quotes by Gandhi, “Be the change you want to see in others (the world)” This applies to all of us, in all that we do, especially in our marriages! Gandhi may have been speaking of a broader view, but really it all starts with our marriages.
If you truly want to see change in your marriage, change which will overflow into your family, then YOU be the change. Step up to the plate wives and be the wife God wants you to be! Show your husband how much you love him by respecting him! Let him truly lead your family. Let him make decisions, stand by him, help him execute those decisions and then praise him for his leading! Show your husband how much you love him by serving him. What are the areas in his life he most needs help in?? Don’t nag at him in those areas, help him! Be generous and help him! Clean up the pile of laundry he left on the floor, pack his lunch for him, clean out his car, get all the bills in order for him so they are organized when payday comes, etc! Find ways to serve your hubby! Make them special to his needs and not generic to every husband. We are one flesh and in that, we have the incredible opportunity to serve our spouses.
What does your hubby need from you? Think about his needs before your own. If you want more intimacy (intimacy = to be known completely) in your marriage, then initiate more sex with your hubby! But you may say, there is more to intimacy than sex. “I want to be wooed, I want emotional connection!” I hear ya and I completely agree, there is more to intimacy than sex. But we are thinking about his needs over yours. Spouse over self! Try focusing on his obvious needs for sex and see if your needs for intimacy are not met as well! It may take a while of initiating before you feel like you are receiving! Try it and see, but do it with a willing heart and willing spirit. Not a spirit of, “I am doing this just for you because you apparently need it!” That spirit will only breed more resentment and bitterness, for you both!
So my challenge, wives, is to be the change you want to see in your marriage. Stop complaining about your hubby not stepping up to the plate! Take the initiative and step up to the plate yourself! Not to take charge and control, but to willingly submit to God’s word for wives! Take a step in that direction and I know that God will bless your marriage for your obedience to His word!
If you are not sure about how to go about doing this, not sure of practical ways to let your hubby lead and you come alongside to help. If you are not sure how to serve your hubby, please contact me I would love to chat with you! Most importantly seek God’s word for wives. Seek Him in prayer for how you should serve your hubby! How you can show him love through respect. How you can hand over the reins of control! God wants you to have an amazing marriage. Full of love, respect and intimacy.
A friend posted this quote the other day and I wanted to share it with you wives: Ruth Bell Graham, the late wife of Evangelist, Billy Graham said: “I’ve learned that my job is to love Billy, and if he needs changing, then it is God’s job to change him!” What a wise woman! We cannot change our hubbies, only God can do that. But we can change ourselves and thus have a positive impact on our marriage!! You can do it! Wives, be the change you want to see in your marriage!
Brad and Kate Aldrich blog at One Flesh Marriage. Their goal is to give you tools and encouragement so that you can nurture your journey in a Biblical One Flesh, Ephesians 5 Marriage.
husband & wife pointing to themselves © Aaron Amat / Adobe Stock