This One Exercise Could Radically Change Your Marriage, Part 1

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I recently received this powerful testimony from a wife. By sharing it, I hope you will be encouraged in your marriage.

Dr. E,

God has been burdening my heart the last few weeks about a topic that I want (and don’t want) to discuss. I am not even sure how to approach the subject, so here is my best attempt.

Once you become a Christian you enter the spiritual battle between good and evil (Romans 7:15-25, 1 Timothy 6:12). Sometimes you can get so weary in the battle. Sometimes you feel like you are the only one fighting. Everyone else seems so happy, but you have so much turmoil inside. Others might look at you and think you are happy, but you know that you are not. You know you are struggling. You know you want to give up. You know you just can’t do this fighting anymore.

Then, for those blessed to have someone you can confide in, you suddenly realize that that confidant has also had the same struggles. No longer do you feel alone. No longer do you feel like you can’t fight. But, now you are perplexed. Perhaps everyone else around you who looks so happy is actually struggling internally, too, but no one speaks out. No one wants to look like they are messing up, struggling, failing, wanting to give up. Everyone keeps quiet and silently suffers feeling there is no hope or place to turn.

So this is where I am. Do I speak out or do I stay silent??? To speak out will reveal my failings, but if I don’t speak out, perhaps others who are failing will completely fall away from the faith. If I speak out, perhaps I can discover that there are many going through what I am going through.   Perhaps I can be an encouragement to others to not grow weary in doing good. So, I am going to speak out trusting God to use this note to touch and change lives.

Although there are various issues that I have struggled with over my life, the most recent heart wrenching struggle that I have faced is wanting to quit…I can’t even type it…on my own marriage. There I said it. After having been infatuated with [my husband] since I was 14 and married at 21, I found myself at 29 wanting to end it all and walk away.

I have grown up with the principles from the Bible that I will never divorce, so I doubt I would ever actually walk away, but I was terrified by these feelings of wanting to quit. The feelings were so real. So strong. So powerful. I didn’t know what to do with them nor why they were there. I felt overwhelmed by them. I would still have really high moments with my husband, but then I’d have these overwhelmingly low moments. I know love is not a feeling, but feelings are real!  What was I supposed with the feeling of being completely frustrated, irritated, angry and helpless in my marriage?!?!

Praise the Lord that He gave me an older, wiser woman to talk too recently. She told me to NEVER EVER degrade my husband to anyone (unless I was getting counsel from a wise person, but even then, to focus on my own failings first). She told me to write a list of all the traits I admire and respect in my husband. She said, when I am tempted to think negative thoughts about my husband, to go back to that list. She told me to write a list of all the areas where I am failing in my marriage and then focus on growing in those areas. She told me to find a prayer in the New Testament and pray it for him daily. She told me to be in the Word, pray and meditate on Scripture. She said Satan does attack us, but we are engaged in spiritual warfare, and the only way to defeat the enemy is with Scripture.

After our talk, I got out my blank piece of paper and rather reluctantly started a list of my husband’s admirable traits. I was surprised by how quickly my attitude toward him changed.  Yesterday I finished coming up with 100 specific traits that I admire and respect about him!  After reading all of them I was so ashamed of how disrespectful I had been to him. How critical.  How rude. How unloving. I felt he was the one making me so unhappy, and now I was suddenly discovering that I am the one who has been so wrong. My overwhelming feelings of wanting to quit were stemming from a critical, disrespectful spirit towards my husband. He is such an amazing husband. He loves me so kindly and patiently. He provides for me. He loves our children.

Perhaps there are others hiding behind a nice smile out in public. Perhaps they have those private moments when they wish they could just call it quits on their marriage. It is hard for me to imagine that anyone else is struggling with this, but I know that most people probably wouldn’t imagine I have struggled with this either.

God commands wives to respect their husbands (Ephesians 5:33). I have been married eight years, and I would have thought I would have learned all I needed in eight years to have a happy marriage. Eight years is a long time, however, I feel like in the last few weeks I am getting my first real glimpse at what it means to respect my husband.

What I have learned about respect shows me how horrible I have been at respecting my husband.  My older, wiser friend advised me to read the book by Nancy Wilson, The Fruit of Her Hands, written to wives about marriage. The chapter on respect was so eye-opening and helpful. I so easily say unkind things to my husband’s face and talk down about him behind his back.

My own sin of disrespect was what was causing me to be miserable in my marriage.

I have not enjoyed revealing this struggle, but the Bible tells us in James 5:16 to “confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another that you may be healed.” I have been having a secret struggle. Praise God, He is giving victory to me now. I pray that other women, too, will have victory and glorify God in their marriage and not just endure it.

I am burdened for those of us who have been married 8-10 years with small kids. Those of us who feel like we have been married forever and that things will always be as they are now. Those of us who are not respecting our husbands. Those of us who put on a happy face but are struggling inside. For all of you, I hope you will encourage me that I have not been alone in this struggle and I hope that you will be encouraged that there is hope in Christ. Respect your husbands and you will be amazed at how different your marriage will be. Find an older, godly, wise woman who has been married many years and confide in her. Let her encourage you, challenge your thinking and keep you accountable.

God is good. So merciful. So kind. So patient. ‘Til death parts us from our husbands, let us grow more and more in respecting them with all our hearts.

Respectfully,

Elizabeth

What do you think? What would you say about this wife’s story? How would you have responded if you were in her shoes?

-Dr. E