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!
FROM A CHRISTIAN HUSBAND:
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?
THIS ISSUE GRIEVES MY HEART!
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 NEEDED HIS LEADERSHIP EVEN WHEN AND ESPECIALLY WHEN I STRONGLY DISAGREED!
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 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OEAis1auJRo?rel=0&w=420&h=315%5D“>
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.
HERE IS MY HUSBAND’S TAKE ON THIS ISSUE – USING SOME OF THE COMMENTS HUSBANDS MADE TO THIS POST AND HIS THOUGHTS – GREAT POST for the guys!
- 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! 🙂