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Winding Country Road through autumnal Landscape

A Wife's Learning Curve

 Winding Country Road through autumnal Landscape

Here is a comment from a deeply wounded husband that I posted on FB this week.  And then there is a wife’s email to me after that about what the husband said.


Enlightened by your messages. I really question myself when dealing with my wife, which nearly always resulted in very harsh very mean words from me to her for years. I have cried my woes to several in utter frustration, that the meanness is reactive, that this was not the wife or life I desired. What was I doing wrong?? I really questioned myself, was I really this monster with such a mean streak. I was convincing myself that I was mean, which is in total conflict of where my heart is for my wife (my relationship with the lord has codified that). I have lived in total conflict internally and externally. 
Then I saw your posts and lists, and I saw my life with my wife in print. WOW. I feel disgusted by my words, no justification, but having read your lists and posts I could clearly see what extracted such a relationship. My story sadly is ending in divorce, BUT to the wives who read your posts give them credence. We husbands are a delicate breed, though very rough and rugged on the outside, not so on the inside. As a husband I can only wish my wife had seen this list, and gave it credence, I truly would have laid my life for her, as any husband would do. The power and destruction of the list is very real, and any God-loving husband given the respect outlined in this post, will return it in kind to an unimaginable degree. Ephesians 5:21
(the post the husband was talking about was a list of things husbands find to be disrespectful here)


Hi April,

As I read the post from the husband who (commented on the) list of disrespectful attitudes and behaviors, I’m struck yet again at how foolish I have been in the past.  I find that I’m doing better with recognizing things as I’m doing them, but sometimes it’s not until after I’ve done it “wrong.”  (FROM PEACEFULWIFE – this is REALLY normal in the first few months of trying to learn respect/biblical submission!  It is a long process, not an instant light switch flip. It is more of learning a brand new language, or learning to walk after being paralyzed and bedridden for many years.)
For instance, yesterday I allowed my fear of something to interfere with agreeing with what my husband thought was best.  I wasn’t argumentative, but I voiced my concern in a way that didn’t allow for his way to be right.  After church, I briefly apologized for allowing my paranoia and fear to challenge his suggestion and that I knew that whatever he chose to do would be good because I know he desires to keep us safe.  I have found that I am apologizing for particular things individually as they come to my mind instead of rehashing a widespread apology again (after the initial time he shared his heart with me).
What blows my mind is that the lists the you have composed as well as others’ contributions are verbatim what I have done (and 99% of other wives, I would imagine at some point). It’s frightening and comforting at the same time. I am not unique in my struggle, but it’s so sad that it’s so common.  It’s scary to think what could happen to my marriage if the Lord had not opened my eyes…or if I didn’t seek Him now that I see my sin.  I just pray that there will be continued growth and change for the better and that we never see the cliff of a crumbling relationship as some sadly have.

I can’t wait for my good reactions and responses to outweigh my disrespectful knee-jerk responses.  I just pray that as I am learning, that my husband will continue to give me grace through my apologetic missteps along the way.  I’m thinking about telling him what I’ve been learning, but can’t decide if it’s right, yet.  I’m mainly thinking that I want him to know that I’m trying to change, so he can have “knowing” patience.  It might not be time…I’ll be praying about it, though.  At some point, I would like for this topic to be open with him, so I can approach him about items on these lists to find out even more about how he is wired.
I like what this wife is doing!
  • After the initial apology for her disrespect and controlling behavior – she then just apologizes BRIEFLY (that’s good!) for specific things.  GREAT JOB!
  • She sometimes doesn’t see her disrespect or lack of trust until after she does something disrespectful.  That is NORMAL!   When you’ve been disrespectful and controlling for decades, it takes some time to learn what is respectful and what isn’t and it take time to learn to stop yourself BEFORE you do and say things.  You will need to have plenty of grace for yourself.  You are human.  And you are a sinner.  And this stuff is all brand new information.  I pray your husband will be able to give you grace as you learn, too.
  • Only God can open our eyes to our sin.  And once our eyes are opened to our disrespect and controlling behavior – YIKES!  Then we wonder, “How on earth did I not see that all those years!?!?”  But most of us didn’t see it.  Most of us didn’t do this stuff intentionally.  We were reacting in our pain to feeling unloved – and unknowingly deeply wounded our husbands.
  • Over time, learning to trust God, seeking Him above everything else, dying to self, being aware of sin, repenting, being humble, understanding what disrespect and respect are, understanding our particular husband’s needs, and committing to submit first to God and then to our husbands – eventually becomes “normal.”   At first, it takes severe emotional and spiritual contortion.  But, in time, with prayer, with God’s Spirit’s power and with practice – our faith and trust “muscles” grow stronger.  And eventually, God changes our hearts and minds.  Eventually, we don’t even think the disrespectful and controlling stuff anymore.  And that is a VERY PEACEFUL and JOYFUL place to be!
  • Some wives don’t talk with their husbands about what they are doing.  Laura Doyle, “The Surrendered Wife” (not necessarily a Christian perspective), talks about giving up unnecessary control and learning to respect our husbands and the good things that result from that.  But she suggest wives NOT tell their husbands what they are doing for 6 months.  Why?  Because when you are first learning, you still don’t have a good grasp on what is disrespectful, and some wives will actually say things like, “I’m not going to tell you how stupid your ideas are anymore.  This book says I need to be quiet about that.”  YIKES!  She says that after the 6 months, most wives have changed a lot and most husbands are very happy and don’t really ask about what exactly their wives are doing differently, they are just glad things are so wonderful!
  • Some Christian wives DO talk to their husbands about learning to biblically submit and respect their men.  IF your husband is a believer in Christ, and he is fairly strong in his walk with God, he may be able to help coach you through some of these things.  And it may help him to know what you are doing.  So some Christian wives will apologize at first by saying:

I have sinned against God and against you by disrespecting your God-given leadership and by trying to control and be in charge in the marriage.  I realize now that I was so wrong.  I want to learn to respect you and to cooperate with your leadership.  I pray that you might be able to forgive me.  I know it is going to take me some time to learn how to do things right.  You are always welcome to tell me when I am disrespectful or controlling.”  (and whatever you do – keep it BRIEF and DO NOT EXPLAIN OR JUSTIFY YOUR DISRESPECT AND CONTROL FROM THE PAST!!!!  Just these few sentences is probably adequate)

Each wife will need to decide what the best approach might be for her marriage.  But I will say this – husbands value ACTIONS and BEHAVIOR much more than words.  They will be watching your behavior in the coming weeks and months to see if you are for real.  And it may take many weeks or months before they feel safe enough to open their hearts up to you again.  That will have to be ok.  This is primarily about us obeying God.  The results and timing of what happens in the marriage and in our husbands are up to Him.

10 thoughts on “A Wife's Learning Curve

  1. I love this and ALL you & your husband posts. Sadly with my wife like many others,she doesn’t have biblical parents. But when she had told me she want to be a proverbs 31,Titus 2, biblically submissive wife I thought great!. I supported her by buying her Debbie pearls book”how to be a helpmeet” after a few chapters and saying she really liked the book.her mom read a couple pages and my wife quickly gave up reading it.

    We we’re married last July and she felt The Lord call me to be the head of the house. We at this time live with her parents(I moved in with her and parents November of last year from ky to va)She lives god’s law of “honor thy mother and father” so much so that she can’t and won’t live her own life for our 10yr old son(not my bio son) and me. WHATEVER her mom needs/tells her to do she does it.period. Even when it hurts our son and me.

    I understand living with her parents and doing it there way. But I just shutdown and back away because her and her family has said on MANY occasions since the moment i got there we don’t need you in our lives. I have told her and my in laws MANY times that really hurts me. But now she want to be a biblical submissive again. But her way(talking to me like I’m a child,telling me what I need to,allowing our son to talk to all crazy,etc. all with the “blank You” tone.


  2. I can sympathize with this area of inlaws as my husband believed in respecting his parents to the degree that he put them in 1st place over our marriage and me as his wife. It hurt tremendously as he listened to what his mother said and let her control things and disrespect me. I felt worthless and like there was no point me even being around. I tried to submit but it was so difficult as submitting usually meant his mother and family walking all over me. I would then rebel against them all and it would end up in horrendous fighting. We separated last year and things changed. I am still fearful of submitting to him but i am learning to trust the Lord and let him work with my husband. Things have been a lot better and i felt him putting us (our daughter and i) 1st place and leaving his family. Not that i want him to leave them physically but as it was mentioned the leave and cleave verse that needed to be done so that we could have a healthy marriage. I really pray things will get better for you Michael as it sounds as though your wife does desire to be a godly respectful wife but as Peacefulwife has said, she needs to be under your authority now. Btw love your blog peacefulwife!

  3. I appreciate all of your wisdom and advice to christian wives. I wish the Lord would open my wife’s eye’s to how many different ways she disrespects me and how it sucks all of the life from my soul. She likes to tell me how lucky I am to have her because every other christian wife she knows brags about how they mistreat and control their husbands and it is worse that how she treats me. When I told her that they were not Godly wives if they treated their husbands that way, she looked shocked. To make matters worse, our Pastor often blasts men from the pulpit blaming us for all of the problems in our marriages.

    I wish that you and your friends would start a movement for Christian women similar to Promise Keepers. Men needed to hear the message of loving our wives. Sadly, it has been an unbalanced message. Men were told that if we just love our wives correctly that our wives would respond by submitting to us. Sorry, that doesn’t work if you are trying to love your wife and she is trying to control and manipulate you. Me loving my wife became an opening she could exploit and gain dominance over me. This led to some very bad decisions that cost our family financially and emotionally. I learned my lesson and now keep an emotional distance from her so she can’t dominate and manipulate me.

    1. Your words are very profound and insightful. I called her out on her rebellion recently and she did not take it very well. She prides herself on her obedience and submission to authorities. It never occurred to me that her rebellion is ultimately against God and she is trying to control Him.

      I do struggle with passivity. I have a difficult choice to make: either passivity and peace not to mention feeling emasculated; or taking the lead and having major conflict My wife is very oppositional to anything I initiate. I will check out your husbands blog.

      1. Thank you for your thoughtful reply. I have read several of your blog posts and they give great perspective from her point of view. I will definately seek the Lord on how to proceed. I can see all of the battle lines that will have to be dealt with.

    2. You are right, she is completely unaware of her behavior. However, she thinks that if it is unintentional that I can’t call her on it.

      I know the Lord has been dealing with this in her life for close to 20 years. He has to keep turning up the heat but she doesn’t connect the dots.

      Thank you for the encouragement to not give up. For the sake of our children, I am hanging in there. However, at times the tension and conflict are unbearable.

  4. My wife just returned from going seeing a broadway show with her mother. Her mom has been a corrosive substance to our marriage. Her Dad and step mom warned me about moving so close to her mom. The past week my wife has been out 3 to 4 times without me and sometimes comes home past 3am. Since my father is visiting, he sees first hand how horrible my wife is. She thinks nothing of it. She comes home today and goes on and on with My dads wife about how her mom takes, her, her sister and brother, yada yada, and no were mentions me going to the shows. I try to always put others above me and have had her mom go to shows, which I obtained the tickets. The disrespect continues when her mom doesn’t even come into the house to say hi or anything to me. Last night she could have offered and encouraged her daughter to do something but she dooes nothing. It makes me angry because my wife skips church today, leaves the house a mess, for me to clean up, and I don’t get to spend much time with my kids. She is rotteness to the bones for sure. Her mom is one of those jerky christians who you don’t want to be around. My wife once won tickets to a football game, and invited another guy to go with her. Did her mom, tell her this was uncoothe, nope. This is after she had an affair and completely gutted me. The main thing we argue about is her being a slob, which she says she is. My house is not a refuge, calming and tidy. It’s a huge mess, and she says I just need to accept she is a lazy slob. She says I should just accept it. I have put up with alot. My wife is not a friend, she is not comforting. She is frigid cold, and denies me affection.

    I just feel convicted by god that I’m supposed to take care of her.

    Through it all I continue to pray and be faithful she will see the light.

    1. Thank you April for sharing and caring,

      I am starting to sound like a chronic complainer! Well here is what happened this evening. My wife leaves with 2 older children for practice in a play. I disagree, that oldest went because she didn’t go to school. She also disobeyed my request to not be on Facebook after 8pm. I told me wife this morning and there is a extreme disconnect. I worked harded at my job, and came home at 5. My wife spent the day at her mothers house. That is fine, no harm, but her mom could be more helpful if she drove the 30 minutes to our house to help out and visit. That right there would drive my wife mad, she would go into a profanity laced tirade. I made dinner for the 2 youngest children and had them in bed, clean by 8pm. Now my wife has now done something extra, Saturday, Sunday, Monday, and now Tuesday. I just work, and return home, but I’m desperate for some time, quality time, with my wife. She comes home, I’m really hoping for nice hug, some sort of affection and love. I get none, now I confess I did spend 20 minutes after she got home on computer getting work done. I believe I have said I own my own business. I head to the bedroom, and she is watching tv. Doesn’t say anything, look up and smile, no, just tuned into the tv. I lay in bed and I’m feeling pretty down, lonely, depressed. She then starts into me about telling lie’s about seeing the counselor. I have finally opened up to christian mentor, who’s wife is a marrige counselor. We talked and I decided the counseling wasn’t working with another person, and I was going to really devote my time to bible study and spending time talking with God. My wife ripped me apart, beyond disrespect and I just calmly listened.

      I still love my wife, wish I could figure it out.

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