I have been thinking about writing this post for months. I have had that awesome title written for even longer. No one likes a nag. No one enjoys being criticized. No one likes feeling inadequate or like they are just never enough. These things are all too common in marriage, though. How can we listen past the nagging and the criticism and hear what he is needing? How can we see past what's on the surface and through to what’s really happening in the hearts of our husbands? How can we respond with love and compassion rather than with hurt feelings and a great defense?
Great questions. We all know that stereotype that wives tend to be totally naggy. Y'all I did not know that husbands were just as guilty and capable of this nonsense as we are. I can’t say I have it all figured out but I do believe the Lord has been helping my husband and I work through these very issues lately. I know I have some tips and insights to share that will help you. Mike even helped me outline this post and gave lots of great feedback.
Accept That You Are Accepted
First things first, you have to know that you are excepted by God. I think this is crucial. If you don’t understand how accepted and loved you are by God, you’ll seek the acceptance and love you legitimately need from your spouse or some other person rather than from God who is the only one who can really give you what you need anyway.
I suggest you read this post I just wrote the other day called The Key To Overcoming The Fear Of Rejection. I think fear is a big player here. We have to figure out how to get rid of it and scripture tells us that the best way to chase away fear is by perfect love. (1 John 4:18)
1 Corinthians 13:12 says,
“For now, we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known.”
Romans 15:7 says,
“Welcome and receive [to your hearts] one another, then, even as Christ has welcomed and received you, for the glory of God.”
John 13:34 says,
“ I give you a new commandment: that you should love one another. Just as I have loved you, so you too should love one another.”
Are you getting this? First off you are fully known! God fully knows you. There are never those all too familiar moments when we’ve said something or shared something deep and personal and our spouses just don’t get it or they completely misunderstand us and what we were trying to communicate. That doesn’t happen with God. He fully knows us and what is happening within us. He sees it all. He knows it all. He is fully acquainted with us and knows all of our needs. He knows us and He loves us! We are fully accepted!
Now we are told to welcome and receive others! We are told to love one another. We can now do that because we now know that we are fully loved and accepted by God right where we are. When we rest in that Truth, we can accept and love one another right where they are, including our husbands.
He is not your enemy.
Next, I think you have to be fully aware of that fact that your spouse is not your enemy. They may behave like a total enemy at times and a beheading may run through your mind from time to time but they are not our enemies.
We have a very real enemy that hates marriage. Marriage is a picture of just how much God loves us. It’s a foreshadowing of a divine wedding that is coming when Jesus returns to take His church home. The enemy hates that. Add that to the fact that he hates you just for being an image bearer of God and you now see the war we are in.
For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. Ephesians 6:12 ESV
We have a very real enemy you all. Don’t be deceived into thinking your man is your problem. 1 Peter 5:8 says,
“Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.”
Be watchful! Be clear headed! Stop letting anger cloud your whole mind so quickly that you forget that the person you are sharing a bed with each night is not your nemesis! The enemy is waiting and watching for moments when we let our guard down and he can sneak in with his lies and schemes and convince us to turn our men into another problem we have to deal with.
Choose not to defend yourself.
This may sound crazy and I will tell you that it is definitely not easy at first. It is going to take some serious humility but you need to resist the urge to defend yourself. When he comes with his nags and his criticism choose not to get defensive. I am telling you that if you can pull this off you will be able to hear past the crap he’s spewing to his heart that is crying out for help and support.
The best way I have found to pull this off by meditating on scriptures that remind me how God responds to me when I come to Him with my nags and problems and humanness. I suggest 1 Corinthians 13: 4-7.
"Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things."
God is all of those things. God is patient and kind with me. He listens overtime I make the same mistakes. He loves me through all of my messes. He is kind to me. He never gets so angry He has to walk away and calm down. Even when I am angry and I question Him, He never screams defenses back at me while trying to turn the tables on all of my poor choices. He doesn’t do that. He is patient and kind so I can be patient and kind with my husband as we work through this.
We could go through the whole list but I think you get the picture. Read that every day if you have too. I read it when I fail and freak out on my husband to remind me that God still loves me and I can go back to Mike and try again to hear what he needs.
Here are a couple more verses that are super helpful.
Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger; James 1:19 ESV
Listen! Be quick to just hear what he is saying. Don’t rush to get your say so in or allow you anger to come into the conversation.
A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger. Proverbs 15:1 ESV
You have to remember that you are in charge of you. Even if you husband is being an… I mean a butt, that doesn’t give you the right to be one back. Even if he’s being ugly you can still choose to respond in love and kindness towards him. You know you love him, so show him compassion! Pray the Lord help you to have compassion for your husband. When he comes with criticisms or even angry words, choose to give a gentle answer. Answer with love and kindness.
Likewise, wives, be subject to your own husbands, so that even if some do not obey the word, they may be won without a word by the conduct of their wives, when they see your respectful and pure conduct. 1 Peter 3:1-2 ESV
Even if our husbands are believers, they will still have moments and seasons when they are not obeying the word. We can be a help in those times without even opening our mouths. Mike actually added this verse when we were brainstorming. We are their helpers. We can help them find their ways back when we choose to humble ourselves and listen to what they are communicating to us.
I really believe these are things we learn as wives as we grow in experience. This is something I am currently learning so I just wanted to share what I am getting a crash course in at the moment. Our roles as wives are a very big deal. I personally believe they are the biggest deal second only to our role as daughters and followers of Christ.
Our husbands are so important. We get the opportunity to partner with God in loving them well and helping them to be all that they were created to be. Let's not let our pride and our need to be accepted distract us from really paying attention to what is attacking our guys. Let's be a source of love and life for them. Let's be a safe place for them to come even when they're all beat up from life and not being very kind.
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Be blessed and be kind y’all,