"Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it;"
Eph 5:25

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Struggling To Be A Better Husband

I'm struggling lately.  Struggling with leadership.  Struggling with children and discipline.  Struggling to make ends meet.  Struggling to be the husband God wants me to be.

I'm really having a problem with headship.  I understand that I am supposed to be the spiritual leader in my home, and that Christ is in charge of my life, and that my wife and children are under my leadership, but there are times when I wrestle with the inadequacy of my leadership.

A good spiritual leader would ...
  • lead his family in prayer every day.  I don't do that as often as I should.  
  • study the Bible with depth and commitment.  Most days I don't make time to do more than a short morning devotion.
  • look for ways to involve his family in ministry.  Right now our biggest ministry involves letting the neighborhood kids play in our backyard.
A good father would ...
  • raise obedient children.  Most days are passable at best, with other days going to one extreme or the other.
  • have children who are kind and patient to their siblings and others.  Sometimes our kids are downright cruel to each other. 
  • raise happy children instead of constant complainers.  Selfishness abounds in the hearts of children, and I'm afraid I haven't done a very good job of instilling a servant's heart in them.
A good husband would ...
  • love his wife as Christ loved the church.  I have some work to do.  If I loved her as a christian husband should, she would be much happier.
  • take the lead in our relationship and in our family.  I pass off way too many decisions to her.  I should be leading and getting her and the kids to follow, NOT the other way around. Simply let your 'Yes' be 'Yes,' and your 'No,' 'No'; anything beyond this comes from the evil one. (Matthew 5:37) 
  • study his wife and learn about her needs and desires.  I admit that I don't always take her needs and desires into account.  I have to serve her in a more selfless way.  She was given to me by God, and I need to take care of that precious gift.
  • teach his wife what he needs her to know about his needs.  Many times I allow my needs to be trampled or ignored in the name of harmony.  If I would be more assertive in my leadership my wife might be more willing to submit.  We both would be happier.    

Intimacy grows from selflessness, not selfishnessI'm a selfish creature, that much is true.  I want what I want.  I want a new car.  I want a larger paycheck.  I want electronics.  I want new clothing.  I want __________ (fill in the blank).  And when I don't get it, I don't always feel like playing the nice guy. 

However, some of my decisions are not born out of selfishness, but out of a desire to move my our marriage and our family toward a better relationship with God and greater intimacy with each other.  If you've been reading my blog for any length of time, you know that intimacy is big on my list of godly stuff, and that I place a high priority on being known completely by my bride, and developing a more intimate relationship with her and with my Creator.  

That said, where do I go from here?  I have to get back to the basics - remember what God has called me to as a husband, and do it.  In order to do that, I must ...

Pray. My prayer is that God will show me the selfishness in my heart, and turn it around so that everything I do will be for His glory and for the benefit of my wife and our relationship, ultimately drawing us and our children closer to Him.

Learn.  I have to dive in and develop some new skills.  I need to find a good Paul and a good Barnabas to help me walk the walk.  I need to seek out help from someone who won't blast me for what I'm thinking or give me a bunch of high-brow advice that makes him feel superior but does very little to help.  I need an honest-to-goodness friend to hold me accountable.

Act. I need to start acting like a leader.  I need to let my yes be yes and my no be no.  I need to make decisions regarding our family, setting down boundaries and enforcing the rules.  I need to be more self-disciplined in this area and not let inconvenience or laziness stop me from doing my job. I have to learn to lead my wife in a way that draws us closer to each other.  I need to make her feel safe and happy about submitting to her husband in everything (Ephesians 5:24).
   
Sometimes I lose sight of the vision and purpose God has given my for my marriage.  I need to regroup and re-establish that vision and never lose sight of it.


I need to be a better husband.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Temptation, Take 2

A reader wrote a comment to my post Temptation By The Sea that made me see the need for a follow up post on the subject.  In the original post I outlined some steps for a husband that will help when faced with sexual temptation, especially visual temptation (particularly girls in bikinis).  

An anonymous read wrote the following:

What if I channel all these thoughts and feelings toward my wife and she rejects me? What if she doesn't understand the whole help meet idea and thinks that I should just put up with it?




St. Peter wrote in his first letter,  
Husbands, in the same way be considerate as you live with your wives, and treat them with respect as the weaker partner and as heirs with you of the gracious gift of life, so that nothing will hinder your prayers. (1  Peter 3:7) 

When a husband is up against a wife who will not understand the overwhelming sexual needs of her husband, he must grow in patience and understanding.  In other words, he has to put up with it ... to a point. 

To truly respect you wife means to be not only patient, but honest with her as well.  To brush your feelings under the rug in the name of being patient is dishonest and not very considerate.  In the same way husbands often must be told (often it seems) to be more loving and understanding toward their wives, sometimes wives need to know when they are not meeting their husbands' sexual needs. 

What if he tells her and nothing changes?

That is where the patience and understanding come into play.  A husband in this situation will have to respect her decision to do nothing.  It is a decision.  She will have to decide whether or not to meet  her husbands needs.  Her decision will have natural consequences, either positive or negative.  Either the couple will grow in marital intimacy or they will grow apart.


I'm reminded of a science article I read quite a while ago.  A group of scientists experimented with the behavior of predator fish in a divided fish tank.  They placed the predator fish on one side of the glass divider and the prey on the other.  The predators would try to reach their prey by banging into the glass divider.  After  few days the predators stopped trying to catch any fish, preferring to get their food from another source (probably pellet food).  Finally the scientists removed the glass barrier to see what would happen. With the divider removed, the predator fish continued to ignore their prey and kept eating from another source. 

When husbands aren't being fulfilled, many will find a way to have their needs met by an alternate source such as pornography or something more destructive, like an affair.   

Am I saying husbands are justified in viewing pornography or having affairs?  Absolutely not.  What I'm saying is that sexual needs that are unfulfilled become an open door to temptation, and the more unfulfilled a husband is, the more likely he is to be drawn in by the promise of fulfillment in whatever form it (she) takes.

*Remember - being satisfied and being fulfilled are not the same thing. 


Husbands:

  • Pray.  Ask God to help you find fulfillment somewhere healthy.  Pray for your wife.  Ask for her eyes to be opened to the possibilities of greater intimacy with you.  Pray for your marriage.  Ask God to place a shield around your union so sexual temptation will not be greater than your will power. 
  • Seek accountability.  A while back I wrote a piece about finding mentors (see Waiting for Barnabas).  This is the time when you need to talk to someone who understands - really understands.  This is the guy you need to call when you are feeling tempted and want to give in.  
  • Love your wife unconditionally, even when she doesn't submit, even when she withholds sex, even when she rebels against your authority in the house.  
  • Communicate with your wife.  Make sure she knows that you need this sort of sexual fulfillment.  Make sure she knows the problems it causes when she withholds from you.  Make sure you let her know that you are making the best of it, but do not be falsely pleasant - say what you mean and mean what you say.  You aren't doing anyone a favor by pretending to be okay with the way things are.


Wives:  

  • Pray for your husband.  Pray that he will be patient as you work out  some issues.  Ask for a wall of strength around your husband so he can resist sexual temptation. Pray that your marriage will remain strong enough to withstand this test. 
  • Understand that sexual temptation will present itself to you husband.  He will be bombarded with it daily.  Understand that when he comes to you it's because he prefers you over the other stuff he has seen throughout the day. 
  • Educate yourself about your husband and his sexual needs.  Many websites and blogs encourage wives to just have sex a lot and their husbands will be fulfilled and happy.  Wives are supposed to be a helper for their own, particular husbands, and having a lot of sex just doesn't cut it for most husbands.  It's about intimacy, not sex.  Find out what his particular need are, and help him stay out of trouble.   
  • Find a mentor, a Titus 2 woman with whom you can talk about anything without embarrassment or shame - ANYTHING.  If you have any hesitation about talking to her, find someone else.  This is your marriage - not something to trifle with.

Final Word:


Temptation is everywhere. Husbands and wives make choices every day.  Choose wisely.



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Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Temptation By The Sea

On the beach.  On the boardwalk.  At the store.  Whenever we go on vacation there is a veritable smorgasbord of temptation.

The girls young and old in itsy bitsy bikinis of all shapes and colors.  Some women look bad in them.  Some look ... um ... less than bad.  All of them open the door to sexual temptation.

Let's face it - guys are guys.  We are going to look at that stuff.  That's why many of them wear itsy bitsy swimwear.  Not to mention the other stuff that isn't swimwear - also tempting.

We are spending this week at the beach, and I can tell you that even though my wife and family are all around me, the temptation of lust that comes with looking at scantily clad females is overwhelming at times..  I can't help but look - they're right there in front of me.

Seeing the female body has an affect, both mentally and physically, on men, myself included.  We're wired that way.   

What's a husband to do when a little blond thingy bounces around right in front of him?

  • Pray.  Ask God to take away any arousal you might have when faced with sexual sin.  God has promised that we would not be tempted more than we could handle.  Pray to him for deliverance from sexual temptation.  
  • Funnel all the desire toward your wife.  That's why she's there.  Drink water from your own cistern, And fresh water from your own well. 16 Should your springs be dispersed abroad, Streams of water in the streets? 17 Let them be yours alone, And not for strangers with you. 18 Let your fountain be blessed, And rejoice in the wife of your youth. 19 As a loving hind and a graceful doe, Let her breasts satisfy you at all times; Be exhilarated always with her love. (Proverbs 5:15-19).  
  • Look the other way.  Sometimes the simplest solution is the best. Make a covenant with your eyes.  I made a covenant with my eyes not to look lustfully at a young woman. (Job 31:1)
When I am faced with this kind of lustful temptation, I immediately turn that attention toward my wife who was given to me by God as a help-meet.   I also pray to the Lord for deliverance from my impure thoughts.  Many times it isn't possible to look the other way, covenant or no covenant.

With prayerful diligence you and I can overcome this intruder who sneaks into our homes and marriages. I ask for your prayer for myself and every husband out there who faces sexual temptation.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Is My Wife Happy?

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Do I make my wife happy?  That question has been on my mind.  Do I make her truly happy, or do I mostly get on her nerves?  I believe the latter is true, most days anyway.

Here are a few facts:
I am lazy.  She is not.
I like to relax.  She likes to work.
I let the kids get away with too much.  She doesn't.
I'm a slob.  She's as neat as a pin.
I'm disorganized. She's organized down to the last detail.

Does my laziness, disorganization, lack of discipline, and slob-li-ness (is that even a word?) and overall bad behavior cause her harm?

Yes, I believe it does.  It is my job to love my wife like Christ loved the church (Ephesians 5:25).  Also, it is my job to take care of her and make sure she feels safe and secure.

Husbands, in the same way be considerate as you live with your wives, and treat them with respect as the weaker partner and as heirs with you of the gracious gift of life, so that nothing will hinder your prayers. (1 Peter 3:7)

Are there steps I can take to treat her with more respect?  
Is there something I can do right now?


I still have a long, long way to go.

  • I have to get out of bed first.  When I am showered, dressed, and ready to start my day, things seem to fall into place better for her (us).  When I stay in bed later the whole day feels rushed and disorganized.
  • I have to be involved with the kids, knowing where they are and what they are doing.  When I am caught unaware of potential trouble in backyard-dom, I feel as though I let her down by not "being there" to circumvent trouble.
  • I have to be aware of my appearance.  She likes me to be clean-shaven, hair cut appropriately, nicely dressed (clean, matching clothes), etc.  When I don't take care of those things it shows her that I'm not willing to take her feelings into account.  I don't want to do that to her. 
  • I have to get some work done every day.  Any day that I don't get something done around the house is a day that I have disappointed her.  The state of our home is very important to her, so it needs to important to me as well.  And for the record, I'm not talking about things like changing the little kids, or making dinner, or any of my other regularly scheduled tasks. I'm referring to home improvement stuff that is on the "honey-do" list.
  • I have to be sure she doesn't overdo it and become exhausted keeping up with her schedule.  I have to insist that she stop and rest.
It seems like a lot, but when I take care of these things I'm speaking her love language.  She feels cared for, safe, and secure when I'm on top of things and when I accomplish something during the day.  Otherwise she feels overwhelmed and frustrated. It's my job to be considerate as I live with her, and treat her with respect.  It isn't very considerate to constantly frustrate her.

Lately I haven't done a very good job.  I need to make some changes. I have to start speaking her love language more fluently so she feels secure and loved.

From the inside out,

TB


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Monday, July 2, 2012

Bless Your Spouse

Have I stopped pursuing my wife?  One of the most dangerous things I can do as a husband is to stop pursuing my bride.  When we were dating, I made it a priority to pursue her and win her over.

Have I stopped doing that?  Have I gotten complacent in my marriage?  Comfortable?  Have I stopped pushing for improvement?  I certainly hope not.

What would my wife say?  Is she happy with my current behavior?  Am I doing enough to make her feel good and secure in our marriage?  Is there more I could be doing for her?  Have I selfishly put things off that she wants me to do?  How have I blessed her today?  Yesterday?  Last week? 

I'm not saying that my whole life should be devoted to merely doing what I'm told (I don't believe that's how Christ loved the church).  What I'm saying is that I need to make sure my wife knows the intense desire I have for her.  To make sure she knows, I need to keep pursuing her, keep doing things for her, keep making her happy. 


May your fountain be blessed, and may you rejoice in the wife of your youth. (Proverbs 5:18)
The fountain in this verse refers to my wife.  How can I be sure my wife is blessed?  How can I rejoice in her?
  • Make sure her needs are met.
  • Give her some time off. Encourage her to relax.
  • Spend time with her, talking and cuddling.
  • Date her.  Really do it right.
  • Ask for her input on important decisions.
If I do these things (and a whole lot more - this is only a tiny list) she will be blessed.

Do you still pursue your wife?