Revive Our Hearts Podcast

Rising Above Difficult Relationships, Part 2

Leslie Basham: You've changed your name from Miss to Mrs., but changing your husband isn't so easy. This is Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss for Tuesday, June 4.

With a simple "I do" and a shower of rice, you were catapulted into happily ever after. Now years later, maybe you feel like your "I do" has turned into "I won't," and "happily" has all but disappeared from ever after. Things can be different. Today Nancy will help us to understand how it's possible to love a less-than-perfect man. Here's Nancy.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: I'm so grateful for those listeners who have taken time to write and share with us how God is using Revive Our Hearts in their lives. Those letters are so encouraging. I get to read many of them. We have a team that is encouraged by them--those who are working behind the scenes on this program.

Then I thank many of you who have written to share with us your prayer requests. I want you to know that we take those requests seriously. All of those requests that come in are prayed over specifically, individually, by our Revive Our Hearts team. So thank you for opening your hearts to us.

From time to time on the program, we want to share some of those letters with our listeners. From some of them we hear many similar themes repeated over and over and over again. You're helping us to know what the issues are that are common to women, and we want to address those as often as we can.

I have again with me here today Holly Elliff who is a longtime dear friend, the mother of eight. She has a heart for women and a heart for the Lord and is a special friend. Holly, thank you for being back with us on Revive Our Hearts.

Holly Elliff: Thanks, Nancy.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: We were talking yesterday about a letter. You and I have talked with many women and read many letters of this type. Let me just say, by the way--assure our listeners that if a writer requests confidentiality that we do honor that request. Sometimes even with those who don't request confidentiality, if we're sharing a letter we will change enough of the details that we won't be identifying who the writer could be.

But we were talking yesterday about a woman who wrote to say that her husband has not (in her eyes) been the man of God that he needs to be. She says she can't trust him. He is not earning enough to provide for the family. She says he lies to her and to her children. Then we read this sentence. She said, "It's so hard to live with a man that you don't really know or respect or even love, for that matter."

She says in this letter that she realizes she is supposed to stay with this man. There's a heart to be committed to this marriage, but I get the feeling as we read this that she is kind of gritting her teeth and that this is extremely difficult. I would just say she is not alone.

I think, Holly, we have to start by agreeing that the Scripture gives direction to wives that says that they must respect and honor their husbands. I'm thinking about the last verse of Ephesians 5. Most of us are familiar with this verse. It says that a man must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect or reverence her husband.

Now we're not talking to men and our calling and our job is not to change the men. But we are talking to wives, to mothers, to women; and we're saying that the Scripture says the wife must respect her husband. That just sounds--for a woman like this writer and for many others that we're hearing from--like a very tall, difficult order.

Holly Elliff: I think it is a tall, difficult order. I think it's an impossible order. I think for this woman, as a Christian wife, the fact that her husband is not honoring God in her eyes, is not trustworthy, is not to be respected, she has expectations of him that are not being met. I would say to this woman, "You cannot love and honor and respect your husband in the way the Scripture calls you to do it in your own strength." The counsel of Scripture to her is "This is the point where you realize you can't love your husband this way. Even if he were perfect, you would not be able to love him this way."

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: She's thinking, "If he were perfect, it would be a lot easier to love him."

Holly Elliff: But he will not be. There is no perfect husband.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: Okay. But this husband, she's saying, is not close to perfect. He is a lot less than perfect. Or think about the woman--we're hearing from these women who--you know, their husband is coming in drunk every weekend. Or he is gambling. I read a letter this last week from a woman who says that over the years her husband has gambled in excess of $100,000. She's got the casinos, the credit companies, employers--people calling her. How does this woman respect and reverence and love her husband?

Holly Elliff: One of the most difficult things I do probably is to sit across the table from a woman in that circumstance and say to her, "It does not change your calling. No matter what your husband is doing, your calling is clear in Scripture." It is very, very difficult to stay in that marriage, to choose to take the next right step.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: And what might that next right step be in practical terms?

Holly Elliff: Well, I think especially for this woman, she says, "I don't even love this man. I'm tolerating this man. I don't even know this man." They've been married 26 years. At this point, I think she has been in frustration and difficulty and hurt for so long that she has really lost all hope.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: And maybe lost perspective, too.

Holly Elliff: Exactly. I think probably the things that drew her to her husband are still there, but she has forgotten what those were. I would encourage her to become a student of God's Word. The truth in God's Word is what is going to confront her with her own responsibilities. It's going to help her see her own shortcomings as a wife. The reality is that if she will focus more on what God is calling her to do than on what God is calling her husband to do that he is not fulfilling, then God can change her heart. God can give her love for her husband. God can increase her ability to not just tolerate her husband, but to love him.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: Holly, I'm thinking about a woman that you and I both know whose husband for some years was really a rascal. In fact--and this story has been told publicly. She has written this story in a book and maybe someday we'll be able to actually talk with her here on Revive Our Hearts. Her husband actually ended up on two occasions going to prison for business-related crimes. It wasn't just the money and the business. There were issues of deception and pride and arrogance.

We both know this woman. You know her better than I do. Tell me how--at the time when her husband went to prison, they had four daughters. They have four daughters, but at the time their children were teenagers. How did you watch her deal with that situation?

Holly Elliff: It really was an amazing thing because she made choices for years in front of her children that allowed her children to still love and respect their father, even though he did not necessarily deserve that respect. He had made wrong choices, and they were choices that cost the family dearly. Their income changed dramatically. This wife, who had been home with her children, had to go to work to support them while the husband was in prison.

What I saw her do, though, for year after year after year was say to her children, "We will love your dad and we will honor your dad." She gave her children the freedom to maintain a relationship with their father, to view him as a man who had made mistakes that God had forgiven, and to continue to love and reverence him in a way that was a testimony to all those around them.

What it did was it gave her children the freedom to see that a man could make wrong choices, could come to God in repentance and that God could redeem that circumstance. Those children have grown up walking in truth, loving their father. Now the mother, the father and the children are all being greatly used in ministry because of choices that wife made at a very difficult time not to just tolerate her husband, not to look at him and say, "He is no longer worthy of my respect" but to look at him and say, "I will honor him not because he necessarily is worthy of it, but because God has called me as his wife to love him and to encourage him."

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: In her case, that love really was redemptive. God transformed the heart of her husband.

Holly Elliff: It doesn't excuse what he did. What he did was wrong.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: And he'll be the first to say that today.

Holly Elliff: But what it did was transform her, transform her husband and give her children a wonderful opportunity to see how to respond in that circumstance.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: Holly, as I think about that precious couple, I think about that passage in Scripture at the end of 1 Peter 2, and then going into 1 Peter 3. It's using Jesus Christ Himself as an example of someone who was willing to suffer, even wrongfully, but without retaliating. It says, "When He was reviled, He did not revile in return. When He suffered, He did not threaten, but He committed Himself to God, who judges righteously."

Let me just insert here that we would certainly acknowledge that if a woman is in a situation where she is being physically abused that God has made provision--you'll find this in other passages of Scripture--for her protection and a covering through the civil government if the law is being violated, through the authorities of the pastor and elders in her local church, if they need to be brought into that situation.

The important thing to see here is the heart of Jesus. Even while He was suffering, His goal was that it would be redemptive. It says, "By His wounds we were healed." Then He goes right on to say in chapter 3--there is no chapter division here in the original: "In the same way, you wives be submissive to your own husbands, that even if some do not obey the word." I'm thinking about that husband who went to prison for things that he had done wrong.

He goes on to say, "That they may, without a word, be won by the conduct of their wives when they observe your chaste conduct, accompanied with fear." I think that's the fear of the Lord. The reverence of God is what will help a woman to reverence her husband in a way that is worthy of Christ.

Leslie Basham: That's Nancy DeMoss talking with Holly Elliff about loving the husband God gives you--faults and all. If you've been challenged by today's broadcast, why don't you dig further into the topic of commitment in marriage? We're offering a great book by Debbie Kalmabach and Heather Kopp called Because I Said Forever. Debbie, the wife of a recovering alcoholic, knows firsthand what it's like to stay with a man when everything in you wants to leave.

We're offering this book for a suggested donation of $12. Just call us at 1-800-569-5959 to get your copy. You can also order this book or get a copy of today's transcript by logging onto our Web site at



What has God been teaching you about loving a hard-to-love man? Why don't you write and tell us? We'd love to know.

When you write, why don't you consider including a check to Revive Our Hearts with your letter? We depend on your donations and prayers to keep this ministry running and appreciate your gift, no matter what the amount. Help us help others. Send in a donation today.

How do you live with a husband who is impossible to live with? Nancy and Holly will answer that tomorrow. We hope you can be here for Revive Our Hearts.

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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.