Marriage

In some articles, I have unintentionally depicted men as weak and ineffective in marriage. I talked about the husband who did not know what to say to his wife. She exclaimed, "It doesn't count if I have to tell you!" I also talked about the husband who could not deal with his wife's emotions. He exclaimed, "Oh, no! Here come the tears again."

A secular marriage counselor might give the following advice. The wife tells the husband he cannot express himself, she expects him to fail, and she looks for evidence to support her conclusions. She must replace this pattern of behavior with a more positive one. She should tell him she knows he can express himself, she should expect him to succeed, and she should support his victories.

The husband will have to be brave and take more chances. He will have to risk exposing his inner weaknesses (and strengths) to someone who may not always understand. But it is not essential that both partners always understand each other. What is essential is that both partners accept and support what the other is feeling. The key to building the husband's confidence in sharing is to acknowledge that they are not questioning his ability to HAVE emotions. They are questioning his ability to EXPRESS those emotions.

What would be the dialogue if one of the couples went to a Christian counselor? What does God have to say about the relationship between a husband and a wife? (See Ephesians 5:22-33.) The wife is to submit to the husband. (Eph 5:22) She must respect him. (Eph 5:33) As the husband snickers in triumph, the wife blurts out, "How can I respect him? If he REALLY loved me, he would ..." The counselor adds that the husband is to love the wife. (Eph 5:25) The wife's eyes show a spark of hope, while the husband starts to deflate.

The couple should study 1 Corinthians 13 together to learn about God's explanation of love. They should ask themselves, "What has love meant to us, in comparison with what the Bible says love should be?" Also study 1 Peter 3:1-7 to learn more about Biblical husbands and wives.

Wives, maybe you need a better understanding of how God has influenced men's behavior. God built into men the desire to control their environment. (Gen 1:26, 3:16) Men have a built-in need to be leaders. You cannot change that. Here are three suggestions for helping your husband be a better leader.

First, listen to him. Every speaker needs an audience and every leader needs a follower. Listen to him and follow him. Secondly, don't challenge his authority, even if it means allowing him to make mistakes. It is all right to offer him your advice when he genuinely desires it. But you must not be constantly trying to prove to him that you know more than he does, or that you can do a better job than he can. Thirdly, admire him. Point out things in his personality, his appearance, his job, and his relationships with God, yourself, and others, etc. that you admire. You must build his confidence. If you do not admire him, he may find that admiration through his work or other relationships. (Source of this paragraph: Christian radio program.)

Husbands, if you want to improve your marriage, should the first step toward that goal be to improve yourselves? Use the Bible as a guideline for the kind of person God wants you to be. Do not look for power; look for ways to serve. Submit to the older men. Be humble. (1 Peter 5:1-7)

As you become more acceptable to God, you should also become more acceptable to your wife. You will earn the respect of others in the congregation, too. Your wife will see how your relationship with God and others have changed. These changes may be what it takes to convince your wife that you truly have earned her respect. And when she sees that you can be humble and can submit to the older men (and Christ), she may accept that her submitting to you is scriptural.

The secular counselor told the couple to create a mental image and hope that it comes true. But he did not give them any models of behavior to emulate to make this happen. The Christian counselor used the Bible to provide concrete guidelines for what behavior is acceptable to God.

You may think that you are not ready to do these things. Why do you hesitate? Do you think that you are not able to share these things with your spouse? Maybe you have been listening to Satan's lies, told to you through our society. Maybe you need to look at marriage as God has described it in the Bible, not how the world sees it.

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