Books are food for my soul! Pull up a beach chair and stick your toes in the sand as the Jersey surf rolls in and out, now open your book and let your imagination take you away.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Author Guest Post: Sandy Ralya, Author of The Beautiful Wife

In association with LitFuse Publicity Group, Jersey Girl Book Reviews welcomes Sandy Ralya, author of The Beautiful Wife.

Want a Growing Marriage?
My husband and I were reading a financial book about how to make your money grow when one of the principles jumped off the page at me:

What you focus on grows. 

Because it’s such a simple principle, I couldn’t get it out of my mind and began applying it to all areas of life, especially relationships.

Most women have the desire to grow a more intimate relationship with their husband yet  few  focus  their  desire  long  enough  to  do  anything  about  it.  Thus, nothing changes.  
  • Ignorance, 
  • Distractions, and/or
  • hopelessness are often to blame.
I should know. Just 19 when I said, “I do”, I was ignorant about how to grow my marriage.  Our pre-marriage counseling consisted of one two-hour meeting with my pastor and that wasn’t enough to prepare me for the emotional, spiritual, and verbal abuse my husband doled out on a regular basis.   The abuse produced pain and grief. I could think of little else than surviving. 

Hope for our future crumbled.

Over time, I began sharing my pain with a few trusted, godly women.  Venting my pain and hearing their honest feed-back helped me see that the abuse I was suffering wasn’t my fault. 

I  began seeing a Christian counselor who gave me tools that helped restore me to a place of strength and dignity. 

The best choice I made was to dig into God’s word and find out what He wanted to say to me about my marriage.  In the Bible I found the following verses which applied to my situation:

·          “…Your godly lives will speak to them [husbands] better than any words.  They will be won over by watching your pure godly behavior.” (I Peter 3:1,2)

      In place of preaching to my husband, I began entrusting my difficult situation to God through prayer—listening for His instruction.

·          Instead, we will hold to the truth in love…” (Ephesians 4:15) 

      I began to exchange preaching for speaking the truth in love—in as few words as possible.

·         “See that no one pays back evil for evil, but always try to do good…” (I Thessalonians 5:15) 

      On my new path, I chose to respond in kindness and enforce healthy boundaries in place of angry retaliation.

When I dug into the word, I learned that my husband wasn’t the only one sinning.  My responses to Tom were often sinful and my response was the only thing I was responsible for.  (What I wanted was to change my husband but I couldn’t find a biblical reference to support my desire and neither will you)!    

Focused on God and His Word, I was able to reverse negative behavioral patterns in my life which had long plagued me

When I did what I could do—keeping my focus on God, HE DID WHAT I COULD NOT!

He healed me and ultimately my marriage—to the praise of His glorious grace!

What you focus on grows. 

Are you focused on growing your marriage? 

Trust Leads to Romance

What stirs the embers of romance deep inside you?

·         Loving Words
·         Touch
·         A Night Out?

Maybe you haven’t thought about romance lately because of busyness, fatigue, disillusionment, or hopelessness.

I’ve been there too.

But romance with the man you love may not be as elusive as you might think.

Though we all desire romance—every woman longs to be noticed, pursued, and adored—few of us realize that…   

our  words  and  actions  may  serve as stumbling blocks rather than invitations for the man in our life to woo us romantically.

If this is true, then we’re sabotaging the very romance we desire. Reminds me of the saying,  

“If you do what you’ve always done, you’ll get what you’ve always gotten.”

Do you like what you’re experiencing in regard to romance?

If not, ask yourself if you’re more likely to trust OR control your husband.  
You’ve seen the controlling type.
Most women on TV sitcoms struggle with control. They walk all over the men they’re with and it bothers us.

It’s easy to detect control in others, but are you guilty of similar actions? 

Let’s look deeper and find out.

1. Do you correct your husband?
2. Do you instruct your husband?
3. Do you improve your husband?

Do you correct your husband’s pronunciation or perhaps the telling of a story when you know he’s got the facts mixed up?

When you correct your husband you’re telling him he did something wrong.

In this position you’ve become his mother. And that’s a romance killer if there ever was one.

Do you instruct your husband when he drives, performs tasks, or helps out with the kids?

When you instruct your husband, you’re sending the message, “You don’t know how to do this.”

In this position you become the teacher who highlighted his ineptitude. Exposed, he’ll either shrink or strike back, rather than pursue.

Do you improve your husband?

In the past, I’ve tried to improve Tom’s appearance whenever possible. Once, when dressing for dinner at an elegant restaurant on vacation, I wore a vintage cashmere jacket with pearls and heels while Tom wore an improbable, wrinkled ensemble worthy of an episode of What Not to Wear. Yet, I didn’t say a word! (Some of you may be appreciating the restraint that required!)  If I’d shared my fashion-improvement advice with him, 

I would have sent the romance-spoiling message, “You could have done better.” 

In what areas do you try to improve your husband?

When we correct, instruct, and improve, we justify our actions by saying we’re just trying to help when, in reality, the measures we employ have more to do with fear—the fear that we won’t get what we want or we’ll get it too late.

Whenever our actions are borne of fear, the results we experience will be disappointing at best!

Give your fears to God and trust your husband with new words and actions… 

Inviting him to romance.

Romance Blooms with Showers of Confidence

Men are highly sensitive to signals of doubt because doubt plagues them. 

If you continually give off signals of doubt, you will confirm the fear of inadequacy that lurks deep within your husband.

If a man believes he doesn’t have what it takes to please you, there’s not much chance he’ll attempt romance.

 “A wise woman builds her house, but a foolish woman tears it down with her own hands” (Proverbs 14:1).

Doubting your husband and his abilities tears away at a man; conferring confidence builds him up. 

A confident man is grateful to the one who believes in him.

Do you have confidence in your husband, or do you find yourself regularly second-guessing him?

Do you struggle with doubt when it comes to his abilities? 

He needs to be supported by your confidence in him
  • at home
  • in the workplace
  • and in his dream for the future.

At home, I wanted Tom involved with the discipline of our children but was rarely pleased with his methods. I thought he was too strict and should be more understanding. Instead of communicating clearly with Tom about my concerns, I undermined his authority by smoothing things over with the kids behind his back.

My actions conveyed a lack of confidence in my husband.

I sabotaged our parenting and our marriage.

·        Our kids learned their parents weren’t always on the same team, so if they worked on the more lenient parent, they might get their way.

·         Tom felt hurt and angry.

Doubting my husband didn’t open any doors to romance!

The media constantly broadcast fear and doubt concerning the future. Against this tidal wave of doom and gloom, it’s difficult for a man to confidently believe that God has planned a hopeful future for him.

When my husband was going through a job transition a couple of years ago, it became apparent he was struggling with doubt over his ability to succeed in a new venture. He was really down one day when he commented, “Most men don’t make a job change at fifty.”

I asked, “Who says?”

 He rewarded me with a smile from ear to ear.

Tom’s words weren’t so much a statement of fact as they were a question—he was asking me if I believed he could successfully make a job change at fifty.

A wise wife counteracts the media’s message of fear with a daily dose of confidence.

Inspiring confidence in your husband is like pouring water on dry, thirsty ground.

What seeds of potential lie dormant within your husband, waiting for the showers of your confidence?

What does your husband dream of doing?

Let your husband know that you believe in him. 

If you don’t, who will?

Breathe words of confidence into your husband today and watch as he stands taller with every word spoken.

That said, pray about which ones to encourage. If your husband’s dreams take him in a direction that worries you, consider your concerns. 

Are they rooted in selfishness or fear?

Turn to God and give Him your worries.

Conferring confidence invites your husband to romance.

Could your love-life benefit from showers of confidence?

                      Vulnerability Invites Romance
It has become second nature for women to defend themselves. For untold generations, women have been hurt, taken advantage of, and diminished in their value. With the advent of the Women’s Liberation Movement, women came out swinging against the injustices they’d endured and, in the process, they lost something of great value—their vulnerability.

There is something so inviting about vulnerability.

       Vulnerability is armorless.
       Vulnerability draws others in.
        It invites others to look deep inside.

This invitation to look inside is exactly why so many avoid vulnerability at all cost. It’s dangerous.

If you offer vulnerability to your husband, what will he do with it?

Hurt you?

Take advantage of you?
Think less of you?

These risks overshadow vulnerability’s beauty until you consider the consequences of a life lived defensively.
Living defensively is like living in a fortress—walls built up and weapons ready. The face behind the wall is tense, scanning for threat.

     A life lived on the defense is a life spent without rest, joy, or freedom.

Many women dwell behind walls that inadvertently keep their husbands out, and they    wonder    why    they    do    not    feel    known.

Since true romance involves being known and desired, to invite your husband to romance you must take the risk of being vulnerable, tearing down your defensive walls.

For instance, when you get hurt, do you retaliate in anger, or are you vulnerable with your husband and admit your feelings?

Retaliating in anger may satisfy your thirst for justice, but it won’t give you the increased romance and intimacy you want.

     No one approaches a fortress when arrows are flying from it—unless they are prepared for battle!

It takes more courage to admit your feelings of hurt than to defend yourself. It requires you to trust God to keep you safe when you expose your hurts, and to heal you if your husband is not gentle. The good news is that God promises to do all these things and more in Psalm 91:

. . . The Lord says, “I will rescue those who love me. I will protect those who trust in my name.”

You must come to recognize what triggers you to defend yourself rather than to admit your pain.
Perhaps it’s a fear that your needs won’t be met or that you’re not valuable.

When the triggers come, remind yourself that God loves you and He’ll  defend and protect you if you put your trust in Him.

Shooting arrows of anger over your walls doesn’t provide your husband the safety he needs to know, desire, and pursue you.

Allow God to protect you and go before you, leveling your defenses and making way for your husband to romance you.

 Do you offer your husband vulnerability?

Special Note: If you are in an emotionally or physically abusive marriage, exposing your vulnerability could be damaging to you instead of healing. I urge you to seek the help you need. Contact the Domestic Abuse Hotline at 1-800-799-SAFE, or call your church and ask to be referred to a reputable Christian counselor.

About The Author:

Sandy Ralya is the founder and director of Beautiful Womanhood, a marriage mentoring ministry based near Grand Rapids, Michigan. Her marriage testimony was the focus of a popular three-day interview on FamilyLife Today, TV's Walking By Faith, and Time Out For Women. Sandy is a sought-after speaker, presenting Beautiful Womanhood seminars to hundreds of women each year at MOPS groups, women's retreats, and church leadership conferences across the country and in Canada. Sandy and her husband Tom have been married since 1980, and have a growing number of grandchildren. 

BUY THE BOOK: The Beautiful Wife

Book Description: The Beautiful Wife

The Beautiful Wife uses these inspiring stories along with biblical principles to guide and encourage any wife looking for God's best in her marriage. The Beautiful Wife answers serious questions women have about their roles as wives. Discussing everything from romance and money to beauty, communication, and sex, Sandy challenges women to open up and share their journeys so that together they can see God's plan for their marriages. "It is my passion to help women discover God's heart for their marriage, just as the other women helped me," writes Sandy. "When women share with each other the details of their journeys with God as wives, it's a beautiful thing indeed." The Beautiful Wife has two companion resources - Prayer Journal and Mentor's Guide. 

Video: Sandy Ralya's Testimony

Celebrate with Sandy by entering her Kindle Touch Giveaway!

One beautiful winner will receive:

- A brand new new Kindle Touch with Wi-Fi
- The Beautiful Wife by Sandy Ralya
- The Beautiful Wife Prayer Journal and Mentor's Guide by Sandy Ralya

Enter today by clicking on the link above. But hurry, the giveaway ends 3/7/12. The winner will be announced at Sandy's "Beautiful Womanhood" Facebook Party on 3/8 . Sandy will be hosting an evening of chat, laughter and encouragement - bring your friends! She'll also be giving away some great prizes: gift certificates, books, prayer journals and gift certificates and a live chat with Sandy for your Bible study or small group! 

So grab your copy of The Beautiful Wife and join Sandy and friends on the evening of March 8th for an evening of fun! 

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