Their Marriage Profoundly Changed
I appreciate hearing from couples, especially those in ministry. Even those of us in marriage ministry can get on the Crazy Cycle or become disillusioned in our marriages. Jeff and Elizabeth share what profoundly changed their marriage when Elizabeth had finally “had it!”
My husband and I were married in 1992 and from the very beginning, we attended marriage conferences, attended HomeBuilder groups, and then led HomeBuilder groups for 6 years or so. But one day God revealed a life-changing truth to me, and that is what I would like to share with you.
I Had Just Had It!
My husband and I were having one of our typical arguments, and I had just had it! We taught marriage classes for crying out loud – when was he ever going to get it?!!!! So I decided to get out one of my "Christian marriage books" and make him see in black and white exactly what he was doing wrong.
Where Did That Come From?
Of course, I had no trouble finding the chapter, and I was on my way out of the bedroom when I felt impressed on my heart: "It sure seems like men have to do most of the changing, doesn’t it?"
And I thought, "What??? Where did that thought come from?"
So I sat back down and it came again, "It sure seems like men have to do most of the changing, doesn’t it?"
I Must Have Missed Something
Well, I knew it wasn’t my thought, because I just wanted to show my husband how wrong he was.
So I said, "Okay God, what do You mean?"
He then led me to take a look through the book to see where I could change, and do you know what I found?
I figured I must have missed something, so I looked through it again. Nothing again!
Help Change Him
And it was then I realized that the first half of the book dealt with all the changes a man had to make to have a successful marriage, while the other half instructed me how to "motivate" him to make those changes. As if there was nothing I needed to change about me. As if all I had to do to make my marriage work was help him change. As if in the Fall, man became some substandard version of what he was, but woman somehow kept her perfect status.
I Don’t Get It!
And I just sat there in silence. I was at a complete loss.
And I’m thinking, "God, I don’t get it! These are the experts! Are you telling me that there is something wrong with this? Because if you are, I don’t know what I’m gonna do. If he doesn’t change, I don’t see how this marriage is going to work."
Then, impressed on my heart so deeply were the words, "If your husband could fulfill all of your desires, you would never come to Me."
My Eyes Were Opened
It hit me like a ton of bricks. All of a sudden it was as if my eyes were opened for the first time to see what I had been doing. All this time I had been trying to change my husband into someone I needed him to be so that he could fix me.
We Need To Fix You
In essence, I was saying, "We need to fix you, so that you can turn around and fix me. Because you see, deep down inside, I have an unfulfilled desire, and you need to meet it."
But you know what? He’ll never meet it. He can’t. Because he’s not perfect. And the deep unfulfilled desire in my heart is for perfection, and that can only be met in One person – Christ and Christ alone.
What About The Woman?
So we go around telling men to "become more sensitive – talk more – share your emotions.” If I hear it one more time, I think I’ll get physically ill. It is so completely off the mark, because there is an omission that is so glaringly obvious.
What about the woman changing too?
So I decided to do it God’s way, and through a very trying 6-month period, I did what I had to do to get this submission thing down! I was ready to do it if it was the death of me, even while I argued with God, "Why do I have to be the one to do it?"
But I did it, and I was only able to do it for one reason and one reason only: as unto the Lord.
I Felt Like A Martyr
When I tried to submit to my husband in order to make my marriage work or to make my husband happy, I failed miserably. That’s not a big enough reason, because my husband doesn’t deserve my submission, and I felt like a martyr.
It wasn’t until I was able to take my eyes off of my undeserving husband and fix them upon my deserving God that my heart changed.
It wasn’t until I was able to submit my will to Christ first that I was ever able to submit to anyone else!
God Had The Best Plan
Because the bottom line is this: my willingness to submit to my husband hinges completely on my trust in God. Am I willing to submit, even when it doesn’t make sense, and have enough faith in God to know that He will work out His plan, or do I need to be in control to make sure things work out the way I think they should?
My submission had less to do with my husband and more to do with my actual faith that God had the best plan and would carry it out.
The Tone of My House Changed
It frees my husband to be the person he is, not some loser who can’t measure up. He’s not perfect, but that’s okay, because I know Someone Who is! And I am free to enjoy my husband again.
All of a sudden, after 8 years, he became funny again. The tone of my house completely changed, because when we are willing to obey Christ, it is then that He can do His miraculous work of transforming our hearts and minds.
Because then we can’t take the credit for some well thought-out formula – only God can get the glory.
It Was So Worth It
Submitting to Jeff changed my life. It was a 6-month experience that was quite agonizing at times. But it was so worth it.
Because after God changed me, he also changed my husband. I am more in love with my husband today than I ever was, and it’s only because we are doing marriage God’s way, not following some man-made 78-step formula to strengthen our marriage.
The Truth Sets You Free
Marriage conferences and marriage groups were not on the table for us during the last two years. But just last month, we received several calls from couples in need of help. It was time to start another group.
I was at the Christian bookstore trying to find something that we could use. It’s all the same old stuff: how to "motivate" your husband to appreciate YOU; how to "motivate" your husband to spend time with YOU.
And I want to shout: "I am not married to one of Pavlov’s dogs, and I do not want to be his teacher!"
Because when you know the truth, and it sets you free, you want everyone to be free.
It Caught My Eye
I had thought of writing our own small group curriculum, but then it caught my eye. "Love and Respect.” A closer look revealed, The love she most desires, the respect he desperately needs.
And I’m thinking, "Yeah, yeah, right. I’ll just bet he talks about respect!"
I Know This Is The Answer
I pick it up and start to glance through it. WOW! This is the book! This is the book!
Can you believe a man actually has the guts to write this? He must have nerves of steel!" And after reading only a few pages, I know this is the answer.
We can’t wait to lead this new group in the "Love and Respect" way. And how wonderful to be able to endorse a marriage conference that we feel will change their lives forever.
I just want to end this letter by thanking you and Sarah for what you are doing. People are desperate for the real answer! And marriages are so profoundly changed when they get the truth!
Jeff & Elizabeth
Thank you Jeff and Elizabeth. Your heart for this message is inspiring. We appreciate you partnering with us to share this message. Together we can make a difference!