Staying Whole in a Broken World
- Wednesday, May 13, 2009
Nick and Nancy never really struggled as a couple, until declining finances started a domino effect on their marriage.
Nick, who owns a small coffee shop, found himself struggling to keep his business afloat, while Nancy began increasing her work hours to try to make up for their financial shortfall. As a result of the financial pressure he was feeling, Nick began to distance himself emotionally, believing he wasn’t measuring up as his family’s provider. In the meantime, Nancy began to silently resent her husband for not appearing to understand all she was going through in trying to pick up the slack, financially.
“It wouldn’t be so bad if he’d just talk to me about things or tell me ‘thank you’ once in awhile for working so hard,” Nancy told me, recently.
She soon discovered that verbalizing her frustrations to Nick only added to his feelings of exasperation and increased their marital tension.
Stress, financial or otherwise, takes its toll on marriages. When we, as wives, become another burden on our husbands – by letting them know how they are not meeting our emotional needs or expectations at a time when they have multiple frustrations as well – it can push a marriage over the edge. But a broken economy doesn’t have to result in a broken marriage, too.
There have been many times in the 21 years of my marriage that I’ve had to make a conscious decision to let God “husband” me while my husband, Hugh, was preoccupied with work, stressed over family matters, or dealing with personal issues. After many attempts to try to make Hugh aware of my feelings, I finally realized he couldn’t be all that I needed, nor all I expected. So I eventually learned to take an alternative approach. Instead of pointing out my husband’s inadequacies – which would’ve added another heap of issues to the pile of stress he was already trying to get out from under – I began to go to God to be my “spiritual husband.”
Isaiah 54:5-6 says: “For your Maker is your husband – the Lord Almighty is his name…The Lord will call you back as if you were a wife deserted and distressed in spirit….” I realized that promise made by God to His people thousands of years ago still applies to us today, if we would start depending on God to be our spiritual husband and meet our needs in a way that our earthly husbands cannot.
So I began to look to God to be my spiritual husband by practicing these “Three T’s” on a daily basis:
1) Tell God First – Sometimes we need to vent or just talk aloud about how we’re feeling. But our frustrations can come across as accusations or complaints if we’re not careful. And since it is natural for husbands to try to find the problem and fix it, when we just wanted someone to listen, it’s better to go to God with the venting first.
Sure, God already knows what we’re going to say. Psalms 139:4 says, “Before a word is on my tongue you know it completely, O Lord.” But by telling God first all that is on our hearts and minds, He can be the ‘buffer.” And often, after pouring out our hearts to God first, we don’t feel that pressing need to talk through our feelings with our husbands as soon as they come through the door at the end of a long day.
2) Trust God’s Promises – The Bible is full of God’s promises about His provision and protection. So when we become troubled about finances, or other issues, we can find comfort just by remembering some of God’s encouraging words to His people. In Psalms 37:25, David says: “I was young and now I am old, yet I have never seen the righteous forsaken or their children begging bread.”
In Philippians 4:19, Paul says “And my God will meet all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus.” And Romans 8:28 tells us “…in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” Looking to God as your Spiritual Husband means banking on the Bible and taking God at His Word.
3) Thank God Constantly -- No matter what the situation, there’s always something to be thankful for. One of my friends was discouraged that her husband’s new job didn’t pay as well as his previous one. But some income was better than none.
Another friend complained about the lack of connection in her marriage, until she focused on the fact that her husband still came home every night. Our husbands need us to be encouragers, finding the blessings in the bitterness.
We can become people of praise with a contagious positive attitude when we obey God’s command in 1 Thessalonians 5:17 to “give thanks in all circumstances.” A thankful wife is pleasant to be around.
When I shared these tips with Nancy she was hesitant at first to get her hopes up that anything in her marriage would change. But she gave it a try. Within weeks, Nick began to talk more about how he was feeling and when he did, Nancy was able to be an encouragement and a support, rather than his accuser. Although nothing has changed in their financial situation, their relationship eventually went from tense to tender. Nick needed to know Nancy was supportive of all he was trying to do for their family and Nancy needed someone to lean on when Nick wasn’t able to be her emotional support.
Can you lighten your husband’s load today by lifting your burdens off of him and leaving them with God instead? You’ll be surprised at what a difference it makes in your home.
Cindi McMenamin is a national speaker and author of several books, including ‘When Women Walk Alone: A 31-Day Devotional Companion’. For more on her ministry, see her website: www.StrengthForTheSoul.com.
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