Our marriage has changed dramatically over the last three years. I've written about how it began changing. If I had to pinpoint the single greatest contributor to these changes it would be that RLB took back authority in our home. With faith and conviction, he returned to the head of our household and took the lead. This allowed me to seek God and His will for my life. I began reading the Bible and recognizing where I had been in rebellion up until then.
If you are a married woman reading blogs like this, chances are you too are seeking ways to improve your marriage. My encouragement to you is this, take your eyes off your husband and what he is or is not doing. Take responsibility for yourself. Do not fall into the wrongful thinking "If only my husband would do x, y, or z, then our marriage could be successful." Yes, I needed a kick start in order to implement the changes in me necessary for our marriage to begin improving. Commit to yourself that you won't be as obtuse and stubborn as I was.
I will be doing a series of posts critiquing the books we have in our house. The first of which is called For Men Only and is written by Shaunti and Jeff Feldhahn. The reason I'm starting with a book written for men is because if you are anything like me, it's the first thing you focus on. "What is he doing wrong?" I bought this book and gave it to RLB desperately hoping that he'd read it and everything would get better because he'd be learning how to better relate to me. Right off the bat they state:
This book holds to a biblical world view. Our aim is to be relevant and revealing no matter what your worldview is. But because Shaunti and I view life through our Christian faith, we have seen that these findings are consistent with biblical principles. [...] For example, our starting-point assumption is that husbands need to love their wives just as Jesus does us - which means to love, serve, and be willing to sacrifice everything for her good, even above our own.Unfortunately the authors do not provide scriptural references so I'm going to assume they are referring to this from Ephesians:
Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her, that He might sanctify and cleanse her with the washing of water by the word, that He might present her to Himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that she should be holy and without blemish. So husbands ought to love their own wives as their own bodies; he who loves his wife loves himself. For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as the Lord does the church. For we are members of His body, of His flesh and of His bones. “For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” This is a great mystery, but I speak concerning Christ and the church. Nevertheless let each one of you in particular so love his own wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband. Ephesians 5:25-33When the authors say a man is to "sacrifice everything for her good, even above our own" they are speaking a very different message than what is actually in this verse. The goal of a husband loving his wife as Christ loved the church is to sanctify and cleanse her with the washing of water by the word, that he might present her to God a glorious woman, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that she be holy and without blemish. So yes, men are to love their wives and at the same time see that she respects him.
Unfortunately the authors words "for her good" are used as support of the Female Imperative and not Truth (this becomes clear later). Reading Ephesians we can clearly see that loving a wife will mean correcting her. It will mean holding her accountable to what scripture has to say. The assumption in Ephesians is that women do have spots and wrinkles, they are not holy or without blemish. However, a husband loving his wife in the manner commanded by God can change these things. Just as Christ changes believers with his love.
"But SD, my husband is not loving me that way, he's not correcting me or holding me accountable to scripture." Well, dear one, God has a plan for that:
Wives, likewise, be submissive to your own husbands, that even if some do not obey the word, they, without a word, may be won by the conduct of their wives, when they observe your chaste conduct accompanied by fear. 1 Peter 3:1-2Again, do not place focus on what your husband is or is not doing. You focus on you. Are you respecting him and submitting to him in all things?
This book is riddled with femcentric pandering so I'm going to highlight some of the worst. The things that if my husband were to implement, I would certainly NOT feel the way the authors claim a woman would feel.
This is a classic fitness test - a shit test.If she's upset, realize she doesn't need space - she needs a hug. [...] If she is being difficult, don't stop - keep reassuring her of your love.When we asked some women why they might push their husband away or make it hard for their husband to love them (by being difficult or critical, for example), most women knew exactly what we were talking about. But they had a hard time explaining why they did it. It was really, they said, a subconscious attempt to assuage their inner uncertainty about his love.
Another woman made this comment, which is long, but very valuable for confused men like you and me:
You have to realize, if a woman says, "I need to hear that you love me," and the guy dutifully says, "I love you," well, that's essentially meaningless: like she made him say something he didn't feel. So if she's feeling confused and neglected and really does want to be assured of his feelings, she can't just ask. And if they are at odds, she's maybe a little mad at him, so when he approaches her, she pushes him away even though that is what she most wants! But if he'll put aside his pride and try again, if he'll risk grabbing her hand and saying something like "Don't go away, I want to know what's wrong," that will break through her defenses. It tells her that no matter how she's feeling right then, that whew, he really loves her.Fair warning: This will include times where we've sensed insecurity and are trying to reassure her - and still get pushed away. Few things drive a guy crazy more than the sense of being tested or manipulated and most of us soon give up in disgust. I can't tell you how many times when facing resistance I've thought, Fine, suit yourself. I've got to go cut the lawn anyway. And then I pretty much put the incident out of my mind. Unfortunately, she can't.
She's still seeking the answer to the original question: "Do you still love me?"
My advice is, if you're speechless with frustration at that point, you're still in the game. Forget giving speeches and simply reach for her. (emphasis mine)
First of all, if you are doing this to your husband, you are wrong.
But know this, that in the last days perilous times will come: For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, unloving, unforgiving, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, despisers of good, traitors, headstrong, haughty, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having a form of godliness but denying its power. And from such people turn away! For of this sort are those who creep into households and make captives of gullible women loaded down with sins, led away by various lusts, always learning and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth. Now as Jannes and Jambres resisted Moses, so do these also resist the truth: men of corrupt minds, disapproved concerning the faith; but they will progress no further, for their folly will be manifest to all, as theirs also was. 2 Timothy 3:1-9 (emphasis mine)
But let your ‘Yes’ be ‘Yes,’ and your ‘No,’ ‘No.’ For whatever is more than these is from the evil one. Matthew 5:37
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. 1 Corinthians 13:4-7There's a reason why a husband reaching for his wife to hug her when she is behaving like this actually makes her lose respect for him (and subsequent attraction to him). It's not biblical for him to do so. Whether we women recognize it in our hearts or not, his supplicating to this sort of test tells us that he is not washing us with the word, he is not holding us accountable to scripture, that he's caving to our evil, he is relinquishing his authority and it leaves us vulnerable and unprotected.
The correct response is a stern rebuke for this behavior. Ladies, if you are testing your husbands in this manner, you need to repent of your sin and pray for forgiveness. This is not rational behavior. It is sinful. It is part of our sin nature that needs to change. Pray. Ask God to change your heart. Make the commitment to change your behavior. There is no room for Godly women to behave like manipulative fools.