How The Differences Between Men And Women Can Help Your Husband Become A Promise Keeper, Part I

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By Norma Smalley

Years ago, when we were living in Waco, Texas, I got to attend a Baylor University football game. However, I wasn't prepared for what was about to happen because I hadn't been to a football game since college. As I patiently waited for the teams to arrive -- suddenly -- everyone began to cheer. Slowly, the crowd got louder until we were all screaming. At that moment, the football team ran through the tunnel, crashed through an enormous sign, and onto the field. After we stopped cheering, I was shocked at how emotional I had become. I felt like jumping onto the field and tackling the opposing team!

Although I've never attended a Promise Keepers event, I've been told the excitement level is like a football game. When the men come running out of the stadium, the scene must look like the football players crashing through a sign after the coach's "pep" talk.

The same way that I became emotional, each man returning home must feel invincible -- like all seven promises can be kept. However, I noticed something important at the Baylor game. After the initial excitement wore off and our team started losing, the players and fans became discouraged. The same thing can happen to your husband throughout the year. As the excitement disappears and he reaches the third and fourth quarters of life, he may experience problems keeping his promises.

As your husband gets discouraged, he may feel like the man who wanted to improve his marriage by joining a weekly support group. One day, the man became convicted for not appreciating his wife more. So he left work early and bought his wife some flowers, candy and a card. With great pride he presented the gifts and exclaimed, "Hi honey! I love you very much!"

Immediately his wife started crying. "Everything's gone wrong today," she explained sobbing. "The baby's grouchy, the dishwasher won't work, and now you come home drunk!"

Like this housewife, if your husband does not keep his promises like you expect, you may get discouraged. So what can we do to help our husbands keep their promises throughout the year? One way is to understand the differences between men and women and how these affect a man returning from Promise Keepers.

WHY MEN MAY HAVE DIFFICULTY KEEPING THEIR PROMISES

Similar to what Promise Keepers is doing today, while my husband Gary was a pastor in Waco, Texas, we prayed faithfully for something very important. We prayed that the men in our church would make long-term promises to become more committed to the Lord, their families, and each other. One Sunday morning, almost twenty years ago, Gary challenged the men to make this commitment. Just like attending a football game, I was excited when he finished his message and sixty men got on their knees in front of the congregation -- promising to change their lives.

Following the public commitment, however, something interesting occurred. As Gary met with these men for over a year, the wives became massively disappointed because the men were not keeping their promises. So we started meeting as couples, but this did not seem to work either. Finally, I stopped believing that these men could make any lasting changes.

Then something remarkable happened during one meeting. Someone shared something so powerful that the men turned their lives around. In fact, those men who had not been able to keep their weekly promises, have been "promise keepers" for over twenty years. What could possibly have had such a dramatic effect you might be wondering? Here is the essence of what happened that night.

One of our good friends, Ken Nair, was visiting from California and explained that women are more sensitive to and aware of relationships. Remarkably, this simple difference between men and women had a tremendous effect upon our group. Hearing this allowed the couples to understand that they have important differences that can effect the way a man honors his promises.

At the same time Ken visited our group, Gary was researching other differences between men and women at Baylor. As we began understanding these differences, we realized that men are not usually trying to hurt their families. Instead, they seem to be less skilled at realizing what strengthens a relationship. We became aware that the differences between men and women can either hurt or help relationships. For example, the very things that caused me to be frustrated and discouraged with the men, were actually the differences being used in negative ways. I'll give some specific examples of this later in the chapter.

What fascinated me the most was how my attitude towards these men took a 180 degree turn. I became more compassionate and patient. Instead of wanting to "kick" them, I developed a deep desire to continue cultivating their growth. As a result, the men who starting using these differences in a positive manner became more consistent in loving the Lord, their family, and others.

FOUR DIFFERENCES THAT CAN HELP MEN KEEP THEIR PROMISES

One of the major reasons why marriages succeed or fail, and promises are kept or broken is how a husband and wife handle their differences. In fact, Gary and I have found that a majority of marital problems center around one fact -- men and women are totally different! To begin with, every cell in a man's body is different than a woman's (because of chromosome patterns). And the physical, emotional and mental differences between the sexes are so extreme that without a concentrated effort to understand and appreciate them, it is nearly impossible to have a happy marriage.

You may already be aware of some of these differences. Many others may come as a complete surprise. While there are literally thousands of differences between men and women, I'm going to concentrate on four differences that have had the biggest impact upon me understanding why men may have difficulty following through with their promises.

1. Men tend to have a greater desire to "win" at most things and women tend to cooperate more.

Men tend to be more competitive than the average woman. Men like to be "king of the mountain." In fact, most of a young boy's play has to do with winning. From cowboys and Indians, to the business world, men seem to get status and prestige from victory. This natural tendency can cause men to be more independent; resulting in them being more distant and aloof around others -- especially their family.

On the other hand, women tend to form into small groups. Researchers have noticed that after age five, little girls play games and activities which requires cooperation. In other words, games that have to do with sharing and understanding each other. Whereas, men tend to think about themselves, women seem to want connection through meaningful relationships and friendships. They love feeling harmony in a community -- being connected, belonging and accepted.

It appears that men do not have this same natural drive for cooperation. When two men meet they usually ask about the other's employment in order to find out who has the more important job. Men get a lot of their identity from their jobs because it's considered a "trophy" of how they're winning in life.

On the other hand, women tend to get more of their identity from who they know. This is why if we don't get along with our husbands and children, it has a greater effect upon us than it does the average man. When our husbands are successful, they feel fulfilled. When he's not successful, however, then it has a negative effect because he doesn't feel like a winner.

In my relationship with Gary, this difference has had a negative impact at times. While Gary was jogging one day, he decided to do something loving for me. Since we were planning on going camping that day, he remembered how stressed out I got trying to pack the camper.

"I've got a surprise for you!" Gary enthusiastically exclaimed as he walked through the door. "Instead of getting stressed out packing the camper, why don't you go out to breakfast with Helen. Then when you return, we'll be all packed and can pick up the kids at school."

When he finished explaining his idea -- instead of getting excited -- I became very upset. I thought that he'd come up with a creative way to get me out of the house so he could pack the "right way." Thus he would win! Gary became irritated because my reasoning was so far removed from his personality. He couldn't believe that I actually thought this way. By the disgusted look on his face I knew that he felt like saying, "Fine, you pack the camper and I'll go to breakfast with Helen!"

As we began to discuss how I was feeling -- another important difference surfaced. In addition to feeling like he wanted to win, I also felt like he was trying to control me. This feeling of control leads right into the second important difference between men and women.

2. Men tend to want to control and women tend to be a little more agreeable.

Some researchers have found that men tend to control a conversation with their wives up to 75% of the time. One reason for this is that women are concerned about being connected in a relationship (e.g., talking, touching and feeling with loved ones). When a man starts to control, a woman tends to agree and lets him win. We tend to do this because the relationship is more important than winning the argument. On the other hand, men want to win the argument because their natural drive is to win and control.

For example, before a man walked into our marriage group one night, he turned to his wife and said, "Okay...I was wrong...Will you forgive me?"

"What are you talking about?" his wife asked looking confused.

"Since the group is going to ask how we're doing this week" he explained. "Before we walk in, I want you to forgive me for hurting your feelings!"

His wife started fuming as she realized what he was doing. "Forget it," she snapped. "I'd rather watch you try to explain that to the group!"

The amusing part was that it actually made sense to this man to seek forgiveness at the door. However, it never occurred to him that he was controlling his wife. So when she shared what happened outside, the group "devoured" him. After we stopped teasing this man, we helped him understand how controlling his wife can be harmful to his commitments. As a matter of fact, not to long after that night, the group began realizing how competition and control (if taken to an extreme) can hurt men as they attempt to be "promises keepers."

To further illustrate the negative effects of these first two differences, lets go back to our small group. The men in our group were all very busy. They owned small companies, they were lawyers, doctors, accountants, and businessmen. Obviously, in order to accomplish these things, the men were good at winning and controlling.

During one group meeting, to help develop better relationships we encouraged the husbands to spend at least a half hour per day in meaningful conversation with their wives. In response to this challenge, I can remember one accountant explaining that because of his busy schedule, the only time he had was from four to five in the morning. Amazingly, this was logical to him. Furthermore, he had difficulty understanding why his wife might not be able to concentrate that early. In fact, he even wanted to set a timer so they wouldn't exceed the time limit. He felt he'd be losing if they went longer than a half an hour.

As a result of this man's control and desire to win, he had difficulty keeping his promises because they didn't fit his lifestyle at work. If he was going to be a successful accountant, he had to be at work at five in the morning. If he wanted a promotion and raise, or a big Christmas bonus, he had to put in the time. Therefore, he couldn't give a half hour for meaningful conversation.

Even though his wife was willing to cooperate, this husband (like many others) was attempting to control the time with his wife. Thankfully the other group members helped him realize that his idea was selfish and manipulative.

Some of the women, on the other hand, were working outside the home but were still willing to adjust their schedules in order to have meaningful and loving connection with their husbands. This leads us right into the next important difference between men and women.

FOUR DIFFERENCES THAT CAN HELP MEN KEEP THEIR PROMISES (continued)

3. Intimacy for men tends to involve an activity, whereas intimacy for women tends to involves physical touch and communication.

Women usually feel connected with their husbands through words and touch. If a man doesn't provide these two things, a woman has a very difficult time feeling close to him. On the other hand, unlike the female definition of intimacy, some marriage researchers define male intimacy as "doing things," rather than touching or talking -- especially talking . For example, during a seminar in California, Gary asked for a few examples of romantic activities. One woman shouted, "A walk on the beach at sunset."

Gary then asked, "Is there anything your husband could do that would wreck that experience?"

"Yes." the woman quickly explained, "If he brought his fishing pole along."

See how differently men and women define intimacy. For this man, being on the beach without a fishing pole seemed ridiculous. Perhaps, being able to fish next to his wife at sunset was very intimate. On the other hand, his wife had a completely different definition of intimacy. Unless she was able to hold hands and communicate she felt that he was resisting being intimate. The reason why men and women tend to have such different definitions of intimacy is explained by the last major difference between men and women.

4. Men tend to favor the left side of the brain where language and logic operate. They also tend to be conquer oriented and are more interested in facts and information and less aware of relational needs. Women, on the other hand, tend to favor the right side of the brain, where feelings, nurturing, and the relational part of life operates. They also tend to be relationship motivated and oriented.

Medical research studies have shown that in the womb, between the eighteenth and twenty-sixth week of gestation, something happens that forever separates the sexes. Using heat-sensitive color monitors, researchers have actually observed what happens. A chemical bath of different sex-related hormones washes over a baby boy's brain, causing several important changes that never happen to the brain of a baby girl. Here's a limited explanation of what happens when those chemicals hit a baby boy's system.

The human brain is divided into two halves, or hemispheres, each connected by a fibrous tissue called the Corpus Collosum. The sex-related hormones and chemicals which flood a baby boy's brain cause the right side of a male's brain to recede slightly, and destroy some of the fibers of the corpus Collosum that connect the two sides. And one result is that in most cases, a baby boy starts life more left-brained oriented from birth.

What about little girls? From the moment of birth, because they don't go through this chemical bath, little girls are much more global or "two-sided" in their thinking. And while electrical impulses and messages can and do go back and forth between both sides of a baby boy's brain, those same messages can proceed faster and be less hindered in the brain of a little girl.

"Now wait a minute," some man may be thinking who's hears this information. "Are you trying to say I'm brain damaged?"

Well, not exactly, but it sure sounds like it, doesn't it? Actually, what happens in the womb is a beautiful picture of how men and women come equipped to "specialize" in two different ways of thinking. And this is one major reason why men and women need each other so much!

The left side of the brain houses more of the logical, analytical, factual, and aggressive centers of thought. In my family, it's the side of the brain that Gary reserves for most of his waking hours. The left side of his brain enjoys conquering 500 miles a day on our vacation trips... And gets upset at all the cars passing us when we do make a "quick" lunch stop. The left side favors mathematical formulas over Harlequin romances...It stores the dictionary definition of the word love and can't wait to rush out and buy the latest copy of some "how to" magazine to find out the latest "fix it" technique...that memorizes batting averages and box scores.. and that loves to sit for hours and yell while watching grown men run into each other at full speed in a football game.

On the other hand, as women, we spend most of our days and nights camped out on the right side of the brain. Over on this side are the centers for feelings and emotions, as well as where the primary relational, language, and communication skills reside. In addition, on the right side of the brain we can tap into the ability to do fine-detail work, to use our imagination, and to spend an afternoon actually enjoying art and fine music.

This is the side of our brain that stops at roadside historical markers on purpose... That's usually not interested in watching a brutal football or hockey game unless I know the players and their wives personally ("Oh no, look what that big guy did to Karen's husband!!!)... That stores the feelings of love, not just the definition of the word...and that would rather read a home and garden magazine than Popular Mechanics, because it's more people oriented and relational.

Because of the "chemical bath," it's easier for most women to tap into their "right-brain" than a man. And it's this side of the brain where the skills of having an intimate relationship reside.

By nature, women have two incredibly important capacities because of the special way we're created. First, we have an intuitive desire to build a meaningful relationship with those in our lives. Not only that, but we also have the capacity to recognize a healthy and intimate relationship. In a practical way, this means that we carry inside of us a built-in marriage manual!

Since most men may not have all of the "right-brain" relationship talents a woman does, they can still gain tremendous insights of how to keep the seven promises by learning to tap into a women's built-in relational manual. The key for both men and women is to recognize their uniqueness. Because we are created unique and different, we need each other in order to grow towards maturity and balance. And while a women may have more intuitive relational skills, one of the strengths of a man is that he can make a decision to draw out those skills by asking certain probing questions. Most women, if we are not intimidated, know the answer to the following questions:

On a scale of one to ten,
1. Where do we want our relationship to be?
2. Where is our relationship, in general, today?
3. What could we do in the next several days or weeks to bring our relationship closer to where we want it to be?

If these questions are honestly answered then they can help your husband move toward keeping the fourth promise as defined in the Promise Keepers book -- a man and his family. That is one example of how we can help our husbands to keep their promises. Another way is by learning to value our husband's "left-brain" bent. By nature, a man's "left-brain" tendencies can give him important contributions to a marriage. For example, a man's competitive nature, when turned towards gaining a successful relationship, can cause dramatic growth in a marriage. Once the knowledge and skills of a good relationship are in sight, he can go after them like conquering a project at work.

Also, decision making is one aspect of left-brain thinking that can actually aid a marriage relationship. Once a man can see the advantages in making a choice (the facts), he can often commit himself regardless of his feelings. In other words, even on a day when he doesn't necessarily "feel" like doing something (like spending a half-hour in meaningful conversation with his wife), he can still make a decision to do so.

Why is this so important in relationships? Because at it's roots, love is a decision -- not a feeling. Likewise, keeping the seven promises is not a feeling -- but is also a decision.

How can a woman value her husband in a way he understands and appreciates? One thing she can do is to recognize six things every man needs to help him keep his promises.

SIX POWERFUL WAYS TO HELP MEN KEEP THEIR PROMISES

In light of the four differences between men and women, over the past twenty years, Gary and I have found six ways to help husbands keep their promises.

Lets take the average wife who has been praying diligently that her husband would change and become more relational. Finally he's agreed to go to Promise Keepers. She may have very high expectations of how life is going to change in her home, church, and community. She knows that her husband will be emotionally charged as seventy thousand other men make similar commitments. And finally, her husband returns home -- and soon -- she'll start reaping the rewards of all his new commitments. Right?

Unfortunately, this is not always the case. As expectations mount and we try to help our husbands keep his promises, we may feel like the two little boys who were always in trouble. Because of this, they decided to go to church and confess their sins. However, that particular Sunday there was a visiting pastor who was preaching a "fire and brimstone" sermon. At one point the preacher pointed at the boys and shouted, "Where is God...I ask you...Where is God today in our country, in your church and in your home?"

After the boys returned home, the younger brother locked himself in the bathroom. "What's wrong?" the older one asked. "Why won't you come out?"

"Didn't you hear the pastor?" the younger brother frantically explained. "They can't find God and they're blaming us!"

When your husband returns from Promise Keepers, you may have expectations of helping him keep his promises. However, like these two boys who thought they were being blamed for the disappearance of God, you may feel responsible if your husband does not live up to those commitments. Before you take on that kind of responsibility, I encourage you to reflect on something very important.

ESTABLISHING THE RIGHT FOUNDATION FOR HELPING YOUR HUSBAND KEEP HIS PROMISES

It's extremely important to remember that Promise Keepers is a movement of God. It's not a movement of you or me, or of the leaders. It's God's alone! God is the one who brought this revival to our nation. In His time, He'll keep it going. My husband is a good example of this. Because of a major thunder storm, Gary was the only one who didn't speak at a Promise Keepers event in Texas. When he got home and I asked how the men had responded to him, he explained why he did not speak.

"It really didn't matter whether I spoke or not," he said with great conviction. "These men aren't coming to hear me. They're coming here because the Spirit of God has moved them."

The message behind Gary's explanation is actually the greatest thing that I can write. When Gary said that the success of Promise Keepers has nothing to do with the speakers or the leaders, he was right. Instead, it is the other men inspiring one another to follow the Lord in a serious commitment. As God raises our husbands up, it's God who will continue to work and sustain them. The rest of us are mere tools who God is using to bring glory to His name. Hopefully you can take comfort in realizing that it's not your responsibility to help your husband keep his promises. That's impossible. It's God's responsibility. But we need to make ourselves available to be used by God. The following six steps can assist you in making yourself available.

1. Realize that most men are not naturally skilled at improving relationships.

In our small group in Waco, the wives thought the men were being mean because they didn't follow through on their promises. But we came to realize that it wasn't the fact they were being mean. It wasn't as if they were lying in bed at night thinking of ways to strain their marriage or friendships. Those things just came natural to them. They really didn't know how to develop meaningful relationships.

As wives, we must remember that men are not naturally skilled at improving relationships. This means that your husband may have a difficult time knowing how to improve his marriage or develop better parenting skills. All seven promises involve relationships with others, men appear to be less naturally equipped to develop these relationships than women.

But thanks to the Lord, we're called to be our husband's helper. "...It is not good for the man to be alone; I will make him a helper suitable for him" (Genesis 2:18). The research shows that men do not function well alone. They don't eat as well, they don't dress as well, they don't even live as long. Therefore, I've come to see that one of the greatest things we do for a man is to help him in the world of relationships. As a man becomes a better relater, he can be more successful at keeping his promises.

As we understand that men lack relational skills, we can honor our husbands by not degrading them. The Scripture says in I Peter 3:1-2 that when a man feels genuinely respected by his wife, he will believe the Word. In other words, it actually motivates a man spiritually when he sees his wife honoring him. Honor is another important thing that Gary and I have learned on our journey together. Nestled away in Ephesians 5:33, we find a very important instruction to wives, "Nevertheless, let each individual among you also love his own wife even as himself; and let the wife see to it that she respects her husband."

Whatever we do as wives, we should never neglect to reverence our husbands. That's honoring them. That means we're attaching the highest value to him; treating him as a treasured person -- as highly valuable. Since a man's deepest need is to feel adequate and treasured by another human being, only we can give this special gift to our husbands. The pastor's wife, the neighbor's wife or a single woman can't provide this. Even a daughter can't give her father the honor that a wife can provide. It's clear that these women can't provide the full expression of God's love like a wife can.

For example, one day Gary came to my office (I'm the administer of Today's Family ) right after I finished talking with a pastor on the phone. He threw his arms around me, kissed me and told me how much he appreciated what I was doing. I could see he was very happy by the sparkle in his eyes.

"Do you have any idea how wonderful I felt listening to you on the phone?" Gary asked. "I overheard you telling the pastor how great it would be if he invited me to his church."

"I heard you explaining what I teach and how much you've learned from me," Gary explained. "You then told that pastor how real and transparent I am, and how I live what I preach."

As I was selling this pastor on my husband, I had no idea that Gary was "eaves-dropping." But listening to how Gary felt, I was reminded how much men need to be appreciated -- to be honored. That's their deepest need. It actually gives a man energy to continue trying to be a better husband and father.

A few years ago, I saw just how blind men are when Larry called our office because his wife was filing for divorce. Since Gary did not have time to help Larry, the call was given to me. So, I began sharing some advice and encouraging Larry for several months.

The main point that stands out in my work with Larry was how little he seemed to know about how to improve his marital relationship. Constantly, Larry asked questions in the hopes of fixing their problems within about twenty-four hours. Larry seemed to think that he would be able to make some minor adjustments and his wife would come running back. I've read thousands of letters over the past twenty years with this same tragic theme. How this is relevant to us is that Promise Keepers does not provide a magical pill that makes men better husbands and fathers. This is why the second step is so important.

2. Make a mutual commitment to the slow process of learning how to relate.

Unfortunately, Promise Keepers does not hand out magic "relationship" pills as the men are leaving the stadium. It does, however, provide the motivation, tools and accountability which is needed to make important changes. As we try to begin encouraging our husbands to keep their promises, we need to increase our patience. Our husbands will not learn these new ways of relating overnight. It could take months, perhaps even years, before real changes and new patterns set in. Therefore, if after two weeks your husband doesn't seem to be staying on the right track -- that's normal. You need make sure you continue in patience with him and help him recognize that God has given you a special gift that he doesn't understand. The gift of being naturally skilled at relationships.

I have found that a relationship doesn't remain at the same place year after year. You're either growing and improving or you're going down hill. If you're not studying and learning about one another, then you tend to grow flat. When it comes to the differences between men and women, Gary and I made this commitment that we could continue to grow. On one occasion we decided to fast together. This was really Gary's idea because he wanted to win and conquer the fasting experience. So he talked me into it. I had never fasted before, so I wasn't sure how it would go. But because he's so strong and I tend to agree just to stay in harmony, I went along with the plan.

We prayed, fasted and read the Word together from Friday night through Saturday afternoon. We also took some time to work on our marriage goals. It was like we were having our own spiritual revival. However, I was not enjoying myself because I felt forced into fasting. And by late Saturday afternoon I was emotionally drained and starving. So we took a break by walking around an indoor mall. Unfortunately, there was food everywhere, but I couldn't have any because we'd agreed not eat until Monday morning. So we went back to the hotel and continued fasting and working on our marriage goals. When Saturday evening came, I started to crawl the walls. I'm was so hungry that it became difficult for me to concentrate. So around ten p.m. Saturday night, I finally pleaded, "I've got to get food...I'm done!"

"Why should we give up now since we only have one more day?" Gary demanded! Since he had fasted before, he knew that the third day you're not as hungry. But I was done!

"I don't know what you're going to do," I snapped. "But I'm going to eat." So I enjoyed an egg omelet, toast and hash browns, despite Gary's continuous glare. He had nothing to eat except water.

The next day Gary realized we had to do the very things we had talked about through the weekend. We had to forgive and love one another. We also had to accept each other as unique individuals. After we did these things, we went home in harmony.

At different times you're going to try new things as you grow together that won't work as well as you anticipated. But if your goal is to continue learning and growing, then adjustments can be made as needed. The best way to help you and your husband to have success during this slow process is actually the third step.

3. Agree to join a marriage support group.

Small groups can provide three important things for your marriage. First, it gives support -- which means you get a chance to be encouraged and prayed for on a weekly basis. As a result, this provides additional energy to keep moving toward fulfilling the promises you've made together. Secondly, support groups provide accountability. What's great about accountability is that since you know someone will be asking you how your week went, you're constantly working on your promises.

The final reason for being in a small group is that men seem to learn best by watching other men interact with other men and their mates. For example, if your husband came from a home where his father wasn't a good model, small groups can provide healthy role models.

We have found the most effective small group is one in which you agree on the direction. I encourage you to develop some specific goals so you don't end up with a "social" group. Finally, it should be a group that is committed to the seven promises of a promise keeper.

There are very powerful results of being in a loving support group. Make sure that your group is healthy in the sense that one person is not controlling the group -- stifling your ability to grow closer to the Lord.

4. Always be willing to help your husband up when he falls.

One of the easiest things for me to do, even when we are having an argument, is to pause and realize all is not lost. We may have fallen, but we're not a total failure. I remember one time we were driving back from the Arizona mountains when we got into a major conflict about where to eat breakfast. We were so angry that by the time we got to a restaurant, we weren't speaking. So we got back into our car and kept driving. One hundred miles later, Gary finally says, "I don't know if I want to continue to try...I just can't seem to get this down. I say something that makes you angry, then you say something that makes me angry. I just feel like giving up!"

Instead of thinking that everything was lost, I was able to remind him how many times we'd been successful. I knew we weren't perfect, but I knew we could keep moving. In a sense, that's like a small group. When you encourage your husband to look at the overall picture, you give him energy.

He feels like a failure when you're in the middle of a big argument. Like his favorite football team has just lost. Therefore, part of our responsibility and privilege is to lift him back up and tell him we can make it. Many times, I've watched Gary get encouraged when I took that step. The fifth step goes along with this same idea.

5. Learn how to praise any action that he does that brings energy or joy to you or your family.

A man returning from Promise Keepers decided that he needed to be more affectionate with his wife. One day while he was showering, he realized he'd forgotten his towel. As he jumped across the hall to grab a towel, he saw his wife in the kitchen. Trying to keep his new promise, he decided to surprise her with a meaningful hug! So he ran into the kitchen, threw his arms around his wife and shouted, "Honey, I love you!"

Everything was perfect until he heard some noise behind him. He was horrified as he turned around and saw the neighbor lady sitting at the table!

Although this wife was very embarrassed, she needs to recognize and praise the husband's positive effort. It's like a bank account. Words of praise are like $1,000,000 deposits. Every time you deposit something in your husband's account, it gives him energy. However, every time you is criticize him, much needed energy is withdrawn from the account. Unfortunately, if at the end of the month your relationship has more withdrawals than deposits, then you risk bankruptcy. As you help your husband to keep his promises, try to keep a much higher balance in the area of encouraging words.

6. Last but not least, become like the "Little Widow Lady."

One of the most powerful things that Gary and I have discovered in life is found in Luke chapter eleven. It's a story about how we should pray for one another. The word picture that Christ uses is about a little widow who never gave up standing in front of a wicked judge. She kept asking every day for protection against people who were stealing from her.

After many days of standing in line, the wicked judge finally gave her protection. "Why did the wicked judge grant this woman her request?" Jesus asked, "Because she wore him down!" Jesus concludes by telling how much more our heavenly Father gives us when we stand in line every day with our prayer requests.

The same thing that Luke 11 talks about is what we can do to encourage our husbands to follow the seven promises. Like the little old widow lady, we need to persistently stand before the Lord each day -- asking if today is the day He will answer our prayers. We must never give up asking the Lord to bring the needed improvements and growth necessary to help our husbands. Continue to ask God for the wisdom and insight, and for the strength to keep going.

This has been one of the most powerful things I've done in life. We can continue to wait upon the Lord until he renews our strength. He will cause us to rise up and fly like eagles, walking and not fainting. Why? Because he will do it in His time. Especially when it's His will. We know that all those promises are His will. If they aren't true in our life and our husband's life, we can continue to pray for these things.

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS

1. List some ways that you and your spouse define intimacy.
Female List
Male List __________________________________________________________

Once the list is complete, discuss the differences between the two lists. I encourage you to pick several of the activities from both lists and do them throughout the week.

2. With your husband, answer the following three questions. On a scale of one to ten, with ten being the best:
A. Where do we want our relationship to be?
0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
B. Where is our relationship, in general, today?
0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
C. What could we do in the next several days or weeks to bring our relationship closer to where we want it to be? _____________________________________________________________________________
I encourage you to choose several of the above things and try them over the next few weeks.

3. List several ways your natural desire to cooperate or agree can be used to strengthen your relationship? ______________________________________________________________________________

Is there anything involving your desire for cooperation or agreement that has a negative effect upon your relationship? How can you change these into positive traits? ________________________________________________________________________________

4. List several ways that your husband is skilled at strengthening your relationship. ______________________________________________________________________________

I encourage you to pick several of these and share them with your husband throughout the week when he needs additional energy.

5. Write down the names of several couples who could join you and your husband in an accountability group. ______________________________________________________________________________

What would be some of your goals you feel would be important to accomplish in a marriage group? _______________________________________________________________________________

What are some rules that would need to be observed in the group? _______________________________________________________________________________

6. What are some positive things that you can do for your husband when he does not keep his promises? _________________________________________________________________________________

I encourage you to refer back to this list when your husband needs encouragement.

7. List several things that you are praying for like the "little widow lady?"

Prayer Request: Date When Answered: _____________________________________________________________________________

8. If someone waived a magical wand and made your marriage a "10," what would your relationship look like? List the specific responses because they can serve as a goal list. These are the exact things that will help you to strengthen your marriage or relationship.

If someone waived a magical wand, my relationship would look like: _____________________________________________________________________________

I encourage you to pick something from the list that you could do during the next.


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