S9 E11 | Finding Fulfillment in Your Marriage (Jeannie Fulbright)

S9 E11 | Finding Fulfillment in Your Marriage (Jeannie Fulbright)

Show Notes:

Marriage is hard. Homeschooling is hard. Because of this, peace and joy can sometimes seem out of reach. The fact is, our ultimate role as women frequently goes unfulfilled, leaving us broken and wounded, dealing with our emptiness and loneliness in the only ways we know how. We attempt to fill the hollow hole in our hearts with the things of this world, which never satisfies. In this podcast, Jeannie shares her journey from a broken, painful marriage to transformation, wholeness, and healing through the living Word of God. She shares how to find all you need to be the wife God created you to be and experience a beautiful and fruitful marriage in a broken world.

About Jeannie

Jeannie Fulbright, a 24-year veteran homeschooler, is the author of the #1 best-selling, multi award-winning Apologia Young Explorer science series: Exploring Creation with Astronomy, Chemistry and Physics, Botany, Zoology, and Anatomy & Physiology. She is also the author of the action-packed historical time travel book series Rumble Tumbles Through Time, as well as preschool science books and activity kits, the Charlotte Mason Heirloom Planner, and many high-quality Charlotte Mason based products. Jeannie and her husband Jeff became empty nesters in 2019. All four of their children all went to the University of Georgia on scholarship (homeschooling works!). For more than 20 years Jeannie has traveled around the country speaking to homeschoolers at conventions, covering a plethora of topics from Charlotte Mason to marriage and prayer.


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Show Transcript:

Jeannie Fulbright Welcome to the Charlotte Mason Show, a podcast that is all things Charlotte Mason and her tried and true philosophy of education designed to help you homeschool with more confidence, joy and success. It is our hope that you'll find golden nuggets that will transform the way you think and the way you homeschool. I'm your host, author of the bestselling Charlotte Mason science curriculum, Jeannie Fulbright, and I am so glad you joined me today.

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Welcome back to the Charlotte Mason show. I'm so glad you joined me today. Today I'm going to be covering a topic that's not necessarily Charlotte Mason. Charlotte Mason doesn't talk about marriage, and that's what I want to cover today is really go deep into how we can, as homeschool moms, have a beautiful, fruitful marriage that restores our soul by applying some of the principles that we find in the Bible. Now, the reason I decided to do this topic is because over the last few weeks in my newsletter, I've been sending out some teachings of Jesus from the book of Matthew that I have altered because there are actually in the Bible study I'm writing for families, a family devotion I'm writing. And the first family devotion that I'm going to be producing is teachings from Jesus in the book of Matthew. And so I decided to alter those a little bit for the homeschool mom, because I had written them for homeschool families. I altered them a little bit for homeschool moms and sent them out, and I've had several moms contact me and really wanted some advice on how to apply things like mercy and forgiveness to their husbands. And many women really do struggle in their relationships with their husbands, and I would say that is a normal thing. And we're going to talk about that. We're going to talk about how we can overcome that, how we can rise above that, how we can change our mindset so that we have a beautiful, fruitful marriage.

And this is a topic that I have been speaking on for over 20 years. My husband and I, about 20 years ago, we actually taught— At our church, we taught a marriage class in the evenings during the, you know, the nights when the kids were doing activities on Wednesday nights, which was pretty powerful. We actually taught it during Sunday school as well. Pretty powerful marriage class. And I've spoken on marriage at many homeschool conferences and at some women's retreats. And I haven't spoken about it in a while, but I did feel like after sending out those newsletters and seeing the hearts of so many women really struggling with their marriages, and, you know, homeschooling is hard, marriage is hard. And when you combine homeschooling and marriage, things can get complicated. But I just want to give y'all some encouragement today and really unfold for our hearts how we can view our marriage, view our role as women, as mothers and our ministry to our family and to our husbands in a light that brings peace and joy, rather than the negative emotions that we often confront as wives and mothers.

I think sometimes what we really need is we need to be enlightened as to what our actual purpose is in our family. And in order to do this, we have to go back to the very beginning, because that's where our purpose is defined and it's a lot more powerful, a lot more amazing than we ever knew. So if you go back to Genesis 2:18, "The Lord God said, 'It is not good for man to be alone. I will make him a helper suitable for him.'" So that word helper is a specific Hebrew word which is pronounced ezer kenegdo. Now the word ezer means alongside. So the word ezer is really the more powerful word and it's the most important word. That word, alongside, meaning that this ezer actually is going to be alongside the husband. It's going to be suitable for him. We've heard it called helpmeet as well. But the problem is the word ezer is one of the most difficult Hebrew words to translate. It has gone through so much study and research and helpmeet is completely inadequate. It does not describe what our role, our role as the ezer—ezer kenegdo—is for our husband.

[And so I just want to show you some other places where the word helper, it's used again in Hebrew. It's only used 20 times in the entire Hebrew Bible, and almost every single time it is referring to the kind of help that comes from the Lord. And so here is one place in Deuteronomy 33. "Blessed are you, Israel. Who is like you, a people saved by the Lord? He is your shield and [ezer] and your glorious sword." He is your shield and it says helper, but it's bigger than that. If God is your shield and your glorious sword, the helper, it's bigger than someone who's just holding your shield or someone who's just helping you along getting down the road. No, it is huger. It is much bigger. And that is our role. We are the helper, but it's so much bigger than just how we imagine help. And this is something from God. People who are saved by the Lord, he is your shield and your helper. And so we need to understand that the word helper, this word ezer, is an essential element that we need from God in order to be ushered into the life God has for us. He is our shield and our ezer. He is everything to us and that's what we are, we are the ezer alongside our husband. We are everything to them.

Psalm 121 says, "I lift up my eyes to the hills—from where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth." Well, we are lifting our eyes to the hills because we need this powerful, transformative work from God in order to live the life that he wants us to live. We lift our eyes to the hills—where does this ezer come from? It comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth. This is the ezer that we are seeking when we're looking to God for our help, for our peace, for our sanctification, for just that experience of strength that God gives to us. And that is what God created woman for man, to be that ezer for him. It's more than just a helpmate. It's much bigger than that. It's everything. Psalm 20 says, "May the Lord answer you in the day of trouble; may the name of the God of Jacob protect you. May he send you [ezer] from the sanctuary and sustain you from Zion." So this ezer is this answer in the day of trouble, it's this protection, it's this sanctuary, it's the sustainer. It's the sustainer. May he send you help. The ezer from the sanctuary. He's going to send you what you need in order to thrive. And that is what God created woman for.

Psalm 33 says, "Our soul waits for the Lord; he is our [ezer] and our shield." Your soul waits. It's waiting for not only a shield from God, but this help, this ezer, this strength, this strengthening. So I think that we need to keep in mind that our role in this marriage is one that is necessary for living. We are this ezer. This is the kind of help that is necessary for support, for encouragement, for making life whole, for bringing beauty into the world. Without the ezer of the Lord, the world overcomes us. Without that ezer from his wife, the husband doesn't have what he needs. It's not good for man to be alone because he needs this ezer, the sustainer of his heart, of his soul, this giver and bringer of love, and an emotional and spiritual and physical support and love for his life. The ezer is what makes living on this earth tolerable, makes life worth living. It's like the daily need to be helped and brought to a greater experience of comfort and healing and rejuvenation. We are the ezer for our husband. We were created to be the ezer in our family.

I just hate using the word helper because it just seems— it's so inadequate. It's inadequate in the Bible when we talk about God being our help. He is so much more than how we define that word help. And so that's what we are. And if we can understand how important our role is in all of that, we can lean into that and also understand how things get upside down and sideways in our marriage, in our family, in our relationships. Because it's clear that this ezer, this help, the support that comes from the wife is created through relationship. God wanted Adam to have this relationship with this person who would bring all of this fulfillment to his daily existence. And just as God the Father and God the Son and Spirit are in relationship with one another and they complete one another in that relationship, we also complete our husbands. It's as if we are the relational part of God. We were both created— The Bible says that both man and woman were created in the image of God. And we are very different. Both man and woman, we express different characteristics of God. And the woman is far more relational, we're the more relational part of God to our husbands. We were made to invite our husbands into a deeper and more fulfilling relationship that nurtures and brings joy and beauty to their world.

So in the same way that God invites us into relationship, for example, in Revelations 3:20, the Lord says, "Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me." That is God inviting us into a close, nurturing relationship with himself. And that's our role also in our marriage, is to invite our husbands into a close and intimate relationship with us, and a desire to be good and gracious to our husbands. This is God's final work in creation was to create woman, and this was his crowning achievement. He created all this beautiful stuff, this beautiful world, but there was something missing. Man was alone and he didn't have what he needed to enjoy all the beauty that God created. And so his crowning achievement is he created woman.

In 1 Corinthians we learn that that woman is the glory of man. And the word glory, it means honor, renowned, it talks about a divine quality and an unspoken manifestation of God and splendor. So woman is the splendor. The word glory talks about having infinite intrinsic worth. So woman is the infinite, intrinsic, worthy, splendor and honor of man. We are created to bring splendor into the world and into our husbands lives and into our family. And so together, husband and wife, we are one. The Bible says we become one flesh and together we are whole when we operate as we were originally designed to operate. Well. And that's the key here, isn't it? The original design of man and Woman was this togetherness, this closeness, this joy in being together. And we remember those early days of courtship and when we were falling in love and how we wanted to spend every minute together and we couldn't wait to be in each other's presence, and I kind of imagine that probably for however many years Adam and Eve were in the garden before the fall—we aren't really told exactly how many years that is, but we know that their relationship was marked by closeness, togetherness, exploring this beautiful world, doing all the things, having fun, just living in the joy of one another. And then of course, the fall occurs and within the fall we have the curses that were given to man and Satan and woman. And the curse that was given to woman is one of our big problems in our marriages today, and that is that, you see, men have this fear of the intimacy that we crave. God has built us for intimacy. God wants—he desires true intimacy and closeness with us, and we sometimes fear being that close to God. We fear being intimate with the Lord Jesus.

Well, men also fear being that intimate with their wives. It is complicated. It's hard for them to get that deep, and it feels like it's too much for them. They don't understand our depth, how complicated our hearts are and our deep thoughts. And just as we shy away from getting that close to God, our husbands also shy away from getting that deep with us. And we seem too much for them, it's too overwhelming all our needs and all our desires and all the ways that we think and our jealousies and all the things, all the things about women. And again, like God, we desire for this oneness in this relationship with our loved one, but our husband—in the curse it says your desire will be for your husband. Your desire will be to be in this intimate, close relationship with your husband. That's what the curse is. But your husband will actually be in control of the relationship. He will rule over you. He will keep his distance while also keeping the relationship in working order. He will keep his distance. He will be in control. And we will feel unsatisfied and unfulfilled and we will feel lonely. So that is part of the curse of women for the fall. We have this unmet need within our marriage relationships.

We were made to be beautiful, to be longed for, to be cherished, to be adored, to be honored and valued and known deeply. We long. We long. We were created to fulfill our role as the ezer, but that is not the reality of our existence. And we end up feeling ashamed of who we are, we react in ways that we're not proud of, we feel this great emptiness, this loneliness, we feel frustration, and within that frustration, we behave in ways that are very much not like God, but very much shaped to protect ourselves from hurt. Because we feel hurt. Because we feel hurt, because we were created to fulfill this role, this beautiful role of being the sustainer and the just this beautiful everything—encouragement, support, wisdom, necessary for life, this rejuvenator, this soul healer, this entity that will make life worth living for our husband. And we don't get to fulfill that role. And so we feel hurt. We feel rejected. We feel misunderstood. Nevertheless, it's the reason we feel this way and the reason that we behave in these ways that are hurtful to ourselves and to our husbands and to our families, is because we have not gotten the opportunity to do what God created us to do, to be who God created us to be for our husband. And so that is the curse and that is most of our existence within our marriage.

It's a woundedness that we feel, and within this woundedness we react in several different ways. Sometimes we build a protective exterior around ourselves and become hard, more of a dominant, demanding woman. Sometimes women, instead of building this hard dominant layer around themselves, they will turn inward and conceal their true selves, conceal their heart through more of a passive, placating, but not authentic role. Neither one of these reactions are the inviting into relationship ezer, the inviting into the beauty and the fulfilling role that we were meant to be. The woman who puts exterior around herself and needs to control everything in her life and everything going on around her and just this need to absolutely be in control is not inviting. It's not inviting to the rest that the ezer does for her husband, or as God does for us, invites us into rest. And neither the woman who cowers inward and protects herself through passiveness and placating and simply not being her true, authentic, glorious self. She's also not inviting into relationship, because both women are fearful. Now, not everybody goes into one or the other roles. Sometimes we go into this role over here in this area, and then we'd go over to this role in this area. So it's not cut and dry like that. Sometimes it is, but usually it's not. We have different roles we play and different ways that we protect ourselves in all the relationships that we have in this world. But all of this comes from woundedness, the woundedness that we feel because we have not been able to fulfill our role as the ezer for our husbands.

And another thing that we do with this emptiness that we feel because we're not fulfilling our roles and we don't feel valued, we don't feel what we should be feeling, which is that we are essential to our husband's peace of mind, his joy, his happiness. We're not fulfilling that role of the nurturer that we were meant to be. And we've been resisted, we've been pushed away. And again, some women become very inward about it and conceal themselves in shame or passiveness and feelings of worthlessness, and they hide their shame behind their fear and their duty. And then there's the other woman who's striving, and "I am woman, hear me roar", and I'm going to take control of the situation, and they're striving. They're a very striving person. And again, neither one of these women are inviting into relationship. But the problem is that because we are wounded and because we have this emptiness, we try to fill that emptiness with all the wrong things. We try to fill that emptiness to make ourselves feel better with diet, with exercise, with shopping, with food, with alcohol, with romance novels, with crunchy lives, with social media, with perfect homes and perfect children, a perfect Instagram, perfect homeschool. With controlling everything and making our lives look a particular way, we end up trying to fill that emptiness. We're trying so hard through all of these things to make ourselves feel okay again. We're trying to make ourselves be at rest and at peace. And if we can get all these things aligned, or if we can numb it with whatever things, food or whatever it is that we want to numb it with, then we don't have to feel that pain. We're trying so hard not to feel the pain of the curse. We don't want to feel it because it hurts. It hurts a lot. It causes us to feel weary and heavy laden, and we're not at rest. But Jesus promises that if any of you feels weary and heavy laden, come to me, I will give you rest. Rest for your souls. And this is where we're not feeling rest is where we have this wounded heart, and we keep trying to fix our wounded heart. With all the things that don't work. And only Jesus can bring peace to our wounded heart.

Hebrews tells us, "...for anyone who enters God's rest also rests from their works, just as God did from his." And so the works that we do, whether they're really bad for us, like food or alcohol, or they seemingly look good, like the perfect home and perfect children and perfect everything, all of these things are works that we are using to numb our brokenness. And God doesn't want us to live under that burden, that heavy burden where we're trying so hard to make our life's work. In John 14, Jesus says, "Peace I leave with you; My peace I give you. I do not give as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled, and do not be afraid." And he tells us in John 10 that "I came that you might have life, and have life more abundantly." He wants us to have life in abundance. One of the problems that happens for us in our woundedness is we began to tear down the very home that God gave us. In Proverbs 14:1, this is really a powerful verse, it says, "The wise woman builds her house, but with her own hands the foolish one tears hers down." What woman would tear down her house? We all want to build our house. We want to have beautiful homes, beautiful families and beautiful lives. Just this legacy of beauty. We want to have this incredible family life and family for us. And a wise woman does build that, but with her own hands the foolish one tears hers down. And how do we tear it down? We tear it down with our woundedness. We tear it down because we are seeking to find completion in anything that we can control or have some dominion over.

I think about that beautiful passage in Hosea where God is talking about how Israel—and he's relating this to us as believers, and that he won't let all of our striving produce what we are trying to make it produce. He withholds from us the fulfillment that all our striving is supposed to bring, because he wants us to turn from all of these things that are supposed to bring us fulfillment and turn to him. In Hosea 2 he says, "Therefore, behold, I will hedge up her path with thorns." Did you sometimes feel like your path is hedged with thorns? "I will enclose her with a wall so that she cannot find her way. She will pursue her lovers, but not catch them." Pursue relationship with her husband, but not be able to catch him. They will be beyond our ability to catch. "She will seek them, but not find them." And so here is God saying we're pursuing, we're working so hard to find fulfillment in this life and in this world with our perfect lives, our perfect curriculum, and our perfect homeschool and our perfect vision for our future, and this is what's going to bring us fulfillment. But none of that is going to bring fulfillment, and it's not going to bring fulfillment if we're trying to find our fulfillment in our marriage.

Because here's the thing, anything we need to be happy is an idol, if it's not the Lord. Anything we need outside of Jesus Christ, anything we need outside of our relationship with God to find peace and happiness and fulfillment is an idol. It's us pursuing and not catching. It's trying to fill that empty hole in our heart with the things of this world. And so God takes us to this place of not being fulfilled, of being empty. We've pursued, we have thorns in our path, it feels overwhelming. And then Hosea 2 he says, "Therefore, behold, I will allure her and lead her to the wilderness, and speak to her tenderly."God lets all of these things fall apart, and us feeling unfulfilled and feeling frustrated and feeling like we're missing that thing, we just need to do the one thing. And, you know, a lot of times we think we just need to change curriculum or we need to rearrange our house or whatever it is, or escape some way because we're so unsatisfied and unfulfilled and our marriage isn't working and we're not happy. We don't feel in love anymore. We're just feeling barren in our spirits. And God says he allows all of this so that he can allure us and lead us to him and speak to us tenderly. And then at the end of that verse, he says, "There she will respond, as she did in the days of her youth, as in the days she came up out of Egypt. 'In that day,' declares the Lord, 'you will call me my husband, and no longer call me my master.'" He says, "So I will betroth you to me forever; I will betrothed you in righteousness and justice, in loving devotion and compassion. And I will betroth you in faithfulness, and you will know the Lord." The Lord is the only place, in that relationship with God is the only place that we will find fulfillment, that we will find our peace.

And that is a daily choice to go in and seek to be close to the Lord, to find our fulfillment in him so that we're not irritated with our children, irritated with our husband, irritated with other people, anything that's not going well or right in our world. We don't need them to feel happy. We don't need them to feel complete because we are only finding that fulfillment in Christ. And when we do find that fulfillment in Christ, then we are set free to become the woman that God chose for us to be. And it's not conditional on the way our husbands treat us. It's not conditional on the way the world is working around us. We are satisfied with the Lord. Isaiah 58:11 says, "And the Lord will guide you continually and satisfy your desire in a sun-scorched places and make your bones strong. And you shall be like a watered garden, like a spring of water whose waters do not fail." And that's what we can become if we find our fulfillment in Christ, if we enter into this close relationship with Jesus where he is our husband, he is the one that we are betrothed to. In loving devotion and compassion he is betrothing us to him in faithfulness, and we know him. And in that relationship, and only in that relationship, can we be the woman God created us to be in our family and in our marriages. Psalm 16:11 says, "You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there's fullness of joy, at your right hand are pleasures forevermore." We're not going to find that fullness of joy in our marriage. We're just not. We live in a fallen world. And yes, we were originally designed for that, but we can find our fullness of joy in the Lord and that pleasure forevermore in him, so that we can find joy in being the strength, the encouragement, the sustainer of love, emotional, spiritual and physical love and life for our husband, the comforter, the rejuvenator, the healer, support, wisdom, encouragement—all of these beautiful things that God created woman to be, we can only do them if we have our security in the Lord. Because otherwise we need our husband to fulfill God's role, and he's incapable of doing that because he's not Jesus.

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I know I was very frustrated when I first realized that I didn't marry Jesus. I was pretty angry about it. Why can't you be more like Jesus? Of course, I didn't need to be more like Jesus, I need him to be like Jesus and then I would be good. But he wasn't like Jesus and therefore I wasn't good. So that was a big problem. The problem was I needed him to be God for me. And because he wasn't God for me, I treated him like a— I was a monster. I felt sort of justified in being a monster because he was not behaving like God. He was behaving like the enemy of God, and therefore I was behaving like the enemy of God. And all of these things break down when we're seeking peace and fulfillment and we're seeking that wholeness that comes from God alone. If we're seeking it from anybody else, from anything else, from our husbands, from our position in the church or society or homeschool group, from our children and their accomplishments, from anything outside of God—if we're seeking to have joy and peace outside of the Lord Jesus, we will be disappointed. And again, God doesn't want us to be fulfilled in those things. He wants us to be fulfilled in him because he wants to allure us and speak tenderly to us and give us that joy of him being our husband, him being our everything. And when he is, then we can be what God created us to be. And apart from that, we cannot be because we're trying to find satisfaction in anything apart from God, even when we're fulfilling our role as homeschool mom, as wife perfectly, if we're doing it outside of that sustaining relationship with Jesus, then we're running after idols. And God will not bring joy and peace to our hearts when we're running after idols, when we're seeking anything outside of him to fulfill us. And when we no longer need our husbands to be kind to us in order for us to be kind to them, then we can be all the things that God created us to be for our husband without conditions, without the conditions that we put on our husbands that they have to behave in a certain way if they want us to behave in a certain way.

So pretty early in my marriage, after the birth of my second child, we ran into some pretty dire marital problems. I was a stay at home mom, and my husband was working at one of the top law firms in Dallas, and his work schedule was essentially seven days a week, and he didn't get home from work until usually 11 at night. Sometimes he would get home before then, there were occasionally a couple times a month he might be able to get home by nine. I was pretty miserable because I'm raising these two children all by myself and it's pretty lonely. I had a lot of friends that were kind of in the same situation. I was part of a young lawyer's wives club where we all called each other single moms, which we kind of were. But in addition to this, my husband was required by the law firm to build relationships with future clients outside of the firm life. So in addition to working every day, on the weekends he would take time off work to take other men to baseball games, basketball games, hockey games, football games. Every single weekend there was some game. And so he was gone, sometimes both Saturday and Sunday at these games, in addition to being at work all the time. Let's just say I was not a happy camper. And not only was I not a happy camper, I was a very resentful, angry camper. I was an unhappy person to be around, and I was frustrated all the time with our situation and my loneliness, and what I felt like was a huge sense of neglect. And we were a churchgoing family, and I took the kids to— Whether my husband was able to make it or not, we went to the Wednesday night Bible studies and children's programs, and I went to Tuesday morning Bible study, and we were very active in church. We had a great church and a lot of friends. You know, we had a very busy life, but I was angry with my husband.

And so when you're angry with somebody, you just don't treat them nicely. You're always irritated with them. Therefore, when my husband was home, he got the brunt of that. He was working all the time or out entertaining his friends. Most of them were his fraternity brothers from college, so I didn't really see this as client development. I saw this as he's going out partying with his friends while I'm home taking care of the children, and even if I didn't say, I'm angry with you, it all came out in my behavior towards him. And so this lovely wife of his youth had, over the course of months and years, become a battle ax, a harridan. I was not nice to be around, so that didn't help things. For some reason, that didn't help things. And this brings me back to the foolish one with her own hands tears her house down. My husband did not enjoy being in my presence. I didn't enjoy being in my presence either. And then one day, my best friend at that time—we both had our daughters at the same time, our first children at the same time—we decided that we needed to pray every week. We just wanted to pray, and we had tried to get prayer groups together, and then we'd end up with these girls all together during this prayer group, and nobody would pray. We would just talk and talk and talk and talk and talk and then maybe try to get a prayer in, but usually everybody had to go home so we didn't even usually get a good prayer time in. And so we decided we just needed to be really efficient about this, and so what we did is we would tell each other—now this is before email—we would get on the phone and tell each other all our prayer requests. And this is all the things and we would just write it down and then we would pray. We didn't talk about it. That was a thing we had to— We couldn't talk about it because, you know, you can talk about the things you need to pray about, you can talk them to death. And so it was like, okay, I want to pray for my marriage. Pray that I look at my husband the way Jesus looks at my husband, that my husband will look at me the way Jesus looks at me. And I don't have to go into all the details about all the bad things that happened that week. I could just— That's a prayer. And so we just shared our prayer requests and we prayed. It was on Monday when the kids were down for a nap every Monday, no matter what. When the kids were down for a nap, we prayed.

And after about, I would say, a month of doing this consistently, we began to see small miracles take place. Things that there was no way that that kind of happened without prayer. And we started to realize how much of our lives were a problem because we weren't praying. Our faith started growing in the power of prayer, and the more prayers we started praying and people started hearing about —People who are friends with me and my little playgroups and stuff they said, wow, you look just so different. It was like when God started answering my prayers and I started realizing that I could bring everything to him. Now, during this time, my marriage wasn't any better, but I was better, I was happier, and my relationship with God continued to grow and strengthen, and I was able to just feel like I had a best friend in the Lord. That he was everything to me. He was enough. He was all I needed. He was sustaining me and making life worth living and making my days beautiful. And we were praying every week and the Lord began to gently show me ways I needed to be towards my husband, things that he wanted for me to do, to say, to act. And it wasn't hard for me to do it because I was looking to the Lord. I was being obedient to the Lord, not for my husband, but for my Lord.

And so one of the first things he showed me was to be thankful, to be grateful, to give thanks in all circumstances. I mean, that was one of his perfect will that he has told us in His Word. Give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus. And that was one of the first things he showed me, is to be thankful for even the hard things. And in that gratitude, I learned to trust God and not be resentful. For example, one night my husband told me he would be home at nine for dinner. I was really excited. I will say I was not a well trained chef at that point in our marriage, but I was really excited. I was going to cook this very big, elaborate dinner so that when he got home, he would have this beautiful dinner to come home to. And so I was so excited and I had all these recipes and went to the store and got all of this stuff and worked, and I made muffins from scratch, and I made all this— I made every— I mean, this huge dinner. And I was very excited about it. And so 9:00 rolls around and I put the kids to bed so it's just me. 9:00 comes and 9:00 goes. And 10:00 comes and 10:00 goes. And I'm feeling defeated at this point. And so I turned to the Lord, and the Lord reminds me: give thanks in all circumstances, for this is my will for you. My will for you. And so I got on my bed and I just started thanking the Lord. Thank you, Lord, that my husband is late. Thank you Lord, that he's not here. I thank you for this trial because this is a trial to my heart. This is a trial of my spirit, but he's not coming home. This is round 11, but 11 now. And I'm praying, Lord, I just thank you, I thank you, I choose to rise above this pain and this hurt, and I'm going to thank you for how my husband is treating me. I thank you for it, Lord. I thank you, thank you, thank you. And that's faith. You have to really have faith. God tells you give thanks in all circumstances, so I chose to give thanks in that circumstance. And it was like God did something in my spirit when I chose to be obedient to him. And I feel like a lack of obedience in that area, it's like the enemy gets an upper hand in your heart, in your attitude, and in your behavior. And when I out loud thanked God for my husband not coming home, it was like the enemy had no authority over my thoughts and my mind and my heart.

I got up, packed up his dinner, and I put it in the oven to keep it warm. I put foil over everything and I just got everything really nice and cleaned up and ready for him. I got in bed and went to sleep, and then around 1:30 in the morning my husband strolls in and typically—and this wasn't the first time this had happened—typically I was irate when he would come in and he was ready. He was ready for the battle that was going to happen when he got home late like that, and he'd been out with his friends. So I heard him come in and I got up and I got out of bed and I was like, Oh, hey, honey, I just want to let you know, I made dinner tonight and it's in the oven. It's still warm in there and goodnight. And I was very authentically sweet to him. And I remember very clearly the stunned look on his face. It was like invasion of the Body Snatchers. Somebody had come in and taken his wife and replaced her with a totally different creature. He didn't say anything to me about it. He didn't say, Wow, you're, you know, you didn't— Obviously he didn't want to bring up what he did. And I know he'd noticed some changes in me over the last month because of my prayers and just how closer I was to the Lord and how excited I was in my relationship with God and all the things that I was learning and I was doing a Bible study on my own, you know, during the day, and just being like, not being angry with him. And he noticed that. But just that moment he realized, okay, something has happened, something's changed.

And then progressively, the Lord showed me to be thankful, but also to forgive. And I was just— I had to get into my mind the fact that I did not marry the Lord Jesus Christ. I married a sinner. And I am a sinner as well. And so therefore, for me to expect my husband to treat me the way he was originally designed to treat me, and not take into account that he's part of the fall, we're all part of the fall, and he can't treat me the way he was originally designed to treat me, or the way that he treated me back when we were in our, you know, honeymoon phase. I had to forgive him for being human. And there was a lot of people that I had to forgive in my life, but for giving him regularly was part of that. And that's part of what God wanted for me. And so choosing to forgive him. And I have to tell you, and I probably said this before, but forgiveness is not a feeling. Forgiveness is a choice. And so when he would do something that was unforgivable, I would choose to forgive him. I would say, Lord, I right now choose to forgive my husband for refusing to go on this marriage retreat that I signed us up for and paid for or whatever it was. It was something. I would just— I choose to forgive my husband for whatever he had done. And it was a choice. And as you make that choice, the idea may come back to your head and you may experience that moment of that pang in your heart of resentment, and you just have to say, No, I have forgiven that. I forgive. I forgive my husband for that. And I don't need my husband to be Jesus. I only need Jesus to be Jesus. And Jesus only is Jesus, and therefore I am content in Jesus. And my husband is my ministry and Jesus is my husband. He's my lover. He loves my soul. He is everything to me and I'm perfectly content in my relationship with Jesus. I don't need my husband to live up to the perfection that was originally designed for the husband/wife relationship. I had to let go of that. So choosing to be thankful even in the hard things, for the hard things.

When God tells us to be thankful for the hard things, we're trusting him that those hard things are going to be used for good in our lives someday. All things work together for the good of those who love the Lord and are called according to his purpose. All things, even the very bad things. And when they say all things work together for their good, they're really talking about the bad things. We don't need to be told the good things are going to work together for the good, we need to be told that the bad things are going to work together for their good, because they're so hard to handle. Otherwise. All things work together for the good, and in the end, it did work together for the good because I was able to speak to many women at homeschool conferences on these very issues that they are— everyone is facing. We're all frustrated that our husbands are not treating us the way Jesus treats us. We're all frustrated that we didn't marry Jesus. And now I do want to put a little caveat in here. I'm speaking to your average marriage. Everybody's husband has their idiosyncrasies and their issues, and everybody's husbands are different, every wife is different, every family is different. But there's just kind of an average there. But if you're in an extremely abusive relationship, this talk is not for you. And I can't speak to that. Although I would say I felt very abused during that time. But it's really not, it's not the kind of abuse that some people do experience. And in those situations I am not providing counsel, but I will happily pray for you.

So what happened after I started living out the Word of God in my daily life through thanksgiving, through prayer and forgiveness? God truly began to transform me into the ezer that I was originally intended to be. Because I didn't need my husband to be perfect for me to be his ezer. I didn't need for my husband to be kind to me and loving to me and sweet to me and uplifting towards me and smiling at me and thinking I'm wonderful for me to be his encouragement, to be his support, for me to be the sustainer of his heart and his soul. For me to offer him that love, that emotionally, spiritually, physically present being of light in his life, of making his life more beautiful, to be his comforter, his rejuvenator, his soul healer. I didn't need him to give me anything to be that for him. And everything I was doing for him, I was doing for the Lord and not for him. And that made all the difference, because as I began to grow into the ezer that God created me to be, my husband was drawn towards me.

It was astonishing to me to see how he was excited to come home. He got it— I will say, it was a little bit irritating because he suddenly didn't need to work until 11 every night. He suddenly didn't need to work every single weekend, but I forgave that as well. I forgave that as well. Lord, thank you that my husband wants to be with me, and it's no wonder that he chose to work more when I was such an unpleasant person to come home to. I was not providing rest for his soul. I was not a restful wife. I was not inviting him into my rest. I was more like— I've heard it explained this way, which I really like this analogy. I had been more like someone who is in a car in traffic in the middle of a busy city. That's how restful I was. I was striving, I was working, I was frustrated. We had to go, go, go go go. And it was just like we were in traffic. That's how restful I was. I was not a restful person. But what happens when I was getting my peace from the Lord, getting all of my needs fulfilled from the Lord, then I was like a well-watered garden as God promises we will be. I was like that tree planted by streams giving its fruit. I was inviting my husband into that rest, the rest that I had from the Lord. Before that I wasn't restful, I didn't have rest from the Lord. I was seeking to make my life fulfilling and perfect through what I was doing, the roles I was playing, and all the ways that I was setting up my world to be fulfilling. Yet when I turned to the Lord for my fulfillment, then I was able to be the person that my husband wanted to be around, and it completely restored my marriage.

And there were other things that I needed to work on as far as a wife and how she treats and responds to her husband. One of the few things that God tells wives in the New Testament is that we must respect our husbands. And God's not telling us to do something that's easy. He wouldn't have to tell us if it were easy, if it just came naturally. And Ephesians 5:33 he says, "However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself." This is something hard for our husbands to do, to love their wives as they love themselves. "And the wife must respect her husband." And so respect is something that God— That is God's will for us to respect our husband. Even though I was restful for my husband, I still had kind of a pile of debris from the years that my husband was doing things that I didn't feel were respectful of me, and therefore there was a lot of things that I didn't respect. And so knowing that this was God's will for me to respect my husband, I had to repent. I had to repent of my disobedience to his command to respect my husband because I didn't respect my husband. I'd stop respecting him somewhere along the way, even though I respected him hugely when we were walking down the aisle, I had gotten to a place where, whether it was my own flesh or the enemy, I just did not feel respect towards him. And so the first step to obeying God's command was repenting of my disobedience. And I just repented, Lord, I don't even know how to feel bad about not respecting him, I just, I repent. I choose right now to repent because I have not been obedient to your will for me. And that is where I needed the Lord to just cleanse me. His word tells us that if we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to purify us from all unrighteousness. So he purified me from the unrighteousness of being a wife that did not obey God's command to respect her husband.

And again, I'm not thinking about my husband, well, he needs to do this and then I'll do this. Nope. This is just between me and God. And so then all I needed to do was ask for the Lord to do his will within me. If we ask anything, the Bible tells us if we ask anything according to his will, he will hear us. It will be done. And his will is for us to respect our husbands. And so therefore, I need a supernatural infusion of God to give me respect for my husband. And guess what? If your husband is— If you're not respecting your husband, you probably think, well, he hasn't done anything that I, you know, I don't— That's not true, that's the enemy. And that is your resentment. And that's all the things that have happened that have caused you to harbor this negative mindset towards your husband. But God will show you. He will change you. He will transform you. It's his will for you to respect your husband. Therefore, if you pray for God to give you respect for your husband, he will do it and you just need to pray earnestly. James 5:16, "The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much." So pray earnestly for God to give you respect for your husband. And you don't have to drum it up, you don't have to try to make it happen. God will show you. He will do it within you. He will make it happen, and he will give you that respect for your husband.

But as it says in Corinthians, we must capture every thought and bring it into obedience to Christ. And obedience to Christ is respect for husband. And so any thought that isn't obedient to that, any thought that's disrespectful or resentful or belittling or anything that is not respectful. And think about respect. Like, okay, who do you really respect? Think of somebody you really, really respect. Whether it's someone living or dead—grandparents, George Washington, I don't know who. But imagine how you would treat that person. If you would never think that thought or feel that way about that person you respect then that's not how you should be feeling about your husband. You should be treating them and feeling towards them with the same honor and dignity and respect that you have for somebody that you truly highly respect. And so capture those negative thoughts, repent of them, turn away from them, and ask the Lord. Lord, give me respectful thoughts towards my husband. Give me— Remove these ugly thoughts, give me respect and help me to focus on the positive, not the negative.

And another thing that I did that really helped move this along, this respect aspect of marriage, was I chose to begin building up my husband, mentioning when he did something that was worthy of praise. Whether it was simply picking up a dirty diaper on the ground and throwing it in the trash can. Thank you for throwing that in the trash can. Of course, before that, I would have expected him to do that. Like, of course you're going to do that. You're going to help me in that way. But I started just noticing the small little things he did that were helpful or that were kind, that were just even if they were natural things that he normally did, I started commenting on them and building him up. And that was really life transformative for him, because when we build up our husbands, when we comment on their good behavior, we are being the ezer, we are giving him that encouragement that you are good and worthy and wonderful. We are being the glory that he needs. And it takes time. You have to almost train yourself to do this if you're not used to doing it, if your expectations don't provide you the need to constantly be thanking your husband or commenting on your husband's expected good behavior. But it is part of our role as the ezer to bless our husband in this way. And sometimes we don't realize that they really need this. Part of their poor behavior is because they're so tired of trying and not being noticed.

Another thing that God began to work on me is humility. And within that humility also a submission. The word tells us submit yourselves to one another. James 4:6 and 1 Peter 5:5 talks about how God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble and submission. Part of submission is truly trusting God and being humble enough to trust that God is going to be our protector and he is going to make all things work for good, he is going to work everything out, and he is going to bless us for choosing to submit to our husband, especially in things that we feel like they're wrong and they should do it our way. If we prayerfully submit as unto the Lord, as it says in Ephesians 5:22, "Wives, submit yourselves unto your husbands as unto the Lord." So we're doing it as unto the Lord, not so much to our husband, and we're trusting God is going to bless us and take care of us and handle the repercussions and everything to do with this decision because we're trusting God, we're going to obey God. When we obey God, we walk into greater blessing. Every single time. Even when we feel like choosing to obey God in this is going against our better judgment. It's an act of humility, knowing that yes, I know the right thing to do in this situation, in this circumstance, but I'm going to be humble and allow this decision to be my husband's and as an act of worship to the Lord, as an act of faith in God. Faith over fear because faith is the opposite of fear. Fear is what happens when we don't trust God. As an act of worship, as an act of faith, I am going to submit this. I'm going to submit unto my husband in this because even though we've had the discussion and he doesn't believe that my way is the right way, he believes his ways the right way, I am not going to fear because I think his decision’s wrong. I'm going to trust God and have faith in God, and I'm going to submit in a loving, kind way, in a trusting way, and let God show you how much he wants to bless your act of worship when you do that.

So this was another thing that the Lord began to teach me, is that my faith in him required me to have faith that he would lead my husband, that he would guide my husband, and even if my husband made a wrong decision that God was going to cover it, he was going to cover all the consequences, and he was going to bless me and my family and our marriage and everything through my act of submission unto the Lord. As I was being transformed in my heart through my walk with Jesus when I would read my Bible, instead of reading a verse and thinking, oh, this is how we should treat our neighbor, I began to apply every verse to my marriage. And every verse that I would read I would think, This is how I'm supposed to treat my husband. And that was really transformative to me. I read the Bible a lot. I was in a lot of Bible studies, but everything can always had to do with other people. But I began to apply verses to my marriage, and every verse I read, I thought, Okay, this is me or this is what God wants me to do in my marriage. And so 1 Peter, "Finally, all of you, be like-minded, be sympathetic, love one another, be compassionate and humble. Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult." How often in our marriages do we end up insulting, whether outright or some sort of subtle insult? But we are not to repay evil with evil or insult with insult. On the contrary, repay evil with blessing, because to this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing. God wants us to inherit his blessings and we repay evil, we repay people who oppose us, we repay our husband's unkindness with blessing, and we will inherit the blessing. "For whoever would love life and see good days must keep his tongue from evil and his lips from deceitful speech. And must turn from evil and do good, and must seek peace and pursue it. For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous and his ears are attentive to their prayers, but the face of the Lord is against those who do evil.". And I think so many times in our marriage, we want to stand up for our rights. And in many ways, that's not seeking peace, it's not pursuing peace.

As James 3:17 says, "The wisdom that comes from the Lord is first of all, peace loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit." That's wisdom that comes from God. And if we are demanding that our wisdom, that our way be the way we do things, that's not considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit. That's not peacemaker. That's not being a peacemaker who sows in peace. And so therefore, that's not wisdom. Even if we know the right way to go, the right thing to do, if we are demanding that and not doing things in peace, then we do not have the wisdom that comes from above. The wisdom that comes from above as a peacemaking wisdom. And so that should be our pursuit in our marriage is peacemaking over and above our need to have things done according to our personal beliefs about the right way to do things. And God is always telling us throughout His Word to love one another, to love your neighbor as yourself, to love one another. And I think when we were wounded, when we live that life of the wounded spouse and we walk in that woundedness, we have a hard time loving our husbands. We have a really hard time just feeling that love towards them. And really, it is through God, and it is through him alone that we can obey that. In the same way that we ask the Lord to give us respect for our husbands and he can do that, he can also give us love. He can restore that love for our husbands through repentance, through asking him to do his will in us, to give us love for our husbands, his supernatural love, to look at them through his eyes.

Galatians 5:6 says, the only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love. And I believe that if we can allow the Lord to transform us, capture every thought, every unloving thought, allow the Lord to do his transformative work in us through His Word. Memorize. If there's any scriptures that I've mentioned here that hit you, that's the Lord speaking to you. Write them down. Write it down and read it every day. Speak the Word of God over your life and allow His Word to transform your heart. One of the most life transformative verses for me that I began speaking every day, several times a day over my life, and God completely transformed me through it was Philippians 4:8, "Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable, if anything is excellent or praiseworthy think on these things or meditate on these things." This transformed me because I had such a tendency to look at the things that were not right. I was not meditating on what was right, I was meditating on what was not right. I was not meditating on what was pure. I was looking at, focusing on what was not pure. The things that were not lovely in my family, marriage or life, the things that were not admirable, those were the things that I was focusing on. The things that were not excellent or praiseworthy. That's what I was thinking on. And I need the Lord to transform my mind and my thoughts, so that I would be obedient to this very word to focus only on that which was beautiful, that which was good.

And when God transformed me and did that within me, then I could be the woman that God originally designed me to be for my husband. I was then the ezer. I was everything he needed for a sustained, beautiful life because I was thinking on the beautiful things. I was focusing on what was pure, lovely, admirable, excellent, praiseworthy, honorable, right, true, instead of the other things that were going wrong in my life. And God was able to restore to me the love that I originally had for my husband. And he will do that in you and in your life as well. It's all about drawing near to the Lord, allowing him to be your everything. If you want to know how to get into that relationship with God, I have a podcast a few weeks ago on how to have a quiet time, and that is the formula for bringing you close to the Lord and restoring the joy of your salvation. And I'd like to end with Jeremiah 33:11, "There will be heard once more the sounds of joy and laughter, the joyful voices of the bridegroom's and the brides will be heard again." And that's what I pray for you and your marriage. May there be joy and laughter and peace. Great, great peace in your homeschool. As always, reach out to me if you have any questions, any prayer requests, and I hope you all have a beautiful rest of your week.

Hey, a couple more things: Do you wish you had a Charlotte Mason mentor? Someone to keep you focused on the things that matter--the Lord, His word, and prayer, and habit-training, and living books, nature study, and, of course, the most neglected thing of all, self-care? Well, I have the perfect mentor for you: the Charlotte Mason heirloom planner. It is much more than a planner. It's a guide and a mentor and a place to chronicle your treasured moments and memories. All the things you want to remember and keep sacred and special from this homeschool journey. Check it out on my website at JeannieFulbright.com, and learn about that and so many of the other Charlotte Mason curriculum and tools that I have created to make your homeschool journey the richest and most fulfilling experience of your life. Thanks again for listening to the Charlotte Mason Show.

If you haven't already, please subscribe to the podcast. And while you're there, leave us a review. Tell us what you love about the show. This will help other homeschooling parents like you get connected to our community. And finally, tag us on Instagram @HomeschoolingDotMom, and let us know what you thought of today's episode. And don't forget to check out my friends at Medi-Share because you deserve healthcare. You can trust to learn more about Medi-Share and why over 400,000 Christians have made the switch, go to GreatHomeschoolConvention.com/MediShare.

Have you joined us at one of the Great Homeschool Conventions? I would love for you to come. On my website I have a special coupon code that you can use when you register. The Great Homeschool Conventions are the homeschooling events of the year with amazing speakers, hundreds of workshops to help you homeschool well, and the largest curriculum exhibit halls in the United States. People travel from all over the United States to Missouri, South Carolina, Ohio, California, and Texas to find encouragement, friendship, and curriculum. Be sure to go to my website JeannieFulbright.com for your coupon code. And when you're at the convention, please come by my booth and say "hello" because I love meeting homeschoolers in real life. It's always fun to have new homeschool friends. So thank you so much for listening and I do hope to see you at the convention. Have a blessed rest of the week.

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