Revive Our Hearts Podcast

Leslie Basham: Barbara Rainey says, "One of the greatest gifts a wife can give her husband is to choose to believe what God can do through him."

Barbara Rainey: When I believe in my husband, that frees up God's power to work through me and in his life. My belief in him is the most important gift I can give him.

Leslie: This is Revive Our Hearts with Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth for Friday, June 10, 2016.

All week Barbara Rainey has been talking with Nancy about the art of being a wife. She's written about this in a new book called, Letters to My Daughters.

All week we've been giving you a chance to get a copy when you support Revive Our Hearts with a gift of any size. Visit ReviveOurHearts.com to get your copy.

Today, Nancy and Barbara will get into a lot of practical issues in marriage, and we're starting with a question from our listener.

Listener 1: What would be the optimum time that you would want to give someone the book to read?

Barbara: The time that I had in mind when I was writing the book, I was writing this book for my daughters and their generation, so it's really the twenties through forty was really what I had in mind, because that's the age range of my girls. So I had their faces in mind as I was writing a lot of these questions. I wrote it for them.

However, all of us as women in our marriages are always needing to learn. We're always needing to grow. And encouragement is always helpful to any of us at any season of life. So I honestly hope that it will be a book that women will read beyond their forties. So I'm hoping that women in their forties and fifties and beyond will also read it.

We have some single young women in here. I hope that it will be an encouragement to single women to say, "This is what marriage is supposed to look like. I may not have had a good model, I may have had a good model, but this is a good picture of what God intends marriage to be."

So my hope is that it will be for a broad age range, but it was really written for that younger generation.

Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth: I'll just say this woman approaching sixty is really glad she read it.

Listener 2: One thing I struggle with my daughter, who is a teen now, is not presenting a romantic view of marriage. By that I mean this Disney, everything's wonderful kind of romance. But I also don't want to err on the side of, "It's really hard, and it can be horrible sometimes!" How to strike that balance?

Barbara: Well, I would say that it is a balance, and you're wise to try and find that balance. One of the things that Dennis and I always did when our kids were teenagers is we wanted them to understand that we had conflict, but we were very careful in how we had that conflict in front of them.

So we would let them see us disagree. I remember Dennis occasionally turning to the kids and saying, "Mom and Dad disagree, and it's okay because you'll have disagreements, too." And then he'd look back at me, and he'd finish stating his case, or his opinion, or whatever it was, and we would have that conversation.

Now, there were times when we delayed those conversations because it wasn't something that was quick to resolve. We'd said, "Time out. We'll table this. We'll discuss this later in private, away from the kids."

So it's finding that balance where they know that marriage is work. Marriage has difficulties. There are things that you're going to disagree on as a couple, and that's good that they see that. I think you're wise to say that not everything needs to be in front of the kids.

But I also think they need to see that you love each other. We wanted to make sure our kids saw us holding hands and hugging and that kind of thing so they see we still love each other after all of these years. So they have a good, holistic picture of what marriage is going to be like for them some day.

Nancy: One of our livestream viewers is weighing in, and she's saying, "As a young wife, how can I practically encourage, support, and cheer on my very busy, hard-working husband in his career?"

Now, you've known what it is to have a busy, hard-working husband as you were developing a ministry together, a lot of leadership responsibilities, I assume a lot of time gone from home.

Barbara: Yes.

Nancy: So, as a young wife, how can this woman encourage, support her husband?

Barbara: One of the biggest thing I think to do is praise him when he does well and to thank him for how hard he works. I think our men need to know that we appreciate their work, we appreciate their sacrifice, we appreciate them getting up and going to work, wherever it is, every day, or whatever they do.

I think that we sometimes underestimate how important praise is. So I think praising and thanking him for all that he does is probably about as important as anything a woman can do to encourage him as a man.

But I would also say it's really important to continue to be communicative. One of the things Dennis and I often had to talk about in those early days was: What does the demands of his job do to me and the kids, because at the time, they were little. So we had many conversations about finding that balance between traveling and being home or working late or not working late.

So it's learning one another. It's praising the things that are good but not to the point that he works too much, and he's not home enough. So it's finding that balance in the relationship so it's healthy for both.

Nancy: I'm curious, in those kinds of conversations, how do you know where the line is? How do you keep from crossing the line from a healthy way of bringing things up, talking about things to when it becomes nagging or critical. I'm sure that's a continuum, but it seems like that's really important that when you're having to bring those kinds of things up, that it's not in a way that's not disheartening to your husband.

Barbara: It really is. It really goes back to the attitude of our hearts. I think it's the attitude. We've heard that "action speaks louder than words." I think our attitude often speaks louder than the words we say, too. And so if our attitude is not right . . . I mean, our husbands are not dumb. They're going to know that our heart is not right. They're going to know it's really a criticism, it's not constructive.

And we're going to make mistakes. I make lots of mistakes in the way I say things or in the timing. And I apologize. I just say, "Will you forgive me?" And he does, and we move on. So it is a dance. It is learning. Sometimes it's two steps forward and three back.

But it's learning the timing. It's learning how to do it right. It's having your heart right before the Lord so your attitude is one of respect and one of love and one of submission and one of following. It's lining up your heart with the way God wants you to be.

And it's knowing that you're not going to do it right every time, and that's okay. Sometimes we hold a pretty high standard over ourselves and failure is hard. But we all are going to, and it's healthy to be okay with that. It's healthy to go, "Yep, I messed up. Will you forgive me?" And, "Thank You, God, for Your grace."

Nancy: And those are really important words, don't you think? "I was wrong. Will you forgive me?"

Barbara: "Thank You, God for Your grace." Yes.

Nancy: And you might ask yourself, "When was the last time I said those words in my marriage?" Now, maybe you're waiting for your husband to say those words. And a phrase that my husband and I love is, "Race to the cross." See if you can get there first. Don't wait for him to get there. See if you can get there first, to humble yourself. God pours grace into the humble.

A man we met with as a couple for some premarital counseling was so helpful to us. Over the course of two days, we spent 11½ hours with a very wise and godly counselor, talking about some of the issues we might face in our marriage.

He closed that whole two days by taking us to 1 Peter, chapter 5, where it talks about how God resists the proud, but He pours grace on the humble. He said, "That's the way God functions with us, but did you know your mate will function the same way? Your mate will resist you when you're proud, and your mate will give grace when you humble yourself?"

So those little words that can get stuck in your throat and be so hard to say—"I'm sorry. I was wrong. Would you please forgive me?"—can be avenues for God to pour His grace into any relationship, but particularly into your marriage.

Barbara: Yes.

Nancy: Barbara, one of our livestream listeners is asking, "Has there ever been a time in your marriage that you would describe as especially difficult or even bad?"

You talk in the book about going through some dark and low places.

Barbara: Yes.

Nancy: Respond to how that felt, what that looked like, and God's redeeming power in the midst of it.

Barbara: I remember one in particular. I don't remember exactly what the circumstance was, and I don't really remember what was going on. That's one of the benefits of being married forty years. You kind of forget some of those things—which is not bad.

But I remember several of those situations where I felt like, "This is just too hard. We're not communicating well. We're not getting each other. I don't feel heard. I don't feel understood." He probably didn't feel heard or understood either, but I was focusing on myself, and I was all caught up on how I felt in the situation.

I just remember it being very, very difficult, and I remember thinking, I don't know that I know how to get through this.

I also remember thinking, If I wasn't a Christian, I can now understand why people get divorced. It really made sense to me because we came to some places that were so hard that if I didn't have the hope of Christ, that He was fully able to redeem and restore, I thought, Well, of course. No wonder people get divorced. It makes perfect sense.

But we weren't willing to do that. We were committed that we would never go there no matter what, no matter how hard, no matter how miserable, no matter how uncomfortable we were. We were going to hang on and wait for God to redeem and deliver and restore. And each of those times, God did. God brought us through on the other side. He brought healing to our hearts. He brought restoration to our relationship. He brought back the joy that we had lost in those seasons. And we've had some seasons that were very joyless. But He brings that back.

So I guess the lesson that I learned more than anything is that God can do this. I think we give up way too soon. I think we quit too soon. I think we sell God short. We think of Him being too human, like we are. But, as I've said before: Nothing is impossible with God.

Nancy: I think one of the really practical insights you gave in the book was to ask God to help you see how He sees your husband.

Barbara: Yes. And I have done that a lot.

Nancy: Because at times you're seeing what through your eyes looks like frustration.

Barbara: Yes. I think when we all do that. I think men and women both do that. We're all very self-aware of how we feel, what we're going through, what the complexity of the current situation feels like to me. I don't know really what it feels like to him, and sometimes I don't really care. I just know how it feels to me. Right?

But I have done this frequently, and I'm glad you reminded me of that. I have asked God on many occasions, "God, help me see my husband the way You see him," because I knew I wasn't seeing him clearly. I knew I wasn't seeing him the way God saw him. I knew I wasn't loving him the way God loved him. And I knew that I couldn't do it on my own power. I knew that I needed God's love poured in me to be able to give to my husband.

There were many times through the years where I have prayed, "God, help me see him the way You see him. Help me love him the way You love him. Help me believe in him the way You believe in him." Because we're not capable. We don't have everything we need because we're broken. We need God to do it for us and through us. I'm glad you reminded me of that because that's been a very big piece of it for me.

Nancy: Talk about believing in your husband. That's a really important point that you make in your book.

Barbara: Yes.

Nancy: Why is that important to you, and why is it important to him, and what does that look like? What does it mean?

Barbara: I've been doing a lot of thinking about that since I've written the book, so this isn't in the book. But I've been thinking about that a lot lately, about the whole concept of believing. I've been reading through John, and the word believe is . . .

Nancy: Everywhere

Barbara: Yes, it's really big in the book of John. I just noticed how important it is when Jesus says, "Believe in Me." And I thought, What is that?

What it does is, when we believe in Jesus, then we experience Him. When we believe in Jesus, we experience His power. So when I believe in my husband, that frees up God's power to work through me and in his life. And I just think that there's a whole lot more wrapped up in that than we understand. I think it's a supernatural principle.

But in our marriage, Dennis has said to me, repeatedly over the forty years we've been married, that my belief in him is the most important gift that I give him, because if I believe in him, it doesn't matter if everybody else in the world is against him, he's okay. So we've made a commitment when we got married that we were for each other. We gave our lives to each other. Right? That's what marriage is all about. "I pledge to belong to you forever." And he pledges to belong to me forever.

So when I voice that belief in him, I'm reminding him that, "I'm with you. I will never leave you." It's a reflection, again, of what God has done for us. Right? Marriage is a reflection of Christ's relationship with the Church. And what has the Holy Spirit promised us? What has Jesus promised us? "I will be with you, and I will never leave you."

So every time I remind my husband that I believe in him, I'm with him, I will never leave him, what does that do to him? Well, it makes him feel confident. He goes, "I can charge the world because I've got her at my side, and together we can conquer anything." But if he feels alone, and I'm not believing him, I'm voicing disapproval, I'm voicing all kinds of negative things, then he feels very alone. He feels rejected. And he feels like he can't conquer the world.

So belief is a really important spiritual principle in marriage. It's important in our relationship with Christ, but it's very important in our marriages, too. I need him to believe in me. He's been telling me all morning, "You're doing a good job." I need to hear that, and I need to hear it from him more than anybody else in this room. And he needs to hear that I believe in him more than what anybody else says to him.

So there's something that comes in a marriage when we believe in one another that nobody else can provide. So believing in your husband is really important.

Nancy: Now that could sound, in some marriages, to some wives, a little bit like make believe because in your case, your husband is a public figure. He speaks. People think he's wonderful. They hear him. They admire him. They follow his leadership in the ministry, and they're seeing him on the platform, hearing him on the radio, reading his books. But you know better than anybody else his weaknesses.

Barbara: Yes, I know what he's like when he's not on the platform.

Nancy: And as does any wife knows the weaknesses in her husband.

Barbara: Sure. Absolutely.

Nancy: So you know the worst.

Barbara: That's right.

Nancy: And yet you're calling women to say, "I believe in you."

Barbara: Yes.

Nancy: Well, I can hear a woman saying, "Well, that would be playing make believe. There's just so many negatives, there's so many difficult things. How can I get past those to believe in this man?"

Barbara: I think it's a choice. You have to choose to do it because that's what God calls us to do. And think about our relationships with God for a minute. Does God wait until we're perfect before He accepts us? It's a good thing He doesn't. Right? Does He wait for me to shape up before He gives me His love? No.

And God doesn't call me to wait for my husband to shape up before I give him respect and before I believe in Him. God called me to believe in him as he is, today, knowing that, if I do that, he will reach his potential that God knows about in the future.

That's what I want, but I can't wait until that happens before I give him my belief. I have to give him my belief today so that he can grow and become that man that God wants him to be in the future. And it's my belief that empowers him to believe God and to grow into what God wants him to be in the future.

So it's not make believe. It's not pretend. It is by faith sometimes. I am believing in him because I believe God is the One who is going to produce the growth to make him the man that I need him to be and want him to be. But I still have to, by faith, exercise that. I still, by faith, have to voice that belief in him as a man.

Nancy: And we're not saying that there are no negatives.

Barbara: No.

Nancy: You talk about in the chapter on photography, about how those negatives actually can become something positive and beautiful.

Barbara: Yes. And I think that's another way we're to imitate Christ in our lives. We all know Romans 8:28. Right? "For God causes all things to work together for good." So I think God does the working. It's not me who does the working. But God does the working when I am believing in God to do that.

So I know that there are negatives in my husband's life. He knows all the negatives in my life. I don't expose the negatives to the light because that will ruin them. If you know anything about photography and the way photography used to be (in the digital, all that's lost). The image was captured on a piece of film, and prior to that, it was captured on a piece of glass. And if you exposed the negative to the light, it burns it off.

So my job is not to take his negatives and show them to the world. My job is to protect those carefully and allow God to transform those negatives into positives. God can do the Romans 8:28 work if I handle those negatives appropriately and carefully and with respect. I know they're there, but it's not my job to change them. It's God's job to do that transforming work.

Nancy: And this has been a transforming work in you because you talk about how your natural bent, and I think it's true of a lot of us as women, is to be critical, to see flaws, to see mistakes.

Barbara: Yes.

Nancy: I'm an editor. My job in life is to open a book or a manuscript and see the mistakes. And they do. They pop off the page at me. And occasionally, my husband will say to me, "Are you being an editor?" That's a loving and helpful way to remind me that in our marriage, my job, nor his, is to look for the mistakes and the flaws, but to look for the things that are praiseworthy and worthy of value, and of good report, and to focus on those. And when we do, the negatives can actually be transformed into something of beauty.

Barbara: Yes. Exactly. That verse in Philippians 4:8, "Think on these things that are good and beautiful, anything worthy of praise," and that's the kind of focus God wants us to have in our marriage, not focusing on the things that are wrong or the things that are broken. Those are very easy to see. He wants us to choose, by faith, to focus on the things that are right and good.

Nancy: And that includes not only how you talk to your husband, but how we talk about our husbands to others. And this is where girlfriends can be a blessing, or they can be trouble. Right?

Barbara: Right. They really can. Yes. We need to be so careful in our words. I think in our culture today, and most of us would agree that we've become too coarse. We've become too free. The word self-restraint is kind of lost from our vocabulary. We think if we feel it, we need to say it. That's been valued in our culture. That's been lifted up and honored.

But the flipside of that is: when we say what we feel, it can be harmful. And we're not thinking about the consequences of our words as we did in previous generations.

I think in marriage it's especially important that we guard our tongues, that we're very careful if we talk about our husbands. If you go to your women's group and people are sharing prayer requests, if you share a prayer request about your husband, it better be worded very, very carefully because that's not the place for you to bring him and put him on display and all of his weaknesses and say, "Will you pray for my husband?"

That's not what God calls us to do. God wants us to pray for our husbands, but He needs us to do it and wants us to do it in a way that is very protective of who he is as a man and doesn't expose his flaws unnecessarily.

Nancy: Sometimes that happens in conversations where there's just joking going on.

Barbara: Yes they can.

Nancy: You'll hear women saying, "Oh, my husband . . ." whatever, and just a caution to be really, really careful not to put that man in a negative light.

Which then raises the question, Robert and I had a woman say to us the other day that one of her children has gone through now a very difficult marriage situation, and for the longest time, she didn't say anything to anyone, though there were some atrocious things going on in their marriage, because she didn't want to put him in a negative light.

There is a time and a place where it is appropriate to bring something to the light.

Barbara: Yes, there is.

Nancy: How do you know when that is?

Barbara: Well, I think, if it is really difficult . . . I have a young friend who is in her late thirties. She and her husband had a really hard first five years. She did the same thing. She didn't say anything. She had grown up in a Christian home, and she didn't want to put him in a bad light. She just lived with it and lived with it and lived with it. It was just a really painful beginning for their marriage.

Finally she realized that she needed to say something. I tell the story in the book, with her permission. What she did first is she started talking to her mom and some friends, some relatives. She realized that was not the best way to do it because they saw him this way, and that picture will always be in their minds. They will never forget what she said about him.

So then she went to a counselor, someone who knew how to keep confidentially and who really had the wisdom and the skill to know how to help her.

Nancy: Barbara, as we're talking about negatives here, there are negatives in both parties in every marriage. Some need to be covered up—love covers a multitude of sins—and some need to be brought into the light.

Barbara: Yes.

Nancy: How do you have the wisdom to know: Is this one that needs to be covered—at least for now? Maybe the difference is whether we're talking about sin or not. How do you know when to bring this into the light? When do you bring it up into conversation? When do you maybe take it to someone else who's got wise counsel? Or when do you let it go and cover it up and assume the best?

Barbara: I think that's a challenging question. It's a great question. But I think it's challenging because I think so much of it depends on what state our marriage is in. I think it depends on the maturity of our husbands as to what we say and don't say, how much we can talk about that with him, and how much we need to wait.

I would say, generally, that if it is a sin issue, if it's something that's really big and really difficult, like a pornography addiction or something that would be classified as sin easily, I think you need to get help. I think you need to talk to someone who is skilled and who is trained, who can give you coaching and give you advice on what do you do as a wife, what do you say or not say.

I don't pretend to have answers to those because I think it is such an individual circumstance, but there are things that I think we do overlook. When my husband and I have disagreement, and he may snap at me (which he does very rarely) or I snap at him, usually we just let that go. We let those kinds of things go because we know that the other one is walking with God, and we're trusting that they will hear from God, and the Holy Spirit is the One who convicts of sin. It's not my job. It's not his job. I'm not supposed to show him his sin, nor is he supposed to point out my sin to me. That's God's job.

So I think it kind of depends on what it is. I think if it is a sin that has control—a pattern of lying, a pattern of manipulation, any of those kinds of things—that needs trained help to focus on that. And as a wife, I need to know what do I do about that in my husband, how do I live with him, how do I help him, how do I encourage him, and that's where you need, I think, skilled advice and wisdom.

Leslie: We've been listening as Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth and Barbara Rainey have given us a lot of practical ways to love our husbands. Nancy will be right back to pray.

If you've been intrigued by what you've heard today, I hope you'll get a copy of her book, Letters to My Daughters: The Art of Being a Wife. She covers a lot more topics than we had time to air this week.

You know, in Ephesians, wives are told to respect their husbands as a way to display the relationship between Christ and the Church. This book will show you practical ways to learn how to show that kind of respect.

All week we've given you an opportunity to get this book from Revive Our Hearts when you make a donation of any amount. Your gift will help us keep bringing Revive Our Hearts to you each weekday. Yo show our thanks, we'll send the hard cover edition of Letters to My Daughters to you. Ask for the book when you call 1–800–569–5959, or visit ReviveOurHearts.com.

Next week Nancy begins a brand new teaching series from Ezekiel. Join her for the series, "Where the River Flows." Now, she's back to pray.

Nancy: Oh Lord, how I pray that You would do a work in each of our lives and in each of our marriages that would reflect beautifully on Christ, that would tell the story, the gospel story, the redemption story that You can take two sinners and redeem them and bring them together and make them one.

This in itself is a mystery, an impossibility, but we acknowledge, with You, nothing is impossible, and that in the union of a husband and wife, both submitting to and honoring and respecting Christ as Lord, that we are then able to reflect how wonderful a Lord and Shepherd and King You are.

So we do this for You, Lord. We say, "Yes, have Your way." And, Lord, into the hearts and marriages sitting in this room or listening to this conversation, where there is deep pain, where there is deep hurt, there is failure, there is confusion, there is a whole lot that's wrong, we ask that You would extend the helping, healing hand of Jesus.

You, who make all things new, for with You nothing is impossible, so bring healing, bring help, bring hope that in time, and with the balm of Your Holy Spirit applied to our marriages, that it really can be well, and You can be glorified. And we ask it for Your sake, amen.

Revive Our Hearts with Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth is an outreach of Life Action Ministries.

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