A Letter to George and Betty
You both need to know that there is a difference between council and prophetic proclamation. When I say, God says in his word that thus and such needs to be done or not done, it is not my opinion and it is not counsel. It is the word of God and is not open to be adapted, debated, or ignored. When I say, here are a few suggestions based on the wisdom that God has given me over the years, these you may (very carefully and respectfully) disregard and ignore. However, in the situation you are in, I would advise paying particular attention just the same.
I will try to distinguish between God’s view and mine as I go through this. If you have any questions, feel free to ask.
The “Same Page” stuff I went over with you and that is accompanying this document was meant to help us all to realize the gravity of the things we talked about. They came from the Word of God and are not, in general, open for discussion. These things are about heaven and Hell, life and death, joy and pain, a wonderful family and a miserable existence. You have worked hard over the past 2 decades to create an unbearable family life and what I’m telling you is that it has got to stop! It is sin! It is damnable, straight from the pit of Hell! You are destroying your lives, your children’s lives and the life of your church. God is not pleased and he will not allow it to continue.
The General Problem
The general problem is huge huge pride. This is exhibited by self-centeredness, arrogance, lack of love, fear and defensiveness. The Christian trusts God for his salvation and for everything else in their life. They joyfully follow the directions of 1 Peter 2:21-25 in imitation of Jesus.
Solution: (1) Confession of sin (1 John 1:9). This means that you both need to write a letter of confession of sin. You need to write it first to the Lord and then to one another. You need to list the sins you’ve committed against the other for as long as you can remember and every sin. You need to lay it all open for the other to see what has been in your heart for years and years.
(2) Repentance from sin. You need to resolve to turn away from the sins you’ve listed and turn to the way God has commanded you to live. This means instead of looking for ways to demean and insult one another, you will look for ways to build one another up (Rom. 14:19-20).
The commands of God are these:
Ephesians 5:25-33 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. After all, no one ever hated his own body, but he feeds and cares for it, just as Christ does the church—for we are members of his body. “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.” This is a profound mystery—but I am talking about Christ and the church. However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself…
1 Peter 3:7-12 Husbands, in the same way be considerate as you live with your wives, and treat them with respect as the weaker partner and as heirs with you of the gracious gift of life, so that nothing will hinder your prayers. Finally, all of you, live in harmony with one another; be sympathetic, love as brothers, be compassionate and humble. Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult, but with blessing, because to this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing. For, “Whoever would love life and see good days must keep his tongue from evil and his lips from deceitful speech. He must turn from evil and do good; he must seek peace and pursue it. For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous and his ears are attentive to their prayer, but the face of the Lord is against those who do evil.”
Notice that not doing the good parts is the same thing as doing evil. And notice that the face of the Lord is against those who do evil.
- George, because you are the head of your household, you need to initiate all of this. I’m going to tell Betty to confess her sins to you regardless of whether you confess your sins to her or not, but you need to beat her to it. You need to be a man and stand up for her in your home. There is a man who has been coming into your home and insulting, demeaning, depressing, and discouraging your wife and you need to make him stop it. The problem is, it is you. You need to grab yourself by the seat of your pants and give yourself a good shaking. You wouldn’t allow some other man to treat your wife or family like you have been treating them, why do you treat them that way? Stop it. Love her, lay down your life for her. Die for her. If she reviles you, insults you, or doesn’t trust you, take it like a man and love her anyway. Suck it up. Grow some hair on your chest. Be a godly man.
- George, you need to love your wife as Christ loved the church (Eph. 5:22ff). This means that there is nothing she can do to you that will make you sin against her. You may not lash out at her and say things that later you will say you didn’t mean (e.g. You are a failure as a wife and mother). You may not get angry with her. You may not get frustrated with her. You may not attack her in any way. If she is doing something you don’t like, go somewhere quiet and figure out a way to build her up in the process of helping her know how better to minister to you or the children. Do not blast her or speak condescendingly to her. Do not just bluntly tell her what is on your mind. Do not criticize her anywhere, in private, in front of the kids, at the church potluck. If she isn’t doing something you like, make sure that when you are finished talking to her about it she feels better about herself as your wife than she did before you started talking to her.
- George, love your Betty. Tell her what a wonderful job she is doing with the kids, the home, the church. Tell the kids how much you love her. Tell everyone how much you love her. Above all tell her you love her. Mow the lawn, fix the drains, clean the gutters. Ask her how you can tell her you love her in ways other than words and then do that thing, or those things, regularly and often. Build her up with grace. Fill her up with your love. Protect her, defend her, pray for her, bless her. Make her beautiful by the way you love her so that when she gets to glory God will see a beautiful woman that you have created by loving her.
- George, you need to build Betty’s trust by telling her the plan. Keep her informed about everything you do or want her to do. Don’t spring things (dinner guests, trips, etc.) on her at the last moment. Tell her when you are going to be late and why. Take off all the passwords on your e-mail accounts or tell her what they are. Put on your computers (those that you can) programs that will protect you and your family from the evil on the internet and let Betty have the passwords for those programs (you shouldn’t know what they are). If you sign up for that Covenant Eyes program you can sign me up as an observer. Don’t look at other women, ever. Don’t talk about other women to anyone. In the area of sexual purity go way beyond anything you might think is prudent and be so far above reproach that if anyone accused you of anything untoward everyone would think them nuts.
The commands of God are these:
Ephesians 5:22-25, 33 Wives, submit to your husbands as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything… However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.
1 Peter 3:1-6 Wives, in the same way be submissive to your husbands so that, if any of them do not believe the word, they may be won over without words by the behavior of their wives, when they see the purity and reverence of your lives. Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as braided hair and the wearing of gold jewelry and fine clothes. Instead, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight. For this is the way the holy women of the past who put their hope in God used to make themselves beautiful. They were submissive to their own husbands, like Sarah, who obeyed Abraham and called him her master. You are her daughters if you do what is right and do not give way to fear.
- Betty, you need to let George lead, no matter what you think about how he is leading. If he doesn’t pay a bill, you sit in the dark. If he says you’re going out for dinner, no matter what you think about the family finances, you go out for dinner. If you see a void in your relationship, you may not fill it by doing something.
While doing this, you must be joyful and chipper. George must not know you care about whatever is happening by your tone, gestures, head-bob, or anything you say verbally or physically.
- Betty, if George says anything to you that is not building up or is demeaning or insulting, you must let it roll off your back like a duck with water. You may not respond in kind, you may not burn his toast, you may not share with your children or with your neighbors about the situation. Take it all to the Lord and lay it at his feet. You are required to respect your husband and this means respect him even if in your mind he is not being particularly respectable.
If you don’t know what it means to be respectful look it up in a dictionary. You may not be shrill or nasty to him, no matter what he says or does to you. When you speak about him to others it must be about all the good things you see in him and all the good things he does for you and the family.
- Betty, this applies to the number 4 above, but it is more specific. You must submit yourself to him. If he says something you are working on is good enough, let it go. You reflect him. If he tells you to put out what you consider something mediocre, don’t argue with him, just say, okay, and stop. Let George protect you, let George take care of you, let George be your head. Trust him to make you beautiful.
- Betty, tell George about all the great things he does. Tell him how much you appreciate him and what he does for the family. Tell him you are glad he leads the family in Bible study and in prayer. Tell your kids how good he is at things and how much you appreciate him doing everything he does (be specific). Praise him, glorify him, make him famous in a good way with your family and your friends.
- You both have copies of this paper. You may not hold the other accountable for their part. You are responsible for your part, not anyone else’s.
- You both need to be in the Word. Pray that God would fill you with his spirit and that he would transform your hearts into the image of his son. Pray that he would give you trust and love for one another. Read the Scriptures that I gave you so that you can read through the Bible in a year. Record on the sheet how and what you are reading and let me see it when I come down again in September.
- You both need to read For a Glory and a Covering and My Life For Yours (these are both by Douglas Wilson) together. If you realize there is something in the text that you would like to apply in your life with your spouse, tell them. Do not tell one another what you think they ought to do, only what you ought to do. Confess it as sin if it is that kind of thing. Use this time to grow together, not as a time to gather ammunition.
- George you need to read Federal Husband on your own.
- Betty you need to read Fruit of Her Hands.
If at any time in any of this you have questions, feel free to ask.
This is serious stuff.
WAYS A WIFE MAY EXPRESS LOVE TO HER HUSBAND *
(How to Convince Your Husband That You Love Him)
Evaluate the ways you express love to your husband. Go over the list and circle the ways you are neglecting. Ask your husband to go over the list and put a check mark in front of the ways he would like you to express love. Ask him to add other things to the list.
You express love to your husband by —
1. Greeting him when he comes home with a smile, a hug, a kiss, and an “Am I glad to see you. I really missed you today.”
2. Having a cup of coffee or tea ready for him when he comes home.
3. Giving him a lingering kiss.
4. Letting him know you like to be with him and making arrangements so that you can spend time with him without giving the impression that you really should or would rather be doing something else.
5. Being willing to talk to him about his concerns and not belittling him for having these concerns.
6. Supporting him and cooperating with him enthusiastically and positively when he has made a decision.
7. Teasing and flirting with him.
8. Seeking to arouse him and sometimes being the aggressor or leader in sex relations.
9. Asking him to have sex relations more than he would expect you to.
11. Caressing him.
12. Looking at him with an adoring expression.
13. Sitting close to him.
14. Holding his hand.
15. Rubbing his back or ….
16. Wearing his favorite nightgown or dress or perfume or ….
17. Expressing your love in words or notes.
18. Letting him know how much you appreciate him and what you appreciate about him. Do this often and for things that are sometimes taken for granted. Pretend you are trying to convince him you think he is great and very important to you.
19. Frequently fulfilling his wishes and desires as well as the specific requests he makes of you. Try to anticipate what he might desire or wish and surprise him by doing it before he asks.
20. Playing with him (tennis, golf, party games, etc.): sharing his hobbies and interests.
21. Enthusiastically cooperating with him and sharing with him in devotions and prayer; seeking to set a good example to the children concerning their attitude toward devotions and prayer.
22. Maintaining your own spiritual life through Bible study, prayer.
23. Handling your affairs decently and in order; structuring your time and using it wisely.
24. Being willing to face and solve problems even it requires discomfort, change, and much effort.
25. Fulfilling your responsibilities.
26. Asking him for his advice and frequently following it.
27. Being ready to leave at the appointed time.
28. Standing with him and supporting him in his attempts to raise your children for God.
29. Thanking him in creative ways for his attempts to please you.
30. Asking forgiveness and saying, “I was wrong and will try to change.”
31. Actually changing where and when you should.
32. Working with him on his projects or ….
33. Reading the literature he asks you to read and sharing your insights.
34. Letting him know when he has tough decisions to make (and even when they are not so tough) that you really believe he will choose the right thing and that you will wholeheartedly support him in whatever decision he makes, provided the decision does not violate clearly biblical principle; being his best cheerleader and fan club.
35. Buying gifts for him.
36. Watching football or other sporting events with him and trying to really manifest an interest.
37. Keeping the house clean and neat.
38. Cooking creatively and faithfully.
39. Having devotions with the children when he is not able to be there. 40. Maintain his disciplinary rules when he is not present.
41. Being appreciative and cooperative when he holds you, caresses or kisses you.
42. Lovingly giving him your input when you think he is in error.
43. Offering constructive suggestions when you think he could improve or become more productive. Don’t push or preach or do this in such a way that you belittle him, but seek positive and non-threatening ways to help him become more fully the man God wants him to be.
44. Running errands gladly.
45. Seeking to complete, not compete with, him; being the best member of his team and seeking to convince him that you are just that.
46. Being lovingly honest with him – no backdoor messages – no withholding of the truth that may hinder your relationship or future trust and closeness.
47. Being willing to see things from his point of view; putting the best interpretation on what he does or says until you have evidence that proves the contrary.
48. Pampering him and making a fuss over him.
49. Being happy and cheerful. 50. Refusing to nag.
51. Gently brushing a leg under the table.
52. Having candlelight and music at dinner.
53. Indicating you want to be alone with him and talk or just lie tn each other’s arms.
54. Giving an ‘I promise you” wink.
55. Going for a walk with him.
56. Letting him know you feel lonely when he is out of town or away from you for a period of time.
57. Relating what happened to you during your day.
58. Sharing your fears, concerns, joys, failures, etc.
59. Seeking to support your ideas with biblical insights and good reasons.
60. Refusing to “cop out” or withdraw and attack or exaggerate or blame shift when he seeks to make constructive suggestions or discuss problems.
61. Giving Him your undivided attention when he wants to talk.
62. Discussing the meaning of certain Bible passages or discussing how to improve your marriage or home or children or child raising efforts, etc.
63. Cheerfully staying up past your bedtime to resolve a disagreement or solve a problem.
64. Holding him close while expressing tangible and vocal love when he is hurt, discouraged, weary, or burdened.
65. Being eager to share a good joke or some other interesting information you have learned.
66. Working in the yard or painting a room together or washing the car.
67. Planning vacations or trips together.
68. Wanting to keep your family memorabilia, newspaper clippings, church releases, etc., that have to do with your family.
69. Bragging to others about him and his accomplishments and how good a husband he is.
70. Joining with him in a team ministry in the church.
71. Doing a Bible study or research project together.
72. Doing a good job in bookkeeping about family finances.
73. Helping prepare the income tax report.
74. Keeping touch through letters with your family and friends.
75. Keeping yourself attractive and clean.
76. Inviting other people in for dinner or fellowship.
77. Developing and using the spiritual gifts God has given you.
78. Asking him to pray with you about something.
79. Expressing how much you love the children and being the children’s cheerleader
80. Managing to stay within the family budget and even saving some for s surprises.
81. Being excited about sharing the gospel with others or about answered prayer or about helping other people.
82. Making a list for him of things that need to be done around the house.
83. Being satisfied with your present standard of living or furniture or equipment when he can provide no more.
84. Not making nostalgic comments about your father’s way of providing, etc., which may seem to imply that you think your father was a much better man than your husband.
85. Acknowledging that there are some specific areas or ways in which you need to improve.
86. Taking care of his clothes so that he is always dressed well.
87. Appreciating and helping his mother and father and relatives.
88. Refusing to disagree with him in the presence of others.
89. Cooperating with him in establishing family goals and procedures and then in fulfilling them.
90. Being silly and unconventional in your lovemaking at times.
91. Telling him before he asks you that you think he has done a good job, if he has done a good job. Don’t be afraid of repeating yourself in commending him for what he is or does.
92. Being available and eager to fulfill his desires wherever and whenever it is proper and possible.
93. Beginning each day with cheerfulness and tangible expressions of affection.
94. Letting the children know that you and your husband are in agreement; communicating to your children when your husband can hear (and when he cannot) how wonderful he is.
* This list came from Wayne Mack’s book, A Homework Manual for Biblical Counseling, Vol. 2.