A Wife's Powerful Influence, with Dr. Juli Slattery & Linda DillowInviting His Strength
Leslie Basham: How can a wife speak to her husband respectfully yet still bring up problems and issues that need resolved? Here’s Juli Slattery.
Juli Slattery: When your husband begins to trust that you have his best interests, that you’re his biggest cheerleader, that you’re on his team, he also begins to be able to accept some words from a teammate. There are some words that are encouraging some days, but also words like, “There’s something here that’s really bothering me. There’s an issue that we need to discuss.”
Leslie: This is Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss for Friday, January 25.
Nancy’s on day three of a series called “A Wife’s Powerful Influence.”
Nancy Leigh DeMoss: Well, I’ve so been enjoying the conversation we’ve been having on Revive Our Hearts with my friends, Linda Dillow and Juli Slattery. If you missed the first two days of the series, you’ll want to go back to ReviveOurHearts.com and pick those up. You can read the transcript; you can listen to the audio; you can download it. Especially if you’re a wife, you’ll want to hear this conversation. It’s been so good.
Thank you, Juli and Linda, not only for being wise women, but for sharing and illustrating out of your own walk with the Lord and your own marriage. I’ve appreciated it so much. So welcome back to Revive Our Hearts.
Linda Dillow: Thanks, Nancy. It’s good to be back.
Nancy: We’ve been talking about this whole issue of respect, and I thought we were going to spend one day on this—wives showing respect for husbands—but there’s been so much to unpack here, so we’re back at it again today. We challenged women on the last program to take a 30-Day Husband Encouragement Challenge. If you’ve not done that, I hope you will, and be sure and contact us here at Revive Our Hearts. We have a special husband encouragement journal that you can use over thirty days as you seek to affirm and appreciate your husband.
But I want to back up to this whole thing of why respect is such a need for men. I’m not sure as women that we fully get that or that we resonate with that. Juli, help us out here.
Juli: I don’t think we really get it either. I think most women go through life assuming that their husbands are basically like them, and when your husband might react to something that you say, you’re like, “Well, why is he so sensitive about that?” or “I wouldn’t react that way.” And God has designed men and women differently, not just physically but also emotionally.
One thing that I’ve learned in working with marriages and talking to men and asking them questions about their marriages that really helped me understand my own husband was men have such a struggle with the issue of competence. I don’t think this is something that most women can relate to.
Nancy: You’re not saying that men are incompetent.
Juli: No! But the question is always there. I can remember me with one man who I knew and really respected. He was quite a bit older than I was. He and his wife came to me for counseling. He was a very respected leader in the community, successful at work, successful just athletically. He was a leader in the church. When we began talking about his marriage, he said something that caught me off-guard. He said, “Every day I feel like I’m one decision away from failing.”
Now, I’m looking at this guy going, “You failing? I mean, you’re so respected.” But he verbalized what I think a lot of men feel but they don’t know how to say: “Every day I wake up, and I feel like I’m one decision away from losing my wife’s vote of confidence. I feel like I’m one day away from being exposed as a fraud.”
Women don’t have that same vulnerability. We have different vulnerabilities. But when you understand that your husband wakes up every day with this question in mind: “Am I good enough? Does my wife believe in me? Am I going to prove to be a loser to her today, or am I going to prove to be her hero?” That’s a driving force of who he is as a man. All of a sudden you start to see God’s teaching to you as a wife to respect your husband in a different light.
It’s not arbitrary. It’s because he’s waking up with that question every day. He needs to know no matter what he does, no matter how he might make a mistake here or there, no matter how insecure he feels, he has a wife who consistently says, “I believe in you. I believe in who you are.” That makes all the difference in the world.
Nancy: I want to come back—and this is the third day in a row we’ve hit on this illustration. If you didn’t catch it, go back and listen to the two previous days.
Juli: We’re going back to the cleaning.
Nancy: We’re going back, Juli, to your story. Thank you for sharing this because it’s given us a lot of fodder. Early in your marriage you guys agreed that you were going to clean your town home. You were going to clean upstairs; he was going to clean downstairs. You did your part; he didn’t do his part. You were taking it much more seriously than he was, but you got yourself all in a knot about it, and your attitude was—God showed you that your attitude was wrong, and you were self-righteous and angry and whatever.
But I want to go back to that and say it still begs the question—he didn’t clean his part of the town home; he wasn’t carrying his weight—when we say that a wife is supposed to respect her husband, is she supposed to respect irresponsible behavior? Is she just enabling? I think wives are afraid of this. If I show respect to him, then he’s not going to realize areas where he needs to change.
Nancy: So do you just let him get away with murder? And by saying this about wives toward husbands, I’m sure if a man’s listening, it could sound like women never do anything wrong—which we’re not suggesting at all. But are you enabling irresponsibility by showing respect to your mate if there’s behavior that isn’t respectable?
Juli: That’s the million dollar question right there.
Nancy: But what could she have done? What could you have done? How could you have accomplished the objective?
Juli: That’s funny—because I shared that illustration at a conference I was speaking at recently and just went on with the story of what I was trying to teach, and this lady comes up to me afterwards and she’s like, “I have to ask you: How did you get him to clean the town house from there on out?”
So there’s this pressing question of: “How do we solve this?” And there is this dilemma then of: "If I become the overbearing woman who’s saying, 'You didn’t clean your part. Why didn’t you do this?'" That’s wrong. But on the other hand, it’s also wrong to, as you said, enable your husband and just look at: “Okay, whatever he does, I have to put up with. I can’t confront him on anything.”
A couple of days ago, Nancy, we talked about three needs that a husband has. We’ve spent a lot of time on the respect need, but the second need that we talked about very briefly was that he also needs a companion. He needs a teammate, a helpmate. And this doesn’t just mean someone to do life with. It does mean that companionship of sharing life together, but also there’s something in a companion or a teammate that brings that iron sharpening iron, that brings that accountability.
So I have learned that in my relationship with my husband, the respect that I give him builds a bridge. It’s like one plank after another plank after another plank. You can only walk on the bridge as much as you build. And once you begin building that bridge of his trust, like it says in Proverbs 31, “The heart of her husband trusts her,” when your husband begins to trust that you have his best interests, that you’re his biggest cheerleader, that you’re on his team, he also begins to be able to accept some words from a teammate. Some words that are encouraging some days, but also words like, “There’s something here that’s really bothering me. There’s an issue that we need to discuss.”
So in that illustration of the town house, how I would have handled that differently now, how I do handle situations like that differently? First of all, you have to make sure that you’ve been building that bridge of respect and that bridge of encouragement so that your husband doesn’t think that you’ve got the honey-do list, and you’re just watching out for where he’s making mistakes, but that most of your words are affirming, your attitude is encouraging.
But then when that time comes, you don’t do it out of a spirit of anger, but I would have let that whole day pass of me cleaning my part and his not cleaning his without saying, “When are you going to do it? Why haven’t you done your part? Why haven’t you cleaned the condo?” But probably the next day say. . .
Nancy: And you wouldn’t have done it for him.
Juli: No, I wouldn’t have done it for him.
Nancy: Which is what you did.
Juli: I did. I would not have done it for him.
Nancy: Because this is something—for those of you who didn’t hear—was something you had agreed together that you were going to do that weekend.
Juli: Right. And I took his part. I just took care of it for him and was angry about it. But I, the next day, would have said, “Hon, there’s something we need to talk about. It’s bothering me that you didn’t clean your part. That makes me feel like you didn’t do what you said you would do.” And let him respond to that.
Now, there’s a real difference—and this is the key of understanding your power—it’s the same power that I have as a wife, but am I going to use that power in a way that really puts me in a position of criticizing my husband, of actually becoming his mom and nagging him?
Nancy: His mom or his Holy Spirit.
Juli: Absolutely, yes. Or am I going to use that power in a way that draws out the hero in him?
Linda: I liked what you said, Juli, about building the bridge of respect, and just in little ways over many months and years to have that be a part of your relationship. Because then you can come and say, “There’s something I need to talk to you about.”
Nancy: So you’ve created a climate, an environment where he feels not threatened but safe.
Linda: Yes. Nancy, as we’ve been talking, I can see Ephesians 5 in my mind. I can remember looking at it and looking at it because this is about the commands to the husband and the wife. The husband is commanded to love his wife as his own body and to love his wife as Christ loved the church. And there are no conditions there.
It doesn’t say to my husband, “Okay, Jody, if Linda is the perfect Proverbs 31 woman, then you’re to love her as Christ loved the church.” It just says love her.
Nancy: And how hurtful it would be to you if he said, “I’m only going to love you when you’re loveable.”
Linda: In the same way, in that passage a wife is told to be submissive and to respect her husband. There are no conditions there. It doesn’t say, “If he is as godly as Billy Graham; if he always cleans the town house, then you respect him.”
God just says to me, “Linda, respect your husband.”
Yes, there are times in marriage when you don’t see a lot to respect. So that’s when you go back to Philippians 4 and say, “Okay, if there is any excellence, then I’m going to find something to respect him for because I want to keep building that bridge.”
Juli: There’s a story from my background that really taught me this. I was fortunate enough to grow up in a home watching a mom who really got this, who was a very strong woman married to a very strong man. She showed me through her actions how to use her power in a biblical way.
I remember being about maybe twenty-four or twenty-five going on a walk with my dad. And he out of the blue just said to me, “Juli, do you know what one of the greatest gifts I’ve ever received was?”
I said, “No.”
And he said, “Your mom gave me the gift of my children’s love.” Nancy, I have five siblings—there’s six of us—and he said, “When you guys were little, I was so busy—traveling a lot, building my business. I really didn’t know how to be a good dad. I wasn’t around very much. And your mom could have really criticized me. She could have said, ‘Your dad doesn’t really care. He’s not here very much.’ But instead of doing that, she chose to paint me in such a good picture. I mean, she would always tell you guys, ‘Your dad loves you so much. He’s providing for you.’”
And he said, “Now I realize, by her words, she painted such a picture that all six of my kids love me and respect me.”
Juli: And I got it! When he described out of a husband’s and a father’s mouth that it was the power of my mom to either make him look like a hero or make him look like a deficient father and husband, I started to understand that I have that same power in my husband’s life and in my children’s lives.
The way I respond when he walks through the door, the way I respond when he makes a mistake, or his sin might be exposed to the kids, or we get in a conflict; how I respond is a conscious choice of the picture that I’m painting of the relationship I’m building. Will my boys say, “I want to be like my dad”? Or will they only be able to see his weakness? Every wife has that power whether she’s conscious of it or not.
Linda: Nancy, I want to encourage the wives listening who, when they hear Juli tell her story, have the reaction I do: “Oh, wow! I wish I grew up in a home like that.” I know both of you grew up in godly homes with parents who loved the Lord and loved one another. I grew up with a wonderful mother and an abusive alcoholic father. None of us knew Christ as our Savior. My parents’ marriage, because of my father’s continual abuse, ended in divorce.
So Juli and I come from very different backgrounds, but God has been able to teach both of us and to humble us and really showed us how to respect our husbands, how to be a companion to him, and how to use our powers.
So I just want to encourage those listening, if you came from a background like mine, God can teach you, too, because He taught me.
Nancy: You can start a whole new family line.
Nancy: One of grace rather than dysfunction.
Nancy: There is hope for that starting with your own relationship with the Lord, and then how that impacts your marriage.
Now, even in the best of marriages, as we’ve been saying, there are differences. There are different styles, different strengths. There are weaknesses. There are different parenting philosophies.
Juli, as we talked about in the last program, I had the chance to have dinner in your home with your family. You’ve got three sons, and seeing the differences in you and your husband, I can image that there are some differences in how you approach parenting your kids. At points that has to sometimes make it difficult to show respect.
Juli: Yes, it does. This has been one of those issues that has been a point of conflict for me and Mike throughout the years. He grew up in a very different home than I did, different values, different personalities of just the home as a matter of fact. So when we come to issues like: At what age do the boys get cell phones? Can they see this movie or not? How important are grades? We have extremely different perspectives.
Of course, as Dr. Juli Slattery, the clinical psychologist, I always think that my perspective is right.
Nancy: You teach parenting after all.
Juli: I do! And I could pull that card out and say. . .
Linda: You have pulled that card out!
Juli: I just pulled it out now! But the Lord has shown me that I could have all the right credentials and even the research and the expertise and still my kids need their dad’s perspective. There are times where I look back at it, and I’m like, “He really was right there. I was over-reacting to this issue or that issue.”
Nancy: They need to see that you value Mike’s perspective.
Juli: Right! That’s a really big key there. I have found myself getting so hung up on one issue, whether Michael can go see this move or not, for example. I read the reviews of the movie, and there’s this language, and there’s this area that I’m concerned about, but Mike says, “No, I think I want to take him and talk through some of these issues.” I can get so hung up on that one decision, and in trying to get what I think is right in that one decision, I destroy something so much bigger.
I destroy my marriage. I destroy my kids’ view of my husband. I destroy how they see me respecting my husband. I destroy the confidence that my children have in the oneness that they need to see between mom and dad.
I have found so many times that a wife can get so hung up—even if she’s right on an issue—on, “I have to get my way on that issue. I have to prove that I’m right”—that she destroys something that she’s been building for ten years in one day because she has to get her way, she has to have the last word.
When the Lord started to show me the bigger picture of how I’m communicating and what the dynamic is, and the fact that I’m trying to build a marriage and a man and build three boys; rather than get this one thing right, it changed how I approached some of these issues that we disagree on.
Nancy: There’s somebody sitting there thinking, “Yikes. You’ve just talked about me. I’ve destroyed and not in just one day but over ten years I’ve destroyed our oneness, my marriage, my children. I’ve been that negative, disrespectful wife.” Maybe their eyes have been opened as we’ve been having this conversation over the last few days. So how do you start to rebuild?
Linda: First you ask for forgiveness. You humble yourself and say, “God’s really helped me to understand some things that I didn’t see clearly before. I realize that I’ve been tearing you down instead of building you up. I’ve just made some real wrong choices toward you in our marriage. I want you to know I’ve been wrong. I want to ask you to forgive me. I want to be different. I probably won’t change overnight, so will you pray for me? And will you be patient because I want to become the wife to you that God wants me to be?”
Nancy: And realizing that’s impossible apart from God’s grace and the power of the Holy Spirit.
Nancy: If you try your own makeover. . .
Linda: That won’t work.
Nancy: It won’t work. You don’t have the strength to do that.
Juli: There’s so much power in what you just said, Linda. And for the woman listening who is feeling that conviction, I would just say, “Don’t wait.”
Juli: I remember speaking on this topic a couple years ago. Sometimes your eyes just clue in on one woman even if there are hundreds in the audience. There was this one woman sitting there with her arms crossed and kind of a scowl on her face. I just thought, “Man, I’m really not getting through to this woman. She’s really upset with what I’m saying.” I saw her get up and leave in the middle of the talk. I thought, “Wow. I just turned her off. She just ran out.”
I had the opportunity to talk to this lady a day or two later. She told me that the Holy Spirit was convicting her so much as she was listening that she had to get up that moment and just call her husband and sob about the way she’d been using her power. She responded in that moment.
If you don’t respond today, if you say, “Oh, I’m going to take some time to think about this,” and you ignore the conviction of God in your life today, you’re missing the opportunity for Him to do some amazing things.
I just encourage you to take that step, as difficult as it is, to humble yourself before the Lord and before your husband and just see what God’s going to do with that.
Linda: I’ve had women say to me, Juli, “Our relationship is so bad. It’s so negative. If I even started to say something like that to him and tell him I was wrong, he would just come right back at me.”
And I said, “Well then, why don’t you write it to him and give it to him and let him have time to think about it and then talk about it?”
She got this big grin on her face and said, “I can do that! I can do that!”
There’s always a step we can take.
Nancy: I think God is speaking to women’s hearts right now, bringing that conviction of His Spirit. Let’s just join our hearts and pray for those women. Linda, would you lead us and pray that this will be a turning point in the hearts of women towards their husbands, toward the Lord—and that doesn’t mean overnight everything will change—but it does mean there will be a new course set, a new direction of respecting husbands in a way that meets their needs and builds intimacy and oneness in that marriage?
Let’s pray together, and Linda, lead us if you would.
Linda: I would love to.
My Father, I know that I have had to humble myself before You and admit that I have used my words wrongly, that I’ve been prideful. I just want to bring before You the dear wife who is listening right now and who feels the conviction of the Holy Spirit and who says, “I want to stop saying, ‘God, change him!’ and I’m ready to say, ‘Lord, will You please change me?’”
Lord, would You speak to her heart? Would You show her how to humble herself before You and before her husband and to go to her husband and just say, “I want to be who God wants me to be to you”?
Lord, would You speak personally to every woman listening who needs Your encouragement today?
I just thank You that You are a God who transforms marriage, that You are for marriage, and that You are for every marriage of every person listening to this broadcast. I thank You that You will give them, by the power of Your Holy Spirit, the strength and the courage they need today. So I thank You for that, in Your wonderful name, amen.
Leslie: That’s Linda Dillow. She and Juli Slattery have been talking with Nancy Leigh DeMoss about how wives can respect their husbands even in imperfect situations. To hear the whole conversation, order the CD series, “A Wife’s Powerful Influence.” You can order it at ReviveOurHearts.com.
I hope you’ll take the first step in creating a different kind of home by taking a 30-day challenge. You can read more about that challenge in the booklet, 30 Days of Encouraging Your Husband. The booklet gives you thirty ideas of ways you can respect him. Let me tell you about one of hundreds of women who have written to tell us how this challenge has affected them:
One woman said,
I’m taking the challenge in a hard time of my life and marriage. The challenge is providing me with what I need to invest in my relationship and family. Since I’m in trouble, I’ve received a lot of bad advice. So many people have told me my problem is my husband. It would be easy to believe those voices. Instead, I thank God who put 30 Days of Encouraging Your Husband in my path. It’s perfect timing. It’s helping me believe in my marriage and family again.
We’ve seen God use this challenge to transform marriages like this one over and over again. We’d like to send you the booklet, 30 Days of Encouraging Your Husband. When you support Revive Our Hearts with a gift of any size, ask for it when you call 1-800-569-5959, or visit ReviveOurHearts.com.
Well, everybody needs encouragement, not just husbands. Next week Nancy will show you why encouraging others is so important. She’ll show you practical ways to build others up. Please be back for Revive Our Hearts.
Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss is an outreach of Life Action Ministries.
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