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Respecting Our Husbands as Fathers

My husband and children at Legoland in historic Cypress Gardens
My husband and children at Legoland in historic Cypress Gardens

Here is one husband’s response to this post earlier in the week:

Thank you for this post. Your advice is spot on!

The thing that I want from my wife is input and cooperation, not demands, domination, manipulation or deception.

The former draw me to her, the latter drive me away from her.

I want to reiterate what you say about wives not undermining or overruling their husbands with the children.

The scripture is pretty clear that children are to obey their parents. When my wife overrules or undermines a decision I have made or a command that I have given, she teaches our kids that I am not a competent father and that I should be ignored. Rather than bringing peace and unity to our home, it creates conflict and strife. When I react to her lack of respect, then she goes into attack mode condemning me for my reaction to her sin.

The long term effect this has had is that my children stop listening to me. They just tune me out. I become more and more disengaged and leave the parenting duties to her. Then, when a child is not listening to her, she demands that I support her with the child so that she can regain control with her. My response to my wife is, ‘Why should I do for you, what you never do for me?’ This just invites attack and condemnation.

FROM PEACEFULWIFE:

I don’t think most wives realize the long term consequences of undermining our husbands’ spiritual authority in the family. I know I didn’t until God opened my eyes to all of my disrespect, pride, idolatry of self and being in control, self-righteousness, etc… about 5 years ago.

My husband had become very unplugged with me and our children. I was constantly asking him to do more with us.

I had NO CLUE why he had unplugged. I thought he was just unloving.

Now I know, of course, that I had disrespected him and taken over control. Now I know I wouldn’t listen to him and wouldn’t support his parenting and thought I always “knew best” since I had read more books about parenting. :( It’s heartbreaking to me now to realize how destructive my attitudes, words and actions were at times back then.

When I began to learn about respect and biblical submission. I seriously felt like I was trying to learn Chinese or some VERY foreign language – without a teacher. That is how little it all made sense to me at first.  It took me over 2 years of constant study, prayer and journaling to BEGIN to feel like I remotely had a clue what I was doing.

Soon into my journey into being a godly wife, I began to talk to our children (our son was 7 and our daughter was 2) and say things all throughout the day like:

– God made husbands/dads to be the leaders in the family.

– I was wrong to try to be in charge of things before.  I am so sorry.  I hurt you and I hurt Daddy by the way I treated Daddy.  I don’t want to do that anymore.

– Daddy is in charge now the way God’s Word says he is supposed to be. We will all treat him with respect.

– Please use a respectful tone of voice to Daddy and to me.  That wasn’t a respectful tone of voice.  Please try saying that again respectfully.

– That was a disrespectful attitude.  Please apologize for talking to Daddy/me like that.

– Obey Daddy and Mama because God commands you to obey your parents so that you can please God and you can have a long life.

– If one of us says no to something, don’t ask the other parent. It will be “no” from both of us.

– Your Daddy asked you not to jump on the couch. I know he’s not here right now – but we are going to honor him and obey him whether he is here or not.

– (If a child is slow to obey my husband) You heard what Daddy said. Please obey Daddy now.

– That decision is up to Daddy (for bigger decisions). We will honor whatever he decides. You  may ask for what you want respectfully, just one time, and then please accept whatever he decides is best.

CHILDREN LEARN SUBMISSION TO GOD-GIVEN AUTHORITY FROM THE WAY THEIR MOTHERS TREAT THEIR FATHERS

I was shocked. Our children IMMEDIATELY began to be so much more respectful to both of us. It scared me. I finally saw that they imitate my submission to Greg – my words, my tone of voice, my attitude – all of it. That is how they will treat any God-given authority. I am teaching them to either respect and submit to God-given authority or to disrespect and rebel against God-given authority now and in the future by my level of respect and submission to my husband. YIKES!

Eventually, Greg started backing me up, too. Our children obeyed SO MUCH MORE READILY! The respect level went up even more. My husband began to correct our children if they were disrespectful to me. It has been THE BEST THING EVER!!! We are truly a team now. We are united. It has DRASTICALLY impacted our children’s attitudes and behavior. AND – my husband slowly began to plug back into the family. Now – he is such a godly leader and loving dad and husband. He had all of that in him all those first 14+ years of our marriage – I just didn’t understand that I was sabotaging him and our marriage.

“BUT I’M RIGHT!”

What I believe we as wives are doing in situations like this – is I believe we are focusing on the little issue. We believe passionately that we are “right” about whatever this particular little decision is. And we inadvertently make the decision more important than the big picture. We focus so much on the outcome and wanting to do what we believe is best – that we don’t notice how we are sabotaging our marriages, sabotaging our children’s understanding of spiritual authority, wounding our husbands with disrespect.  (Submission is not about the husband always  being “right”)

Many wives today have never seen a wife respect her husband and honor his leadership – even in the church.

Disrespect for husbands, men and fathers is mainstream today.  Respect and biblical submission do not come intuitively to women, especially because we have been so poisoned by the worldly culture around us.  We are also all daughters of Eve.  We want control.  We think we know better than our husbands, and, ultimately – we think we know better than God.

WHAT IF I DISAGREE WITH MY HUSBAND?

Whenever possible, speak to him respectfully in private.  It is wise generally not to contradict him in front of the children unless a child is in extreme danger.  As much as possible, bring up your concerns VERY respectfully away from the children.

Then, unless he is sinning against them or actually  seriously endangering them – please try to support his decision.

Please keep in mind that fathers are often more strict and sometimes a bit more harsh than moms.  That does not usually mean you need to interfere.  One thing that helps me is to remember this story from someone in my extended family:

A dad told his elementary school sons to keep treading water in the pool.  He had them treading water for a long time.  Their mom asked him to let them rest after a few minutes.  The two boys were getting really tired.  The dad refused and kept making them tread water.  The mom did not agree, but she did not interfere after that.  

The next week, the family was at a river and an undercurrent took these same two boys down the river.  They had to tread water for 15 minutes before someone could rescue them.

I love this story – because it reminds me that God may inspire my husband to do things that I may not understand at the time.  It is important for me to humbly pray for God to give my husband wisdom to lead us all.

THE MILITARY MODEL (by a Christian man)

The Captain/First Officer model speaks well to this. A good First Officer will always voice her opinions, suggestions and advice to the Captain, so long as it is appropriate and there is time. If he acts on them, great. Otherwise, she obeys and carries out his commands. But unless there is a reason not to voice her opinion, a First Officer should generally offer it in a respectful manner. The key is to be respectful.

I should probably point out that most serious discussions should be held away from children if possible, to maintain harmony. That is how the model works best in the military, and should work in marriage. Likewise, the Captain (husband) shouldn’t dress down his First Officer (wife) in front of their children, and she should never disrespect him or his authority in front of the children either.

Oh, and the same rules that apply to children apply to others outside the family/ship, like extended family or friends.

CHILDREN LEARN WHAT GOD IS LIKE PRIMARILY FROM THEIR FATHER

We as wives dramatically shape our children’s perception, understanding and love and respect for their fathers. AND – how children perceive their fathers POWERFULLY impacts their ability to love, respect and trust God. A child’s view of God is formed in the likeness of his dad.

We as women have INCREDIBLE power to either bless our husbands and children or to destroy our husbands, our marriages and our children’s future relationships in marriage, with their teachers, with government and police authorities, with church leaders, with their bosses, and with God.

WOW!!!!!!!!!

With this great power comes immense responsibility. I pray we will use our influence wisely!

PS:

If there are extreme circumstances – if your husband is actually abusing your children – please seek godly counsel.  If your husband is addicted to drugs/alcohol, has an uncontrolled mental health disorder or is physically violent and causes injury to you or your children, please seek godly help ASAP.  Extreme situations like this go beyond the scope of my blog.

RESOURCE:

Sacred Influence by Gary Thomas has a beautiful example of a wife handling a situation where her husband was too harsh in a very respectful and powerful way.

26 thoughts on “Respecting Our Husbands as Fathers

  1. 7 Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as sons. For what son is not disciplined by his father? 8 If you are not disciplined (and everyone undergoes discipline), then you are illegitimate children and not true sons. 9 Moreover, we have all had human fathers who disciplined us and we respected them for it. How much more should we submit to the Father of our spirits and live! 10 Our fathers disciplined us for a little while as they thought best; but God disciplines us for our good, that we may share in his holiness. 11 No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it. Heb. 12:7-11

    Part of my role as a father is to discipline my children. When I look at them, I see future adults. When they are sinning (either by omission, not doing what they were told or commission, picking on a sibling or treating their mother poorly) I need to get involved to correct the behavior and shape their character. At this point, my wife almost always goes into mama bear mode and interferes. She views my discipline as an attack on her babies. Then, I have 2 conflicts to deal with rather than just one.

    The net effect is exactly as you laid out above. She sabotages my role as a father and my desire for her as my wife. I disengage because it is not worth the battle. For example, one of my children was repeatedly disobedient to me on a certain sin. I called her on it countless times over several YEARS. Every time, my wife sided with the child and made me look unreasonable. It sabotaged my relationship with this child and with her. I finally gave up. However, both relationships have been deeply damaged.

  2. This was a wonderful post. Thank you for depicting how your submission to your husband so wonderfully impacted your kids. A wife’s obedience to submit to her husband under God has a much farther reaching effect than I realized… I never saw it in action as a young person, like so many other women today. Thank you also for the vocabulary to practice with in how to train my future children to respect Daddy and me. During my first couple years of marriage, I found that I just didn’t have the proper vocabulary to express my emotions, to deal with conflict, to disagree respectfully.. and I shut down in many ways. I’m glad to get trained now so that when the kiddos do eventually come, I will be ready.

    1. GrowingupSpiritually,

      This is exactly why I believe God desires me to do this blog. SO MANY Christian women have had NO example of GOd’s principles lived out before them. It is very hard to be a godly wife when you have never seen a wife living in obedience to God’s Word.

      I’m glad the examples were helpful. Those are the kinds of things I desperately needed and wanted when I started on this journey but that were very hard for me to find.

      I am excited about what God is doing in your heart!

      1. Yes! After making horrible mistakes in my marriage for years, I have finally found your blog. It is an answer to my prayers as you’re able to help me see everything my husband tries to explain to me, only he’s so angry when he tells me that I just get defensive and the cycle just keeps going. I feel that reading this blog (which seems to always talk about exactly what I’m needing to hear) could be the turning point that I so desperately need. Thank you for helping to break through to me. I so needed your help.

        1. Outofcontrolmom,

          Well that is one huge answer to my prayers! Thank you for sharing! It is wonderful to meet you and I am ecstatic about what God is doing in your life!!!!! I can’t wait to see what He has in store. If you have any questions or want to talk more, you are always welcome here. 🙂

  3. I love the way you re-established respect for your husband with your kids. Those many acts of humility spoke volumes to your kids and to Greg. It is also a picture of what true repentance and restoration look like.

    I also love what you said about how our children learn submission to the Lord from how their moms submit to and respect their dads. I never thought of it that way but it is so true. I know they learn about God and his character from me. That is a huge weight to bear. However, when we are walking in unrepentant sin, our fellowship with the Lord is interrupted and He feels distant. Eventually The Lord initiates increasing levels of discipline to bring us to repentance and to restore the fellowship with Him. When my wife undermines me with the kids, she is unknowingly encouraging them to sin and sabotaging the fellowship I have with them. The kids also do not see their need to repent because mom said that dad was the one who is wrong. WOW! ! ! Talk about a strategy from the pit!

    Is there a book that develops this?

    1. Joe,

      Yes, this was a total GOD thing. He opened my eyes. he gave me the desire to obey Him and honor Him. He gave me the power to be able to do it. I have nothing good in me on my own.

      Hmmm…

      I read every book I could find on biblical submission, godly femininity and respecting our husbands. I am not remembering specifically a book that goes into great detail on this topic.

      If you search my home page for “marriage books” – you can find a list of the 30 marriage books I read and my brief summary of each one.

      I am praying about writing a book. Maybe this is something I need to develop more.

      Please pray for God’s will about this!

      Thanks!

  4. This post makes me want to cry. To think my children’s views of me are shaped by someone else, who I have no ability to control or change. This truth has created destruction in my home that seems beyond repair. And a Mother has more emotional power over the children than the father, because the children don’t want to hurt moms feelings, but as there told dad doesn’t have any. As you can see I am expressing my hurt about this subject.

    1. David M,

      Thank you for sharing your heart. I am SO TERRIBLY SORRY for your pain! 🙁

      I used to believe my husband had no feelings. He never vocalized them. So, eventually, I concluded he didn’t have emotions. I thought at some points earlier in our marriage that he didn’t love me. I thought he didn’t care about my feelings. What I didn’t understand was that I had wounded him so deeply with my inadvertent disrespect and control that he shut down emotionally and spiritually. 🙁 He DID have feelings. He just never shared them.

      I was MORTIFIED when I discovered that he DID have feelings and that I had so deeply hurt him.

      Controlling/disrespectful wives can be extremely blind to our own sin many times, and we can be blind to our husbands’ feelings.

      Your children are old enough now – that – I believe you may be able to gently correct some of the false information they have received. It’s ok to say, “Sweetheart, I want you to know that I do have feelings. All men have feelings – we just don’t verbalize them much. We can be in a lot of pain sometimes and not say anything about it. I love you very much. I want to work to try to repair the damage to our relationship. I want to do better at verbalizing my feelings to you. And I want to try to make up for some of then time that we lost earlier in our family.”

      This topic is extremely important. Most wives today, even ones who claim Christ, have NO IDEA the importance of our respect and biblical submission to our husbands for the sake of our children and others around us.

      I am praying for God to continue to give you new wisdom, strength, courage and agape love to pour into your family as you begin to lead them with His power flowing through you and humbly, lovingly, gently but firmly, steer them back on course onto the narrow path that leads to Life.

      In Him,
      April

  5. I am a despondent husband. What you described in your blog precisely describes the disfunction in my household. My wife is a Godly woman, but nothing I do or say seems to get through. Last night I attempted to discipline our three year old after dinner for his uncontrollable outburst as we left a restaurant. She immediately interfered as she usually does. It turned into the same argument as always but escalated into her calling me several unacceptable names in front of the kids. This prompted me to leave the house. I am undermined constantly and I fear for my young children as I clearly see the signs that they are learning disrespect, manipulation, and arguing as acceptable methods to resolve their own “issues”. It has gotten to the point where I feel like I have only two choices: whether to stay in the marriage or simply “give up” and let her handle the discipline as she sees fit. Neither option agrees with me, but the collective best interest of my kids is paramount. What does a husband do?

    1. Despondent,

      This breaks my heart. 🙁 I can relate to your wife, because I used to do the same thing – but I had NO CLUE how much I hurt my husband. I was mortified when God showed me what I had been doing. I just couldn’t see it for the first 14.5 years of our marriage. I had no concept of all that was involved in respecting my husband and how much I was trusting self rather than God and not submitting to Christ as Lord and not honoring or respecting God or my husband. I felt I had to be in charge and make everything work out right or it would all be ruined and it was all on my shoulders. I had no idea where my responsibilities ended and my husband’s and God’s began. This post may help husbands understand better what is sometimes going on in a wife’s mind. It is an extremely deep soul issue, in my view (in most cases), there is often a lot of fear going on, usually, and misunderstandings about God, self, masculinity, femininity, marriage, and all kinds of fixed beliefs that need to be changed by the power of God.

      Have you shared what you feel your two choices are?

      What would you say your personality is, in general, and what would you say hers is?

      Praying for God’s wisdom and healing for you both, my dear brother!

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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