Revive Our Hearts Podcast

Rising Above Difficult Relationships, Part 1

Leslie Basham: Is your marriage the dream you thought it would be? It's Monday, June 3; and you're listening to Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss. Most of us started marriage with stars in our eyes. But for many, those shiny stars have turned into tears. The marriage they thought would make them happy now grieves their hearts. Today Nancy talks with wife and mother of eight, Holly Elliff, about loving and respecting a husband who is difficult to love. Let's join them now as Nancy opens our program with a letter from a concerned wife.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: One of the things I most enjoy about the ministry of Revive Our Hearts is getting to hear from our listeners. I'm so thankful for those who do take the time to write or to send e-mails and to tell us how God is using this program in their lives. Some of those express themselves in different ways.

I got one recently from a woman who thanked us for this program that she said is "shining as a light in a dark world." Then she said, "You are my daily soap opera. I hate missing one single program." Well, I've never thought of myself or this program as being a soap opera, but it was encouraging to know that this listener is tuned in to what God is saying through the program each day. I even enjoyed the way that she expressed that.

And then the way that the Lord is using different ones of the programs to minister encouragement and grace to people right at their point of need. In fact, one of the things that I prayed early on when we began this ministry was that each day the Lord would take the words that were taught from His Word (as first I let His words speak to me and then shared it)--that the Lord would use those words to be an encouragement and to minister grace to those who hear it. So I just want to say thank you for those of you who have written to express what God is doing in your life. We love hearing from you.

Let me say that as you send in prayer requests, we have a team at Revive Our Hearts who do pray for each of those specific requests. I'm not able to see all of them myself, but I'm able to see many of them. I just consider it a privilege to join with you in praying and asking God to minister to you at your point of need.

Over the next few days, we're going to take some time to read together some of those letters and just talk about what God's Word has to say about some of the specific issues that many women are facing. I know when I receive one of those letters, it's not coming from just one woman. It probably represents what many women are experiencing in their own walk with the Lord.

I've asked my dear friend Holly Elliff if she would join me today as we talk about some of these letters. Holly and I have known each other for a long time. She's a woman who walks with God. She has a lot of wisdom. She loves the Word of God. She loves women. In fact, Holly's phone never stops ringing, it seems. When I'm with her, I'm always hearing about people who are calling to ask her for input and counsel. She's got eight children. She is a very busy, active mother. She's married to Bill Elliff, who is the pastor of a church here in Little Rock. But she always has time to minister words of encouragement.

So, Holly, thank you for being here with us today on Revive Our Hearts.

Holly Elliff: Thanks, Nancy.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: You can't see her right now, but one of the things I think about Holly is that she always has a smile on her face. Even when she's saying something hard, she is smiling. She says it with grace, and I have so appreciated your ministry in my life.

We've been sitting here--before we started recording today, actually--just talking about some of the issues that women are experiencing today, particularly in their marriages. You've read--I've shared with you some of the letters that women have sent to me, just sharing the difficulty that it is to be God's kind of woman, particularly in a case where perhaps the husband is not earning that respect or that honor that she knows as a wife she is to give to her husband.

Let me read one letter, and then I'd like to just talk about what God's Word has to say to a woman who is in a situation like this. This woman has been married over 20 years. She has a couple of children. Her husband has known the Lord for several years.  

She says, "We've never had much communication in our relationship; and I've come to the place where I tolerate him instead of really loving him. I want to love him like I did when we first met, but"--and then she goes on to describe some of the issues in their marriage. In this case, she says, "He lies. I can't trust him." Then there's an issue that makes it difficult to respect him because he is not working full-time and not providing, she feels, adequately for her family.

She goes on to say, "I've talked until I'm blue in the face not only to him, but to my pastor. I'm sure they're both sick of hearing me." Her pastor has told her that she is supposed to stay with her husband and that that's what God wants her to do. She says, "I know he is right, but it's hard to live with a man that you don't really know or respect or even love, for that matter."

Now you hear this kind of thing from women that you talk with in your church and in your circle of friends. How do you encourage a woman like this who is dealing with a husband that, in her view, is really not worthy of respect?

Holly Elliff: I think this writer has already outlined some bottom-line issues. She has said that she knows it's right to stay with her husband and that that honors God. She is making that choice. The problem is that she is tolerating her husband. I would imagine that the atmosphere in her home is possibly not pleasant. She is talking until she is blue in the face to her husband and to others about the needs in her husband's life.

The difficult thing is that even though her husband has needs and even though he may not be fulfilling what God has called him to do, as hard as that is, it does not change her personal responsibility to still love him. It doesn't let us off the hook when our husbands are disobedient. What it does do is give us the opportunity to get to the feet of Christ.

I would say to this woman, "You're right. You cannot love your husband." I think it's real important for her to realize that she cannot, in and of herself, meet her husband's needs. She will not be happy if she is trying to do that in her own strength. There is a resource beyond herself, and that's what gives us hope--even when our circumstances don't change. What gives us hope is the fact that there is a resource we can go to--that God has grace for even the most difficult circumstances.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: Let's talk about the grace of God. When you say God has grace, that doesn't feel very tangible. How does that grace come to bear in a person's life when they're in the nitty-gritty, nuts and bolts, of--she's in this situation. She hasn't said if she's working to provide for the family, but she knows that her husband isn't. He is working part-time. He is sitting at home maybe the rest of the time or out doing things that are fun to him. How does the grace of God affect the way that she responds to her husband, that she talks to him, that she confronts these issues in their marriage?

Holly Elliff: Life Action Ministries uses a definition of grace, and that is that grace is the power and the desire to do God's will. It comes from our Father. When I realize that I cannot continue to love my husband in my own strength, that I cannot do more than tolerate him in my own strength, then what I have available to me is the ability to go before my Father and cry out for help. Like James 1 says, "If you lack wisdom, you have only to ask of God, who gives generously to us what we need."

So I have the ability to go and cry out for help. When I do that, then God begins to give me not only the power to love my husband, as 1 Corinthians 13 talks about love, but also the desire to do it. I don't think this woman probably has much desire to love her husband anymore. She is so tired of her circumstances being a mess. That desire comes from God's energizing Spirit within us that gives us the ability to do things we cannot do in and of ourselves.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: So you're talking about something that is not natural. It's supernatural. It's something that she can't just make happen in her own heart and in her own mind. How do we get that kind of grace in these difficult sorts of situations?

Holly Elliff: I think the very first step is what she has done here, which is just getting honest with the fact that she has difficult circumstances in her life that she cannot control. She recognizes the fact that she does not feel love for her husband. The fact that she has chosen to take that lid off and get honest about that gives her the ability to just say, "I recognize that I do not have the capacity to do this. I cannot generate any more love or right responses. I don't even want to anymore. I don't even have a desire to respond to my husband."

At that point, when we reach the end of ourselves, we have the opportunity to get strength and a wisdom and a power beyond our own. That comes from our Father. It comes through His Word. It comes in humility, just acknowledging that we do not have that resource apart from Him.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: That word "humility"--perhaps that's the key to all of this. The Scripture says in 1 Peter and in James, "God pours grace on the humble." That honesty is part of that humility--that going before the Lord and saying, "I cannot love this man. I cannot handle this situation. I need You, Lord, to love through me, to respond through me, to live Your life through me." That humility is what brings the grace of God to bear in our lives, and then gives us by His grace the desire and the power to be the obedient woman that God wants us to be in any situation--no matter how difficult.

Leslie Basham: That's Nancy DeMoss and Holly Elliff encouraging women to remain faithful to the Lord by honoring and respecting their husbands. Nancy will be right back with a final word.

Maybe today's program has brought to mind someone you know who is struggling in a not-so-perfect marriage. Why don't you share with them a copy of the book Because I Said Forever by Debbie Kalmabach and Heather Kopp. Debbie, the wife of a recovering alcoholic, understands what it's like to stay in a difficult marriage and offers hope. You can pick up a copy of this book for a suggested donation of $12 by calling us at 1-800-569-5959. You can also visit




You know, it's a privilege to be a part of what God is doing in homes across America. We read your letters, telling us how much Nancy's teaching has encouraged and convicted you. It motivates us to continue with the work God has given us. But we can't continue airing this broadcast without you. You see, it's your diligent prayers and financial gifts that keep us on the air. If you haven't already, won't you consider making a financial donation to this ministry? You can send your donation to Revive Our Hearts.

Is it possible to respect a disrespectful man? Find out on tomorrow's broadcast. Now here is Nancy with one last thought.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: My heart goes out to women who are living day after day in the kind of circumstance that we heard described in the letter we discussed on the program today. Tomorrow we want to pick up with that letter and another one similar to it and talk about this matter of how to reverence and love a husband who perhaps does not always prove himself to be worthy of respect or trust.

Then we want to talk about how a woman can communicate her concerns with her husband in a way that is appropriate--not nagging, not tearing him down, but in a way that is constructive and will actually help encourage him to be the man that God wants him to be.

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About the Teacher

Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth

Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth

Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth has touched the lives of millions of women through Revive Our Hearts and the True Woman movement, calling them to heart revival and biblical womanhood. Her love for Christ and His Word is infectious, and permeates her online outreaches, conference messages, books, and two daily nationally syndicated radio programs—Revive Our Hearts and Seeking Him.

She has authored twenty-two books, including Lies Women Believe and the Truth That Sets Them Free, Seeking Him (coauthored), Adorned: Living Out the Beauty of the Gospel Together, and You Can Trust God to Write Your Story (coauthored with her husband). Her books have sold more than five million copies and are reaching the hearts of women around the world. Nancy and her husband, Robert, live in Michigan.