How to Avoid Becoming a Controlling/Disrespectful Wife


A newlywed posed this question to me,

“How can I avoid becoming a controlling/disrespectful wife?”

Goodness, this topic could be a book in and of itself. I have many posts about respect that will be helpful.

Spiritual Authority  – God’s design structure for spiritual authority in our lives in marriage, business, government and the church
A Husband’s and a Wife’s Authority in Marriage
Biblical Submission
Submitting Under Protest

What Is Respect in Marriage?

This post is primarily for women who tend to be Type A personalities, go-getters, leaders who like to be in charge and who feel very strongly that they know what is best and they are “right” all or almost all the time.  If you are a more passive wife who has trouble speaking your mind and knowing your own heart, some of these ideas may be counterproductive for you. You will have to approach things from the opposite angle and learn to speak up more and share your heart, ideas, feelings, emotions and personality more. Many of the ideas below would be for all of us. I hope this might bless you, especially the newlyweds!

In my view, some of the greatest ways to prevent becoming a controlling, disrespectful wife would be to:

1. Stay as close to Christ as possible. Abide in Him. Be Spirit filled. You can’t be a godly wife without your power source!!!!!

2. Focus on God’s sovereignty. Trust God. Trust God to lead you through your husband. Realize that even if you don’t get your way, or even if your husband makes mistakes, God is able to use your husband’s good and bad decisions to accomplish His will. This is the greatest test of faith most wives will ever experience.

3. Do not ever allow a little decision to become more important to you than your obedience to Christ or the unity of your marriage or your husband. There is no issue that is that important.

4. If your husband asks you to blatantly sin, then you will have to respectfully refuse to submit to him. But check out the post Spiritual Authority to be clear on what this means. Many wives assume things are sin that really aren’t, and resist their husbands’ leadership to the destruction of the marriage over things that are not sin.

5. Watch your motives every day all day long. Pride and self-righteousness can easily creep in.

6. Watch your self-talk. What are you saying to yourself? Are you putting your husband down or criticizing him in your heart? Repent and turn to Christ right away! Replace those accusations and assumptions with the truth of God’s word and truth about your husband.

7. Maintain your time with God, His Word, prayer, worship and praise daily. This is your only source of power!

8. Guard your heart and your marriage from other men. None of us are above adultery. Set up healthy boundaries to protect yourself and do not seek to be close friends with other men.

9. Realize that God can and will speak through your husband to you. Be accepting and prayerful about correction. (Unless he is asking you to blatantly sin or condone sin or there are extremely major issues and your husband is not in his right mind – uncontrolled mental health problems, addictions, infidelity, severe sin issues, etc.) Prayerfully consider your husband’s comments and ask God to help you see what is true and what He might want you to work on.

10. Study your husband to know what speaks respect and disrespect to him in particular and learn to speak his language.

11. Give unconditional respect and honor even when he doesn’t “deserve it.” (This doesn’t mean you trust him if he has broken trust. Trust would have to be rebuilt.)

12. You will be most tempted to sin when you are sinned against. (Gary Thomas “Sacred Marriage”). Be on your guard in those times and seek to respond in the power and grace and mercy of Christ not in your sinful nature. More sin will only cause more damage.

13. Learn to share your feelings, your heart, your desires and personality in a vulnerable, respectful way.

14. Be a safe place for your husband to share. Let him experience the grace of God and forgiveness of God in you.

15. Be loyal, don’t share things that will hurt your husband with others. Speak well of him around others. Don’t criticize him in front of other people.

16. Assume the best never the worst about him. Give him the benefit of the doubt. That is what I Corinthians 13 love does.

17. Learn how he likes to bond and do things he enjoys just to bless him. That may mean going fishing, hunting, playing golf, sitting with him while he works on the car or watches TV. Most men don’t bond with words. Sitting together or doing something together quietly is often the way they like to bond best. That is not wrong! Show him that you are willing to do the things he likes to do that are important to him.

18. Accept him, don’t try to change him.

19. Appreciate and enjoy him as he is.

20. Share all of your emotions and feelings in a way that doesn’t blame him but be honest about your feelings. Don’t hide your heart from him. I like to share positive and negative emotions by simply labeling them. “I’m feeling so happy!” “I feel sad.” “I feel afraid.” “I am thankful!” “I love being your wife.” (Some of these ideas are from The Surrendered Wife by Laura Doyle.)

21. Share your desires in a non-threatening way. “I want X.” “I don’t want Y, please.”

22. Offer suggestions and requests not demands or directives.

23. Take his leadership seriously and his opinions and advice very seriously, and realize God may be leading you through your husband’s advice.

24. Don’t put your parents, friends, children or anyone above your husband in priority.  God commands us as spouses to leave our father and mother and cleave to our spouse. So many marriage problems come from not leaving our parents or not cleaving (becoming one with) our husbands. The only One who can come before your husband is God.

25. DEFINITELY put God way above your husband as a priority! Don’t idolize your husband and expect him to be responsible for your happiness.

26. Be responsible for your own emotions and find all your contentment in Christ.

27. Do not give way to fear.

28. Be aware of Satan’s strategies to attempt to destroy you, your husband and your marriage.

29. Forgive quickly. Realize that you are married to a wretched sinner and you are also a wretched sinner. Be prepared to extend grace generously!  Do NOT hold on to bitterness or unforgiveness – that gives Satan a huge foothold in our lives!

30. Repent quickly! Keep short accounts with God. Repent DAILY or as soon as you realize you have sinned.

31. Be quick to respond to God’s Spirit, His conviction and His nudging.

32. Embrace humility and shun pride. Do not be wise in your own eyes. Do not lean on your own wisdom and understanding but on God and His truth.

33. Realize that your husband is different from you, but that does not automatically make him “wrong.”

34. Approach marriage with the assumption that your husband is “good willed” towards you and that you have a lot to learn about how men think and how your husband thinks.

35. Rest in your husband’s love and God’s love. He married you. He loves you. Most men view their love as pretty permanent and stable. It seems very odd to them that a wife would keep asking over and over again for assurance of their love. It is unnecessary to be needy and desperate. We are daughters of the King of kings. In Christ, we are accepted, dearly loved, forgiven, seated with Christ in the heavenlies, more than conquerors, cleansed, empowered, Spirit-filled, full of joy, full of peace, full of purpose, etc…

36. If your husband is like my husband, his “neutral state” in the relationship is to feel “connected” to me. I used to think we were always “disconnected” unless we were actively “connecting” (emotionally and spiritually and physically.) What a revelation to learn that my husband always feels connected to me, unless I begin to attack him. This helps me rest in his love. Maybe your husband is a lot like mine?

37. Realize that your sinful nature contains the power to destroy  your husband and marriage. If you try to do marriage in your own power, you will speak death to the relationship.

38. It is only as we die to self and live as living sacrifices for Christ daily that we live in the power of God. When we live in His power, then we have the power to heal, build up, encourage, inspire, affirm, honor and breathe LIFE to our husbands and our marriages. Yes, if we die to self, we lose our sinful power to destroy, but that is a GOOD thing!  And, praise God, the power He gives us to give life is so much stronger than our sinful power to destroy.

39. Commit to obeying God’s Word even when it is hard, even when you don’t understand, even when you disagree. There is great blessing in living in obedience to God! Make your decisions based on God’s Word, not on feelings! God answers the prayers of those who walk in His Spirit and live in obedience, not the prayers of those who are disobedient and rebellious against Him.

40. Don’t argue or complain – but focus on developing a joyful, thankful, peaceful spirit that is fully dependent upon Christ.

41. Smile at your husband just to bless him!

42. Do things for your husband just to bless and honor him, expecting NOTHING in return.

43. Lay down expectations.

44. Recognize and put to death any idols/sin in your heart – desires you have that you tend to put above Christ – the desire to have control, to have romance, to feel loved, to change your man, to have children, to have your way, beauty, food, perfectionism, people pleasing, the approval of others, pride, self-righteousness, greed, unforgiveness, bitterness, unbelief, fear, etc…

45. Stop and listen to him when he talks.

46. Learn not to trust your feelings when you are hormonal, stressed, exhausted or sick. Depend on God and your husband’s wisdom during those times much more than your feelings.  Your feelings can and will lie to you and can quickly become the playground of the enemy to attempt to sabotage your marriage.

47. Be willing to let go of toxic friendships that undermine your husband or your marriage. Seek to surround yourself with godly friends who will support and bless your marriage and your obedience to God.

48. Treat him like a grown man, not a child!

49. Enjoy him sexually! Make yourself available to him sexually whenever possible. (A Precious Example)

50. Be flexible. Be able to roll with whatever God brings your way.

51. Don’t look down on him and think you are better than him. We are all on equal footing before the cross of Christ. None of us are good on our own! We are all desperate for Christ Jesus.

52. Remember that husbands have their own learning curve and journey to take, too. They don’t know everything from day one either. We can learn and grow together.

53. Be ok with not always getting your way. Seek God’s will WAY above your own will.

54. Realize that your husband is not always wrong and you are not always right.

That might be a start!

Remember to breathe. This is a LONG, lifelong process of learning and growing in our faith and walk with Jesus and learning to become godly wives. We will mess up at times. We can’t absorb everything at once. We have to take a day at a time and chew one bite at a time. We won’t be perfect. But God will lead us when we are willing to follow Him with all our hearts.

Other wives, what would you say to a newlywed who asked you this question? You are welcome to share what you have learned and are learning! 🙂