Before God radically changed my mind, heart and soul over the past 5 years, I would constantly have “tapes” playing in my head where I was always talking to myself about things – a running narrative of worry, fear, trying to figure out every possible “what if” scenario and basically, trying to figure out how to MAKE everything happen the way I thought it should myself (trusting SELF instead of God – which is idolatry).
** Please only date a man who has submitted himself to Christ! Don’t just take a man’s word for it, “Sure, I’m a Christian.” Be sure you see the fruit of God’s Spirit in his life on a daily basis: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Galatians 5:22-23. And be sure to focus on asking God to empower YOU with His Spirit so that you are becoming more and more like Christ daily, too, dying to self and living with Christ as LORD.
Here is an example of a tape I used to play often – thousands and thousands of times over and over again:
Greg doesn’t love me.
If he loved me, he would do X, Y and Z for me.
I would never treat him like this.
I obviously love him way more than he loves me.
He doesn’t care about me at all.
He didn’t even answer my question! How rude was that!?!?!
That is more proof that he hates me.
He wouldn’t hug me when I was upset. He’s the most unloving man ever.
He ignored me! WHEN I WAS UPSET!!!!!!! (insert tears)
God, You saw him! You need to change him! NOW! He is supposed to love me like Christ loves the church! But all he does is ignore me and refuse to talk to me. He won’t pray with me. You need to make him pray with me and talk with me and love me today. I know that’s Your will.
REPLACING THE OLD “TAPES” WITH NEW ONES:
I have to dissect them, look for the possible lies, assumptions and misunderstandings and replace that with truth about how men think, who Greg is, actual facts instead of opinions and what God’s Word says…
- Greg doesn’t love me.
I am making an evil assumption about Greg here. He married me. He lives with me. He comes home after work every night. He sleeps in the same bed with me. He has never said he doesn’t love me. He may not show love the way that I want him to, but maybe he is a man and maybe there are things about him that I don’t understand. Maybe he doesn’t verbalize his love as much as I do or as much as I want him to. But verbalizing love is not the same thing as actually loving someone. What things has he done to show me he loves me lately? Well, he put gas in my car, he helped me carry in the groceries, he said he thought I should take a nap because I haven’t been sleeping well, he goes to work every day to help provide financially for me and our children, he has been remodeling the house to try to make a beautiful place for us to live. Those are all ways that he tries to show me he loves me. Maybe for him, he shows love with what he DOES for me much more than with words. Maybe words don’t mean a lot to him.
- If he loved me, he would do X, Y and Z for me.
Have I respectfully asked Greg for those things? Do I expect him to read my mind? Maybe he would do things I would like him to do if I asked him politely, with a friendly tone of voice and didn’t pressure him, but gave him time to decide on his own when and if he would want to do something.
Maybe it is unfair to assume that if he loved me he would show it in certain ways that I think he should show it.
- I would never treat him like this.
When I start to accuse him of evil motives, based on how I would treat him, maybe I need to learn to understand him better. He probably has good motives toward me. He is a decent man. Maybe if I don’t understand why he is behaving in a certain way, maybe I just don’t understand the way he looks at the world and sees life? Maybe I can’t see his heart clearly? Maybe I could have done something that hurt him? Maybe he felt disrespected? Maybe what seems loving to me would feel smothering to him?
Maybe he is treating me with respect the way he would want me to treat him if the situation were reversed?
Maybe what he thinks of as being respectful, I take as being unloving? Maybe what I take as me being loving to him feels disrespectful to him?
Maybe I have a LOT to learn and discover about masculinity and about my husband and his world?
- I obviously love him way more than he loves me.
This is an unfair statement. I am accusing him of evil motives again and assuming that I can accurately judge Greg’s heart and thoughts. I am not God. I am not able to judge someone’s motives accurately. I am measuring his love by my expectations. Maybe my expectations are wrong. Maybe my expectations are unrealistic? Maybe I have made my expectations into idols – things I MUST HAVE to be happy. Maybe I am expecting Greg to fill needs that only Jesus can meet in me. Maybe I am acting insatiable? Maybe my expectations are that he would think and act like me, or like a woman. Maybe that would actually be a bad thing.
Maybe I need to learn to recognize all the ways Greg tries to communicate his love to me instead of demanding that he show love to me in specific ways.
Maybe I need to take my deepest spiritual and emotional needs to Christ and be responsible for my own peace and joy in Him no matter what Greg does or doesn’t do.
Maybe Greg feels like I don’t love him after the hateful tone of voice I just used with him and how exasperated, impatient and mean I must have just sounded. I am not justified in sinning against Greg just because he doesn’t do what I want him to do. Even if Greg was sinning against me, God commands me to repay evil with good, not to respond in sin. Romans 12:9-21
- He doesn’t care about me at all.
This is also an unfair accusation. The enemy is the accuser. Who am I listening to? Love believes the best and assumes the best about the one it loves, not the worst (I Corinthians 13:4-8). Am I cooperating with the enemy? Why am I accusing Greg of evil? Am I listening to the voice of God? That doesn’t sound like the kind of thing God would say about Greg.
- He didn’t even answer my question! How rude was that!?!?!
Maybe Greg is not a woman. Maybe he needs time and space to process and think. That is not wrong. Maybe he wasn’t trying to be rude. He might be different from me. Maybe he doesn’t come up with answers in 2 seconds like I do. That doesn’t mean he was being rude. Or maybe I was pressuring him too much. Maybe if I had asked politely and waited, he would have been glad to answer. Maybe he didn’t want to make a rash decision. Maybe he is attempting to make a thoughtful, careful, wise choice because he loves me and because he wants to be a responsible man. Accusing him of being rude is not a loving or respectful thing to do – especially since I don’t really know his motives.
Or, maybe Greg is afraid to answer my question because he is afraid I will attack him if he doesn’t answer “the right way.” Maybe he doesn’t feel safe talking with me because of how I have treated him.
- That is more proof that he hates me.
Maybe this is more proof that he is different from me, or that he has shut down to protect himself from me. But it is not actually proof that he hates me and does not love me.
I need to think about the good things about Greg like Philippians 4:4-8 commands me to do:
Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Hmmm… I have not been rejoicing in the Lord, I have been focusing on Greg’s flaws. Not good.
Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. – I was not gentle to Greg, and I did not act like I knew I was in God’s presence. If I could see Jesus standing behind Greg’s shoulder, would I have just spoken to my husband like I did? NO! Definitely not! But Jesus IS right here and He DOES see how I treat Greg, and even every thought I have about him. I am accountable to Him for each thought and careless word. Jesus counts how I treat Greg as if I am doing these things to Him. YIKES!
Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. – I was just trusting myself to try to make things work out “right” – I wasn’t trusting God. I wasn’t taking it to Him in prayer. I was worrying and trying to control. Lord, I repent! I need Your power and Your Spirit and Your peace!
Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. – The things I was just thinking and playing over and over in my head don’t fit any of these descriptions. Those thoughts have to go!
- He wouldn’t hug me when I was upset. He’s the most unloving man ever.
How was I talking to him? I had raised my voice and was trying to force my way. Hmm… I probably came across very disrespectfully just now. That might be why he didn’t hug me. Maybe he felt attacked by me. Maybe I owe him an apology.
Am I being loving and respectful to him?
Let me compare myself to God’s love in I Corinthians 13:4-8:
April is patient and kind – OOPS! I was not patient and I was not kind just now. That was sin.
April does not envy or boast – OOPS! I was just boasting to myself about how I love Greg so much more than he loves me. That was sin, pride and self-righteousness.
April is not arrogant or rude – Well – I was rude to him just now when I think about my facial expression and my awful tone of voice. That was disrespectful, and arrogant. I’m not doing very well on loving like God does so far. UGH! FORGIVE ME, LORD!
April does not insist on her own way – YIKES!!!!!!!! That is exactly what I was just doing. YUCK. Lord, I repent of this sin, too.
April does not rejoice at wrongdoing – YAY! I don’t think I did that!!!
April rejoices with the truth – Uh Oh! I was holding on to a lot of untrue thinking just now. More sin.
April bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things and endures all things. April’s love never ends. – Hmmm… I have a lot of work to do. I am not living in the power of God’s Spirit. I have a lot of sin to repent of.
- He ignored me! WHEN I WAS UPSET!!!!!!! (insert tears)
Maybe I hurt Greg deeply just now, and then had the gall to expect him to turn and comfort ME. UGH.
- God, You saw him! You need to change him! NOW! He is supposed to love me like Christ loves the church! But all he does is ignore me and refuse to talk to me. He won’t pray with me. You need to make him pray with me and talk with me and love me today. I know that’s Your will.
God, CHANGE ME!!!!!!! I am such a sinner!
Please forgive my pride! Forgive my arrogance. Please forgive me for listening to the enemy and for focusing on my assumptions instead of focusing on facts and on Greg’s usual good will toward me. Please help me to understand his masculine viewpoint and the differences between how we think and feel and process decisions. Help me to extend grace and mercy instead of bitterness and resentment. Help me to see my sin and focus on his strengths. Thank you for my husband’s strengths and gifts and talents. You have given him so many strengths …. help me to be thankful for those instead of focusing on that he wasn’t doing exactly what I wanted exactly when I wanted him to do it. Forgive me for being controlling and disrespectful. Cleanse me of all of my selfishness. Let me find my acceptance, purpose, identity, strength, joy and peace in You alone. Help me to take my hands off of Greg’s throat and allow You to speak to him instead of me trying to be his Holy Spirit. Help me to be quiet about spiritual things so that I get out of your way and he can hear Your voice.
How can I bless Greg today? What can I do to apologize? How can I meet his need for respect and honor in a genuine way today? Fill me with Your Spirit and let me have a sound mind. Help me to be still and rest in Your love and in Greg’s love. Thank you for Greg. He is a precious gift. Show me how I can make things up to him today. Help me to LISTEN to him and understand him. Help me to embrace the waiting and allow You to lead me and Greg to lead me.
I accept that Greg may not be as affectionate and verbal as I want him to be. Help me to love, honor and respect him as he is right now. Forgive me for wanting to change him. I am the one who needs changing the most, Lord. I don’t have wisdom. YOU have wisdom. I trust You to lead me through my husband and to make me into the godly wife and woman You desire me to be.
In the Name and power of Christ,