Revive Our Hearts Podcast

Rising Above Difficult Relationships, Part 3

Leslie Basham: Is it possible to respect a husband who doesn't seem to deserve much honor? This is Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss. It's Wednesday, June 5. You married your husband thinking he could do no wrong. Several anniversaries later, maybe you'd be quick to say he rarely does anything right. Today Nancy will help us understand how we can honor a less-than-perfect husband. Here's Nancy to offer advice for women in difficult situations.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss:

Let me read another one that just picks up on this theme. A woman wrote and said, "I'm struggling to be the kind of wife the Lord wants me to be. I don't respect my husband. I've tried, but he does things that are not very respectful. It seems I can ignore it for a time, and then I've had enough and act ungodly toward him. I find myself feeling indifferent about our relationship because, if I don't, I get very upset or even depressed.

I long for my husband and me to be one-minded, but it's discouraging when that is not the case. I long for a Christian home and my husband to be the spiritual leader. The more I hear or read about a Christian home, the more discouraged I become. I know I can't change my husband, but I'm having a hard time living with him the way that he is. He claims to be a Christian, but I have my doubts."

Then she adds this really honest statement at the end. She says, "Although maybe he doubts my salvation by the way I behave toward him."

My friend Holly Elliff has been with us this week, and she's back again today just to talk about some of these issues for women. Let me just say that the letter I just read could have been written by many, many women. Holly, welcome back to Revive Our Hearts. Thank you for helping us walk through some of these difficult issues.

Holly Elliff:

Nancy Leigh DeMoss:

Holly Elliff:

The woman in the letter that you just read, Nancy, says, "I know I cannot change my husband, but I am so discouraged. I'm having a hard time living with him the way he is." It is difficult for women to live with a man who will not change.

When I meet with women who are in those circumstances, I encourage them many times to step back and just get a bigger picture. Realize that the circumstance they are in, even though they cannot change that circumstance and they cannot change their husbands, it is not their job to change their husbands.

One day when these women stand before God, one day when I stand before God, God will not say to me, "Holly, what did your husband do that kept you from looking like Christ?" God will say to me, "Holly, what choices did you make to look like Jesus?" So I will not be responsible for the choices my husband made. I will be responsible for the choices I made.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss:

Holly Elliff:

Verse 4 of that chapter talks about the hidden person of our heart and that quality of a gentle and a quiet spirit because that's precious to God. It goes on in verse 5 and says that comes out of a heart that hopes in God. You may not ever have a husband that responds correctly to God's Word. But it does not change the fact that as a woman I can go before God. I can cry out for His grace; and I can say, "God, regardless of what my husband does, would You change my heart? Would You make me look like Jesus to a lost and dying world?" As you do that, it not only benefits you; but it benefits others around you who are watching your life.

You may have children in your home, like I do. As my children watch my life, the choices I make teach my children. Whether I am saying one thing with my mouth and doing another or whether I am choosing to be obedient to God affects what my children believe about what is right.

The real bottom-line issue is "Is God's Word the standard for my life? If it is, then even if my husband never changes, I can hope in God, knowing that He will produce in me qualities that will affect my children and that can affect others."

Nancy Leigh DeMoss:

I say this to women sometimes who say, "I can't trust my husband." I say, "Your husband isn't the one ultimately that you're supposed to trust." In fact, the very middle verse of the Bible says that the one who puts his hope in man is foolish. Man is not to be trusted in, and that includes men and women--generically speaking, there. Our trust ultimately has to be in God, and He is the only One who will not disappoint.

You're saying that God has bigger purposes that He is accomplishing, He is fulfilling even through the difficult and wrong circumstances that we may find ourselves in.

Holly Elliff:

Nancy Leigh DeMoss:

Nancy DeMoss: I think we're so conditioned in our culture to think that the problem has got to be solved or we've got to get out of it. We read--in fact, I've read a number of letters from listeners just recently--who talk about how they unwisely listened to well-meaning friends and family members who told them, "Don't stay in that marriage." They got out of the marriage.

Now they're reaping even more desperate consequences and circumstances, where God intended marriage to be something--not a pretty word picture, but like a vise. It's a circumstance that God intended to be permanent. Part of His reason for that is that He uses it to fit us for something after this life.

You said a few moments ago, and I don't know if you think this is encouraging to women; but you said, "He may never change."

Holly Elliff:

Nancy Leigh DeMoss:

Holly Elliff:

Nancy Leigh DeMoss:

Holly Elliff:

Leslie Basham:

Many women at one time or another have been disappointed in their marriages. One such woman was Debbie Kalmabach, the author of the book Because I Said Forever. In this book, Debbie, a wife of a former alcoholic, answers tough questions many of you have asked, such as "What if he won't go to counseling? Can I change him? What if I don't feel love for him anymore?"

We have this book in our resource center for a suggested donation of $12. You can order your copy by calling 1-800-569-5959. You can also ask for a tape of Nancy's conversation with Holly Elliff. The three-day series is available for a suggested donation of $5. You can also order and find more information on all of the books and tapes we offer by visiting our Web site at ReviveOurHearts.com.


Today's program was inspired by a letter Nancy received from a listener. Why don't you write and tell us about the needs you're facing or tell us what God is doing in your life?  Would you pray about what God might have you give to help the ministry of Revive Our Hearts continue? We appreciate your letters and support.

Now think about this: Where is the safest place in the world? Nancy will tell us tomorrow. But now, here's Nancy with a final thought.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss:

Let me just say He is strong in your marriage and on your behalf, no matter what situation you may be facing today. Then secondly, that "You, O Lord, are loving." Then this final reminder, the end of Psalm 62, "Surely You will reward each person according to what He has done." That's a challenge to be faithful, to be obedient, to put your hope in God and know that there will be a reward from God.

Let me just read a passage of Scripture that I think will be an encouragement to you as you think about whatever situation God has put you in. Psalm 62:5: "Find rest, O my soul, in God alone. My hope comes from Him. He alone is my rock and my salvation. He is my fortress. I will not be shaken. My salvation and my honor depend on God. He is my mighty rock, my refuge. Trust in Him at all times, O people. Pour out your hearts to Him, for God is our refuge. One thing God has spoken; two things have I heard: that You, O God, are strong." Are you relying on God's grace for whatever situation you find yourself in today? Nancy DeMoss has been talking with Holly Elliff about God's ability to help women stay committed, even in tough marriages. Nancy will be right back.I think if we're thinking, Okay, I have 30, 40, 50 years of this to go, we will not be able to endure that.

What I would say to these women is that God has grace for this day. God has grace for the choices I make today. I don't have to live 50 years down the road; but this day I can go before the Lord, cry out for help and He has what I need to be able to do what He has called me to do.What can keep that goal uppermost in my mind is living in light of eternity, realizing that if it's 30 or 40 or 50 or 60 years of difficulty and stress and pressures and problems here in this life that seems like eternity, but it really isn't. It's preparing us for eternity.If my goal in life is to change my husband, then I'm probably going to be frustrated and disappointed. But if my goal in life is to please and glorify God, then there is always room for improvement there.

This situation may never change. If we just think about this life, that's very discouraging. Right.The next verse in this chapter goes on and says, "Sarah obeyed, and we have become her children if we do what is right, without being frightened by any fear." So it takes courage to continue doing what is right. The ability to do that comes from the fact that our hope is in God and not in man.Even if I live the rest of my life in difficulty, God can accomplish what He desires in my life. When our hope is in God, then we have a resource beyond ourselves. We have a supernatural capacity to love a man who is not lovable and perhaps is not trustworthy, but our trust is in God.It's interesting, Holly, in the passage you were just referring to, 1 Peter 3:5, it talks about the holy women from former times. My translation says they trusted in God. You used the word "hoped" there. They trusted in God. If you go back to the context there, it's actually talking about Sarah in the Old Testament, who trusted in God in a situation when her husband Abraham made some very foolish choices that could have actually put her in a great deal of difficulty and danger. Her trust was not in her husband. It takes a lot of courage to keep obeying God even when the circumstances do not change. Nancy, you referred yesterday 

I think to 1 Peter 3. Verses 4 and 5 in that chapter just remind us that God is about something bigger. He is not just about this moment, but He is about producing in us as women some characteristics that look like Christ.Well, and this woman is saying, "The way my husband is acting leads me sometimes to act ungodly toward him." You're really saying that she doesn't have to respond in an ungodly way, regardless of what he does. She still has a choice to obey God.I think one of the most difficult things for women to do is to look at a husband, knowing that he is not doing what is right--perhaps unbiblical things--knowing that I've been commanded in God's Word to love and honor and respect that man and then asking the question, "How do I do that?"Help us as we talk to this woman and women like her. How can we encourage them about God's heart and His purposes in marriage? Thanks, Nancy. I'm glad to be here.One of the issues that is a regular recurring theme in the letters that we get from our listeners has to do with this whole issue of marriage; and particularly how to respect, reverence, even love a husband who may not be the man that he ought to be. We've been talking this week about some of those letters.

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