Maybe being a wife is about fighting FOR your husband, not just being nice to your husband.
I want to share a story that was shared on this blog this week, but before I do that, I want to tell you about a conversation my husband Keith and I had over Christmas.
I turned off the internet for 9 days while my kids were home, and just enjoyed being with them, and playing family board games, and loving on my grandson. But during my down time, Keith decided to catch up on his reading. He tries to read my blog everyday, but sometimes he gets busy and skips a day. So he read several week’s worth in one go.
And it took a long time–but what he realized was that a lot of the “gold” was in the comments. I often elaborated on stuff in response to things other people said, or sometimes people shared awesome stuff in the comments section. And if you didn’t read the comments section, you’d miss it.
Especially because so many people read my blog through email (did you know you can sign up to get my posts sent to you by email?), the comments often get missed.
So I’ve decided that every now and then, I want to highlight some comments that come through that are especially relevant regarding the series that we’re running that week. And boy did a good one come in this week! I want to feature this one from Roxy, left on my iron sharpening iron post about how to bring about positive change in marriage. She tells how she confronted her husband’s porn use, and I want to share her comment and then make a few observations from it.
My marriage (10 years) is in the process of rapidly changing this very moment because I finally drew a very hard line in the sand and told my husband, after his rather half hearted battling of the issue off and on for years, “Make the choice: me or porn.” Things blew sky high a few weeks ago and I said some very hard, very necessary things that finally got through to him.
My husband is a excellent man, but he was drowning in this area and couldn’t pull himself out, even though he wanted to (crucial, of course). It had slowly destroyed me over the years, like a trickle effect, and had deeply affected our intimacy and communication. And he didn’t even watch “porn” in the usual sense (because of a filter on his phone, ironically)! “Just” sexualized stuff on YouTube a couple times a week, plus masturbation (so not all that bad, right?). But it made him angry, anxious, distant, distracted, and a dozen other destructive things.
I made several clear, non-negotiable requirements, and he has taken ownership of all of them, praise God. In the last few weeks he has become so much more peaceful, calm, and determined. He is a new man after only a few weeks of complete abstinence (we are doing a 90 day sexual detox together, as recommended by nofap.com, an awesome (secular) resource). We have had several hours-long, deep conversations which would have been impossible a month ago (and have never been easy for him).
The rapidity of his initial recovery has stunned me. We are in this 100% together. We text and talk every day about it. He volunteers information readily now about urges, phases, etc, as his brain heals. He is seeking Christian counseling, too. It is a miracle.
He told me the other day that his desire for me, while it’s always been high, is totally different now than it was even a month ago. He said it’s more focused, richer, and deeper. And then do you know what he said?
“Thank you for hitting me up side the head with a 2×4.”
I was speechless. All because my own (wise and godly) counselor had told me I needed to be a strong, equal, corresponding warrior-helper for my husband, and it is not in my nature anyway to sit by and watch my loved one flail for fear of being an” unbiblical wife.” (What, I ask, could be more Biblical than pulling someone out of the mire?!)
I was not being either strong or a helper to him. I mean, look at God and Israel! He set countless boundaries for them out of love, and let them experience the consequences when they went too far. It was totally necessary and done in love and for their good. Yet this is the total opposite of the message I’ve gotten all my life from countless books, blogs, etc, almost all of which I ingested in order to be a biblical wife and fix my marriage.
Now, we have a history of discussing this whole porn thing from time to time, and we didn’t have an awful relationship, and he is a good man, so I felt I could say these hard things to him, though I didn’t know precisely how he would react. I don’t know what would work for other women whose husbands are in deeper. I know my situation is not one-size-fits-all. But when my husband actually thanked me for blasting him out of the water in order to get his attention, that sealed it for me.
I say none of this lightly, and I haven’t even shared a quarter of the details. Setting a firm, clear boundary does not make me an unbiblical wife! On the contrary: it has strongly helped my husband and is saving our relationship. We are not out of the woods by any means, but I now have hope, all because I drew a line in the sand out of love and respect (get it?) for us both.
What an encouraging story! And what a wonderful picture of the point I’m trying to make all month in our Iron Sharpening Iron series.
A few things that stand out to me:
Being a “helper” to your husband means HELPING him, not making his life easy
I’ll be talking about this more in the series next week, but often we think the term helper, when used for wives, means that we are subordinate in some way, and that our job is to pave the way for our husbands and help our husbands in whatever our husbands want to do. He is the boss, he sets the agenda, and we just go along with it.
It’s based on Genesis 2:18:
The LORD God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.”
In Hebrew, it’s “ezer kenegdo.” But what does the word “helper”–ezer– actually mean there? Well, in English it takes on a subordinate connotation. But that’s not the case when we look at “ezer” in the Old Testament. It is most often used as a military term, and often applied to God.
Blessed are you, O Israel! Who is like you, a people saved by the LORD? He is your shield and helper and your glorious sword. Deut. 33:26-29.
I lift up my eyes to the hills—where does my help come from? My help comes from the LORD, the Maker of heaven and earth. Psalm 121:1-2.
If ezer is applied to God, then being a husband’s helper can’t mean that you are somehow inferior. We see that as well with the qualifier “kenegdo”–or suitable for him. As Marg Mowczko writes about ezer kenegdo,
The word ezer is qualified by the word kenegdo in both Genesis 2:18 and 20. Kenegdo, often translated as “suitable for him,” gives the meaning that Eve was designed to be a corresponding and equal partner for Adam. There is no sense of subordination stated or implied, or even hinted at, in this passage in Genesis 2.
So God wants us to be warrior wives, which means that we help, support, shield, and fight FOR our husband’s good!
Find the discussion of the real meaning of “ezer kenegdo fascinating? Then tune into this podcast about the real meaning of the Greek word for “head”, as in the husband is the head of the wife.
They sought good counseling to make positive changes in the marriage
I love what Roxy’s counselor told her: “I needed to be a strong, equal, corresponding warrior-helper for my husband”. Perfect! A good counselor that can point you to positive change can do a world of good. A bad counselor who keeps teaching that wives must not speak up against a husband’s choices because she must “submit” (using an improper definition of submit) can do a world of hurt. Some more posts that can help you finding a good counselor;
- 10 Questions to Ask a Biblical Counselor to Make Sure They’re Safe
- On Rachael Denhollander, trauma recovery, and biblical counselors
- Are you sinning against your husband in one of these 98 ways? (A list given out by a biblical counselor, and promoted by biblical counseling organizations. Steer clear of things like this!)
Being a “helper” to your husband means HELPING him, not making his life easy.
Many people WANT to make positive change, but they feel stuck.
This husband did not want to be caught up in masturbation and soft porn viewing. He didn’t want to be irritable and angry. He wanted to change, but he felt powerless. Will power alone wasn’t doing it.
When his wife stood up and said, “this is not happening anymore”, suddenly he found the strength and motivation to do something. He needed that extra push. And he thanked his wife for it, because he knew he wouldn’t get anywhere alone.
THAT is what I mean by iron sharpening iron. Sometimes making positive changes is just too difficult. But that’s where being a true warrior-wife, a real helper, can make a difference.
A lot of Christian resources don’t teach this principle properly.
I’ll be frank. As Roxy noted, a lot of Christian teaching in this area has been abysmal. One of the most fascinating parts of the survey that we’ve just finished was the open ended questions where we asked people to share resources that had helped their marriage and share resources that had harmed their marriage. The resources that people said harmed their marriage mostly tend to teach that women must put up with their husband’s behaviour and not challenge it.
This concept doesn’t work. It isn’t biblical. It isn’t right.
Over this next little while, I hope to correct some of this thinking. But in the meantime, check out 9 Thoughts That Can Change Your Marriage. So many have told me that it’s actually the best book I’ve ever written, and I have free 6-week and free 8-week video Bible studies to go along with it.
Are you GOOD or are you NICE?
Now let me know: Has the teaching on “helper” ever held you back in your marriage? Have you ever tried to be a warrior wife? Let’s talk in the comments!