A Hurting Couple Finds True Hope, with LeRoy & Kimberly WagnerRestoring Broken Relationships
Leslie Basham: Kim Wagner says a wife can confront a husband and still be respectful.
Kim Wagner: You are obeying God and bringing the confrontation and speaking truth to your husband in love, but then only the Holy Spirit can step into his heart and bring that conviction and bring that change.
Leslie: This is Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss for Friday, September 14.
Nancy Leigh DeMoss: Over the past four days, Kim and LeRoy Wagner have been showing us how a hurting couple can find true hope through Christ. I’m moved by the huge response that we have gotten to this story. So many women have written to us saying, “My situation is just like Kim’s. I’ve not been respecting my husband. I’m asking the Lord to change my heart.”
Many women have also written to tell us about their very difficult, messy situations, asking for advice and for prayer. Today, Kim is going to respond to some of these real-world, tough questions. I think you’ll be encouraged as Kim points us to the Word of God and then draws upon her own journey as well to help us know how to apply God’s Truth to some of these difficult situations.
Leslie: Nancy, let’s start with Pat. She wrote to Kim and Revive Our Hearts and said,
Help! I feel like I’m drowning in my marriage with my spouse. I need to change and I know I cannot do it without the Lord. Help me, God. I know I’ve affected my children that God has given me and my heart is so breaking.
Here’s Kim’s encouragement to this listener and to anyone else crying out to God for their marriage.
Kim: Pat, when I hear you say, “Help, I feel like I’m drowning in my marriage with my spouse,” I understand exactly where you are. I remember so well the darkness, the pain, the isolation I felt. I kept crying out to God to change my husband, to step into this marriage, to help me find whatever key that I needed in order to bring back love and unity between LeRoy and I. But your statement here that you followed up with, Pat, where you said, “I need to change. And I know I cannot do it without Him.” And you have capitalized Him. You said, “Without God. Help me, God.”
That’s really where it starts, Pat. We cannot change our husbands. Only the Holy Spirit can do that. But we are responsible for our reaction to our husbands, our treatment of them. I am just so thankful that God is willing and able to change us. It doesn’t always happen this way, but I have seen over and over and over again that when a woman humbles herself before God first and goes to His Word, finds her identity in Christ and says, “Lord, I am broken and needy. I need You to change me. I need You to love my husband through me.” God begins to do a work in your heart.
He did that in my heart. I thought, “LeRoy is all the problem. He’s the problem.” And then God began to show me that He wanted to start with working in my heart first. As I responded to God, it took a little while, it took some time, but LeRoy began responding to these changes that he saw in me. And what I didn’t know at the time is he had been praying for years for God to change me.
He was really shaken by the fact that he felt like, “God is not even answering my prayers for my wife.” And he began struggling with, “God, are You even there?” So, we don’t know where our husbands are often in all of this. We are just focused on our own pain, our own isolation. But you might be surprised that your husband may feel like he’s drowning as well.
I want to encourage you to go to God. I want to encourage you to begin asking God, “How do you want me to change? What does that look like? How can I effectively love my husband well? And give me the grace to do that because I can’t do that on my own.”
Leslie: That’s Kim Wagner, author of the book, Fierce Women: The Power of a Soft Warrior. Earlier this week, she and her husband LeRoy shared their story of a desperate marriage that God had restored. While Kim had shared her story, a lot of listeners wrote to tell us of their struggles and many involved addictive behaviors.
For instance, Cindy wrote to Revive Our Hearts and said,
Like, Kim, I had a heart turn through the teaching on Revive Our Hearts. There’s been a remarkable change in my husband, but he’s not saved. It’s been twenty-five years of being unequally yoked. There are areas that rear their ugly head at times. One big one is the issue of alcohol and marijuana use which has been defended and passed down to our grown children. It’s a wedge between us because he wants the freedom to do these things in our home and with our children. So at family gatherings, there can be tension with everyone wanting to drink but knowing how I feel about it.
Well, Kim offers advice for any woman who needs to approach her husband about ongoing sinful behavior.
Kim: I had a lady in tears this week share with me that she took the Revive Our Hearts 30-Day Husband Encouragement Challenge. In the midst of taking this 30-day challenge, she walked in on her husband as he was viewing pornography. And many of you are experiencing the pain, the rejection you feel because of that, the true violation that is to your sacred bond with your husband. And I want to say to you, for wives that are aware that your husband is involved in gross immorality, your husbands are in sin, you do have recourse.
I want to first of all address those whose husbands claim to be believers. Now, your husband may claim to be a believer, and you don’t necessarily know his heart whether he truly is or not. But first of all, let’s just talk about those whose husbands are believers.
I’m thankful that Scripture gives us the instruction in Galatians 6:1 that we are to go to our brother if we see him caught in sin. When I think about that, that verse is really encouraging us to have compassion because of our compassion, because of our concern and care for a brother who is trapped. He is caught in something that keeps tripping him up.
But our compassion does not mean that we leave him there and say, “I am so sorry." Or to say, “Yes, you can keep beating me up," or "Yes, you can continue in your sin.” Scripture never recommends or counsels us to do anything that would enable our husband to continue in his sin. No, true love is coming alongside that brother as Galatians 6 tells us, Matthew 18 gives you some direction for that, and Proverbs 27. I just feel like it makes it so clear in the verses.
Proverbs 27:5 says, “Better is open rebuke than love that is concealed.” You know what? He’s your brother in Christ. You need to go to him in love because you care so much about his relationship with God being restored. You go to him. And Proverbs 27:6 says, “Faithful are the wounds of a friend.” You’re that friend. It may be tough and hard to come alongside him and say, “Honey, I’ve recognized this pattern of behavior in you. I want you to know I love you.” And to come alongside your husband to confront him in his sin.
Let me first of all say I have a principle that I share with ladies called the HALT principle. Before you are going to have a discussion that could tend to be emotional, confrontational, run through your mind this principle. The HALT principle says “If I’m hungry, angry, lonely or tired, it’s probably better to wait to have this conversation.” Proverbs 27:5-6 is a great go-to verse. I wrote it down and put it on my mirror for a while just to remind me this is a principle I need to learn and practice.
A process of biblical confrontation or going to your husband to talk about his sin, a habitual lifestyle of sin is that before you ever do that, please spend some time just seeking the Lord in prayer, asking Him for direction. Ask Him for timing. Timing is so important.
I remember in the early days of our marriage, when I would get hurt or offended, possibly early in the day, I would hold on to that until about ten o’clock, ten-thirty at night. I’d decide to let my husband know what really was hurting me when all throughout the day he might say, “Are you all right? Is everything okay?” And of course I would respond to him with that normal wifely “Fine. Yes, it’s okay.” And at that point, he didn’t want to ask any more. But ten, ten-thirty, I would let him know what was really wrong. Then we stay up till two or two-thirty discussing it, and we wonder why he doesn’t want to talk to us. Timing is so important before confronting.
Please, be sure that your desire to confront is coming from a motivation to see him restored to God. It’s a love motivation. It’s not that you’re trying to fix your husband so that he’ll be more to your liking, or “Let’s fix this marriage, so I’m going to confront my husband.” But it is because you care about him. He’s been caught in a sin. He is in a destructive cycle, and you care enough that you are going to step in and you’re going to come alongside your brother and say, “Hey, I care about you. I love you. If you see something in my life that I’m trapped in, please come alongside me. I need you to do that for me.”
He will appreciate it if you begin coming to him, asking him questions like that, asking him to hold you accountable. He’s going to be more likely to receive then, when you come alongside him and say, “I need to talk to you about something that I’ve seen, something that I recognize.”
So, not only seek the Lord about timing in confrontation. Make sure that your desire stems from the motive of loving your husband. Also, search your own heart and see if you need to confess anything to him. See if there’s anything that you need to confess to God and your husband to be right with him before you ever go and confront your husband. You know that’s what Matthew 7 tells us to do.
Before talking to your husband about his pattern of sin or his addiction, you need to release unrealistic expectations and depend on the Holy Spirit to bring the conviction. You are obeying God in bringing the confrontation, in speaking truth to your husband in love, but then only the Holy Spirit can step into his heart and bring that conviction and bring that change. You’re to voice your concerns but then you leave it. You leave it with God.
Now, as you share your concerns with your husband, if you’re following the pattern that we find in Matthew 18:15-18, then you can just let your husband know that you’re bringing this to him out of your love and concern for him. You’re going to leave it with him, between him and God. And you can even share this with him, “Honey, I know that your heart’s desire is to obey God in this. I know that’s your desire, but if I continue to see this pattern and it seems like you may need more help with this, then out of love for you I’m going to need to go to our pastors.” Or maybe there’s a spiritually mature man in the church that your husband respects that you would let him know that, “I’ll be going to him and sharing this with him out of love and concern for you, because he may be able to be a help to you in this.”
Let me just insert this here. I encourage you to find an older godly couple. It is so helpful to find an older, godly couple in your church to come alongside you in your struggle. And you know what? You don’t have to announce to your husband, “We need an older, godly couple to help us.” One thing you can do is you start inviting that older godly couple over to your home for dinner and hang out with them.
It was such a help to my husband and I in our early years of marriage. We were in our twenties, and there was a couple that were in their early seventies that many Friday nights we would around the dinner table ask them questions about their courtship, about their early years, about resolving conflict, how God had preserved their marriage. If you don’t know an older, godly couple like that, start asking God to bring you in contact with a couple like that. Just hanging out with them will be invaluable to your marriage. Your husband doesn’t even have to know that’s a plan. That can be a plan you and God implement.
Now, as we’ve been talking about following the Matthew 18 principle and possibly you’ve found an older godly couple, if after you’ve confronted your husband over a specific area of sin, you see him continuing to be trapped by this destructive behavior, having that in place already could help you in following out the Matthew 18 principle when you get to the tough part of having to talk to someone about your husband’s sin if he continues in unrepentant sin.
If you are in a physically abusive situation, please, I urge you today, contact someone today. Contact someone in your church. You may have a local women’s crisis shelter. We have a Christian-based shelter in our area for women that I often counseled women to go there. You do not need to stay in a position of danger and harm and in a position that enables your husband to continue in his sin. So Matthew 18 gives you recourse for that. But remove yourself. Remove your children if they are in danger from a physically abusive situation.
Contact your church leadership. Contact an older godly woman. Contact someone today, please.
You’re not getting out of this situation planning the end the marriage, planning to never reconcile. You are getting out of the situation, first of all, because your husband needs to be helped. You are looking for resources that will help him, that will at some point hopefully bring resolution, will bring reconciliation, will bring transformation to your marriage, will bring wholeness to your husband.
I’ve found that hurting people hurt others. If you remain there you are enabling him to continue in this destructive lifestyle that is destructive for him as well as you. By removing yourself from the situation it is, in a sense, forcing him to face and deal with the fact that this is not normal, healthy, godly behavior. And something must be done. And it is for his good. And it is for God’s glory.
Leslie: That’s Kim Wagner, author of the book, Fierce Women: The Power of a Soft Warrior. She’s been offering advice to women on how to lovingly confront their husbands in a respectful way. Now as you consider whether you need to lovingly confront your husband, Kim adds a few more practical words.
Kim: There are usually two extremes. Women either are in fear, they don’t want to confront their husbands and they may be in a position of being abused even in some way. And then you have the other extreme. You have the woman who wants to confront her husband because he is not reading his Bible every day or not being as godly as she thinks he needs to be. So let me just say a word to you about biblical confrontation and what rises to the level that you even need to address an issue with your husband.
Let me just first of all say, Colossians 3 lists forbearance as a characteristic of a believer. Forbearance. You know what I call that? Overlooking a lot. Forbearance is letting go of a lot. There are things that are merely preferences. Your husband may prefer to go to bed at eight o’clock at night and you prefer to go to bed at midnight. Those are preferences. Your husband may have to have the remote in his hand, and you feel he is addicted to the sports channel. It is so important for us to remember that there are a lot of differences between the ways that men and women do things. And differences do not necessarily mean that one is right and one is wrong.
Ladies often ask me, “What do I do about my husband? He is so unspiritual.” And when I dig a little deeper, what I find out is it’s not that their husband is so unspiritual, it’s just their husband does not look just like they do in how they practice their spirituality. I can’t really give you a list, but what I can do is to encourage you to really investigate, “Is this thing that bothers you so much, is this a preference issue or is this something that your husband is clearly violating a Scriptural principle? And it’s continuing. Is it a lifestyle habit that he is clearly violating a Scriptural principle?” Then go to God and really seek God about it first. And again, seek God about how and when to bring about the confrontation.
Leslie: That’s Kim Wagner. She and her husband LeRoy shared their story earlier this week. Their marriage looked hopeless, yet God showed that He has the power to offer hope to any situation. We received a huge outpouring of listener letters and comments atReviveOurHearts.com during this story. And today, Kim has been responding to some of our listeners here on our program.
She is also responding to listeners today at the Revive Our Hearts listener blog. To add your comment or post a question for Kim, visit ReviveOurHearts.com. Scroll to the end of today’s transcript. There you can read listener comments and add your own. If you appreciate the biblical counsel Kim has been offering on the air, I hope you’ll learn more from her by getting a copy of her brand new book. Nancy Leigh DeMoss is here to tell you more about it.
Nancy: Kim’s personal story is so powerful. God has used it in the lives of countless women. So I’m really glad that she’s written this new book called, Fierce Women: The Power of a Soft Warrior. We’ve heard some of Kim’s story over the past few days, but when you read the book, you’ll get an even richer experience. Kim describes a destruction that a wife can bring to her home by the way she uses her words. She provides a lot of hope. She points wives to Christ for the power they need to encourage their husbands to be all God intended them to be.
Fierce Women is being released under the True Woman imprint from Moody Publishers. When you see the True Woman imprint, you can know that our team is saying that this book is biblical, and it will help you live out God’s calling on your life. Fierce Women is one of the first books in the True Woman imprint.
We’d be happy to send you a copy of this book when you make a donation of any amount to help support the ministry of Revive Our Hearts. To let us know what you’d like to give, just give us a call at 1-800-569-5959, or visit us online at ReviveOurHearts.com. And when you send your gift, be sure to ask for a copy of Kim’s book, Fierce Women: The Power of a Soft Warrior.
Leslie: Well on Monday, Kim Wagner will be back responding to listener feedback and offering practical suggestions for wives in tough marriages. Please be back for Revive Our Hearts.
Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss is an outreach of Life Action Ministries.Offers available only during the broadcast of the radio series.
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