Last Valentine's Day, my husband, Steve and I put on a #NoRegretsMarriage conference. The event was well attended by couples who wanted to learn ways to build a marriage that would stand the test of time, while reflecting a loving union that their children would one day want to emulate.
At the close of the conference, the lights were dimmed as Nathan, our worship leader, sang the song Broken Together by Casting Crowns.
I was standing in the back of the auditorium where I observed the gentle mood of the room. One by one, I watched husbands tenderly wrap their arms around their wives––as they heard the words “broken together.”
Deeply moved by this phenomenon, it occurred to me that these husbands knew they were not measuring up to their wives’ expectations. And in a small gesture they were asking, “Can we not just love one another in spite of our brokenness?”
Unmet expectations are one of the most destructive contributors to broken marriages.
When you got married, I am sure you believed your marriage would be a happy one. I don’t know any man who vows to love, honor, and cherish a woman who he thinks will make him miserable.
So, what happens? Why is it your wife seems to be dissatisfied with you––and what can you do about it?
To help wives dispel some of the myths they believe about marriage, I wrote a book called: If My Husband Would Change I’d Be Happy & Other Myths Wives Believe.
I am amazed at how much husbands are loving this book, because they are relieved someone is helping their wives discern the myths that are holding them back from enjoying a happy marriage.
Let’s look at a few myths wives believe about marriage:
1. If my husband would change I’d be happy.
In every happily-ever-after movie your wife has ever watched, she learns that it is the prince’s job to make the princess happy. It doesn’t take long for most men to realize they are not the key to their wives’ happiness––they just don’t know what to do about it.
Over the many years my husband and I have done biblical marriage counseling, if a wife can get her husband in for counseling she is often secretly thinking, “Oh good, now he will change and then I’ll be happy.”
Learning that true happiness lies not in a relationship with a person, but in the One who created you to find your worth and happiness in relationship with Him is the key to finding true happiness.
When your wife realizes that the only way to be genuinely happy is not by looking to you as the source of joy but in knowing intimately the Lord Jesus Christ, she will have found the secret to building a happy marriage.
And since Ephesians 5:26 calls a husband to be his wife’s spiritual leader, it is your job to learn firsthand how to find your own joy in loving Christ with all of your being. (This begins when you surrender to Jesus as Lord and Savior. To know more about how you can know God personally, contact NoRegretsWoman.com.)
When you and your wife stop believing happiness lies in how well your spouse measures up to your expectations––but in how well you love God, you will have discovered the key to happiness in marriage.
2. All he wants is sex.
Why do wives make husbands feel apologetic for wanting to have sex with them? Across the board I’d have to say this a major myth that is hurting Christian marriages.
Most wives wrongly assume that sex for her husband is purely physical. Wives don’t realize that most men struggle with feelings of inadequacy and loneliness. So help your wife understand how intimacy with her is salve for your weary soul. (I talk more about this topic in Chapter 7 of If My Husband Would Change I’d Be Happy.)
Your wife longs to regularly connect with you emotionally. You would do well to remember that this is your wife’s God-given need––a need that only you can fill in a Christ-honoring way.
And just as strongly as your need to connect with your wife in the marriage bed, God has given your wife the same intense longing to interact with you through conversation and romantic gestures.
3. I’m falling out of love with him.
How did your wife fall in love with you? By spending time with you and dwelling on the qualities she admired about you–right? In the same manner, the way to stay in love rests in spending time enjoying the company of your spouse, and in choosing to think loving thoughts toward each other.
During courtship, it may have been easier for your wife to focus on your positive attributes, but I’ll bet you were also putting your best foot forward too–am I right?
After marriage, it’s easy for husbands and wives to stop making the effort to present themselves lovable. What if you put forth the same amount of effort to keep your wife’s affections as you did to win them?
When you see a married couple that appears to be deeply in love, you can know that they have discovered the discipline of:
- Making time to enjoy one another’s company
- Dwelling on their spouse’s positive qualities
Rather than responding in an unkind or agitated manner, thinking the best about your spouse is the key to acting in kindness toward them. Wives often take out their frustration by responding harshly to their husbands. If you in turn snap back with cruelty it will only serve to destroy the foundation of your marriage.
So what can you do? Take the advice of Proverbs 15:1: “A soft answer turns away wrath: but grievous words stir up anger.”
By example, help your wife realize that the way the two of you will fall deeper in love over time is by choosing to think on what is good, right, and honorable (see Philippians 4:8).
Let it Begin with You
Someone has got to make the first move toward building a happy marriage. Let that someone be you. If your wife has wrongly believed myths that are keeping her from enjoying your marriage, rather than pointing out the error of her ways, work to dispel the myths by realizing:
- Christ is the source of genuine happiness
- Staying in love is all in your mind
- Her emotional tank will be filled up through conversation and romantic gestures
Putting time into kindly helping your wife dispel the myths she believes about marriage will help you build a no regrets marriage.
Seek Godly Counsel
To help you and your wife build a better marriage, take to heart Proverbs 11:14:
“Where there is no guidance, a people falls, but in an abundance of counselors there is safety.”
Seek out godly counselors. Look to a pastor, older godly Christian couple, or find a Biblical Counselor.
For more, listen to this 4 minute excerpt of Rhonda teaching: Staying in Love
Rhonda Stoppe is a pastor’s wife, speaker, and author. As the NO REGRETS WOMAN, Rhonda has more than 20 years experience of helping women live life with no regrets. Through humor, and honest communication, she helps women build NO REGRETS LIVES by applying sound teaching from Scripture. Rhonda appears on radio programs, speaks at women’s events, MOPs, and homeschool conventions throughout the nation. Rhonda Stoppe’s book Moms Raising Sons to be Men is mentoring thousands of moms to guide sons toward a no-regrets life. Her new book If My Husband Would Change, I’d Be Happy: And Other Myths Wives Believe is helping countless women build no-regrets marriages.
Photo courtesy: Thinkstockphotos.com
Publication date: October 24, 2016