I put together another blog post for my friend's marriage blog, Better Than Newlyweds. I wanted to share the post with you all as well!
Trice and I have had a fantastic 4 years of marriage together. I love him more today than yesterday, and I will continue to love him until the day I die. For real. He is the apple of my eye, the butter on my bread, the cream in my coffee, the white on my rice... you get the gist! In our 4 years of marriage, as most of you know, we have been through a LOT. Moves, kids, new jobs... lots and lots of life changes. And along with these life changes, sometimes mistakes are made. I make mistakes and so does he.
The difference in the mistake-making is that he is the head of the household, and I am the submissive (yet very strong willed) wife. If I make a mistake, I expect him to just have high grace and move on because I'm not the one responsible for calling all the shots, right? But when he, the head of the household, the one who is supposed to be the leader in the home, makes a mistake... it is just appalling. Right? I mean, who does he think he is not doing everything exactly how he should? I understand he is human, but come on... he is the LEADER. He shouldn't make mistakes.
Unfortunately, I have heard too many sad stories about wives who have this type of mentality with their husbands. I admit that there are days that I am harder on Trice than I should be, but for the most part, I feel like God opened my eyes early on to the fact that my husband is not perfect and has allowed my heart to have high grace toward him. And he has high grace towards me. And that has been such a beautiful, freeing thing in our marriage.
So what is my response when I learn that my husband has made a mistake or when I don't see eye to eye with him and I end up being right? (which, by the way, Trice has an incredible ability to be RIGHT about 99.5% of the time that I disagree with him... I don't know how he does it!) Here are a few little pointers below that I hope will offer you help WHEN (not if) your beloved hubby falls short of perfection and makes a mistake.
1. Take a deep breath and reaffirm your love to him. If Trice makes a mistake, I love to first and foremost look into his sweet eyes and tell him that I love him, that I am not going anywhere and that if I had to choose all over again, I'd still choose him. My goal here is to do away with that shame that he is feeling and reel him back in to the truth that he is a man who is highly valued and loved by his family and by his Creator, mistakes and all. I also thank him for coming clean or being honest with me. That takes lots of courage and humility.
2. Do not say "I told you so." This is one of the harder ones for me, because I am extremely competitive and like to win. But there is no "winning" in a marriage when a spouse makes a mistake. You are united as ONE body, and when one of you makes a mistake, it hurts both of you. So if you were "right" and your husband was "wrong" about a decision, bite your tongue and refrain from rubbing it in. We are called to be our husbands' helpmates and encouragers, not discouragers. You "win" when you can resolve conflict and lift each other up, not beat each other down.
3. Don't neglect the role of "wife" and start "mothering" him. I remember one day I was railing Trice about something he did, and he finally looked at me and said, "I thought you were my wife. I don't need you to lecture me like I'm your kid." Can you say OUCH? It dawned on me that he was so right about that. My role as a wife is never to be that of a lecturer or belittler. If your hubby makes a mistake, he already feels bad enough about it. No need to pour salt in the wound or make a 50 page power point about why what he did was wrong. He already knows all of that.
4. Forgive him. Really really forgive him. First, understand that there is a huge difference between denial and forgiveness. Don't just "accept" your husband's apology and go through the motions of forgiveness. If you do this, you will end up holding a grudge and a seed of bitterness will be planted in your heart. Be honest. Be upfront. Be clear. Verbally tell him, "Yes, you did hurt me when you did that," or "I do agree that that wasn't the best decision you could have made." Acknowledge (in a loving way) the mistake instead of just brushing it off. Then allow your heart to soften to forgive your husband. This may even take some time depending on the mistake made. You may not be able to forgive immediately. But remember, we are called to forgive. God expects it of us. Some forgiveness takes more help from God to get you through it than other times, especially if its a "repeat offender" type of mistake.
Once you are ready to forgive, don't just say "I forgive you" and then bully him about his mistake for the next several days, weeks, months or even years. I know many wives who are holding grudges against their husbands for something that happened waaay in the past! Truly forgive him and ask God to give you the strength to walk out that forgiveness. CHOOSE to refrain from using his past mistakes as ammunition against him in future fights. That is not fighting fair. This is soooo freeing when you can truly extend grace to your spouse and walk in forgiveness!
5. Encourage your husband and pray with him. Many times when you make a mistake, you play the events over and over again in your mind, or you play out the different scenarios if you would have made a different decision. This happens in your hubby's brain if he realizes he is in the wrong. We as wives need to replace those thoughts. Take the time to encourage your husband. Tell him how great he is. Tell him he is your hero. Tell him it is okay that he is not perfect. Verbally communicate how much you appreciate all he does for your family. Then grab him by the hands and pray for him. Out loud. Pray for God to help him lead the family wisely. To help him walk with integrity. To make good decisions. Thank God (out loud in front of your hubby) for giving you such an incredible man. Really take the time to do this. I think this is the biggest key for us. Let him be encouraged in the Lord. Speak truth over him! Then give him a huge hug and lay a big kiss on those lips of his. Really. He needs a big kiss from you :)
6. Do it all over again. Repeat these steps next time he comes your way. Because if you respond like this, he will keep you in the loop next time he makes a mistake. And he will make more mistakes. And this whole thing goes both ways. Husbands, use these pointers for your wives as well when she messes up. Don't make her feel like an idiot.
So why is this such a big deal anyway?
This is such an important topic because how you handle your husband's mistakes affects all aspects of your marriage. If you are bitter or resentful, you not only hurt your spouse even more than they are already hurting from making a mistake, but you also close the door to your spouse ever wanting to come clean and speak openly and honestly about future mistakes. This is how communication stops. This is when secrets start to be held. This is when husbands want to crawl in the corner of an attic to get away from the dripping faucet of a wife's nagging words (see Proverbs 25:24 and 27:15).
Trice has come clean with me about many things that may seem to be very embarrassing to him. But regardless, he still comes to me because he knows that he can. He knows I'm not going to slap him across the face or cast judgment upon him. He doesn't have to worry that I'm going to leave him. I have extended grace over and over again, and I have proved to him that I mean what I say. And he has extended grace to me over and over again, and I feel 100% confident that if I come clean about my mistakes, that our marriage is going to become stronger and not weaker. It's a two way street.
So next time your husband makes a mistake, don't seek the opportunity to turn yourself into a victim or to have a pity party or host a gossip session about how awful he is. Instead seek the opportunity to be used as an encourager and help your man to become the man that God has called him to be!