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Sunday, March 8, 2015

The Secret Lives of Christian Women: How to Be A Supportive Spouse

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Growing up in church, I have seen and heard some bizarre things. Being a "busy body" like my mom always said, I was afforded the opportunity to hear and see what I did not want in a marriage. I walked in on my mom’s conversation with a friend. Her friend was and still is married to someone who cheated on her for over 20 years. He not only continually cheated on her, but brought back a few friends (STDs). There was another lady in my mom's circle whose husband spent all their money on business ventures. We may not all be in marriages that extreme, but every wife will have to ask, "Am I Really Supporting My Husband, If I Don’t Agree with Everything He Does.”

Traditionally, "For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church (Ephesians 5:23)," has been the scripture used to remind Christian families that the husband is the head of the home. There are others who have said in the past, the husband is the head of the home but the wife is the neck. Then we come the some of the extreme beliefs that the husband always makes every decision and the wife should agree every time. In reality the last point is still active in many Christian homes.

This post came from a personal struggle (like most of my posts) with my husband. I believe the more authentic we are as women, the easier it will be for us to have significant dialogue. Our family has faced some extreme changes in the last three years. These changes led to tense moments I never want to repeat. Some of these struggles included my husband losing his job due to financial cuts, the death of my mom who lived with us for a while, a child being diagnosed with ADHD and a personal business that was failing. During several of our heated moments my husband mentioned that I was not supportive. I could never understand what he was saying because I went along with every job move, business idea and even helped with all his papers while he was in graduate school. 

Over the three years, I learned 3 Things About Being Supportive

1. Ask

I think every husband will be caught off guard by this question, "How can I be more supportive?" Asking this question shows that we care about seeing our husbands succeed. This question helps us focus attention on what really matters instead of assuming what our husband needs. Assumptions in a marriage have never lead to a good outcome. After hearing what our husbands need from us it is always a good idea to write it down and refer to what they need during times of conflict. 

2. Remove Selfishness and Bargain

Selfishness is lacking consideration for others. I must admit that this has been my issue for years. Feeling overwhelmed and taking care of the day-to-day family obligations, left me feeling less considerate of my husbands feelings. Moving beyond surface issues and to the root helps eliminate selfishness. This is where bargaining can become a great asset in marriage. Letting our husbands know that we would love to be more supportive of their sexual desires, work and business ventures but need some help around the house, can make a difference.

I usually let my husband know if he gives our son a bath, then I will have more time to help edit his graduate school research papers. This usually turns out to be a win-win for both of us and my husband feels like I have been supportive of his college endeavors.

3. Know When to Say No

As wives we want to be supportive but there are certain things that require a "NO!" When my husband's business started taking away from the household instead of adding to it, I made the decision to close the business. I was the owner but he was in charge of running the business. I could not support my kids not having a college savings because dad wanted to pursue his personal dreams. At times our husbands will not like when we disagree with their decisions but as a wife and mother who ultimately has to be a Proverbs 31 wife, we must ensure our husbands feel safe and have nothing to worry about. This means we must occasionally walk in our authority as women and say, NO.

As we prepare for a great week with our spouses, consider the importance of being supportive and how it can take our marriage from average to excellent. Taking the time to ask our husbands what is needed, removing selfishness and knowing when to say no, will help our marriages grow stronger.