Skip to main content

We Can Put Our Husbands in a Lose/Lose Situation


Here is a comment from a husband – and this is a very difficult challenge that almost all husbands face when we are treating them with disrespect or we are trying to control them.  Please hear his heart and the very painful dilemma he faces!


Is it really a good idea to tell one’s 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?





Here is my response to this husband:

This 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 likely punish you, or get really upset 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.


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.  So my husband usually said nothing.

My parents were believers and WONDERFUL parents.  They read a book by Dr. Spock when we were little, and the philosophy was, “Don’t intervene or correct your children unless they are about to really hurt someone or themselves.”

Guess what that did?  We were not used to being criticized.  We couldn’t accept criticism.  If someone did criticize us – it seemed like the BIGGEST DEAL EVER!

To my credit – I did actually CARE DEEPLY about my husband’s feelings.  I loved him with all my heart and wanted desperately to be close and connected to him.  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 (only about 3 times in 15 years – when I was being very selfish) – 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. :(  I did acknowledge his leadership.  But for the most part, he left me to decide things unless he felt extremely strongly against what I was doing.  Having a super passive, unplugged husband and a very controlling disrespectful wife was a recipe for misery.


I am SO THANKFUL now for the times he did put his foot down back then.  I actually wish he had done it much more often earlier in our marriage.  When I look back, I see he was completely right and I was wrong about the things he did insist on.  And I see how God used his decision for our good and the good of many other people, as well.  How I WISH I had understood how to cooperate and follow him when we first got married.  How I wish I had the benefit of his leadership on many more issues.  We would have had a totally different marriage if I had obeyed God for all those years.  What blessings of God and what times of intimacy did I miss because of my pride, control and disrespect?  Too many to count. 🙁

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.

Ideally they would tell us gently, respectfully and lovingly. 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.  I don’t think it is loving to ignore any spouse’s sin – if he/she is a believer.  

If a husband is not a believer, he doesn’t have God’s Spirit and can’t live as if he do.  He is spiritually dead.  The biggest priority there is for him to accept Christ.  But if it is a husband who is the unbeliever, the wife has the most power and strongest witness for Christ by her cheerful, respectful, joyful attitude and faith in Jesus, NOT by her words and preaching about Him!

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

There are countless passages in Proverbs about that the foolish won’t listen to a rebuke, but the wise gladly accept a rebuke.  Let’s be wise and accept our husbands’ constructive criticism and realize that GOD HIMSELF MAY BE SPEAKING TO US THROUGH OUR HUSBANDS about our sin!  God can and does even use unbelieving husbands to reprimand believing wives about their sin so they can repent and be restored to fellowship with Him.

I have a youtube video for wives about accepting our husbands’ constructive criticism
<a href=”[youtube“>


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.  If you describe it more in terms of being hurt, wounded, in pain, unloved – she may hear that better.  

Or try Dr. Emerson Eggerichs’ sentence, “Honey, that felt disrespectful, did I come across unlovingly just now?”

That gives her the benefit of the doubt and tells her you care about her feelings, too, not just yours.

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.



  • Shaunti Feldhahn’s “For Women Only”
  • “His Brain Her Brain” by Dr. Walt Larimore MD
  • For very controlling wives, “The Surrendered Wife” by Laura Doyle is extremely helpful.  It’s not a Christian based book, so readers will have to be more careful to weigh everything against Scripture.  But it is very practical.
  • “Sacred Influence” by Gary Thomas is another fantastic resource for Christian wives
  • “The Excellent Wife” by Martha Peace is very deep theologically but also practical.  My only criticism is that when she describes how to confront husbands about sin, she comes across a bit disrespectfully, in my mind.  But the rest of the book is extremely well written.

And I hope to have an ebook up soon myself!  I’ll give you the details when it is available! 🙂

32 thoughts on “We Can Put Our Husbands in a Lose/Lose Situation

  1. ech! my spirit is glad that you posted this & my flesh is rebelling! o how hard it is to hear constructive criticism, yet i want him to be honest with me. my husband has said this to me & i see this in myself. lose lose. truely only with the help of God Almighty do i have any hope of a changed heart & attitude!

    1. I KNOW!!!!!!!! This is HARD! And it HURTS HURTS HURTS. But it is better to amputate a foot with gangrene than to let it infect the whole body. This is sometimes extremely necessary stuff. Our husbands see what we don’t. We NEED their leadership and constructive criticism. We don’t like it. But it does get easier to listen and accept. And eventually, when you see God bless you through your willingness to listen and accept constructive criticism, you will realize what a blessing it is. Weigh what your husband says against God’s Word. Ask God to show you what is true and what He wants you to change. Don’t accept criticism that is untrue. But if it is true, accept this as God speaking to you through your man and be humble and willing to change. This leads to freedom, joy, peace and LIFE!

  2. “If I had it to do over again (though of course I know more now about what she was doing and what I was doing or not doing), I would have adopted a consistent response — something gentle but firm, along the lines of, “Honey, I love you and I am absolutely committed to this marriage for life. But God has made me the head of this family, and right now you’re treating me disrespectfully, which is bad for both of us (and the kids). I know you don’t agree with x decision, but I’ve listened to you and thought and prayed about it, and this is what we’re going to do. God will take care of us. Relax.” And then, if I were really brilliant, I’d add, “What do you want to do together tonight?”

    I don’t know if this would or would not work well, but it is certainly fun to read!

    How would the ladies here react to this scenario?

    1. It’s funny – now my husband is hesitant to tell me if he sees a problem with something I am doing because he knows I will immediately seriously consider his words and completely change what I am doing. That makes him think very hard before saying anything. he knows i will take his advice and follow his leadership. He said tonight – “sometimes, I just want to encourage you to tone things down a little (ie: with disciplining the kids) – but you sometimes try to change way too much the other way.”

      I definitely still have lots to learn. Maybe we wives need more detail – like on a scale of 1-100 how serious is this issue? How much change would you like to see me make here?

      There are some wives who will be offended no matter how their husbands approach this. But I pray for Christian marriages that God might give us wisdom and unity as we work through these difficult conflicts!

      Such an important topic!

      Sent from my iPhone

    2. Jeanettemoore,
      Thanks so much for your comment! 🙂

      I definitely agree that Bible thumping or “lording” authority over someone does not honor Christ and is not going to be very effective in a marriage.
      Men are called to lead with a servant’s heart, a self-sacrificing love like Christ showed for the church Ephesians 5:22-33. And I totally agree that the two are to become more and more united.

      Submission and respect are a gift a wife gives out of her love for God. They cannot be coerced or forced. And servant-leadership and godly love are a gift a husband gives out of his love for God – they cannot be forced or co-erced either.

      I’m so thankful for my husband’s leadership. He never tries to force me into anything. I willingly cooperate if we don’t agree because I trust my sovereign Lord to lead me through my husband. I have been richly blessed since I have approached my husband in this manner.

      May God greatly bless your walk with Christ and your marriage!

    3. PS

      I seek to tell my husband what I want, how I feel, what I think now – but I do it politely and respectfully now instead of with a critical, condescending, prideful, holier-than-thou, bossy, belittling attitude.

      And my husband LOVES to see me happy. He would do almost anything to see me smile. I actually get what I want MUCH more often now than I ever did when I was trying to control things.

      And – he doesn’t ever put his foot down anymore – because I cooperate and don’t argue with him and pridefully insist on my own way about everything like I used to.

      My husband NEVER raises his voice. But now, he is very involved with our children, he is much more engaged as a father and husband. He has become the man I always knew he could be. And I am not that awful, nagging, negative, resentful, anxious, lonely woman I used to be. I have the peace and joy of God every day. It is AMAZING!

      That is what I pray women will find here.

      Thanks for your concerns and I appreciate the opportunity to talk with you!

  3. A woman does not need to be told by her husband what her faults are. That is the work of the Holy Spirit. My husband TOTALLY agrees with this. We are glad we are married to each other and not to the advice givers of the world!!

    1. Happily Married for Five Decades,

      Thanks for the comment! I certainly welcome discussion and the opinions of others. 🙂 I’m very glad to hear that your husband agrees with you. And I’m glad you are married to each other, too.

      My husband didn’t tell me my faults for the first 15+ years of our marriage. My parents didn’t tell me 98% my faults the whole time I was growing up. I, unfortunately, was not able to perceive my faults myself – and wasn’t listening well to God’s Spirit, thought I thought I was – and continued 100mph with my pride, disrespect and control. I personally am a really awful mind reader. So I deeply appreciate my husband’s willingness now to point out things if I am out of line or if I sin against him.

      I also greatly appreciate Jesus’ commands on this issue:
      “If your brother sins against you, go and show him his fault, just between the two of you. If he listens to you, you have won your brother over. If he will not listen, take one or two others along…” Matthew 18:15-17

      I’m also thankful for God’s Spirit and I totally agree that I cannot be my husband’s Holy Spirit. And he cannot be my Holy Spirit.

      My prayer is that I might point wives to God’s Word and to obedience to Him.

      Thanks for your comment!

      1. Thank God for people that can be honest with you!
        “If your brother sins against you, go and show him his fault, just between the two of you. If he listens to you, you have won your brother over. If he will not listen, take one or two others along…” Matthew 18:15-17

        1. Pastor Abby Martinez,

          Yes- it is a blessing when people are willing to gently, lovingly, firmly confront us and not allow us to continue to destroy ourselves and those around us with our sin. 🙂 Thank you!

  4. I think my past sins are my biggest obstacle to speaking to my wife when I feel she is being disrespectful. I find myself often thinking “well, you did this exact same thing before everything fell apart. What right do you have to say anything?” And I am fairly sure she feels the same way. Whe should she listen to me calling her out on ‘disrespect’ when I was so disrespectful before? She doesnt show me much affection, why should I bring it up if I am guilty of the same thing? She is distant and doesnt want to connect with me spiritually, why should I confront her on it if I was the same way for so long? I know I am a new creation in Christ, but listening to her run up and down my past problems doesnt sound appealing, or help me in the least bit. I know I screwed up, I don’t need to be reminded. In fact, if I have truly recieved her forgiveness then I dont think she should be using my past to beat me down. Praying that we can find a good counselor who will help us acquire the tools necessary to work through this kind of stuff.

    1. AnonymousMe,
      You bring up some really important points! If I have sinned against my husband, or anyone, I need to repent of my own sin to God and that person before I attempt to rebuke that person. I think it is interesting that Jesus said, “You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.” Matthew 7:5. He didn’t say not to remove the speck from my brother’s eye. He said to take care of the log in my own eye first.

      If a couple is in The Crazy Cycle as Emerson Eggerichs describes it in Love and Rspect, that is probably not a good time to rebuke the other person. When both are sinning and hurting each other, the more mature one begins meeting the other person’s needs regardless of whether his/her own needs are being met and repents of his/her own sin. The mature one forgives and shows love, grace, mercy and gives selflessly to meet the spouse’s needs – knowing he/she will be rewarded in heaven.

      I am praying for you and your wife!


      But Jesus does say, “if your brother sins, rebuke him, and if he repents, forgive him.” Luke 17:3

      He who loves a quarrel loves sin. Proverbs 17:19

      So we are not to constantly be looking for things to criticize and rebuke. But if there is clear sin against us, it is appropriate for us to rebuke the offender humbly, gently, firmly, speaking the truth in love, taking care of our own sin first.

      There are many verses in Proverbs about the wisdom of accepting a rebuke and how life giving it is to accept correction, instruction and rebuking.

      “He who listens to a life-giving rebuke will be at home among the wise. He who ignores discipline despises himself, but whoever heeds correction gains understanding.” Proverbs 15:31-32

    2. PS You are right, we should not be bringing up past issues that have been forgiven. That is resentment and bitterness and a root of bitterness will grow up to defile many!

      Sent from my iPad

  5. the entire Bible is about warning others of their sin, why not the closes person in our lives , our wives.
    I agree with all the other comments posted, only problem with wives or at least mine, is she usually just believes she’s futher along in her walk with God that I, which gives her the right to veto and over ride my leadership, and her
    lack of disrespect.
    Then the “c” word comes out if I do try to put my foot down,
    you know the “c” word, “CONTROLING”. She then accuses me of being “controlling and maniplulative”, when all I want her to do is “follow my lead”.
    I’ve often trued to reason with her if you could just try to
    follow my lead and let’s see what God will do. I do not have a crystal ball, but live would sure be a lot more
    enjoyable and delightful if my wife would follow my lead.
    Also the trouble is men go by intellect, while wives go by feelings and emotions, it’s soo dificult when dealing with
    someone makes decisions based on emotions and feelings.

    Jack B

    1. In my case my wife is right, she has been further along in her walk with the Lord than I have been for years. However, having recently repented and turned back toward Him, I find myself facing a woman who finds it “unfair” that I get to “join the party late and reap the benefits”. At least that was her thinking a while ago. I think that this has something to do with her lack of desire to connect on a spiritual level, and I am sure it has something to do with her lack of desire to follow me. We recently had a bit of a disagreement over one of our children and something I had told them a couple of years ago. In the past year, having read dozens of biblical marriage and relationship blogs, I have changed my stance on what I had earlier said. When I made it known that my stance had changed she made it clear that, in her mind, I had no right to go back on what I had previously said. Even after explaining why my stance had changed and that my new opinion would actually keep our kids safe, she refused to allow me let establish it as the new guideline in our home. Unfortunately this is the challenge I face, but I hope to face it through prayer and some honest discussion. I think that because she considers me to be a “spiritual baby” that she wont take me seriously.

      1. Hmm. Well, even God relented from what He was going to do to Israel when Moses interceded! It seems to me that you have the right to change your mind. But I love your humility about it and the gentle, loving way you want to approach her. Praying for God’s wisdom for you as you lead. That is such a huge responsibility!

        Sent from my iPad

  6. The only thing I might add to this is to hold her hand or hug her as you are talking so she knows tangibly that you love her. It is HARD for me to be upset or angry at my husband if he is hugging me!

    Sent from my iPad

  7. it’s very sad too many of us ladies are like this. iv been with my hubby since 2004 & only just days ago did i see that i was like that. i truely did not see it in myself & when the realisation came over me i was so ashamed i treated him so bad whenever he tried to point this out in me. im not nearly as good with advice as peacefulwife, but i would definitely reccommend praying for God to intervine & open her eyes. i can’t really describe what happened when it suddenly dawned on me that what josh was saying was true. we were in our cycle of him telling me something unpleasant about myself, then i start listing his faults, then he says something about how i blow up/cant handle any negative feedback… & then it clicked. crazy. maybe God will do that with your wife..? it’s certainly worth a try, i’d say. josh & i might actually get off that crazy train after all these years. amazing.

    1. I have to agree with Sarah. I’m saddened and overwhelmed by the recurrent themes the men here describe but I know that was me for 14 years too and I was SO BLIND to it.
      Tit for tat mode is what we’ve started referring to this as -the comparison game of “how can you talk to me about this when you-(fill in the blank)?” I’m far worse at this. He’s started saying that we can talk about that at another time but right now we are talking about his feelings, etc. it’s a work in progress but it all goes back to the fears discussed a few posts ago.
      I think the bottom line is that we are each accountable to God for what He calls us to do and be in the marriage and we walk that out and trust Him for our spouse. Then, next, I think those of us who have “seen the light”, both women and men, have a responsibility to share the knowledge and wisdom we’ve gained. God promises to use our junk for good but part of that is us being vulnerable and sharing so he can use it.
      Prayers for the struggling marriages out there and represented here.

    2. Sarah,

      There is definitely some aspect of this that God has to open our eyes for us to see. But I do think that our husbands have a responsibility to tell us, gently, what they see. Because, exactly like you described – we wives can be SO BLIND to what we are doing! I sure was.

      THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR SHARING YOUR STORY! You may give a lot of husbands hope and help other wives see more clearly what they are doing themselves.

  8. Wow, love RG’s response! My husband is a Godly man, but those words may have redirected the last 30+ years of our marriage. Thanks to your blog, prayer, advice from other women and “The Submissive Wife,” I am relinquishing control and it feels foreign, yet freeing!

    1. Luvtorite,
      I love it, too! I think that those words would have dramatically improved our situation early in our marriage, too. What a beautiful balance of reassurance, speaking the truth in love and affirmation.

  9. Hello, thanks for the post. Talking about feelings and being afraid to discuss reminded me of a book I read by Warren Farrell entitled Why men are the way they are. He made the point that when people are asking for your feelings, typically they’re not being entirely honest. Roughly paraphrased, it is as follows.
    When people are asking for your feelings, remember that likely they want to hear feelings that they’ll like to hear, that will reinforce something for them, not necessarily you’re true feelings. They want you to have feelings that they like. Detecting feelings that we suppress is the geiger counter to our vulnerability.

    Sadly, this is too true. Painful truth or comfortable and temporary ignorance? Hopefully, we’ll all have the courage to graciously, humbly tell the truth.

    1. Eric V,

      I love this! You described it eloquently. To have real vulnerability and intimacy – we do have to be able to share true feelings, even the painful ones. Hopefully we can do it gently and humbly and with an eye towards unity. I appreciate your insights and comments very much!


  10. My husband seems to be passive by nature. He has always had this side to his personality from what he and his family tell me. It has always been difficult for me to get him to tell me his needs and wants. And he seems to want me to be the driving force in our marriage. I don’t want to as I feel it isn’t healthy for us, but he wants me to be in charge. I resent it honestly. How can I encourage him to be the leader in our home, if he doesn’t want to be?

  11. Confirmation, again, God led me right to this post, my husband always corrects me, I heard from Paul Washer a missionary, that a true friend will tell you the truth about yourself.

Comments are closed.

%d bloggers like this: