A lot of women ask me this question…
“How do I know when to say how I feel and when I should not say anything?”
This can be such a quandary! Especially at first when we have not yet figured out what exactly is respectful or disrespectful.
Unfortunately – or fortunately – depending on how you look at this topic – there is no formula or pat answer.
(If you have severe problems in your relationship – abuse, addictions, infidelity, uncontrolled mental health disorders, a man who is not a sincere follower of Christ, please seek experienced, godly, wise counsel.)
There are times when SILENCE is the best choice:
- When we are first beginning this journey and we have been voicing disrespect, complaints, criticism, arguments, anger, negativity, hostility and contempt for months or years and we have not learned the wisdom of being silent about sinful things, disrespectful thoughts and controlling thoughts. We must take time to learn godly wisdom and discretion. At first, we can begin to have wisdom by being silent instead of sinning with our words and using our words to bring death. In time, we learn to use our words to affirm, encourage, breathe life, build up, bless and heal.
Even fools are thought wise if they keep silent, and discerning if they hold their tongues. Proverbs 17:28
- When what we are about to say is not motivated by the love of God – being rude, rehashing past, supposedly forgiven sins, impatience, etc… (Please see what God ‘s love looks like I Corinthians 13:4-8)
- When our motives are sinful – pride, blame, condemnation, a critical spirit, selfishness, self-righteousness, sinful jealousy, idolatry (putting our men, children, self, money, romance, feeling loved, etc… above Christ in our hearts), resentment, bitterness. If we have sin in our hearts, let’s go spend time in repentance humbly before God asking for His forgiveness and crucifying self, dying to our sin before we venture to speak with our husbands (or anyone). (I John 1:9, Matthew 7:1-5)
- When our men are not feeling well, are exhausted, are sick, are under a great deal of stress (there can be exceptions when an issue is very important or pressing, of course, or if the exhaustion, illness or stress is longterm).
- When WE are hormonal, exhausted, sick, hungry or not feeling well in some way physically. If possible, it can be wise to wait to have deep discussions or big life-changing conversations until we are physically stronger. It is not always beneficial for us to try to evaluate our lives or make huge decisions when we are in such states of physical depletion. I know it is not wise for me to do this!
- When words are many, sin is not absent. Proverbs 10:19
- When our sinful nature is in control. (Galatians 5:19-21)
- When God’s Spirit prompts us to be silent.
- In marriage, if our husbands are far from God and unable or unwilling to hear our words, we then seek to obey I Peter 3:1-6. Sometimes our words about spiritual things, the Bible or God will make things worse. In such circumstances, God commands us to show respect and honor and to live out godly lives in our attitudes, speech and behavior without preaching at or nagging our husbands. God knows this approach will speak much more powerfully to a husband who is in rebellion against Him and will allow the husband to more clearly hear God’s voice. There will be times we may need to say certain things in this situation, we will need to be very sensitive to God’s Spirit to know what and when to speak. There are no specific commands about this to women before marriage, but if a man is far from God and not living for Christ, we are not to pursue a relationship or marriage with him (I Corinthians 6, 7)
There are times when speaking humbly, honestly, respectfully, lovingly, gently and vulnerably is the best option:
- When the timing is right and our men are receptive.
- When our motives are pure in God’s sight.
- When we are walking in the power of God’s Spirit (Galatians 5:22-26)
- When our goals are simply to honor and obey God and bless our men. (The two greatest commandments – to love God and to love others. Mark 12:28-29)
- When we need to communicate critical information to our men so that they will have our important ideas, perspective, feelings, needs and desires available to them.
- When we have feelings to share – I feel sad, I feel afraid, I feel nervous, I am worried, I feel so happy, I feel upset, I am lonely, I want X, I don’t want Y. (Laura Doyle “The Surrendered Wife”) We share our emotions and desires without blaming our men, pressuring them or trying to control them.
- When we want to talk through our feelings. But, it can be important and helpful for us to share exactly what we need, ie: “I am not sure how I am feeling about this. It would help me so much if you would please listen to me for about 5-10 minutes while I talk through things. Talking is how I process my feelings. Just knowing you are listening is such a blessing to me.” But then, it would be great to let our men know we would like to hear their thoughts many times, too, and we can show our men that their thoughts are very important to us and that we appreciate their wisdom and leadership.
- When we are sharing a thankful heart. I Thessalonians 5:18
- When we have a pressing problem and need our men’s help, wisdom, leadership, comfort, love or guidance.
- When we want to express our genuine respect or appreciation (for some men, brief messages are the most powerful. Other men like large amounts of discussion or sharing.)
- When we are using our words to build up, affirm, encourage, breathe life, bring healing and bless our men. (Sometimes our guys do not believe our respectful words at first if we have been very disrespectful and controlling for a long time. But we can continue seeking to show respect as best we know how. As we continue to practice and seek to honor God and our men, we will learn to do this more effectively and our men will eventually begin to believe our respect in time, most likely.)
A wise woman builds her house, but a foolish woman tears hers down with her own hands. Prov 14:1
- When we have special expertise in an area and our men appreciate our sharing.
- When we are helping our men in a way that they feel is helpful or that honors God. (We were created to be their helpmeets)
- When our men want to please us and want to know what we would like. If they want to know what we would like for our birthday or what restaurant we want to go to – let’s share what we would like (in a cheerful, pleasant way without pressure, guilt or manipulation) and not try to make them read our minds. 🙂
- When we are having times of emotional closeness.
- When we ask if it is a good time to share, and our men are receptive.
- When our men have sinned against us, and we have repented of all of our sin and God’s Spirit gives us wisdom about how to approach our men according to Matthew 7:1-5 and Matthew 18:15-18
- When we need to repent to our men for our sins against them.
- When we want to share Philippians 4:8 things that we are thankful for.
I have a new youtube video on this topic!