Search Results for: respect

How Does Your Husband Spell RESPECT?

How does your husband spell RESPECT - a 30-Day Challenge for wives
Every man craves respect. I think that deep desire to be well-esteemed by family, friends, and foe alike is hardwired into the Y-chromosome. The vast majority of men value respect even over love.

One of the most powerful things you can do to build up your man and strengthen your marriage is to shower your husband with the respect and admiration he so longs for.

The details may differ from family to family, but the underlining principles remain the same.

Here’s how my husband spells respect. And there’s a good chance yours spells it this way, too:

R = Respond Physically

Of all your husband’s needs, this is the one that only you can legitimately address. If you pour all your energies into being a good wife in every other way, but marginalize or neglect the area of physical intimacy, then you have failed.

God designed this one-flesh union to be uniquely characteristic of marriage. Your husband will never feel completely respected as long as you habitually turn him down or slap him away when he tries to get physically close.

E = Express Sincere Thanks

Be grateful for the many things — big and little — your husband does for you, and thank him every time. Show him that you appreciate him in whatever way speaks most clearly to him.

Don’t take your husband for granted and don’t saddle him with expectations. Expectations lead only to discontent. If your husband preforms well, he’ll get no special acknowledgement or show of gratitude, because he was only doing what you expected. If he doesn’t, you’ll feel slighted and angry, and he won’t know why.

“There is no such thing as gratitude unexpressed. If it is unexpressed, it is plain, old-fashioned ingratitude.” – Robert Brault

S = Silence Can Be Golden

“If you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all.” I’m not advocating giving your husband a cold shoulder, but neither should you give him a piece of your mind. Sometimes it’s better to just keep your mouth shut.

The ability to hold our tongue is an underutilized skill for many of us. Yet, the Bible tells us we should “not let any unwholesome speech come out of [our] mouths, but only what is good for building others up, that it may benefit those who listen.” (Ephesians 4:29)

So next time you are tempted to nag, argue, gripe, or belittle, keep these verses in mind: Proverbs 21:19, Philippians 4:8, Colossians 3:8

“Often the difference between a successful marriage and a mediocre one consists of leaving about three or four things a day unsaid.” – Harlan Miller

P = Pray with and for Him

Prayer is key to a strong marriage. Don’t wait until your marriage is in trouble to pray. By faithfully bringing your husband to the Throne of Grace — even when things are going well — you can head off a lot of problems before they ever arise.

Don’t just stop at praying for your husband. If he is willing, make it a daily habit to pray with him, as well. Couples who regularly pray together are far less likely to divorce.

E = Emphasize His Good Points

Just as you would rather he dwell on your most praiseworthy attributes than to focus his attention on all your flaws, your husband will also feel better loved and respected when you are expressing admiration instead of fault-finding and nit-picking.

Focus your attention on those traits that first attracted you to your husband. Emphasize his most noble features.

If you will make your default attitude one of warm approval and respect, then on the rare occasion you do need to discuss a concern, your husband will be far more likely to take it to heart.

C = Choose Joy

What does being joyful have to do with communicating respect?

More than you might think!

A smiling, jovial wife announces to the world, “My husband knows how to make me happy!” But a sour, malcontent wife broadcasts the opposite message. A wife who shames her husband “is as rottenness in his bones.” (Proverbs 12:24)

Choose to cultivate a happy, joyful attitude, regardless of your circumstances. In fact, the Bible tells us we should rejoice, even in the midst of trials and tribulations, knowing that God uses difficult circumstances to teach us patience, to build our endurance, and to mold us into the character of Christ. (James 1:2-3; Matthew 5:11-12)

T = Take His Advice

Undoubtedly you’ve already noticed that your husband tends to look at things differently than you. His unique perspective, together with the way most men’s brains are wired for problem solving, offers you a unique opportunity to get “outside the box” when looking at problems or challenges.

Listen to your husband. Hear what he is saying to you. Don’t get defensive or discount his opinion, but try to see things from his perspective and honor his wishes. God will greatly bless you when you do.

Need some practice to help this all sink in? Then sign up for my 30-Day Respect Challenge over at Revive Our Hearts. You’ll receive helpful tips and reminders delivered straight to your inbox, every day for a month.

Invest in your marriage. Take the 30-Day Respect Challenge!

Invest in your marriage. Take the 30-Day Respect Challenge!

Give your husband something for Christmas this year he will really appreciate.

Give him RESPECT!

And if you really want to get specific, ask him how he’d like you to spell it.

Check Out My Book

Love and Respect – Subway Art Printables

25 Ways to Communicate Respect | free printable Subway Art from http://lovinglifeathome.comI’ve been pondering what to get my husband this year for Valentine’s Day, as it’s only a week away.

In years past, I’ve written him poems, like this or this. And once I stitched him a silk-embroidered bed pillow, which has been broadcasting the same secret message for more than a decade now.

But just as I was starting to feel stumped for ideas, Doug made it super-easy on me.

“Valentine’s is coming up,” he reminded me earlier this week. “I thought it might be good for you to turn our Love and Respect lists into some sort of graphic we could post for the occasion.”

I told him I thought that was a great idea and got right to work on it. The next day, I presented him with two pieces of subway art: the one pictured here on communicating respect and another (which you can find on his blog) on expressing love.

Incidentally, Doug’s been making good progress on the book version of 25 Ways to Show Love to Your Wife, which should be available sometime this spring. The parts I’ve read so far are terrific! You can expect more detailed posts from him on related topics as he continues to work on that, so you may want to subscribe to his blog if you don’t already follow it.

Meanwhile, if you’ve not yet registered for our Valentine’s Day Romance and Respect Book Bundle Giveaway, you only have a week left to do so. Sign up here for a chance to win a copy of Heidi St. John’s Busy Homeschool Mom’s Guide to Romance and my 25 Ways to Communicate Respect.

25 Ways to Communicate Respect


Actions speak louder than words. You can say you respect your husband, but he’ll have a hard time believing that unless your behavior backs it up.

What does respectful living look like? Here are 25 ways you can communicate respect to your spouse without uttering a word. If you’ll make it your habit to do these things, the next time you tell your husband how much you respect him, he won’t have to wonder if you really mean it.

  1. Choose Joy
    It’s true: A happy wife makes a happy life. Please don’t use moodiness as an attempt to manipulate your man, but in all things rejoice, because that’s the right thing to do. (1 Thessaonians 5:16; Philippians 4:4)
  2. Honor His Wishes
    Give weight to what your husband thinks is important. Make those things a priority that matter most to him, whether it’s having dinner ready when he gets home from work or keeping the house tidy or limiting computer time. Don’t make him ask twice. (Philippians 2:4)
  3. Give Him Your Undivided Attention
    Yes, I know that women are masters of multi-tasking, but when your husband is speaking to you, make a point to lay other tasks aside, look into his eyes, and listen to what he is saying with the goal of understanding and remembering his words.
  4. Don’t Interrupt
    Have you ever been around a person who won’t let you finish a sentence? That gets old fast. Even if you think you already know what your husband is going to say, allowing him to say it without cutting him off mid-sentence shows both respect and common courtesy.
  5. Emphasize His Good Points
    Sure, he has his faults (as do you), but dwelling on them will only make you (both) miserable. Choose instead to focus on those qualities in your husband that you most admire. (Philippians 4:8)
  6. Pray for Him
    Ruth Graham advises wives to “tell your mate the positive, and tell God the negative.” Take your concerns to God. Faithfully lift up your husband in prayer every day, and you will likely notice a transformation not only in him, but in yourself, as well. (Philipians 4:6-7; 1 Thessalonians 5:17)
  7. Don’t Nag
    Your husband is a grown man, so don’t treat him like a two-year-old. Leave room for God to work. You are not the Holy Spirit, so do not try to do His job.
  8. Be Thankful
    Cultivate an attitude of gratitude. Don’t take your husband for granted. Be appreciative for everything he does for you, whether big or small. Always say thank you. (1 Thessalonians 5:18; Ephesians 5:20)
  9. Smile at Him
    Smiles spread happiness. Smiles have even been shown to create happiness. Smiles are contagious. And a smile makes any woman more beautiful.
  10. Respond Physically
    Did you know that the way you respond (or don’t respond) to your husband’s romantic overtures has a profound effect on his self-confidence? Don’t slap him away when he tries to hug you or make excuses when he’s in the mood. Your enthusiastic cooperation and reciprocation will not only assure him of your love, but will make him feel well-respected, too. (1 Corinthians 7:3-5)
  11. Eyes Only for Him
    Don’t compare your husband unfavorably to other men, real or imaginary. It is neither fair nor respectful and will only breed trouble and discontent. Avoid watching movies or reading books that might cause you to stumble in this area, as well. (Psalm 19:14; Proverbs 4:23)
  12. Kiss Him Goodbye
    I once read about a study done in Germany which found that men whose wives kissed them goodbye every morning were more successful than those who weren’t kissed. Success and respect often go hand-in-hand, so be sure to send him off right, and don’t forget to greet him with a kiss when he returns home, for good measure. (2 Corinthians 13:12)
  13. Prepare His Favorite Foods
    Although the rest of the family is not overly-fond of spaghetti, my husband loves it, so I try to make it at least two or three times a month as a way to honor him. Next time you’re planning meals, give special consideration to your husband’s preferences. (Proverbs 31:14-15)
  14. Cherish Togetherness
    I love to sit near my husband, whether at home or away. Our church shares potluck dinners every Sunday afternoon, and although the men and women normally sit separately to visit, I like to position myself close enough to my husband that I can listen to the conversation, as I think everything he says is so interesting. At home, I’ll take my book or handwork to whatever room in the house he’s working in, just to be close to him, because I enjoy his company, even when neither of us is talking.
  15. Don’t Complain
    Nobody wants to be around a whiner or complainer. It is grating on the nerves. Remember the serenity prayer: accept the things you can’t change, courageously change the things you can, seek wisdom to know the difference. (Philippians 2:14)
  16. Resist the Urge to Correct
    I know one wife whose spouse can’t tell a story without her stopping him fifteen times to correct inconsequential details: “It wasn’t Monday evening, it was Monday afternoon…. It wasn’t blue, it was turquoise…. He didn’t ride the bus, he took a shuttle.” Please. Please. Please. Don’t ever do that to your husband — or to anyone else, for that matter! (Proverbs 17:28)
  17. Dress to Please Him
    Take care of your appearance. Choose clothes your husband finds flattering, both in public and around the house.
  18. Keep the House Tidy
    To the best of your abilities, try to maintain a clean and orderly home. Seek to make it a haven of rest for your entire family. (Proverbs 31:27)
  19. Be Content
    Do not pressure your husband to keep up with the Jonses. Take satisfaction in the lifestyle he is able to provide for you. (1 Timothy 6:6-10; Hebrews 13:5)
  20. Take His Advice
    Do not dismiss his opinions lightly, especially when you’ve asked for his counsel in the first place. Make every effort to follow your husband’s advice.
  21. Admire Him
    Voiced compliments and heartfelt praise are always welcome, but you should also make it your habit to just look at your husband in a respectful, appreciative way. Think kind thoughts toward him. He’ll be able to see the admiration in your eyes. (Luke 6:45)
  22. Protect His Name
    Honor your husband in the way you speak of him to family and friends. Guard his reputation and do not let minor disagreements at home cause you to speak ill of him in public. Live in such a way that it will be obvious to others why your husband married you in the first place. (Proverbs 12:4; 22:1)
  23. Forgive His Shortcomings
    In the words of Ruth Bell Graham, “A happy marriage is the union of two good forgivers.” Please do not hold grudges against your husband. Do not allow a root of bitterness or resentment find a home in your heart. Forgive your husband freely, as Christ has forgiven you. (Mark 11:25; Matthew 18:21-35)
  24. Don’t Argue
    You are not always right, and you do not always have to have the last word. Be the first to say, “I’m sorry.” Be willing to accept the blame. It takes two to argue, so “abandon a quarrel before it breaks out.” (Proverbs 17:14; 21:19; 25:24)
  25. Follow His Lead
    If you want your husband to lead, you must be willing to follow. Neither a body nor a family can function well with two heads. Learn to defer to your husband’s wishes and let final decisions rest with him. (Ephesians 5:22-24)

Proverbs 18:22 tells us, “He who finds a wife finds a good thing and obtains favor from the Lord.” Do these 25 things consistently, and your husband will never have trouble believing that fact.


25 Ways to Communicate Respect to Your Husband - Read the post. Sign up for the challenge. Order the book. 25 Ways to Show Love to Your Wife - Must reading for any man looking to improve his marriage.Did you like this post? Then you will love my book, 25 Ways to Communicate Respect to Your Husband — nearly 200 pages filled with Biblical wisdom and sensible suggestions for putting these principles into practice. And check out my husband’s companion book, as well: 25 Ways to Show Love to Your Wife. It’s based on his blog post by the same title.

And for those who’ve requested printable versions of these articles, you’ll find the list for wives here and the one for husbands here, with an option to print either article in its entirety or as a one-page summary.


Are You Saying Yes to Things that Really Matter?

Today marks the 60th anniversary of the release of the film version of OKLAHOMA by Rodgers and Hammerstein, and I’ve uploaded a new music video to YouTube in honor of the occasion.

It’s a recording of “I Can’t Say No” (the way Ado Annie would have sung it were she a 2015 soccer mom instead of a 1907 pioneer girl).

Of course, I’m singing this song with my tongue slightly in cheek. As my children will attest, I actually can say NO and do so fairly often.

Whether consciously or not, we all say NO to a variety of things every day. The trick is not so much knowing how to say NO as knowing when and to what we should say it.

We need to make sure that we are answering all of life’s many opportunities and distractions in a way that accurately reflects our goals and priorities. The challenge is saying NO to things that don’t matter so we can say YES to the things that do.

For me, a lot of NOs have become second nature:

  • To be more productive, I say NO to watching television.
  • To prevent unwanted weight gain, I say NO to excess sugar.
  • To preserve family time in the evenings, I say NO to most of the extracurricular activities that would split us apart.

But even more importantly, I try to consistently say YES to the things that matter most to me and my family:

  • To nurture my children, I say YES to spending time with them, listening when they need to talk, homeschooling them, and heeding when my little ones say, “Hey, Mom, watch this!”
  • To nurture my faith, I say YES to Bible study, prayer, regular church attendance, and Scripture memorization.
  • To nurture my marriage, I say YES to communicating respect to my husband, praying with him daily, and sharing intimacy with unfailing regularity.

How are you doing in this important area? Your NOs and YESses may look different than mine. And that’s okay.

The important question is: Are you making choices that will carry you where you really want to go in life? Or are you stuck singing the “I Can’t Say No” refrain, exhausted from frantically trying to do it all — and weighed down by guilt because you can’t?

I’m Just a Mom Who Can’t Say No

It’s not so much a question of not knowin’ what to do;
It’s just that I’m so busy, I can’t think.
I’m barely treadin’ water, and my family’s drownin’, too.
But if I don’t keep paddlin’, I’ll sink.
My schedule’s overloaded to the max,
And I don’t have a moment to relax.

I’m just a mom who can’t say no,
I’m in a terrible fix.
I usually say, “Alright, we’ll go,”
Just when I oughta say “Nix.”
When a kid pitches a temper fit,
Some say his little bottom needs a smack,
But when my child throws a fit for me,
I sometimes sorta wanta throw one back!
My list of projects seems to grow
Faster than I can keep track.
I’m feelin’ ready to crack.
How will I ever turn back?
I can’t say no!

What you gonna do when your life gets so busy,
You start to feel dizzy?
What you gonna do?
S’pose your sense of balance gets a little off kilter
From running full tilter?
From having tons to do?
S’pose you want to mind all the things that matter most,
But you know you will be toast if you try?
Your life’s already swamped by so many other things —
Adding any more would make you cry!

I’m just a mom who can’t say no,
Something has gotta change quick,
Before I completely lose control —
The chaos is making me sick.
Though I know I can’t do everything,
Sometimes it’s really hard to pick and choose.
Now I’m wound up tighter than a spring —
You better duck for cover when I’m loose!
Lately, I sense an undertow,
Exhaustion has made me feel faint.
My husband has lodged a complaint:
It’s high time I show some restraint!
I must say no!


Balance: The Art of Minding What Matters MostIncidentally, If you watch the video, you’ll notice I have a new book coming out in December. It’s called Balance: The Art of Minding What Matters Most, and I’m so excited about it!

It’s taken me several years to finish it (primarily because when I “mind what matters most,” my writing inevitably gets pushed into the margins), but little by little, it’s taken shape — and I’m thrilled to have the opportunity to share my heart on these matters and offer strategies for keeping a balanced perspective in every area of life.

I’ll be sharing more details about the book and its contents in the coming weeks, so stay tuned!

Maintaining Balance

7 Ways to Ruin Your Marriage

7 Ways to Ruin Your MarriageEarlier this week, I spotted a clever post on Money Saving Mom called 5 Ways to Ruin Your Day — Guaranteed.

Of course, nobody sets out with that goal in mind, but as I read through her list, I realized that from time to time, I’ve been guilty of every single one of them (with the possible exception of #3).

And sure enough, when I think back to days I’ve devoted to such self-defeating activities, they don’t normally rank among my most productive or joyous.

I thought perhaps a similar tongue-in-cheek post about marriage might kindle some comparable sparks of recognition.

Nobody sets out with the goal of ruining their marriage in mind, but — unfortunately — that’s the position in which many couples find themselves.

Maybe if we could recognize the habits that are undermining our relationships early enough, we could change our ways before it’s too late.

So, in that spirit, I offer you…

7 Ways to Ruin Your Marriage — Guaranteed:


  1. Put yourself first.
  2. Always look out for #1. Make everything about you. Prioritize your needs and marginalize his. If you have children, put them ahead of Daddy, as well. Your husband is a big boy; he’s old enough to take care of himself.

  3. Dwell on his flaws.
  4. Focus all your attention on those things he does that most annoy you. Blind yourself to any good traits, and zero in on the bad ones. Who cares if he is a hard worker if he’s irresponsible with money? What does it matter that he’s a loving and devoted father if he’s also a complete slob?

  5. Assume the worst.
  6. Assign a malignant motive to anything he does that you don’t like. If he really loved you, he would know how much it bothers you and stop doing it. Convince yourself he’s acting that way on purpose, just to tick you off.

  7. Refuse to forgive.
  8. Whenever he forgets your anniversary or loses his temper or leaves his dirty socks on the floor, make sure he knows that he has seriously flubbed up. Glare at him with disapproval or, better yet, give him a cold shoulder. The longer you hold a grudge, the less likely he’ll be to make the same mistake in the future.

  9. Withhold respect.
  10. Don’t just give him respect — make him earn it. The harder he works to win your approval, the more he’ll appreciate it once he gets it. (Until then, feel free to disparage him as much as you like, both to his face and behind his back.)

  11. Turn him down.
  12. You don’t have to have sex to have a good marriage. The sooner your husband understands that, the better. Why make love when you can make excuses? If he’s in the mood and you aren’t, just tell him to go take a cold shower. Put him off enough, and he’ll eventually give up and stop bugging you about it.

  13. Cast blame.
  14. Don’t accept personal responsibility for any of the problems in your marriage — they are all your husband’s fault. Even your own poor attitudes can be pinned on him: If he were the kind of husband he ought to be, you wouldn’t react the way you do. If he’d get his act together, yours would quickly follow.

The good news is, you don’t have to do all these things at once to ruin your marriage. Just doing one or two of them habitually is usually enough to make most couples miserable.

Of course, if you’d rather nurture your marriage than destroy it, then simply do the opposite of this list: Place more importance on your husband’s needs than your own (Philippians 2:3-4), focus on the positive (Philippians 4:8), believe the best (1 Corinthians 13:7), forgive freely (Colossians 3:13), shower him with respect (Ephesians 5:33), don’t deny him physically (1 Corinthians 7:3-5), and own up to your own failings instead of pointing fingers (James 5:16).

25 Ways to Communicate Respect

The Choice is Yours

Love is not a feeling. It's a choice.Jane Austen once wrote, “Happiness in marriage is entirely a matter of chance.” But that doesn’t ring quite true.

Experience has proven time and again that chance has much less to do with happiness than do attitude and outlook. Austen might have more accurately written, “Happiness in marriage is entirely a matter of choice.”

Our success in marriage, as in life, is in large part determined by the choices — large and small — that we make day after day after day

So… what is it going to be? Will you:

 The choice is yours. You decide. 

Quotes - LL - Matter of Choice

Q&A: I Feel Like I’m Living with Jekyll & Hyde

What to do when you find yourself married to a man with a Jekyll & Hyde personality...

We’ve received several questions through our family blog lately that deal with subjects better suited to this forum, so I’ve decided to publish my responses here, in case other readers are dealing with similar situations. Here’s the first:

QUESTION: Hi, Jennifer. I would like to know how you would deal with a husband that is like Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde?

One minute everything is wonderful, the next thing he acts mad at me for everything under the sun…. I am not perfect and have made some mistakes, but I think I am a great wife. He has even made the comment that I have put up with a lot over the many years we’ve been married.

He can be wonderful at times, but very difficult to live with at other times.

ANSWER: It’s been decades since I’ve read Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, but I remember enough to know that Hyde would be a very difficult person to live with.

I believe in the book, the doctor’s transformation was caused by some concoction he was drinking. If your husband’s mood swings are caused (or made worse) by alcoholism or substance abuse of any kind, or if he is suffering from a psychological disorder like manic/depression or dissociative (split personality) disorder, or if his behavior is putting you or your children in physical danger, then please get some professional help ASAP.

But if, as your letter indicates, he simply acts one moment as if everything is rosy and the next as if he is intensely irritated by every little thing you say or do, then the following suggestions may help.

You will notice, I’m sure, that all these recommendations require you to adapt your attitudes and actions to him and his mood. And you may be thinking, “He’s the one with the problem, why should I be the one to change?”

I know that seems unfair. And it is.

You were probably hoping for a solution that would change your husband and the way he acts, and I wish I could give you one, but only God can change his heart.

You have no control over your husband’s actions. You can only control your response.

From the (omitted) details of your letter, it sounds like you are already working very hard to make your marriage work. Clearly, you feel you are doing your fair share and just wish your husband would be more appreciative and less volatile in recognizing that fact. In an ideal world, he would. That’s how it’s supposed to work, and I know it really stinks when reality falls short of what could or should be.

But think of it this way: Staying married is a little like driving a car.

To get safely from one place to another when you’re driving, you not only need to obey traffic laws and signals yourself, but you must also watch for other drivers who may be ignoring those same laws and signals.

This is a concept my own dear father had a hard time accepting. Whenever the law gave him the right-of-way, he was determined to take it, no matter what the other drivers around him were doing.

That attitude nearly got our family killed a few times. When we’d mention that fact to him, he’d argue, “Well, if we died, it would’ve been their fault.”

Yeah, maybe. But we’d still be dead.

And preventably so, if you saw a way to avoid the accident, but stubbornly refused to take it.

Likewise, if your marriage crumbles — even if it’s demise can be pinned 100% on your spouse — you and your children are still going to suffer the consequences. Knowing that someone else was to blame does not alter that fact. It won’t breathe life back into the casualties.

So what can be done (beyond all you are already doing) to prevent that from happening?

BE SYMPATHETIC:

Start by trying to understand your husband’s stressors and alleviate as many as possible. Do what you can to minimize the things that frustrate him. Here is a list of possibilities to get you started:

  • physical hunger
  • financial strain
  • self-doubt
  • illness/ poor health
  • unfulfilled desire for sex
  • feeling disrespected (at home or work)
  • overextended schedule (at work or home)
  • concerns about the children
  • responsibilities and commitments
  • caffeine withdrawals
  • unmet personal goals/ dissatisfaction
  • restlessness
  • bad modeling from his own father
  • cluttered/messy house
  • midlife crisis
  • fluctuating hormones
  • general irritability associated with aging
  • immaturity
  • jealousy/ competitiveness
  • general sin nature
  • guilt over specific sin(s)
  • pride (in him or me)
  • crisis of faith

Obviously, you have a measure of control over some of these things, such as cooking good meals to alleviate his physical hunger or saying yes when he’s in the mood to address his sexual hunger.

Over others, such as how his boss treats him at work or what kind of modeling his own father provided for him as a child, you have absolutely no control. But sometimes just recognizing these contributing factors and empathizing and encouraging your husband in the midst of them is enough to help alleviate their harmful effects.

So put yourself in his shoes and treat him as you’d want to be treated, were you dealing with the same stresses and pressures.

NOTE PATTERNS:

It may be helpful and instructive for you to keep a calendar of your husband’s mood swings for several months to see if you can pinpoint what might be triggering them.

Along with his moods, plot his work load, your menstrual cycle, extracurricular activities, your own attitudes, financial ups and downs, his call/vacation schedule, etc. Play the part of a detective and look for connections.

Again, you may not be able to do anything about the triggers, but just being aware of them can help you modulate your own actions and interactions to keep the peace at home and be sensitive to extra pressures your husband may be facing during certain times of the month or year.

Yes, it would be nice if he’d be sensitive to the pressures you’re facing, as well. Maybe someday God will mature your husband to the point that he can reciprocate in the sympathy and compassion department so things won’t seem so one-sided. But until then, you can still improve your situation by giving consideration to these matters, even if none of them are “your fault.”

PRAY ABOUT IT:

I’m sure you are already doing this, but beyond praying that God would change your husband or stabilize his moods, I’d encourage you to pray that He’ll give you wisdom and patience in responding to your man, and also ask Him to open your eyes to anything you may be doing to contribute to the discord.

Pray with the Psalmist, “Search me, O God, and know my heart; try me and know my anxious thoughts; and see if there be any hurtful way in me, and lead me in the everlasting way.” (Psalm 139:23-24, NASB)

Pray that God would open your eyes to your husband’s good points, as well. Pray that He’d help you keep your focus there, and would give you a deep and abiding love and appreciation for the man you married, and would make you a crown and a blessing to your husband in every way.

TALK TO YOUR HUSBAND:

Wait until your husband is in one of his good moods and gently broach the topic of how his bad moods affect you and the children.

Sometimes men vent their anger and frustration and don’t intend for anybody within earshot to take it personally — like a guy who lets loose a string of curses when he hits his thumb with a hammer, then can’t understand why his wife who overheard the tirade would think he was mad at her. I’m not trying to justify such behavior, by the way, I’m only attempting to explain that sometimes husbands just don’t realize how much their dark or angry moods hurt their wives.

So prayerfully try to explain all that in a nice way, without getting angry and accusatory. I know that’s a tall order, but if you come across as critical, self-righteous, or disrespectful, you’ll likely just make the situation worse.

If your husband is already aware of the problem, ask him if there is anything you can do to help stabilize his moods, and follow through as best you can. I know what keeps my husband happy is a tidy house and lots of sex with me, so — guess what? — that’s exactly what he gets. (Okay, so sometimes the house gets a little cluttered, but I’m extremely faithful in the other area, and that helps blind him to those piles of books on our dining room table.)

BE ENCOURAGED:

I hurt for any wife in your situation. Sin stinks. And it breaks God’s heart. These Jekyll & Hyde mood swings were never part of God’s perfect plan for marriage, nor do they accurately reflect Christ’s love for us.

Even so, you can still glorify God in the way you respond to the circumstances in which you find yourself. You can still grow and mature in Christ in the midst of it. And you can still have a happy, solid marriage, despite your husband’s volatile moods — but that happiness will hinge on your attitudes and reactions.

If you haven’t already done so, I’d encourage you to commit pertinent Bible verses to memory and draw strength from them when the going gets tough. Here are a few I’d recommend, for starters:

  • “Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.” (Galatians 6:9, NIV)
  • “Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance.” (James 1:2-3, NASB)
  • “A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.” (Proverbs 15:1, NIV)
  • “Let your speech always be with grace, as though seasoned with salt, so that you will know how you should respond to each person.” (Colossians 4:6, NASB)
  • “Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable–if anything is excellent or praiseworthy–think about such things.” (Philippians 4:8, NIV)
  • “For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 1:6, NASB)

You may also want to read this post. It’s about getting along with difficult mother-in-laws, but the strategies outlined work equally well when dealing with difficult spouses, bosses, neighbors, or anybody else who has a demanding personality or seems impossible to please.

Fathers Matter (Every Day of the Year)

Fathers Matter!Last Sunday was Father’s Day — a day for celebrating the parent that goes largely unnoticed and under-appreciated the rest of the year.

Dads are under-appreciated partly because our society is no longer conditioned to hold fathers in high esteem.

Fathers have long been a favorite target of television sitcoms, where the vast majority of them are depicted as inept, irrelevant idiots more deserving of ridicule than respect.

For decades, fathers have been marginalized and emasculated and treated as if they have nothing of value to contribute to their family’s life beyond its economic support (if that).

And to the degree that life imitates art, men must fight against these stereotypes, not only in contemporary culture, but sometimes even in their own homes.

But another reason dads go unnoticed and under-appreciated is because so many of them are absentee fathers — they’re seldom around to attract any attention or appreciation.

This may be due to death, divorce, abandonment, or career choice; regardless of the cause, their absence comes at a high cost to the children they’ve left behind.

Despite what the liberal media might lead us to believe, fathers play a vital, irreplaceable role in the development of their children. Despite the divorce lawyers’ assurances that “kids are resilient and will quickly adjust to life without you,” the children rarely (if ever) escape such an ordeal unscathed. Most will carry scars from their parents’ split for the rest of their lives.
Do Fathers Matter?
And while having a loving, engaged father living in your home, eating at your table, and taking interest in your life is not essential to success, studies show that paternal involvement makes such success a lot more probable.

According to a fascinating new book by Paul Raeburn, Do Fathers Matter?: What Science Is Telling Us About the Parent We’ve Overlooked, the general consensus, at least in the research community, is that fathers do matter. They matter a lot.

Beginning before conception and moving through pregnancy, delivery, infancy, children, teens, and all the way to fathering in old age, Raeburn covers cutting-edge research that gives insight into how fathers shape their children, for better or worse.

The bottom line? When fathers are involved, everybody fares better:

The children benefit.

  • Infants respond most positively to the way their father plays with them, which tends to be more physical and idiosyncratic than their mother’s play. (p. 126) Furthermore, children of fathers who engaged in the most physical and enjoyable play were less aggressive, more competent, and better liked by their peers. (p. 152)
  • Fathers have a huge impact on their children’s language development, even more so than mothers and irrespective of the mother’s education level or how she speaks to the children. (p. 145)
  • Children with fathers who are supportive and encouraging show a boost in intellectual development. (p. 147)
  • They also do better in school, both academically and socially: Paternal encouragement is associated with better relationships between children and their school teachers, as well as better behavior and social skills. (p. 150)
  • Engaged, attentive fathering has been linked to higher IQs in children, lower risk of smoking as teens, and even lower incidence of depression and psychological ailments decades later. (p. 151)
  • Sadly, there appears to be a robust association between father absence — both physical and psychological — and accelerated reproductive development in daughters, increased sexual risk taking, and higher incidence of teen pregnancy and STD infection. (pp. 160-164)

The wives benefit.

  • When fathers are present in the delivery room, mothers are less likely to cry or to require pain medication. (p.111)
  • Supportive parenting on the part of fathers has been shown to improve the behavior of mothers toward their children. When he’s more loving and attentive, she is, too. (p. 147)
  • When couples forge a strong alliance in parenting, their marriage is strengthened, as well. (p. 85)

The fathers themselves benefit.

  • Fathers who are involved with their children have a reduced incidence of illness and mortality. (p. 138)
  • Men who devote more time to fatherhood also have higher self-esteem and lower parental stress. (pp. 123-124)
  • Interestingly, low testosterone is not only associated with increased longevity, but also with better, more attentive fathering (pp. 74-75) — so why does our society push supplemental testosterone on middle-aged men as if it were candy?

And those findings are just the tip of the iceberg. I’d encourage you to read Do Fathers Matter? to get the details on the benefits mentioned above and to discover a myriad of others.

So what does all that mean for us? How should these studies affect our day-to-day lives?

For me — and these are my thoughts, not the author’s — this book serves as just one more reminder of how vitally important it is that I nurture my marriage. The next generation is counting on it!

No matter how much others would like us to believe that marriages are just contracts of convenience that can be dissolved without consequence, that simply isn’t true. When Mom and Dad go separate ways, the children are always affected.

No matter how often society argues that what consenting adults do in private should be of no concern to anybody else, their behavior does affect the community around them — especially the children.

And no matter how emphatically our culture insists that one definition of “family” is just as good as the next, the preponderance of research indicates there is an optimal design, at least when it comes to rearing offspring: that of a father and a mother firmly committed to one another and jointly and lovingly involved in the lives of their children.

Virginity: Is It Really Worth Saving?

Is the idea of saving one's virginity for marriage too old-fashioned?When you’re sweet-16-and-never-been-kissed, people write songs about it, but when that status hasn’t changed by your mid-twenties, people begin to look a little askance at you.

That isn’t the way it should be — isn’t the way it’s been for thousands of years — but, unfortunately, that’s the culture our children are growing up in, where virginity is regarded by many as more of a curse than a prize.

What follows is an essay written by my daughter Bethany. She is smart, sweet, beautiful, talented … and single. She is also a member of that seemingly shrinking population of young people determined to save sex for marriage. (Stay tuned for another post next week on why I believe that’s still the best choice.)

Please don’t misconstrue the intent of what she has written here. As she assured her friends when she originally posted this essay on Facebook, she does NOT regret her choices, nor does she think she’d be happier had she chosen a promiscuous lifestyle:

“What I’m saying,” she writes, “is that I don’t know what ‘waiting for marriage’ is supposed to look like if marriage never comes. And I’m not just talking about sex. I’m talking about everything — so much of our identity and purpose in Christian culture is wrapped up in the idea of being a wife and mother.

“I know all about ‘Love & Respect,’ about honoring God by honoring your husband, about following him as he follows the Lord, about being a ‘help-meet.’ All of that was beautifully modeled for me.

“But seeking holiness and meaning as a single woman? Even when that singleness is indefinite? That I am having to learn vastly on my own and without an example. This essay wasn’t intended to condemn abstinence as antiquated and obsolete; it was intended to shed light on the loneliness that often accompanies choosing a path that most others have long-since abandoned.

“And hopefully, by reading this post, others who are in a similar situation will feel a little less alone.”

Mint Condition

I was raised in the age of beanie babies and purity rings. Everyone I knew bought into the hype, with sterling silver rings on their left index fingers and rows and rows of beady-eyed bears lining their shelves. The rings invariably read “True Love Waits” and the pristine, heart-shaped tags on the bears invariably read “ty.”

Labels, you see, are of the utmost importance when you are 12 years old and still discovering what in this world – what in your own self – is of any worth.

I never bought a purity ring. I often wondered if maybe I should get one – you know, so that people would know what a good girl I was. So that people would know how seriously I took my faith (or my virginity, really, since at the time the two seemed interchangeable.)

But I never got one.

Purity rings [in my mind] were for the pretty girls, the ones with the boyfriends, the ones with the opportunities.

I had never been given that sort of offer, so I had no need for a ring to remind me to reject it.

And so I managed to escape puberty with naked fingers and not-naked everything else.

I did not, however, escape the beanie baby hype.

To be fair, I didn’t buy it myself. It was a gift. Brand new with tags and in a box that had never been opened, it came accompanied by a promise and a warning:

A promise that if I left it in the box, left it unopened and un-tampered with, that one day it would be worth a fortune.

And a warning that if I took it out – even for a moment – if I risked getting it dirty or losing those precious tags, it would be utterly worthless.

All my friends had beanie babies, and those beanie babies stayed in their boxes for days, weeks, months, even years. But eventually they all came out of their clear cubic prisons. The beanie babies were played with and shared, just like toys are meant to be. Their tags came off, as had been warned, and the fortune my friends might have had was forever lost.

Oh, but not mine. I heeded those warnings and hid my beanie baby away, safe from all the perils a carefree and careless childhood might bring. And as I watched my friends laughing and sharing and playing, I reminded myself over and over again of the fortune that awaited me if I just waited.

A lifetime has passed since then, a lifetime so very different from what my 12-year-old self imagined it would be. The purity rings and stuffed animals have long since passed out of fashion, ending up in garbage bins and garage sales and goodwill piles. But she is still here: my little brown bear with her heart-shaped tag, hidden safely in her box on my shelf – in perfect mint condition.

When people see her sitting there, their reactions are varied. Some are impressed that I’ve managed to keep her for so long. Some are nostalgic for the time when they, too, believed that a little stuffed animal carried with it all the hopes and dreams and promises of a prosperous future. But more often than not, it’s viewed as strange.

To be a quarter of a century old and in possession of such a novelty is an oddity, to say the least.

But despite all that, I’ve grown sentimental. I’ve had her for so long now that I could never just throw her out or give her away to a stranger like so many others before me have done. And in all honesty, I’m beginning to think that – despite all those pretty promises I was given at 12 – she isn’t worth anything at all anymore. She’s become nothing more than an odd remnant of a lost time that no one really wants to re-visit.

And somehow, by association, so have I.

But a part of me still secretly hopes that some day a collector will show up on my doorstep – an oddity, like me, who clung to those same childhood promises that I did. I imagine him falling to his knees and joyously proclaiming that she’s the one, the rare and unique treasure he’s been searching for his entire life. Then, at long last, she could come off her shelf and be exchanged for the fortune I was promised so long ago.

I wouldn’t mind parting with her then, because I’d know that she was valued. That she’d be cared for and treated with gentleness and respect.

It’s such a silly, pretty dream. With each passing year it becomes a little less realistic, a little more ridiculous.

But the hopeless romantic in me still clings to it, just the same.

So she sits there with me to this day.

Waiting, waiting, waiting.

A symbol of the innocence and hopeful naïvety of a childhood past.

Priceless? Worthless? I suppose that distinction is in the eye of the beholder.

We are both untouched.

Unblemished.

In Mint Condition.

The A to Z Guide to Building a Better Marriage

Great article on building a better marriage...If you’ve been married for any length of time, you have undoubtedly realized that some habits help your relationship and others hurt it.

Our goal should be to practice doing the good stuff until it becomes second nature and leave off doing the bad things altogether. To help in that endeavor, I offer the following A to Z guide for building a better marriage.

Putting these principles into practice is the best way I know to spell success for you and your spouse. Attend to these areas, and your marriage will do better than survive. It will flourish.

A is for Acceptance

Accept your husband for who he is. Entrust to God any changes that need to be made. Don’t try to change him yourself — that will only make you both miserable. Only God can mold either of your hearts into what they are meant to be. (Ezekiel 36:26)

B is for Belief

Your husband needs to know you have confidence in him, that you are on his side. Be his biggest cheerleader. Believe in him, and believe the best of him.

C is for Commitment

Couples fare better when they are committed to marriage in general and to each other in specific. They are more likely to stay together when they don’t even consider divorce an option. (Matthew 19:6) Be entirely devoted to one another — for better or worse, for richer or poorer, in sickness and in health. Honor the vows you made to one another and regard them as binding.

D is for Dreams

The Bible teaches, “Where there is no vision the people perish.” (Proverbs 29:18) It is important for couples to dream as a team. Discuss with your spouse your hopes and desires for the future. Don’t be embarrassed or afraid to dream big. Set and work toward goals together and pray that God will help you accomplish great things.

E is for Encouragement

Be supportive. Speak words of life to your husband. Build him up, don’t tear him down. Make it your goal to comfort, encourage, and do him only good as long as there is life within you. ( Proverbs 31:12; 1 Thessalonians 5:11)

F is for Forgiveness

You should not harbor bitterness or resentment in your heart toward anybody, but especially not toward the man you married. Love keeps no record of wrongs. Forgive him freely, as Christ has forgiven you. (Ephesian 4:31-32; 1 Corinthians 13:5)

G is for Gratitude

Don’t take your husband for granted. Cultivate a heart of thanksgiving. Express your appreciation to him and for him clearly, sincerely, and often. (1 Thessalonians 5:18)

H is for Humility

“Love does not brag and is not arrogant.” (1 Corinthians 13:4) Pride is extremely off-putting and will only drive a wedge in your relationship: Humility is the ticket to happiness. Don’t think more of yourself than you ought, but hold your spouse in high esteem. (Romans 12:3, Philippians 2:3)

I is for Intimacy

A marriage is meant to make two people one: spiritually, physically, and emotionally. This will not happen without your intentional investment in each of these areas. Prioritize time together and do not withhold yourself from your spouse or push him away. (1 Corinthians 7:4-5)

J is for Joy

Somebody once said, “Joy is love singing.” If so, we should learn the words of that song by heart and keep them continually on our lips. A happy marriage is largely about attitude — not only our attitude toward one another, but our whole outlook on life. (Psalm 68:3)

K is for Kindness

Marriage is more about what you give than what you get. Be thoughtful and considerate of your spouse. Put his needs ahead of your own. (Colossians 3:12)

L is for Love

Love is much more than mushy emotionalism or sexual attraction. That loving feeling is nice, but it is not by itself enough to sustain a marriage. For a marriage to thrive, you need the kind of unconditional, self-sacrificing love we read about in Scripture: a love that “bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things… [and] never fails.” (1 Corinthians 13:7-8)

M is for Maturity

To be mature means to be fully developed. Maturity is marked by the presence of firm, well-established roots and an abundance of ripe, wholesome fruit — love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control — none of which can be authentically produced unless we remain connected to the Vine. (Galatians 5:22; John 15:4)

N is for Nurture

Much of our marital success hinges on the daily decisions we make: Where will we invest our time and energy? If we choose to focus our attention at home, our marriage and family will likely flourish. If we carelessly neglect those key relationships, they will suffer and our love will grow cold. (Luke 12:34)

O is for Offspring

Just as a couple’s children are a blessing to their marriage, a couple’s marriage is a blessing to their children — in fact, that one-flesh union was designed with the next generation in mind. A child’s best chance for success is with a mother and father who are lovingly committed to one another and to the little ones entrusted to their care. Whether biological or adopted, children bring a certain fullness and joy to marriage that cannot be experienced any other way. (Psalm 127:3)

P is for Prayer

Prayer is the key to lasting love. While most marriages have only a coin-toss survival rate (50% will end in divorce), couples who pray daily together reduce their risk of divorce to less than 1%. That is significant. Pray with your husband. Pray for your husband. When you invite Him to do so, God will gladly work to mold your marriage into everything He meant it to be. (1 Thessalonians 5:17)

Q is for Quiet

Home should be a haven of peace and rest for every member of the family. Do your best to make it so by cultivating a gentle and quiet spirit. Abandon a quarrel before it breaks out, and learn to control your tongue. Let your words be filled with love and seasoned with grace.(1 Peter 3:4; Proverbs 17:14; James 1:26; Colossians 4:6)

R is for Respect

Marriage should be marked by mutual respect. The New Oxford American Dictionary gives two definitions for respect: 1) a feeling of deep admiration for someone… elicited by their abilities, qualities, or achievements, and (2) due regard for the feelings, wishes, rights or traditions of others. Men especially crave that first kind of respect and are keenly aware of its absence when it is lacking. Admire your husband. Hold him in highest regard. And learn to communicate your respect in ways that are meaningful to him. (Ephesians 5:33)

S is for Sense of Humor

A good sense of humor is an invaluable asset when it comes to living happily ever after. Laughter is good medicine, and the ability to laugh at oneself can help reduce stress and tension like no other thing I know. (Proverbs 17:22)

T is for Trust

Trust is essential for a successful marriage. Prove yourself worthy of your spouse’s trust, express confidence in him as well, and together place your full trust in God whose grace sustains us all.(1 Timothy 3:11; Proverbs 3:5)

U is for Understanding

Put yourself in your spouse’s shoes. Treat him the way you’d want to be treated. Study him. Learn what makes him tick. Listen to him attentively, with a goal of understanding not only what he is saying, but why he is saying it.(Matthew 7:12; James 1:19)

V is for Virtue

Proverbs 31 goes into great detail on what it means to be a virtuous wife.My dictionary defines virtue as “moral excellence, goodness, integrity, purity, and strength.” Virtue is the opposite of hypocrisy, laziness, and malice. Certainly, goodness and integrity are desirable qualities in both husband and wife: the more virtuous their behavior, the more blessed their marriage will be. (Proverbs 20:7; 2 Peter 1:5)

W is for Wisdom

If your marriage is to thrive amid all the pressures that threaten to destroy it, you will need a lot of grace and wisdom. Fortunately, God promises to provide an ample supply to anyone who asks: “If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, Who gives to all generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him.” That’s a promise every couple should redeem regularly. (James 1:5; 3:17; 2 Corinthians 1:12; )

X is for X-citement

Don’t lose your sense of excitement and adventure. You and your spouse get to DO LIFE together, side by side, hand in hand! Whoever said marriage has to be boring? That isn’t the picture Scripture paints of what the love shared between a husband and wife should look like. It uses words like exhilarated, ravished, delighted, captivated, and continually satisfied. (Proverbs 5:18-19, read in multiple translations)

Y is for Yieldedness

Do you want a happy marriage? Learn to defer to one another in love. Don’t demand your own way. A willingness to compromise on non-essentials goes a long way toward building good will and trust in any relationship — marriage is no different in that respect. (Ephesians 5:21; Philippians 2:3; Galatians 5:13)

Z is for Zest

“Being married is like riding a bike: you’ve got to invest some energy if you want it to keep going.” Don’t lose the momentum! Invest your zest! Do everything you can to maintain that energy and enthusiasm that led you to marry in the first place. “Let us not grow weary in doing good, for in due season we will reap if we do not give up.” (Galatians 6:9)

Although, writing as a woman, I have directed this article toward wives, I fully believe that every one of these suggestions should go both ways. And in a healthy marriage, they will.

Although each of these habits and character traits are important for building a marriage that lasts, I know my list is not exhaustive. Which habits have helped you have a happy marriage? What qualities would you add to this list?

Great article on building a better marriage...