I sat on the couch and looked at the clock. Twenty minutes earlier, I had gently reminded my husband that it was our night for family devotions and he was supposed to lead. But there he was, still playing a video game with our son.
A thousand thoughts ran through my mind, like: Why do I always have to remind him about our devotion time? Maybe I should just do it myself. My lips tightened into a frustrated frown as I watched the minutes tick by.
Resisting the urge to storm into the other room with my demands or sigh with impatience from my corner of the house, I chose to quietly keep reading my book. It wasn't easy, but God had been teaching me an important lesson about being a wife.
Proverbs 31 explains that an excellent wife brings her husband good. After more than 15 years of marriage, I am just now realizing how my words and actions can influence my husband. If you've ever found yourself on the negative side of influence — you know, nagging, whining or manipulating — perhaps the lessons I learned can help:
Start with kindness
Before my husband will listen to me, he has to want to hear me. Oh sure, he may listen to my critical demands or whiny complaints just to get me off his case, but he will respond far better to genuine kindness.
Encourage instead of manipulate
God didn't create marriage so my spouse could serve me. There was a time when the quickest way to get my husband to do what I wanted was to allow my stress to boil over and complain that he never helped. I made everything about me. But when I began to look for ways I could encourage my husband in what he cared about, I became less concerned with what I thought I needed. And the bonus? As I encouraged him, he encouraged me.
Regulate the thermostat
Sure, I recognized that my husband seemed happier when I was happier, and he was more stressed when I was stressed. But when I finally figured out that I could set the temperature for my marriage, I began using that influence more carefully. And as I became more intentional about bringing good to my marriage, I saw more good happen in my family.
So whatever happened with my husband and the family devotions? Ten minutes after I quieted my internal temper tantrum, he and our son walked in ready to start. As we got ready for bed later that night, my husband gave me a smile. "I noticed what you did," he said.
I gave him a questioning look.
"You reminded me about the devotion and then you left it for me to start when I was ready. You didn't keep asking me about it. That meant a lot."
Apparently, sitting still is sometimes the most effective positive influence a wife can have.Sara Horn is the author of My So-Called Life as a Proverbs 31 Wife and My So-Called Life as a Submissive Wife.
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