Revive Our Hearts Podcast

God’s Beautiful Design for Women, Day 24

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Leslie Basham: Over the last couple of days, Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth has been showing us what Titus 2 says about encouraging our husbands. Today she’ll pick up that theme.

Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth: Your husband needs you to be his chief encourager. If you aren’t, it’s going to be more easy for him to be vulnerable to the deception of sin.

Leslie: A listener wrote to us about this topic and said:

I always get so frustrated at these programs. All that information is great if you have a husband who knows the Lord and is a Christian. What about those of us who live with a non-believer?

Yes, that’s a good question and it sounds like a tough situation. I’ll ask Nancy about this email after today’s teaching, here on Revive Our Hearts with Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth. She’s the author of Adorned: Living Out the Beauty of the Gospel Together. It’s Thursday, March 9, 2017.

Nancy: We’ve been talking about wives loving their husbands and I know we have a lot of listeners who are not married, are in a single season of life, widowed or divorced or never married.

I was just saying to somebody on one of our breaks here today that it’s easy when you realize how many different seasons of life we have represented in your audience to not touch on some of these subjects that relate more narrowly to one season of life. But I think that’s a trap we can fall into and don’t want to.

It’s important that we do take time to stop and talk about some of these marriage and family issues even if they don’t directly relate to where you may be at this season of life. We need to remember what God’s norm is and to strengthen the marriages of those around us and to do what we can. Even I try as a single woman to do what I can to encourage and strengthen the marriages of my friends.

So this is an important subject for us all. If your marriage is doing well, then that’s going to impact the whole body of Christ. If your marriage is not doing well, that’s going to impact the whole body of Christ.

Some of you maybe were married, now you’re divorced, and you’re saying it’s a little late to be having this conversation. Some of you have children who are coming up and sons and daughters and friends and there may be some things you could share out of what God has taught you in your life experience that will help preserve and protect other marriages.

Marriage is so core to the redemptive plan of God. That doesn’t mean if you’re not married that you’re a second class citizen, but it means that we need to do what we can to exalt the principles of godly marriage and to seek to build godly marriages within the body of Christ. So you may not feel like this relates directly to you, but if you’re part of the body of Christ, it does relate in some way.

There’s a verse in Proverbs 14, verse 1, that has always been challenging to me. It says, “A wise woman builds up her home, but a foolish one tears it down with her hands” (paraphrased). It’s not just true of our homes. It’s true of our relationships in general. The things we’re talking about apply, many of them, in other relationships as well.

At any given point in our relationships we’re either building them up or tearing them down. Would you agree that it’s a whole lot easier to tear down—to do demolition—than it is to build up? You can tear something down hardly even thinking about it. If you don’t do anything, the direction is going to be to tear it down. But you have to be intentional and purposeful and focused and prayerful as to how to build up your husband, your children, your family members.

So we want to talk in this session, as I mentioned in the last, about a challenge we have given to women over the years about how they can build up their husband and their marriage. It has to do with focusing on his praiseworthy qualities.

I think of that verse in Philippians chapter 4 that tells us what kinds of things we’re supposed to think about. I think for many of us it’s natural for us to think about things that are negative, to think about the bad, to think about problems and troubles and frustrations and to vent about those.

But Paul says in Philippians, “Whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things” (Phil. 4:8).

If you’re thinking about those things, then you can hardly be thinking about the negative things. Now that doesn’t mean you just have this Pollyanna view and you never face reality in life. But it’s saying look at the things that you can thank God for. Look at the things that are commendable and think about those things.

If you’re thinking about those qualities in your husband’s life that are commendable, then you may find yourself more often speaking about those things than having to point out the negatives.

Hebrews 3, verse 13, says we are to encourage one another daily. How often is that? That’s every day. One of the reasons, he says, is so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness.

Your husband needs you to be his chief encourager. If you aren’t, it’s going to be more easy for him to be vulnerable to the deception of sin.

First Thessalonians 5, verse 11, “encourage one another and build one other up.” Hebrews 10:25, “Let us encourage one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching” (NIV).

These are difficult days, difficult times. The Lord is coming back. Judgment is coming also. In light of things that are yet to come, you need to be doing what you can now in your family relationships and others as well to build them up, to prepare them for that day.

Proverbs 31 says of the virtuous wife in verse 12, “She does him [her husband] good, and not harm, all the days of her life.” This is something she’s always thinking about, always being intentional about. How can she do him good? One way she can surely do that is through the words of encouragement.

We read about that in verse 26 of Proverbs 31. “She opens her mouth with wisdom, and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue.” It’s a good measuring tool for the words that we speak. Are they kind and are they wise? Not just words you speak to people outside your home, but the ones you speak to people inside your home as well.

Proverbs 19 talks to us about the opposite of that. “A quarrelsome wife is like a constant dripping” (NIV), a real nuisance. Proverbs 21, verse 9, “It’s better to live on the corner of a roof than in a house shared with a contentious woman” (paraphrased).

Your husband may prefer to have a cot in the attic or to move out for that matter than to have a woman who is always harping, negative, and critical. You know what, I think a lot of us fall into that habit and don’t even realize that we have. That’s why we need these reminders from God’s Word.

Speaking of words, the power of words, you read about that over and again in Proverbs. “Death and life are in the power of the tongue” (Proverbs 18:21). “Reckless words pierce like a sword, but the tongue of the wise brings healing” (Prov. 12:18).

Maybe you’re just conscious of issues in your husband’s life that really need to be fixed. They need to be changed. How do you bring healing? Not with reckless words, but with wise words that can bring healing.

“Pleasant words are a honeycomb,” Proverbs 16:24 says, “sweet to the soul and healing to the bones.” Then Ephesians chapter 4, verse 29, “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit [or give grace to] those who listen.”

These are the standards. This is the standard for the words that we’re to speak in any of our relationships, but particularly in that most important relationship you have with your mate.

Now if you’ve been listening to Revive Our Hearts over the years, you know that many times we’ve extended what we call a Thirty-Day Husband Encouragement Challenge. In case you’re not familiar with that, let me just tell you again what it is. Then I want to share with you some of the results we’ve heard from other women who’ve taken that challenge.

The challenge has two parts: the negative side and the positive side. Here’s the negative side. For the next thirty days I want to challenge you to commit that you will not say one negative thing about your husband, not to him and not to anyone else about him.

Now for some of you, you’re looking at each other or at me like how in the world can I do that? Well, you may have a habit that needs to be broken. You can go thirty days, by God’s grace, without saying one negative thing.

It doesn’t mean he won’t do anything negative. It doesn’t mean there won’t be anything you could say, but you’re just not going to say it. You’re going to choose not to think about or focus on those things.

Then here’s the positive side, which is really important. That is every day for the next thirty days I want to encourage you to say to your husband something that you admire or appreciate about him, to say that thing to him, and then say it to someone else about him. Tell your children. Tell your mother. Tell his mother. You can write it. You can say it, but each day think of something that you appreciate or admire about your husband and tell him and tell someone else.

I’ve said to women over the years you may not feel that you can think of 30 things to say that you appreciate or admire about your husband. What I say then is then think of one thing and say it every day for thirty days. It doesn’t hurt to say it over and over again.

Now we’ve given that challenge many times over the years, and I’m giving it again today. Let me just share with you some of the responses that have come back from woman who have taken that Thirty-Day Husband Encouragement Challenge.

Some of these women are newly married, like this woman who says,

I just got married. I had to write and share how excited I was when a friend sent this to me. It was my first email received because I was in the married club. Looking at these reminders [this is a thirty-day reminder we send out about the Husband Encouragement Challenge], it made me realize the work that goes into the marriage relationship.

Somebody should have told her that before she got married.

The culture of this world makes it so easy to complain. I didn’t realize I was already falling into negative speaking. I felt almost as if I had to speak negatively of my husband to join the married women’s club. Not so. Having this challenge is a great way to begin my marriage. Even if women snicker, shake their heads and say she’s a newbie, I would rather be a shiny newbie setting a great foundation for my marriage than an oldie wishing I had done the same when I had the chance.

So you may be just starting out in marriage, a good way for you to start out. Then we have women taking this challenge who have been married for decades, like the woman who said,

I heard about the thirty-day challenge on ROH and signed up on the web. We’ve been married for forty-three years and our marriage was dormant. I didn’t think anything could revive it. I was wrong. This challenge has made a huge improvement in our relationship.

Some women who have taken this challenge have found themselves in very difficult marriages, like the woman who said,

Nancy, I’ll be honest with you. This hasn’t been easy-going for me. There’s a lot of hurt and anger and resentment to overcome toward my husband. But you have encouraged me to remember why I fell in love with this guy, what was so special about him. You’ve given me hope for my marriage.

I may not be able to change my husband, but I can change my heart, my attitude toward him with God’s help. My husband is talking to me more, really talking from his heart. We still have a long way to go but it is working. In the beginning I didn’t think I could do it. What could I possibly see that I liked about him each day? But every day gets a little easier and some of that anger and resentment is fading away. I married a great man. I have just forgotten to nurture him and us in the day-to-day busyness of our lives. I love my husband. Thank you so much.

See the heart change that comes about as you begin to invest seeds of love and encouragement in that relationship? There have been women who have written to tell us that they’ve taken the challenge repeatedly, not just once. One woman said,

I want to tell you that for about a year now I’ve been doing the 30-day challenge and challenging many women that I speak with to do it as well.

My husband and I are having several friends over for dinner tonight and I got up very early this morning to prepare. My husband is not a morning person, but this morning he came downstairs and helped me with the cutting and chopping so that I could come back to bed and he could rub my neck. Wow! This has never happened in thirty-three years of marriage.

Then a woman who said she’s a pastor’s wife and she has taken this challenge a number of times and does it with a series of emails that we make available (we’ll tell you at the end of the program how you can get those emails over the next thirty days that are just a little word of encouragement for each day as you take that challenge). She said,

My husband now when I speak some word of encouragement to him, he gets a twinkle in his eye and replies, "Is that day thirteen or fourteen?" I so want our home to be a haven for him. He tells me that it is and I am so grateful to God for that.

Here’s another lady who said,

Our pastor’s wife challenged our women’s group to participate in the Thirty-Day Encouragement Challenge. It’s only going on day eight and I have to tell you I feel like a new woman. I never realized how much my husband does for our family and how wonderful of a man he can be when I am in his corner cheering for him.

I am really enjoying this and I am so happy I decided to go ahead and take this challenge. Man, as I type this message all I can think is how wonderful my hubby is. Thank you, Lord, for sending me the man I am falling in love with all over again.

Here’s another one. This woman said,

This morning I received such a blessing from my husband I’ve got to share it with you. I’ve taken your challenge of thirty days speaking positively about my husband of twenty+ years. I’ve been doing this for two weeks now. The closeness that is developing between my husband and myself is so beautiful. Thank you, Jesus.

But here’s the blessing I want to share. I’ve been a Christian for twenty+ years. My husband doesn’t share the same walk with me. I’ve asked him to do Bible studies with me in the past and he has always rejected the offers, so I know he doesn’t really know Scripture to quote.

But this morning I woke up and he just looked at me, stroked my face so gently and started quoting Proverbs 31 over me. How precious I am to him. How I have always worked with him and loved him no matter what. How I’ve been good with finances. On and on he went. How our children love me and respect me. He said more. All Proverbs 31 qualities.

I broke out in such happy tears and still do when I think of this moment. I’m crying happy tears now as I write this. My husband has never been that verbal with me before about his feelings toward me. I believe this happened this morning because I listened to your challenge and accepted it and the Lord worked on me. He has changed me and my attitude. He’s working so in our lives. What a joy and blessing.

Here’s another woman saying,

I’m currently doing the Thirty-Day Encouragement Challenge for my husband. It has been a total blessing. I am realizing that by me being so negative I was the main source of the tension and stress in the house. Now that I am encouraging and expressing love, my husband has expressed how in love he is with me, verbally and in his actions. Thank you for creating this challenge. It is a struggle sometimes but worth the fight.

That reminds me, by the way, I don’t have this one in front of me, but the woman who had said she had been doing fine until that morning when she emailed us. She said, "I called him a whiny-baby this morning." She said, "I guess that doesn’t count." That’s not the idea. It is a struggle sometimes. You say, "What do I do if I blow it?" You start over again. You get up and keep going.

Here's another woman who said,

Thank you for your husband encouragement challenge. I've been guilty of taking my husband for granted and focusing on his weaknesses. Knowing that I will be getting daily emails with suggestions [and I hope you'll sign up to get those], I am motivated to see for a way to encourage him before I check my email. God is blessing our marriage after only a week of seeking Him in this area. Instead of having a serious effort to do my part, it has become an outpouring of joy.

See how the heart follows the obedience?

Here’s a woman who says,

I received an email from a friend and the subject said Thirty-Day Wife Challenge. I started the challenge right away. I went to my husband that day and said to him, "I love you, and it may not seem like it, but no matter what I am in your corner." He responded with a kiss on the lips and tight, loving hug. These words from me and his response sparked a new outlook on marriage and a new thought on a what a wife should be for her husband.

Then this woman found God doing some neat things as a result. She said,

I just completed the thirty-day challenge. I can see that my kindness and encouragement to my husband has softened his heart. God has softened my heart as well and enabled me to hold my tongue from speaking negatively to my husband. As a result, my husband is stepping up as a spiritual leader. The other day he told me that we need to start praying together for a particular neighbor. This was so encouraging to me for him to see his leadership in the home.

This woman said,

The women in my family are doing the thirty-day challenge together.

And isn't that a great idea? Think about how many women in families berate their husbands and pull them down. Sisters and mothers and daughters. She said, instead, we are doing this encouragement challenge together. She said,

We found that in blessing our husbands, their responses have been quite positive. Just five days into the challenge, my husband asked me on a date. He found the place and even got a sitter. Ladies, after being married for ten years, this was a big deal! 

I'd like to encourage anyone who is not already done so to try the challenge. It's sure to be a blessing. It's even contagious. Some of our coworkers are now doing it as well. What a blessing.

I think of how something like this can spread. Negativity spreads pretty quickly too. But encouragement can be contagious.

Kim, I’m thinking of a conversation we were having with a mutual friend a few days ago who works in a hospital. She’s a woman who is not married, but she works around a lot of women who are bashing their husbands. She said she has talked to some of these women, some of whom are not believers, and has encouraged them to take the Thirty-Day Husband Encouragement Challenge.

Then she goes back and checks on them. How are you doing? Are you doing it? It makes such a difference, not only in your relationship with your mate, but in the whole air around you because criticism is so toxic and encouragement builds up not only your husband but also the people around you.

Well, just one more here.

God has used the thirty days of encouragement and the thirty-one days of praying for your husband [and those are both available at ReviveOurHearts.com] to transform my life. I am amazed at how He has changed my thinking with these two things. I am a different wife and Christian woman because of those challenges.

Some have written and said, "I'm only on day six or seven or eight and already I've blown it." I think something like this helps us to see if we've gotten into negative habit patterns. But I want to encourage you, whether you’ve done it before or you’ve never done it before, if you are a married woman to consider taking this challenge for the next thirty days.

Here’s how it goes. For the next thirty days you can’t say one negative thing about your husband, not to him, not to anyone else about him. Now as you see those things, you can talk to the Lord about it. But don’t say it.

Then over the next thirty days ask the Lord to help you each day to say something to your husband and about your husband to somebody else that you appreciate or that you admire. It doesn’t have to be some great, grand, big thing. It may be little things that you have been overlooking. But think of it, and don’t just think of it, say it. Say it to your husband. Say it to somebody else.

I know that we have some widows listening today or women who were previously married but now divorced and living alone or women who’ve never married. Women in different seasons of life who say I would give anything to be able to have a husband today that I could encourage.

So I would say to you women who do have a husband, your marriage on a scale of 1–10, you guys may be at a negative 2 right now. This is not necessarily going to change your marriage overnight. But I think in thirty days it will change you. It will give you a different perspective, and it may change your husband. God may change your husband as you water the soil of his heart with the words of encouragement and affirmation, appreciation, and admiration. You can’t go wrong.

Now thirty days is the challenge. But that doesn’t mean you have to stop at the end of thirty days. I was speaking at a conference sometime ago where I gave this challenge and the next day I was with the pastor’s wife at a restaurant for lunch, and we ran into two of the women who had been at the conference where I had given this challenge the day before.

They said, “Our husbands are so excited about this challenge.” They said, “But we told them it only goes thirty days!” Well, that’s not the point.

Now you don’t have to tell your husband you’re doing this. He will know, especially if you’ve not been in the habit of really speaking encouraging words. You may just see that man blossom with the encouragement and the words that minister and words that minister grace to the hearer.

Leslie: Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth will pray with us in just a minute. First, let me read an email from a listener who finds programs like this one very challenging. Here’s what she wrote:

I'm listening to Nancy's program on helping your husband become a leader. I keep hearing about the thirty-day husband encouragement journal. I always get so frustrated at these programs All that information is great if you have a husband who knows the Lord and is a Christian. What about those of us who live with a non-believer? Everything is a struggle, from what they view on the TV, to how they interact with the kids, to showing how "not to go to church," etc., etc., etc. How does a wife in this position say only positive things? Can you address these topics from that perspective and not from one where the husband is reading his Bible every day?

Nancy, what do you say?

Nancy: My heart goes out to this listener and I know there are others listening today who are in a similar type of really tough situation. If this is something you can relate to, let me just offer in the short time we have here a couple of thoughts that I hope will be helpful.

First, in this series on Titus 2 we’ve talked about the value of friendships in the body of Christ. And I’d encourage women in this situation to get with a sister you can trust. Not to gossip about their husbands or to complain about them, but to talk through tough issues like the one this woman has written about. You need another mature woman in the body of Christ to help you walk through the tough day-to-day situations such as we've heard described here.

And secondly, in 1 Peter 3 the apostle specifically addresses Christian women who have unbelieving husbands. It says that "even if some do not obey the word, [they are not followers of Christ] they may be won without a word by the conduct of their wives, when they see your respectful and pure conduct.” So everything that we’ve been talking about in this series—responding with respect; doing all that we can to encourage—it will have an effect, even on an unbelieving husband.

I’ve given this husband encouragement challenge many times, and here’s what I've often said to women who find themselves in difficult marriages. You may not be able to think of thirty things that you appreciate about your husband, but find something you can appreciate. And if there’s even just one thing, then say that same thing for thirty days. But I’ll bet if you ask the Lord to give you eyes to see it, you'll find even more than one thing.

This challenge, for sure, isn’t about condoning sin in your mate's life. It isn’t about encouraging him as he continues to make foolish choices. But it is about finding something you can appreciate and focusing on that. I don’t pretend that it’s always easy. And there is no guarantee that even if you fulfill your part of this challenge that your husband's attitude or disposition or behavior will change. But I do believe that if you choose that pathway of encouragement, it will put the beauty of the gospel on display and show an unbelieving husband what the love of Christ really looks like. That may change a whole lot in his life and in your marriage.

Leslie: Thanks Nancy. If you’re ready to take on this challenge, we’d like to send you a copy of a booklet called 30 Days of Encouraging Your Husband. When you support Revive Our Hearts with a gift of any size, we’ll send the booklet. We can’t bring you this kind of teaching each weekday without that kind of support.

Ask for 30 Days of Encouraging Your Husband when you call 1–800–569–5959. We’ll send one booklet per household for your gift of any amount this week. You can also visit ReviveOurHearts.com to donate and get the booklet.

What does it really mean to love your children? Hear some practical ways to show them your love tomorrow on Revive Our Hearts.

Revive Our Hearts with Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth believes in the importance of your family, and is an outreach of Life Action Ministries.

All Scripture is taken from the English Standard Version unless otherwise noted.

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