Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Creative Counterpart - My Own Robert Redford

Today's chapter deals with accepting our husband the way they are. Mrs. Dillow offers the following quote from Judith Viorst:

"Infatuation is when you think that he's a sexy as Robert Redford, as smart as Henry Kissinger, as noble as Ralph Nader, as funny as Woody Allen, and as athletic as Jimmy Connors. Love is when you realize that he's as sexy as Woody Allen, as smart as Jimmy Connors, as funny as Ralph Nader, as athletic as Henry Kissinger and nothing like Robert Redford - but you'll take him anyway!"

Now, granted those names are all from the 70's but I hope you get the picture. Often during the first rush of emotions of a new relationship, we are wearing rose-colored glasses and don't notice our loved one's faults. As time goes on, we start to notice those faults, but convince ourselves that we can somehow change our men after marriage.


Ephesians 5:33 is translated in the Amplified Bible like this, "And let the wife see that she respects and reverences her husband - that she notices him, regards him, honors him, prefers him, venerates and esteems him; and that she defers to him, praises him and loves and admires him exceedingly!"

I dont' see anything there about giving him an extreme makeover!! We often get so wrapped up with the things that our husbands do that bother us, that we don't even see his good qualities and can't remember why we married him in the first place. All we can see is the areas he needs to change in. But we are not called to be his own personal Holy Spirit, convicting him of all the wrongs in his life. We are called to be there to build him up. Let's take a look at this.

There are many reasons a wife may feel the need to "improve" her husband. Perhaps he has an irritating habit or doesn't spend enough time with the kids. Maybe he has anger issues or weak social skills. He may not be the spiritual leader you wish he was. It could be any number of things.

But when we try to change our husbands through nagging, yelling, or other manipulative ways, here are the results: tension, destruction of love, rebellion, discouragement. Not exactly the recipe for a healthy, loving relationship, it it?

So what is a frustrated wife to do? How should we help effect change in our husbands?

Step 1 - Learn to totally accept him. Yes, I hear the cries of agony now. But believe it or not, when we accept our men the way they are, they feel motivated to improve - quite the opposite of our natural feelings. When they feel totally loved and accepted, they will strive to be the men we deserve. This kind of love and acceptance is possible through Christ. He alone can change our hearts. Remember that while we were still dead in OUR sin, He loved us enough to die for us. If He can love us that much, He can surely love us enough to change our hearts towards our husbands.

Step 2 - Take the plank out of your own eye - Besides the fact that we are sinful creatures in our own right, have you considered how your response to your husband's (perceived) failings may be sinful? Mrs. Dillow recommends the following exercise: Fold a piece of paper in half length-wise. Make a list of your husband's problems on one side. On the other side, list all your responses that may be sinful.
Here's an example from the book:

His fault
Lack of time with kids

My response
Nag, belittle, sigh and moan, compare with other men, criticize, neglect, reject as a person, cool sexually, anger, indifference, gossip to other women, publicly tear him down, quote Bible verses at him, feel self-righteous, feel bitter, silence

I think once we go through this exercise, we can see that we have much to be repentant of and that our response to our husband's faults are often more sinful than the initial problem.

3 - Give up your rights to God - Stop expecting anything of him. Look to God to meet your needs.

Ruth Bell Graham writes in her book It's My Turn, "I pity the married couple who expect too muchfrom one another. It is a foolish woman who expects her husband to be to her that which only Jesus Christ can be: always ready to forgive, totally understanding, unendingly patient, invariably tender and loving, unfailing in every aread, anticipating every need, and making more than adequate provision. Such expectatons put a man under and impossible strain."

We have to look to God to fulfill us. Our husbands are only men - faillable just like you and I. We must rid ourselves of our expectations and beliefs of what we deserve in a husband and lay them at the feet of Jesus.

Think of Jesus - He left Heaven to come to earth to be raised as a poor child in an occupied territory. He abandoned all of His glory, forgetting His "rights." Our rights, as children of God, must be just as willingly sacrificed. We often want our husbands to change for our benefit. Not for his own good or for the glory of God.

And we can't come into this thinking that we will surrender our rights for a few weeks and all will magically change with our husbands, only to be frustrated when nothing happens. We have to be motivated by pleasing the Lord and doing the right thing - not by getting what we want in another way.

Try this - make a list of the things you want changed about your husband. Then copy the words of Phillipians 2: 5-7 over the chart. Pray over the list, giving it all to God. Surrender your rights and ask Him to be all you need. Then tear up the list and throw it away.

Step 4 - Seek out his positive qualities - Is he a good provider? Does he fix things around the house? Is he kind to you? Does he play with the children? All these are things you can thank God for. Look for the good in him and train yourself to focus on the positive.

Step 5 - Ask your husband's forgiveness - If you recognize that you have contributed to the problems in your marriage by not accepting your husband, do the right thing and ask his forgiveness. Do it carefully, not using it as an opportunity for listing his many faults (raise your hand if you have ever gotten one of those apologies!!!).

Step 6 - Vebalize your acceptance - Now go back to the verse above, Ephesians 5:33, and begin to show him that love, favor, acceptance, reverance that God calls you to. Encourage him, compliment him, learn to be silent when he does something that bothers you. There is a time and a place to talk to him about your concerns, but in general, the things we choose to nag about are not that important in the end. If you are running late or get lost on the way to a party, is it more important that you get there on time or that you protect your marriage? Choose to be positive instead of critical.

I believe that by becoming our husband's encouragers we can make a real difference in our marriages, as well as set good examples for our children. Learn to be a positive force, rather than a destructive one in your home.


Karen said...

Oh, I thought this chapter was good, yet painful. Um...I have a love/hate relationship with things that point out my faults and yet encourage me to do better. (and I have resolved to work on this encouraging thing. I think I might be more the cranky wife than the encouraging one.) I think I will be putting my post up in the morning. (too many things going on today.)


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