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How to Positively Influence Your Husband (Part 2 of 2)

Focus on the Family / Jim Daly
The Truth Network Radio
June 13, 2024 2:00 am

How to Positively Influence Your Husband (Part 2 of 2)

Focus on the Family / Jim Daly

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If women understand the power they have in God, the affirmation they have in God, he's called them to rule. And really, we're called elsewhere in Scripture, 1 Peter and other places, that we are kings and queens. We're royalty before God.

And so, act like a queen in your home who deserves respect, who can have influence, and who God made to rule along with her husband. Gary Thomas offering a reminder to wives that you have a significant role to play in the life of your husband. And we're eager to hear more from Gary today on Focus on the Family with Jim Daly. Thanks for joining us.

I'm John Fuller. Last time we shared part one of a great conversation we recorded with Gary about the tremendous influence women have on their husbands, for good or for bad. It was a great reminder for all of us that you can't really change your spouse, but you can influence them toward being all that God made them to be. And I thank my wife, Jean, for doing that for me.

And John, I'm sure you would say the same about Dina. Indeed I would, yes. And it's our prayer that this wonderful message from Gary will encourage and equip your marriage to be better.

That's the goal. This is really good stuff. If you missed the discussion last time, contact us to get the download of that or visit our website to review it or better yet, get our Focus on the Family app so you can access the content anytime you want. And we also mentioned that Gary's book has been the basis for what we shared last time and again today. The title is Loving Him Well, Practical Advice on Influencing Your Husband. And we've got details about it and our guest at our website.

And the link is in the show notes. All right, here's part two of our conversation with Gary Thomas on Focus on the Family with Jim Daly. We did mention last time, went into some depth, this idea of changing your husband versus influencing your husband. Give us just a quick recap so we can reset with new listeners today, what that concept's about. I believe the difference is that when you think about changing your husband, you're only gonna be happy based on something he does. Influence focuses on what you do. Partnering with God to be a positive influence, to be a nurturing influence, and by example, calling your husband to become the man that God created him to be as a husband, as a father, as a son, as a friend, as a worker in God's kingdom. In fact, Gary, there's so much great content in your book, Loving Him Well.

I didn't get to this last time and I wanted to. It's a quote. I hate quoting back to the author of a book, but let me do it. On page 36, you said this, what if your husband's faults are God's tools to shape you? What if the very thing that most bugs you about your spouse constitutes God's plan to teach you something new?

Oh, seriously, Gary, that is so stinking convicting. I mean, you had to come up with that, huh? Well, and it goes beyond marriage to how God can give you the perfect kid that knows exactly what button to push or an in-law or somebody at work. And the main thing is learning, again, I can't change those around me, but I can be changed by interacting with those around me. Now, I do think there are destructive relationships that I need to walk away from, but often the ones that most frustrate me point out one of my own weaknesses because I'm contributing to the problem and I want to be stronger, I want to be wiser, I want to be a redemptive influence.

But look at relationships sort of like practicing. None of us have arrived. None of us are completely mature. None of us are completely Christ-like. And so when we're interacting with a difficult person, something with our spouse saying, okay, I'll give myself a B- there, but here's what I did.

I think next time I can get a B+. And so you're just looking at God is growing you as you learn to deal with your spouse and those around you. Well, and it's such a great lens to view it through. It takes you out of bitterness, which is not healthy, and it puts you in a different position. It's okay, what is the Lord teaching me in this tough moment? In fact, again, you mentioned a scripture that we breeze through and you have captured it to say, no, focus the light on this. It's James 3, 2, where it says we all stumble in many ways. And you mentioned in the book how that kind of revolutionized how you thought about this.

Why? How did it revolutionize your thinking? I have probably talked about that verse 40 hours of my lifetime. If I were to add up all the marriage seminars and the books I put that in, it's been in every marriage book and in blog posts and whatnot. And it's still, I forget, everyone will stumble in many ways. It says all of us stumble in many ways. There's no exception. Nobody gets to marry the fourth member of the Trinity.

That person doesn't exist. And we know that intellectually, but sometimes in our hearts, we resent it. We say, okay, Lord, I know my spouse has to stumble. Why does he have to stumble in that way? Or why can't she stumble in this way?

And so we think how much easier it would be. And I just point out, if you married someone else, they may not stumble in this way, but they're going to find another way to stumble because the Bible says we all stumble in many ways. One thing the Bible is so clear about, and we just have to get it, there's only one hero in scripture and that's Jesus. I mean, every major character, David, he wouldn't qualify as an elder in any Baptist church that I know of when people read his history and Moses.

I mean, every one of them, Peter, every one of them has these things that just make us cringe. And God is bold enough to say, he's still a man after my own heart. And I would say to wives, can you look at a man who stumbles as David stumbled and have God's heart to say, man, he blew it here. He blew it there. He stumbles here.

He's still a man that has my heart. That's the tough thing, but that's the supernatural grace of God. We need to realize that we need to receive that grace. The more that I know how God gives me grace, I can give grace to others. If I haven't got it that I live by grace, that I make myself the hero, God loves me because I don't do that. God accepts me because I've learned not to do that.

Then I ask the same of other people. But when I accept that Jesus is the only hero in the Bible, Jesus is the only hero today, I've received grace. I'm just so much more likely to give grace. And Jim, I know people, this is what people expect a pastor to say, but for me, I can't love my wife and others well if I'm not spending time at the beginning of the day receiving affirmation from God.

Well, that really does point us toward the disciplines that allow us to do that. And one of the things you encourage women to do is to form their heart towards their husbands through prayer. That can be hard to do when you're feeling this emotional separation, when you're feeling antagonistic towards your husband. I mean, really, how do I pray for a guy I really don't like?

I know I got to love him, but I don't like him right now. So speak through that, how that is so fundamentally important that you have a time of prayer for your husband, just you. It doesn't have to be with your husband.

Probably better if he's not there. But speak to that discipline and what is gained through prayer for your husband. First, let me talk about the danger of prayer. If you go into prayer with a list of your husband's weaknesses and spend 20 minutes haranguing God about how this has to change and he's making you miserable, you're going to come out of that prayer sick in your heart toward your husband.

That doesn't really help. I'm always mindful when I'm talking to God about my wife, I'm talking about his daughter. I've never forgotten, I have two daughters. It's so powerful to think of it that way.

Okay, God, I'm talking about your daughter and I know you love her and I know you get it, but it just changes my attitude and it changes my approach. Now on the positive end, let me use an analogy for my wife. One of her favorite things to do Saturday morning, she goes to this huge farmer's market. Again, everything is locally sourced and organic. No Doritos there. She is one good eater.

$6 for a dozen eggs, but they're happy chickens and they have videos that show that they live happy lives. So every Friday night I have to go to the ATM machine and get cash because I walk behind her carrying the food and chilling out, but she takes great joy. Oh, here's some greens or here's good healthy meats. She just loves gathering all these things because it's what she's going to serve everybody that comes to our house and me and her for the next week. And if we viewed prayer as going to the farmer's market, Lord, remind me of the strengths that my spouse has that I've forgotten. And so before I pray for my wife, I listen to God about my wife. Remind me of the grace that you've shown her. Remind me of the evidences of your work in her life.

And I'm just sort of like gathering things. And then Lord, remind me of why life is difficult for her right now. Help me see the challenges she faces. So I'm going to God not just to change her, but to understand her. Give me the supernatural understanding of why my wife's life is difficult, why my wife might be dealing with this, why my wife might be facing this. And so then I'm trying to gain God's affection for my wife.

I'm trying to gain understanding of my wife. And then I can go, okay, how do I help influence her and affirm her in a positive way? And usually what it means is I've never had God say, so these are the five things she needs to change. It's usually one thing where God says, why don't you help her grow in this? But you're supporting her to move in this direction. Honey, I want to, I think you've got so much stress in this area.

What if I do this so that you can have that? And so I come to her as one who wants to help her and nurture her, not with the list of five things that she's failing me, she's failing God, she's failing her kids, and why don't you just retire? I mean, you'd never say that last word, but that's what she hears. Gary, I really am intrigued by what you're saying right there. And I'm thinking that for men, so much of our life is tied up in work. And there are probably a lot of wives who don't hear much about their husband's work. There's a whole part of their life that is kind of hidden. How can she enter into that as she prays and then just day to day get to know that aspect of his life?

I think just asking God to reveal to her why her husband is the way he is. You know, so often, let me just use an example. There was a Hollywood actor who had so many problems with drugs throughout his career. And I just, in a judgmental way, I'm like, guy, you have to work eight weeks a year. You make tens of millions of dollars.

You can go on these great vacations. You have people paying for you to have, what is your problem? Well, then when I read his dad introduced him to pot when he was seven years old, he was smoking dope with his dad at seven years old. I'm like, Oh, I mean, it doesn't excuse the decisions he makes as an adult, but I take a step back and say, why are you the way you are? And again, where people fears, they're saying, I'm not excusing it. But when I understand somebody's pathway, then I'm just less judgmental and I have more nurturing because in Christ, John Calvin said this, I can't take credit for it, but it's a great sentence. Once we're in Christ, God doesn't treat us as a judge. He treats us as a physician. And that's the attitude we have to have toward our spouse.

Okay, this is wrong. And maybe you have cancer because you did this. You wouldn't say that, but you can stop smoking, but you're recognizing what led up to this issue in the person's life. And then you're saying, how do I help you face it? Now, another thing I would say with wives on this about husbands not sharing, they just need to know this neurologically because I found when I was doing research for this book, so many of the most common disagreements between husbands and wife aren't disagreements between Jill and Peter or Shanice and Antoine. They're disagreements between the male brain and the female brain. For a male to talk about his frustrations neurologically, it's painful. It's like, it's not even like a deep tissue.

I mean, it's like a painful chiropractic thing where a doctor is wrenching something and it hurts. For the female brain, for whatever reason, talking about it, receiving empathy is soothing and healing and she feels better. Now, just because something hurts me doesn't mean I shouldn't do it. My wife wants to be a part of my world and I have to open it up, but it helps her give me a little bit of grace.

When do we do it? Is it best at the end of the day, maybe on the weekend, maybe on vacation, you're trying to figure out things or maybe in a certain environment where you can create it, but just have some empathy that it's great that you want to be in his world. But if a guy feels grilled, it is painful for him neurologically to share with you. It doesn't mean that he doesn't love you. It doesn't mean he doesn't want you in his world. He might just be reacting against the pain.

I flinch if somebody's making me hurt, even if I don't want to flinch. Gary, I want to kind of keep going a little deeper in this brain chemistry area because God's created us and it's in that context. Sometimes we put at war science and biblical truth. I don't think they're at war actually.

I think over time science continues to prove in this material world that the scripture is accurate. In that context, when you look at the brain science that you are alluding to, I found it fascinating in that research that male brains have less serotonin than female brains. And that serotonin is that calming feature. So that's why women, I think, can sit and talk calmly about issues.

They don't need to resolve it. But men, we get antsy. We want to fix it. It's brain chemistry, folks.

I mean, it's hard for us. I mean, I get antsy listening and I sometimes I say the exact wrong thing to Jean when she's elaborating on something and she can feel my impatience. I'm sitting there going, and? And? And? I mean, what did you guys do to resolve that? Resolve it?

What are you talking about? It's got to be so frustrating to her. But it is.

It's this weird thing that the Lord decided, okay, to make you a little more selfless. I'm going to give you two different ways of approaching a problem and it drives us crazy. Right.

Right. Here's the thing I would say, and I hope women will take this. I'm going to try to say this in as gentle way as I can.

God knows. People said in most of my books, sacred marriage, and I'm harder on men than I am on women or whatnot. But this is one area where I feel like sometimes women are disappointed with their husbands for being men. I said, you married a man and God made a man in a certain way. And this whole notion of nature and nurture, modern neuroscience has blown it apart.

One researcher has talked about how between the third and sixth month of an unborn baby's life, hormones begin to shape the tiny brain long before it's nurtured. That male brain is being hit with testosterone in a way the female brain isn't. And you hit on one, that Mr. Fix-It mentality, where men and women just think differently. Now, we men need to learn how to respond to our wife's pain in a way that is more nurturing.

But I do think wives need to understand what's going on because they're looking at their husbands as uncaring, when in fact, their husband's thinking they are caring. Let me explain this. In her brain, she expresses empathy by mirroring a person's distress and concern because she clicks toward what they call the MNS form of emotional processing.

What that is, is that she shows concern by mirroring it back. I hear you. I understand. Even facial expression.

I feel with you. Yes. I mean, everything within her, that's how her brain is registered to express empathy. A child with a boo-boo.

Oh, you got a boo-boo. I can see Gene's face right in front of me. I mean, it's making that, that, that, aw. The male brain expresses empathy by a process that scientists call cognitive empathy, which means we're motivated to stop the problem. We want to stop what's causing your pain. And to stop what's causing the pain, we don't have time to show empathy. We're like, okay, you've given me the information I know, this hurts you.

I'm going to stop it. Now, that's not what most wives want, but I say that's where you go to your girlfriends and your sister and your mom, or even your daughter to get that. But your husband is expressing concern by trying to fix the problem. Now for the men listening, here's what I found to deal with this divide. I've learned, because this is what expresses concern to my wife, when she expresses something that's really bothering her, that's not the moment for me to fix it.

That's the moment for me to say, man, I'm sorry. And to draw her out and then that, oh yeah, I see that. And, and to be curious. She feels loved when I show empathy and more curiosity. Not stop talking.

It's usually tell me more. But then I come back later in the day, at least two hours. I've been thinking about this. I've been praying about it.

What if we did this? Then she just seems more willing to receive it because she felt heard. But what I want wives to hear is this, because I know a lot of wives, sometimes you feel this with your sons. You have an adolescent son and he's hurting and you want to smother him. You want to hug him or kiss him and he pushes you away. And you know how that hurts because you're thinking, I want to show you, I care and he won't let you care. Why doesn't he love me?

That's how she interprets it. Why doesn't he love me? That's exactly how your husband feels when he's trying to stop your pain and you resent him for it. He feels like he's giving you a hug.

It's his neurological form of a hug and you're rejecting it. You don't want your husband to feel bad for wanting to show empathy. He is showing empathy.

He's just showing it in a different way. So for the men listening, let's learn to show empathy and curiosity. And for the women listening, but don't discount the male version of showing empathy. If we would just understand the way our brains work, instead of resenting each other, we can work toward each other. God made us his compliments. I'm glad the world has both forms of brain. We want the people who say, I really care that you're hurting, but I'm thankful for the people that says, yeah, but I can fix that.

Right. You know, Jean and I, the one where you've got going right now, and she's coaching me on this. It's my ability to finish her sentence. I'm fixing the end of her sentence because she'll say, you know, the other day would, and she'll go into a story and then she'll struggle for that word. I'll say to do this, to do that.

And she finally looked at me and said, let me finish my sentence. It is a struggle for me. That's my fix it mentality. Let me just move it faster.

Let me move it along. We are so similar. I'm thinking one of the scripts I have running these days is just be quiet.

Don't ask anything. Just let her process, because Deena likes to just throw it all out there and talk and I get lost sometimes. And it has been helpful for her to know that if you'll just shorten things up or let me just pare it back to you, what I think you're saying, it's so much more beneficial to the both of us, but it's hard work on both parties to understand that's how he's wired. That's how she's wired.

Yeah. And to respect God's design that we just, the natural human tendency is if somebody is different, we think they're worse. We look down on the different because men are different than women.

Women fault men for being different. When you think about it, put it in a medical procedure. If you're going in for a medical procedure, you want one person with great bedside manners. Boy, this must be painful. Yeah, we're going to be there. Everything's going to be okay.

Don't worry. But when it comes to the surgeon, I don't care if he or she even talks to me. My son had surgery with this brilliant surgeon. It was this Asian woman.

He had to have his hand worked on. She goes, here's my first thing. If this works, this is what I want to do.

If that doesn't work, I'm going to do this. And here's the third thing, but this is the first. I thought, man, I'm so glad she's working on my son and she got a done. I just want competence. I want somebody to fix his hand after he's done. He wants somebody to say, can I get you ice?

How are you feeling? You know, patting them on the shoulder. I'm glad there are both kinds of people in the world. And so marriage is about that. Men are different than women and that's by God's design and Gary, you said this, but we sometimes it's a, I don't mean this disrespectfully, but it can be a bit of a throwaway comment that of course men need to learn to listen to their wives, but what does that look like practically for us? How do we, how do we stop trying to fix it and how do we lean in and, and really do that? What's the teaching for us here? Look, I feel like a bit of a hypocrite because we're, I'm three decades over three decades into my marriage and I'm still really trying to learn it. I think I'm getting a little bit better, but for me, I have to learn not to go with my natural reaction.

You get the urge back down. Okay. This isn't the time to solve it. I'm going to try to, if somebody is bothering her or something's happening, but it's first. Okay. What I found, Jim, that helps me is tell me more. Curiosity expresses love to my, to my wife and I, Pam Farrell really helped me understand this, how our wives feel loved when we're more curious and that, that just, that one word just said, okay, Gary, be curious. Isn't that what makes a woman feel so loved when she's dating?

Really? Tell me what happened or we seem more fascinated with him. And so I've just found from my wife to feel cherished, I want to be curious. I want to draw her out instead of give me the reader's digest version.

I want to make time for the amplified version so I can really hear if I ask more questions. But even then I had to learn now, why does that hurt you? I think I'm being curious and she thinks that's a challenge. So it's really learning to read your wife and just say, Lord, help me with my words to show her that I really care about this.

And I really feel for her before we say goodbye. We've talked about the importance of prayer for your husband making sure that you're rooted in God's word. Let's end with the scripture for that wife who is struggling.

What can she hold onto today to begin her journey with her husband and loving him in a different way? It's a familiar verse, Jim, but I think it will change the way we look at our marriage. Philippians 4 19 says, my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus. My God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus. We go to God first to receive. We go to our spouse primarily to give.

That doesn't mean there aren't legitimate things we want to receive from our husband, but it starts with receiving first from God. Well, that is well said, Gary. Great to have you with us here at Focus. Thank you.

Thank you. And that's how we concluded our conversation with Gary Thomas on today's Focus on the Family with Jim Daly. Well, we hope this program today and last time has been helpful, particularly for women who have struggled and feel like their marriage is in a rut and going nowhere.

And that's frustrating. Maybe you've got some resentment and bitterness about your husband and we want you to know that Focus on the Family is here for you. We have a great team of Christian counselors. Let us connect you with one of them so you can share your story, get some prayer and then learn about the godly tools you need for yourself and for your spouse. We also have Hope Restored, which is a great program.

If you feel like you're ready to give up on your marriage, contact us right away. Hope Restored offers couples intensive counseling over several days and the opportunity to grow closer to the Lord in that process. And then we also have lots of wonderful resources for you, like Gary's book, Loving Him Well, Practical Advice on Influencing Your Husband.

And we want to get a copy of that into your hands. And to make that easy, make a monthly pledge of any amount to Focus on the Family and we'll say thank you by sending you a copy of Gary's book. Your ongoing support is invaluable to the ministry, but mostly to the couples that you'll help because you're providing the fuel we need to strengthen and rescue those marriages, empower parents, save preborn babies and so much more. Working together, we can provide godly hope and encouragement to hurting families who really need it. So let me ask you, can we count on your generous support today?

I hope so. Yeah, and if a monthly pledge is more than you can afford right now, a one-time gift will also be very beneficial to us. We appreciate anything you can do to help today's families. Our number is 800, the letter A in the word family, 800-232-6459. Or you can donate and request Gary's book when you click on the link in the show notes. Coming up tomorrow, we're going to celebrate fatherhood with former NFL football player, Benjamin Watson. Make plans to join us then on the next Focus on the Family with Jim Daly. I'm John Fuller inviting you back as we once more help you and your family thrive in Christ. To get started on your marriage assessment, visit That's
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