What’s really keeping you from enjoying a better marriage?

Part 2 of an interview with Rhonda Stoppe
Author of If My Husband Would Change, I’d Be Happy

“If my husband would change, I’d be happy” and “I’m falling out of love with him” are among several common myths that lead women to search for marital happiness in all the wrong places.

In If My Husband Would Change, I’d be Happy (Harvest House), author Rhonda Stoppe shares, with candor and humor, how to enrich the relationship between husband and wife (even if he doesn’t change). Along the way readers will find many helpful stories and real-life examples from other couples and discover:

  • How to deal with unfulfilled longings
  • The secret to keeping your husband’s attention
  • 10 keys to a happy marriage

Q: What is the biggest problem with believing our partner is responsible for our happiness? Where should we be looking to find happiness?

We are all created to long to find our happiness and significance in relationship. Every happily-ever-after princess story affirms this longing in our hearts. But we were made to find true joy and worth, not in relationship with another person, but in relationship with our Creator.
In the Garden, sin stole away the intimacy with the Lord we were created to enjoy. In our sinful state, we look to a person to do for us what only God can do. When we look to our husbands to make us happy, we are asking them to be our god. When we surrender our hearts to Christ and spend the rest of our lives learning to love Him with all our being, we will enjoy true happiness and will learn to love our husbands — and our children — with His perfect, selfless love. And we will have no regrets.

Q: How would you respond to the wife who is beginning to believe she married the wrong person or would be happier married to someone else?

God created you with a need to be loved and feel significant. But He never intended you to fulfill those desires through marriage. Rather He wants to fulfill the longings of your heart with Himself. The problem is that sin stole mankind’s desire for intimacy with the Creator. And now, because of your sin — and mine — we focus on self and struggle with self-worship. In this state of self-love, you are susceptible to think, “I deserve to be happy. I would be happier with someone else.” In this vulnerable state, when one relationship fails to make you feel complete, there is a temptation to replace it with another — and often yet another.

The only way to guard against having a distorted sense of love and self-worth is to have a healthy personal relationship with Jesus. When you determine to find your joy in Christ, you will be set free from looking to others to fill the void only God can satisfy.

Q: What are some of the other myths about marriage you explore in the book?

I address ten myths wives believe about marriage. A few of the highlights include:

- I’ll respect him when he earns my respect
- If Momma ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy
- Our marriage would be better if bad things would stop happening
- More money equals less stress
- All he wants is sex when you long for romance 

Q: A term sure to ruffle feathers with some women is “unconditional respect” for her husband. From a Christian perspective, what does this mean within a marriage?

Just as deeply as wives long to be loved without condition, husbands desire to receive unconditional respect from their wives. And it is God who made us with these unique longings. Women tend to nurture and mother the people they care about. But your husband doesn’t need a mom. He wants a wife who believes in him, relies on him and celebrates his accomplishments.

When a man feels disrespected by his wife he tends to pull away and not show her the love she craves. And when a wife does not feel loved by her husband she will respond by being disrespectful to her husband. All it takes is one person in the marriage to make the first move toward meeting the other’s God-given need. My husband and I have watched failing marriages be turned around when a wife determines to obey God’s mandate to show her husband unconditional respect.

Q: Does humor play any kind of role in a healthy marriage? If so, how?

Remember when you were dating? How did you spend your time together as a couple? I imagine your courtship hours were spent talking, laughing and playing together as a couple. While the talking and listening you experienced likely filled your romance tank, laughing and playing together would likely have ranked number one on your husband’s romance chart.

Why is it when we get married, we take off our playful hats and put on the “there’s work to do” hat? I know there is a lot of work that needs to be accomplished — especially after having children — but don’t forget the importance of a home filled with laughter. When was the last time you laughed out loud at a joke your husband told, even though you knew what the punch line would be? Determine to grace your husband with your laughter. In turn you will raise children who enjoy laughing. Your home will be characterized as a place of joy to your kids. And they will want to bring their friends home to enjoy your laughter as well. Laugh out loud. You won’t regret it!

Q: Explain what you mean when you write, “The key to loving your husband does not lie in how well he measures up to your expectations but in how well you love God.”

In Mark chapter 12, Jesus said the ultimate priority of life is to love God with all of your being. When you do so, you will find yourself enabled to obey the second greatest commandment: “Love your neighbor as yourself” (Mark 12:31). In this case your neighbor is your husband. I am confident pursuing intimacy with God was the most important influence in transforming my marriage, and that can be true for you too. When your love for God is right, He will help you love your husband for who he is and not who you wish he would be.
When wives learn that the secret to their happiness is not found in how their husband measures up to their expectations, they have discovered the first step toward building a no-regrets marriage.

Q: What are the three steps to a happy marriage?

1)  Realize that the longing you have to be happy and valued can only be satisfied in a relationship with your Creator.

2)  Seek godly mentors to help you learn to love your husband the way God intends for you to love him. Look for women whose marriages have grown more loving throughout time — marriages you want to emulate — and then make friends with those women. Spend time with them as a couple. Ask for help.

3)  When you make the priority of life to love God with all of your being by knowing Him through the pages of Scripture, and spend time in prayer, you will have discovered the secret to loving your husband with God’s perfect love. When you love with God’s love you will enjoy a marriage that reflects true joy and happiness.

Q: Why is it important for young married couples to have older couples in their lives as mentors?

As a young bride, I knew I was not the wife I had hoped I would be. I would buy books about being a better wife, but I soon learned the books did not have the power to change me. My husband and I were in youth ministry, so I looked to the marriages of the parents of the teens for help. The Bible calls the older women to teach the younger how to love their husbands and their children, so I asked women with marriages I wanted to emulate to be my Titus 2 mentors. What I learned from these women transformed my marriage and my parenting.

In answer to God’s mandate to be a Titus 2 mentor, I now write and speak to help women build “no-regrets lives.” Imagine if you had your own personal marriage mentor. In If My Husband Would Change, I’d be Happy, I pass on the biblical principles toward a happy marriage I learned from these Titus 2 women.
Make friends with couples who have their hearts set on eternity and learn from their example. In one of the chapters, readers will find a list of eight insights to a happy marriage that I learned from these godly mentors.

Q: Each chapter contains wonderful love stories. Which one is your favorite?

There are so many wonderful love stories woven through the pages of If My Husband Would Change, I’d be Happy: Spurgeon, George Mueller, Priscilla & Aquila. But I think my favorite (besides mine and Steve’s love story that is all through the book) is the story of the Apostle Peter and his wife on the last day of their lives together, as it was observed by the Roman historian Eusebius.

“The blessed Peter, seeing his own wife led away to execution, was delighted, on account of her calling and return to her country, and that he cried to her in a consolatory and encouraging voice, addressing her by name: ‘Oh thou, remember the Lord!’ Such was the marriage of these blessed ones.”

Can you imagine the final moment between Peter and his wife?  How their eyes must have communicated volumes to each other as she was marched toward her execution? What courage she must have received to hear her sweet husband proclaim, “Remember the Lord!” as she was escorted along the path to her death. Did Peter’s words remind her that in a few moments the Lord would be waiting to receive her into His kingdom?

Learn more about more about If My Husband Would Change, I’d Be Happy and Rhonda Stoppe at www.NoRegretsWoman.com, on Facebook (RhondaStoppeLiveDeliberately) and on Twitter (@RhondaStoppe).