A Wife is a Partner

The loving husband views his wife as a partner. A wife is not a trophy to be won in courtship and then placed on the wall for all to observe along with our ten-point buck. She is a living person with whom to have a relationship. She is not a person to be dominated and controlled to satisfy our own desires. She is a person to be known and from whom we can learn. The idea of the wife as partner is as old as human literature. In the Genesis account of creation, the woman was created from the rib of man. It is a graphic description of her role as partner. The man and his wife were instructed to subdue the earth and to rule over the fish of the sea, the birds of the air and other living creatures. The man was not instructed to subdue his wife. He was told to become “one flesh” with her. We are different, but these differences were designed by God so that we could complement each other. The husband who views his wife as an partner has taken the first step toward becoming a loving leader in him marriage.

The Husband’s Role in Marriage

In the contemporary world, perhaps nowhere has confusion reigned more than in the area of the husband’s role in marriage.

On one extreme is the concept of the dominant husband who makes all decisions and informs the wife as to what they are going to do, who does not tolerate questions from his wife or his children, and who believes that it is his responsibility to control all the major decisions regarding family life while the wife “takes care of the children.”

On the other extreme is the more contemporary “don’t count on me” husband who expects the wife to support the family and make all the major decisions while he is the resident sports information source and keeps his muscles bulging with workouts at the local gym so that his wife will “be proud of him.” Somewhere between these two concepts is a healthy middle road where the husband is a responsible, dependable, leading but non-domineering husband who is deeply committed to his wife and family.

Where are you?

Ask for Forgiveness

If you want to improve your marriage, and you are open to trying the radical teachings of Jesus, then the first step is get alone with God, and pray this prayer: “Lord, you know what I live with, and you know how they treat me. But I know that I’m not perfect and what I want to know is where am I failing in my marriage. What am I doing and saying that I should not? What am I failing to do and say that I should?” That is a prayer that God will answer. He will show you your failures. I suggest that you write them down as God brings them to your mind.

1. I was not kind last night. I was harsh and cutting with my words.

2. I have been withdrawing lately. Not willing to talk or express interest in his life.

3. I’ve been acting like God is dead and hope is gone. Write them down and confess them to God. ‘Lord, I know that these are wrong. I confess them to you. Thank you that Christ has paid for these sins. I ask for your forgiveness.”

According to scripture, the moment you ask, you are forgiven. Thank God for His forgiveness. “Now Lord, help me to do something good with my life today.” You have taken the first step in improving your marriage.

Improving a Marriage is Hard Work

Improving a marriage is hard work, but the good news is, you can do it, because the first step is always yours. Jesus said: First get the beam out of your own eye and then you can help your spouse get the speck out of theirs. I know that someone is objecting: “But the beam really is not in my eye. I’m not perfect, but the real problem is my spouse.” Let’s assume for a moment that you are correct. Let’s say that your spouse’s behavior accounts for 95% of your marital problems. Now that only leaves 5% for you. I’m suggesting and I think Jesus was suggesting that you best begin with your five percent. In fact, your five percent is all that you can ever change. You cannot confess your husband’s sins, but you can certainly confess your own. You cannot change his behavior, but you can certainly change yours. Once you deal with your five percent, the marriage is already improved. You are feeling better about yourself, because you are following the teachings of Jesus. I will guarantee that your action will get the attention of your spouse.

Does Every Marriage Need Help?

Is there a marriage that doesn’t need help? I find that even couples with good marriages recognize that there‘s room for growth. And couples with troubled marriages are desperate for improvement. I’m convinced that you can have a better marriage. I’m also convinced that the key to improving your marriage is you. Oh, but you don’t understand, some of you are thinking. I live with an alcoholic. My wife is depressed. My husband is abusive. Others of you are thinking, “Well, my marriage is not that bad.” The question is, Do you want to have a better marriage? My response is, You Can. And it begins with you. Jesus said: “Why do you keep talking about your spouses’ faults and spend so little time thinking about you own? Don’t you know that if you will begin by cleaning up your own act, you will have a greater influence on your spouse? First let’s deal with your own failures, then you can expect to see change in your spouse!” That’s Matt. 7:1-5 loosely paraphrased and applied to marriage. But don’t forget, the first step is yours.

Early Marital Adjustments

Question: Gary, we are a newlywed couple. My husband jokes about good-looking women, in front of me. I am offended. He says, “it doesn’t mean anything.” I’m having serious jealousy issues.

Answer: You may both be right. It may not ‘mean anything’ to him. But, you are hurt and jealous. Those would be normal feelings. Many men make comments about ‘good looking women’. When a man is single, these comments are most often made to other men. However, not many women want to hear such comments from their husbands. In fact, I don’t know any women that welcome such comments. So, tell him that you find that offensive. Remind him that he is married and that you are not ‘one of the boys’. Give him a little slack. It takes a while to break old habits. But whatever you do, don’t accept these comments as appropriate. You are newly married and this is the time to ‘set the record straight’ that such comments are not acceptable. Also, be open to his requests for changes in your speech or behavior. This is a normal part of early marital adjustments.

Misbehavior Comes From An Empty Love Tank

When I wrote my book: The Five Love Languages of Teenagers, I was surprised to learn how many teens feel unloved by their parents. It’s not that the parents don’t love them. The problem is that the teen does not feel loved. When teenagers feel unloved, they are far more likely to become sexually active, start using drugs and get involved in trouble with the law. The answer? Learn to speak the love language of your teenager. What are the five love languages? Words of affirmation, acts of service, gifts, quality time, and physical touch. Out of these five, your teen has a primary love language. If you speak it, your teen will feel loved, if you don’t the love tank will be empty. Much of the teen’s misbehavior comes from an empty love tank.

Talking Softly With Your Teen

The most significant influence on the life of a teenager comes from parents. It may surprise you, but it’s true. Oh, teens are influenced by their peers, but they are far more influenced by their parents. That is why we must be certain that we are having a positive influence. One teen said, “My father yells and screams at me; telling me to stop yelling and screaming at him.” Do you understand what the teen is saying? The father’s model is far more important than the father’s words. If you want teens to stop yelling and screaming, then stop yelling and screaming at them. The Scriptures say, “A soft answer turns away wrath.” Learn to talk softly with your teen and your teen will learn to speak softly to you.

A Strong Marriage Can Endure Times of Separation

Question: Gary, my husband is a long haul truck driver and only home a short time. How can you have a growing marriage when you only see each other about 36 hours per week?

Answer: First of all, think about our military couples who don’t see each other at all for 12 months. Marriage is not about proximity. Marriage is about two hearts beating together for each other. Together or apart, we are seeking each other’s well-being. We are praying for them, doing what we can to help them, and keeping in touch via phone, e-mail, or texting. I would encourage you to make the most of the 36 hours you have together each week. Be kind, thoughtful, and loving. Speak each other’s love language. If you have issues, talk with a pastor or counselor, or read a book. When your time together is pleasant, then your time apart can also be pleasant. Of course, if you argue when you are together, then there is no comfort while you are apart. A strong marriage can endure times of separation.

Ask God For Relationship Wisdom

Question: My girlfriend and I have been dating for 18 long hard months. She says that God told her I was to be her husband. But God has not told me. I don’t believe we are compatible. Should I give it more time or get out now.

Answer: Eighteen months is a long time. If you have not been able to work through your issues and grow closer, then it is probably time to be realistic and back away from the relationship. I sense that you are a very sensitive person and don’t want to hurt her. Will a breakup be painful for her? Yes. Will it be good for her? Yes. We often grow most through life’s painful experiences. Love does not continue in a relationship that you believe to be unhealthy. How you break up is very important. You should ask God for wisdom. Don’t communicate that she is a bad person, and don’t question her relationship with God. However, let her know that marriage requires mutual commitment and that you cannot sincerely make that commitment. Let her know that you want the best for her and will pray for her. Don’t treat her like an enemy, but like a friend from whom you must withdraw. Easy? No! But it’s always better than doing the wrong thing.