I get asked all the time what is different about my second marriage that makes it work? And there are many answers for that. But today I’m going to focus on what I personally am doing differently.

During my first marriage, I was controlling. I was a nag. I was critical. I ran my mouth off. I yelled.

To be clear, I also loved Jesus, and prayed hard, and read the Bible, and tried to take care of my house and husband and children.  And yet with all that being totally true…

I was controlling. I was a nag. I was critical. I ran my mouth off. I yelled.

Also, to be clear, there was abuse and addiction and a lot, a lot, a lot of stuff for me to react negatively too. BUT STILL…

I was controlling. I was a nag. I was critical. I ran my mouth off. I yelled.

Fast forward a bunch of years and through a bunch of bad stuff to me being served divorce papers.

And then I was single. And had nothing but time on my hands to try to figure out where that whole thing went off the rails, and most importantly, my part in it. Because, let’s be honest, I spent the entire marriage FULLY aware of my then-husband’s part and only partly aware of my part. (I think we may all tend to do this, so I’m not judging me and I’m not judging you.)

So once all was said and done, it was time to do some digging. And digging I did.

And more time went by. And I made this resolution: next time, if there were to be a next time, I would let my husband be himself.

Caveat: I do not mean that if I were to marry an abusive, addiction-laden adulterer, for instance, I should just, you know, let him abuse me and ruin his life and mine with his addiction and cheat on me. NO. There are things for you to do if this is your circumstance. This is what I mean…

I had made myself my first husband’s mother, his judge, his parole officer, his Holy Spirit.
Never again, I told myself. Praise Jesus, I am not the controlling, nagging, critical yeller that I once was.

I have the Holy Spirit and so does every other follower of Christ. I even wrote in my wedding vows this time around that, “I promise to accept you just as you are, and to remember that you already have a Holy Spirit and I am not it”.

My sweet husband is a very good man. I love everything about him. But we are totally different people and I am a human being and a woman and a sinner and set in my ways and have a pretty good idea how life should be lived.

But I made a promise – to God, to myself, to my husband – that I would let Richard be Richard, that I would let Richard be the Richard God created him to be.

Just as there surely are things he would change about me – I could stand to chill a bit more, for instance – I’m sure there are a thing or two that I wouldn’t mind seeing done differently.

So, what do I do with that now? (Because we know what I would have done back then…control, nag, criticize, yell, repeat.)

Pray. I ask the Spirit to give me wisdom, to soften my heart, to help me see how I’m doing as a wife. (You know, the whole take a look at your own planks thing before pointing out someone else’s specks thing.)

Ask myself, how big of a deal is it? If it’s a truly big thing – a sin issue, a burgeoning addiction, suspicions – yes, I can and should bring this up with my husband. Prayerfully, respectfully, gently.

If it’s not a big deal – it’s a personality quirk, it’s a difference of opinion on a small issue, it’s a habit that bugs me but isn’t life-altering – I can do one of two things. I can choose to just let the thing go and ask God to help me truly let it go, or I can do what I now do which has changed me, which is this…

I ask my husband, occasionally, May I make a gentle suggestion?

This accomplishes a couple things.

One, it shows respect.

Two, it puts the ball in my husband’s court, as he can say, “On what topic?” and then decide, or simply tell me yes or no. (He always says yes.)

Then, I make the suggestion. Kindly. Clearly. Once.

Then, I give the results to God. Richard may agree and may take me up on my suggestion, or he may not. It’s up to him. You know why? Because my husband is a grown man and can live his own life. (And I’m not his mother. And I’m not his Holy Spirit.)

Is this easy? Not at first. But the more I put this into practice – letting non-essentials go and gently asking to share something once – the easier it truly is becoming for me. I have completely changed my personality in this area of my life from the woman and wife I used to be to the woman and wife I am today.

And here’s how I’m able to do this, sweet ones. When I really sit with the messes I’ve made, the mistakes I’ve committed, the sins I’ve gotten myself into, the relationships I’ve broken…when I really think about all that God has had to forgive me for, I realize that I need all of my energy truly focused on me (not in a self-centered way) and on becoming who God created me to be, and when I am concentrating on staying in my lane, on keeping my side of the street clean, I don’t have the emotional time or energy to focus on what other people are doing wrong. In fact, the flipside is also true – and I ask this with the gentlest of hearts – if all you’re doing is thinking about all your husband is doing wrong, when was the last time you took an honest look at yourself, took an inventory, confessed your sin to God and to a friend, and tried working on making some changes of your own?

First take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye. -Matthew 7:5

Jesus, help us be women who are completely aware of our strengths and weaknesses, who are focusing our energies on becoming the best versions of ourselves, who are encouraging our husbands, who are wise regarding when and how to share a concern with them, who love You by respectfully loving and accepting them. Amen.


Join me for my free webinar: Detaching with Love on Wednesday, March 25 at 7pm CST on FacebookAnd if you find yourself in a hard marriage or challenging remarriage, join me in Marriage Methods