Marriage: Is it too late for mine? In this frank article, Julie Ganschow says when God’s involved, nothing is impossible. . even when husbands move on or wives check out. Julie is listed here on our Heart2Heart Counseling Directory. Her article appeared first here and is reprinted with permision.
“Is it too late to save my marriage?”
I have been asked this question over and over in the counseling office. And I hesitate to say that “too late” applies to a marriage that involves a Christian, and especially two Christians. I also hesitate because that implies that God is not able to change them.
When God is involved, nothing is impossible!
There’s Hope. . .Always
When troubles persist even in a “Christian” marriage, damage continues to mount and love grows cold. The actions of love cease to exist as withholding of affection, attention, and serving each other become commonplace. Bitterness and resentment often grow between the couple. And distance becomes preferable.
This is where things usually are by the time the couple comes for biblical counseling.
I want to encourage you by reminding you nothing is impossible when God is involved. This is true even if your husband has left you, moved out, or moved on. When people are willing to do what God asks of them in spite of how they feel great things happen!
Maybe You’ve Checked Out
That being said, some women reach that certain point emotionally where they just give up and refuse to believe anything will ever change. I call it “rounding the corner.” When this happens it is very rare for her to return to the marriage. Her heart hardens. She refuses to cooperate anymore in counseling, or to give her husband another opportunity to change and get it right.
Sometimes it is because he has promised for months or years to change and nothing lasting has happened. Sometimes she finds someone else. And other times she is just without hope anymore.
All of these are sad, and even sinful responses a person can have to someone else’s sin. That may sound harsh to you, but I speak from the perspective that God is able to do more than we ask or imagine according to His will.
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It is not God’s will that two people who make a covenant before Him to be husband and wife . . .decide they don’t want to be married anymore.
Change Begins in the Heart
Christian woman, if you want to save your marriage, begin by becoming husband-oriented.
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Eph. 5:22-24 gives us some instructions about our role in the marriage with respect to submission.
Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands as you do to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything.
But how many women have ceased complaining and arguing but are unsubmissive in their hearts? Many I fear!
Women who are not husband-oriented are as much a problem as husbands who are not wife-oriented! Many women have become so supremely selfish! In counseling I hear about “my career”, “my private time”, “my time for the spa” (or shopping or fill in the blank). With this attitude, soon the couple leads separate lives.
Make a New Commitment
If this describes you totally or even remotely, then it is time to make a new commitment to become a “new person.” Yes. . .1 + 1 = 1
If you have lived for years or even months independently as a couple, it is going to take some work from both of you to change this. You will need to commit to change, change of the heart. But there is hope.
Sharing Hope with Your Heart,
Perfectionists have a pride problem. Are you surprised? You may think perfectionists are insecure, not prideful. Thankfully, there is hope for perfectionists! This post, originally titled “Perfectionism Is Pride,” first appeared here on Julie Glanschow’s blog and is used with her permission.
Julie’s page on our Heart2Heart Counselor Directory appears here.
My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. He is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world.
And by this we know that we have come to know him, if we keep his commandments. Whoever says “I know him” but does not keep his commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in him, but whoever keeps his word, in him truly the love of God is perfected. 1 John 2:1-3
Perfectionists Deal with Anger
Perfectionists are frequently angry. You do not like to make a mistake. Even when you know that you don’t know what you are doing, and by all rights shouldn’t know what you are doing, you become angry at yourself for making errors.
Perfectionists have a hard time with people who don’t appear to care about being perfect. They are judgmental and self-righteous, comparing others to themselves on every possible level, and usually find other people to be lacking.
This is one tough way to live! We are commanded to be holy, which implies perfection, but we are not commanded to be perfect. In fact, as sinful beings we cannot be “perfect” in this life.
So put away all malice and all deceit and hypocrisy and envy and all slander. Like newborn infants, long for the pure spiritual milk, that by it you may grow up into salvation— if indeed you have tasted that the Lord is good. As you come to him, a living stone rejected by men but in the sight of God chosen and precious, you yourselves like living stones are being built up as a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. 1 Peter 2:1-3
There is nothing wrong with wanting to do a good job or with wanting to excel at something. It is even all right to want to do an excellent or superior job! However, constantly having to be the best is nothing more than pride. When being the best causes me to sin in my anger, it is not a righteous goal any longer. When wanting to be better than others means I tear them down, it is sinful.
And he said to them, “You are those who justify yourselves before men, but God knows your hearts.” Luke 16:15
Hope for Perfectionists
To get a handle on this life-dominating sin you must be willing to be honest with yourself and to evaluate your actions. And most of all, evaluate your heart through the grid of the Holy Spirit and the Word of God.
You must ask yourself some tough questions to get to the heart of the matter!
- Must you always look good to other people?
- Are you judgmental toward people who do not live up to your standards?
- Is it true that nothing is ever good enough for you? Is the glass always half empty?
- Have you become a grumbler?
- Are you ungrateful to God for all His blessings because they are not “perfect” in your judgment?
Answering questions like these is only the beginning of addressing this heart issue. Once you understand that your perfectionism is truly a visible display of the pride in your heart you must take steps to overcome it by God’s grace and power.
Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. Philippians 3:12-14 (ESV)
Mind Renewal Matters
Romans 12:2 tells us to be transformed or changed completely by the renewing of our minds. Our minds are renewed through reading and meditation on the Bible. Your thoughts will also be impacted by those precious words of God’s as they weave their way into your heart.
And this means your desires will change as your heart changes. Your actions will also change as your desires change and your thoughts change.
This is not going to be an easy area to address in your life. You most likely have years of ingrained habits that you will have to overcome and address one at a time. You may find discouragement right around the corner as you desire to change. Please let me encourage you by reminding you that Jesus Christ died for your sins, including pride and perfectionism.
There is no sin that by His power and grace you cannot overcome.
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But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong. 2 Corinthians 12:9-10
Resources for YOU!
DOWNLOAD: Here is a complimentary download for you. Click to download: Anger Help and Solutions
COUNSELING: Stuck in perfectionism, fear, or anger? Meet with me in person (in the greater Chicago area) or by Skype.
FREE WEBINAR REPLAY: Watch the webinar on healing through biblical counseling now. Click here.
Counseling Hearts to Hope!
Christians wives have two top complaints in marriage. And both concern the lack of male leadership in the home. See guest writer Julie Ganschow’s page here on our Heart2Heart Counselor Directory. Her article appeared first here and is reprinted with permission. (Edited for lenth. –LAM)
Looking for a female biblical counselor? Go here.
Want to be listed on Heart2Heart Counselor Directory? Check this out.
Common complaints from Christian wives include the following:
Many of these wives share the same qualities. They are Bible literate, faithful church attendees, and clearly love the Lord. Some are willing to be honest with themselves and recognize their culpability in their marital problems.
But the majority believe the husband is mostly at fault.
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These women focus on all the things the husband does wrong. And they find it very hard to examine themselves on a deep enough level for a biblical conviction to be produced over their own sin.
Isn’t it far too easy for us to rationalize and justify our own sinful responses toward our husbands? Especially when we let our feelings lead us?
The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it? Jeremiah 17:9
Why Husbands Fail
Poor, or lacking, male leadership happens for a couple of reasons:
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1) He doesn’t know how to lead, or
2) He’s given up.
Both are problematic, and both are fixable.
Top Complaint #1: My Husband Won’t Lead
Men are by nature leaders. They are wired to take charge, protect, supervise, and lead. Our current culture does not encourage men to develop these skills. In fact, our culture seems determined to emasculate men. An unfortunate reality is there are more than eight million boys being raised without fathers. Their moms love them and do their best. However, a boy will not learn how to be a man from his mom, as much as she tries to instill those qualities in her son.
We biblical counselors routinely find men that don’t know how to lead and are embarrassed to admit it. The good news is a man can learn how to develop biblical leadership skills and habits through individual discipleship with another man. This kind of relationship will help equip him in the areas of being a godly man and husband.
Top Complaint #2: My Husband Has Given Up
The second complaint is more damaging than the first complaint. It grows from the wife undermining or getting in the way of her husband’s leadership.
Ladies, here is where you need to get honest with yourselves!
Are you undercutting or disagreeing with nearly every decision he makes? Have you stepped in to be the leader because “someone has to lead this family”? Have you given him the message that he doesn’t lead “right”? Do you disagree with the direction he wants to take you and the family? Have you delivered the message that you do not trust him or his leadership?
Husbands are easily discouraged by wives who won’t follow or who question their leadership.
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They quickly learn that they are not allowed to make decisions for the family by themselves. In these circumstances, often the man says his wife is undermining him and that she criticizes him when she doesn’t agree with his decisions. He says his wife belittles him and always has plenty of reasons why his ideas and plans are insufficient or won’t work.
But I want you to understand that the head of every man is Christ, the head of a wife is her husband, and the head of Christ is God. 1 Corinthians 11:13
In the same way, you wives must accept the authority of your husbands. Then, even if some refuse to obey the Good News, your godly lives will speak to them without any words. They will be won over when they see your respectful and pure conduct. 1 Peter 3:1-2
Finding a Solution
When a woman fails in submission, the husband eventually gives up attempting to lead.
To correct this pattern, the wife must first be convicted that she is guilty of these things. Then she would confess to God and her husband that she has usurped his authority and disobeyed God’s Word regarding submission in marriage (Ephesians 5:21-33; 1 Peter 1:3-7; Titus 2:5).
She also must cease her attempts to lead her husband. This is tough when she has little confidence in his decisions or when he is a weak leader. However, she must remember that it to God she ultimately submits and it is God who is leading her family.
A faithful wife will let her husband know she has input to offer in a situation and ask him if he wants to hear it. A wise man will accept his wife’s counsel, and take it into consideration when making a decision. When he does not, she must entrust herself to God and believe our sovereign God has the situation in His hand.
On a Personal Note
I have learned these lessons the hard way. When I determined to do things my way, I disrespected my husband by my actions and my attitudes. A lack of unity resulted. I learned two important things: men will not tolerate being emasculated by their wives, and you cannot expect to usurp his authority without consequences.
Truth: “It is better to live in a desert than with a quarrelsome and nagging wife.” Proverbs 21:19
Sharing Hope with Your Heart,
So you want to change husband’s mind? Guest writer Julie Ganschow — listed on my site’s Heart2Heart Counselor Directory, for women and by women — shares her insights. Her post first appeared here on her blog and is used with permission.
That title on changing your husband’s mind got you, didn’t it? I confess I am smiling as I think of how many women clicked on the blog because of the title.
Maybe you want to obtain something, to go somewhere your husband doesn’t care to go, or to get your own way in some other circumstance. Those are rather self-centered, right? But there are also very serious reasons women ask this same question.
In counseling, a woman may ask me how to change her husband’s mind when she disagrees with a decision he has made. His decision may regard finances, family, or something else. Often the couple has fought about the issue. In addition, communication is strained or non-existent at that time. She sees her position as righteous. She may even give me scriptural support for it.
My counsel in such situations is (usually) as follows:
1. Examine Yourself
My first piece of counsel is to examine yourself. I may ask, “Thinking back on the discussion or argument, did you communicate respectfully with your husband when presenting your point?”
In the heat of the moment it is easy to become so impassioned about the issue that words and tone of voice
quickly get out of hand. I also ask,
- “Were you speaking honestly?”
- “Did you use the dreaded “you always” or “you never” as you interacted with your husband?”
We tend to use “always” and “never” for dramatic emphasis and rarely do we use them appropriately. How true is it that your husband never does that certain thing you want him to do? Can he really always. .?
Both of these words are very concrete. I call them 100% words. They are specific and mean in every circumstance without exception. No matter how inflexible a person may seem, rarely does someone “never” or “always” say and do the things we accuse them of when we are angry at them. So, examine yourself for where you went wrong and sinned against your husband.
Logs and Specks
Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when there is the log in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye. Matthew 7:3-5
When you find the logs in your own eye, you have to deal with your own sin through confession and repentance before God. Then go to your husband and admit your wrongs to him. It is humbling to strongly believe you are right about something then need to confess you were wrong in how you went about it. Asking his forgiveness for your sin will go a long way in gaining his ear for future discussion.
Here is an aside: I know some of you reading this are in unequally yoked marriages or are married to a man who is truly unreasonable or abusive. No counsel is “one size fits all.” It is impossible to write something that addresses every situation in one blog post. However, much of what is written here is still applicable to you. Self-examination, confessing your sin, and seeking restoration with your husband (when possible) will allow you to live peaceably in your own skin, regardless of how he responds.
2. Consider a Biblical Appeal
My second piece of counsel is to prayerfully consider making a biblical appeal to your husband. I don’t hear much about this anymore. However, I believe it is a wonderful approach to take when you and your husband are at an impasse, and you cannot let the matter go.
A biblical appeal is not an argument, fight, or a manipulation
. A biblical appeal is what a wise woman undertakes when she believes that her husband’s conclusion is wrong or sinful. The purpose is to help her husband, or to give wise counsel in aiding him to make the best and most God-honoring decision
possible. It is not
merely to get her own way.
How to Make an Appeal
A biblical appeal should be based on facts not emotions. Just because a wife “feels” her idea or plan is better does not make it so. Before making the appeal, it is wise to research the subject and be ready to provide concrete data to support your position. Be prepared to present the reasons why you disagree with his decision. Then propose a different plan, idea or a solution
Choosing the right timing for your appeal. You don’t want to be rushed. Answer his questions with facts not feelings. Listen carefully to his point of view and for details you may have missed in your original discussion.
A wife of noble character who can find?
She is worth far more than rubies. Proverbs 31:10
Once you’ve made your appeal, trust God for the outcome.
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Regardless of what your husband decides to do, a wise woman will agree to go along with the decision that has been made and support him in it.
Support should be genuine. It should include prayer for success, encouragement, and your willingness to help. If you continually mention your disagreement with the decision, and tell him how he should do it your way, you are nagging. Don’t do that. You are only responsible for how you conduct yourself in these kinds of situations. Your husband may stick to his plan despite your appeal. In this case, trust God is working out things for your good and His glory, despite how it looks right now.
Making a biblical appeal is not easy, but it is always an option for a woman. Be wise and careful as you prepare to go forward. Pray for the right motives so God would be honored by your words and your actions.
But Never Go Along with a Husband’s Sinful Decision
In my counsel on making a biblical appeal, I am assuming that your husband is not asking you to support a sinful decisions. If your husband has decided to do something illegal or immoral, do not go along with his decision, even when told you must submit to his authority.
God is the ultimate authority, not your husband. Thus you cannot honor God by consenting to commit sin with your husband. If he intends to go ahead with a sinful decision, seek outside counsel from your pastor or other wise biblical source.
Sharing hope with your heart,
Pride is at the root of nearly every problem we struggle with in counseling! In Part 1 you discovered the problem with pride. It this post, you’ll learn how to cure a heart filled with pride: namely, 1) admitting your struggle, 2) practicing humility, and 3) serving. Biblical counselor Julie Ganschow, the founder and director of Reigning Grace Counseling Center in Kansas City, MO, wrote this two-part series on pride. Read part one.
Admit Your Struggle
First, begin by confessing, or admitting, to God that you struggle with the sin of pride. Confession is agreeing with God. You might pray a simple prayer similar to this one:
Dear Heavenly Father,
I confess to you that I struggle with the sin of pride in my heart and my life. This pride leads me to act out selfish desires and is hurtful to other people. I ask for the help of the Holy Spirit to change my heart so that I become selfless and learn to serve others as I consider them before myself. Thank You for the forgiveness that is mine through the Lord Jesus Christ, and I pray these things for Your glory. In Jesus name. Amen.
The next step is to begin to practice humility, a denial of self. It is considering others better than yourself and requires an examination through the Word of God of the actions and attitudes of daily life.
Then He (Jesus) said to the crowd, “If any of you wants to be My follower, you must put aside your selfish ambition, shoulder your cross daily, and follow Me. If you try to keep your life for yourself, you will lose it. But if you give up your life for Me, you will find true life. And how do you benefit if you gain the whole world but lose or forfeit your own soul in the process?” Luke 9:23-25 (NLT)
Jesus displayed the ultimate in humility when He condescended to come to earth as a human being. He denied Himself and deprived Himself of heaven and all its glory for 33 years for you and me. Because our goal is to become like Jesus in character and attitude, we are to practice how Jesus lived His life. Jesus was described as “meek and lowly.”
Meekness is an internal quality that comes with humility. As a heart attitude, it is the opposite of pride. The one meek in heart is not concerned about self and readily puts the interest of others before his or her interests.
You should be known for the beauty that comes from (the hidden person of the heart), the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is so precious to God. 1 Peter 3:4 (NLT)
Humility Is NOT Weakness
Being meek does not mean weak; in fact, it means just the opposite. It takes great strength to be humble before God and others. This really goes against the grain of the sinful nature. It is possible, however, for even the most prideful person to become humble. Humility is a fruit of the Spirit, and God joyfully responds to those who desire it.
For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the measure of faith God has given you. Romans 12:3 (NIV)
Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited. Romans 12:16 (NIV)
Pride begins to change to humility when we understand how despicable we actually are without Christ. Humility comes when we internalize the truth that nothing in the life of a Christian is to be about “me.” It is all about Jesus Christ and Him only. You cannot possibly dwell on “what I want” or “what I think is better or right,” and be able to serve others or ask what would bring God glory. Heart change begins to take place when we practice the principles in the verse below:
Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others. Philippians 2:3-4 (NIV)
Lastly, consider how you’ll serve others in the name of Christ. Here are some suggestions to begin to serve others:
- Do one thing a day for someone you ordinarily would avoid.
- Go out of your way to help another person.
- Give up something you want to do for the sake of another’s pleasure.
- Consider the opinion of a person you think is “beneath you” and follow his or her suggestion.
After practicing these suggestions, you will find joy returning to your life. Your world will open up to others as your heart opens up. As you continue to place others above yourself, your desire to serve them will grow, and life will become full of joy.
Sharing Hope with Your Heart,