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Magnolia Plantation - April 2013

When Your Husband Won’t Answer

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Greg and April – April 2013 at Magnolia Plantation in Charleston, SC

Ladies,

Some of you know exactly what I am going to describe here.

  • You ask your husband an important question. You want to be sure you are doing what he wants. You need his input. You don’t want to take over and steamroll and usurp his position of God-given authority. But he says nothing. He seems to ignore you. Maybe for 15 minutes, or hours, or days or much longer.

This can be extremely frustrating – especially for a recovering type A, dominant, controlling wife who wants to make decisions RIGHT NOW. If you have a husband who tends to be passive – and he tends not to answer you – and you step down and begin to try to follow his leadership, it can take some time for the whole thing to work well.

It will require MUCH PATIENCE from you as you stop leading and begin to encourage your husband to lead.

Some of you have husbands that give answers right away or who will say, “I need time to think, let me get back with you tomorrow night” and then will get back with you.  That is awesome if your husband is able to articulate his feelings and thoughts right away. I wish all husbands were able to give some verbal acknowledgement right away. But some of them do not do this – and we need to decide how we can respond in a godly way if this is our situation.

This post is for those wives whose husbands have not done much leading, or not had the opportunity to lead much, who are hesitant to lead and tend to be shut down and a bit verbally unresponsive at this time. (If you have severe issues in the marriage, infidelity, active addictions, uncontrolled mental health disorders, actual abuse, please don’t read my blog but seek godly, experienced help ASAP!)

  • I don’t know what is best in every possible situation. I trust God to be able to impart the wisdom each wife needs specifically to her unique scenario. So please listen to God’s Spirit above all!

I’m going to share some things I learned and how things worked for me and some things I have seen work with some other wives. Maybe some of these ideas will help you. Maybe they won’t. That will be up to you to hear God’s voice about what He desires you to do.

My husband, Greg, tends to need a lot of time to process his thoughts about big decisions.

Sometimes, he even needs a lot of time to process ideas about smaller decisions, too. I’m actually very thankful for his slower approach now – because he carefully and meticulously researches and thinks through every possible outcome before making a decision instead of just rushing into a decision we might regret. Now, I am able to see that his careful, responsible, thoughtful way of making decisions is godly leadership.

When we were first married, I didn’t understand this. I assumed he made decisions just like I did – in a few seconds – and when he wouldn’t answer me for several minutes (or longer) I got REALLY angry and would try to force him to answer my question. I do wish he had been able to say to me, “I need some time to think about it” – that would have been super helpful! He never did that. So after 15-30 minutes of me waiting impatiently and trying to pressure him every 30 seconds – I would conclude that he was just being hateful and unloving and I would tell him I would just make the decision myself since “he obviously wouldn’t/couldn’t make a decision and wouldn’t lead” and I would storm off in a huff. Yikes. How I sabotaged myself back then! All that pressure and the things I said to him were SO DISRESPECTFUL. The more I pressured him, the more he shut down.

How I wish I had patiently given him more time! He IS able to lead. He just needs a lot more time than I used to give him. He is not me. And that is ok.

As I stepped down from leading in the family and marriage, I began leaving decisions for Greg to make – I didn’t snatch them from him anymore. I had been making almost all the decisions for over 14 years. Suddenly, I was “giving him” (from my perspective at the time) a lot of decisions to make.  He didn’t like it at first. He often said nothing, exactly like he had the first 14.5 years of our marriage. But, once I began to step down and leave room for him to lead – I would just share decisions with him that needed to be made and share what I wanted to do (sometimes I wouldn’t tell him my opinion at all that first year or so, just so the poor man would have a chance to think for himself without my opinion for once!). And I would leave it with him. If he didn’t make a decision, oh well! We didn’t get to do whatever it was. (You can read about his thoughts during this time here.)

Sometimes he wouldn’t make a decision. I learned to accept that. If he didn’t make a decision or didn’t say anything eventually, then the answer was, “no.” I began to trust that God could lead me through Greg and that God was sovereign enough to change Greg’s heart and mind and I was NOT going to run ahead of Greg or God anymore. I would just wait. A LOT.

It took time for him to feel confident and safe enough to begin making decisions. He was afraid that I would jump in or criticize him or pile contempt on him if I didn’t agree with him. But when he saw eventually that I was seriously trusting everything to him and supportive of his decisions, even when I didn’t agree (which took a LONG time), he began to take over little by little. I praised him whenever he did make a decision. I thanked him for his leadership multiple times before he even began to lead. I accepted that he might not do what I wanted and that some less important things might not get done and I trusted it all to God.

It was the scariest thing I ever did in my life – letting go of control like that! Not because Greg was incompetent, but because I had to learn to trust God instead of myself.

Sometimes there are decisions that have to be made – that have time limits. What is a wife to do in such a situation?

Here are a few of my suggestions for whatever they are worth:

  • If there is some significant decision that you must make about a job, adopting a child, spending a lot of money, who will care for the children or something major – I suggest laying the decision on your husband’s plate casually, with a pleasant tone of voice without pressure. Give him all the time you can to allow him to make the decision without pushing or rushing him. Preferably, share the decision with him some time when he is in a good mood and not busy with something that is important to him and when he is able to give you his attention.

– “So, Honey, I have something I want to check with you about. I would really love to see if there is some way I could be home more with the baby if possible. Or maybe we could think about a nanny or my mom taking care of the baby. I don’t like having him at daycare for the following reasons… Please let me know when a good time to talk about this might be and what you think. Thanks!”

Then, if he decides he want to keep the baby in daycare, consider saying something like, “I really don’t want to leave the baby there. I feel really nervous and upset about doing that because of X, Y and Z. But if you think that is what is best for him and for us, then I will trust you and support you with whatever you believe is the best choice.”

– “I really want to adopt a baby.” or “I would love to think about adopting a child.” Sometimes, all we really need to do is just say what we want and leave it with our husbands and let them marinate on it for a long time. God can use just that simple, calm, sincere, respectful statement of our desires to work in our husband’s heart. We don’t have to have a 30 minute speech prepared. Sometimes less is more! If I share my heart like this, my husband will think about it, and he will answer to God for his decision. When he is ready, if he believes this is of God, he will bring it up again. If he doesn’t bring it up – I can still be content in Christ.

– “I want to go to X church and here are the reasons why. But I trust you to make the best decision for our family and I will support whatever decision you believe is best for us.” But then, please allow him to choose the church and go with him unless he wants you to go to a cult.

– If your husband won’t go to church, but you want to go (and he is not angry about you going to church), you can say earlier in the week, “I’d love to go to church this Sunday. Let me know if that is NOT ok with you, please.” Then he will have to speak up if he doesn’t want you to go. If he says nothing, he is tacitly agreeing that he is fine with you going.

  • If he hasn’t said anything about an important decision and the deadline is a few days away, you can say something (in a pleasant, respectful tone of voice with a friendly expression on your face) like, “Jane needs an answer from me by Thursday about the job. My preference is that I would like to do X. But if I don’t hear from you by Thursday morning at 9:00am about what you would like for me to do, I will call to let her know I can’t take the job.”

This way, if he DOESN’T want you to do something, he will have to take positive action by a certain time. Otherwise, he is tacitly agreeing to whatever you tell him you are planning to do.

You probably only need to say this once (unless your husband has A.D.D. or has asked you for more reminders for things like this), and in a pleasant tone of voice and with a smile. Of course, you will need to be sure that he definitely heard you. We don’t want any miscommunication if possible.

This gives him the chance to speak up and veto something or stand up and make a decision, without you taking that weight on yourself and it allows you to have an answer within the time constraints you have.

If your husband DOES generally answer you in a timely fashion, you won’t need to use this method. That might feel disrespectful to him if he was planning to answer right away. If your man is good at giving answers in a reasonable time frame, you can probably just ask the question and leave it with him or wait until he responds. There is not a one size fits all here with respect on every issue.

  • If it is not an emergency kind of decision, you may just leave it with him and not bring it up again, trusting him to bring it up if he thinks it is a good idea, and trusting that if he doesn’t, it’s ok. For instance, “I’d love to send Johnny to camp this summer. Here are the brochures for the camps that look interesting to me. I’m good with whatever you think is best. If you need me to mail off the forms and a check, please let me know.” Then you can just leave it in his court. If he wants to send your son to camp, he will check out the options or maybe even some other options. If he doesn’t think that the family budget can handle camp this summer, maybe he won’t decide to send him.

You can trust God to lead you through your husband because of His amazing sovereignty. All the weight is off of you when you honor and submit to your husband’s leadership. The weight is fully on God and your husband. If you get to do what you wanted to do – great! If you don’t – maybe God is directing your husband another way for His purposes that you are not aware of. You can trust that God is able to use all things for your ultimate good and His glory because you love Him with all your heart and are fully submitted to Him, walking in obedience and seeking His will above your own. The only exception to this would be if your husband is asking you to condone or participate in blatant sin. Please check out “Spiritual Authority” for more on this issue.

Many times, as husbands grow in their leadership over the years, they will begin to give answers more quickly or tell their wives they will get back with them at a certain time. There is learning and growth that our husbands must struggle through, too. They won’t be perfect leaders the first day we step down, especially if we have been leading for years or decades. That has to be ok.

I would like to see us have plenty of grace, mercy, support, encouragement and genuine respect ready for them as we focus on their strengths and seek to build them up and bless them.

There is nothing more beautiful than the opportunity to watch God begin to mold your husband into a strong, godly man and leader. It is breathtaking to see the steps our men take and the way they stand taller and how they become less selfish and begin to desire to hear God more because they feel the weight of leadership and responsibility on their shoulders.

I can’t wait to see all that God has in store for each of you and your husbands and families!

SHARE:

I’d love to hear other wives’ stories about this issue!  And, husbands, we could use some masculine perspective here, too,  please.

RELATED:

When She Surrendered – by my husband, Greg

A Husband Answers a Wife – “Why Won’t My Husband Lead?”

A Husband Answers My Questions about Emotions

Another Husband Answers My Questions about Emotions

45 thoughts on “When Your Husband Won’t Answer

  1. April,

    I have this issue right before me! My husband makes decisions but he takes his time and NEVER communicates well. This is a huge issue for me.. From issues like yday when I was unwell he planned for a family time out to buying a apartment for my MIL…

    I’ve been fighting for the last four years, I used to ask, then write long mails and then shout in anger. And after he’s made the decision I would go back writing long mails as how and what he did was WRONG and give explanations.. If his decision leads to some inevitable problem I would question him, make him feel guilty and then embarrass him by taunting statements (even sometimes to outsiders!)

    I’ve tried to stop bringing up some issues, however the current issue is with my job… My mom takes care of my daughter and shes getting tired.. And with my daughters health condition I feel very guilty of not being able to take care of her. I’ve asked him with a nice tone but he’s absolutely SILENT… I’ve learnt now to trust God but it does get difficult when my body is weak and when I fail in my responsibilities…

    Its a life long process maybe:) I need a lot of pruning in this area all the more because my husband does NEVER communicate!:(

    1. Vinodhini,

      When a husband has felt very attacked, undermined and disrespected for a long time – sometimes they respond with total silence like this. I know Greg did.

      Of course, praying about your daughter’s situation would be the first thing.

      Then you can say in a pleasant, friendly tone of voice, “Honey, my mom can only keep our daughter X number of hours per week from now on. (or, my mom can only keep our daughter for 4 more weeks. She needs a break.) I really want to be able to be home with our daughter considering her health condition right now. I know that would be a huge change. I’d like for us to talk about what you think would be best later this week after you’ve had some time to think about it, please. I need your wisdom and leadership about this. I feel overwhelmed about it. Thank you!”

      If he doesn’t bring it up, you may be able to respectfully bring it up by the end of the week.

      I would suggest that you communicate to him that you will support whatever decision he believes is best. It is going to take a long time for him to believe that you actually will support his leadership. He has been very burned. I believe he will eventually begin to step up and make decisions as you show that you are not going to attack him, but that you will cooperate with him, even when you don’t agree. God is able to lead you through your husband. It is going to be a slow process.

      Much love to you!

      1. April,

        Huge decisions like this atleast is ok at times I can remain patient because I definitely understand that he needs time to figure out… But he seriously has a problem with communication…

        I get sometimes really annoyed, our communication is soooo poor….We can’t talk of intense topics.. He does not believe in just spending time talking to me.. This was one of my major problems but now I’m a little relieved and still I should admit there are voices and the only thing I can control is my REACTION to these situations by focusing on Christ…

        As you say April, its going to be a slow process…

        Love
        Vinodhini

        1. Vinodhini,

          It took Greg 3.5 YEARS to feel safe with me again. It was over 2 years before I had ANY CLUE what respect/disrespect were and how to biblically submit to Greg on a fairly consistent basis. There will be a long time before his communication begins to improve, most likely. That is going to have to be ok.

          If your husband’s experience of talking with you about important topics is that he has felt attacked, belittled, condemned, criticized, emasculated, put down, disregarded, etc… it will be a long time before he wants to sign up for more of that!

          It was for Greg.

          Greg had to see that I was totally leaving things in his hands and that if they didn’t get done, I just waited and didn’t bring it up again. That is what I personally had to do. He is a very responsible, intelligent man, an engineer – so he did start picking things up because he didn’t want them to fall through the cracks.

          I gave him the finances (made sure that everything was paid up for the next few weeks first). And I didn’t ever touch it again. I knew that me telling him what to spend and trying to control him was not working. It has been WONDERFUL having him take care of the bills. But – it took a week or two for him to pick it up. I didn’t mention it at all.

          Some topics are still sensitive. There are a few issues I don’t bring up anymore – I have brought them up before. But I don’t push them. I just pray and trust God to lead me through Greg on those things.

          It will take time for him to trust you and to feel safe with you and to begin to develop confidence in himself as a leader. It will be a very slow process, yes.

          You will get to learn A LOT of patience, my precious friend!

          1. This comment really blessed me!!! I am realizing more and more that this journey of learning to respect my husband is just that a journey it won’t happen over night. After reading this post . I see yet another thing I have taken for granted in my husband and instead of being grateful for His leadership I have seen where I’m still not completely trusting and making it difficult to lead me.my husband no longer has any problem leading but I have at times inwardly rebelled against being led I see the effects of the curse on my thinking. My desire to rule over him 🙁 Just last night he decided to make a certain purchase. When I saw him come in the door with the thing in His hand I immediately said without thinking first. Babe you bought another X. He said yeah . Then I said how much was that? He responded it was X. Then I said ok babe have you checked the account lately. We do have to get ready to move next month and there will be a lot of expenses. Then I was surprised that He didn’t want to talk to me the rest of the evening. I have been extremely disrespectful in the past and did slot of yelling, screaming,name calling, nagging, criticizing, eye rolling, and steam rolling. God is graciously renewing my mind and changing my heart but He is not through with me. Eliminating these disrespectful behaviors and sincerely encouraging him has been my focus but I now seeing must give my opinion way less. It’s my fear that leads me when I do this and not God.

            I praise God for a husband that is sensitive to my disrespect and can articulate it to me. I use to hate this and defend myself or feel like my husband was controlling but now I thank God for it because when I listen many times its Gods voice and he uses what my husband says to convict me and lead me to repentance. If my desire is to be a godly wife I should praise God for this and not fight against it . BUT thank Him for my husbands leadership and praise God that He did not allow all my years of disrespect to mold him into a man I could control. But I have done damage. Last night he said he was beginning to feel mothered and resentful and that He wanted me to trust him and said I was being fearful and trusting myself not him and that I made him feel selfish and incompetent. He said I was respectful in the way I spoke but he still felt disrespected and bound and wished I would have kept my opinion to myself. Last night I began to hear my flesh scream. See he just wants to control you. You can’t even have a voice… that ain’t God. … Don’t be a doormat. These were all lies. My husband welcomes my opinion on many things but i think the reason it’s so touchy with the finances is because this was one of my worst areas of control. I wish I didn’t have to lose intimacy with my husband last night to see this but I thank God for it. I thank im gonna fast from giving my opinion about anything this week and learn to hear God on when to speak and when to hold my tounge.Please Pray for me ladies.

            Proverbs 18:2 fools find no pleasure in understanding but only delight in airing “her” own opinions.

          2. Jessica,

            Wow! I love what God is showing you! Yes, it IS a blessing to have a husband who is able to articulate his feelings and when he feels disrespected and when he feels you are mothering him. Not all husbands can articulate and verbalize these things. It sure makes it easier to learn when you don’t have to read his mind! 🙂

            A lot of husbands would, in my view, feel disrespected by being questioned so much about a purchase – even if a wife’s words and tone of voice were respectful. Those questions do show a lack of trust in your husband’s judgement.

            I think eventually, you will be able to say something like, “I feel nervous about spending X.” Or “I would like to save as much money as possible with the move coming up.”

            This will require God’s Spirit and discernment and wisdom – but yes, there can be times when it is better not to say anything at all – especially as the marriage is beginning to heal.

            I have a post about that! The Frustrating Quiet Phase

            I am so excited about what you are learning and about how clearly your husband is communicating with you. WOW!

            I wonder if you might allow me to anonymously share this story on my peacefulwife blog FB page?

            Powerful stuff, my sweet sister!

          3. Of course you can share the post any opportunity to bring God glory I’m all for it. If he can take my mess and turn it into his message.

          4. Jessica,
            Our husbands are a lot alike! My husband is a strong leader and always tells me when I’m being disrespectful, too! I thought for a few months he had some kind of complex and irrational fear about me “trying to control him.” I never thought I was actually controlling for a while. I also always have an opinion about everything and sometimes I just don’t need to share it.. I’m learning when to keep it shut and when to speak! I was doing so good the last 2 weeks and then every time I think to myself that I’m doing better I slip up and tonight he told me the last 2 days I’ve been nagging, complaining and he was feeling disrespected! I realized I felt proud of myself and started trying to do it out of my own strength again instead of Gods! We worked it out. But it’s just incredibly hard to remember all my new rules at once and to depend on Christ every waking moment of this marriage. But if God didn’t give me this wonderful man I would have been completely clueless to my selfishness. It’s His kindness that brings us to repentance.

          5. J,
            Our God is amazing!!!! I am so happy and blessed beyond measure that God turned the light on for me in this area. That now can praise God for something in my husband that I had despised. I use to go into defense mode when ever he brought anything up now by Gods Grace im learning to listen. You are right it is impossible to do this in our own strength. It is not by might nor by power but by His spirit. God’s spirit that dwells within us will give us the power to contests pleasing to Him. What I have learned is that this doesn’t completely silence my flesh but God equips me with hammer and nails to put that old self back to death. I’ll be praying for you today j , my fellow sister on this journey

  2. This post is very helpful. I am getting the chance to see God shape and mold my husband. It is beautiful. I am trying get to stay pretty quiet. I think I need to pray about giving him godly encouragement. I want to, but this does not come naturally to me and I don’t want to seem fake.

    1. Nicole,

      Giving encouragement will feel “fake” at first because it is not what you have been doing. It will be like learning a new language. Maybe you can aim to speak one encouraging sentence to him per day. That might be a great place to start. 🙂

  3. How do you handle it when your husband asks YOU what you should do. Here is a typical discussion:

    Him: Where do you want to eat today?
    Me: I don’t know. It doesn’t matter to me. Where do you want to go?
    Him: What are you in the mood for?
    Me: Well, not Mexican since I just fixed that, other than that I don’t care.
    Him: Well, think about it and let me know

    Later
    Him: Where do you want to eat?
    Me: What about Olive Garden or Chilis”
    Him Which one sounds better?
    Me: I don’t care. I’ll go to whichever one you want.
    Him..Olive Garden Ok
    Me: That is great.
    Him: Are you sure that is ok?

    Later as we are heading to the place:
    Him: Are you sure Olive Garden is ok?
    Me: Yeah, but is there a place you would rather go?
    Him: No..

    Or let us take a bigger issue, his job.

    He will talk for 20 minutes about how he doesn’t like it, feels stuck, etc. Then he will ask me what he should do.

    Me: What do you think you should do?
    Him: Well, we could move?
    Me: Yes, we could.
    Him: But would that really solve anything? Is the problem me?
    Me: I don’t know do you think it would help to have new environment?
    Him: I don’t know…maybe I should just cut back.
    Me: Ok, that sounds good.
    Him: But I don’t know how much more I can cut back than I already have..
    Me: True…
    Him: Maybe I should go ahead and retire so we can do xxxxxxx
    Me: Ok, we’ll have to work around our youngest and figure out her school and activities stuff but that could work.
    Him… What do you think I should do?
    Me: What do YOU think

    We have had similar conversations like this about his for over 5 years. I refuse to tell him what HE should do about something that so affects him. I feel like it should be his decision. I don’t really have a problem when I ask him something like is it ok if…. He normally gives me an answer pretty quickly which is normally yes unless there is some obvious reason why that I haven’t thought of.

    Any thoughts?

    1. Elizabeth,

      Well, for the restaurant thing – I think it is fine to say where you would like to go. Of course, if he has his heart set on something, that would be fine, too. 🙂

      But I agree that he needs to make his own decisions about his job. I think you handled it pretty well in the scenario above. It sounds like he would like to give you the responsibility for making the decision so he doesn’t have to feel responsible for the outcome, possibly? But, his job issues are things that only he can really decide for himself, in my view.

      It sounds like you are doing a great job from what you have shared here!

      Much love to you!

      1. I was wondering something along those same lines. My husband just isn’t used to making decisions at home anymore about little things (let alone big things). Almost every time something comes up, he tells me to decide. As I’ve started this journey, I’ve tried to give decisions back to him but he seems almost paralyzed to make a decision. Could be something from what to eat, to my daughter having a sleepover, which way to drive to where we are going, to bigger things. I usually give him my opinion (since he’s asking me to make the decision) but keep telling him its up to him. Since I know this will take time for him to learn to make decisions and feel safe doing so, is me continuing to give him back the final decision a good step? Any time he has decided something on his own, I’ve been trying to just follow, so hopefully I’m setting up a new dynamic. I do know it will take time though.

        Yesterday we were at my dad’s house for lunch and my daughter wasn’t acting great. He was dealing with it and I let him. Later in the evening, we were talking about her behavior and he told me “I would have done X, but I thought you’d argue with me about it and I didn’t want to have a fight there.” It was good for me to hear him say that because I know its in him that he will step up, I just need to step down.

        I really liked this post. Thank you!

        1. Jeanne,

          I think it can be really scary for our husbands at first to begin to make decisions – especially if we often attacked them in the past or tried to force our way in the past. I have seen MANY husbands who are paralyzed at first and can’t seem to make decisions at first when a wife begins to step down. If we could only sit in their shoes for awhile, I think we would understand. If a man’s entire experience of his wife has been that she has attacked him every time he has tried to lead or that she has disagreed with him, maybe even vehemently, every time he has tried to express his own thoughts – he may be very wary at first.

          Some wives I know slowly give different areas to their husbands. Some give everything all at once. I don’t know that there is a right way for everyone. This will require sensitivity to God’s Spirit. Sometimes this is a VERY prolonged issue where a husband who has been deeply wounded may hesitate for months or years to make decisions. And if our husbands do try to make decisions, and we pounce on them – we have just set ourselves back many more months, or longer.

          Our men need to see that we will support them – even when they mess up, even if they don’t make the best decisions. They need to know that THEY and the marriage are more important to us than an individual decision.

          Small decisions like what to eat – a husband may just want his wife to be happy. He may not care where he eats. I personally don’t see the point in trying to force him to decide where to eat. I think a wife can suggest a few places she might like. That would be a gift to him. And she can thank him enthusiastically for taking her out to eat and be grateful and pleased wherever they go.

          On how to drive – I personally vote to let him decide that, unless he is asking you to be the navigator. “Whichever way you prefer is fine with me, Honey. You’re a great driver.”

          One thing that was REALLY, REALLY tough for me was to hear other people disrespect Greg about his driving after I had been learning to respect him. What does it really matter if we go one way vs. another. So it saves 1 minute or is 2 minutes longer, it is just not worth arguing about in my book anymore. I don’t tell Greg how to drive. I just trust him and enjoy the trip. If he asks me for help, I try to help him with maps or the GPS. But, unless he asks me specifically for help, I don’t talk about how he should drive or what way he should take. He is a grown man and I know he’ll get us there safely. 🙂

          In the very beginning, I didn’t give my opinion much at all. That was my personal conviction. Now, depending on the issue, I will give my opinion. If I don’t care about something, I won’t. But if it is important to me, I will respectfully give my opinion, but then trust him with the final decision.

          In the beginning, I would say things like, “Whatever you think is best. I trust you.”

          I’m really glad that your husband shared that with you last night about his daughter. I’m VERY happy to hear that you let him handle things. I hope you will thank him for doing that and express to him that you trust him to do whatever he thinks is best, that you support him 100% as a dad.

          I’m so glad this was helpful!

          Much love,
          April

      2. We have a very similar job decision situation going on right now as well. But an interesting thing has happened. At first, he was very excited, thinking about leaving his employment, and going out on his own, working from home. I talked with him, and told him I would support any decision he made. For a few weeks, he kept talking, I kept supporting. Finally, he said, “I think I’ve been wanting you to tell me what to do so I have someone to blame if it doesn’t work out. I need to man-up and make this decision.” I asked him how he would ideally like me to act in this situation, and he said just like I had been. I have encouraged him to just keep following his desires, but to put one foot in front of the other, and any time spent praying about it wouldn’t be wasted. Meanwhile, his job has implored him to stay, even offering to change his current project. He is still thinking about it, and even told our boys how he now sees that he wants things right now and that God is teaching him to wait. That it is frustrating, but he is holding back until he knows what to do. All this, I feel, was not prevented because I finally learned to STAND BACK. I can see that by guiding him too much, I was standing in the way of his own growth. Giving up the short term relief of control has yielded long term, and much better results for everyone!

        1. H31,

          This is awesome! By you being supportive and allowing him to talk and think and process, he was much better able to hear God’s voice and take responsibility for his own decision. And it is VERY important, in my view, that he feel the weight of responsibility of the decision on himself so that he can’t blame you but must bear that accountability on his own. That is what leaders do!

          Great job!!!! I’m so proud of you and thankful that God has given you so much wisdom! WOOHOO!

          Such a beautiful example of supporting your husband and being a sounding board but not taking over or trying to force him into a specific decision. Love this!

      3. Yes, I think you’ve nailed it that he wants to have something to blame if it doesn’t work out. I guess I get so tired of planning everything: our vacations, his trips with the kids, our dates ( when I can get him to agree to one…) that I would LOVE for HIM to just plan things like this so that I can just enjoy them.

        And the thing is that I have NEVER criticized one of his decisions…never… But he is so incredibly hard on himself. He smoked several meats in his smoker this weekend and didn’t think the turkey breast came out quite right.. I thought it was WONDERFUL and told him so many times, but he kept saying it wasn’t quite right, a tad overcooked and he should have done it this way… He came back to this topic 4 or 5 times on Saturday until he told me how he was going to do it so it would come out perfectly the next time… ( I thought it was just fine.)

        So I think part of it is his fear that it won’t be perfect, even though I won’t care one way or the other. As far as dinner, I’ve told him it would bless me if he would decide. I don’t care if it is McDonalds…just spending time with him is heaven… I guess I just leave it in God’s plan and if he asks me where to go, I should just choose.

        1. Elizabeth,

          I am sure that his perfectionism may make this harder for him, too. Perfectionism is such a prison!!!! 🙁

          Praying for wisdom for you and that God might open your husband’s eyes to the freedom, peace, joy and strength found in Christ alone.

          Much love!

    2. Elizabeth,

      I’m laughing right now and I’m sorry. But that is how those exact conversation go in my house. Everytime I hear my husband say the words, “I have been thinking”.. I pull out my hamster wheel and start jogging on it.. 🙂

      Gail

  4. This made me smile.. My husband is a one thing at a time kind of guy. He has to be completely engaged in order to even process something being asked of him or said to him. He is like that with everyone, not just me. It does not frustrate me anymore but it does others in the family and sometimes his friends. I try to tell people, he’s not going to be able to change his brain.

    He finds my ability to listen to multiple conversations and multi-task equally annoying. In his mind, how could I possibly be paying attention that way.

    The tip about making sure to lay down something for him to decide when he is not busy (even if it’s not an important thing he’s doing) is very good. If my husband is focused on something he will not have heard a word I said. He always says make sure you have eye contact before you tell me something cause otherwise, assume I heard nothing..

    Gail

    1. Gail,

      That is great that your husband has told you that you need to be sure you have eye contact with him so that you know he heard you. VERY HELPFUL!

      Thank you so much for sharing your story. Yes, each of our husbands have their own idiosyncrasies. The more we can study and understand our own men, the better!!!!

      I think a lot of men only focus on one thing at a time – their brains are kind of wired that way many times. If we can appreciate that our husbands are not “wrong” they are just different from us – sometimes we can avoid assuming evil motives and we can develop empathy and understanding instead. 🙂

  5. “You can trust God to lead you through your husband because of His amazing sovereignty. All the weight is off of you when you honor and submit to your husband’s leadership. The weight is fully on God and your husband.”

    This one statement stuck out to me more than any of the rest.It is true, not because I’m perfect, but because God is perfect.My wife and I were talking last night about our marriage, and what I’d like to see change in it, especially regarding intimacy. She expressed this fear, that if she were to cooperate with me on this subject, God would take it away from us, or that it wouldn’t make any difference.So Satan gets her coming and going. She feels bad, that I’m not I’m not satisfied in this part of our relationship, but she’s afraid to do anything about it, because I guess she thinks she has to be my Holy Spirit on this issue.
    This came about,because one of her friends, had mentioned that her husband and she had decided, that they were putting their sex life before God’s will. Since they are similar any many ways, my wife decided, it must be true of her too.
    It truly amazes me how deeply she gets affected by simple off-hand statements, and can so stubbornly hold on to opinions formed from these statements. To this day, she won’t finish a cup of coffee, because someone mentioned to her once years ago, that when you take a sip a small amount of saliva goes back into the cup and settles on the bottom.But I make a statement regarding our intimacy like, “The more sex we have, the more your desire for it will grow”, which has been shown to be true for many women, according to what I’ve read, and she goes into withdrawal mode.
    I think this may be why God brought us together as husband and wife, because I tend to go at things full tilt (think bull in a china shop), while she is super cautious about everything. I need and value her perspective on many issues in our lives, to help me to not decide on rash courses of action. She needs me to help get her moving in any course of action she may be unsure of.

    1. Ted,

      How my heart breaks to hear a wife believe such a lie – that if she has more sex with her husband, God will take sex away from her or that it wouldn’t make any difference! UGH. It hurts my heart to hear people so consumed by fear and not seeing the love and power of God for them. God does not give us a spirit of fear but of power, love and a sound mind! This mindset does not seem biblical to me. I pray that God will expose the lies to her and help her embrace the life-giving truth of His Word.

      It is God’s will for us as married believers to have sex in marriage – unless they mutually agree to stop for a time (temporarily) in order to pray. I suppose that if a husband and wife decided together that sex had become an idol or something – that it was more important to them than God (having sex 5 times a day or something) – there may be something they need to do to correct things. But – how I wish that wives would listen to their husbands more than to their girl friends!

      Ok, I have to laugh about the coffee thing. We all swallow our own saliva all day every day.

      I pray for God to give you wisdom as you seek to lead and love your wife and I pray that He might tear down the strongholds of the enemy, the lies, the fear, the deception and that your wife might walk in the freedom, power, light, joy, peace and strength of God daily – not overcome by fear, but full of His Spirit.

      1. I appreciate your prayers on our behalf in this area, as it has been an issue in our marriage for 30 some-odd years we just can’t seem to get past. And yeah, the coffee thing is one of the quirky things about my wife that endears her to me. Just wish she valued my opinion on important things more……

        1. Ted,
          I want so much to see all believers make decisions based on honoring and obeying and loving God and loving others with God’s love – how I pray that we will no longer fear – because he who fears is not made perfect in love. Fear is not a God-honoring basis for decisions – it is usually a lack of trust and faith in God that leads us to fear.

          Praying for freedom in Christ for your wife. And for healing for your marriage.

  6. From my perspective, I think this is they key part:

    But when he saw eventually that I was seriously trusting everything to him and supportive of his decisions, even when I didn’t agree (which took a LONG time), he began to take over little by little.

    I was cringing a bit when the early passages spoke of “giving” decisions and responsibilities to Greg, versus an attitude that they were simply his to begin with, but perhaps that is a necessary step along the journey.

    As I said in the post last week, my guard would be up initially that this was a “test,” and that if my decisions did not lead to positive results, or even if they were not the decisions my wife would come up with, then it would be back to the old regime, but with the added clincher that we had tried to share, and that had failed.

    1. Johnmcg,

      I can definitely understand that me saying I was “giving” decisions to Greg made you cringe. Yes, they were his to begin with. But – after I took control (and he allowed me to have control) for about 15 years – from my perspective at the time, I did have to very consciously “give him” the decisions. Maybe that is not the best wording. I agree. Maybe it would be more accurate to say, “I did not pick up the decisions anymore, but yielded to his leadership.”

      I appreciate your insights and perspective so much! Thank you for sharing. 🙂

      1. This is where I think we fail as husbands so often. We fear our wives opinion, rather than take a stand on our beliefs.God will not accept the excuse,”my wife did not cooperate.”

        1. Ted,
          We wives NEED our husbands’ godly leadership desperately. The weight is too much for us to carry. It overwhelms us and gives us anxiety, depression and paralyzing fear when the weight of the decisions rest on us, or we take on that weight.

          God can use you to speak the truth in love to your wife as you seek Him with all your heart and abide in Him and are full of His Spirit’s power. She needs you to lead – even if she can’t express that. A husband’s godly leadership can do a lot to help his wife learn to trust God and overcome her fears.

          You are able to see some things clearly that maybe she can’t see clearly right now. That is why God made husbands the leaders.
          Your gentle, loving, truthful, firm, godly, strong, courageous leadership can inspire your wife and help her on her journey to become the woman God desires her to be. You have a lot more power here in Christ than you realize, I think.

          Praying for you!

  7. The trust issue is certainly timely for me since God just showed me that I have an issue with trusting both Him and hubby. I’ve been wondering how I’m s’posed to “work” on trusting and, again, I hear, “Wait. Relax. It is finished.”

    I hear Elizabeth and the what do you think we should do issue. Dan pulls that on me all the time! Recent scenario:
    email to his bro: “I will sell Tim’s scooter.”
    Three days later, Dan says to me, “We need to sell Tim’s scooter.”
    Me: “Will you take care of that?”
    Dan, flailing hands in the air: “Yea.”
    email two days later: “Can you send the info for Tim’s scooter to Jack (his bro)?”

    It appears to me that Dan does not want to take responsibility, and I believe that most of his hesitancy was caused in a previous marriage to a mentally ill woman. She would call him stupid and second-guess him and control him in their marriage.
    For much of the seven years of our marriage, I tried to build him up, but guess I went about it all wrong, and for the past several years I’ve just shut down emotionally, become prideful, and built a really ugly idol that I was just visiting again this morning, and I think Holy Spirit called me on a less-than-lovely motive yesterday.

    Psalm 51 is appropriate today, as is leaning on the Father of all creation, trusting that He will make all things right if I surrender to His will.

    1. Marcia,

      Maybe when he says “WE” need to sell Tim’s scooter – he believes he is asking you to take care of it? I’m not sure.

      If he was married to someone who was very disrespectful and controlling before -I am sure there are very deep scars.

      Maybe you can ask him about the way he words things, did he mean that he was asking you to handle it? It sounds to me like he is trying to delegate the task to you, possibly?

      I’m so glad that you are listening to God’s Spirit! There is no better place to be. And glad that you are tearing out the idol and repenting. PAINFUL – but so necessary!!!!

      Much love!

      1. Yes, I think “we” means me, as in he wants me to do whatever it may be, which is why I ask him to clarify who “we” is. It seems to be a way for him to say something needs to be done, but to not take responsibility for getting it done, I think. So frustrating! I suppose I could re-phrase my request for clarification.
        I am confused, tho, regarding him delegating the task to me vs me taking on the task when he says “we” which is what usually happens. I am trying to let go of control. How do I differentiate between my jumping in and getting it done and his asking me to do it? Oh, I bet that’s part of understanding male language. It seems like I always do things for him that he could do for himself
        Oh, I’m thinking too much again 🙁
        I agree — there are very deep scars there that he needs God’s help with.

        1. Marcia,
          It does take some time to figure out the difference between being a helpmate and helping too much or controlling. And it can take some time to learn to properly translate what our husbands say. Thankfully, God made us pretty good at adapting to language and subtle non-verbal cues as women, so that is a big help!

          You may want to clarify, in a moment when he is not upset, that when he says “We need to…” That he is actually asking you to do something for him.

          Let me know how things go!! 🙂

  8. Hi!

    We are currently on the last day of my father-in-law’s wake. Starting tomorrow, when my husband’s Dad will be buried, the family will have to face life without their father. New beginnings.

    I think when I died to myself in September 1, 2013, was when I was given by Christ a new self. So, since everything was new, I also had a whole LOT of new attitudes to pick up, and a whole LOT of old and stinky attitudes to throw out. So, every single day was like learning to walk again after being comatosed for 37 years. I consider my life before I gave up my life to Jesus as my zombie phase. I was “awake” but I was not really “alive.” In fact, I was spiritually dead for the most part, except for glimpses of life every now and then.

    So much so, that when I started in this submission and respect journey, like April, I too had to acquiesce all former “responsibilities” of mine which were clearly not mine, like providing for the family, paying the bills, making crucial life-changing decisions — and turn over the reins of leadership to Dong. I had to learn (with all atoms of my body resisting at first) to keep still and just let God work His Way in my life by following my husband’s leadership.

    My husband enjoyed the newfound respect and leadership but was sort of confused when I said, “I turn over to you everything. All the decision-making, all the responsibilities as head of the home”, etc. He said, “So, what will YOU be doing now? You have given me everything to do.” Eventually, I learned that I was not really supposed to NOT DO ANYTHING. I was still crucial to decision-making, for as long as I let the buck stop with him. Finding and achieving that perfect balance of supporting while not stealing his role took some time. I am getting there, but it is still not second nature to me, at this point. I still consciously acquiesce and relinquish former roles (which were not mine to perform) I used to take on with great efficiency!

    But, I am glad to say, our marriage has already experienced much joy and peace from the new beginning we had when I accepted Jesus as Lord and Savior, and when I accepted my role as the helpmeet of my husband. We now have a “new normal”. Whereas before, leading and pushing my husband to act was our “normal” (although it was an abnormal setup), now, Dong is leading me, and I am enjoying following him. 🙂 I love “new normals”! I look forward to the time when I could drop the “new” and it will just be “normal” and natural. 🙂

    1. Nikka,
      Thank you for sharing you you and your family are doing. I am praying for y’all!

      Thank you also for talking about finding that balance and how exactly to follow and support but not take over. Very helpful!

      I love you, my precious sister!

  9. Timely and pertinent, as always, April! Thank you for the reinforcement as I am currently awaiting a response from my husband on whether I should pursue a potential job. He has all the info, it’s now in his and God’s hands. It’s hard work trying not to pressure him to give me an answer about this situation, but I know that God will work out His will and it is not dependent on what my husband does or doesn’t do. And there is so much more for me to learn in waiting and trusting than running ahead! I can rest knowing this is not my load to carry. Thank you!

  10. April,

    I was wondering if you could address this question in a blog sometime.. I do not know but many times when I read marriage stuff, we almost seem reversed….like the things you tell a husband to never say to a wife, he says to me… Or when do I get to make my OWN mind up about certain things… For example, he asks me to plan a vacation and asks…why did you do it this way??? I’ve made a meal and he suggests I do this and that… I wash a mug and he shows me that I didn’t take it apart properly and so now I remember how to do that for next time.. But the list is endless. He is always suggesting ways that I cook better, parent better, clean better, etc. I never, ever, ever make such suggestions to him.. But is it ok for me to say, I know that you would do it this way, but I would like to do it that way? Right now I just don’t say much of anything, but inside it makes me feel like a failure and that I can never measure up to the perfect standard.. ( But he doesn’t measure up to his own standard either…as I’ve mentioned before he is NOT mean, but at the same time the constant advice is draining…

    1. Elizabeth,
      I think it would be fine, as long as you watch your motives and tone, to say ” I would really like to do things this way, please.” You will probably have to work a lot at speaking up more. Many if us have the opposite problem! Have you shared that you feel like a failure when he finds fault with everything?

      1. Yes I have and so he has gotten a little better and is trying to tell me when I do something right or well. It is just that it is a part of him… Part of me wants HIM to be able to relax as well and just enjoy good instead of losing the good in the pursuit of the best.. ( Not sure if I am making sense…but let us just enjoy and thank God for today…just enjoying the vacation intead of strategizing how the next one will be even better.

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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