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What Was I Thinking???

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My real husband and myself last May on our anniversary

One of my readers, a single Christian guy, commented on this comment of mine – my words are in blue.  I thought his question was a good one.  Here is my attempt to describe what on earth I was thinking those first 15 years of my marriage when I was so disrespectful, prideful, self-righteous, idolatrous and controlling.

“I wanted my husband to lead. Ok – I thought I wanted my husband to lead. But I only wanted him to lead in the ways I thought were best. Because I “could see God’s will so very clearly.”

FROM A READER:

I realize this may be a ridiculous question, but I’m curious. Please help me understand something.

Would your comment more accurately describe a woman’s desire for her husband “to be on the same page as her” (to increase some form of godly unity within marriage as she might think best) or just for her husband “to get on-board with her decision” (because achieving her will is a higher priority than any desire for godly unity), though she may rely falsely (or even unintentionally) on the common and convenient words, “I want my husband to lead?”

I ask this generally about all or most women, not necessarily you specifically.

Thanks!

MY RESPONSE:

Whew. That is a difficult thing to explain. How do I explain my rational when I was completely steeped in sin, totally blind and living in rebellion against God but thought I was a super spiritual Christian?

In my mind at the time – I believed I knew “God’s will.” I believed that if my husband thought that God’s will was anything other than what I thought God’s will was – that he was 100% wrong. I thought that I was MUCH closer to God than he was at the time. I didn’t trust that he could discern God’s will. I never saw him pray. He didn’t pray with me. I didn’t think he read his Bible much. (I didn’t see him read it – he may have done it in private). He seemed addicted to the tv (he was hiding from my disrespect, I know now!). He ignored me (from my perspective). I felt extremely unloved. And I thought my husband was FAR, FAR from God. I judged him and condemned him. :( I thought he was incapable of knowing and discerning God’s will. I self-righteously thought I was “the only spiritually mature one” in the marriage. And I thought I “had” to lead because my husband clearly was “not qualified” and he “wouldn’t” lead.   I mean, I would ask him something and give him about 30 seconds to answer.  And if he couldn’t answer me in that amount of time, I obviously had to take over because he wasn’t going to make a decision.  (I didn’t understand he needed more time to process than I do.  It turns out that he is not a woman, and he is also not me!  Hmm.. Who would have imagined?)

I had no concept of unity being something that I needed to stretch and work towards and compromise for. I thought he needed to come to the godly place where I was. I really believed I knew God’s will and he didn’t. So I didn’t perceive it as my will was a higher priority. I truly believed I had the inside track with God and I was the only one of the two of us who knew God’s will or could know God’s will.

My pride was astronomical. I don’t know if you can measure pride – but I had myself above God and WAY above my husband. I had to come down thousands and thousands of notches. God opposed me for all those years. I didn’t see my prayers answered. I stayed completely frustrated and unhappy. THANK GOD! He wouldn’t let me find contentment in my pride, sin, idolatry and rebellion.

And THANK GOD that my husband would not allow me to manipulate him into doing what I wanted him to do. I am grateful now that he had a backbone and refused to cooperate with my attempts to usurp his authority.

I wish he had told me that I was being disrespectful and controlling. He never once said that. In fact, he didn’t even think it. He just thought I was arrogant. But he didn’t tell me that either. He never reprimanded me. My parents never reprimanded me for a disrespectful or prideful attitude, either. So my pride had gone unchecked my entire life. And I wholeheartedly believed I was a strong, wonderful, godly, amazing Christian wife.  I had no clue about my sin or my being deceived.

MY HIGH SCHOOL ASSIGNMENT – by PEACEFULWIFE

You want to know something sad?  In high school, I actually had an assignment in my Independent Living class where I was paired up with a guy and we had to “pretend to be married” and work through a bunch of difficult conflicts and issues.  The way I acted then should have been a HUGE CLUE to me – or to my future real husband – how I was going to act in marriage.  But I didn’t get it then.  And I guess my husband (Greg) didn’t really pay much attention to my behavior in that class in high school.  He probably should have!  We were dating at the time – and I know I told him all about my assignment and how much I hated it.  Well, I hated all group projects, but this one I REALLY hated.

I was paired up with a guy, we’ll call him, John (not his real name).  He was agnostic.  And he hung around the “alternative crowd” – I guess would be what that clique was called.  He had longish hair – and I am trying to remember, correctly, but possibly black finger nail polish sometimes?  He wore black most days – and a black trench coat.  He was thin and seemed nervous a lot to me.  Maybe because he had to be my partner???  I’m not really sure!

I was a straight A honors student.  I practiced classical piano for an hour every day and practiced classical flute for an hour every day and was even 1st chair in the SC All State Band my senior year.  I never got in trouble – except for that ONE time I waited for my friend at her locker because she begged me not to leave her while she fumbled with her books.  We were late for lunch and we got detention.  I was DEVASTATED!  My Daddy laughed hysterically.  I definitely did NOT.  I was SUPER involved in my church and was one of the most active and serious Christians I knew.  I didn’t identify myself with a clique.  I was in the concert band, so I did hang around people there some.  At lunch, my twin sister and I allowed anyone to sit with us who asked to.  We never turned anyone away.  We had a few good friends, and we also had a lot of people around who were rejected by many others.

John and I were told to make a budget, decide what religion we would teach our children, how we would handle different holidays… and we had to work together as a team on a number of conflicts and decisions.

Guess how I responded?  (I  feel so badly for poor John!)

I was EXTREMELY ARROGANT!  I smugly told him that I would never marry a non-Christian, so none of these exercises mattered one bit.  I told John – very condescendingly – that I WOULD be raising my children to know Jesus, go to church and read the Bible.  I told him I wouldn’t date a guy like him, much less marry him.  Problem solved.  End of story.  I didn’t care much about his perspective.  I was right, of course.  And I definitely did not cooperate with his leadership or give him a chance to try to lead.  I was the leader.  I was the decision maker.  It was all about me and what I wanted.  Unfortunately, when a woman thinks she is RIGHT, she can easily justify all kinds of pride, disrespect, rebellion against God’s Word, gossip, unforgiveness and bitterness.  At least, I sure did.

Needless to say, John and I butted heads A LOT at first.  I was a very unhappy camper to be forced to pretend to be this guy’s wife.  I wasn’t going to have conflict in my real marriage in the future.  My husband and I would agree on everything.  Just like my identical twin sister and I agreed on everything – or so I thought.  Turns out I was wrong about that, too!  She didn’t actually agree with me.  She just didn’t do a lot of thinking about her own opinions or feelings and let me do a lot of thinking for both of us. That was not healthy for either of us, by the way!  So I continued that mode of operation with my fairly quiet husband and assumed we were on the same page about a lot of things – when in reality, it turns out – we weren’t!

I can’t remember exactly why – but John and I started to get along better eventually.  Maybe we were off the “religion” topic.  But I was AWFUL at team work.  I DID NOT cooperate.  I did not compromise.  I just took over and did everything myself.  After all, I was right!  I think he basically caved in to me and let me run the show.  I know you are shocked!  I eventually did come to see John as a friend.  He was actually a great guy.  He was funny, smart and had some good ideas.  MAN!  I wish I had treated him with some respect and cooperation!!!!!

I see him every once in awhile – or I did, when I worked at Walgreens pharmacy a few years ago.  I have a lot more respect for the guy now. And I think at one point I apologized to him for my disrespect way back in Independent Living.  He was very forgiving.  I wish I could tackle that assignment again knowing what I know now!  But I didn’t have any clue what I didn’t know.

Now, I know that it really wouldn’t matter much who I was married to or what my husband did or did not do – the kind of wife I am comes from inside of me.  If I am disrespectful and controlling with an agnostic guy that I am pretending to be married to in class – I will also be disrespectful and controlling with any real life husband later WHEN I DON’T GET MY WAY.

That class and that assignment was actually an extremely accurate predictor of how I would later behave in a real marriage.  Hmm… something to think about!

8 thoughts on “What Was I Thinking???

  1. Is it really a good idea to tell ones wife she is being disrespectful? I know if I told my wife that I would get an “alright….” and then probably not hear from her for a couple of days, at least. When asked about it later she would, no doubt, tell me how I was mean to her and hurt her feelings. I am asked by her, often, to be truthful and honest, but find that when I am there is always a repercussion. If I tell her my anxieties and worries I get treated with an irritated attitude, but when I tell her not to worry about why my attitude seems worried I get asked if I “would prefer to be married to someone who I could trust”. Sorry for the wandering. I refer back to my original question: Is it really a good idea to tell ones wife she is being disrespectful, and, what is the best way to go about doing it? Thanks

    1. AnonymousMe,

      And here is the crux of why so many husbands go passive. You are totally right. You are in a lose/lose situation. If you tell her the truth – she was acting disrespectfully – she will punish you and might turn things on you and attack your own character and generally verbally torture you. For many men, it is hard to work up the courage to go before the firing squad like that.

      But if you don’t tell her the truth – you are not being honest, and she doesn’t know her faults and will continue on in her sin.

      Yuck.

      Two horrible choices. And this is exactly why so many husbands decide not to say anything at all. It seems like the more “peaceful” answer in the short run. There is less drama and there are fewer tears and less ickiness to deal with for the men at first if they take this approach.

      This is what my husband did. I totally understand why. It was NO PICNIC to criticize me for those 15 years that I was controlling and disrespectful. I took ANY criticism VERY personally and got extremely upset about it. I expected myself to be perfect. I truly didn’t see what a sinner I was. I was extremely prideful and blind to my sin. And I got SUPER offended if anyone suggested that I did something wrong.

      To my credit – I did actually CARE DEEPLY about my husband’s feelings. ANd if he had told me I was disrespectful – I am sure I would have freaked completely out. But it is possible that eventually, I could have heard his heart. The times he really put his foot down – I would argue and argue and argue and try to change his mind. But eventually I would go with his decision – with a lot of pouting, stomping, crying and whining. 🙁

      We as wives want the impossible. We want our husbands to think we are perfect. We don’t want to be criticized. But many of us want to be free to dole out the criticism to our men at any time all day long. Not very fair. Not very Christlike of us. 🙁
      AND we want our husbands to be honest and transparent. But we don’t want them to tell us painful things.

      The thing is, if our husbands are going to be able to lead – they have to be able to tell us painful things. Gently, respectfully and lovingly, ideally. But we NEED our husbands’ insights. We have huge blind spots and we need our husbands to speak the truth in love. We don’t want to hear all that they need to say, but we need to hear it. If our husbands do not tell us this stuff – we continue on and on in our sin. Matt 18 is all about how we are to confront someone when he/she sins against us. I believe a husband is not being a godly leader if he ignores his wife’s sin.

      And a wife is not being a godly follower if she does not listen to the loving rebuke of her husband.

      This is some SCARY stuff for husbands. I pray that God will give you wisdom! And I pray that He might work in the hearts of wives to help us be accepting of your thoughts, perspective, ideas and feelings.

      Would you allow me to quote this comment anonymously, please? Wives need to hear this!

      Thank you!

      I have a youtube video for wives about accepting their husbands’ constructive criticism
      <a href="[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OEAis1auJRo?rel=0&w=420&h=315%5D“>[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OEAis1auJRo?rel=0&w=420&h=315%5D

      My husband actually has some posts on this:
      http://www.respectedhusband.wordpress.com/2012/09/01/passivity-fuels-a-wifes-disrespect/

      THIS IS ONE OF MY HUSBAND’S POSTS, IT IS NOT CURRENTLY UP ON HIS SITE. But I think it explains a lot! I wish the diagram showed up here, but it doesn’t.

      I have started a few short posts on some factors that can be seen when you have an emotionally eager wife dealing with an extremely evasive husband. The second factor I would like to look at is when the husband avoids commitment and personal accountability.

      One thing I heard after yesterday’s post was “Why would I want to be around him? That kind of man is selfish and not a good husband.” That is all true, but one must not forget that what we are looking at is a relationship that has been molded by the connection between a passive husband and a dominant wife. The relationship may not have been established with these factors in place, but over time the combination has created this Power Circle of Dominance and Passivity.

      One common factor in the Eager Wife/Evasive Husband Relationshiop is that a wife cannot get a solid commitment to anything. The evasive husband is a master of not getting pinned down. This is his unconscious attempt to gain power and maintain control. The extremely evasive husband correlates commitment with enslavement or coercion. So, what should seem like a simple request comes off as an attempt to control him and he feels that if he remains vague he can maneuver around the feeling.

      The evasive husband is scared to death of being held accountable because that would require them to be vulnerable. They fear clear communication, self-revelation, and openness. They worry that these things would put them at risk of being taken advantage of. So, in the husband’s mind he surmises that his best option is to play it safe and reveal the least amount of information that he can about his plans, his preferences, or his feeling.

      The extremely evasive husband would never admit it, but they have made a commitment to dishonesty. Sometimes this dishonesty involves blatant lying, but usually the lying is more subtle. Without being openly untruthful, the evasive husband creates the illusion that they are cooperating. Inside, they secretly hope to do their own thing independent of their wife’s plans.

      By fearing accountability, it is no wonder that the emotionally eager wife is driven to feel that she is in marital isolation. The husband strives to keep a safe distance which is the exact opposite thing that the eager wife is seeking. The husband keeps his feelings buried; the wife wants to see his feelings on the surface. The husband fears exposing his preferences lest the wife denies him; the wife wants more than anything to know what her husband wants.

      This is one magnetic relationship where the opposites do not attract in a positive way. A marriage that is going to thrive and succeed needs sharing and openness in order to prosper. The emotionally eager wife and the extremely evasive husband are much like a matchstick and a striking board; they can’t come together without a fire breaking out. Somewhere along the way the evasive husband has to be able to show his wife the pure, unhidden love that she desires and the eager wife needs to be able to show her husband the non-intimidating respect he needs.

      1. Yes, feel free to use whatever is posted. I really enjoy reading your blog, it kind of gives me a bit of insight as to what my wife may be thinking. I have sent her a link to it before, but I dont think she is interested in reading. I feel bad asking her about it, like I am trying to tell her she is not a good wife. She really is, we are just going through some really bad stuff right now, and I know her mind is on a lot of other things. Thanks for any prayer, and thanks for the blog.

        1. AnonymousMe,
          Thank you!!!!

          It is difficult to get this vital information into the hands of women who are behaving in disrespectful and controlling ways. They do tend to take great offense. Dealing with disrespectful women is A CHALLENGE! Trust me, I know! I catch a lot of that anger, but a husband would get it even more harshly, just because he is a man.
          To some degree, God will have to open her eyes. But I do think that husbands have a responsibility as leaders to address these issues at times – gently, respectfully, carefully, lovingly, with a lot of reassurance of their love for their wives. Maybe hold her or hold her hand and tell her you aren’t going anywhere, and you are committed to her, and you love her. But you feel disrespected at times when she does X,Y,Z. And you may have to explain to her that for a man, when he feels disrespected, he feels unloved. Most women have NO IDEA that men need respect the way they need love.

          A great book to read is Love and REspect by Dr. Emerson Eggerichs – very balanced. You could read it together and work on your part so that she doesn’t feel singled out.

          I want to reassure you that most likely she has ZERO idea that she is being disrespectful. Most likely she is just reacting when she feels unloved, and is feeling her own pain and doesn’t even realize that you are hurt too. And if you don’t tell her about it, she assumes you are fine. That is what I did with my husband. But he wasn’t fine. I actually thought he had no feelings at all for many years. But I was wrong. He just didn’t share his feelings with me. So I was completely shocked when I realized 15 years into our marriage that he was deeply wounded. I knew I was in pain. I had no idea he was in pain. If he was in pain, he would have told me, right? I had no idea he wouldn’t voice how much I had hurt him. 🙁

          HOW I WISH I HAD KNOWN YEARS AND YEARS EARLIER!

          I am praying for you to be able to speak the truth in love at the right moment and that God’s Spirit might be working in her heart. Praying for you to be able to represent Christ well in that moment, and that she might see your grace, mercy and forgiveness even in that time of difficulty and sharing your pain with her.

          If you describe it more in terms of being hurt, wounded, in pain, unloved – she may hear that better. Most wives DO NOT want their husbands to hurt! Most wives will apologize if they realize their husbands are wounded by them. Most of us really do care about your feelings, we just have no idea how different men are and how differently you think and feel and process and we think you are just like us.

          You may have to slowly, gently walk us through and explain. A great resource for that is Shaunti Feldhahn’s For Women Only
          Or His Brain Her Brain by Dr. Walt Larimore MD

          Please let me know how I can pray and how you are doing!

  2. Thank you April for sharing that story. AnonymousMe, I think woman do want to be told, but how you say it is going to make a lot of difference. You know your wife and how she responds. When you remove the “you” and replace it with “I” you may get a better response. Without accusing her you can let her know how her behavior makes you feel and how you would prefer to be treated. You can do it in a loving way and then let her think about it for a while if she needs to. Like April said, woman usually want and need to be told. Sometimes we just can’t see it. Probably a good idea to pray about it first and not just take my suggestions. After all, I may thing differently than your wife. I’m pretty hard headed and can be very disrespectful of my husband, but I do know it is wrong.

    1. I like Dr. Emerson Eggerich’s suggestion in Love and Respect. He says for wives to say, “Honey, that felt unloving, did I come across disrespectfully just now?” ANd to husbands, he suggests for them to say, “Honey, that felt disrespectful, did I come across unlovingly just now?”

My grandmother is on hospice and won't be with us much longer (11-30-16). I will get to comments when I am able to but I need to be with family right now. Thanks for understanding.

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