Small Things and Big Things

Life Outside vs Inside the Home

Is it easier, I wonder, to be nice to people we don’t know that much — those that aren’t so close to us? Doing good to others seems not as difficult as caring for our own. Is it because we see the faults of our family members every day while the blemishes of strangers are hidden from us? How come that at home we run out of patience and love so quickly?

My husband is my best friend here on earth. Many who will look at us will say that we are having a good marriage. Our close friendship is a testimony to others which is lovely. What, however, is going on behind closed doors? That’s when my marriage becomes a little more of a challenge to me. It requires love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control — all things that do not come naturally for me.

Does He Care?

Why is he acting so differently at home?

My husband feels free to do as he pleases at home. He might not shut that door, turn off that light, or take that trash out when needed. Is it because he couldn’t care less?

He will not give me the attention I’m craving for. Is it because it makes no difference to him what I’m feeling or what I’m in need of?

Things that I see as very important seem to be of no concern to him. Has his love for me grown cold?

I have gone wrong so many times before in accusing my husband of: being selfish, too lazy to do simple things, not giving me the attention I “deserve”, unthoughtful, neglecting to recognize what I need.

Now, please hear me, I’m not saying that I’ll approve of laziness and carelessness. Of course not! What I’m saying is that I have to see things differently, so I’m readjusting my focus. Sometimes he does and he says things not because he couldn’t care less but for the simple fact that he is a man. Men and women have different roles and so they do things in different way. Knowing and reminding myself of this helps me tremendously to keep my calm.

Turn Around

It’s like seeing things with a different view. Imagine using binoculars: what happens if you are looking through them? You’ll zoom in and things appear bigger. Would if you are using binoculars the opposite way? Things will look like they are in a great distance.

Turn the binoculars around.  They say that before marriage you will need to have a closer look at things, but into your marriage you will have to show more grace. In other words, magnify what is important before you are getting married, and reduce what isn’t worth a fight once you are married.

The Holy Spirit at Work

Sure, I can be nice for a while and show love to my husband. Oh, yes, there is joy in my life, but the kind produced by my human effort will vanish as soon as trouble hits. Peace? Long-suffering? Gentleness? Self-control? Are you kidding me? I run out of these within a few hours into the day. I’m so desperate to develop that gentle and quiet spirit (1 Peter 3:4) …

See, due to our nature, we are not able to stay calm, gentle, quiet, and joyful while hardship strikes. We need to have the Fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22). That takes faith in Christ and the working of the Holy Spirit within us. Otherwise it will remain a faked calmness and joy that will, eventually, make us stumble and fall.

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An Amazing Weapon in Times of Trouble

What’s the last thing we want to do when facing trials? Where is the last place we are usually going whenever hardship strikes in our life? Who are we turning often as a last resort to come to?

Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. (James 4:8) It doesn’t matter how helpless or low you feel. Block out the negative thoughts that come to your mind. Don’t let the feeling of unworthiness keep you from coming to the LORD. You could never sink too low nor run too far away from the LORD. Now lift up your hands and praises toward Him.

If you don’t know what to say start by reading and saying the precious words of Psalm 150

1 Praise the LORD! Praise God in His sanctuary; Praise Him in His mighty firmament!
2 Praise Him for His mighty acts; Praise Him according to His excellent greatness!
3 Praise Him with the sound of the trumpet; Praise Him with the lute and harp!
4 Praise Him with the timbrel and dance; Praise Him with stringed instruments and flutes!
5 Praise Him with loud cymbals; Praise Him with clashing cymbals!
6 Let everything that has breath praise the LORD. Praise the LORD!

Each time, after reading this Psalm, I still hear my former pastor asking us, “Do you feel your pulse? Are you breathing? Praise the LORD!”

Praising the LORD is so healing — for your body, mind, and soul. Take time to praise Him today. 

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Married to the Unbeliever

“You and your Jesus!” Is your husband jealous of your God and hostile toward your faith? What do you say, and do, if he forbids you to go to church on Sunday? Perhaps he is otherwise a nice guy and is treating you well? Do you keep the thought in the back of your mind that there is something that’s between you and your husband?

I don’t know your background and how you ended up being married to a Non-Christian. Perhaps both of you were unbelievers before, but you became a Christian some time into your marriage. Or, your husband told you that he is a believer in Christ before you got married, but he renounced his faith later on. As a Christian you might have even chosen to get married to an unbeliever thinking you could eventually win him for Christ.

Depending on the individual situation and timeframe, struggles are more or less intense already. Some of them look really hopeless…

No matter what the case, now you are in a situation that isn’t always easy.  In fact, you are desperately looking for help on how to go on in this marriage. The last thing you want to hear right now is: Keep going. Endure. What you need is practical advice! But where do you find that? From whom are you seeking and taking counsel at the moment?

Just submit!?

He will not come along, so you are attending the sessions on your own. The Christian counselor you are seeing emphasizes that you must submit — no ifs and buts. You wonder if this is really true, so you begin to start feeding your own train of thoughts. And the pathway you are on becomes wider and wider.

Your husband messes up, and he knows he did. He gets in trouble. Suits him right you are thinking when after a while he asks for your forgiveness and treats you double as nice as before. It looks like your chance to settle things — to lead him to Christ. You explain the Gospel to him. Oops! He does not want to know. The bubble bursted. His kindness? Gone!

I failed again! You torture yourself by feeling guilty. This was all my fault comes to your mind. What shall I do? How can I change — him, myself, the way we are living this marriage?

Unhelpful vs. Helpful Advice

Does all of this, or at least some of it, sound familiar to you? Have you seeked help from others before? Were they able to give you advice? Did it work? If what they suggested hasn’t helped you a bit, please be gracious and forgive them. It’s hard to counsel and comfort someone in something you have never gone through before.

I also was married to an unbeliever. Times were quite tough back then. The counsel of my Christian counselor and friends didn’t help much. In the end, believer in Christ or not, I felt like a total failure!

There is advice that is more of an illusion than reality. Then there is the kind of counsel that guides you while you are walking on stony ground; the kind that will also pick you up when you stumble and fall; one that encourages you and gives you reasons to press on and then shows you how.

The book I’m about to suggest was written in 1972. Thirty years ago it could have changed my life and the way I treated my husband. Reading it over the last few years (it’s a book I’d like to come back to again and again) helped me to gain a fresh perspective on marriage. It’s called:

Christian Living in the HOME
by Jay E. Adams

If you’d like to, please read Chapter 9 (How to live with an unbelieving husband) online — which offers some great and helpful advice.

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