*If you subscribed to receive the marriage challenge updates in your inbox and are not receiving them yet, I ask for your patience with a technical Feedburner issue which has affected emails going to the subscriber list. Hopefully this issue will be resolved immediately. In the meantime, be sure to follow me on Facebook and/or Twitter so you’ll be notified when the posts are up!
I once read that marriage is not 50/50 as the old saying goes, but instead it is really 100/100! If you think about it, regardless of what we are trying to work at, if we only offer 50% of our efforts, the outcome is not going to be what we had hoped for. If we only give half of our efforts, how can we expect a complete result?
This also proves true when it comes to the words we invest into our marriage, and our husbands, because a wife’s words have great influence.
In some instances, we may want our husbands to change in some regard because it would benefit us, or make us feel more loved or appreciated. However, I think in most cases, the changes we wish would take place in our husbands are because we genuinely want them to be the best they can be – as a husband, a father, and a man.
For example, we may wish they were a stronger spiritual leader in the home, because it would increase their faith level and impact the hearts of children in positive ways for the Lord. In fact, dozens of you commented about that yesterday. Or we may wish they would be more attentive to our feelings, because we know that would improve our marriage overall and make for a happier family unit. Or we wish they would be able to control their temper better, so that everyone in the family could be happier.
But regardless of the reason we may want them to change, whether it be selfish or selfless, the truth remains that there is really no way to change a man – only God can truly do that.
However – we can help him build a desire to change himself by focusing on what is good in him, instead of all that is wrong with him in our opinion. Our thoughts turn into criticism, and our criticism turns into words which wound and destroy. I have fallen prey to that trap in my lifetime, and maybe you have as well. Even if our opinions are accurate and our critiques are justified, they hold no power to change.
When we constantly focus on the negative aspects of our man, the door is opened for Satan to creep in and begin taking his toll on the hearts of the wife and the husband, and certainly in the relationship.
Instead, our goal through prayer and selfless intention, should be to subtly guide and build up a husband so that he can become the man God intended for him to be, and the husband that we long for; to help a man recognize his own self worth, by seeing himself through the adoration of his wife. Not because we have to, or even because a husband deserves it, or even because we adore him – but because words of encouragement hold power.
If a man feels a desire to change and a desire to please his wife, he will be much more willing to work towards changing, than he would if a wife was just demanding change. Wives can motivate their efforts through the tools of love, respect and admiration, but the key lies in remembering to say those words when we feel them. Not to manipulate, but to motivate. Not to control, but to guide.
My husband is a Commercial Building General Contractor by trade, and with the economy in crisis, there is not a whole lot of building going on. This lack of work has nothing to do with my husband’s ability or expertise, but when business is bad, he takes the blame on himself, as most men do, since they are built with an innate need to be good providers.
I have reminded Michael numerous times in the past year that he has always been, and always will be, a great contractor. The state of the economy, even though it affected us personally, is no reflection on his skills, talents or his ability to provide for our family. I want him to know that I still admire him and what God has gifted him to do, even when business is down and even when life gets rough. And with unemployment at an all time high, these are powerful words many men may need to hear.
Yet, all too often, those words of encouragement go unspoken. In fact, there are many ways I could think of to compliment my husband, yet I don’t always speak up. For example, there have been days when I have been away from Michael and thinking fond thoughts of him, such as how much I love him, how proud I am of all he’s accomplished or how thankful I am for all he does for our family, but then when he got home from work, I never mentioned those things, and instead maybe even complained about something silly.
Why didn’t I just share all those loving positive thoughts with him, instead of voicing the negative or neutral thoughts? The culprit was simply a habit – a habit that needed breaking.
I have heard it takes 21 days for a new habit to form; for it to become second nature to us, instead of something we have to focus on deliberately doing. Each one of us is in a habit with our words – a habit of tearing down, a habit of neutrality, or a habit of building up.
A few years ago after posting about this topic of promoting our husbands with words, a reader sent me a private email sharing a personal story. She stated that her husband was not an emotional or affectionate man, and that their relationship was strained as a result. She was hesitant to try to compliment him, because she didn’t think he would be responsive or appreciative. She feared rejection. But she stated that as soon as she spoke sweet unexpected words of encouragement to him, he “melted like a marshmallow”. I just loved that analogy!
I am not saying that all men are like marshmallows, but all men do need encouragement, and need to believe that they are respected and admired. We might be surprised at the response a few sweet words can elicit, and maybe see a side of our husbands that we haven’t seen in a very long time.
Hebrews 10:24 says “And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds”
Let’s start some spurring on today.
DAY 2 CHALLENGE: PROMOTE YOUR MAN
Make a list of positive things about your husband, and then pick one or two of those things to compliment him about today. Then try to remember to compliment him at least once per day for the next week. If you have not promoted him with your words in quite a while and it seems awkward, ask God to put the words on your lips, and to soften your husbands heart to be receptive. If possible, let your husband hear you complimenting him to someone else as well.
If you can’t think of anything positive because the weight of your troubled relationship has consumed your thoughts for so long, then pray about it. Ask God to prick your memory or bring something to mind that you do admire about your husband, especially if lots of ugly thoughts are crowding out positive ones.
Leave a comment stating one special way you could encourage, or have encouraged your man recently, with your words. I’m sure we could all benefit from each other’s insights and support.