Secret to a Successful Marriage

This was the 2nd month at the regular MOPS meeting.  Pull up a chair and learn the secret to a great marriage!

Last month I told you a bit of my life, not something I share all the time, one because I really don’t want to talk about me, and two, I still struggle daily as well.   By sharing with you, I hope to be an encourager in your season of life, and I also hope to become strengthened in giving of myself.

This month I want to talk about something God has shown me and is continuing to grow in me and I am going to call it “the great secret to a glorious marriage.”  Are you ready for it?  No, not yet.  We are going to talk about our marriages today, not gossip, not telling ALL our struggles, not laying it all out there, bare, for all to see, and no, we are not going to talk about our husbands.  Oftentimes that is where our problems rise.  We like to “talk” about our problems, we think that is how to fix them, but in reality it may cause even more problems.  Another reason it is not a good thing to do this is because we as women tend to “feed off one another.”  We can be sharks, just be quiet when you get in a group and listen for a while.  You may be surprised by what you hear.  It only takes one lady to say something about what her husband did or didn’t do, and much of the time others around the table will pipe right in with, “well, let me tell you about what mine did, and can you believe he will not even take out the garbage or help with the kids, or wash the dishes, or take me out, and on and on we go.”  This is more detrimental to your marriage than almost anything else.  I know everyone is not like that, but we must be careful to not get caught up in this.  We ladies must guard our tongues; we must learn to have “a gentle and quiet spirit.” (1 Peter 3:4)  “Let it be the hidden person of the heart, with the imperishable quality of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is precious in the sight of God.”  Precious…wow, isn’t that what we want, what we should desire, to have and be precious in His sight?  God’s desire for us is to possess a deep unfading beauty that enhances our outward appearance and He calls us to nurture what is eternal and precious.

 There is a story about “One Ugly Hillbilly,” "I want to share with you:  A few years back, there was an overweight hillbilly woman who worked in the local store in our hometown.  Every time we went into the hardware store, several men would be standing around the counter talking to her, and they were always laughing.  We usually had to wade through the cheerful crowd and interrupt the gaiety to get served.  Her swarm of admirers reminded me of bees around the honey, buzzing with high interest.  The strange thing was that this woman was ugly, I mean hillbilly ugly, which is worse than regular ugly.  One day as we were leaving the store, I laughingly brought to my husband’s attention all those men standing around talking to the sales clerk.  His reply really surprised me, “O, you mean that cute little lady?”  Live and learn!  And apparently I really had something important to learn.  In his mind that lady was cute!  The truth is, she was not little, she was not cute, and she was not young.  But she did smile, laugh, and giggle, and she was always ready for a good clean joke.  I loved being in the store talking to her as much as the men did.  She was delightful.  A few weeks later, we saw her in the grocery store.  She was mad at her very obese daughter for grabbing a handful of candy.  Gone were the smiles, giggles, and radiance that had so captivated everyone at the hardware store.  In their place was a bitter, ugly snarl.  My husband remarked when we left the grocery store, “Haven’t we seen that woman somewhere before?”  She looks familiar, but I just can’t place her.”  When I told him who she was, he was stunned.  “No, it’s not possible; it just can’t be her.  The woman in the hardware store does not look like that.”  I could see the truth dawn on him, and he was so disappointed.  The funny thing was that the woman looked just like she always did.  She was the same size, same scraggly hairstyle, the same clothes style, the same everything she was when we saw her in the hardware store.  All she lacked was her glorious smile.  It was her most valuable asset.   Her face was always so radiant, her smile so infectious, her laughter so sweet, and her eyes so earnest that people simply saw her as cute.  I don’t know if she had a husband, but I am sure she could have had a dozen different men in that small town-as long as they never saw her in the grocery store, mad at her daughter. 

Everyone is drawn to a smile and wants to be a friend to someone overflowing with goodwill.  Men are highly attracted to smiles.  That includes your husband.  Do you want your husband to stay home more?  A merry heart and a mischievous giggle are good drawing cards.  “A joyful heart is good medicine, but a broken spirit dries up the bones.”  Prov. 17:22 You may not be an ugly hillbilly, but there are other kinds of ugly.  Women spend billions of dollars every year to make themselves more attractive, but the most effective beauty aid is free-a joyful smile."  (Created to be His Help Meet by Debi Pearl)  (Some will love this book, others will hate it, it's ok, but I have had several people tell me how it has saved their marriages.  I did like it.  You can take what will help you and make your marriage better.)

You have seen this in and around you, people who smile and are friendly are much more likable and lovable.  I have to admit I am NOT a good smiler, and I have to work hard to smile.  I like to laugh and have a good time but I am a more serious person, and if someone tells me to smile for a picture, oh, good gracious, it just does not work well.  The outcome is not good, my mother and I have the same issues when it comes to smiling and pictures but, right now we are talking about our husbands :).  Ask yourself, do you smile at him, do you give him a mischievous grin, do you laugh with him, and do you look across the sofa or the room with a wink and a smile?  One challenge I am giving you today is when your husband gets home smile at him.
(photo credit: pinterest)

Now I know you have little ones all around, but remember you are training those children God has given you.  Your job is to teach them everything.  So, when you smile or don’t smile you are teaching them how to respond to their father.  Now, we are finally getting to the real secret to a good, yes, even a great marriage and that is, are you ready?  RESPECT.  Respect, what is it and what does it have to with our marriages, and what does it have to do with our children? 

Respect is a feeling of deep admiration for someone or something; to honor or esteem; to show consideration for.  I told you before that I cannot separate why I do anything from God’s Word.  If I did not have that plumb line to go by I would not be speaking to you now, because then anything goes.  The absolute truth I have comes from hearing God speak to me through prayer, and through His Word.  So first, I want to encourage you if you do not have a real guide to why you do what you do, I encourage you to find that, to seek out the One who has all the answers and when you do, the blessings that flow are simply amazing!  Again, I was not told how to have a great marriage, and if I had been, knowing me then, I wouldn’t have listened, or at least not well.  I thought I knew it all, boy was I wrong!   I did not have anyone telling me the “secret” to a happy marriage.  I had great examples in my parents and grandparents, but the rest I had to wait for God to teach me, and He did, through some really tough times.  My desire is to help and encourage you on this path, so you will not have to go through as much as I did.

In Eph. 5:33 God’s Word says, “Nevertheless, each individual among you also is to love his own wife even as himself, and the wife must see to it that she respects her husband.”  We are going to skip the first part of that verse because that is not us, we are wives and who is the only person we can change?  Yes, ourselves.  Go ahead and learn now, just say it, you cannot and will not be able to change your husband.  The only One who can do that is God, through the work of His Holy Spirit.  So, part B of that verse says, “and the wife must see to it that she respects her husband.”  Ladies, there are no ifs, ands, or buts, in that verse.  It does not say to respect your husband IF he takes out the garbage, or IF he washes the dishes, or IF he takes the kids away so you can have some ME time.  It says MUST.  We MUST respect our husbands.  Whether or not our husbands obey the Word, our responsibilities do not change.  We are required to obey God by submitting to our own husbands.  (1 pet. 3:1-2) This makes us free to love our husbands and family without expectation.   Ladies, I can genuinely say, when you begin to do this, God may change your husband, or begin to.  There is a vicious cycle going on in our marriages, and it is, “if he would love me like I want or like I need, then I could respect him,” and he says, “If she would respect me then I could love her.”  We can put a stop to this cycle if you are willing to try.  Respect is at the top of what our husbands need, yes, along with sex, but that is for another time.  Your husband needs to know you respect him, you care for him, you love him, and when you do this, God is allowed to do mighty things in your marriage, and do you know why?  Because you allowed Him to work in your life and change you, that is the only person we can ever change, ourselves.  I do understand there are extenuating circumstances, but even then, He calls us to respect, NO matter what.  Now, of course, if he is doing anything illegal you absolutely do not participate in that, you go get help from the law or whomever, but Scripture is clear on what our actions are to be.  Honor and esteem him, show consideration for and have a deep admiration for him.  It may take time, but begin now, today when he comes home.  Don’t tell him what you are doing, just do it!  And wait…

Now, what does this have to do with you as a mother and your children?  It will determine if your children respect their father, and in turn, respect anyone in authority over them.  How you treat, react, and speak, teaches those little ones to do the same.  Your tone says A L O T.  Your eyes say a lot.  Sometimes our tones can say more than our words or actions ever could.  We need to guard our tongues; we need to strive for that imperishable quality of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is precious.  If you want your little boys and your little girls to respect their daddy, you MUST respect their daddy.  If he is not the man you wish he was, he doesn’t help like you want him to, maybe he is arrogant, prideful, and even hateful or mean, but I truly believe this because I believe Scripture, it STILL is your job to make sure they respect their father.  They will grow up and eventually they will know he is not perfect, and maybe even really bad, but when they grow up respecting him as you have taught, when they finally do realize who he really is, they will have a much greater respect for you as their mother, and in the end will be able to have a greater respect in all relationships.  Can you see how our respect for our husbands will set the tone for our children to have respect for others? 

So, I am going to challenge you today to go home and if you are not already respecting your husband, by honoring or esteeming him, please do so, show him some consideration and do it this week, no, do it this month, yes the entire month and I want to hear from you next month on what has transpired.  I know one person who it will change for certain, because it has already happened to me.  Ask how his day went, when you need to call for something tell him you love him, tell him “thank you for providing for our family.”  Tell him how much you are grateful for.  Now, if this is something new, don’t do it all at once, you don’t want to overwhelm him, it could wear off for YOU too fast.  Don’t let that be the case, but really focus on how to show him that you do love him and that you respect who he is and what he does.  Think back to before you were married or the 1st few years when you were head over heels and find something, anything, that you loved and tell him.  I promise it is good, it is very good. 

Ok, I feel like you are looking at me and thinking, I am way too tired to even think about how I can respect him much less show him.   I know, I really have been there, and no, I did not know this then, and yes, I have a wonderful man who is Mr. Steady, who when I was Mrs. Mean, he would do anything to keep me happy.  He is a servant, he will DO for me, that is not what I have always needed, but it is how he loves me.  I do understand that many of you may not have that, and I want to challenge you in desiring to obey God’s Word NO matter what.  Make this a priority, read a verse or 2 holding your baby, while you are nursing, when you are getting another book to read to your toddler AGAIN, read His Word to them and then read the book.  When you are playing cars, or baby dolls, the kitchen, or Legos, tell them how much you love their daddy, and tell them how much he does for them and that he loves them.  You, dear mother, have such power over your children which you have been entrusted with and you need to learn to use that power to further His Kingdom, to teach and to train them to be responsible, respectable children and in turn they will be, or grow up to be, responsible and respectable young ladies and young men.

I have 2 more challenges and I am going to make this as short as I can.  I want you along with finding ways to respect your husband; I want to challenge you to pray for your husband.  I want you to find something throughout your day that will remind you of your husband, and when it does, say a prayer for him.  I heard a story of a man who worked for a bucket truck company and the wife would use that as her reminder.  Whenever she and the children were driving and they saw a bucket truck she would say, “there’s a truck, who wants to pray for daddy?”  Not only did this remind her to pray for her husband, but it also taught her children to pray for their father.  Most of us have a wedding ring we wear; use that as a reminder.  Whenever you twirl it, or see it or get it caught on something, say a prayer for the man you married.  It may only be a sentence but prayer is so powerful.  James 5:16 says,” The effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much.”  Make sure your life is clean and pure before your Heavenly Father as well, because it is the prayers of a righteous man that can accomplish much.  That does not mean you are perfect, we can never be, but if we are holding on to known sins, unconfessed sins, our prayer life can be hindered.  Pray for forgiveness first, then for his safety, for leadership in his life, for the Holy Spirit to work, for temptations he may face (our men work with other women remember, he needs prayer), for his fears, for his health, for his trials, for his integrity, for a safe trip home.  If you don’t pray for him – who will?

My last challenge to you today is to be grateful for your husband.  I hope to expand more on this next month, but as you are learning to respect your husband, to listen to him, asking him about his day, washing his clothes, fixing dinner, say a thank you to him and for him.  We may have hurt feelings, and we may simply be mad at him because he doesn’t help out much.  I will tell you, he probably never will until you can give him the respect he desires, he needs, and God commands.  Your children will never learn to respect you, their father, or other adults until they see you exhibiting respect to the one person in your life and in theirs who so desperately needs it. 

My final comments and challenges, don’t be an ugly hillbilly woman, smile, and smile often, it says a lot; think about a gentle and quiet spirit, not obnoxious and overbearing; respect your husband, in ALL he does, do what he asks, and let your children see that, I promise you will be amazed; pray for the man you married, and be thankful, be ever grateful for all he DOES do.  Do not focus on the negative, let your children see your love and include them as you learn how to make your family one who focuses on the things of God and not the things of this world.

(photo credit: pinterest)

How do you show respect, love and gratitude to your husband?  Do your children see you?  Send me a comment and let me know, I'd love to hear your responses!

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Always Experiencing Him,

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