This time of year can be particularly hard for many of you in destructive and/or broken families. Holidays often mean more family time or expectations of family traditions and making of memories. Sadly for many of you, memories of past holidays are painful and the pretense that things are fine when they are not feels unbearable.
Please take good care of yourself during this season. That doesn’t mean heading to the spa for a mani and pedi (although it could). But it does mean making sure you are getting enough sleep, that you have a support system in place for prayer or venting when you need it. And that you are spending meaningful time alone with God. Isaiah 45:3 reminds us that He will give or show you the treasures hidden in darkness.
There are good things to be found even in the hard things, even in the dark things but you have to look for them. That can only be done when you are quiet and still before the Lord. Let him show you how to find things you can be thankful for even in the darkness or desert of life. Click To Tweet
This week’s question: How do I say no to my husband without hurting his feelings or making him angry? I’m trying to take back control and he is not having it.
Answer: Your statement “He’s not having it” reveals a deeper problem. However, the problem isn’t in your marriage or in your attempt to say No. It’s in your husband’s head.
Your husband has some internal beliefs that control how he sees your “no.” One belief might be, “If you love me, are loyal to me, and trust me, then you will always agree with me and do what I say.”
Another internal belief might be “I’m the man. I’m smarter and better than you are. How dare you question my decision or authority as your husband.” When you start to say no or assert yourself, he sees that as an attack or as disrespect of his authority thus riling up his anger.
Healthy adults do not believe they are entitled to control another adult unless that adult is incapacitated in some way. The fact that your husband refuses to honor your freedom to disagree with him, respectfully question his decisions or thinking, or you saying “no,” suggests that he doesn’t see you as an equal partner in your marriage. To use a different metaphor, he’s the warden and you’re the prisoner and how dare you try to break free. Power over someone is never God’s way but your husband has made it clear to you that he’s not going to let go of that power without a fight.
“Is your freedom of choice worth the fight?” is the question you must grapple with. Is your God-given responsibility to steward your life, even as a married woman, something you are willing to go to the mat for with your spouse? It will make him angry because it threatens his belief system and his power over you. You can’t get around that.
So what happens when you assert your “no”? Is he dangerous? Violent when angry? Do you feel unsafe or just uncomfortable with how he expresses his anger and hurt? If you feel unsafe and/or there have been any threats of harm, then there is no fight to be had. You must come to accept that your safety is your #1 priority, not asserting your right to say No. Your husband will never accept your right to do so and if you push it, you put yourself in danger. A separation will be the only way you will ever be able to have boundaries or be able to say no safely.
However, if you can calmly and respectfully assert your right to make choices and speak your thoughts and feelings without fearing for your safety even if he is hurt and angry, then it’s worth pushing forward to see if he can begin to respect you as an adult who has her own power instead of demanding power over you.
You can be empathetic with his hurt – even speaking to his false beliefs with truth and grace. For example, “I know it upsets you when I disagree with you but that doesn’t mean I don’t love you or I don’t have your back. It just means that two heads are better than one and I think you need my input on this decision.”
Or “I know you believe that it’s your right as a man to control me, but I don't believe God calls me to abdicate the stewardship of my life or my mind just because I’m married. I believe that as your Biblical helpmate, I am to give you my thoughts and opinions on things even if you don't like it. I’m not doing it to hurt you or get you angry, I’m doing it because I believe it’s in your and our best interest that I function as an adult in this relationship.”
Trust me. He won’t like it one bit. But he may come to respect it far more than if you simply acquiesce to his bullying control over you and die a slow death to the person God made you to be. Don’t give him that power or control over you. That is not God’s best for you.
Friends, when you started to wake up to the fact that you were not functioning as a healthy adult in your marriage and started to assert yourself, how did you handle your husband’s hurt and anger?
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