Peace in Pain: Resting in God's Nature How to have peace and joy in the…
This Will Change Your Marriage
This Will Change Your Marriage
How God has changed my marriage, my husband, and most importantly my heart. Really he changed the course of my marriage. It was a marriage that could have ended up loveless and unhappy, but instead is on a course to remain vital, full of love & joy. It was the change in my heart and attitude by His grace that I believe totally changed the track of my marriage.
Illustrations of Attitude
Going through pictures on my iPhone, I had sort of an epiphany…an astounding amazement at what God has done in my heart over the years. There’s a picture of the girls at fall festival on Halloween night, a picture of our empty house, videos from the playground near the OKC airport… These might not seem astounding to you, but let me explain.
I costumed and took the girls to the fall festival by myself. I moved out of our house into an apartment at 31 weeks pregnant. The girls and I went to the playground after taking Paul to the airport so that he could take a business venture trip. These details are not the amazing part. The amazing part is the picture of my attitude that these pictures illustrate.
I was not resentful Halloween night of Paul running to the store instead of going with us. It only occurred to me for a brief second that night and then later as I was just looking at these pictures to even be upset. We had a wonderful time! It was a sweet experience that I got to share with my girls.
We are building another house that began to run slowly. We had to rent our house out before the other house was done for financial reasons (and move into a smaller apartment with my father in law. This is the THIRD pregnancy where I have lived at least part of the time with my father in law). Not moving the way we did would have put immense stress on my husband to provide for basically two house payments or to find renters at a very undesirable time, think Thanksgiving/ Christmas. But I spent as much energy as I could muster packing and cleaning and moving, and I never gave much thought to myself, my condition, or my needs. It only occurred to me later that I could have been a little aggravated by this.
Paul is such an entrepreneurial type of person. It’s the way God made him. I believe after praying for him for so many years that God has strongly gifted him this way. Since that is the way he is wired, he is always going after training, leads, opportunities. When he said he wanted to fly to visit a friend for a type of business training for a few days, my heart without hesitation supported him. Even though I am very pregnant with two toddlers and working, (and packing for a move! Lol) it never even occurred to me to be upset. The picture of the girls at the playground after I dropped him off illustrates my positive attitude in the midst of this circumstance that I could have been negative.
I really don’t say these things to brag on myself. Honestly, my heart felt like it was going to burst when I realized how much my perceptions and attitudes had changed, but it was all because I realized how much God was doing in my heart (and in my marriage relationship). Looking back even further, I’m realizing some ways that God is continuously changing my heart. I’m blogging about it because it changed my marriage, and this will change your marriage. I guarantee it.
- Humble Yourself: When I first got married, I had this view of myself. I was a fiery, passionate prayer and worship warrior. I was mature in the Word. I was zealous in praying with everyone about everything. My husband was not. He knew of several bible verses. he lived his life and made choices based on biblical principles. He prayed a very short prayer before meals. He wasn’t too into worshipping or worship music even. I was amazed and burdened by how much my husband did not measure up to the standard I expected my husband to measure up to…You know-to be the husband of a passionate destined prayer warrior like myself? I was worried too that this immature Christian would pull me down to his level like I had learned at vacation bible school where all the other kids stood on the ground and tried to pull a person down off a chair to illustrate how much easier it was to pull someone down than up. I was concerned that I had made a marriage choice to be “unequally yoked”.
One night God gave me a dream. In the dream, at first there was that picture of a child on a chair attempting to be pulled down by others on the ground. I knew this was a flashback to that memory and principle that had been ingrained in my conscience. Then it was like the hand of God moved the slide over, out of sight. In the next scene, there were two sapling trees. One tree was tied to the other. One tree might have been a little older than the other, but they were both saplings. I watched as the wind sort of blew and the trees were strengthened by being tied to one another. It was like God was saying with the first slide, “this is the way you see it.” and then with the second, “this is the way it truly is.”
Paul and I were both babies. We were both drowning in sin and in need of God and a savior. We were both early on our journey with God. We would both one day be OAKS OF RIGHTEOUSNESS, but right now we both had a lot of growing to do.
I later discovered that much of the simplicity of Paul’s thinking and his unquestioning acceptance of truth gave him an advantage in many ways. I might have known more verses, but Paul operated from a stronger biblical foundation in many situations than I did. Times that I was filled with worry, Paul walked with a calm, resolute strength that came from faith.
I needed to realize that I held myself in too high esteem when it came to my Christian walk. The truth is that I was a sinner, broken and weak. And that I had been made new and whole. When God looked at me, he saw Christ. And when God looked at Paul, he saw Christ. We also both have a lifetime and eternity of growing from glory to glory in our maturity.
You are altogether beautiful, my darling; there is no flaw in you.
Song of Solomon 4:7
2. Take your “list” to God (and leave it). When we first got married and still now, I had a long list of things that Paul need to improve in:
- He needed to lead the family in prayer, worship, and study times daily. He needed to make prayer and study a priority for himself.
- He needed to take initiative for us to have times together as a couple with the LORD. After all, “a couple that prays together stays together”. I said this to him often in the hopes, implying the question “umm…do you want to stay together or what?!” or maybe even more than implying sometimes.
- He needed to work on maturing his prayer language and confidence in prayer. His boldness in praying for others needs and looking to prayer as an answer FIRST (before medicine for example–“Why are you running to get the girls’ Tylenol before you lay hands on them?!)
- He needed a hunger for the Word. Often times, he would say something unbiblical and I would say “if you read the word more you would know that’s not right”. Or maybe in a kinder way I would say, “it would be easier for you to talk to God if you spent more time in the word.” Or list off the other benefits that I know to be true of spending time in the Bible.
While I did pray for these things for him, I didn’t leave it there. I didn’t trust God to start and complete the work. I felt that my comments and nudges were needed in shaping my husband and moving him towards these goals. Yes I prayed and prayed, but many times I would break down and just begin an argument focused on his weaknesses.
This left him feeling like he was “not enough” (oh my gosh I’m about to start crying.) He said he felt like he could “never measure up”. Why did I marry him anyway? (aaaand now I am crying.) The little comments no matter how minor or how far between made him feel like that was what I was thinking about him all the time.
So, when you pray, and you should definitely PRAY, for him…then pray. But then leave it. Leave it in God’s care. He is the overseer of your husband’s soul, and he is faithful to complete the work he began in him. God hears your prayers, and He is working. You can rest in that. After all, God wants those things from your husband even more than you do! If you are struggling with not seeing the transformation in your husband and the fruit of your prayers, talk to God about that. I’ve had moments where God drew back the curtain, where He showed me “the right hand of God” in my husband’s heart, and it filled me with such hope that I was able to continue in prayer and faith for another season.
3. Pray Positively (don’t use prayer to dog your husband) Now, I am a believer in prayer and the first step is praying for your husband. But God later showed me that the way I was praying for my husband was wrong. My prayer times were half pity party, half complaint session.
How often was I thanking God for or discussing with Him my husband’s strengths? Or was I bringing God a list of all the things I thought he should be working on? You know the bible says that Jesus “lives to intercede for us”. He is always praying for us. Do you think he is up there having a pity party “Father, she’s just not giving me the glory I deserve and have earned.” or complaint session “She keeps yelling at the kids. Doesn’t she realize they are precious to me? She’s not using the grace that I freely offered. If she would just pray more instead of worrying. Ugh!”
No. Jesus prays from a place of love, from a place of seeing us as priceless beauties. I guarantee you he is saying more things in prayer that praise us than are critical. We need to pray this way too. Ask God to show you your husband’s strengths and his calling, and then thank God for those in prayer. Use prayer to edify and speak life. I’m not saying that you can’t bring your concerns to God, but it’s the heart behind it.
How would you feel about someone speaking that way about your son or daughter when they were little? You are protective as a mother of the way others speak about your child, not seeing the best in them, not remarking on their strengths but only focusing on their weaknesses. And guess what? Your husband is God’s little child, more precious to him than that baby you held in your arms and raised. Consider this when you pray for your husband.
See your husband as God sees your husband.
It’s amazing how when my prayer life began to change, my view of my husband began to change too. There was a spiritual shift in my own heart and mind. I wasn’t constantly disappointed, worried, or resentful. I was thankful. Even times I could easily be resentful, I’m thankful. The thoughts that come up in my thought life about my husband are good, edifying thoughts. And an edifying secret thought life about your husband… This will change your marriage.
When thoughts came up about him not eating right/healthy, not making church a priority, or something like that, I would purposely change my thoughts to all the things that I was thankful for and that he did well. If you have been focused on his weaknesses a lot, then it may be difficult for you to find the good qualities to focus on. But it will get easier and the good qualities will become almost all you see and think about.
Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable–if anything is excellent or praiseworthy–think about such things. Philippians 4:8
4. Speak Positively. Kindness leads to repentance. Out of a positive prayer life, the things you say to him and about him will naturally begin to change. When I was constantly tearing him down and remarking on things that he needed to “work on”, he was not moved to change. I would say it actually moved him in the opposite direction. If he could never seem to “measure up” then why even try.
When God speaks to me in those quiet moments, he doesn’t say what I expect him to say. I expect him to say things that I need to work on or comment on things that I am failing in. But he doesn’t say something about when I lost my temper with my daughter. He says how proud he is of me, what a good mom I am, and how he realizes how hard it is. (aaaand crying again). The moments that I quiet myself and actually listen to him (which is not often enough at all) these are the types of things that he ALWAYS says. I actually can’t think of one critical thing he has said to me although there may have been a couple times that he did in the gentlest way and from a motivation of complete love.
Are you speaking this way to your husband? Are you being kind and gentle when he falls short? Trying to be understanding of difficulty that he is going through? Are you speaking to him from a place of who he WILL be? Are you seeing his shortcomings through a lens of love and mercy? Are you telling him constantly about his strengths that God gave him and how much you and God love him?
Actually, let me take a moment to say something else. If this post is ringing true with you, then you are probably a person that is very hard on yourself. (and this carries over to the way you relate to your husband and others) God wants you to know that that verse above from Song of Solomon 4:7-that’s what he says about you and thinks about you. He sees the best in you. He sees your strength and who you WILL be. He adores you and believes in you. And he wants you to be gentle and loving with yourself. So try, okay? (talking to myself too)
The LORD appeared to him from afar, saying, “I have loved you with an everlasting love; Therefore I have drawn you with lovingkindness.
I led Israel along with my ropes of kindness and love. I lifted the yoke from his neck, and I myself stooped to feed him. (another version says: To them I was like one who lifts a little child to the cheek, and I bent down to feed them.)
God’s way is to draw us with love. This is the way that he affects change in us. When he speaks to us in a way that lifts us up, endears us, and communicates all the faith and hope he has in US, that communicates our great value, we begin to see ourselves differently. We begin to live differently. We begin to want to walk in that identity, out of love.
That’s the difference. You might be able to affect change in your husband by nagging him, by listing off his faults, and laying out for him the way that he needs to fix them. But this change will not be from a “want to”. It won’t be “out of love”.
5. Keep God’s Glory Central. Why do you want your husband to change? Really stop right now and think about that —why?
Is it because your kids need a godly father and model? Or maybe you are afraid without that model, your kids will fall away or have gaps in their Christian devotion. Is it because you deserve and desire a godly husband? This would make you happy and your marriage strong. Is it because you know that this is ultimately what will bring the most satisfaction to your husband’s heart? Or maybe so that your husband will not miss the fullness of his destiny and calling.
These are all good reasons, but they all have one problem: they all have someone else as the center to the why. We have to get to a place where we are so in love and so convinced of God’s worth that he is central. God desires whole-hearted love and He is worthy of all our affection. Those other reasons are good, but they are not THE reason.
When we operate in our desires and our prayers from the place of His desires, it removes the dysfunction. His desire is filled with so much love. Love for us. Love for the world. Love for His church. Love for himself.
I belong to my beloved, and his desire is for me.
Song of Solomon 7:10
His desire for your husband is great. He loves him to the point of death. He longs for him. He wants your husband to KNOW him. He yearns to spend time with him. He wants your husband and mine to worship him because he knows that this is where our hearts come most alive and because God is convinced more than anyone else of his own glory and worth. There is an ache in God’s heart to reveal himself to his most cherished son through his word. God longs to have adventures walking hand in hand with your husband like a father on a hunting trip with his son.
Enter in to God’s desire for your husband. With longing and love, with perseverance and patience, with kindness and mercy and compassion, with faith confidence and hope, his desire aches and reaches for your husband’s full heart and affection. This is to be root of our prayer life for our husband (and for everything).
This is a constant struggle. If I take an honest look, there is always something trying to move to the center of my why. If I am wondering if God’s glory is central or not, I can usually check it against 1 Cor 13. If I’m praying with God’s pure desire and for his heart, then it won’t be polluted with the “love is not”‘s
Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud 5 or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. 6 It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. 7 Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.
The Work of Grace… This will Change Your Marriage
Your marriage is for God’s glory after all. It is a representation to the world of God and His bride. It should be filled with joy and love, contentment and peace. It should shine to the world the beautiful loving relationship that God desires with his people.
We’ve been married a short time and hopefully have many years ahead of us. I’m thankful for the small gradual changes that I’ve seen in my husband, but I’m most thankful for the work that God’s grace has done in MY heart and the way that it has changed my marriage. If you are wanting to change your husband, you have to allow grace to change you.
I am amazed at the change that He has done in me. I was on a course for a discontented and unhappy marriage. A marriage where my husband felt “not enough” and I agreed with him. I feel content and hopeful about my husband even though I don’t see the fruit of my prayers often times. I believe in my husband, in his gifts, in his callings. I am finding that no matter what may happen or any of his failings, I never lose faith in him. I can support him without misgivings.
My faith after all, ultimately is in the Lord, and his strength never fails. He promises that no one who waits on Him and hopes in Him will be disappointed. His timing is perfect and I can trust his leadership and the timing or speed of change that he chooses for my husband.
I am proud to be able to share what God has shown me with you and boast in the Lord. I hope that if you are struggling with any of this that this will help you to enter in to the rest of faith and God’s heart for you and your husband and your marriage.