Helping Your Husband Step Up to Manhood
About the Guest
On the broadcast today, Barbara Rainey, beloved wife of "FamilyLife Today" host Dennis Rainey and a popular author and speaker, talks frankly to women about the five things that hinder manly development.
Barbara Rainey talks frankly to women about the five things that hinder manly development.
Helping Your Husband Step Up to Manhood
Barbara: When he makes decisions that are especially responsible, and you know they are, thank him for making those decisions, thank him when he makes a decision that's especially difficult that goes against the grain of all the other men he knows or just goes against his own selfish nature, we need to encourage that decision and cheer him on when he does that.
Bob: This is FamilyLife Today for Wednesday, December 26th. Our host is the president of FamilyLife, Dennis Rainey, and I'm Bob Lepine. Today we'll hear advice from Barbara Rainey on how a wife can help her husband be God's man.
And welcome to FamilyLife Today, thanks for joining us on the Wednesday edition.
Dennis: What was your favorite present that you got?
Bob: [laughs] Well, since we're …
Dennis: I bought myself a TV.
Bob: And you like it pretty well?
Dennis: Can this marriage be saved?
So to really take care of my wife here, we're featuring as number 3 on our top four broadcasts. Sweetheart …
Bob: This is television atonement time right here. Actually, we sat down and looked at some of the responses we've gotten from listeners throughout the year, listeners who have written to us or called or requested resources, or have indicated that a particular program resonated with them, and we kind of sorted those out and back earlier this year, you and Barbara talked about men stepping up to manhood.
We featured a message from you where you encouraged men to move from adolescence to manhood, from manhood to mentoring, and from mentoring to partriarchy, and then we featured a message from Barbara, where she encouraged wives to help their husbands be the men that God wants them to be.
Dennis: That's right, and I think she does a great job not only of helping me step up, but equipping other women to be able to do that as well. Let's listen to this message by my bride of more 35 years, Barbara Rainey.
Barbara: [from audiotape.] Well, by contrast, I want to give you five things that we can do to encourage our husbands to step up.
The first one is instead of being selfish and childish, we need to choose maturity for ourselves. The first day we were here, Dennis and I went for a walk. We drove down to the old hotel that's down at the bottom of the hill, and where the Bow River goes by, and we were going to go walk over there by the golf course.
So we drove our car down there and parked in the parking lot, and there's tons of people and all these tourists and the buses and everything, and while we were sitting there, this family rode up. It was a mom and a dad. Initially, I just saw two kids. There was another one that must have been lagging behind, but they were all on bikes, they all had helmets, and they stopped right in front of our car to kind of regroup or whatever.
While we were sitting there, the two kids kind of went a little bit past their parents, and they were up in the woods, and I saw the girl, who was the older of the two, she was probably 10 or 12. She was right behind him, and she was on her bike, and she just jammed her bike into his tire and she did it again and she did it again, she did it again, and he looked over his shoulder, and the windows were up and so I couldn't hear, but I knew he was saying, "Quit, leave me alone," or whatever.
And she just did it again, did it again, and, finally, he had all he could take. So he dropped his bike on the ground, turned around, and came over and shoved her or hit her, I can't remember exactly what he did, but he got back at her, anyway. And, of course, her bike went on the ground, and she started crying, "Mommy," and the whole bit, you know, and so Mom gets – Mom's got to get involved.
So Mom comes over, and she's trying to figure it out, and I leaned over to Dennis, I said, "I would love to get out and say, "She started it not him," because it looked like he was the bad guy, because he was the one that got up and slugged her. But he had been sitting there taking it, you know, she'd been – who knows how long this had been going on. It could have been going on an hour, she could have been doing stuff, or he could have started it early that morning when they got out of bed. He could have said something to her, and she was finally getting back at him.
But, anyway, it was just an interesting parallel to this, because I thought, you know, what would have stopped that is if one of those kids had chosen to be mature instead of acting like what they were, which is children.
So we, as – the parallel for us is that we, as wives – somebody has to choose to be mature in the relationship, and maybe your husband's not being mature. Maybe he's being an adolescent in some ways, or maybe he's even being childish in some ways, but it's not going to solve it to get off your bike and go slug him if he's the one that's ramming you with the bike tire. Somebody has to choose to be mature.
The second thing we can do is speak the truth to him in love. And this is the one that I want to talk about the most because, you know, I think sometimes, as wives, we get intimidated, or we get fearful, or we think, you know, "If I say what I really think, it's not going to make any difference."
Some of us are more prone to be manipulators than others are; some of us are more prone to be sharp with our tongues and with our mouths than others are, but we all have our tendencies, we all have our ways that we try to kind of work the situation or work the circumstances to our benefit.
But I think, as a godly wife, to help our husband become the man that God wants him to be, we need to learn to speak the truth in love and not without the love because the love is the important part.
Proverbs 16:21 says "The wise in heart are called discerning and pleasant words promote instruction." So if we want our husbands to be taught, if we want them to learn, then we need to make sure that our words are pleasant when we speak them to him.
There are lots of ways that I have done this in our relationship. A lot of times it's a circumstantial kind of thing where I speak the truth. There are many, many times in our years of marriage when I reminded Dennis that God is in control. Just a simple reminding him of what he knows to be true but in a certain situation he may not feel like it's true. It could be any number of things in our relationship or in the ministry or in his life personally, where he feels like God's forgotten him or God's not in control or something's happened, and it just feels awful.
But, as a wife, we can come alongside our husbands and remind them that God is in control, God has not forgotten about you. God still loves you, and He still has a plan, and this may be a part of it.
And so I think, in our circumstances with our husbands, we need to remind them of the truth about God and what God's Word says is true – that He is in control, and He's not forgotten us.
With our family, there have been many, many, many times in our marriage when I've come to Dennis to speak the truth to him about what's going on in our family, because there are a lot of times when he's not as connected as I am with the kids or with what's going on in our family. And I'll come and speak the truth to him about his travel, and I'll say, "You're just traveling too much. We've got to cut back. We've got to figure out a way to do this so that you can do what God has called you to do, but we don't sacrifice the family."
Or I'll say, "This child is not getting enough time with you. We've got to figure a way that you can spend more time with this child." Another thing that I've worked a lot on is family devotions with him. When he does do family devotions, I really encourage him and thank him for it, or I really make it possible. One of the things that I try to do is in the mornings before school is I try to make sure the kids are downstairs so that he can do what he can do to do the family devotions. And it's only reading like a two or three-minute thing. It's not a big, long church service, so to speak. I mean, we read a little short devotional out of a book that maybe takes two or three minutes, I mean, it's not long.
But my part is to help set the stage and to set the environment and to get everything ready so that all he has to do is show up, pick up the book, open it today's thing and read his two or three-minute thing, but that allows him to succeed and it lets him be the leader in family devotions.
And the reason it works in our relationship – and it doesn't always, because I don't always do it right – but over the course of our marriage Dennis has learned to know and to understand that I am for him, and that my motivation in trying to help him do these things is not to manipulate him but it's to help him win as a man and, again, it's communicating the truth in love, reminding him that he needs to do this with our kids but doing it in such a loving way that he knows that I'm for him.
And it may be that with your husband, speaking the truth is not just reminding him what he needs to do, but because you know who he is, and you know what his weaknesses are, it may be that your husband's weakness is unbelief. It may be that your husband's real struggle spiritually is not believing that God loves him. But you can bolster that and come behind him and come alongside him and remind him of the truth about who he is and who God is and how God feels about him and cares about him.
So there's so much that we can do as a wife in speaking the truth to our husbands and grounding them and reminding them and keeping them on track.
One of the things that I've always loved about the story of Esther is that when that whole situation developed in the Book of Esther, and all of the Jews were to be exterminated, and she found out about the plot, and she was to go before the king, her husband. The thing that I've always admired about the story is the way that she chose to handle that. She prayed and fasted for three days before she went in to see her husband.
Now, we don't have that kind of a relationship because our husband is not the king, and you don't have to wait for him to ask for you to come like she did, so our situation is totally different, but I thought about that, that she really prayed about bringing this difficult matter before her husband's attention. How many times do I pray that God will help me communicate wisely when I've got a difficult thing I want to bring up with my husband? Not very often, because my tendency is, because we're so familiar with each other, is just to blurt it out.
But I think there's a lot for us to learn in that, and we may not have to fast and pray for three days, but we do need to pray, we do need to ask God to give us wisdom and favor when we go with our husbands with – go before him with a difficult issue, or we want to talk to him about something that we know is going to be a really hard conversation.
The other thing that she did, she prayed and fasted, and then she went before her husband, and she said, "If it please the king, I have something that I want to ask." In other words, is it okay for me to ask you this right now, and there have been many, many times when I've gone to my husband, and I've said, "You know, I've got something that we need to talk about, when would be a good time?"
Because right then may not have been the best time, and it may be that we need to go out to dinner and talk about it, or it may be that I need to wait a day or two because he's in the middle of something, and he just doesn't need another burden. It may be that I can go ahead and talk about it, but it helps to ask permission and to say, "You know, I really need to talk to you about something that's really important for me. When would be a good time for you for us to have this conversation?"
So I think, as wives, we can learn a lot from Esther, and I think praying about these difficult things that we want to speak the truth about is one, and asking for permission for when to have this conversation is another.
And then the third thing we can do to encourage our husbands to grow to maturity is to praise him when he does step up to manhood. Praise him when he does step up to manhood. When he does do family devotions, thank him for it, don't just go, "Oh, well, he's supposed to do it, anyway, so why should I thank him?" Thank him for it.
When he prays with you, tell him how much that means to you, for you to pray together as a couple. When he makes decisions that are especially responsible, and you know they are, thank him for making those difficult decisions, thank him for whatever sacrifice he made to provide for you or to provide for your children. Thank him when he makes decisions that are integrity-based. Those are important decisions, those are important milestones.
And just as we want to cheer our kids – we were talking about that at breakfast – about when our kids make a really good decision to do something that's right and to face the peer pressure, we need to cheer our kids, and I think we need to cheer our husbands when he makes a decision that's especially difficult that goes against the grain of all the other men he knows or just goes against his own selfish nature, we need to encourage that decision and cheer him on when he does that.
Ephesians 4:29 says, "Let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth but only such a word as is good for edification according to the need of the moment that it may give grace to those who hear." Our words are really, really powerful with our husbands, and I think encouraging him and praising him when he does what's right is one way that we can help him step up to manhood and be the man that God wants him to be.
The fourth thing is to believe in him that he can become a godly man, and that sends a lot of signals, and I think that we need to continue to believe in our husband that he can become all that God intended him to be because he is obviously not finished with him. God's not finished with us, either. There are a lot of things that God still has for our husbands to do until he takes him home.
Luke 1:37 is one of my very favorite verses in Scripture, and it always has been. It says, "With God nothing is impossible," and all of us have areas with our husbands that we think are pretty impossible; things that have been the same for the 10 or 15 or 20 years we've been married, and we think, "You know, he's never going to change." Well, maybe some of those things aren't going to change, but maybe they really can.
Maybe if we believe in him and trust God and accept him as he is and allow God to work in his life, maybe God really will change those things. But I think it's important that we have to be the one to believe in him, otherwise it's not going to happen if we don't.
And then the last thing we can do is by pursuing godliness ourselves. We need to choose to become godly wives. Our husbands will never become godly husbands if we don't choose first to become godly wives. Matthew 6:33 says "Seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you."
Recently, our daughter and son-in-law were making a decision – I referred to it the first night – about where they were going to go for their residency, and I was so proud of them for the way they processed that decision. They looked at – because they've got these two little boys, they looked at what situation would not only be good for Michael and his residency but what would be good for them as a family. What would be good for Ashley, what would be good for those little boys, where would we find good churches, and they evaluated that whole decision not just in that one area of where the best residency program was, but what town would be a good town to live in, where would we find good churches, and all of those kinds of things.
And what they did in the process of making that decision is they practiced this verse – "Seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you." And it's true for us, as wives, too. If we're seeking first to become what God wants us to become, we're seeking first His righteousness in our lives. If I'm seeking to become righteous, and I'm seeking to become what God wants me to be, then God is going to add these other things. He's going to work on my husband, because I'm not going to be in the way at that point.
So I love that verse because I think it, again, brings us back to the central issue, and the central issue is really me. What's my attitude, and am I becoming the woman that God wants me to be?
I've been doing a Bible study the last year in the Book of Hebrews. I've been doing precept studies for the last four or five years, and that's just kind of the place that I've landed, it's the place that's really ministered to me as I've gotten – had the privilege of doing a bunch of Bible studies, but recently we've been doing the Book of Hebrews, and there are a couple of verses that have been especially meaningful to me that I want to share with you, sort of by way of closing.
Let me read these verses to you. It's Hebrews, chapter 4, and the verses are 15 and 16, and it says, "For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but within all points tempted as we are and yet without sin."
And I think our temptation, as wives, is to do these things – to want to control, to want to change to make him understand in our own power by getting even, by playing the insult-for-insult game, by manipulating. I think we have a temptation to go into those ways of trying to change things without trusting God.
So God knows what our weaknesses are, but He wants us to trust Him that he can do the changing without our help, which is always a trick for us, because we want to help.
So it goes on to say, and I already read this, but I want to read it again. Verse 16 says, "Therefore, let us come boldly before the throne of grace that we may obtain mercy when we sin" – when we give in to the temptation we need the mercy – "and find grace to help in time of need." And I need grace to be the kind of wife that God wants me to be so that my husband can become what God has designed him to be. I need God's grace in my life because I can't do it on my own.
One more verse I want to read in closing, and it's Galatians 6:9 – "And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart." And it's a process, it's very much a process of our husband's growing up. Our men will grow up to manhood, and they'll do really well, and they'll be making good decisions, and they'll be acting responsibly, but they'll sometimes step back into adolescence, and our responsibility, when they step back into adolescence, and they do something that's childish, or they do something that's foolish, it's not to come in and berate them and be motherly and treat them like boys, but to call them back up to manhood, and we can do that by being mature ourselves and being godly ourselves, because that temptation will be there for them to step back down into adolescence or boyhood that we want to be the kind of wives that can call them up.
So hang in there – we will reap if we don't lose heart.
Bob: Well, we've just listened to Part 2 of a message from Barbara Rainey on how a wife can help her husband be the man God wants him to be. You talked earlier this week about Jezebel, who was a negative influence on her husband. Is there a biblical example you can think of, of a wife who did the opposite?
Dennis: Well, Jezebel was an evil influence. I think the Proverbs 31 woman is a positive influence, "an excellent wife who can find, for her worth is far above jewels. The heart of her husband trusts in her, and he will have no lack of gain."
Think about this next verse here, verse 12, that really is a contrast with Jezebel – "She does him good and not evil all the days of her life." And then at the end of Proverbs 31, it says "Strength and dignity are her clothing, and she smiles at the future. She opens her mouth in wisdom." In other words, she knows the power of words and uses them well in the life of her husband, "And the teaching of kindness is on her tongue. She looks well to the ways of her household and does not eat the bread of idleness. Her children rise up and bless her. Her husband also praises her, saying, 'Many daughters have done nobly, but you excel them all. Charm is deceitful and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the Lord, she shall be praised.' Give her the product of her hands and let her works praise her in the gates."
It doesn't say that there, Bob, but one of her works, I think the Proverbs 31 woman, one of her works is her husband. He's in the gates. He's out and about in the marketplace, and it's his character, his life, his nobility as a man, that reflects back on his wife and her belief in him.
Bob: Well, and I have to think there are going to be a lot of wives who are either going to want to review what they've heard Barbara talk about on the program, or they're going to want to share it with other wives they know, and to help them do that, they can go to our website, FamilyLife.com. You can get a copy of the CD of Barbara's message, and the CD of the message that we've heard from you this week, as well, on a man stepping up to manhood.
Just to go our website, FamilyLife.com, click the red button that says "Go" right in the middle of the screen, and that will take you to the area of the site where there is more information about not only these CDs but other resources that are available from us here at FamilyLife to help men along the journey, even if they're young men, even if they're boys.
We've got resources to help boys move through boyhood on their way to adolescence, move through adolescence on their way to manhood, move from manhood up to being a mentor, to reach down and mentor other young men, and then to become the patriarch that God is calling us to be.
Again, these resources are available on our website at FamilyLife.com. You can go to the website, click the red button you see that says "Go," right in the middle of the screen, and that will take you to the area of the site where you can order any of these resources, again, including the CDs of the messages from you and Barbara. You can order multiple copies of those, if you'd like, and receive a discount on those multiple copies, if you'd like to pass them along to others who might benefit from hearing these messages.
You can also call 1-800-FLTODAY if you have any questions about any of these resources or if it's easier to order over the phone. We've got folks who are available to answer your questions and make sure what you need gets shipped out to you.
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Now, tomorrow, we're going to play program number three in our 2007 top four countdown, and this is a program that many of you said we one of your favorites of the year, and many of your teenage daughters said it was one of their least favorites of the year. You can tune in tomorrow to hear that.
I want to thank our engineer today, Keith Lynch, and our entire broadcast production team. On behalf of our host, Dennis Rainey, I'm Bob Lepine. Have a great day, we'll see you tomorrow for another edition of FamilyLife Today.
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