Husband-Wife Lessons

manna“He wakens me morning by morning.” Isa. 50:4.

Hello, hello from the Royal Inn in Dallas, Texas! I made an out-of-character decision to catch a ride with my husband, Ken, who has a truck run to Laredo almost every week. The precipitating factor was an opportunity to speak at a women’s retreat here in Dallas. I was not the main presenter, but I had a chance to share a bit with the ladies about my passion for healing relationships in the family, especially between husband and wife. By the enthusiastic response, I gathered that the presentation was well-received, which encourages me to share some of the same concepts with you.

So take a journey with me back to the Garden of Eden where the human family began. Perhaps we can gather some fruit from the tree of life to encourage us. And maybe we will decide to stay a while, or even to make it our permanent residence!

My journey began about two years ago after an extended time of noticing that my marriage was not going as well as I wished it would. Since I am a counselor and have been used by God to be instrumental in helping to save marriages, I became increasingly distressed when my own marriage seemed to be deteriorating in spite of my best efforts.

A typical scenario might go like this:
Ken: “Where are my keys? I can’t find my silly keys!”
Me: “I don’t know. Where did you have them last?”
Ken: “Don’t be ridiculous! If I knew where I had them last, I would go get them!”
Me: “Why are you upset with me? I’m just trying to be helpful.”
Ken: “Well, you aren’t being helpful by saying things like that. Why don’t you look around and see if you can find them.”
Me: “OK, I’m trying! Please try to calm down. I’m sure we’ll find them.”
Ken: “Don’t tell me what to do! I’ve got a right to be upset. This is making me late for my appointment. I don’t know how I could be so stupid as to misplace my keys!”
Me: “You aren’t stupid – it happens to everyone once in a while. Please try to be calm. Getting upset doesn’t help anything.”
Ken: “Oh, here they are. I can’t believe I would do this to myself!”
Leaves without saying good-by.

Or consider another scenario:
Me: “Hi, Honey. Shall I fix you some breakfast?”
Ken: “No, I’m already pressed for time.”
Me: “Where are you going?”
Ken: “Like I told you last night, I have to pick up Terry, take him to his truck, stop at the bank and then be on my way to pick up my load for Laredo.”
Me: “But I didn’t know when you were going to leave!”
Ken: “I just got the dispatcher’s call. You were in your worship, and I didn’t want to disturb you.”
Me: “But I’ve told you to interrupt me anytime. I want to make sure you have a good breakfast and a nice lunch to take with you.”
Ken: “Forget it. It’s too late, now. You should have thought of that earlier. I’ll just have to take care of myself.”
Me: “Please, Honey. Don’t go with this attitude. It leaves me feeling so hurt, and I won’t see you again for days. Couldn’t you just give me a little kiss or something?”
Ken: “Why do you have to make a scene like this?” You know I have to go. Maybe YOU can spend half the day having your worship and talking to your girlfriends, but I have to get out and make a living!”
Leaves without saying good-by – again.

Perhaps these scenes sound a little bit familiar to some of you – and maybe not. But they were getting much too familiar at our house, and no matter how hard I tried to avoid them, Satan seemed to have an endless array of ways to trigger another unpleasant episode. I finally began crying out to God, pleading for help, for healing, for new light to shine upon my wounded heart and teach me how to have a home where happiness, love and peace could reign. And God heard my prayer like that of Hannah, and answered me beyond anything I could ask or think. That is why I want to share with you the story of my journey back to Eden.

JOURNEY TO EDEN

It all began on a quiet Friday evening when I was alone at sundown. Since I am usually surrounded by people, I decided to do something special and invite Jesus to be my honored Guest. So I went to the sliding glass doors that look out on the front deck and the woods and mountains beyond, and I asked Jesus to come into my home and bring His joy and peace into my worship hour that evening.

Sometime later, when I was again praying for help in my relationship with my husband, Jesus spoke to my heart. “Remember that Friday evening when you came to the door and invited me into fellowship with you?” He said.

“Yes, Lord, I remember very well.”

“Well, I would like for you to do that same thing for your husband each time he comes home.”

“Hmmmm,” I mused. “This should prove to be interesting!” “Yes, Lord, I will do it. Although in our forty-seven years of marriage I haven’t made it a practice, I’ll give it a try. Thank you, Lord, for the advice!”

And that was the beginning of my journey back to Eden – a journey that will not end until we arrive in the Eden above, but which is preparing our family to live happily together both here, and with the saved of all ages when we get to heaven.
It also has become an extended ministry for others, who, like myself, have come to a deadlock in their relationships. Jesus is my constant Counselor, and around every bend in the road there are new delights, new things to learn and new rewards. Let me share with you just a few.

It took me about six months of walking with my heavenly Teacher to catch a glimpse of what He was trying to tell me. During that time, I would make all the same mistakes, and of course, reap the same unpleasant results. The problem was that I didn’t even know what I was doing wrong. I had no clue why I continued to irritate my husband, when I thought I was trying my best to be a good wife.

Sometimes the thought would cross my mind that since we are in our late sixties, he might be in the early stages of Alzheimer’s (seriously!), or was beginning to have a mental breakdown. He would say such hurtful things to me in the heat of his frustration, and I would be left to cry and work through the pain alone with my Lord.

In those times, Jesus would whisper gently to my anguished mind, “You could have said (or done) it this way.” And then He would give me a new paradigm of thought or behavior. After I would think about His heavenly suggestions, I would see that they made so much sense, and I would vow to do it right – the next time. And of course, there was always a next time. I needed only to wait until Satan had another opportunity to strike at us again.

One quiet afternoon, Ken and I were alone, which is a rare occasion in our home! I was sitting in my favorite chair by the lamp, and Ken was lying on the couch facing the big double windows and sliding glass doors that look out on the deck. He began to talk to me about some of his frustrations in the trucking business.

“They lied to me when I joined this company,” he said. “They promised to pay me $1.25 per mile, and when I received my pay, it added up to only 85 cents per mile. I can’t make a living on that! They are just telling me lies, and stealing from me!” (Ken was an accountant for most of our married life, so he is very accurate in his record keeping.)

Well, that was an open door for me as a good wife to help him calm down and see things from a more Christian perspective. But I felt a little uneasy. What was it that Jesus had been trying to teach me to say? My mind went blank. I groped for the right words, praying for help, struggling with my thoughts. I mumbled something about the company maybe making a mistake and they weren’t really trying to lie to him and steal from him, but it didn’t feel just right. Fortunately, my husband is hard of hearing.

“What did you say?” he said, rather loudly.

Almost choking on my words and pleading with God for help, I finally managed to say – much to my amazement – “It must hurt to feel that people have lied to you.”

For a few moments there was silence. Suddenly my husband got up from the couch, went to the kitchen and pulled up a chair as close to me as he could. Leaning toward me with tears in his eyes, he said, “You are the most wonderful woman I have ever met!”

As I look back at that scene now, I wonder if the angels sang a note higher around the throne, and God the Father and Jesus clasped hands in solemn joy and approval of what they had accomplished in one humble home on earth.

Drastic changes have taken place since then. Jesus still coaches me every day. I have progressed through kindergarten, grade school, high school, and maybe now I am in college or even graduate school, because I am able to pass on the principles to others in my counseling and speaking ministry.

My husband has become a different man. Arguments are no longer a part of our lives, and we seldom have even an unpleasant moment. We have such enjoyment, talking, sharing, and doing things together. Ken’s walk with God has been renewed and I now have the spiritual husband I always wanted him to be. He talks about God all the time, teaches and preaches at church again, and shares his faith and beliefs with our children and others in a new way. In fact, even as I write this story, he called to tell me about an answer to prayer that he had just experienced. What a joy! What a pleasant surprise to see again that God’s ways are truly blessed with success.

Would you be interested in hearing a few of these principles? I would like to share some of these with you, for they come from Scripture. And ladies, this a new paradigm on the word, “submission.” It does not mean becoming someone’s slave. It means putting someone else first, just as Jesus did when He came here to show us how to live. It is not simply a behavior or a way of speaking – it is a way of life whereby we transcend the earthly and the common and connect with the family in heaven and learn how they treat each other so we can be prepared to dwell there ourselves.

Here are a few of these principles:

#1 - Man was created to be a king. Under God, he was to rule this earth and subdue it as a representative of the character of his Creator. So everything that is instructive in Scripture about how to treat kings – especially in Psalms, Proverbs and Ecclesiastes – can apply in principle to our husbands in specific, and to men in general. (Song of Solomon applies also, but only to our husbands and to Christ as the Husband of the church, which is His bride.)

#2 - Woman was created to rule also, but as a lesser light, as the moon is to the sun. Man is generative, woman is reflective. Man is the initiator, woman the responder. This does not take away from the creativity of woman, but provides the structure and purpose for it. Within that structure she can flourish and become all that God created her to be, without losing any of her unique individuality and gifts. Notice these comparisons in nature to help us understand the difference between these two analogies:

“In the heavens He has pitched a tent for the sun, which is like a bridegroom coming forth from his pavilion, like a champion rejoicing to run his course. It rises at one end of the heavens and makes its circuit to the other; nothing is hidden from its heat.” Ps. 19:4-6.

“His (David’s) throne [will] endure before me like the sun; it will be established forever like the moon, the faithful witness in the sky.” Ps. 89:36, 37.

Here, witness means, “testimony, those who speak up for, to surround, sustain, relieve; to hold each other up; bind with words; help, sustain; bind oneself to another in aid and comfort.” NIV Concordance.

When God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone,” (Gen. 2:18), He was no doubt thinking about His own law of nature and relationships, “Every matter must be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses.” 2 Cor. 13:1. See also, Deut. 19:15, John 8:17, 18, Matt. 12:25, and Matt. 18:16, 19, 20.

Woman were created to “second witness” man, and to thus create such a bond of friendship and positive thinking that the flow of spirit between them would be something like the flow of energy between the members of the godhead. Such a relationship is creative, exciting, and life-producing. From it comes the joy that we all seek to have with each other.

On the other hand, criticism, judging, disagreement, questioning the motives and veracity of one another is discouraging, disheartening, damaging, and death producing. The name of the evil one – Satan – means “accuser.” That in itself should tell us something about the nature of criticism and faultfinding. It is the nature of sin itself, and it began immediately after Adam and Eve ate of the forbidden tree, accurately named, the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. Up to that time they saw only good in each other. Now they would see both good and evil. And they would surely die as a result of the damage this causes, for it is a poisonous mixture, the venom of the serpent, the potion by which he destroys his victims.

#3 - So, I am never to criticize my husband – not to him, to others, or in my own heart and thoughts. Of course, my husband has faults, and so do I. But these will never be eradicated by criticism. Only love changes people.

I have learned not to say anything of a negative or complaining nature to my husband. If problems arise for which he is responsible, I can report them to him, such as: “Honey, the brakes on the car seem to be making a strange sound. Would you like for me to take it by the garage and have it checked, or how would you want it to be handled?”

But not: “Ken, there seems to be something wrong with the brakes on the car. And we just got it out of the garage three weeks ago! I don’t know how we are going to afford more car problems. I think we must have purchased a lemon this time!”
See the difference? Remember – no negativism.

I don’t complain about the weather, the next door neighbor, the neighbor’s dog, or the president. Man was created to be a king, and to rule the earth and subdue it. When we complain about anything, he feels an automatic need to fix it, whether he realizes it or not. Thus, unnecessary burdens are placed upon him, and even if we don’t expect him to fix it, he feels it anyway.

Therefore, we should only take things to him that he can fix, should fix, and wants to fix. We should not feel free to unload everything on him that comes to our minds and make his burdens heavier. After all, we have a heavenly husband who can bear everything and fix anything. Take it to Him! He will help us.

#4 - I put my husband first above all others. From the time he walks in the door, he is the center of my attention. If I’m on the phone, I get off if at all possible. If people are present, I tend to his immediate needs, and then to theirs. At mealtime I see that he is cared for and then I prepare my own plate. I listen to him first before telling him about my own day – and I keep my stories short, pithy, to the point, and just what I know he will find interesting.

He never needs to worry that something he says will be criticized or taken wrong, so he is open and free, and loves to talk and share everything with me. And yes, he has also learned to be a good listener and asks me how I’m feeling and what I think and values my advice and expertise because I never present it in a way that will offend or hurt him.

#5 - Search for and bring out the best in your husband. Never point out the negative, always affirm the positive. You can learn to do this! It may take time, but you can by God’s grace become a woman of wisdom and spiritual beauty.

The Proverbs 31 woman is not just a dream, it is a reachable goal with Christ by your side. Set your sights on it and never turn back. Jesus is our Helper, our Guide, our Husband, our Champion. He is able to bruise the serpent’s head in the areas of our lives where Satan still has a hold upon us.

Let’s get back to our original garden home and do it right this time. Jesus leads the way. We cannot fail if we follow in His footsteps. And this time, let’s bring our husbands only fruit from the Tree of Life – what do you say?

(By the way, as you may already have guessed, this life-giving language of love works for everyone else in our lives, too!)

Yours for healthy family relationships,
Carol

ADDITIONAL TEXTS

“Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Get rid of all brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.

“Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave Himself up for us.” Eph. 4:29-5:2.

“A man who lacks judgment derides his neighbor, but a man of understanding holds his tongue…. A kindhearted woman gains respect.” Pr. 11:12, 16.

“A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger…. The tongue that brings healing is a tree of life…. The cheerful heart has a continual feast…. A patient man calms a quarrel…. A man finds joy in giving an apt reply – how good is a timely word!…. The heart of the righteous weighs its answers, but the mouth of the wicked gushes evil…. Humility comes before honor.” Pr. 15:1, 4, 15, 18, 23, 28, 33.

“The wise woman builds her house, but with her own hands the foolish tears hers down…. He who despises his neighbor sins…. But those who plan what is good find love and faithfulness.” Pr. 14:1, 21, 22.

“The mouth of the righteous is a fountain of life…. Hatred stirs up dissension, but love covers over all wrongs…. The mouth of the righteous brings forth wisdom…. The lips of the righteous know what is fitting.” Pr. 10:11, 12, 21, 22.

“The tongue has the power of life and death.” Pr. 18:21.

“Reckless words pierce like a sword, but the tongue of the wise brings healing.” Pr. 12:18.

“Pleasant words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones.” Pr. 16:24.

“He who covers over an offense promotes love.” Pr. 17:9.

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