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Fabulous Family Friday–The Second R of Relationships

Friday, February 4th, 2011

I left off my “3 Rs” series last fall, so I thought I’d pick it up again!

The second R of Relationships is your relationship to your husband.

Your first relationship, of course, is that to the Lord.  If that relationship is not in place, then all other relationships will not flow as well.  We need to have our hearts in tune to Him first before we deal on the earthly plane with other people!  I remember one Bible study showing a triangle–the closer we get to God individually, the closer we will get to each other.

The dynamics of your relationship to your husband are very important for the smooth working of your relationship to your children as well as to others outside your home.

The Bible is very clear on our roles as women.  What muddies the waters is our interpretation of those Scriptures!

Let me preface the rest of my post by saying I am not talking about extremes here.  I’m not talking about abusive situations, but the average Christian marriage.  Even if you became a Christian after your marriage, the things I am going to share are for you, too.

Also before anyone gets a burr in their saddle (as the word “submission” seems to be like waving a red flag before a raging bull!), I also am not addressing men. Therefore, I am leaving their parts of the Scriptures alone. And so should you!  Your husband does not need a personal unholy spirit or attitude trying to hold him to “his” part.

When I write in a card for a wedding, I write “The key to a happy and successful marriage is to focus on your responsibility and your spouse’s needs.”    That takes care of 95% of most problems!  Too often we want to focus on HIS responsibility and MY needs!  :o

The paradox of God’s ways are that we give up our lives to save them.  Too often, we’re trying to save our life, our rights, and then we wonder why true satisfaction and joy elude us.

Do you really know how to love your husband?  I’m sure you have all read or heard about love languages.  It is something my husband and I realized before we knew there was a book called The Five Love Languages!  This was about 15 years ago when we made the discovery.

You can be saying “I love you” in a lot of different ways, but if you are missing the main way your husband feels loved, then you are not being a good student of your husband.  I have a laid back “Mr. Steady”, as Mrs. Pearl calls one of the three types of husbands.   He is not very demanding at all, but he is also hard to read.  I had to learn to be quiet and really listen to hear his heart. Too many times we think we know what they are saying and thinking, but really we are just projecting our wants and needs and thoughts into what they are saying!

Many men don’t come right out and give you the power point presentation and syllabus when it comes to their goals and likes and dislikes!   Mine was no exception!  Now me, I like those “methods” and boxes to check off….but that is NOT what a relationship is all about!  Remember that in your other 2 R’s of relationships!  God and your children don’t appreciate being something on your to-do list, either!

Sixteen and a half years ago God started dealing with me about my heart attitude.  I was generally submissive….but God sees on the heart.   He saw that many times, my heart attitude was not one of submitting cheerfully and trusting Him with the results.  Too many times I was fearfully trying to maintain control and manipulate things my way!  [ouch!]

The first book God used in this journey to true-heart submission was Elisabeth Elliot’s “Keep a Quiet Heart“.    As I read that and a personal note from the lady who gave it to me, I realized I still had too many expectations on my husband.   For those of us who weren’t trained and raised with a mindset of keeping ourselves for just one, both physically and emotionally, we filled our minds and hearts with all the romantic “sweep you off your feet” and “happily ever after” stories, that conveniently ended with the wedding!  The real work comes after the wedding! 

And what most princesses don’t realize is that after the shining knight or Prince Charming has won her heart and taken her home to his castle, he can’t just sit and adore her loveliness.  He has to go back out to battle, slaying dragons, overseeing his kingdom.    In our vernacular, that’s going to work, paying the bills, and keeping up on car and house repairs!

Not quite the glamorous tale we wove as foolish young girls! 

We marry with expectations a mile long.  We expect this one, mortal man, wonderful as he may be, to be our father, mother, siblings, friends–everything that everyone else was to us all rolled up in one person.

No human being can be all that.  No one. 

You can only find your deepest heart expectations met in One:

“My soul,wait thou only upon God; for my expectation is from Him.”

                                                                                                          ~Psalm 62:5

I call this my “life verse”!   God had started teaching me this lesson when I was a student overseas.  But I would say I had only barely gotten the kindergarten level before I got married!

The more a young lady can let God be everything to her before marriage, the better she will adjust and be able to allow Him to after the wedding. And the better her relationship to her husband will be–because she will not expect from him what only God can give!

Another booklet she sent to me was Looking Unto Jesus.  It is a powerful little booklet!  I used to read a little portion each day.  Thinking of this post reminded me of it, and I haven’t done that for a long time.  Time to get it out again!

I can’t stress this enough–if you cannot give all your expectations to God, you will always be disappointed.  Your husband (and children!) will never be able to do enough to make you happy or feel loved.  In fact, expectations are the #1 enemy of gratefulness.

Gratefulness is the “oil of joy” that keeps relationships fresh and alive!

An “attitude of gratitude” is probably THE #1 beauty secret, too!   It can make the plainest of us quite attractive!

If you think about it, most affairs start with just that– a wife or husband full of expectations, an it’s-about-time-you-did-that attitude, then there’s a very-grateful-other-person at work or church or wherever.  The very-grateful-other-person seems so much more attractive to the one feeling they can never be good enough to the expectations-minded spouse.   Unfortunately that is a mirage as when one leaves their spouse for the very-grateful-other-person, they both have new expectations of each other! 

Why not give the expectations to God, and start focusing on gratefulness with your spouse? 

Nancy Leigh DeMoss had a powerful little booklet (well, anything by Nancy Leigh DeMoss is powerful! LOL!) called “Portrait of a Foolish Woman”.   I believe it’s now a part of a book called “Biblical Womanhood in the Home”.  You can read this chapter here.   On page 89 of that link, there is this statement:

She is also a married woman (though either single or married women may
fit the description). She is not satisfied with the mate God has provided
and has expectations and longings that her husband is not fulfilling
(see v. 19). Rather than looking to God to fulfill the deepest
needs and longings of her heart, she focuses on what she does not have
and looks to others to meet those needs. Rather than pouring love,

attention, and devotion upon her husband, she invests her heart,

energy, and efforts in another man.


Too often we will pour our efforts, our attention,  love and devotion into another person.  Oh, you might not be pining for another man, but what about busyness?  Or pouring yourself into your housework?  The children?  Homeschooling?  The computer?  [ouch!]


There are many ways we try to “escape” when God is using these very things to bring us closer to Him.  I believe it was Hudson Taylor who said it didn’t matter what the pressure was as much as where the pressure lie–see to it that it never lies between you and your Bridegroom King.


After four years of working on my “true heart submission”, I was blessed to attend a Revive Our Hearts conference by Nancy Leigh DeMoss.  I had a magazine article by her and thought she had a great way of helping Christians to ask questions that really helped them “get down to where the rubber meets the road.”  I had no idea she was doing conferences nor did I know much else about her.  As I attended this conference, “Lies Women Believe and the Truth that Sets Them Free”, I was so convicted!  I saw I still had many deceptive thought patterns I needed to allow God to correct, especially in my marriage.  And I would say that my husband and I had a pretty good marriage! (He would have told you the same! ;) )


She gave every attendee her little booklet, “A Biblical Portrait of Womanhood“.  This is a must-have, in my estimation.  My copy is soon to be 12 years old, the cover has come off, there are a few stains and some underlinings…but I am reluctant to get a new copy!   There are 28 statements with a Scripture in the first part followed by her always excellent self-examination questions.  In the second part are three areas:  Thoughts, Words and Actions that Build Up, or Tear Down.


In each of those sections is a statement of the positive on the left hand page, with its opposing statement on the right hand.

There are thirty-two statements and their opposites, just a little more than a month’s worth.  I double up on the last day.  I read a statement each day and ask myself if I honestly can say the positive describes me…..or its opposite!   I have done this for nearly twelve years now!


Can I just tell you how, out of those 33 statements, after 4 years of God working on my “true heart submission”…..I only passed FIVE?!


Thankfully, God is gracious, and as well as my husband!  :)  


I had posted a few weeks ago the importance of trusting God, letting go, and forgiving.  The first and foremost relationship that should be happening is in your marriage.  I have a post perking in my mind about grace—and I think we need to remember what God has forgiven us of, which will  make it easier to forgive the lesser things others do to us (in comparison to our sin against God).


I posted last Monday about the importance of a smile.    You will find it hard to smile if you are always thinking of what your husband doesn’t do for you!   This is an area we must give to God.  And….we need to treat our husbands just as we want them to treat us in our weaknesses and shortcomings!


Eleven years ago I was challenged by a speaker to start a gratefulness journal for my husband.   I told about it in this blog post a year ago.  I would encourage you to get a blank book and start your own gratefulness journal for your husband–and yes, especially write in it when you are frustrated with him!  It will help you keep your perspective! ;)


May I also admonish you to not expect your husband to act or think like a woman?!    That may seem obvious, but the way we talk about men often betrays our attitude that men are just so dense or they don’t get it, or “that’s a man for you!”   What did you marry?!


It is also not right for men to joke how women think or feel or express themselves, but again–I’m not addressing the men!    Be careful that “In the way I talk to and about men, I show their God-created worth and value”.  (From “A Biblical Portrait of Womanhood”, under statement #3).


Another author who is great about getting big concepts down where we live is Gary Thomas.  I have read several of his books and have been challenged by every one! But in a good way–not an overwhelming way.  You have to be ready to allow God to adjust your attitude when you read these books!


His book, Sacred Marriage, has a telling subtitle:  “What If God Designed Marriage to Make Us Holy More Than to Make Us Happy?”


I had gotten about half-way through it when busyness hit and now I feel I should start over!  I just restarted it, but it is very good and very much challenges you on your part.  Yes, he speaks to both partners, but as in Scripture or any other book on marriage, you must focus on the only person you are responsible to change—you.


Marriage, like ministry, like child raising, cuts across our flesh and is a tool that God uses to mold us into the child of God He created us to be.  Of course there are wonderful “side benefits” and it’s not all work and no play!  But the more we try to squeeze happiness out of our marriage, the more we’ll strangle the life out of it.


As I share my heart here, let me say that I do not think the husbands need to do nothing.   And sometimes a wife is caught in a difficult place of God working on her heart, but no seeming similar response from her husband.  Let me say it again–it is not your job to change him!  The more you try, the farther away you will get from realizing your dream of a happy, fulfilling marriage. 


You don’t get it by striving after it–you get it by soaking in His presence. 


I will have a list of books and resources that God has used to help me in my journey to be a better wife by being a better Daughter of the King, but I want to close my admonition to you by sharing what the dear, Godly woman who sent me my “Keep a Quiet Heart” shared with me.  I will tell you that this woman went through several years of her husband not being what he appeared to be on the outside.  He put up a front at church, but was cold and rejecting of her at home. He was a Christian, but he had given ground to the enemy. 


She is the one who told me if you don’t forgive a person before they come to ask for it, it will be difficult to restore the relationship, because you will have walls and resentments and grudges.  She chose to forgive her husband, to never speak unkindly of him, even though she felt she was dying inside.  (Let me hasten to add that there was no abuse in this situation.  Just cold neglect and rejection.)


Once she found the true source of joy, it didn’t matter what her husband did!  And thankfully, God did get hold of her husband, and their relationship was healed.   But I wonder if it would have been had she hung onto her hurts and bitterness?  If she hadn’t sunk her roots down deep into her Bridegroom King?


Here is her note to me:


Dear Trisch,


I hope these books are helpful in seeking the Lord with your whole heart.  Remember that Jesus Christ must be all your life, the Holy Spirit must be all your power and all else is nothing.  You cannot produce the fruit of the Spirit in your life–only He can. As you cultivate your love relationship with Jesus, His life will flow through you and out of your heart will flow “rivers of living water” to nourish and encourage your husband, children and all with whom you come in contact. Then you will be “dead” to yourself and “alive” to God. He alone will be your satisfation and your circumstances will never get you down.  They will just be another opportunity to glorify Hm by having right responses.


Love in Him,




I pray that this will encourage you to focus again on Relationship #1, so Relationship #2 can be all God intended it to be!


Blessings to you, my dear sisters!



A Biblical Portrait of Womanhood is available for download here.

Portrait of a Woman Used by God by Nancy Leigh DeMoss

~Available for download here.

Revive Our Hearts has two challenges that will help you encourage your husband, as well as choosing to be grateful (not just related to marriage).  You can sign up and you will get a daily e-mail with practical helps, or you can just print a download:

Encourage Your Husband

Growing in Gratitude

Praying for Your Husband


Sacred Marriage by Gary Thomas


Sacred Influence by Gary Thomas


Me, Obey Him?  by Elizabeth Rice Handford


Daughters of Sarah by Genevieve White


Why Should I Be the First to Change?  by Chuck and Nancy Missler


Created to Be His Help Meet by Debi Pearl


Laine’s Letters–if you haven’t found Laine yet, you are in for a treat!  I found her 11 years ago, at the dawn (literally!) of a new millenium.  I stayed up until 5 a.m. New Year’s Day morning just drinking in her wonderful writings!  Some particularly helpful letters are:


The Proverbs 31 Woman, part 2

The Proverbs 31 Woman, part 3   ( I have a print-out of these that I read over every month–mine are about falling apart, but they are like old friends!  I am reluctant to print a new copy off!)

There Is REST in Submission

REST: Remember

REST: Everything

REST: Service

REST: Time


Ann Voskamp had a wonderful post recently about our marriage relationship:

How to Fall in Love Again in Four Minutes A Day


Fabulous Family Friday–The First R of Relationships

Friday, July 23rd, 2010



I’m alternating between the 3Rs for my posts, in case you hadn’t noticed! ;)

This Friday, I want to address the first R of the “3Rs of Relationships”–your relationship with God.

All other relationships flow from this one–if it is out of whack, so will the others be!

Young mama or older, many children or a few, you cannot afford to skimp on this relationship.

“In Him we  live, and move,  and have our being…” Acts 17:28

Our Heavenly Father longs to have a relationship with us–that is why He created man and woman in the first place.   And that is why He sent His Son to die for us–to restore that relationship.

I have learned how much I need Him, and when I walk out into my day trying to make decisions on my own, it grieves Him.  It says, “I can handle this on my own, thankyouvermuch.” 

Of course, we don’t consciously think that!  But why else would we think we can make all our own decisions without the help of the One Who made us?

There are seasons, of course, when all you may be able to do is read a verse here and there, and offer prayers throughout your day, and a one hour quiet time (or even a 10 minute one!) seems like a luxury!

But that’s what it’s all about anyway–a lifting of our hearts to Him throughout the day.

Brother Lawrence, a monk from the 17th century,  has been an inspiration to me.  In his book, “The Practice of the Presence of God“, he said that he developed the practice of of God’s presence to the point that he was never more than 10 minutes without being aware of His presence!

And that was amidst cooking and cleaning in the kitchen (which were his main duties) and shopping for the food….hmmm….sounds kind of like home, doesn’t it?!

He actually said he felt God’s presence as much or more during his menial duties as when in the chapel or in silent mediation at prayer time.  

“Men invent means and methods of coming at God’s love, they learn rules and set up devices to remind them of that love, and it seems like a world of trouble to bring oneself into the consciousness of God’s presence. Yet it might be so simple. Is it not quicker and easier just to do our common business wholly for the love of him?”

Nancy Campbell is also an inspiration for mamas–especially young mamas of many!   She is one who encourages you to keep a Bible at the sink you can glance at and read a verse or two while doing dishes.  Or you could write out a verse or two on a 3X5 card and keep it taped up at the window (or cupboard) to read, memorize and meditate on while doing “kitchen duty” making your kitchen a haven and place of intimacy with Him–a place to “practice the presence of God”.

Nancy also shares in her devotionals and writings how she would often run to her room to kneel by her bed for a quick prayer when tempted to say something out of anger or frustration.  

Susanna Wesley threw her apron over her head in her busy household to let the children know mama needed a few moments with God!

Some of this comes down to training your little ones.  Even at an early age they can be trained to be still for a few moments, giving mama a few moments of spiritual nourishment.  Or you could share your “nourishment” with them–reading a Bible story or looking at a picture Bible together.  Instill in them early the desire to be in God’s Word. 

Often when we’re single, we’re used to having these wonderful “feasts” in the Word.   Even when young married, although you have new responsibilities, you may still be blessed to be feasting.   Then comes morning sickness, sleepless nights, fatigue, baby’s needs…..and if you’re not careful, you can let this part of your relationship go.

I’m not putting a guilt trip on anyone here!  I have been in places where I was barely keeping my head above water, and did not always keep this the priority it should have been.  I had too much an “all or nothin’ ” mentality, and that is not good!!!

There were times I posted Bible verses on the bathroom mirror and at the sink.  I would try to at least read a Psalm in the morning, and maybe the Proverb of the day later (naptime….before I drifted off, too! :) )

Looking to the Lord in prayer throughout the day can be a way you stay “in touch”, too.

I think the biggest enemy to our spiritual lives as busy mamas is the idea that it has to be a certain way.   Once you free yourself from that mentality, you can be open to creative ways to meet with the Lord.

In Proverbs 7, we have a picture of the “strange woman” finding ways to meet with her lover.  Proverbs 7:15 has a lesson for those of us wanting to meet with the Lord, “Therefore came I forth to meet thee, diligently to seek thy face, and I have found thee.”   I actually pray to the Lord that as part of my morning prayer before I open the Word!

How diligently do we seek Him?  There is a difference between being exhausted from sick kids that an SOS prayer is all you can do and that becoming the norm because you allow other things to be more important.

Only you can let the Lord gently probe your heart and see if this is just a crisis season, or if you are letting it become the way you relate to Him.

And if I may offer another area to examine–how much time do you spend reading other books?   “Good” fiction books, books about being a Godly wife and mother, homeschooling books…..or websites….blogs…..all can be wonderful reservoirs of ministry to you, or they could be a distraction from the One Who can minister all to you.

If you have time to check all your favorite blogs, facebook, twitter, etc., but you “don’t have time” to spend with the Bridegroom of your soul, it’s time to do some pruning!

He has SO much for us!  He speaks to my heart throughout the day, not just in the morning prayer closet!   But my heart must be tuned to His voice–through keeping short accounts with Him, cultivating a thankful heart to Him, and praising Him for everything that comes my way!   As the old hymn says, “Tune my heart to sing Thy grace“!

It’s wonderful to be able to read through your Bible on a plan, read 5 Psalms a day and 1 Proverb, pray through your list without interruption, but reality is, that is not what makes a relationship, any more than going over your to-do list with your husband and talking to him about the events of the day without interruption mades a relationship with him.   What you have with your husband that you have with no other man is intimacy. 

I love Webster’s 1828 Dictionary–the meanings are so rich!

Intimate–one to whom the thoughts of another are entrusted without reserve; to share together; to love entirely;

Intimately–closely, with nearness of friendship or alliance; closely, with close intermixture and union of parts, as two fluids intimately mixed

Our Creator, Sustainer, Shepherd, Savior and Father wants that same relationship with us.  There are times you just lie in your husband’s arms and cry, no words, just tears.   Your Heavenly Father also can be that strong arm and shoulder.   I have cried on His “shoulder” much these past few months since my mom’s death. 

There is something about shared, tender moments that knit our hearts like no amount of flowery words can.   Often my prayers are a silent adoring of Him, or a silent pouring of my aching heart out to Him. 

You cannot impart to your family what you do not have–you cannot impart to them “the joy of the Lord is your strength” (Nehemiah 8:10) if He is not your joy.

You cannot impart to them “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me” (Philippians 4:13) if you are not looking to Him for your strength.

You cannot teach them to “trust in the Lord with all thine heart, and lean not unto thine own understanding” (Proverbs 3:5) if you are looking to your own understanding and not His.

As in so many areas of life, you must be what you want them to be!   They will actually surpass you (oh, praise Him!), but they must see you humbly relying on His grace every single moment of the day.

In fact, I believe the most beautiful fragrance we can wear in His presence is the Fragrance of Humility.

Take a few moments when you arise to pour out your worship on His feet, and keep kissing His feet with your life as you go throughout your day.


Helps for my Quiet Time:

Bible :)

Blank  journal and pen

3X5 cards

Come Away My Beloved Devotional Journal

Make Haste My Beloved (or any Frances Roberts’ Books)