EVEN A GREAT HUSBAND
MAKES A POOR GOD
I got in my car and started down our winding driveway.
Tears fell in a steady flow. My chest was tight, my eyes
puffy, and every muscle tight with stress. Why does it have to be
so difficult? Why can't he just love me the way I am? Why does everything
have to be such an issue? What am I doing wrong?
Can you relate? If you've been married for any time at all,
I'm sure you can. At times I've gotten so consumed trying to
figure out how to make my husband love me and how to make
everything all right between us that he in some strange way
became my God. If we were doing well, I was doing well. If we
weren't doing so well, I wasn't doing so well either.
Now, understandably, because my husband and I have
come together as one, we are close enough that when he
hurts, I hurt. But, my spirit should not vacillate between joy
and sorrow based on how Art and I are getting along. Instead,
my soul should always rest in the safety of Jesus' unconditional
love and acceptance.
Jesus laid this principle out clearly in John 15:5-6, which
says, "I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains
in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me
you can do nothing. If anyone does not remain in me, he is
like a branch that is thrown away and withers." Jesus is our
life-giving vine; our husbands are not. If we remain in Christ
and let Christ be the only one who holds our souls and determines
our identity, then we can bear much fruit. We know
from Galatians 5 that the fruit of God's Spirit in us is love, joy,
peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness,
Can you see why it is so important to get your every deep,
spiritual need met by God alone? My husband can't give me
this type of consistent love, joy, peace, etc. And I can't give
him love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,
gentleness, and self-control apart from Christ. Apart
from Christ I can do no good thing, because apart from Christ
I wither as I try to make my husband fill me. When I do this I
drain my husband and my marriage.
John 15:9 continues, "As the father has loved me, so have
I loved you. Now remain in my love." Now, nay sweet friend, I
know what it is like to walk the rocky paths of a difficult
marriage. I understand the loneliness, the desperation, the
frustrations. But I also know what it's like to have a wonderful,
fulfilling, romantic, awesome marriage.
My husband is basically the same man today as he was
when things were not so good. God has worked on his heart
and made some changes in him but nothing I've ever done
had the power to change him. The main thing that has transformed
my marriage is my letting God be my God. Instead of
focusing on all the things my husband didn't do right or letting
his approval and disapproval consume me, I learned to
go to God and say, "Lord, I know You love me and You love
my husband. So please either change him or change my heart
toward this issue we are facing." Sometimes He'll soften my
husband but more times than not God will change me.
I often share at conferences and retreats that
God has taught me what it means to live for
an audience of one. Instead of trying to be a
good wife to win my husband s approval, trying
to be a good mom to win my kids' approval,
and trying to be a good friend to win my friends' approval, I
now simply try to please God. I seek only His favor and follow
His precepts. In doing this I am a good wife, a good mom,
and a good friend.
Faithfully spending time with God every day and asking
Him to fill me and give me my identity and security has transformed
my marriage. It has freed me to take the focus off of
my needs, my wants, and my desires and turn more attention
to giving of myself to my husband's needs, wants, and desires.
It is only through God's strength working in me that I can give
to my husband in this way and feel more fulfilled in giving
Survey after survey that I received from men had a common
thread: husbands said their wives were missing something
in their life that the husbands had no idea how to fulfill.
"I wish my wife knew that I love her," or "I want to give her
what she needs but I'm not sure even she knows what that is,"
or "I wish so much my wife could see my inner feelings-how
much I do love her-I just don't know how to make her see
and believe that," and "I'm doing everything I know how to
do to make her feel loved and it doesn't seem to be enough."
These husbands want their wives' hearts to be secure
enough to freely receive the love they were already offering.
The only way this can happen is when a wife's heart rests
safely in the Lord's hands and she's at peace with who her
God is. Then and only then can a woman of tender strength
emerge with the capacity to be the wife she was created to be.
Relationship Builder-Spend time in prayer today asking
God to change any wrong attitudes in your heart. Ask Him to make
your marriage all He intends for it to be.
Thought for the Day-As the father has loved me, so
have I loved you. Now remain in my love.
THE SUBMISSION MISSION
I know, I know, there's that word again: submission. Upon
hearing it some women scowl, some smile, and others
look puzzled. No matter what your initial reaction, I think
you'll like the following article, condensed from one written
by Curt Whalen, husband of a wife who learned a valuable lesson
about submission. I think his words will touch your heart
and possibly give you a new perspective on this subject.
Many women today desire a Christ-centered home.
They keep their family involved in church, have regular
family devotions, and spend time praying with their children.
Yet while many women have hearts that long for the
Lord, their husbands seem remote and distant. It was true
for my wife, Marybeth. To an outsider looking into our
lives, it would appear that I was as devoted to Christ as she
was. Sadly, that wasn't true.
There was a time when God, the church, and my walk
with Christ weren't important. I was a churchgoer (sometimes)
and we had (she had) Christian friends, but I wasn't
interested in getting closer to God than that. Daily prayer, Bible study, and intimate Christian fellowship were not part
of my plan. My wife was the one trying to get our family
to church. She scheduled our Christian activities. She
reached out to others in need. But I was not her partner
in these activities. In fact, I resented her love of God.
Looking back, I can see the pain I caused in her life.
I remember looking into her eyes and seeing the hurt, sadness, and anger I caused. Now as I'm trying to grow
closer to the Lord, I wonder how many other women have
these same feelings. How many have husbands so devoted
to their jobs that they check out of family life? How many
wives have husbands who spend time absorbed in everything
but their children? How many have husbands who
have left home to pursue an adulterous relationship? How
many women try to build a strong Christian family, yet
feel defeated by the person who's supposed to be their
I've got a long way to go in developing my relationship
with Christ and with my wife, but slowly, with time, I've felt the hardness that surrounded my heart beginning
to melt away. You might wonder how something like that
could happen. The change in my life began simply. It
began with a prayer.
In May 1996 my wife, and I took our two kids to the
beach for a week s vacation. She was pregnant, due in late July, and I was trying to give her
that time to relax and enjoy herself before the
baby came. While we were there, she was reading
through a woman's devotional that led her to pray
for three specific things. She prayed that my heart would
turn towards the Lord, that our family would become
Christ-centered, and that God would break her heart with
the things that break His.
Our family has experienced tremendous pain since
that summer prayer. But through these times of hardship, I began to feel changes within myself. I felt a new desire
to learn about the Lord. I began to reach out to God and
wanted to learn everything I could about Him. I longed
for Christ to not only fill my heart, but to change it. It
seems so obvious now, but I began to understand that
nothing is more important in this life than my personal
relationship with the Lord, loving my wife, being a father
to my children, and helping others in our church.
And it all started with the prayer of a woman whose
heart longed for her family to follow Christ.
"Wives, in the same way be submissive to your husbands
so that, if any of them do not believe the word, they
may be won over without words by the behavior of their
wives, when they see the purity and reverence of your
lives" (1 Peter 3:1-2).
I can see how true this verse was in Marybeth's everyday
living. She didn't try to talk me into following Christ.
She lived it. And she prayed for me. She taught me of
God's love and His grace during times when I'd terribly
wounded her. She stood by me during times when people
told her our marriage should end. Most importantly, she continued to pray for me during both the good and
To the wives who read this message and understand
the pain I discussed, please find words of encouragement.
God loves you deeply and understands the pain in your
heart. He loves your husband. He loves him for who he is, regardless of mistakes or sins. Our God is the loving father
who every day scans the horizon searching for the prodigal
son to appear so He can rush to him and embrace him
and carry him home. God will hear your prayers. He
longs to chip away at your husband's heart, just like He's
been chipping away at mine?
When I read his words my heart melted. When we follow
God's pattern of submission, we draw our husbands' hearts to
God. Let's reread that verse: "Wives, in the same way be submissive
to your husbands so that, if any of them do not believe
the word, they may be won over without words by the behavior
of their wives, when they see the purity and reverence of your
lives" (1 Peter 3:1-2). To be submissive does not mean to be a
doormat and allow your husband to take advantage of you.
Cynthia Heald's definition is most vivid: "ducking low
enough so God can touch your husband." When asked about
submission, Cynthia said, "I went through a time when I was
trying to get Jack to be more spiritual and do what I thought
he should do as the leader in our home, and I was really frustrated
because he wasn't doing those things. One day the
Lord asked me if I was ready to give up with Jack and release
him? And I said, `No, I'm not. There are a couple more things
I need to do yet.'" She went on to say, "It was a while before I
was willing to say, `Okay, God, he's yours.' Once I got out of
the way God began to do incredible things in Jack's life-but
not in my way or on my timetable."
Marybeth learned that nagging Curt or rebelling against
him would never help. So she, like Cynthia, turned her pleas
over to the Lord. Slowly, the Lord changed Curt's heart and
transformed a broken marriage. Though Marybeth would
be quick to tell you her behavior was not always pure and
reverent and her prayers were sometimes nothing more
than heartbroken, tear-filled cries, she knew only God could
change her husband. And eventually God did.
Relationship Builder-Submit to your husband today.
Practice ducking low enough so God can touch your husband.
Thought for the Day-A woman will do whatever
she can to control a man, but if she succeeds, she won't be
PRAYING FOR YOUR HUSBAND
In the last chapter we learned the mission of submission
and how closely it ties into prayer. I know the power of
prayer in a marriage. When my husband and I first married,
we went through a terrible and hurtful adjustment period. We
both brought lots of baggage from our pasts and expected the
other to meet our needs and fix our hurts. Quickly, we both
became overwhelmed and tired of not measuring up. We
decided it was time to see a counselor. When that counselor
couldn't help, we saw another and then another.
Finally, we wound up sitting across the desk from an older
pastor who folded his hands, leaned back in his chair, and let
out a deep sigh. He told us God was going to have to fix our
individual hearts and then knit our hearts back together. I
was stunned. I was looking for a quick and easy solution. I
thought, Come on, pastor; give us a three-step method to happiness.
He had no easy answers, and I left feeling hopeless.
That night I kept thinking about what he'd told us: "Let
God fix your hearts individually and then God will knit your
hearts back together." How could God do this? Our marriage
was a mess. Love had been replaced with cold silence.
Romance had been replaced with awkward coexistence.
Bitterness and resentment had made both of us numb.
Wouldn't it be better to call it quits? Surely another man out
there would treat me better, understand my feelings, and
meet my needs.
That's when God pierced my heart with a simple command,
"Pray for Art." Pray? I had been praying. Hadn't God
heard my cries of all that needed to be fixed with my husband?
I had long lists that I presented to God and to Art on a
regular basis. I kept waiting for a lightning bolt from heaven
to hit him and show him the error of his ways. I'm sure he was
waiting for the same for me. I thought God would "fix" him
but instead God changed my heart. Now, when I'm praying
for my marriage, more times than not I'm praying for God to
give me the right heart attitude and the ability to respect my
husband no matter what.
Stormie Omartian shares her experiences with how transforming
prayer can be in a marriage in her best-selling book,
The Power of a Praying Wife. She wrote:
I began to pray every day for Michael (her husband), like I had never prayed before. Each time, though, I had
to confess my own hardness of heart. I saw how deeply
hurt and unforgiving of him I was. I don't want to pray for
him. I don't want to ask God to bless him. I only want God to
strike him with lightning (sound familiar?) and convict him of
how cruel he has been, I thought. I had to say over and over, "God, I confess my unforgiveness toward my husband.
Deliver me from all of it."
Little by little, I began to see changes occur in both of
us. When Michael became angry, instead of reacting
negatively, I prayed for him.