By guest authors Dianne Doty and Nancy Patterson
As homeschool moms, it can be tough to balance our marriages with the ever-increasing pressures of homeschooling and parenting. How can we keep our marriages strong? We pray this series, taken from an out-of-print booklet entitled Encouragement for Vow-Keepers by the Center for Family Ministries, will encourage and equip you in your journey.
“Cause me to know the way in which I should walk; for I lift up my soul to you” (Psalm 143:8, NKJV).
“It is right and proper to ask for the Lord’s clear direction about what to do, but it does not make sense to ask it if we offer only some of our heart. God will open a way for us when we open our hearts to Him” – Elizabeth Elliot, The Music of His Promises
Anxiously you await your husband’s arrival home from work. But unbeknownst to you, he has had a terrible day. Everything that could possibly go wrong went wrong. He is frustrated, beat-up, and discouraged, maybe even angry over what took place on the job. As a young wife you haven’t faced this situation. You thought you married Prince Charming – a man in control of his world, able to provide for you, to save you from the harshness of life – a man who leaves his troubles behind in order to create a happy home atmosphere where love and peace reign. You can’t understand why he gets so worked up over such “temporal” things. After all, isn’t God in control? Doesn’t he know that it will all work out in the end? But here you are with an upset husband. What will be your response to him?
Although the husbands of the Bible times didn’t deal with modern frustrations, they still came home with their own set of problems … maybe a cow fell in a bog or a thief stole their goods from the market. God’s Word is as relevant to us today in this new millennium as it was for the people hundreds of years ago. It is “living and active, sharper than any double-edged sword; it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart” (Hebrews 4:12, NIV).
He gives us guidance for every detail of our lives. His Word is applicable to every situation, then and now. This is why it is so important to prayerfully spend time with the God of the Word, Jesus Christ. The more we know Him and the truths of the Scriptures, the more wisdom we have in applying them to each unique circumstance.
For example, one principle to guide a wife in the above scenario is found in Ephesians 4:29, (KJV), “Let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth, but only such a word as is good for edification according to the need of the moment, that is may give grace to those who hear.” A principle is always true, but it has many different applications. Your husband needs edification and grace. Now what type of edification does he need?
How well do you KNOW your husband? Does he need …
- A kind word? Proverbs 12:25, “An anxious heart weighs a man down, but a kind word cheers him up” (NIV).
- A good listener? Proverbs 18:13, “He who answers before listening – that is his folly and shame” (NIV).
- No words? Proverbs 25:20, “Like one who takes away a garment on a cold day, or like vinegar poured on soda, is one who sings songs to a heavy heart” (NIV).
- Guidance? Proverbs 20:5, “The purposes of a man’s heart are deep waters, but a man (wife) of understanding draws them out” (NIV).
What would a wife walking in wisdom do? Each marriage will be different because of the difference in personality types of husbands. What would Holy love look and feel like to your husband? It might be wrong advice if every wife were told to say, “Honey, don’t worry, everything will work out. Don’t be so upset.”
Why? Because some husbands might be encouraged by these words while others husbands would react with, “You don’t understand; you don’t know the pressures that I am under. You always think you are so spiritual and have the answer for everything.” When we are cheerful and the heart is not ready for cheer, we become like the man in Proverbs 25:20 “who sings songs to a heavy heart.”
While one husband may want an encouraging word, “Honey, it’s all going to work out okay,” another husband may want no words but just an interested, loving ear to hear their frustrations. Other husbands may want their wives to reassure them of God’s provision. Still others might take offense to “spiritual” words that communicate a wife is being “more spiritually minded,” thereby causing him to feel even more of a failure because he is not responding in a spiritual way. And some husbands may just want a back rub! Being available is the key – he then knows you care and are approachable.
The principle in Ephesians 4:29 is to use words that encourage your husband, thereby ministering grace to him. How well do you “know” your husband? What words build him up? When should silence become the “best words?” Does he need you to be optimistic? Understanding? Empathetic? No other woman can tell you what your husband needs. But God’s Word guides us to the truths to live by, and He gives us the freedom to work out those principles in our own situations by His power and in His strength.
Depending on your spouse’s personality, age, upbringing, and specific trial, your verbal response should be one of wisdom in applying God’s truth in Ephesians 4:29 to edify your husband. Quickly send up a prayer for help. Know your husband and then discern which response to him is the one that will edify and minister grace. We must pray for wisdom when we are faced with different situations.
The applications of the principles will change with the different types of trials we pass through or with the different seasons of our lives. God is so wise to make it work this way. Then we must rely on Him daily and not on our own wisdom or the wisdom of all the marriage books we have read.
Our desire in this booklet (series) is to guide you to an intimate relationship with your Lord who will grant you wisdom to minister to your husband. Each marriage has its own “mix” of individual personalities, trials, backgrounds, etc. But, God’s Word is always the same and is applicable in every situation, He gives wisdom in the moment as we cry out to Him. Books on marriage, including this one, are only helpful if we are seeking God’s wisdom through His Holy Word and praying for guidance and discernment in the application of His Word to our specific situation.
We pray this booklet (series) will acquaint you with truths that will give you wisdom in your own individual situations as you seek Him. We will try to present different “scenarios” to help you realize that we understand what many of you are facing. The uniqueness of each circumstance will vary, but the principles in God’s Word will guide you in your area of struggle.
This is written to those of you who face difficult situations on a regular basis – to wives who want to trust in God for their marriages and not run away from them. God is involved in your marriage and your life. He knows you and loves you. He is sovereign, even over your own sins and mistakes. He is working in you and in your marriage to have His will accomplished.
Some women think this means God will deliver them from an unhappy marriage in some way or change their husband overnight. Yet, many times God wants us to stay in difficult situations in order for us to grow in Him and trust in Him. Think of the person who is born with a debilitating disease … they cannot escape … but they can accept their condition and grow in grace. So with marriage, God may have many valuable lessons for you to learn at His feet that you could not learn anywhere else. There is no perfect marriage, but the God who loves you will be with you to guide and lead you in ways that honor Him, as you let Him.
– Dianne and Nancy
Copyright (c) 2002 by the Center for Family Ministries. Stay tuned for part 2 of this series!