Helping Your Husband GrowWives can't change their husbands, but wives can and do have a tremendous influence on their husbands. How can you make that influence positive? 1. Men respond positively to praise. One of the most common complaints men make in my office is: "Dr. Chapman, in my work I am respected. People come to me for advice. But at home, all I get is criticism." What she considers suggestions, he reads as criticism. Her efforts to stimulate growth have backfired. Give him praise. The fastest way to influence a husband is to give him praise. Praise him for effort, not perfection. You may be asking, But if I praise him for mediocrity, will it not stifle growth? The answer is a resounding "No". Your praise urges him on to greater accomplishments.My challenge is to look for things your husband is doing right and praise him. Praise him in private, praise him in front of the children, praise him in front of your parents and his parents, praise him in front of his peers. Then stand back and watch him go for the gold.2. Requests are more productive than demands. None of us like to be controlled, and demands are efforts at controlling. "If you don't mow the grass this afternoon, then I'm going to mow it." I wouldn't make that demand unless you want to be the permanent lawn mower. It is far more effective to say, "Do you know what would really make me happy?" Wait until he asks, "What?" Then say, "If you could find time this afternoon to mow the grass. You always do such a great job."Let me illustrate by applying the principle to you. How do you feel when your husband says "I haven't had an apple pie since the baby was born. I don't guess I'm going to get any more apple pies for eighteen years"? Now, doesn't that motivate you? But what if he says, "You know what I'd really like to have? One of your apple pies. You make the best apple pies in the world. Sometime when you get a chance, I'd really love one of your apple pies. Chances are he'll have an apple pie before the week is over. Requests are more productive than demands. 3. Love is a two way street. If a wife wants to enhance her husband's ability to give her emotional love, perhaps her greatest influence will be in loving him. In my book, The Five Love Languages, I talk about the importance of discovering your husband's primary love language - the thing that really makes him feel loved: words of affirmation, quality time, gifts, physical touch, or acts of service. Once you discover it, pour it on. Husbands are drawn to wives who are meeting their emotional need for love. Can you do it, even if he is not loving you. God did. He loved us when we were unlovely. But that's God. I'm me. I know, but you are God's child and He can empower you to love an unlovely spouse. I've seen it many times. A wife chooses to speak her husband's love language, even though she doesn't feel loved by him. He warms up and in time begins expressing her love language. Can emotional love be re-born in a marriage? You bet. But someone must begin the process. Why not you? 4. Defensiveness reveals the inner self. A wife says, "Why does my husband get so defensive? All I have to do is mention that the grass needs mowing and he goes ballistic."This husband is revealing his self-esteem hot spot. Some experience in his past has tied his sense of self worth to mowing the grass. Your mention of the grass translates "She thinks I'm not doing my job. I work like crazy, and now she is on my case about the grass." He sees it as a negative statement about his worth. I know you didn't mean it that way. That's why I suggesting you observe his defensiveness, so that you can learn what is going on inside of him. We don't know these emotional hot spots until we touch one. It would be a good idea to make a list of all your husband's defensive reactions. Note what you said and did and how he responded. This insight will help you discover another way to discuss the topic that will be less threatening to his self-esteem. Both husbands and wives hold a tremendous influence on their spouse. However, it is up to you whether your influence is positive.
Before marriage, I dreamed about how happy I would be when we got married. I had visions of all the wonderful things my wife would do for me. Sausage and eggs together in the mornings. Candlelight dinners at night. Holding hands all day long and sex every night. I assumed that she had the same visions. But, after marriage I found out that my wife didn't do mornings. So much for the sausage and eggs. She anticipated that I would take her out to romantic restaurants for dinner, not as a prelude to sex, but simply because I loved her. I expressed my disappointment with her and she expressed her disappointment with me. We succeeded in being utterly miserable. Our marriage didn't turn around overnight, but it did turn around. And so can yours. I want to share the secret. It all has to do with attitude. Jesus' life and teachings focused on sacrificial service to others. He once said, "I did not come to be ministered to, but to minister." It is a theme that all truly great men and women of the past have affirmed. Life's greatest meaning is not found in getting, but in giving. This profound principle made a significant difference in my marriage. Developing an attitude of service is not easy but the rewards are overwhelmingly positive. Few people will run away from someone who is serving them. My wife was no exception. When I reached out to serve her, it wasn't long before she was reaching out to me. Jesus had it right! Why did it take me so long to learn? How would a wife respond to a husband who sincerely sought to serve her? In my desperation I was determined to find out. I set myself to discovering her needs and desires and sought to fulfill them. I began quietly and slowly to do some of the things she had requested in the past. You see, by now we were too estranged to talk about our relationship, but I could choose to take action on some of her previous complaints. I started washing dishes without being asked. I volunteered to fold the clothes. It seemed to me these where the kind of things Jesus might have done had He been married. When she made specific requests, I determined to respond cheerfully and if possible to do them. In less than three months, my wife's attitude toward me began to change. She came out of her shell of withdrawal and began to talk again. I think she sensed that my days of preaching were over and that my attitude toward her was changing. Genuine acts of service seldom go unrewarded. Before long, our hostility was gone, and we began to have positive feelings toward each other.You see, if I believe that it is more blessed to give than to receive; that serving my spouse is more important than being served; that my best end is found in making her life better, then it will affect the way I treat her. When she sees this attitude expressed in my behavior she knows that something has changed. If I am consistent, then service becomes a lifestyle. Most wives and husbands are attracted to someone who shows genuine concern for them. The person who follows the example of Jesus - in serving others, is on the road to greatness and to a growing marriage relationship.
I get emails from a website Dr. Gary Chapman. I just had to post some of these articles. They really seem to help me at certain times and I hope they may be of some help to others.
On the Road to Reconciliation Thousands of people experience marital separation every year. Many of them sincerely want to know, "What should I do, as a Christian?" First: Don't assume that separation equals divorce. Separation may lead to a restored, enriched, growing marriage. The individuals involved will determine the outcome of separation. Separation is not permanent. It either leads to resurrection or death. The Christian must always seek resurrection. This week, let's explore the possibilities of seeking reconciliation. Separation calls for intensive care, much like that given to those in grave physical danger. The condition of the marriage is "critical". Proper mediation is essential. Surgery may be required. That will call for the services of a counselor or pastor. What you do in the weeks following your separation will determine the quality of your life for years to come. Separation is not the time to capitulate. The battle for marital unity may just be beginning. Be assured, God is concerned about the outcome. You can count on Him for supernatural help. He will not abandon you in this time of pain. Separation means that a marriage is in desperate straits. Healing will require listening, understanding, discipline, change. But hard work can result in the joy of a restored marriage. I know that some of you are saying: "It sounds good, but it won't work. We've tried before. Besides, I don't think my spouse will even try again. I'm not even sure I want to try." I understand your feelings, but don't assume that the hostile attitude of your spouse will last forever, or that your own feelings are permanent. One of God's gifts to all of us is the gift of choice. We can change. Your spouse may be saying: "I'm through. It is finished. I don't want to talk about it." But three week or three months from now your spouse may be willing to talk. Much depends on what you do in the meantime, and much depends on your spouse's response to the Spirit of God. You pray. You work. You leave the results to God. When we chose to work on our marriages, we have all the help of God. God will not force your spouse to deal with issues and return to the marriage, but He will give you wisdom and strength as you seek to follow His will.Where do we turn for help when we are separated? For the Christian, there is one stable source to which we turn when we need guidance. That source is the Bible. In the Bible we find not only what we ought to do, but also the encouragement and power to do it. The words of Paul become our own: "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me" (Philippians 4:13).When we turn to the Bible for guidance, we discover that the Bible calls us to seek reconciliation. Divorce is not God's desire. It is true that ultimately you cannot keep your spouse from divorcing you. Even God had to grant Israel a divorce because she refused to turn from her sinful ways (Jeremiah 3:8). But that was after years of seeking reconciliation. And even yet, God has not given up on Israel - there will be future reconciliation.So we must seek reconciliation. Even if our spouse ultimately refuses our efforts, we will have the satisfaction of knowing that we were faithful to the biblical ideal.