Marriage Advice From A Christian Perspective

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Dare to be a Politically Incorrect Wife

Dare to be a Politically Incorrect Wife

Many wives simply follow their feelings when deciding how to treat their husbands. If their spouses please them, then they dole out love and respect in equal measure. But if not, they either withdraw from the intimacy of a close relationship, or try to cajole their husbands into making them happy.

Although that's the most popular way to approach marriage in our society, it simply doesn't work. No husband exists who can please his wife all the time. Keeping score only leads to frustration, and feelings change constantly. God offers a more challenging, yet much more effective marriage model. Wives who dare to follow it will be deemed politically incorrect. But they'll also enjoy healthier marriages full of the joy that God intends every marriage to have.

Here are some ways you can become the kind of wife God wants you to be:

• Understand your God-given role. Know that God has called wives to be helpers. Don't misunderstand the word "helper," thinking that it implies inferiority. Realize that God has referred to Himself throughout the Bible as a "helper." The word simply means someone who give assistance or support to another, making life more pleasant or bearable. Read the story in the book of Genesis of how God created Adam and Eve, and notice that God created a woman so the man wouldn't feel alone. Know that God doesn't want your husband to feel lonely, but to know that he can count on your full presence and encouragement in his life.

• Decide that you'll offer your husband agape love. Make up your mind to love him no matter what. Ask God to help you, trusting that He will give you the power you'll need. Vow never to consider separation or divorce, don't entertain thoughts of men from your past, don't compare your husband to others, and don't speak negatively about him to others.

• Don't play the blame game. Know that God fully understands the circumstances of your life, but asks you to be faithful in the midst of them. Don't blame your husband, kids, schedule, finances, or anyone or anything else for your own unloving attitudes and behaviors. Take responsibility for your own choices and realize that your love or lack of love for God is demonstrated by your obedience or lack of it. Remember that you should live to please God, whether or not you think your husband deserves to be treated with love. Stop keeping score and strive to be obedient to God instead.

• Act in love, and your feelings will follow. Choose to act in loving ways no matter how you currently feel about your husband. If you don't feel love for him, start acting the way you want to feel. Then, as you do, watch how your loving actions transform your feelings until you actually do feel love toward him.

• Forgive. Realize that you must forgive other people and seek God's forgiveness for yourself. Not doing so blocks your intimacy with God and poisons your heart with bitterness. Trust that God will always help you to forgive. Remember that the power of His death on the cross has made true forgiveness possible. Forgive freely and often, knowing that the power to forgive is limitless. Know that there is never any problem in your marriage that's beyond God's power to forgive to set both you and your husband free.

• Abide in Christ. Cultivate a close relationship with Christ by depending on Him and focusing on His strength, sufficiency, and enabling power. Strive to be aware of His presence with you at all times, and to enjoy spending time with Him. Spend time regularly in prayer and reading the Bible, listening for Him to speak to you.

• Understand and choose submission. Understand that submission doesn't mean being forced into anything or otherwise mistreated. Instead, it means voluntarily cooperating with another person out of love and respect for God and for that person. Let your decision to obey God take precedence over your desires to control. Rather than trying to nag or scold or plead with your husband to try to make him see things your way, seek to point him toward God by living a faithful life yourself and giving him a good example of what it means to follow God's leading. Choose trust over fear, selflessness over self-centeredness, integrity over manipulation, wisdom over ignorance and surrender over control. Ask God to give your husband wisdom and discernment. Genuinely listen to what your husband has to say. Affirm him when he makes a wise decision. Trust that, when he makes a mistake, God will help him learn from it.

• Choose purity. Avoid behaviors that could compromise your marriage vows. Ponder only honorable thoughts. Choose your TV shows, movies, Web sites, and magazines carefully and wisely. Dress seductively with your husband at home, but modestly elsewhere.

• Choose reverence. Ask God to help you notice your husband's positive qualities. Strive to respect him, appreciate him, admire him, honor him, and enjoy him. Compliment and encourage your husband whenever you can, and take the time to thank him for what he does for you.

• Pursue beauty. Make an effort to take care of yourself physically, honoring the body that God gave you. Know that keeping yourself in good physical shape will also bless your husband. Understand that men view their wives as extensions of themselves. Pay attention to your inner beauty, cultivating a gentle and quiet spirit and actively pursuing peace in all your relationships.

• Put your husband before your children. Make God your number one priority, and make sure your husband comes right after that. Although you deeply love your children, know that God deems the marital relationship more important than even the parenting relationship. Invest plenty of time and energy into your relationship with your husband, and don't let your relationships with your children infringe on your marriage in any way.

• Look beyond yourself and your husband to Christ. Don't focus on your own feelings or your husband's shortcomings. Instead, focus on Christ, and let your love for Him motivate you to be obedient to His calling for you as a wife. Know that if you mistreat your husband, whom Christ loves, it's as if you're mistreating Christ Himself. Remember that God notices your faithfulness and will reward you for the love you show to your husband.

Adapted from The Politically Incorrect Wife, copyright 2000, 2002 by Nancy Cobb and Connie Grigsby. Published by Multnomah Publishers, Inc., Sisters, Or.,

Nancy Cobb is director of women's ministries at Christ Community Church in Omaha, Nebraska, and is a popular retreat and conference speaker. A frequent radio guest, she has written two other books on marriage. She and her husband Ray have four adult children.

Connie Grigsby is the coauthor of How to Get Your Husband to Talk to You and How to Get Your Teen to Talk to You. A teacher and speaker, she exhorts others to refuse to be content with a ho-hum kind of life. She and her husband Wes are the parents of three teenage daughters.