Motivating Change Lovingly

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It’s weird how my husband now wants me to do public speaking tours about how to be a wife, after we’re done raising our children. The idea of ME public speaking is horrifying. My message isn’t exactly welcome at most churches, oddly enough. But I did tell him that even if I do public speaking in person, I will always put him first. I told him that making online videos could be a way to do both. My primary goal in life is to love him as promised. I tell him that often.

I am by no stretch of the imagination an ideal husband encourager. I react badly to things like daily just about, but it’s so very very different than the old days, that he really admires me. He knows what the average woman out there is like, like I used to be. He knows I care more about him than humanly possible. I didn’t completely change my bad reactions, but I did add an effective new feature to my requests for his change.

This new way of asking for his change didn’t work much the first 3 years, but as I let life happen, and say it again and again, he’s realizing I’m right, and not right in the arrogant way, but the way of really caring about his preferences.

First I had to let go of my optional preferences, in the sense of making them a NEED in my mind, when they really aren’t a true survival need for me or the kids. I started with the topic of money… our 2nd most often reason for angry arguments, maybe the first. Parenting was the other. Based on everything I’ve studied about these two topics, he was so very wrong about how to reach good goals in those areas of life. He daily was sabotaging his own goals. That drove me nearly insane, especially when he would blame mostly me for the perpetual problems.

So, in desperation to stop the arguing about money, which worked 99% since that day, I told him that I want to be a Good News Wife, but I can’t if we don’t plan our spending according to his goals for his family, and I can’t make good news happen by myself.

But after 2 years of being very careful with my spending, I kept struggling with anger at him for his spending, though I rarely said anything to him about it, but I didn’t like how I felt, so I realized that I needed to stop feeling so arrogant about my money wisdom that I learned from DebtProofLiving.com and America’s Cheapest Family, and just follow his random lead on money.

I am learning to not be an enabler. It’s scary and freeing at the same time. So he hears the bad financial news once more, and this time I say, I want to feel happy with you and I just couldn’t do that when I was trying to be careful with money and you weren’t, so I had to start doing what you do. My main job is to be happy for you to enjoy. I had to let go of money diligence until that’s what you wanted. But at the same time, you have money goals you say are important, but if we don’t plan ahead and stick to the plan, and measure progress together, me being the only one trying to be diligent just creates tension between us, and then I complain about your purchases that wreck your spoken goals. I can’t be a good news wife by telling you of financial problems outside of my control. I WANT to help you reach your goals, but I can only help. I can’t control all spending, so I just must stop saying anything about spending unless you ask. But if I have to tell you bad news, I can’t be the happy wife you want, at that moment. Please help me be able to tell you good news. I want you to be happy too. You can’t if you are sabotaging your own goals.

Same thing with parenting. I can’t hold the kids accountable to responsible behavior on my own, and they SO know it!

So, the key is to ask him what his goals for his family and money are, and offer eager help, but remind gently when he’s again sabotaged his own goals. But don’t say it every single time, or he might get seriously depressed hearing about his faults several times every day. Maybe once a month or less? If he complains about the ongoing problems he is not helping properly to fix or prevent, you could ask him how he thinks you can help.

And no matter how annoying or scary he gets, please tell him again of your unfailing commitment to him, and hug him and rub his back, and snuggle, and praise him on what he is doing right, any small thing or big. It feels awkward touching my husband when I’m so irritated or hurt, but affection does help his motivation to improve, and helps me feel like a good person, and is a good example to the kids and others – of exceptional patience & forgiveness. No bad comes from unconditional affection.

It motivates him to be more appropriative of my Bible too. After years of asking, with a definite disinterest, he shocked me the other day with a request for help planning a family trip to the Creation Museum with the giant Noah’s Ark in Kentucky near Cincinnati. We’ll first hit the Dayton Air Force Museum, then the Creation Museum, then the Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Gardens. This is so awesome.

And just a couple weeks ago, he proudly told the kids that our family is different from most American families, because we’ll never break up. I feel bad about my many reaction failures, but apparently I’m inspiring to him anyway. This just goes to show you that the average non-Christian husband doesn’t expect near perfection from his wife, but he does appreciate that she’s trying, especially if she tells him that as he is, or worse, he’s good enough for her, that he’s more than she deserves, which is true. All I deserve is Hell forever. I’m just glad my husband can’t know my thought life, or all things I’ve said to others during times of bad reactions to his faults or others’. He’d have a more difficult time admiring me or feeling loved by me I’m sure. I just keep trying to think better. It’s a lifelong battle for all people. I look forward to Heaven when I won’t be able to think/do unloving things anymore.

Proverbs 30:32-33 KJV
If thou hast done foolishly in lifting up thyself, or if thou hast thought evil, lay thine hand upon thy mouth. [33] Surely the churning of milk bringeth forth butter, and the wringing of the nose bringeth forth blood: so the forcing of wrath bringeth forth strife.

I’ve seen this verse many many times, but just the other day saw something I never did before…. “the forcing of wrath”, meaning our rude anger expression. In order to act hurtful, we must FORCE ourselves to. It’s not automatic, not something we can’t help, but requires our energetic free will effort. I’m just floored by this. I am more guilty of willful rudeness than I used to think. And this also means that reacting nice instead, just might take LESS effort than forcing wrath, or maybe the same level. I used to think that it was more work to be nice. This verse begs to differ.

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