What is it like being a Christian wife?
I’ve spent a generation helping people have better relationships. When I suggest that wives take their happiness back into their own hands, a popular sentiment I hear is, “Why do I have to change while he gets off the hook?”
You can keep thinking this thought (like I did for years), but just notice how it sucks your energy.
It’s precisely this type of thinking that makes one feel defeated and powerless in their marriage. When you believe the locus of control is in someone else’s hands, you can’t help but resent them.
The irony is that when you think someone is controlling you, you want to manage them.
Believing someone else is the cause of your feelings, you give your power away. When your husband doesn’t show up in the way you think he should, you feel defeated.
The truth is that you have the power to think, feel, and do.
Free will is God-given and no one can take that away.
Instead of seeing this agency as a gift, are you resenting that you can’t control someone else’s thoughts, feelings, and actions? If so, just notice that perspective is stealing your joy.
You may be perpetuating this cycle of defeat in your relationship but you can take your power back.
Here are 4 common challenges faced by Christian wives — and how to rely on your faith to feel better.
1. You vacillate between blaming and shaming.
It has to be somebody’s fault, right? So, you point the finger or hide from God.
Just like Adam and Eve in the garden, when you feel bad, you either hide in shame or shift to blame.
Neither choice serves you. Blaming and shaming will get you nowhere.
To take your power back, even if you’ve been wronged, start with asking the Lord to search your heart.
Bring all my thoughts and actions into the light.
If you own your results, then you have the power to do something different, but only if you don’t get stuck beating yourself up.
The gospel is this: we are all sinners and in need of grace. We might start with confessing our wrongs, but grace invites us to get our eyes off ourselves and onto our Redeemer.
If someone else has sinned against you, still take ownership of your feelings.
You can spend your emotional energy basking in hurt or you can focus on moving forward in justice, mercy, and forgiveness.
God may prompt you to be still while he fights for you or He may call you to take new actions, like setting boundaries or speaking the truth in love.
Your flesh may want to dwell in blame and shame, but you are free to sow seeds of righteousness and move forward.
2. You’re believing all your thoughts.
You may be dwelling in defeat because of the thoughts you’re choosing to believe.
Just because you think something doesn’t make it true. You don’t have to believe everything people say and you don’t have to accept every thought your brain offers.
You’re free to believe what you want.
I’m not talking about pretending something is true or suppressing your thinking. I’m talking about nurturing beliefs that serve you.
Look at all your thoughts, including the ugliest ones, put them on paper, and ask the Lord to shine a light on them.
See if they line up with Scripture and consider what fruit they bear.
How can you take your thoughts captive if you don’t look at them, honestly?
You may think you’re feeling the way you are because of what someone did and your circumstances. But, that’s not true.
Circumstances don’t cause your feelings. The meaning you attribute to circumstances, including other people’s actions, causes your suffering.
The proof lies in the life of the Apostle, Paul.
Paul had some tough circumstances. He was shipwrecked, chained in prison, and beaten. Yet, he considered it all joy. He proclaimed learning the secret to being content in all situations.
Why could he sing songs when he was in jail? It was because of what he made the circumstances mean.
We’ve been given free will to choose what we will believe.
The thoughts you listen to may or may not be serving you. But the good news is that they’re optional.
3. You’re not validating your feelings.
You might be feeling defeated in your marriage because you’re not taking ownership of your feelings or experiencing them.
Your thoughts about your circumstances create your feelings, which fuels your actions.
Your partner is not the cause of your pain and when you think that he is, you’re invalidating your feelings.
Feelings are there to be experienced, not to be fixed.
Yes, you can create new feelings by believing new things, but you must take ownership of your feelings and have compassion for yourself before you do that work.
Many people don’t know how to really experience their feelings, which is unfortunate because emotions are an invitation to engage intimately with God, the one who loves the soul.
If you feel angry and start throwing things, you’re not really experiencing the emotion. You’re just reacting to it.
If you’re fighting hard to be positive and pushing away negative emotion, you’re not really experiencing that emotion and will stay stuck in it and not know why.
Unprocessed feelings always find a way to be heard, whether it be through passive-aggressive behaviors, body aches, and pains, or unexpected emotional outbursts.
Feelings are harmless. It’s the resistance to them that causes pain.
Learn to feel your emotions without indulging or resisting them or you will stay stuck in them.
4. You haven’t stepped into your real identity.
Finally, a reason why you may be feeling defeated in your marriage is that you want your husband to be someone God never intended him to be.
Your husband is there for you to love, not to make you happy.
Your joy is found in the Lord. Your identity and worth are found in Jesus.
As His daughter, you have all you need already. He delights in you. He is your redeemer and vindicator. He is your protector and defender. He has assigned you your portion and cup and gives you all you need.
When you practice being who God says you already are, you will experience greater power, love, and stability in all areas of your life.
If your marriage is spinning in defeat, you can practice new beliefs and take back your power to be who you already are.
Changes won’t happen overnight, but when you offer your brain a new perspective and commit to taking some further steps, you will be well on your way to experiencing a new marriage.
It’s time to let yourself off the hook and live the victorious life you have been given.
Jill M. Lillard, MA LPC, is Gottman Certified Couples Therapist and Life Coach who helps dedicated couples get their marriage back on track and start having fun again. She also helps Christian women step into powerful and exciting lives no matter what their circumstances. Get your free mini-course, The 4 Things You Must Do To Become The Happiest Wife.