girltalk Blog

Feb 20

When a Husband Doesn’t Help

2014 at 2:23 pm   |   by Janelle Bradshaw Filed under Marriage | Communication | Conflict Resolution

My husband, Mike, is a gift that I don’t deserve. My kids have yet to fully grasp what an incredible dad they’ve been given. For one, they would never be clean if it wasn’t for him. True confessions: I really hate giving my kids baths. There, I said it. For some strange reason I prefer a clean bathroom and dirty children. But thankfully, the kids have Mike and whenever Dad is on duty, the kids get clean. This is one of many ways that Mike and I are different. And when it comes to clean children, I appreciate those differences. Other times, not so much: particularly when those differences mean that Mike doesn’t help out in the way that I want him to with the kids. For example, if Mike doesn’t seem to notice that I need help with the kids, or doesn’t help in the way I think he should, I can be tempted to judge his motives and assume he doesn’t care. I expect him to observe and understand the need that I have without my asking for help. But Mike doesn’t always realize that I need his help, or know what kind of help I’m expecting. This is not because he doesn’t want to be helpful, but because we are different. Elisabeth Elliot diagnoses my problem:

“Strange how easy it seems to be for some women to expect their husbands to be women, to act like women, to do what is expected of women. Instead of that they are men, they act like men, they do what is expected of men and thus they do the unexpected….It’s another of those simple facts which are not always so simple to remember.”

When I remember this simple fact, I can resist the temptation to judge Mike, and graciously ask for his help instead. And you know what? Whenever I ask Mike for help, he says “yes!” He actually does care. A lot. He is always so eager to jump in and do whatever I need.

So, instead of expecting Mike to be like me, I can choose to appreciate the fact that he’s not like me (and that our children get regularly bathed!). And the next time he doesn’t help the way I think he should help, I can stop and thank the Lord that he’s different from me. Then I can open my mouth, ask for help, and be grateful for a husband who so willingly says “yes!”

Sep 11

What is the Wife’s Responsibility in Conflict?

2010 at 10:35 pm   |   by Carolyn Mahaney Filed under Marriage | Communication | Conflict Resolution

A while ago, on the Desiring God blog, John Piper provided an insightful and provoking answer to this question. (By the way, this video might be a good one to watch together with your husband.)

“So I would say a wife’s role is to see all that God enables her to see and then ask the Lord for wise and humble and submissive ways to share, to bring into her husband’s life her perspective on things. And it’s his job as a leader to be humbly receptive to those kinds of things and then to take action.”

Aug 20

Five Minutes for Your Marriage

2009 at 6:40 pm   |   by Nicole Whitacre Filed under Marriage | Communication | Conflict Resolution

i doWe don’t want you to miss this! If you are a married couple who has conflict (and who doesn’t?) you need to hear this biblical advice from Dr. David Powlison. Nine years ago in our pre-marital counseling, my parents shared this wisdom with Steve and me. Few things have served us more in helping us to resolve conflict, have fewer conflicts, and grow in grace together. So listen, and for further study, buy this book.

Oct 24

Thinking Good About Him

2008 at 6:08 pm   |   by Carolyn Mahaney Filed under Marriage | Communication | Conflict Resolution

As wives, we frequently face situations where we are tempted to think harsh and critical thoughts about our husbands. Sometimes we are more inclined to concentrate on what our husbands are doing wrong than what they are doing right. We are more aware of their deficiencies than areas where they excel. But if we submit to these temptations they will only dampen any desire to do them good.

In her book Love Has a Price Tag, Elisabeth Elliot includes some very good counsel from her husband for wives:

“A wife, if she is very generous, may allow that her husband lives up to perhaps eighty percent of her expectations. There is always the other twenty percent that she would like to change, and she may chip away at it for the whole of their married life without reducing it by very much. She may, on the other hand, simply decide to enjoy the eighty percent, and both of them will be happy.”

The apostle Paul understood the influence of people’s thoughts and feelings on their behavior. He exhorted the Philippians in this way: “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worth of praise, think about these things” (Phil 4:8).

As we choose to focus on our husbands’ many commendable qualities—to enjoy the “eighty percent”, we’ll be amazed. We’ll grow in our eagerness to encourage, serve and love them—to do them good all our days.

Mar 8

Q & A - How Do I Encourage My Husband?

2006 at 10:53 am   |   by Nicole Whitacre Filed under Biblical Womanhood | Marriage | Communication | Conflict Resolution | Q&A

The following humble email came in yesterday:

I have appreciated the last few days about encouraging our husbands. I’ve been struggling with this for the entirety of my 10-month marriage, and I have really seen how my critical spirit tears my husband down. I would really love to begin encouraging him, but I’m not sure how. Are there any practical ways to do this?

There are many answers to this question, but I think that Ephesians 4:22-24 lays it out very simply: we are to “put off the old self” and “put on the new self.” By God’s grace we are to “put off” critical thoughts, which lead to unkind words and “put on” loving thoughts that lead to encouraging words. Meaningful encouragement begins with our thought life.

The apostle Paul understood the influence of people’s thoughts on their feelings and behavior. He exhorted the Philippians in this way: “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.” (Phil 4:8).

If we think Philippians 4 thoughts about our husbands, then encouraging words are sure to come out. I love what Shirley Rice has to say along these lines:

“Are you in love with your husband? Not, do you love him? I know you do. He has been around a long time, and you’re used to him. He is the father of your children. But are you in love with him? How long has it been since your heart really squeezed when you looked at him? Why is it you have forgotten the things that attracted you to him at first?...Your husband needs to be told that you love him, that he is attractive to you. By the grace of God, I want you to start changing your thought pattern. Tomorrow morning, get your eyes off the toaster or the baby bottles long enough to LOOK at him. Don’t you see the way his coat fits his shoulders? Look at his hands. Do you remember when just to look at his strong hands made your heart lift? Well, LOOK at him and remember. Then loose your tongue and tell him that you love him” (emphasis mine).

So how do we begin to encourage our husbands? First, we “change our thought pattern” and then we tell him how much we love him!

Also…we did a little series back in July on speech: corrupting words versus encouraging words. You can read it here.

Mar 7

A Grandmother’s Secret

2006 at 2:44 pm   |   by Nicole Whitacre Filed under Marriage | Communication | Conflict Resolution

I want to tag this little anecdote onto Mom’s post about encouraging rather than criticizing our husbands:

“On her golden wedding anniversary, my grandmother revealed the secret of her long and happy marriage. ‘On my wedding day, I decided to choose ten of my husband’s faults which, for the sake of our marriage, I would overlook,’ she explained. A guest asked her to name some of the faults. ‘To tell the truth,’ she replied, ‘I never did get around to listing them. But whenever my husband did something that made me hopping mad, I would say to myself, ‘Lucky for him that’s one of the ten.’” Roderick McFarlane, in Reader’s Digest, December, 1992.

“Good sense makes one slow to anger, and it is his glory to overlook an offense.” Proverbs 19:11

Mar 7

Eighty/Twenty

2006 at 11:49 am   |   by Carolyn Mahaney Filed under Marriage | Communication | Conflict Resolution

As a way of introducing me to the attendees of the College Church women’s retreat last weekend, one of the event coordinators conducted an interview with me on the first evening. A particular question she asked was: If given the opportunity, who is one famous person with whom you’d like to have dinner?

My answer: Actually, I’ve already been blessed to have that experience. For as long as I can remember, I’ve wanted to meet Elisabeth Elliot. A few years ago, she was the guest speaker for my church’s women’s retreat and my husband and I were privileged to have dinner with Elisabeth and her husband.

After my mom, Elisabeth Elliot is the woman who has most affected my life. I still remember as a child my mom reading Through Gates of Splendor to our family. This book left an indelible mark on my young mind. Since that time, I have read most of the other books that Elisabeth has authored, and listened to oodles of taped messages by her, as well as subscribed to her newsletter. As you probably can tell, I deeply admire this godly woman and the uncompromised message of biblical womanhood she has imparted through her writing and speaking.

All this to say, there’s a quote in one of her books—actually, she’s quoting her husband—that would serve us well in keeping with this whole topic of encouragement that we’ve been considering. Lars Gren (Elisabeth’s husband), presented this helpful challenge:

“A wife, if she is very generous, may allow that her husband lives up to perhaps eighty percent of her expectations. There is always the other twenty percent that she would like to change, and she may chip away at it for the whole of their married life without reducing it by very much. She may, on the other hand, simply decide to enjoy the eighty percent, and both of them will be happy.”

Sometimes as wives, we are more inclined to concentrate on what our husbands are doing wrong rather than what they are doing right. We are more prone to criticize the twenty percent rather than encourage the eighty percent. That’s why this little quote has been such a great reminder to me as I endeavor to encourage my husband.

So, let’s apply this eighty/twenty rule in our marriage. Let’s enjoy all the wonderful qualities about our husband. For I daresay that Lars is right: when we enjoy and encourage our husbands, both of us will be happy!

(A little addendum to my College Church Women’s Retreat experience…The girl who wired me with the mic for each message came up to me after my interview and first message on Friday evening and said, “I wanted to introduce myself. My name is Elisabeth. I am Elisabeth Elliot’s granddaughter and namesake.” What a treat to meet this young woman!)

Mar 6

Ten Thousand Faults

2006 at 11:55 am   |   by Carolyn Mahaney Filed under Marriage | Communication | Conflict Resolution

Before Caly’s birth happily distracted us, we were mid-way through a series we were calling “Top Three.” Our goal was to encourage wives to consider what were the “top three” ways they could please their husband. Although these are different for every man, we chose to focus on our husbands’ top three, one or more of which probably make many other husbands’ lists as well.

Nicole considered the importance of intimacy and Kristin the enriching effect of encouragement. We want to camp out at the encouragement site a little longer. And single women, we want you to hang with us, because whether it’s in your interactions with others or preparing for marriage, this topic is extremely relevant for you.

If you’re like me, you can be inspired by reading something on encouragement or watching another woman who exemplifies encouragement, but when we daily face the sins of others—our husbands, co-workers, family, roommates—that desire to encourage evaporates, leaving only resentment, anger, and then eventually discouragement. So how do we cultivate a genuine attitude of encouragement that withstands the rigors of everyday relationships?

I believe the foundation of encouragement is a growing awareness of our own sinfulness. As I wrote in Feminine Appeal:

“Like a pebble tossed into a pool of water, awareness of our sinfulness generates a marvelous ripple effect in our marriage. Here’s how it works: The more we understand the sin in our hearts, the more we appreciate the patience and mercy of God; and this, in turn, produces an attitude of humility and mercy toward our husbands.

My husband’s historical hero Charles Spurgeon once said:

‘He who grows in grace remembers that he is but dust, and he therefore does not expect his fellow Christians to be anything more. He overlooks ten thousand of their faults, because he knows his God overlooks twenty thousand in his own case. He does not expect perfection in the creature, and, therefore, he is not disappointed when he does not find it.’

When we see our husbands as sinner like ourselves—sinners in need of God’s grace and mercy—it strips away any intolerant, critical, or demanding attitude we may be tempted to have. Every husband has areas where he needs to change and grow, but so do we!

Although we both are sinners, God is using our marriage to help us grow in godliness. In fact, our husbands’ particular sins, unique weaknesses, and even their idiosyncrasies are tailor-made for us. Likewise, our sins and weaknesses are custom-designed for them. Both husbands and wives will become more Christlike by having to deal with each other’s sins and deficiencies.”

Do you see how this works? If we are more critical than encouraging, more dissatisfied than grateful toward our husband, that is a sure sign of self-righteousness. And encouragement doesn’t grow in this proud environment. If we want to become an encourager, the first step is to ‘remember we are but dust.’ When we are overwhelmed with gratitude for God’s mercy toward us, it will be easy to encourage our husbands.

Finally, a word to single women, also from Feminine Appeal:

“If you are single, I would encourage you to study these truths now. They will serve you as you interact with single men, encourage your married friends, and prepare for our future—should God call you to marriage. Humility born of the awareness of our sinful tendencies is an essential character quality in mature Christians. As single women you should cultivate this humility and look for it in any man who might pursue you for marriage.”