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Friday, April 20, 2012

Two Thoughts For Struggling Wives (Or Husbands)

1. When trying to minister to couples in struggling marriages I have observed how it can be hurtful to a wife when her partner is willing to spend time with her only because God requires it. "What's the use?" or "How romantic?" she thinks.

Surely, when obedience to God is the only motivation for the husband to spend time with his wife it is easy to see how she might not receive her husband's attention with gratitude, or even become discouraged by her husband's efforts.

A word of comfort to the wife who has been understandably hurt in such instances should be that the best foundation to build our actions upon is faithful obedience to God's word. Conversely, if the main impetus for a husband to spend time with his wife is his desire for her, then what happens when she becomes less desirable to him? Although it might be more flattering if a spouse desires his or her partner because of the partner's qualities, shouldn't pride give way to the best foundation, a desire to please God?

The Lord may be pleased to grant once again the husband fond feelings toward his wife, but the Lord might first require the husband's faithfulness to Him before granting such feelings. After all, if the husband has turned away from his wife, then he must have turned away from God first. With that perspective in view it would seem fitting that the husband's repentance would begin with a turning back to God - indeed it must, which would in turn enable the husband to turn back toward his wife in a manner consistent with biblical repentance. (We should expect to walk through one door at a time so to speak.) So wife, don't be discouraged over what might appear to be your husband's feeble effort born out of obedience to God and not so driven by affection toward you. Keep in mind that you're in the predicament you find yourself because your husband's relationship with God has been severed; so naturally that healing must begin to take place if your relationship is to be truly restored - restored in the Lord that is. Your husband's external obedience to God's precepts might indicate a work of internal grace and the beginning of the Father-son healing process, and it is a process(!). So whatever you do, don't so much as breathe on the smoldering wick.

Keep in mind: (i) Pragmatically speaking, obedience to God is the most lasting foundation, so a wife, if she's in the marriage for the long haul, actually has occasion to be of good cheer by what she might be tempted to consider a meager, unsatisfying effort. (ii) As a matter of principle, faithful obedience to God is the marital foundation God requires in all spousal relationships; so wives, please try not to hold that, obedience to God, against your husband. At the very least, your spouse doesn't need your contempt but rather your respect, acceptance and encouragement, which may very well be the spark that God is pleased to fan into a flamed heart for you. No doubt, all of this will require that you die to yourself, if not even relinquish any earthly sense of justice that might linger in your fallen flesh. Don't give into temptation to be your husband's accuser. You are in a very real sense the high priest of your home at this juncture and as such, maybe you might consider your marriage-bliss a byproduct of your husband's relationship with the Lord. Encourage your husband in his Christian walk and expect the rest to just fall into place should he return to the Lord. Keep things on a spiritual level and make his pursuit of God, not of you, your highest priority.
2. If a husband is not spending time in God's word then the wife, whether she likes it or not, becomes the only epistle her husband reads.

Dear Struggling Woman,

What is your spouse reading these days? I pray he is reading the gospel.

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