I know I already talked about why we shouldn’t tell our husband what to do by offering unsolicited advice, thinking we are just offering our help to him in any given situation. But, then, something else occurred to me.
What about when there is a situation, and you see your husband actually making a mistake, and you know that it is 100% a mistake, and you know that you really are right, and he is wrong?
What are we to do when we see something that is not right, and we want to help our husband by pointing out what is wrong, in order that he might see that he is about to make a mistake? When we really do have his best interests and are really trying to help him or even prevent something disastrous from happening by just letting him know that it is wrong or that he missed something important about whatever the situation is.
‘Helpful’ Towards God
Well, I am thinking right now about how sometimes or maybe even ALL the time, we can think God doesn’t know what’s going on down here, and that He needs us to tell Him or remind Him in prayer to make certain things happen because obviously, the right thing isn’t working out.
We can think things like:
- Does He not see what this person is doing?
- Does He not care that those children are fatherless?
- Does He not realize that things need to work out in a certain way for everything to be “right”?
And then we pray about certain situations in our lives and we ask Him to:
- change this person
- remove this person
- change this country
- make things better in our lives
- give us a new job or opportunity in life
- release those kids to us
- make other people see what we are trying to tell them
- open the door for X to happen
- lead us to the right X,Y,Z
- give us X
- to make X,Y, Z happen
- punish them
And on and on.
I’m not saying we shouldn’t pray about all that stuff, but what I am saying is, sometimes, we think He doesn’t see what needs to happen, so we start praying for what WE think should happen, and we don’t realize that we don’t know better than God.
What it seems to boil down to with God and our husband is what kind of fear is behind our helpful suggestions and advice?
Most likely the reason we are so ready and willing to jump in with our husband or God when we think things need to happen a certain way is because we have personal interests bound up with whatever we see as them making a ‘mistake’.
We see that if they don’t change X, then we will somehow suffer for it and some fear of ours will come true!
So, What Do We Do Then?
When our husbands are about to make what seems like a huge mistake, there is something helpful I believe we could ask before we jump into it and offer them advice or a suggestion.
What are our motives for wanting to jump in and suggest something?
- Are we trying to save our own life somehow by suggesting this?
- Are we trying to avoid some kind of suffering by suggesting this?
- Are we genuinely concerned for our husband or the situation?
- Are we more concerned with the loss in some way that this action/choice of his will bring?
- Do we just think we know better?
- Do we want to try to spare him any suffering or loss?
- Do we want to “save” him and fix his life by suggesting this?
Even more then just searching our own motives, we need to ask:
Is this what the Holy Spirit is saying?
When it comes down to it, I think this is going to take a lot of practice and grace from the Lord to actually make this a reality when a situation arises. And as we will see next, there is a lot of value in actually practicing this.
What Is Better?
Let’s take a hypothetical example of a husband and wife, with two different ways that the wife can handle the situation.
The ‘Helpful’ Way
John works in an industry where he may have times of unemployment, and in those times he files for unemployment compensation until his next job starts. Mary used to work in a similar industry, so she is very familiar with the unemployment process as well. A season comes where John is laid off from his job and will need to file for unemployment. Mary minds her own business and doesn’t even remind John at all, in fact, Mary wasn’t even thinking about that he should file. But a week and a half later, John tells Mary that he did file and that he should be getting some papers in the mail. Mary lets John know that no mail has come yet.
Because Mary has experience with the unemployment process, she starts asking John how he went about filing for it. She took the liberty of figuring out when he would need to file his first claim, which she believes is the helpful thing to do. As Mary investigates the situation further, she starts questioning John about when he filed, and asks a number of questions to know all the details of his filing experience so that she can make sure he did it right.
After several more days of no mail, Mary insists that John call the office to make sure they received his application. Mary then took the liberty of checking their important documents to see when the last time he filed was.
Mary discovers that John actually already had an open unemployment claim, while John insists that he doesn’t and that he was right by starting a new claim. Mary proceeds to discover that he in fact already had an open claim and that he would need to call to get things straightened out.
John starts insisting that Mary doesn’t know what she is talking about, and that he is quite certain the people from the office will realize what happened, and just fix it for him on their end without needing him to call or interfere with the process.
Mary strongly disagreed and let John know all about her experiences with unemployment and insisted that she was right.
Upon calling the office, John discovers that Mary was in fact right. After getting things straightened out, John said, “At least you caught that mistake, otherwise I would have had to wait longer to file a claim.”
Mary’s helpful suggestion and insistence seems to have saved the situation.
No time or money was lost by her helpful suggestions, and she was able to avoid all personal suffering and loss and fears coming true, had John been left to himself in the situation. Her motives were to avoid loss, suffering, and to be in control.
John may have been appreciative of her pointing this out, but chances are, he feels incompetent and like he doesn’t know what he is doing. He may question his own abilities and start doubting himself when it comes to making choices on his own.
The Respectful Way
Now, take that whole situation of Mary and John over again, and let’s apply a different way of things happening. Let’s say that Mary knew that John was in fact making a mistake, but decided that she is not John’s mother, and that he is able to figure it out, and/or learn a valuable lesson by her not interfering with his life and business in this matter.
At some point, John realizes that he made a mistake about filing for unemployment compensation, and he decides on his own to call and get things straightened out. All the while, Mary is along side him, smiling, and letting him know that it happens to everyone and it’s no big deal, and that he is capable and competent to figure things out in life on his own, without her input and help. She even lets him know that she is proud of him for taking care of things!
In the end, Mary had no self-interest in this situation, and no driving desire or motive to avoid all loss and suffering, at the expense of her husband feeling respected. John came out of the situation having learned from his mistake on his own, and is standing tall in his abilities to learn and figure things out on his own in life. He feels respected by Mary, and supported by her, for not going out of her way to help him or fix his life for him or save him in the situation.
Wow. Even just typing this all out is eye opening to me!!!
This is going to be hard for people like me to actually get used to doing. It is so hard to NOT offer your helpful advice and suggestions when you know you are right. But at what cost?
Are we willing to pay the price of our intimacy being lost with our husband just because we know we are right?
Is it really worth him feeling inadequate or incompetent?
Perhaps our husbands don’t stand taller and stronger because they have been knocked over and over by our helpful suggestions too many times. They may even believe they are not capable to handle things in life. That is not very encouraging! Wouldn’t we want a husband who let us figure things out on our own, and then when we make mistakes and learn from them, be proud of us for learning and growing on our own? Wouldn’t that be nice if all people treated each other that way?
Think about your child who most likely thinks they know better than you on more than one thing in life. That really used to get me going when my son insisted he knew better than me. Now, I realize he is just a kid, and he can think whatever he wants, but I know what I know. Sometimes, I even stop trying to insist on my way with him and let him see for himself that he doesn’t know what is right. I tell him he definitely needs a jacket because it is too cold, he insists it’s not cold out. I say ok, it’s your choice. He steps outside, and comes back in and says, maybe I do need a jacket. I say, ok. 🙂
This will surely test our hearts if we let it! 🙂