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Q&A: I Feel Like I’m Living with Jekyll & Hyde

What to do when you find yourself married to a man with a Jekyll & Hyde personality...

We’ve received several questions through our family blog lately that deal with subjects better suited to this forum, so I’ve decided to publish my responses here, in case other readers are dealing with similar situations. Here’s the first:

Question: Hi, Jennifer. I would like to know how you would deal with a husband that is like Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde?

One minute everything is wonderful, the next thing he acts mad at me for everything under the sun…. I am not perfect and have made some mistakes, but I think I am a great wife. He has even made the comment that I have put up with a lot over the many years we’ve been married.

He can be wonderful at times, but very difficult to live with at other times.

Answer: It’s been decades since I’ve read Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, but I remember enough to know that Hyde would be a very difficult person to live with.

I believe in the book, the doctor’s transformation was caused by some concoction he was drinking. If your husband’s mood swings are caused (or made worse) by alcoholism or substance abuse of any kind, or if he is suffering from a psychological disorder like manic/depression or dissociative (split personality) disorder, or if his behavior is putting you or your children in physical danger, then please get some professional help ASAP.

But if, as your letter indicates, he is acting one moment as if everything is simply rosy and the next as if he is intensely irritated by every little thing you say or do, then the following suggestions may help.

You will notice, I’m sure, that all these recommendations require you to adapt your attitudes and actions to him and his mood. And you may be thinking, “He’s the one with the problem, why should I be the one to change?”

I know that seems unfair. And it is.

I know you were probably hoping for a solution that would change your husband and the way he acts, and I wish I could give you one, but only God can change his heart.

You have no control over your husband’s actions. You can only control your response.

From the (omitted) details of your letter, it sounds like you are already working very hard to make your marriage work. Clearly, you feel you are doing your fair share and just wish your husband would be more appreciative and less volatile in recognizing that fact. In an ideal world, he would. That’s how it’s supposed to work, and I know it really stinks when reality falls short of what could or should be.

But think of it this way: Staying married is a little like driving a car.

To get safely from one place to another when you’re driving, you not only need to obey traffic laws and signals yourself, but you must also watch for other drivers who may be ignoring those same laws and signals.

This is a concept my own dear father had a hard time accepting. Whenever the law gave him the right-of-way, he was determined to take it, no matter what the other drivers around him were doing.

That attitude nearly got our family killed a few times. When we’d mention that fact to him, he’d argue, “Well, if we died, it would’ve been their fault.”

Yeah, maybe. But we’d still be dead.

And preventably so, if you saw a way to avoid the accident, but stubbornly refused to take it.

Likewise, if your marriage crumbles — even if it’s demise can be pinned 100% on your spouse — you and your children are still going to suffer the consequences. Knowing that someone else was to blame does not alter that fact. It won’t breathe life back into the casualties.

So what can be done (beyond all you are already doing) to prevent that from happening?

BE SYMPATHETIC:

Start by trying to understand your husband’s stressors and alleviate as many as possible. Do what you can to minimize the things that frustrate him. Here is a list of possibilities to get you started:

  • physical hunger
  • financial strain
  • self-doubt
  • illness/ poor health
  • unfulfilled desire for sex
  • feeling disrespected (at home or work)
  • overextended schedule (at work or home)
  • concerns about the children
  • responsibilities and commitments
  • caffeine withdrawals
  • unmet personal goals/ dissatisfaction
  • restlessness
  • bad modeling from his own father
  • cluttered/messy house
  • midlife crisis
  • fluctuating hormones
  • general irritability associated with aging
  • immaturity
  • jealousy/ competitiveness
  • general sin nature
  • guilt over specific sin(s)
  • pride (in him or me)
  • crisis of faith

Obviously, you have a measure of control over some of these things, such as cooking good meals to alleviate his physical hunger or saying yes when he’s in the mood to address his sexual hunger.

Over others, such as how his boss treats him at work or what kind of modeling his own father provided for him as a child, you have absolutely no control. But sometimes just recognizing these contributing factors and empathizing and encouraging your husband in the midst of them is enough to help alleviate their harmful effects.

So put yourself in his shoes and treat him as you’d want to be treated, were you dealing with the same stresses and pressures.

NOTE PATTERNS:

It may be helpful and instructive for you to keep a calendar of your husband’s mood swings for several months to see if you can pinpoint what might be triggering them.

Along with his moods, plot his work load, your menstrual cycle, extracurricular activities, your own attitudes, financial ups and downs, his call/vacation schedule, etc. Play the part of a detective and look for connections.

Again, you may not be able to do anything about the triggers, but just being aware of them can help you modulate your own actions and interactions to keep the peace at home and be sensitive to extra pressures your husband may be facing during certain times of the month or year.

Yes, it would be nice if he’d be sensitive to the pressures you’re facing, as well. Maybe someday God will mature your husband to the point that he can reciprocate in the sympathy and compassion department so things won’t seem so one-sided. But until then, you can still improve your situation by giving consideration to these matters, even if none of them are “your fault.”

PRAY ABOUT IT:

I’m sure you are already doing this, but beyond praying that God would change your husband or stabilize his moods, I’d encourage you to pray that He’ll give you wisdom and patience in responding to your man, and also ask Him to open your eyes to anything you may be doing to contribute to the discord.

Pray with the Psalmist, “Search me, O God, and know my heart; try me and know my anxious thoughts; and see if there be any hurtful way in me, and lead me in the everlasting way.” (Psalm 139:23-24, NASB)

Pray that God would open your eyes to your husband’s good points, as well. Pray that He’d help you keep your focus there, and would give you a deep and abiding love and appreciation for the man you married, and would make you a crown and a blessing to your husband in every way.

TALK TO YOUR HUSBAND:

Wait until your husband is in one of his good moods and gently broach the topic of how his bad moods affect you and the children.

Sometimes men vent their anger and frustration and don’t intend for anybody within earshot to take it personally — like a guy who lets loose a string of curses when he hits his thumb with a hammer, then can’t understand why his wife who overheard the tirade would think he was mad at her. I’m not trying to justify such behavior, by the way, I’m only attempting to explain that sometimes husbands just don’t realize how much their dark or angry moods hurt their wives.

So prayerfully try to explain all that in a nice way, without getting angry and accusatory. I know that’s a tall order, but if you come across as critical, self-righteous, or disrespectful, you’ll likely just make the situation worse.

If your husband is already aware of the problem, ask him if there is anything you can do to help stabilize his moods, and follow through as best you can. I know what keeps my husband happy is a tidy house and lots of sex with me, so — guess what? — that’s exactly what he gets. (Okay, so sometimes the house gets a little cluttered, but I’m extremely faithful in the other area, and that helps blind him to those piles of books on our dining room table.)

BE ENCOURAGED:

I hurt for any wife in your situation. Sin stinks. And it breaks God’s heart. These Jekyll & Hyde mood swings were never part of God’s perfect plan for marriage, nor do they accurately reflect Christ’s love for us.

Even so, you can still glorify God in the way you respond to the circumstances in which you find yourself. You can still grow and mature in Christ in the midst of it. And you can still have a happy, solid marriage, despite your husband’s volatile moods — but that happiness will hinge on your attitudes and reactions.

If you haven’t already done so, I’d encourage you to commit pertinent Bible verses to memory and draw strength from them when the going gets tough. Here are a few I’d recommend, for starters:

  • “Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.” (Galatians 6:9, NIV)
  • “Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance.” (James 1:2-3, NASB)
  • “A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.” (Proverbs 15:1, NIV)
  • “Let your speech always be with grace, as though seasoned with salt, so that you will know how you should respond to each person.” (Colossians 4:6, NASB)
  • “Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable–if anything is excellent or praiseworthy–think about such things.” (Philippians 4:8, NIV)
  • “For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 1:6, NASB)

You may also want to read this post. It’s about getting along with difficult mother-in-laws, but the strategies outlined work equally well when dealing with difficult spouses, bosses, neighbors, or anybody else who has a demanding personality or seems impossible to please.

7 Smart Reasons to Save Sex for Marriage

7 Smart Reasons to Save Sex for Marriage Earlier this week, I published an essay written by my daughter concerning her commitment to save sex for marriage. Choosing to walk a path that others have long since abandoned can make for a lonely journey, and she sometimes wonders whether her carefully preserved virginity will ever be valued or appreciated by anybody else.

I’m confident it will.

I am trusting that God — in His perfect timing — will bring my precious girl an amazing husband, one who will recognize and appreciate what a treasure she is. I know He is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine. (Ephesians 3:20; Romans 8:32; Matthew 7:11)

In the meantime, I pray for her. I affirm her good choices. And I encourage her to keep walking that lonely path, as there are lots of smart reasons to save sex for marriage:

  1. The Bible Commands It
  2. God designed sex to be enjoyed only in the context of marriage; He forbids it in every other circumstance. His commands are safeguards designed not to confine us, but to protect us. Not to stifle our enjoyment, but to heighten it. That should be reason enough to cooperate with His plan, but for those who need more convincing, here are six other compelling arguments for saving sex for marriage:

  3. Limits Exposure to Disease
  4. In the US alone, there are nearly 20 million cases of new sexually transmitted infections every year — all from just eight viruses and bacteria. One in two sexually active persons will become infected with an STD by age 25. Saving sex for marriage greatly reduces the risk of contracting STDs — and when a virgin marries a virgin, that risk is almost completely eliminated.

  5. Prevents Out-of-Wedlock Pregnancy
  6. Abstinence is the only 100% fail-safe method of birth control (and carries with it none of the health risks associated with hormonal contraceptives). Barring in-vitro fertilization or immaculate conception, if you don’t have sex before marriage, you won’t get pregnant before marriage. Children do best when raised by a mother and a father; saving sex for marriage increases the odds they’ll have both.

  7. Minimizes Comparisons
  8. If you have no sexual experience with anybody prior to marriage, you will have no frame of reference by which to judge your spouse’s performance. This goes a long way toward putting minds at ease — your husband won’t be constantly wondering how he measures up against your past lovers. The same holds true for a woman who marries a virgin husband. Instead of being anxious and self-conscious, couples who are inexperienced in the area of physical intimacy can learn and grow together, just as God intended.

  9. Reduces Guilt and Stress
  10. Saying “no” to sex before marriage means saying “no” to the worries that often accompany it: the fear of being found out, the worry that your partner is using you, the misgivings about where the relationship is headed, the concerns about pregnancy and disease, and the guilt for violating Scriptural injunctions. The hook-up culture is fraught with stress, so don’t sleep with someone you haven’t married — sleep with a clear conscience, instead.

  11. Encourages Marriage
  12. There was once a time when a major impetus for marriage — at least, for men — was the promise of sex that came with it. I don’t think we’d see so many young people waiting until they’re nearly thirty to marry, if it also meant waiting until they’re nearly thirty to do what married couples do. The fact that sex is so freely available to singles today has, for many, removed the incentive to get married ever, much less early. (Why take on the burden and responsibility of a wife and family when immediate, no-strings-attached gratification is available via hook-ups and porn?)

    Saying “no” to sex outside of marriage may not change the current cultural trend toward postponing marriage (or forgoing it altogether), but it will keep you from wasting time dating guys who are only after one thing, as they won’t stick around long once they realize you’re serious about waiting. That works out, since a man with that mindset (who’d pressure a girl for sex and ditch her if he doesn’t get it) is not good marriage material, anyway.

  13. Rewards Commitment
  14. Virginity is a very special gift you can only give away once. Saving sex for marriage allows you to give it to a person who isn’t just saying he loves you to get what he wants, but has proven it by making a lifelong commitment. Plus, couples who save sex for marriage fare better, both in terms of marital stability and sexual satisfaction.

7 Smart Reasons to Save Sex for MarriageBut what if you’ve slipped up? What if you are unmarried, and your virginity has already been given away?

I am speaking from experience when I say there is still hope (Ephesians 2:3-10). You do not have to let your past dictate your future.

In Christ, you can find forgiveness, grace, and strength to follow a different path going forward.

It takes intentionality and determination, but there are several things you can do that will make preserving purity easier.

And for those who are already be married but may be regretting mistakes made beforehand, I offer this word of advice: You can’t make up for being promiscuous before marriage by being frigid afterwards.

Don’t punish your husband in the present for mistakes either of you made in the past.

There’s a time for everything under heaven, but our society has it backwards: The time for saying “no” to sex is before you tie the knot.

Once you are married, the response your husband should hear most often from you in regards to sex is “yes.”

(For the rationale behind this statement, read: Why I keep Saying Yes to Sex)

Join in the conversation:

  • What are your thoughts on these matters?
  • How did your attitudes toward sex before marriage impact your relationships afterwards?
  • How would you encourage a young person who wants to save sex for marriage, but has grown weary with waiting?

The A to Z Guide to Building a Better Marriage

Great article on building a better marriage...If you’ve been married for any length of time, you have undoubtedly realized that some habits help your relationship and others hurt it.

Our goal should be to practice doing the good stuff until it becomes second nature and leave off doing the bad things altogether. To help in that endeavor, I offer the following A to Z guide for building a better marriage.

Putting these principles into practice is the best way I know to spell success for you and your spouse. Attend to these areas, and your marriage will do better than survive. It will flourish.

A is for Acceptance

Accept your husband for who he is. Entrust to God any changes that need to be made. Don’t try to change him yourself — that will only make you both miserable. Only God can mold either of your hearts into what they are meant to be. (Ezekiel 36:26)

B is for Belief

Your husband needs to know you have confidence in him, that you are on his side. Be his biggest cheerleader. Believe in him, and believe the best of him.

C is for Commitment

Couples fare better when they are committed to marriage in general and to each other in specific. They are more likely to stay together when they don’t even consider divorce an option. (Matthew 19:6) Be entirely devoted to one another — for better or worse, for richer or poorer, in sickness and in health. Honor the vows you made to one another and regard them as binding.

D is for Dreams

The Bible teaches, “Where there is no vision the people perish.” (Proverbs 29:18) It is important for couples to dream as a team. Discuss with your spouse your hopes and desires for the future. Don’t be embarrassed or afraid to dream big. Set and work toward goals together and pray that God will help you accomplish great things.

E is for Encouragement

Be supportive. Speak words of life to your husband. Build him up, don’t tear him down. Make it your goal to comfort, encourage, and do him only good as long as there is life within you. ( Proverbs 31:12; 1 Thessalonians 5:11)

F is for Forgiveness

You should not harbor bitterness or resentment in your heart toward anybody, but especially not toward the man you married. Love keeps no record of wrongs. Forgive him freely, as Christ has forgiven you. (Ephesian 4:31-32; 1 Corinthians 13:5)

G is for Gratitude

Don’t take your husband for granted. Cultivate a heart of thanksgiving. Express your appreciation to him and for him clearly, sincerely, and often. (1 Thessalonians 5:18)

H is for Humility

“Love does not brag and is not arrogant.” (1 Corinthians 13:4) Pride is extremely off-putting and will only drive a wedge in your relationship: Humility is the ticket to happiness. Don’t think more of yourself than you ought, but hold your spouse in high esteem. (Romans 12:3, Philippians 2:3)

I is for Intimacy

A marriage is meant to make two people one: spiritually, physically, and emotionally. This will not happen without your intentional investment in each of these areas. Prioritize time together and do not withhold yourself from your spouse or push him away. (1 Corinthians 7:4-5)

J is for Joy

Somebody once said, “Joy is love singing.” If so, we should learn the words of that song by heart and keep them continually on our lips. A happy marriage is largely about attitude — not only our attitude toward one another, but our whole outlook on life. (Psalm 68:3)

K is for Kindness

Marriage is more about what you give than what you get. Be thoughtful and considerate of your spouse. Put his needs ahead of your own. (Colossians 3:12)

L is for Love

Love is much more than mushy emotionalism or sexual attraction. That loving feeling is nice, but it is not by itself enough to sustain a marriage. For a marriage to thrive, you need the kind of unconditional, self-sacrificing love we read about in Scripture: a love that “bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things… [and] never fails.” (1 Corinthians 13:7-8)

M is for Maturity

To be mature means to be fully developed. Maturity is marked by the presence of firm, well-established roots and an abundance of ripe, wholesome fruit — love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control — none of which can be authentically produced unless we remain connected to the Vine. (Galatians 5:22; John 15:4)

N is for Nurture

Much of our marital success hinges on the daily decisions we make: Where will we invest our time and energy? If we choose to focus our attention at home, our marriage and family will likely flourish. If we carelessly neglect those key relationships, they will suffer and our love will grow cold. (Luke 12:34)

O is for Offspring

Just as a couple’s children are a blessing to their marriage, a couple’s marriage is a blessing to their children — in fact, that one-flesh union was designed with the next generation in mind. A child’s best chance for success is with a mother and father who are lovingly committed to one another and to the little ones entrusted to their care. Whether biological or adopted, children bring a certain fullness and joy to marriage that cannot be experienced any other way. (Psalm 127:3)

P is for Prayer

Prayer is the key to lasting love. While most marriages have only a coin-toss survival rate (50% will end in divorce), couples who pray daily together reduce their risk of divorce to less than 1%. That is significant. Pray with your husband. Pray for your husband. When you invite Him to do so, God will gladly work to mold your marriage into everything He meant it to be. (1 Thessalonians 5:17)

Q is for Quiet

Home should be a haven of peace and rest for every member of the family. Do your best to make it so by cultivating a gentle and quiet spirit. Abandon a quarrel before it breaks out, and learn to control your tongue. Let your words be filled with love and seasoned with grace.(1 Peter 3:4; Proverbs 17:14; James 1:26; Colossians 4:6)

R is for Respect

Marriage should be marked by mutual respect. The New Oxford American Dictionary gives two definitions for respect: 1) a feeling of deep admiration for someone… elicited by their abilities, qualities, or achievements, and (2) due regard for the feelings, wishes, rights or traditions of others. Men especially crave that first kind of respect and are keenly aware of its absence when it is lacking. Admire your husband. Hold him in highest regard. And learn to communicate your respect in ways that are meaningful to him. (Ephesians 5:33)

S is for Sense of Humor

A good sense of humor is an invaluable asset when it comes to living happily ever after. Laughter is good medicine, and the ability to laugh at oneself can help reduce stress and tension like no other thing I know. (Proverbs 17:22)

T is for Trust

Trust is essential for a successful marriage. Prove yourself worthy of your spouse’s trust, express confidence in him as well, and together place your full trust in God whose grace sustains us all.(1 Timothy 3:11; Proverbs 3:5)

U is for Understanding

Put yourself in your spouse’s shoes. Treat him the way you’d want to be treated. Study him. Learn what makes him tick. Listen to him attentively, with a goal of understanding not only what he is saying, but why he is saying it.(Matthew 7:12; James 1:19)

V is for Virtue

Proverbs 31 goes into great detail on what it means to be a virtuous wife.My dictionary defines virtue as “moral excellence, goodness, integrity, purity, and strength.” Virtue is the opposite of hypocrisy, laziness, and malice. Certainly, goodness and integrity are desirable qualities in both husband and wife: the more virtuous their behavior, the more blessed their marriage will be. (Proverbs 20:7; 2 Peter 1:5)

W is for Wisdom

If your marriage is to thrive amid all the pressures that threaten to destroy it, you will need a lot of grace and wisdom. Fortunately, God promises to provide an ample supply to anyone who asks: “If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, Who gives to all generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him.” That’s a promise every couple should redeem regularly. (James 1:5; 3:17; 2 Corinthians 1:12; )

X is for X-citement

Don’t lose your sense of excitement and adventure. You and your spouse get to DO LIFE together, side by side, hand in hand! Whoever said marriage has to be boring? That isn’t the picture Scripture paints of what the love shared between a husband and wife should look like. It uses words like exhilarated, ravished, delighted, captivated, and continually satisfied. (Proverbs 5:18-19, read in multiple translations)

Y is for Yieldedness

Do you want a happy marriage? Learn to defer to one another in love. Don’t demand your own way. A willingness to compromise on non-essentials goes a long way toward building good will and trust in any relationship — marriage is no different in that respect. (Ephesians 5:21; Philippians 2:3; Galatians 5:13)

Z is for Zest

“Being married is like riding a bike: you’ve got to invest some energy if you want it to keep going.” Don’t lose the momentum! Invest your zest! Do everything you can to maintain that energy and enthusiasm that led you to marry in the first place. “Let us not grow weary in doing good, for in due season we will reap if we do not give up.” (Galatians 6:9)

Although, writing as a woman, I have directed this article toward wives, I fully believe that every one of these suggestions should go both ways. And in a healthy marriage, they will.

Although each of these habits and character traits are important for building a marriage that lasts, I know my list is not exhaustive. Which habits have helped you have a happy marriage? What qualities would you add to this list?

Great article on building a better marriage...

5 Great Reasons to Read My Husband’s Book

5 Great Reasons to Read 25 Ways to Show Love to Your Wife....

Today is the official release date of my husband’s new book, 25 Ways to Show Love to Your Wife. It’s been two years in the writing, but over twenty-seven in the living.

Of course, I’d love to see every married couple devour this book, together with my companion book, 25 Ways to Communicate Respect.

That’s why this little two-volume set has become my standard wedding gift: I know husbands and wives will both be abundantly blessed when they put the principles into practice.

I can think of a lot more than I’ve listed, but for the purpose of this post, I’d like to share the five main reasons you should grab a copy of my husband’s new book ASAP (plus one possible reason you shouldn’t).

5 Great Reasons to Read This Book:


  1. Because It’s Biblical
  2. This book is absolutely drenched in Scripture. That’s a good thing, since the Word of God is the most solid foundation any marriage can be built upon.

    The reason divorce is so rampant in our society is because we have strayed so far from God’s original purpose and design for husbands and wives. It grieves my heart that Hollywood can take things as wholesome and wonderful as love, sex, and marriage, and turn them into something dirty, degrading, and dysfunctional.

    This book is a clarion call to reject all the contemptible counterfeits our culture proffers and return to the role God established for every husband from the beginning: that of protecting, cherishing, nourishing, loving, leading, and providing for his wife in the same self-sacrificing way that Jesus loves His church.

    Marriage is in trouble....

  3. Because It Works
  4. Nothing in this book is hypothetical. The principles discussed have been tried, tested, and proven, not only by my own husband, but by countless others like him — men who are committed to living by these ideals to the best of their abilities by the empowering grace of God.

    The more successful a husband is at integrating these truths into his life and actions, the more secure his wife will feel in his love. That’s why every chapter ends with a bulleted list of action points, so readers will immediately be able to put what they’re learning into practice.

  5. Because You Love Your Kids
  6. No matter how grossed out your children act when they catch their parents kissing in the kitchen, there is a reassuring calmness that settles over their little souls when they know Mom and Dad love one another and are committed to staying together through thick and thin, for better or worse.

    The old adage is true: One of the best things a father can do for his children is to love their mother. It doesn’t take long to see the damage done to children when Dad is not committed to the marriage or involved in the lives of his kids: the statistics associated with fatherless families are heart-rending.

    If you love your children, you should nurture your marriage and invest in resources that will help you tend it more effectively.

  7. Because You’ve Been Waiting for It
  8. I am always thrilled to hear from women who’ve read my books and have seen the Biblical principles promoted bring positive change in their marriages. That’s an answer to the prayers I poured out while writing the books, and I rejoice over every letter I get that shares such victories and triumphs with me!

    I’ve even received a few letters from husbands, marveling over the changes they’ve observed in their wives’ disposition, thanking me for writing the book, and asking whether we have a similar book for men.

    I’m delighted to now be able to answer, yes, we do! So if you are one of those men who’ve been waiting for it to be publishied, I can’t think of a better time to buy…

  9. Because Now It’s On Sale
  10. Order a copy before Valentine’s Day, and save 25% (and pick up a discounted copy of my book while you’re at it):

    50 Ways to Grace Your Marriage...

And Here’s One Reason Not to Read It:


  1. Because You Think Your Marriage Problems are All His Fault
  2. If you are a wife who is hunting for something to hang over your husband’s head, please don’t buy this book. It was never intended to be used as ammunition.

    If your marriage is struggling, your husband doubtlessly deserves part of the blame — there are two sides to every story, after all — but instead of pointing fingers, I urge you to examine yourself. What changes might you make to improve your relationship?

    Sometimes women are unwilling to do what Scripture calls them to do (respect their husband) until their husbands fall into line with what Scripture demands of them (love their wife). They use their husband’s perceived failure to justify their own disobedience.

    That’s a loser’s game. You cannot make your own obedience to God contingent on somebody else’s performance. You’re responsible for controlling your own actions and reactions — attempts to control his are futile.

    So if your marriage is in trouble and you are trying to fix it without any help or cooperation from your husband, skip getting this book for now and start with prayer.

    Pray that God would open your eyes to things you may be doing to contribute to the relationship problems you’re facing. Pray that He’ll give you grace to make necessary changes, even though you have no guarantee your husband will ever reciprocate. Pray that He will help you see your husband as He sees him, and that He’ll renew your love and admiration for the man you married.

    Get my book or read the blog or sign up for the 30-Day Challenge and work your way through each of the action points. And be encouraged that God can make something beautiful of even the most hopeless situations.

    “And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up.” (Galatians 6:9, ESV)

Invest in your marriage. Take the 30-Day Respect Challenge!

The State of a Union

How grows your marriage? The  State of a UnionWhen my husband and I built our house ten years ago, we planted two ginkgo trees on either side of our front yard. The trees looked identical the day we put them in the ground, but since that time one has flourished and the other has floundered.

The tree on the west side of our house gets plenty of sunshine. It is planted on level ground, not susceptible to erosion. Tall and straight, it has more than quadrupled in size. Its leaves are a deep green, its bark smooth, and its limbs symmetrical. Even when my husband accidentally backed into the tree with his truck and gashed the trunk, it managed to survive.

The tree in the east yard has not fared so well.

It was planted on a slope, where water runs off instead of soaking in. Surrounded by larger trees, it stands in shade most of the day. Gophers keep digging tunnels through its struggling root system. It has served as “base” for far too many games of tag and shows visible signs of wear from our little ones whipping the tree back and forth as if it were a stick horse.

Consequently, the trunk is crooked and spindly. Its uppermost branches were broken off at some point, so the tree is severely stunted — barely eight feet tall, as compared to its 45-ft brother. My husband has been sorely tempted to just chop it down and plant another in its place.

He nearly acted on that impulse several springs ago, but I spotted him just in time with the axe in hand and begged for mercy on behalf of the runt. Doug relented, and I did my best to nurture the scrawny thing back to health (a little staking and strategic pruning worked wonders for its appearance).

It’s important to note that my axe-wielding husband is not responsible for this tree’s present sorry state. He was simply responding to the damage already done by its other enemies — the gophers, erosion, and overly rambunctious children.

If I wanted to fault somebody for the tree’s miserable appearance, I should fault myself for not tending to it more faithfully, for not vigilantly protecting it from its various assailants.

No, Doug isn’t to blame, nor does he have anything against ginkgo trees in general. He has no desire to fell the heartier specimen, and although he considers this particular ginkgo an eyesore, he is perfectly willing to replace it with a new one. The presence of the healthy, robust ginkgo in the west yard — and the knowledge that there are countless others like it — reassures him that it is possible to raise one successfully.

But what if the west tree were just as sickly and stunted as the east? What if every ginkgo tree Doug had ever encountered were uniformly puny and pathetic? Wouldn’t it stand to reason that he might be less willing to take a chance growing one himself? That he might decide to plant something entirely different? At least he wouldn’t be pinning his hopes on something with a high failure rate. Would you buy a tree that had, say, less than a fifty percent chance of surviving?

I think the reason some groups are seeking to “redefine marriage” these days is that so many “traditional marriages” — at least the marriages they’ve personally observed or experienced — seem sickly and unappealing.

Although I disagree with their response, I do not consider these groups the enemy. They didn’t cause the problems; they are merely reacting to them.

The damage was done by a much subtler Adversary. Like the gopher that tunneled under my ginkgo, this Enemy attacked marriage at the root, digging away at its foundation, gradually shifting our focus away from God and onto ourselves.

God’s design for marriage — that we mirror the love of Christ and raise children for His glory — no longer seems to be our primary concern. Finding happiness and personal fulfillment is the new end goal.

As Danielle Crittenden observes in What Our Mothers Didn’t Tell Us, “We may pledge to love each other until death do us part — but we blanch at the first hint of sacrifice.”

How many couples have I heard rationalize their divorce by saying “we’re just not happy together anymore”? I’ve lost count.

More likely than not, these men and women had good intentions of making each other happy (or at least of making themselves happy) when they first married, but if happiness is all they sought, it makes sense they’d be ready to throw in the towel when happiness is not forthcoming.

But should they call it quits? Is unhappiness really a sufficient reason to divorce?

Not according to a report released by the Institute for American Values. Their studies found that two-thirds of couples who were unhappy in their marriages, but stuck it out anyway, considered themselves “happily married” just five years later. In fact, “the most unhappy marriages reported the most dramatic turnarounds. Among those who rated their marriages as very unhappy, almost eight out of ten who avoided divorce were happily married five years later.”

Even so, many couples don’t persevere long enough to discover this fact. And that’s too bad.
It’s bad for their families, but it’s also bad for society as a whole. Strong and stable families make for a strong and stable nation.

Couples need to understand that happiness springs from commitment. Not the other way around. Allowing something as volatile as happiness to determine whether you stay married or not is a sure way to destroy any chance of building a love that endures.

We must stop treating happiness as if it were a destination we have to trample upon others to reach. In reality, the route to true happiness is through selfless, sacrificial love.

Deep, abiding joy is a disposition that is naturally cultivated as we seek to live for God’s glory. That, after all, is the chief end of man: To glorify God and enjoy Him forever.

It’s the purpose for which we were created in the first place, and we’ll never find lasting, genuine happiness, in marriage or in any other endeavor, so long as we neglect it.


Love Your Husband/ Love YourselfThis post has been adapted from my book, Love Your Husband/Love Yourself: Embracing God’s Purpose for Passion in Marriage. Packed with Bibilcal wisdom, scientific studies, and humorous anecdotes, it is a must-read for any wife serious about improving her marriage.

How Does Your Husband Spell RESPECT?

How does your husband spell RESPECT - a 30-Day Challenge for wives
Every man craves respect. I think that deep desire to be well-esteemed by family, friends, and foe alike is hardwired into the Y-chromosome. The vast majority of men value respect even over love.

One of the most powerful things you can do to build up your man and strengthen your marriage is to shower your husband with the respect and admiration he so longs for.

The details may differ from family to family, but the underlining principles remain the same.

Here’s how my husband spells respect. And there’s a good chance yours spells it this way, too:

R = Respond Physically

Of all your husband’s needs, this is the one that only you can legitimately address. If you pour all your energies into being a good wife in every other way, but marginalize or neglect the area of physical intimacy, then you have failed.

God designed this one-flesh union to be uniquely characteristic of marriage. Your husband will never feel completely respected as long as you habitually turn him down or slap him away when he tries to get physically close.

E = Express Sincere Thanks

Be grateful for the many things — big and little — your husband does for you, and thank him every time. Show him that you appreciate him in whatever way speaks most clearly to him.

Don’t take your husband for granted and don’t saddle him with expectations. Expectations lead only to discontent. If your husband preforms well, he’ll get no special acknowledgement or show of gratitude, because he was only doing what you expected. If he doesn’t, you’ll feel slighted and angry, and he won’t know why.

“There is no such thing as gratitude unexpressed. If it is unexpressed, it is plain, old-fashioned ingratitude.” – Robert Brault

S = Silence Can Be Golden

“If you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all.” I’m not advocating giving your husband a cold shoulder, but neither should you give him a piece of your mind. Sometimes it’s better to just keep your mouth shut.

The ability to hold our tongue is an underutilized skill for many of us. Yet, the Bible tells us we should “not let any unwholesome speech come out of [our] mouths, but only what is good for building others up, that it may benefit those who listen.” (Ephesians 4:29)

So next time you are tempted to nag, argue, gripe, or belittle, keep these verses in mind: Proverbs 21:19, Philippians 4:8, Colossians 3:8

“Often the difference between a successful marriage and a mediocre one consists of leaving about three or four things a day unsaid.” – Harlan Miller

P = Pray with and for Him

Prayer is key to a strong marriage. Don’t wait until your marriage is in trouble to pray. By faithfully bringing your husband to the Throne of Grace — even when things are going well — you can head off a lot of problems before they ever arise.

Don’t just stop at praying for your husband. If he is willing, make it a daily habit to pray with him, as well. Couples who regularly pray together are far less likely to divorce.

E = Emphasize His Good Points

Just as you would rather he dwell on your most praiseworthy attributes than to focus his attention on all your flaws, your husband will also feel better loved and respected when you are expressing admiration instead of fault-finding and nit-picking.

Focus your attention on those traits that first attracted you to your husband. Emphasize his most noble features.

If you will make your default attitude one of warm approval and respect, then on the rare occasion you do need to discuss a concern, your husband will be far more likely to take it to heart.

C = Choose Joy

What does being joyful have to do with communicating respect?

More than you might think!

A smiling, jovial wife announces to the world, “My husband knows how to make me happy!” But a sour, malcontent wife broadcasts the opposite message. A wife who shames her husband “is as rottenness in his bones.” (Proverbs 12:24)

Choose to cultivate a happy, joyful attitude, regardless of your circumstances. In fact, the Bible tells us we should rejoice, even in the midst of trials and tribulations, knowing that God uses difficult circumstances to teach us patience, to build our endurance, and to mold us into the character of Christ. (James 1:2-3; Matthew 5:11-12)

T = Take His Advice

Undoubtedly you’ve already noticed that your husband tends to look at things differently than you. His unique perspective, together with the way most men’s brains are wired for problem solving, offers you a unique opportunity to get “outside the box” when looking at problems or challenges.

Listen to your husband. Hear what he is saying to you. Don’t get defensive or discount his opinion, but try to see things from his perspective and honor his wishes. God will greatly bless you when you do.

Need some practice to help this all sink in? Then sign up for my 30-Day Respect Challenge over at Revive Our Hearts. You’ll receive helpful tips and reminders delivered straight to your inbox, every day for a month.

Invest in your marriage. Take the 30-Day Respect Challenge!

Invest in your marriage. Take the 30-Day Respect Challenge!

Give your husband something for Christmas this year he will really appreciate.

Give him RESPECT!

And if you really want to get specific, ask him how he’d like you to spell it.

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Living with a Thankful Heart

"... never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them." - JFKWe need to cultivate an attitude of gratitude. Giving thanks is something that we are commanded repeatedly in Scripture to do. Obviously, it is important to God for His children to be grateful.

Space won’t permit me to list all the references here, but consider this small sampling of verses:

• “In everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”
(1 Thessalonians 5:18)
• “Whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through Him to God the Father.”
(Colossians 3:17)
• “Always giving thanks for all things in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ …”
(Ephesians 5:20)
• “Oh give thanks to the LORD, call upon His name….”
(1 Chronicles 16:8)
• “Enter His gates with thanksgiving…. Give thanks to Him, bless His name.”
(Psalm 100:4)

We owe a debt of gratitude to God, but this attitude should also spill over into our relationships with others, as well. Our lives and our conversations should be marked by expressions of thankfulness toward our fellow man.

And that goes double for the members of our own household.

Don’t take your husband for granted. Express genuine appreciation for everything he does for you, whether great or small.

Always say thank you. But don’t stop there. Real gratitude runs much deeper than words. It extends far beyond anything we can verbalize.

Our thankfulness should affect not only how we think, but also how we live and how we treat the people around us.


This post is excerpted from my book, 25 Ways to Communicate Respect to Your Husband, winner of the CSPA 2014 “Book of the Year” Award. (affiliate link)

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