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When Your Husband Sins Against You.
I am not an expert, a counselor, a psychologist, a theologian or a pastor. I am just an ordinary Christian wife. My posts and my blog may be helpful for you – they may not be. I share ideas and suggestions – they are not rules and they are not guarantees. Ultimately, each wife must prayerfully decide what she believes God wants her to do to obey Him and to honor Him in her unique situation. God has wisdom. I do not. I write specifically for wives who tend to be controlling and dominating. Wives who tend to be more quiet and have dominating husbands may find that my blog is not a good fit for them. If your husband is abusing you, please seek godly, experienced, wise counsel ASAP! Please be safe! My blog is not written for wives who are abused.
Get ready and brace yourselves, ladies. I am about to deliver the most shocking news you have EVER heard.
Your husband is a HUGE sinner. Like… he is in SERIOUS need of Jesus. On his own – apart from Christ – he is selfish, unkind, unloving, mean, cruel, difficult to deal with, too passive or too aggressive, ungodly, an idolator and he possibly even struggles with lust, greed, lying, stealing, hatred, un-forgiveness, bitterness and ALL KINDS of heinous sins.
I know – it’s mind boggling. :) I’m sure you haven’t figured that out on your own – so you probably don’t believe me. You may need to go check with him on this one, right?
Just kidding! Please do NOT go check with him!
It’s funny – all of us as wives see our husbands’ sins SO clearly. It’s our own sin that we tend not to see. And I usually focus on OUR sin, OUR responsibilities, OUR obedience to God and our side of the equation. That is where our power is, after all!
But we ALL have to deal with our husbands sinning against us – just like all husbands have to deal with wives sinning against them. Sometimes it’s much worse than others. This topic could seriously be a book in and of itself. So this one post isn’t an exhaustive resource on dealing with our husbands’ sin in a godly way. But it is hopefully a starting point.
Expect your husband to sin against you at times. He is not God. He will mess up. He will do hurtful and hateful things sometimes. Other times, it may seem like he is being hateful – but he may not actually intend to be hateful – it could be a misunderstanding. He is human. And that has to be ok. Yes, he is supposed to represent Christ to you in the marriage – but he is not Christ and to expect perfection is just setting yourself up for a disaster.
Focus on your own mountain of sin on a daily basis, and try not to focus much on his. The more I see what a wretched sinner I am – and just how much Jesus has forgiven me for – the more grace I have to lavish forgiveness, mercy and grace on my husband.
Gary Thomas in “Sacred Influence” says, “We are most tempted to sin when we have been sinned against.” That is SO TRUE! So – be Spirit-filled. Have God’s power in you. Repent of all your sin. Obey God’s Word. Then you will have the power of God to respond without sin when your husband sins against you. Being angry is not sinful – but in our anger, we must not sin against our husbands!
God is sovereign. He has assigned my husband to me for my good, as a gift to me, as my leader, protector and provider. But He has also assigned my particular husband to me to use his sins to mold me into the image of Christ. God will use my husband’s sin against me as a hammer and chisel to create the image of Christ in my soul. It will be PAINFUL. It will be a cross I must bear. And God will use it for my good and His glory.
WE HAVE SO MUCH POWER!
We are NOT responsible for our husband’s sin. They are accountable to God for their sin and we are accountable to God for our own sin.
But – because we are one flesh – our response to our husbands’ sin is powerful. We can either respond with evil and cause the whole thing to spiral downward completely towards destruction and the death of the marriage, or we can respond in the power of God’s Spirit and breathe healing, life, strength, grace, peace, hope and help into our marriage when our husbands sin against us.
BEING UNLOVING, CRUEL AND HATEFUL
It’s possible that your man is a total narcissist who is incurable and who will be chronically selfish and cruel his whole life. There are a few of those in the world.
Thankfully, MOST men are fairly decent guys. They are all sinners, of course. But most men will respond well to respect. Now if you have been extremely disrespectful for 15 years – it will take time for your husband to really trust you and begin to open up to you again. He may continue to stonewall for a year or more from the time you implement respect and submission and stop controlling and being disrespectful. But ultimately, you are called to respect your husband and submit to His God-given leadership out of obedience to Christ regardless of the results. So, it is our duty to obey God’s Word and honor Christ in our marriage regardless of what our husbands are or aren’t doing.
The great news is – usually, as we get rid of disrespect and learn to speak “respect” in a meaningful way to our husbands – the verbal abuse, unloving behavior and comments usually dramatically decrease over time.
Some possible ways wives may handle such situations – say (calmly):
That really hurt my feelings.
Did I do something disrespectful just now? That felt unloving to me.
Please don’t speak to me like that or I will need to leave the room. (And then, respectfully, with dignity and poise, leave the room if he cannot control his temper.)
Please don’t yell. I feel so scared when you do that.
Please don’t say things like that – it hurts me so much.
Hopefully, just saying something like that will elicit an apology.
If not, you may want to give him some space, respectfully, to process his feelings for a few hours or over night. And keep some distance. Then when he approaches you, you can say, “I’m still upset/hurt/sad.” And you really don’t have to go into much more detail than that. He will probably apologize.
But also, consider that Jesus calls us to bless when we are cursed and to repay evil with good and to pray for those who mistreat us. So during that time of giving space, we can be praying for our husbands and for Satan’s strongholds to be torn down. We can pray that God will help us to forgive and have wisdom about how to bless our husbands. And we can pray about what kind thing we could do to show respect and love.
Please do not go on a big emotional tirade against your man! Then he will be thinking about YOUR anger, bitterness, rage and sin and he won’t have to think about his sin! If you can respond WITHOUT sin to him when he sins against you – he will have SO MUCH weight of conviction and he will eventually apologize on his own.
The more respected he usually feels -the more it will tear his soul apart to see that he has hurt you, the woman he loves most in all the world. Your distance and pain will make him feel AWFUL and he will try to make things right.
If he feels constantly disrespected – he may not care much about your feelings – and you may have to pray and wait on God to work in his heart as you continue to obey God yourself, expecting God, not your husband, to meet your emotional and spiritual needs.
As you begin to actually stop disrespecting him – which repels him – and you learn to begin to respect him – he will likely be drawn back to you.
Then – he may eventually begin to actually care about your feelings.
When he gets used to you being joyful, happy, content, smiling, accepting and welcoming – he will probably want to keep that feeling going. Your happiness and joy is a great reward. If you are mean, negative, angry, scolding, yelling, name-calling and disrespectful all the time – he will most likely build a wall against you and shut you out of his heart. He may decide it is impossible to please you and it’s not worth trying. And he may not care that you are in pain. He may be in too much pain himself to care that you are in pain. And he may not respect you because you are so down on him all the time. Men sometimes only let people they respect influence their decisions and actions.
But when you respect him and are a joy – he may begin to want you to be happy, to open his heart up to you slowly, and eventually he may care VERY much about your feelings and happiness. Eventually, all it may take is for that light of faith and trust in your eyes and the beautiful smile on your face to go away for a minute or two and he will be asking what he can do to make you happy again. Yes. Really.
The silent thing is about spiritual things. You are silent about God and church and Bible reading, etc (I Peter 3:1-2 – if you have a husband who is disobedient to the Word of God), and show him respect.
If he is flirting or doing inappropriate things with other women (short of an affair)- some possible ideas of things to prayerfully consider saying (only if God leads you to say one of these things),
I don’t want you to have women friends. I think that is dangerous. I don’t have male friends – there are too many temptations in those situations for anyone. No one is exempt from the temptation to have an affair. Everyone has to guard their hearts, even pastors and strong Christian leaders. No one plans to have an affair – it happens because we don’t prevent it and protect our marriage with a hedge of precautions and boundaries.
I feel so hurt when you flirt with women.
I only want you to flirt with me.
I feel so sad that you are talking with other women.
I am scared that you don’t let me be your friend on Facebook. I feel afraid to trust you when I see you shut me out from certain areas of your life.
I want to trust you and respect you- and I am scared to right now. Please make it easier for me to be able to totally trust you and respect you as the God-given leader of our marriage.
I want you to stop talking with her.
I want to feel completely safe and protected with you.
I want to know that you are protecting our marriage and your heart.
So – you say what you want WITHOUT lashing out in anger. You are vulnerable and share your feelings in a pure way, a VERY, VERY, VERY boiled down and brief way. He can hear you when you talk to him like this. You can cry and be sad. But if you attack him with anger and an emotional ocean of negativity – he may drown in it.
Then – as you become respectful and he begins to care about your feelings – all you have to do is look sad and say you are sad – and he will probably apologize. If he doesn’t, you just respectfully move away and create some distance from him. Bob Grant, marriage therapist, says “Words are for women. Men don’t respond to words. Men respond to pain and distance.” So you sharing your painful feelings “I feel X” and moving away physically and emotionally will make him feel guilt and want to make things better. Yes – this is the exact opposite of how we as women want to handle this. Want to dump our ocean of negativity on him and blast him for an hour or two with all our horrible emotions. This does NOT help our husbands come back to us! It repels them. So it is up to us to learn to communicate in a way that is EFFECTIVE for our husbands to best hear our hearts and our main message.
You don’t have to argue. You don’t have to lose control. The more you do those things, the more you push him to the women you don’t want him to talk to. He finds acceptance and validation and respect there. He needs to find acceptance, validation, edification, appreciation, affection and respect with YOU.
If your husband is telling little lies – pray and seek God’s prompting about whether it is going to be helpful and productive to address it and how to address it humbly. And keep in mind that the more he sees you trust him as leader and you respect him, the safer he may feel with you. Sometimes it is helpful to understand his motives behind the lying. Is he afraid? Is he in a habit of compulsive lying? Does he feel safe to share the truth with you? He may be lying to avoid a big reaction, drama, lecture, scolding, disrespect and contempt. My suggestion, for whatever it is worth, is to respectfully, calmly and without emotion say something like:
honesty is REALLY important to me.
PLEASE tell me the truth. We will work through this issue together. I want to try to stay calm and hear what you have to say. I don’t want you to be afraid of me freaking out and losing control of my emotions. I want to respect you, and for me to be able to fully respect and trust you, I need to know for sure that you always tell me the truth.
When he does tell you the truth, maybe say:
THANK YOU SO MUCH for telling me the truth. It’s painful for me to hear. But I admire you greatly for having the courage to tell me the truth. I feel so much safer knowing that you are being honest with me. When you tell me the truth, even about little things, I REALLY respect that about you.
It means SO much to me that you have the courage to tell me the truth. That helps me to respect the man you are so much. I admire your willingness to be honest. Thank you.
Then keep up the respect and nix all the disrespect. As he sees he is safe – I think you’ll see the lying fade away in a few months, most likely.
If your husband is telling bigger lies, you may have to calmly and respectfully (and probably with great sadness) prayerfully consider saying something like:
dishonesty/lying is not OK.
I REALLY want to trust and respect you – but I just can’t respect lying.
I need to see you do X, Y and Z to help me rebuild my trust in you. I need total honesty and transparency from you in order to work to be able to give you all of my respect and admiration again.
I’m really disappointed.
I am devastated.
I think we need to have some help.
You can do this WITHOUT attacking him.
If you catch him in big lies again or other major sin (adultery) – you may need to follow the Bible’s advice about when a brother sins against us (Matthew 18). First we are to go show him his fault, just between the two of us in private (which means, NOT bashing him on FB or to friends, coworkers or family!) If he doesn’t repent, then we take another believer – probably a strong Christian mentor or friend or pastor and respectfully confront him with that witness present and helping us. Then the Bible says to take the matter before the church if he still won’t repent and treat him like an unbeliever. Most churches don’t do discipline anymore. Sadly. But if he is living in habitual sin, you will have to treat him like an unbeliever – because he is not living at all with the power of Christ. You may have to implement consequences with gentleness, respect, poise and dignity.
Please keep in mind that God can and does heal marriages that have suffered the devastation of adultery. I know MANY marriages God has healed and that are very godly and strong now – stronger than ever – and the growth began after adultery. This is not to say adultery is fine and not a big deal. It is a huge sin. It is not ever ok!
Adultery is not necessarily a death sentence for a marriage. But contempt and unforgiveness will kill any relationship.
But there is help and hope and our God is a God of miracles and He is able to heal broken relationships and people when we trust and obey Him. Please seek godly, wise, experienced, biblical counsel!
PHYSICAL ABUSE/SUBSTANCE ABUSE
Please get some godly, experienced help. This issue is more than I can address – and you will need major help ASAP. If there is MAJOR sin going on, and a husband is unrepentant after a wife respectfully confronts him, it is time to evaluate whether separation may be necessary until he is willing to repent.