Friday, February 19, 2010

Marriage Challenge Day 5: Protect

Yes, the man is supposed to be the protector of his wife. Men are supposed to be protectors of us women, with their strong hands and overall manliness.

However, today, I want to talk about how we can protect our husband and our marriage at the same time, through protecting his honor. 1 Corinthians 13:7 says "It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres", which means to love with a love that protects.

To give a “protecting" type of love means to be very careful about who we share “personal” details of our married life with, especially the sharing of those areas of our relationships that need extra help and Godly counsel.

A man's reputation is a very important aspect of his being, and is what fuels his self esteem, giving him the confidence to be the big, strong protector that God called him to be, and that most of the time, we want him to be.

But what about those times when our men are not acting honorably? When their choices bring heartbreak, consequences, or strife in the marriage? When decisions they make negatively affect them, the marriage, and the rest of the family?

In times like those just mentioned, it is hard to think of honor, instead of revenge. And it is hard to honor someone whom you are losing, or have lost, respect for. However, it can be done, if we seek Gods strength, courage, and rely on Him to help us do what we dont feel like doing at all.

There have been countless times over the past twenty years where I desperately wished that I had a group of friends that I could tell all of my woes too. I have friends, of course, but I have just never felt comfortable spilling all of my problems and feelings onto the table for everyone to see and experience and judge.

But I have to admit, that in the heat of the moment, when my husband and I get into an argument, or when he does something that hurts me, I usually have those same 'tell-all' desires bubble up again every time. We women want to talk, talk, talk - it is how God made us!

So in those times of intense emotion, I immediately begin thinking about who I could call to vent and express my anger to. I kind of just want to talk to someone who can make me feel better, validate my feelings, and tell me that things will be okay.

Then I begin feeling sorry for myself that I dont feel as if I have anyone that I really want to share my most private feelings with, for fear of embarrassing my husband or myself. And even though my mother is my best friend, I dont normally tell her about the big issues either!

But as always, time heals, the argument ends, and in some cases, the issue that caused the situation seems much smaller, sometimes even silly, in retrospect.

Eventually my husband and I make up, hurt and anger subside or at least decreases, restoration occurs and life gets back to normal.

It is in that moment, that I am so thankful that I did not act on my desire to tell other people negative things about my husband, words that were said, mistakes that were made, or harsh feelings that I was holding in my heart.

Had I given in to my desires to share my anger and hurt with others as a way of dealing with my feelings or getting back at him, I would have dishonored him as a man, a husband, a provider, and a friend. I would have skewed the opinion that my friends or relatives have of him, and most likely, not remember to go back and tell them that we made up, and how we fixed things.

I would forget about the situation, and move on with life, while leaving those I vented to with a negative picture, and resentful feelings, about my man.

I think that it is the first inclination for most women, when we are hurt or disappointed in our husbands, to call someone and vent; to tell someone about the negative thing that happened; to hurt them back; to cause them harm and embarrassment; to dishonor them; to have someone validate our feelings and be on our side; and to have someone help mend our heartbreak, by joining in on the husband bashing party that we invited them to.

But in Proverbs 31:11-12, we read "Her husband has full confidence in her and lacks nothing of value. She brings him good, not harm, all the days of her life."

This verse is such a stark reminder of how important it is that we not only build up our husbands for their good traits, but remember to protect and honor them, even when their bad traits come blaring out.

I believe that we can view this verse as Gods promise that a wife's efforts of forgiveness and self restraint will not go unrewarded, because a husband who has a wife who honors him, will eventually have full confidence in her love, and respect her as a person above any other he knows, because he cannot help but recognize that she does not bring him harm with her words.

Most women look to the Proverbs 31 woman as a role model they could never live up to, myself included. She represents the type of woman that we all want to be, but fall short of being every day, making that type of virtuousness seem like an impossibility in our own lives.

But one of the things that the Bible states is an important trait of a virtuous wife, is to have a husband that is respected.

Proverbs 31:23 says he is "known in the gates, when he sits among the elders of the land". Anyone, man or woman, has to earn respect from peers, but a woman can provide that respect through her commitment to pray for her husband and honor him in front of other people, and especially in front of their children.

I think the most applicable verse for this topic is Ephesians 4:29, which says "Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen." (NIV)

This could be so easy for some of you, but the hardest thing in the world for others. Our ability to honor our husbands may hinge on the relationships we had with our own fathers, how much damage has occurred in the marriage, and many other extinuating circumstances. But regardless of how hard it may be, and how much prayer it make take, I do believe that God calls a wife to honor and respect her husband, and that when he feels honored, he will begin to act honorably.

Our challenge today is two fold:

1. Each time the opportunity arises to say something negative about your husband to someone else, pause, pray, and ask God to help you say something positive, or nothing at all. Ask him for strength to refrain from venting your anger, if that is what you normally do. Try to break the habit of dishonoring your husband to others, so that he will be well respected at the gate.

2. Each time the opportunity arises to criticize your husband to his face, ask God to help you think of something positive instead, or, to simply bite your tongue. Even if he deserves the criticism or a sarcastic response, it really only causes hurt and conflict to say it aloud. Sometimes, silence can be golden.

We cannot control our husbands reputation, his free will, or his decisions, but we can control our own tongues and thoughts. We can control the things that leave our mouths and whether or not we are honoring him with our words, in his presence, and when he is not around to defend himself.

Protecting our husband's reputations is one of the most valuable blessings that we can give to them. And consider this - God will give a man grace and forgiveness if he messes up, but the people whom we have spread negativity to about our husband, may not be so gracious and forgiving, and unlike God, they will never forget.

A wife has the power to help other people respect her husband, by the respect she gives him herself. Today is a great day for spreading some honor.

(PS if you do feel the need to talk with someone about problems in your marriage, which always helps a hurting heart, just be sure to pick someone you can trust, and someone that will become a prayer warrior for you, your husband and for your marriage. God gives us friends so that we do have people to support us, I am merely suggesting that we be cautious about sharing, versus bashing, and that we pick our friends very wisely. And if you need to get professional advice, consider contacting a Christian counselor or Pastor. )

Marriage Challenge Day 5: ProtectSocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

12 comments:

Pam Swope said...

I just caught myself up on the first 5 days. I'm glad I found them! What gems! Just what I needed! When I told my husband that he had a great smile this morning, well he just glowed! My big challenge will be the daily praying. That's so hard for me. It's easier just to read than to talk. But I'm taking it on and will be thanking God for the great guy He brought to me!
Thanks Traci. I appreciate your wisdom and the time you spend to put it into words to share with us.
God bless.
Pam

JazzyTurtle said...

Thank you Tracie! I received my copy of The Man Whisperer yesterday and started reading. I learn so many things in the first few pages. I'm so happy I bought that book.

Today's devotion hits me pretty hard. I have been aware of this habit and it is hard to break, but when you take the time to pray first God sets your mind to do the right thing. If we seek Him first and then go into the world it is much easier to keep His Word, but when we seek the world first just the opposite happens. I am so thankful we have a loving God and that his mercies are new each day. Have a wonderful weekend everyone!

Peace, Love, & God Bless,
Shelon

TMOPRAYS said...

Wow! This post is an answer to prayer for me. I am so refreshed by your words, and it inspires me to really focus on building my husband up.

We are in that time where I don't feel much like I have been the kind of wife I should be. I will print these verses on cards and carry them with me to remind me of what God's desire for me is towards my husband.

You are such a blessings. Thank you for these posts. They are so helpful to me, and obviously others as well.

God bless!!!

Anonymous said...

Hi Tracie,
Well said....Kind of speechless right now.

Something this devotion brought to my attention as I am sitting here trying to take it all in was:
...What could our world be like if
we treated everyone this way.

...Love-"it always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres".

WOW!!!!

Jesus greatest commandment was to love one another as I have loved you.

Thank you for opening my eyes not only for my husband...but also for the way I would like to treat others.

Tracie this here bible verse you have here spoke to me today and gave me a glimpse of Jesus sitting down beside me saying it to me. Ephesians 4:29,(Rhonda) "Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.

Tracie,...."NICE JOB:)!!!"
and with heartfelt strings attached. God Bless YOU.

****ATTENTION LADIES: who are following Tracie through this Marriage Challenge.

****Could you today even if you don't comment...slip an anonymous comment in with just a simple...
THANK YOU TRACIE:)

she has been doing so much for us may the bible verse speak to you also.

Have a Great weekend.
Rhonda

Moranda Clark said...

Thank you so much! This challenge is so important. I know from experience that our words tear down our husbands more than you could imagine. One example that is vivid in my mind...my husband and I had just got married, one area that I struggled with was driving. I am afraid to drive and do not have a drivers license. My mom and I were talking while my husband was laying in the chair snoozing. We were discussing that I needed to learn to drive. My mother said who are you going to get to teach you and I said maybe Kathy, I dont think that Matthew will be very nice about it. He was awake when I said that and he felt very disrespected. He still states that converstaion as the beginning of the downward spiral of our marriage. He says that he knew then that I never respected him and that he had made a mistake. To me, that was a simple statement and I really never meant any harm by it. To him, it was the world. I would take back that whole conversation a million times if I could. There were other instances where I said things that I never should have and if it was in front of people, it was so much worse. I would definately encourage us all to think before we speak and to go even farther and pray before we talk. I know that I am sorry that I did not!

Angie said...

For the years that I have struggled in my marriage and been distant from God, I am glad that I can say there have never been words spoken from my mouth to others that bash my husband. I didn't have anyone tell me it shouldn't be done, I always knew in my heart it wasn't right.

But where I have fallen short is the words that come from my mouth directly to him. Those have been the words that many times I wish I could have taken back.

I have gotten better at holding my tongue which has resulted in many arguments fizzing out really quick.

Thank you for this reminder to again pray for a softer voice and kinder words.

LeeAnn@Encouragement Is Contagious said...

Tracie,

God has indeed blessed you with amazing words of wisdom for us and our marriages. Each days lessons have been so good. I want my husband to be known at the gates and be able to look over and see me, his wife, so proud of him and knowing that he is honored with my whole heart.
Thank you for your words today and every day so far in this series. You could write a best selling book with this great stuff.
Thank you for all of the time you are putting in to prepare to help us all.

Lee Ann

Anonymous said...

THANKS TRACIE

Moranda Clark said...

Read a comment today on another blog...It fits so well into all areas of marriage. I know my marriage would have been different if I had done just this one thing.

Speak without Offending and Listen without Defending!!!

Rachel B said...

Early in our marriage my husband told me that one thing he really hates is hearing women speak badly about their husbands behind their backs. He asked me to honor him by not doing this. I took it to heart.

I haven't done it perfectly, but it amazes me how much MY family adores him...and his perfection. :) You're right women DO have the power to help other people respect her husband.

Still, I have so much to work on when it comes to "bridling" my tongue! I need this challenge!

Have been taking notes each day in my journal...to better retain all of the info and as a reminder to myself later.

Thank you so much!

Rachel B said...

I wanted to say this too...you need to put all of this into a book! You really, really do!!

Joyful said...

Tracie, I just want to say thank you for all these marriage posts. I started with great gusto back on Day 1, but truth be told my heart wasn't really in this challenge. There were too many things that needed to be dealt with before I could move on and embrace these challenges.

I did find one trusted friend to share some struggles with and over the past month she has been such a daily encouragement as well as a precious prayer warrior. God is working in unbelievable ways and bringing healing. I can honestly say today, that at this very moment, my husband and I are in a better place than we have been for 15 years. Things are still far from perfect, but steps are being taken to bring restoration.

Thank you for encouraging so many of us to take up this committment...one that truly blesses the Lord.
Hugs,
Joy