In evangelical Christian marriages, the issue of roles and leadership tend to plague both husbands and wives. When hormonal euphoria begins to wane in a relationship, the friction of two distinct but overlapping genders becoming one heats up. Sexual heat may fade as relational heat rises. Women get emotional. Men hide from those emotions. The man doesn't feel welcoming to the woman. The woman doesn't feel safe to the man. Her cry for emotional and spiritual intimacy feels like fingernails on a chalkboard to him.
These are stereotypes and generalizations. Yet, I use them because they also fit the majority of conversations I have with friends and family on this topic. This may not describe your marriage, but it does describe many.
If any of that resonates with you, dear Christian husband who loves his wife but doesn't know how to enter into her emotional needs, I offer you this one miraculous tool that won't cost you much at all.
Pray with her.
You don't have to pray with answers. I can't stand prayers that actually sound like lectures. When I say pray with her, I mean real prayers to God. I mean supplication asking for His help—His help with her, for her and for yourself. Here are the miraculous things accomplished in this small and easy act.
1. She feels heard. You may not know how to help whatever struggle is causing her concerns, but you haven't ignored the struggle. You have no idea what it means to a woman just to be heard. Men love to fix things, and sometimes, men, when you don't know how to fix something, you don't engage it at all. But this small act gives you the freedom to engage what you do not know how to solve. It allows you to engage it with the only One who does know how to solve it. This ministers much grace to your wife.
2. She doesn't feel alone. When a wife expresses a burden or concern and you turn away, the feeling of loneliness in dealing with it can be overwhelming for her. Yet, what if you don't understand her concern? What if it feels irrational? You don't have to understand or agree with her in order to walk with her through it. Praying with her about something you disagree about is still walking with her through it.
3. You take it to the only One able to make two become one. True spiritual intimacy in marriage is only accomplished through the Holy Spirit. Only the Spirit can break down the barriers she has to you and you have to her. Only the Spirit can truly minister to the deep places in her heart. You can't be her god, and when you bring her with you to the One True God, you put both of you back on the only path to peace.
Husband, if you feel discouraged in your relationship with your wife or you know she is discouraged with you, I strongly recommend this one simple act of faith: prayer with your wife. I hope you find this helpful, and may God bless all of our families.
James 5:16 says, "Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, so that you may be healed. The urgent request of a righteous person is very powerful in its effect."
Adapted from Wendy Alsup's blog, theologyforwomen.org. Wendy has authored three books including By His Wounds You Are Healed: How the Message of Ephesians Transforms a Woman's Identity. She is also a wife, mom and college math teacher who loves ministering to women.
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