Why Marriage Groups Can Turn into “Let’s Rag on My Husband’s Flaws Publicly”

When writing the Proverbs 31 woman study series and book, I was blown away by how wonderful and inspiring this ancient archetype’s love for her husband is described.  Each tiny verse gave way to pages and pages of studying all over the Bible – we found verses that coincided with the words and meanings to give us a much richer, deeper view of the tapestry of her life and actions.  I’ve honestly never studied something so fascinating and relatable to my life right now, what I’m trying to be and do for our family.  The women who were studying along with it who gave me valuable feedback experienced those same feelings as well.

Again… it is mind-blowing how deep this tiny passage of scriptures goes when it comes to how women (Christian women) should be loving our husbands.  It is so clear that this model is what we’re supposed to be living up to, even though I believe it takes time and maturity, as well as maintaining a close relationship with God so that the power of the Holy Spirit directs you in the way you should go.

But make no mistake, there is a reason why the Bible describes this kind of wife as a rare treasure.  It’s just not common at all to develop your wifely-ness (is that a word?) to that degree!  And when you try, you’re labeled a hypocrite, Pharisee for holding other women up to a standard people will say YOU can’t keep, a “shill,” and be extremely harshly criticized for even daring to talk about a woman’s journey to be more virtuous.

The harsh criticism doesn’t matter, ultimately you will be creating a marriage that is heavenly in experience, and achieving a degree of excellence in how you love your husband that affects people in real life. ❤  In fact, one of the best chapters that dove into truly explaining the depth of your heart toward your husband, in all things, was chapter 4, “His Wife is Overflowing with Goodness.”  In that chapter, it was revealed to me through my husband’s and God’s direction, that the Greek work for “goodness” in the Bible, which is “Agathosune,” literally means, “virtue equipped at every point.”  

It is not the kind of “goodness” described in the English language, I found out.  It is a MUCH deeper, much more like Jesus kind of “goodness.”  Agathosune is described as aggressive goodness, but when applied to our husbands, it must be tempered with submission to his will, and gentleness, and huge doses of respect and adoration for him as your husband.  But an example of agathosune in other relationships (not authority/submission relationships), is that it calls others out on their sin and destructive ways.  It is the very “goodness” Jesus displayed when he overthrew the tables of the merchants in the Temple, and chased them out with a whip, whipping their backs as they rushed out in terror.  I found when writing this chapter back then, that there is no English equivalent to describe that kind of virtue.

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Now, all that said, the reason for writing this post came from remembering my time in different marriage groups – both in person and through online groups where only the wives were present.  I’ll never forget our first experience in a marriage group.  It was only 2 weeks after our wedding (4 weeks after our secret marriage where we did it in court), and there we were with our fresh, baby faces so excited to meet other couples who wanted to pursue God in their marriages and learn to love each other better.

But that’s not at all what we found in that church marriage group.

We sadly saw tons of conflict, negative remarks the wives would make about their husbands – with him sitting right there!!!!  And husbands making cutting remarks back in defense because she just humiliated him in front of practical strangers!  Lord have mercy it was eye-opening and depressing.  We were so naive… and even though I’d spent YEARS listening to Dr. Laura’s awful female callers berate their husbands (and she slam them with hard, cold truth 😀 ) I actually believed that Christian women would somehow know better.

But they don’t 😦  At least not yet.  That’s why in large part, I started this blog to reach out to friends and family who had never heard or realized you create the marriage you want.

BETRAYAL that Regularly Happens in Marriage Groups:

  • An attitude that displays your open disrespect for your husband.  I’ve seen women just freely talk about their husbands’ flaws and bad habits.
  • Using negative words to describe your husband’s character to other women in the group (or men if it’s co-ed like many church marriage groups are).  Words like “selfish,” “unkind,” “lazy,” “fat,” are not words you should use when describing your husband to other people – it’s just obviously not respectful of him.  I’ve seen Christian women do this very easily, and then agree with other wives (who gladly chime in to point out his failings) that their husbands are “selfish,” or “lazy.” One good example of this was when a wife was complaining to the group of 100’s of women online, that her husband loved to sleep late especially when on vacation with their family.  When he would allow her to sleep in, he’d feel tired later on, and she’d feel guilty for even asking him.  I watched other wives immediately chime in with remarks that their EX-husbands used to mistreat them like that, and that he was lazy and being selfish and not a good father!  Something like this probably shouldn’t be talked about in a group setting. There are so many ways to better deal with things like that, rather than allowing other wives, of all things, to persuade you that your husband is “mis-treating you” with his “selfishness.”  What if it’s not really selfishness?  What if it’s a misunderstanding and he’s just not aware of what you need or want?  What if he’s ok with feeling a little more tired if it means he was kind to you in allowing you to sleep in once a week?  Surely there can be a compromise between you two, without destroying his reputation among other people who don’t know him (or you).  Even if something IS selfishness on his part, what good is going to come from letting a group or even 100’s of women online, know you think so little of him and his character?  Just unwise… all around.
  • Talking about your husband’s bad habits… not protecting his reputation from people or strangers.  Giving away free negative information about your husband to perfect strangers online is kind of the definition of foolishness.  There are ALL kinds of verses that talk about the Fool – speaking too soon before they have all the information necessary (slander), using specific proverbs like a drunk person (talking out of place and misapplying Bible verses), not seeing danger ahead and taking cover, but instead plunging right into it.  It would stink to be the husband of a foolish wife who regularly betrays him by talking too much about his failings.  If there’s anything the Proverbs 31 wife would never do, it’s paint her husband in a negative light.  Protecting his reputation and character is one of her basic priorities and a huge part of loving him and being good to him.  Remember, he has an important position in society and sits at the city gates (and praises her ❤ so romantic)!  How does the foolish wife return the favor of a husband who praises her in public?  By revealing his secrets and struggles to people in marriage groups or through their blogs/social media accounts.

 

Bottom line, I think marriage groups can be great and foster wonderful, life-long friendships even, but through our 10 years of being almost always a part of one (or multiple if you count the online groups I’ve been in), the chances of betrayal are WAY higher in groups like this unless they are moderated very well (and sometimes harshly in putting an end to a wife discussing things that should be worked out between only her and her husband).

THE GOLDEN RULE:

DO UNTO OTHERS AS YOU’D HAVE OTHERS DO UNTO YOU

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If you want someone to treat you with respect (or protect your reputation), maybe you should consider how you treat others first.  I believe that observing that one rule is what leads to true humility, and honoring others as better than yourself.  Also, be slow to speak, and quick to listen.  And when it comes to your husband, the man you’ve made vows to and are supposed to adore, being good to him, also means protecting him and his reputation (it’s virtue equipped at every opportunity, remember?).

So join in positive marriage groups, but don’t use them foolishly.  Be a good wife to your husband, and protect him always.

Stephanie

 

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They Will Be Known for Their Love

The past few months, maybe even this past year, has been quite a journey for me spiritually.  I’ve been convicted, in August/September of this year, of not focusing on what God wanted me to focus on, of continually getting too easily distracted, or using the time God’s given me unwisely or at the very least, not maximizing its potential to do what I should be doing for Him.  Since that time, I’ve implemented many changes in my life.  It’s been such an amazing, beautiful journey.

And since I was starting a basic journal, almost a daily diary of sorts, to track my emotions/moods as I knew I was grieving a loss and wanted it not to unknowingly affect me, I now have pages and pages of lessons learned, prayers prayed, scriptures and sermon notes, spiritual growth moments, and acknowledgments of gratitude almost every night.  I recently looked back in my prayers from a couple of months ago, and found that I had asked God if He would teach me how to appropriately respond to people who insult, provoke, or mock my words, or my ministry.

And when I read that prayer, I realized with joy that He’s answered me in this!  Our God is such a faithful God.

Yesterday, at my sweet, wonderful, I-can’t-say-enough-great-things-about-them women’s Bible study, we were discussing how our failures to be all God wants us to be can either define us, and hinder our growth, or be used to refine us, and develop us into better Christians.

By taking me through this journey this past year, even in my failings and shortcomings, my own lack of discernment in responding to sinful or evil people in ways that weren’t helpful, God’s been using my weaknesses to refine me.  It’s amazing to have a physical journal with all of the notes in it that follow this growth path to grace and more wisdom.

I worried too much about what other people thought, when they misunderstood my motives or even accused me of having terrible motives that I knew were not true, I wanted to correct them and show them they weren’t acting godly.  I hated seeing injustice continue, with no one being brave or godly enough to call it out.  I didn’t trust or understand that God didn’t want me being worried about all these things.  That even focusing my attention on them was derailing my purpose and not doing what God wants, it wasn’t submitting to God.  Caring too much about the verdict of what others thought about my ministry, or me, or my life became way too high a priority, above pursuing God and what HE wanted for me.

But He used ALL these things, my failures in responding correctly, my seeing people I trusted use and twist my words I said to them, my seeing people actually lie about what I said to fit their agenda – my trying and failing to intervene on my own behalf – all this was useless, and yet useful in teaching me the goal of His lesson.

To not be afraid.  To trust in Him.

When it was all too much, and I prayed that He would just make it stop, He clearly spoke to me in my spirit saying

“My grace is sufficient for you, even in this.”

There are some trials that He will not immediately deliver us from because He has a very specific lesson for us to learn in them, and so sometimes he keeps us in a position that’s painful, or leaves a thorn in our side, so that we can be refined in the pain of it.

I realized I was reacting in Fear.  Fear of not being approved of by everyone.  Fear of being written about negatively and having other people turn away from me.  Fear of being mocked or insulted and having others influence or ruin my reputation.

I’m not defined by how I responded poorly at times, instead, He’s used it to teach me better ways – His own ways.  I’m excited in that I’ve now had opportunities to put these new ways into practice, making Him pleased with how I’m choosing to respond now.  It’s making me into a more graceful, fearless woman.

It’s making me into a more peaceful woman – I didn’t realize that all my striving to defend my own reputation, or correct misunderstandings, or confront mockers, or go to others to get them to see my “side” wasn’t pursuing peace.  I thought I WAS pursuing peace in trying to make everything better, trying to influence women who mock to be better themselves.  I didn’t realize that this wasn’t done using God’s power, and that it only negatively influenced my own spirit.

What makes a woman truly beautiful?

God wants women to have a gentle, peaceful, fearless spirit.  Or in His own Word, 1 Peter 3:1-6

“A peaceful gentle spirit… that does not give way to fear.”

When I choose to respond slowly, with godly wisdom and assurance, when I first go to Him and ask Him “How should I respond to this, if at all God?”  I please my Father in Heaven with submitting to Him.

Submitting to Him is acknowledging that He is in control.  I am not.  And when I try to control all these outcomes, I’m sending Him the message that I don’t want to obey Him, that I don’t trust Him to do what’s right, that I don’t think He’s enough.  I had NO idea I was disrespecting God Himself like this, but it truly has been quite a journey.

I’ll post again on some more things I’ve learned over this year, thank you for reading!!