Tag Archives: women

7 ways Husbands Mess Up the Loving Things They Do For Their Wives


I love my wife. I want her to love me and think I am a great husband. Heck, I want to be the kind of husband that makes my wife feel loved, appreciated, and treasured. Further, I want her to look to me as a source of comfort, assurance, and joy. Achieving this means courting her throughout our marriage. Sitting around and wanting our marriage to grow stronger without putting forth effort is unrealistic. I also want to be faithful to God’s command that I love my wife like Jesus loved the church. This means serving her. Over and over Jesus taught that love is demonstrated through service. Over the course of 18 years of marriage, I have learned through trial and error (lots and lots of error) that simply doing things for her is a start, but it is not everything. There are all sorts of things I, and lots of husbands, do to mess up the good things we do for them. We men can be thick-headed in regards to relationships and often act stupidly in ways that mess up what we are trying to achieve. Figuring out the big pitfalls and avoiding them is a huge part of courting our wives. Here are a few I have done or have observed in others.

  • We remind her that we did them. This is pretty simple. Your wife probably noticed what you’ve done. If you cleaned the house, she noticed. If you did laundry, she noticed. If you do dishes, wash the dog, wash the car, play with the kids, do yard work, write love notes, buy flowers, or anything else… she probably noticed. If she didn’t, she isn’t that concerned about it or is too tired or busy to notice right now. Eventually, she will. The more you talk about the good things you do, the less impressed she is by your effort. No one is that impressed by folks who have to blow their own horn. Serve your wife and let her notice on her own. She will. You not playing it up for points will make your acts more meaningful.
  • img_0717We think it’s a bigger favor than it actually is. There are some things we do that seem like a big deal to us. These are things that she sees as something we should have been doing all along or something that isn’t that important to her. It makes more sense to understand what she is impressed by, wants you to do, or would be meaningful to her, and then do those things. It’s easy to figure out what to do. Just watching what she reacts to or just asking her will tell you most of what you need to know. Also, a single nice act is one thing and will likely be something she appreciates. However, a real impact can be made by putting effort into doing things for her regularly. There is a cumulative effect. A thousand small acts of service, performed over the course of months, will mean more than one huge one standing on its own.
  • We do things she doesn’t want us to do. My wife doesn’t like surprises and isn’t moved by gifts. I spent years planning huge, elaborate surprises and giving her gifts. Neither impressed her much. I thought I was doing all sorts of things to court her, but I hadn’t bothered to learn that she loves acts of service and words of affirmation. Those sorts of things mean a lot more to her. I did what I liked, not what she liked. The point is to meet her needs.
  • We expect sex in exchange. Guys, admit it. We sometimes do things for our wives because we want sex. We clean, serve, get flowers, etc. because we want sex. The problem is that if your loving gesture has an ulterior motive, she will see it as a manipulation. All your good will dissolve the moment she knows you are doing things for you, not for her. Your loving acts need to be about her. They need to be done because you love her. She is smart. She knows. In addition, if you’ve been doing your loving gestures with the expectation of sex as payment, there is a cumulative effect. You build mistrust. You may have to do better for a while before she believes that you are doing them because you love her.
  • We play martyr. If you do things for her and play up the hardship on you or your sacrifice in an effort to build additional good will, it backfires. Do things because you love her, show strength in the effort, don’t make a big deal about it, and be clear that you are doing what you are doing because you love her. In the end, this the reason we court our wives: we love them. That’s what makes acts of service so powerful.
  • img_0715We do it half-heartedly. Do the things you do for her as best you can do them. If you can, do them without her asking. Definitely do them without her having to nag you. Your effort and you thinking about her is what makes your actions meaningful. Don’t do a bad job and don’t procrastinate.
  • You fight with her. Don’t fight with her! If she comments on something you missed when you were cleaning or something you did wrong, don’t lash out. If she doesn’t acknowledge what you did immediately or show as much appreciation as you expect, don’t lash out. I know it’s easy to get frustrated or feel hurt or feel unappreciated. Don’t fight with her about it. Doing something for her and following it up with anger or hurtful words will do far more harm than good. Take a deep breath, take a walk, think it through, don’t approach her with unrealistic expectations, whatever it takes, don’t pick a fight.
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Where In the World is the Proverbs 31 Woman: Part 1 Understanding the Background

goodwifeguide-331x268Over the past few years, I’ve read several articles arguing varying perspectives on the ideal wife portrayed in Proverbs 31. Most of these articles have argued the matter in terms of whether or not this woman is a standard model for wives and women everywhere to aspire to be the best housewife possible in serving her 1950s family or an allegory for wisdom so as to remove the unattainable ideal that just serves to discourage women into standardized gender roles. I’ll admit that these characterizations are hyperbole, but I am exaggerating the extreme sides of this debate for a reason: because this text has become a bit of a tug-o-war passage for folks in the battle over the role of women in the church. Each side pulling for a gender political stance and taking pride in their position, sometimes without bothering to ask whether or not they are glorifying Christ in their stance. My intent in this post is not to engage either of these positions, but rather to offer an analysis of the text with an eye on shedding a little light as to what believers are actually supposed to do with these passages.

Preliminary Issues: Genre, Audience, and Context
In advance of the discussion, there are a few important concepts that need to be understood as a lens through which we must look in interpreting the passage. The first is the genre of literature being discussed. Wisdom literature, and more specifically the proverb, is a specific genre that needs to be understood on its own terms. Reading Proverbs isn’t like reading the instruction manual for your toaster. It’s a highly defined style of writing, featuring multiple sub-genres. In this case, it’s important to recognize that the text is presenting an idealized truth. It is the same throughout the book. This idealized truth must be understood as such. It’s easy to recognize this when comparing the book to other wisdom texts. For example, read Proverbs straight through, then read Ecclesiastes or Job. All three are wisdom literature, but the three texts offer very different perspectives on the world. In Job, the righteous man loses everything and suffers despite being blameless. In fact, Job’s friends seem to reflect a position that might be supported by the book of Proverbs: If bad things are happening to you, you must have acted wickedly. In Ecclesiastes, Solomon declares some hard realities that seem to stand at odds with the more idealized book of Proverbs. There seems to be a contradiction between the books. However, this contradiction is pressing only if we rigidly look at the proverbs as absolute statements of truth or rules for the universe, instead of recognizing that ideals are being presented. To this end, it is important to recognize that this is an idealized version of women, a target to aspire to. It is not a list of hard and fast rules for wives. Rather, it is an ideal.

Further, the passage itself is Hebrew poem, written with a structure that gives hints as to what the main point is. For starters, each line of the text begins with a different letter of the Hebrew alphabet, which points to the completeness of the truth being presented. Acrostics could also be used to aid in memorization. This is important because the book is intended to be instructional material for young men. Easy memorization would be a desirable feature. In addition, the poem itself has a Chiastic structure. This is when the first and last line parallel each other, the second and second to last line parallel each other, and so forth. The middle line of the poem, which has no parallel, is the major point being made. In this case verse 23 is the center of the poem:Her husband is known in the gates when he sits among the elders of the land. Essentially, the poem culminates in the instruction that a man with a good wife will be lauded publicly. A modern equivalent would be: “Behind every successful man stands a strong woman.” This may seem like a back-handed treatment of women, saying that their only purpose is to make their husbands successful, but this isn’t the case because wives aren’t the target audience of this text.

When interpreting scripture, understanding the target audience intended by the author is valuable for understanding the message being presented. In the case of the book of Proverbs, the target audience is young men. Throughout the book, young men are addressed in the instructions. In fact, chapter 31 is advice given to King Lemuel by his mother. In this context, the advice being given to sons in the chapter is essentially that picking a good wife will aid in you becoming the kind of man that folks esteem highly. This is hardly unique in the text. 25:24 warns: Better to live on a corner of the roof than share a house with a quarrelsome wife. What sort of wife should you seek? One that you don’t fight with constantly, or you’ll hit a point where you’d rather sleep on the roof than with her. Chapter 5 is loaded with advice for young men regarding loose sexual morals. Young men are instructed to avoid such behavior and keep their sexuality confined to the relationship with their wives. In this light, the passage fits the larger context of the book’s tendency to offer advice to young men about ideal truths. This is most evident in verse 30: Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised. Young men tend to gravitate to a pretty face when selecting a wife, while ignoring more important qualities, like character. The advice being offered is heavily oriented toward young men’s inclinations. Again, the audience is important because it reveals a truth that is often ignored by those who attempt to interpret the text in terms of gender roles: chapter 31 is never intended to be used as an instruction manual for wives. It is not a checklist for being the ideal wife. Rather, it is advice for sons to look for certain qualities in their wives if they want to be successful and well thought of. That having been said, there are truths that can be gleaned and applied for wives, but more on that later.

1f63a8228ad74caec641eaecef106871Understanding the historic context is also important for getting a solid grip on the meaning of the passage. The advice being offered isn’t being given in a culture where people typically married for love. Marriage was generally a very utilitarian institution. Wives were selected based on all sorts of considerations, most of them pragmatic. The poem is literally about choosing a wife according to high character standards. This choosing was more akin to shopping than our culture tends to immediately recognize.

In the next installment, we’ll look at the most important background issue: How to interpret what King Lemuel’s mom was saying. Is it symbolic of something else? Is it a guide for being a perfect housewife? Is it a call to return to the 50s? Or is it something better that all believers can take hold of with joy?
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A Romantic Dinner for 3? 5 Strategies for When the Kids Decide to Join Date Night

titus dnnerFriday, my wife and I had planned a stay-at-home date night. I grilled steaks, lit candles, and planned out our activities for the evening. That was when the baby started crying. He is 16-months old and has the sharpest radar for detecting parental enjoyment of any child that I have ever encountered. A diaper change and a bottle of milk later, and my beloved son was back in bed screaming like a banshee. My kids share a room, which means that all that screaming was libel to wake the preschooler. After a brief discussion, my wife and I agreed that the best course of action was to get our boy out of bed. He then joined us for date night. Mind you, this was not 30 minutes of our alone time. Several attempts to put him down for sleep ended in failure. He managed to stay through almost 3 hours of our date night. So, what happens when the kids just won’t let you have alone time?

Plan ahead. Perhaps the best way to make sure that you don’t have any pint-sized guests to your stay-at-home date night is to make sure they are worn out. Take the kids to the park, run them around in the yard, play with them, chase them around, skip or shorten their nap, and whatever else needs to happen to wear them out so they go to sleep. Planning is the key to avoiding the loved, but unwelcome dinner guest.

Maintain the regular routine. Children respond well to routine. Establishing a bedtime routine and sticking to it will help train them to go to sleep when the time comes. Think of it in terms of Pavlov and his dogs. He rang a bell when he fed them. Eventually, the dogs learned to associate the bell with feeding. The same principle works with children. Brushing teeth, reading stories, singing songs, going potty, and saying prayers are a good set of bed time activities that can serve as cues for the child to go to sleep. Because kids usually can’t tell time, this training can be effective even if bedtime is moved up an hour or two. Stick with the routine and your odds of smoother bedtime is more likely.

Plan to stay up late. With children who have a tougher time going to bed, it may be necessary to plan late nights for dates. You can do this on Fridays, especially if neither of you are getting up in the morning.  You can go to bed earlier the previous evening or  nap during the day. This may require some give from one or both partners, but time together, alone is vital to relationship health. Later date nights are an easy solution.

Make the best of it. Sure adding a kid to the mix throws off the romance of a candlelit dinner and makes cuddling through a movie nearly impossible. It definitely throws cold water on many of the sorts of plans husbands and wives usually make for evenings alone. It’s not ideal, but generally even the most stubborn children go to sleep eventually. As frustrating as an awake child is, working your way through the situation with the best attitude possible is sometimes your only option. The worst thing you can do is get frustrated, angry, resentful, or upset. A foul mood is far more toxic to intimacy than a child. Make the best of it. Eat dinner, watch your movie, play a game, skip or shorten naps, or do whatever it is you need to do until your precious child goes to sleep.

Don’t give up. It’s easy to get frustrated. If one night doesn’t work, perhaps the next night will. It is crummy when a fancy dessert or surprise roses are deployed on a non-date night, but it’s important to work together and put frustrations aside. Dating is important to the relationship and needs to be pursued for the good of the relationship and the kids.
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Tools In the Marital Toolbox: The Heart Alignment Tool

Years ago, I was replacing the clutch on my car. After removing the old clutch, I went to a high end transmission shop, where the guy at the counter explained that though they had the part, they did not have the alignment tool that normally clutch toolcomes with it. I had never replaced a clutch and had no idea how important the tool was, so I said “no problem” and was on my way. I discovered that it actually was a problem when I attempted to put the engine back into the car with the misaligned clutch. The engine simply would not fit the transmission. I tried several improvised fixes, but had no success. Finally, I pulled off the clutch and went back to the shop, where a different guy was now at the counter. He looked at the clutch and stated firmly that they didn’t sell the alignment tools separately and that the part was not returnable because I had attempted installation. After some arguing and effort, I realized I wasn’t going to make any progress. I then turned to the internet and discover that no one was selling my alignment tool. Finally, after days of working on the problem, I took the engine to the dealer and paid an hour’s worth of labor to a technician, who spent 3 minutes aligning my part. The little plastic alignment tool, that seemed so unimportant at the time, was vital to properly installing my clutch. Without the tool, the engine, which produces power, simply couldn’t connect to the transmission, which transfers power to the tires.

There is a similar problem in many marriages. Both members of the partnership have specific ideas as to how things ought to be, heart alignmentbut struggle with making the ideal version in their head transfer into relationship reality. They want to communicate without arguing, agree on financial decisions, experience perfect harmony in their physical relationship, and find that spark of excitement that was present when they first started dating. The problem arises when the idea as to how marriage ought to be fails to translate into forward and harmonious movement in the relationship. This misalignment is a product of the fallen nature, which inclines us toward self-centeredness. If you take a look at Paul’s description of love in 1 Corinthians 13, you will find the antithesis of the sinful inclination of man. It’s natural for people to struggle with making their behavior match their convictions. Paul describes this struggle in Romans 7,

I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing.

Our sinful flesh inclines us away from right and toward sin. It’s no coincidence that Paul talks about a perfect version of love in the context of spiritual gifts, because the love he describes is impossible for us to live out. It is a product of the Holy Spirit’s intervention.
One tool in the marital toolbox is similar to the one I was missing when the time arose for me to align my clutch. The great heart alignment tool available to believers is the intervention of the Spirit, aiding us toward Christlike action. As we submit our lives to Christ and learn to obey His teachings, the Holy Spirit produces new attitudes and behavior in our lives. If we simply try to obey a set of standards, apart from new life in Christ, we will find ourselves mired in legalism, which is ultimately impossible to maintain for the long haul. Ultimately, this will produce the same sort of results that my improvised alignment tools produced. The tool that was designed to fit my car is the only one that could successfully line up my engine and transmission.

The misalignment of heart and actions in the marital context is best illustrated by the responses of husbands to Paul’s teaching in Philippians 5:25-27

Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish. In the same way husbands should love their wives as their own bodies.

When reading this passage with men, I find that they often get hung up on talk of wives obeying, which is addressed in the preceding verse. They complain that their wife doesn’t obey them, and they harbor resentment because of it. This is a product of a misalignment of heart with the heart of Christ, specifically because they aren’t looking at the passages that apply to them. They are only looking at what they are owed. Husbands bear the responsibility of loving their wives asclick here tools Christ loved the church. This literally means that husbands should be willing to give everything for their wives and take on the role of servant. He ought to lead his family spiritually, not only in words, but also in action. The job of a husband is to align their attitude and behavior with that of Jesus. When she offends him, he forgives. He is patient, selfless, kind, and forgiving. When things are not as they ought to be, he guides through love and sacrifice. We do not see Christ demanding that He be served. The tool that helps us to align our hearts with his, and then our actions with our heart is the Holy Spirit. Prayer, confession, accountability, devotion to the Word, and obedience is our side of the equation. The Spirit convicts and changes us as we strive toward holiness. Without the Spirit, we simply cannot manage this on our own.

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Raising a Real World Superhero Part 3: Training Young Men to Respect Women

 Over the last few weeks, you can hardly turn on a news program without coming across an opinion piece or news story about Ray Rice, the professional football player whose career has been ruined after a video surfaced of him punching his fiancee. Having seen the clip, I can’t fathom how anyone can call it anything but reprehensible. As the larger culture debates what sort of action should be taken and whether or not the league acted appropriately, fathers need to take the opportunity to talk with our IMG_2208sons and educate them as to how God calls them to act toward women. In a culture that is increasingly hostile to the dignity of women, treating them as sex objects, humiliating them in pop culture, or glorifying their mistreatment; it is vital that we make our stance clear and stand firm on the matter. Raising a young man into a superhero requires more than just teaching him to carry a football; it involves teaching him to act with integrity toward women, whether that woman is his wife, sister, date, neighbor, or a stranger.

There are all sorts of biblical passages that describe the importance of men protecting women and treating them with a special degree of gentleness. The prophet Malachi offers a strong statement on the subject when he writes:
“The man who hates and divorces his wife,” says the LORD, the God of Israel, “does violence to the one he should protect,” says the LORD Almighty. So be on your guard, and do not be unfaithful.
Malachi 2:16
In the ancient world, women who were divorced were put in a difficult situation, IMG_2279as remarriage was difficult and there were limited employment and property ownership rights. This resulted in poverty, indentured servitude, or prostitution as the only options for women who did not have a husband. God’s declaration of anger toward men who do not love and take care of their spouse is no small matter. God expected men to care, protect, and provide for their wives. Further, the act of abandoning her is described as an act of great violence. The message seems clear, violence against your wife isn’t okay. Even more so, husbands are expected to not only to abstain from violence toward wives, God considers not taking care of them as being on par with violence. Men are to treat women with an extra measure of gentleness and protection.

Another powerful verse that is worth considering is found in Peter’s comments on how various groups ought to act. Interestingly, Peter’s list offers special concern to groups who were less powerful and more likely to be oppressed. His instruction to men is sometimes misread:
Husbands, in the same way be considerate as you live with your wives, and treat them with respect as the weaker partner and as heirs with you of the gracious gift of life, so that nothing will hinder your prayers.
1 Peter 3:7
It’s easy to see the phrase “weaker partner” and assume that it’s a condescending statement. What Peter means here is that women are typically physically smaller and not as physically strong. Peter’s wording refers to loving, considerate, and gentle treatment of the wife. This is based on the reality that the husband is physically capable of hurting his wife. Peter’s direction is for Christian men to be gentle. Peter also points out that women are heirs of eternity, in the same way that men are. This puts women and men on equal footing before God. As such, they are to be treated as equals in all other respects.

A final passage worth considering is from the Sermon on the Mount. Jesus specifically directs His followers not to look at women lustfully, because in doing so, he commits adultery in his heart. This passage explicitly teaches that men are to remain sexually pure in their thought lives. However, it is reasonable to read the passage as also teaching that treating women as sex objects is not acceptable.

Raising a young man, one who stands apart as a hero to those around him, requires that he learn to treat women right. It is vital that the fathers persistently talk to their sons about God’s directions for us to treat women gently and with respect. Sons need to be taught that they are supposed to physically protect women, as isclick here their responsibility before God. Treating a woman roughly or violently is totally apart from God’s direction for them. Further, God repeatedly describes Himself as a protector of those who are most exploitable. This is an example Christian men are to emulate. We should not engage in any activity that treats women with less dignity than is afforded to God’s beloved creation. This is foundational for raising a young man to be a real world superhero. Beyond teaching them, fathers must model the behavior in their relationship with their wife and the women around them. Boys learn to be men by watching their fathers and the other strong male figures in their lives. A father must model right behavior to raise a superhero son.
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