I was in my mid-twenties. My husband was the senior pastor of a growing church in the Midwest, and we were busy. I loved ministry, and I thought I loved people. I mean, isn’t that what ministry is all about: loving God and loving people? But in the midst of all my good “kingdom work,” I was stopped short when I was confronted by a staff member’s wife. It was one of the first conversations that caused me to pause (only briefly) to consider that I might need to evaluate my treatment of others.
“You Walk Over People”
Looking back now, I don’t know how this young woman had the nerve to approach me. Back in that day, I was one intimidating, fierce woman.
Her voice was shaking as she timidly confronted my cold, businesslike demeanor, “You just don’t seem to care about people . . . You seem so hard and matter-of-fact . . . I mean . . . I’ve never even seen you cry.”
Her words weren’t enough to effect any real change, however. I embraced my fierceness, pitied her ignorance, and breezed out of the room on to more important matters.
Interestingly, almost ten years later, I was faced with a similar rebuke. A woman in leadership told me, “You just walk over people.” At the time, God was already opening my eyes to my ugly fierceness, and her words cut through to my heart.
“Do You Intimidate Your Husband?”
Not long after, a dear friend had the courage to ask me a penetrating question, “Do you think you intimidate your husband?” My first response was to laugh. But her question wouldn’t leave me alone. I played and replayed it, and started to wonder if this wise sister recognized something I had missed but needed to see.
God used all these confrontations to deliver me from being a destructively fierce woman. When my eyes were finally opened to the depth of my own need for change, I was broken. I asked my husband’s forgiveness, and that was a turning point in our marriage. Things didn’t suddenly become easier, but my heart changed and eventually our marriage changed as well.
What If You Stopped Playing the Marital Blame Game?
Maybe you can relate. You may be in a miserable marriage, looking for answers to where things went wrong, wishing your husband would change, convinced he’s the problem. You may be repeating words similar to mine: “He’s the one who needs his eyes opened, not me! If only he would be more loving, open up, and communicate, we could have an intimate and enjoyable relationship. If only he would change.” How often I sang that same song. All the while, our intimacy continued to steadily erode.
Every couple’s issues will be different, and the specifics of the relationship struggles will vary. But when it comes to marital conflict, there are no “innocent bystanders.” There is always the need for growth in both partners. In the years I’ve spent talking with women on this topic, I’ve found that admitting when you’re wrong and consistently demonstrating love results in positive changes. Our marital transformation has been a journey of bringing down walls and a process of building unity. Stopping the blame game is where that starts.
Would you be willing to start there? How can you demonstrate loving respect to your husband today?
Adapted from Fierce Women: The Power of a Soft Warrior.