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Your assessment of her is, to some degree, an evaluation of your leadership. How are you doing at learning, leading, and loving your wife? As you read this article, guard your heart against focusing on her (Matthew 7:3-5). And may she guard her heart against concentrating on you. Husband, how long have you been married to your wife? Whatever that number is, it represents the number of years you have had to care for her. Below are nine ideas, which is not an exhaustive list of ideas by any means. Give your wife a numerical rating from 1 to 10, with one being “a lot of work ahead” and ten being “the husband is on the job and getting things done.”
If your marriage is less than two years, you get a “hall pass” because your relationship is just underway. However, don’t let the grass grow under your feet. There is no time like the present to get to work on your marriage.
It is possible a husband could read the list and get angry at his wife. Husband, I would not recommend that response. If she ranks low and you are tempted to choose anger as a response, my appeal would be to make a sober assessment of your husbandry skills before you jump too quickly at what you believe to be her failures.
I was counseling a husband who would not stop talking negatively about his wife. It did not matter how many times I corrected him; he had one default: she was wrong, and he was right.
As I told him, the word husband means “husbandry,” which means a “tiller of the soil.” In modern parlance, the husband is a gardener, which implies the wife is the garden that he gardens.
If you want to know how well a gardener takes care of his garden, don’t ask him; assess his garden. (You just assessed yourself with the list above.) His garden will quickly reveal his gardening competencies. Yelling at your garden will not make things better.
I appealed to the angry husband to think before he gets mad at his garden. I asked him to take some time to reflect on his competencies and passions regarding the art and skill of husbandry (gardening). Frustration with your garden is a call to get your heart right with God first.
If this is you, find a friend who will love you enough to speak the truth to you. If “Farmer Brown” had a bad crop this year, humility would say he must start with an honest assessment regarding his role in the process. Maybe he does not know how to tend a garden.
The humble husband recognizes the rating he gave his wife and sees it as a score he gave to himself. His evaluation of her is a reflection of his skill. Though the garden has a responsibility to respond to the gardener, this article is not about that.
To blame the other person is as easy as saying, “that woman whom you gave to be with me,” is primarily responsible for this mess (Genesis 3:12). If that is where your mind goes, there is no hope until you change your mind (repent).
Husband, it does not matter who fired the first shot or who has sinned the most. You are the leader! You must lead, and there is no better place to lead than to lead in personal, God-centered, gospel-motivated humility.
Start with your sin. Pursue God with unconditional surrender. Seek His assistance to restore your relationship with Him before you try to restore your relationship with your wife. If you’re not right with her, you’re not right with Him (1 Peter 3:7).
If you do not do this, there is no way your marriage can reflect Christ and His church (Ephesians 5:25-27). This “log in my eye process” (Matthew 7:3-5) also goes for the wife. Once the finger begins to point to the other person in the marriage, there is no help or hope.
Finger-pointing, without honest penitent self-assessment, is self-righteousness on full display (Luke 18:11). There is no grace for that attitude because Christ did not come for the righteous (Mark 2:17). You have to know and admit your sickness to receive His help (1 John 1:9).
Maybe you have stopped pointing your finger at your spouse. Perhaps you recognize her problems and realize how change starts with you. And maybe this idea of “husbandry” is overwhelming to you. Do not despair. God did not leave you alone to figure out how to have a mature marriage. God has given you what you need to help you in your relationship with your wife.
How are you doing in these areas? Would it surprise you to know that many people with problems are not regularly accessing these “means of grace” that God offers to His children?
A “means of grace” is a way (means) to obtain God’s undeserved favor (grace). Think of “means” like a “vehicle” that takes you from point A to point B. That is what the Spirit, His Word, and His community can do for you.
These means can take you from where you are in your marriage, to a God-blessed place in your marriage. The question is whether or not you will choose to commit to these means of grace. Will you?
The way, degree, and commitment to these “means of grace” will not only reveal your desire for God to change you but your hope and passion for your marriage. Passivity will not change you. God calls you to active obedience: you change first and then work on your marriage. When you read the title of this article, did you think it was about your wife? Your wife is a reflection of you and your leadership style. The grade you gave your wife is the same grade that reflects how you have led her.
Rick launched the Life Over Coffee global training network in 2008 to bring hope and help for you and others by creating resources that spark conversations for transformation. His primary responsibilities are resource creation and leadership development, which he does through speaking, writing, podcasting, and educating.
In 1990 he earned a BA in Theology and, in 1991, a BS in Education. In 1993, he received his ordination into Christian ministry, and in 2000 he graduated with an MA in Counseling from The Master’s University. In 2006 he was recognized as a Fellow of the Association of Certified Biblical Counselors (ACBC).