Sacred Influence

Sacred Influence by Gary Thomas

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Authors: Gary Thomas
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your husband for being less than perfect; he can’t be anything else.
    Disappointment Detectors
    Why is this perspective crucial if you are going to provide a sacred influence? Husbands detect disappointment with uncanny accuracy. Because we so deeply value affirmation, whenever we don’t get it, it feels like living with one long, loud, psychic scream. And we tend to react like this: “If I can’t please her by trying my hardest, then why should I try at all?” I’m not saying we should react this way; I’m just saying that’s how we usually do react.
    If you want to move your husband in a positive direction, then you need to appreciate him from your heart.
    In her book Capture His Heart , Lysa TerKeurst tells of boarding a shuttle bus at the airport, where she met a sixty-year-old man who said something very simple but astonishing. Lysa commented that people must love to see the shuttle bus pull up, because it means they’re going home. The driver laughed. “Yeah, everyone is excited to see me pull up to the curb. That’s why I like my job so much. People get on the bus and smile so big. They’ve just been waiting for me, and when I finally arrive, they are happy I’m here. I’ve often wished I had a video camera to tape people as they get on my bus with the smiling faces and glad-to-see-ya comments. I’d love for my wife to see a tape like that. That’s the way I’ve always wanted her to look when I come home from work.” 3
    That’s the way I’ve always wanted her to look when I come home from work.
    I doubt there’s a guy alive who doesn’t feel this way. Whether we’re a shuttle bus driver, a CEO, a world-class athlete, or an assistant manager at a grocery store, it does something to a man’s heart when his wife and kids look happy to see him. I know — sometimes with our surly moods and our air of entitlement, we can make it very difficult for you to feel happy to see us. But that’s what we need.
    My friend Dave Deur, a pastor at Central Wesleyan Church in Holland, Michigan, taught a class on marriage, during which he asked all the men to list five ways they love to be loved. Virtually all the lists included acts or words of appreciation — and many men listed affirmation several times, using different words. I was struck by how many men used at least two (or often even three) of their five answers to describe affirmation. In fact, one man’s list of five things could all be summarized as affirmation!
    So you see, that shuttle driver who just wants his wife’s face to light up when she sees him isn’t unusual; he’s typical. Rule number one for influencing your man is this: stop taking your husband for granted . He wants to feel noticed, special, and appreciated. That puts him in a “moldable” mood. When he feels he is taken for granted, he becomes defensive and resentful of the mere suggestion of change.
    Leslie Vernick, author of How to Act Right When Your Spouse Acts Wrong , once asked a husband in a counseling situation what he would most like from his wife. He responded, “There was a guy at work who was clumsy and never did the job quite right. None of us guys thought much of him, but when his wife came in one day, she looked at him like he could do no wrong. All of us guys were jealous of him from then on, because we knew he wasn’t perfect, but his wife treated him like he was. I would love for my wife to look at me like that.”
    Spiritual Acceptance
    Without feeling appreciated, admired, and genuinely respected, your husband probably will never change. If you notice a lot of tension in your home; if you notice a high level of frustration and anger in your husband’s life; if you sense a discouragement leading to passivity (where he underachieves); if you notice an “escapist” mentality, where he spends his free time playing computer games or watching sports, escaping the home with excessive recreation — then, more times than not, you’re looking at a man who

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