After watching a video similar to this post, What Causes a Woman to be Controlling, A Fellow Wife shared with me:
I cannot speak for other wives but
For me, fear is THE driving factor to control and I realize that.
-I have tried to be controlling with how my husband loves me because I fear that he really doesn’t love me that deeply. If I can manipulate him into showing me he loves me the way I wish he does, it validates what I want.
-I fear in my deepest heart of hearts that I am not an important priority to my husband. I want to be his number relationship priority, coming only after God. This has caused me so many emotional wounds over the years. I have tried to manipulate and push him into putting me first because it is so important to me. I FEAR that he will make choices that show other people or things are more important than me.
Fear makes me attempt to control. I think when we are attempting to control, we are emotionally tensing up and bracing ourselves because maybe we subconsciously know we are crossing boundaries we have no business crossing.
When we step back and release our husbands, we feel very, very emotionally vulnerable – at least I do. I am giving him the power to prove his love in a powerful way or hurt me deeply.
But IF we pair that with expecting nothing but decide to be grateful for any good and loving gesture, we feel relaxed – again, at least I do. Taking my expectations way down isn’t holding him to a high standard that we feel he must meet. I am not constantly watching him to see how he does on my ‘checklist’.
That is where I messed up – I let go last fall but I still had high expectations. I let go of him to make those choices but I still EXPECTED him to do what I wanted. I didn’t really control anymore – I just waited for him to measure up.
A Fellow Wife explains this very well, I believe. Yesterday, we began talking about that fear often fuels our desire/need/compulsion to try to control our husbands and other people so that we will “feel safe.”
Here is one very critical piece of information for us to understand:
We don’t actually have control over much in this life. We CAN’T control other people. It is not our right or responsibility to control others. God gave each person a free will and it is not our place to try to rip that away from people.
Healthy relationships involve healthy boundaries spiritually, emotionally and physically. I also can’t control circumstances much. I can only really control myself – and, quite honestly – I can only control myself if I allow God’s Spirit to do the controlling.
This is where the prayer of serenity is so helpful:
God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change (my husband, other people and many circumstances);
courage to change the things I can (me);
and wisdom to know the difference.
I have two choices about control in my life:
1. I can allow my sinful nature to be in control of my life. The results are always predictable. If I have ANY of the below characteristics going on in my life (Galatians 5:19-21), the sinful nature is in firm control. And let me mention, fear is always part of living in the sinful nature.
2. I can allow the Spirit of God to be in control in my life. When God’s Spirit is in control of my life, I will have all of the following fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23) in increasing measure as God conforms me to be more and more like Christ. And when I live in the power of God, His perfect love casts out all fear (I John 4:18). The more I know God, His character and His truth, the more I understand His sovereignty, the more I walk by faith in the Spirit of God, I realize I have nothing to fear:
So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh. They are in conflict with each other, so that you are not to do whatever you want. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law. The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. Galatians 5:16-24
HOW DO WE FACE OUR FEARS?
Well, sometimes fear is necessary to a degree. If a wife is seriously not physically safe, then, she does need to consider her safety and the safety of her children and may need to take wise and appropriate steps and reach out for qualified help (this applies to husbands, as well, if they are not safe).
Most of us, though, are not in immediate or actual danger. Most of us are married to good guys, not perfect men, but men who do love us deeply. We must examine our fears, all of them, in great detail. I personally had to write out every single fear and all of the beliefs I held and the “tapes” I played over and over in my mind and then study Scripture, God’s truth and His character. I had to ask Him to show me my errors, my sins, to expose my warped thinking and every ungodly thing in my heart and to transform me into the image of Christ.
I think it would be fantastic to write out your fears on the left side of a piece of paper, (or a lot of pieces of paper – if you have a lot of fears, like I did), and then on the right side, write down the truth of God’s Word about that issue. Then, very purposefully, consciously reject the old sinful ways of thinking and embrace God’s truth and wisdom.
Cry out to God, examine all of your motives and priorities and probe as deeply as possible into what you have built your faith and life upon. Don’t do this in a hasty, shallow way, or you will not dig up all of the sin and you will stay stuck. To do this well requires a completely thorough soul searching where we allow the light of God’s Word to shine into the darkest corners of our souls, holding nothing back from Him. What am I holding back from God? In what areas of my life do I not trust Him fully?
This takes time. It is a process. Actually, we will always continue this daily probing search into our motives, looking for any sin and repenting of it for the rest of our lives on earth as believers in Christ.
Sometimes God reveals layers of sin or fears or unbelief or warped views of ourselves and Him over time. That is ok. We can lay ourselves before. Him and seek to yield and surrender and submit to Him as fully as we can at this moment each day.
Then we can trust that as we seek Him above everything and desire to want Him more than anything else and as we seek to live in His Word and presence and as we long to obey Him and please Him and live our lives to bring honor and glory to Him out of incredible gratitude for all He has done for us – He will work in us to transform us to be like Jesus.
Until we really carefully dissect each thought and our true motives under the light of God’s Word and with the power of His Spirit working in us, we can deceive ourselves and believe that our motives are good when they are actually completely sinful. It can be very shocking to discover just how sinful our motives can be. We are ALL wretched sinners. There is NO ONE who does good, not even one. (Romans 3:12)
According to God, our greatest attempts at right living and holiness look “like bloody, dirty, filthy menstrual rags in My sight” (Isaiah 64:6).
So, we learn to monitor the voice in our head and all of the messages we are saying to ourselves and we learn to pull them apart and look for sin. We learn to compare all of our thoughts to God’s Word as we stay in his Word and stay in fellowship with Him. We shoot down the lies, the ungodly ideas, the sin and everything that sets itself up against Christ and His truth. We learn to use our negative emotions to monitor our hearts and thoughts for sin, too.
- We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ. II Corinthians 10:5
– if I find myself feeling disappointed, that is often a sign to me to check my motives. Am I trying to find my contentment, fulfillment, joy and peace in something other than Christ?
– if I am feeling angry, why? There are some reasons to have righteous anger – if I see innocent people being mistreated, if I see God being blasphemed, if I see people sinning against other people and against God, if I see people in need with none one to step in and stand up for them… If I am angry about things that make God angry, I can ask God what He desires me to do to try to make things right, honor Him and show His love and truth. If I am angry because my husband won’t do what I want him to do, then I need to examine this closely. What do I want him to do? Are my expectations biblical or unrealistic? Are my expectations fueled by sin? Greed, idolatry, materialism, selfishness, pride, self-righteousness, envy, bitterness, unforgiveness, resentment, a desire for control, a lack of healthy boundaries? Am I crossing over from my responsibilities into my husband’s life and trying to control him or make decisions for him that God gave to him to make, that are not mine to make?
– if I am feeling lonely… Why? Am I spending enough time with God? Am I trying to make my husband fulfill needs in my life that only Jesus can really meet? Am I willing to ask for what I need and desire but respond graciously even if my husband won’t or can’t do what I desire him to do? Am I hormonal? Do things seem worse than they really are right now? How can I share my emotions without attacking or blaming my husband? What are my motives? Am I seeking to honor, love and obey God and bless, love and honor my husband no matter how my husband responds? Am I willing to respond in the power of God and His unconditional love and with genuine respect even if I don’t get what I want? Or am I trying to manipulate my husband or give him “love” (worldly, carnal love) when my real motive is to get what I want from him?
There are also many poisonous lies (and even heresies) we have absorbed from our culture that we don’t even realize we need to question. Sadly, many of these have infiltrated the church today:
- humanism – People are God. People are basically good. There is no God. We know best.
This is worship of people and of self. This is blasphemy. God’s truth is that God alone is God. God has great wisdom, we do not. People are wretched sinners in desperate need of the blood, mercy, forgiveness and grace of Jesus Christ who died to give us the opportunity to be made right with God. We cannot be “good enough” to please God on our own.
- feminism – (some of the messages of various stages of feminism have been incredibly harmful to us as believers in Christ) – Women are morally/spiritually superior to men. Men are bad. Women are good. If women are in charge, everything in the world will be “right.” Men are always evil and oppressive if they are in charge. Men are idiots. Women are smarter than men. Being masculine is “wrong.” Men should think, act and feel like women. Patriarchy is evil. God is female, or, whoever you want “her” to be. The Bible is not true. (For more on how feminism has impacted all of us, please read here.)
God’s Word declares that all people are sinful and that no one is “good” or righteous in God’s sight (Romans 3). That means men and women are all sinful. Women are not “better than” men. And men are not “better than” women. God designed the authority structure of the family, church and government to provide for, care for, protect and bring order to His people.
People are sinners. Sometimes people in positions of authority use their free will to rebel against God and to abuse others. But that does not mean that God’s structure of authority is bad. God’s Word tells us that God is the head of Christ, Christ is the head of the husband and the husband is the head of the wife in marriage. I Corinthians 11:3.
God put the husband in the position of spiritual leadership and authority in marriage, not because he is more “valuable” and women are “second class citizens” but because God designed marriage to be a living picture of Christ and the church where the husband represents Christ and the wife represents the church and because this is God’s wisdom. (Ephesians 5:22-33, Titus 2:3-5, I Peter 3:1-7).
Where someone is given authority (husband, parent, pastor, Bible teacher, church leader, deacon, elder, manager at work, government officials), he/she has much greater responsibility and accountability before God. (God’s design for Spiritual Authority)
- universalism – every religious belief leads to God. No one particular religion is better than another. They all lead to heaven eventually. Everyone will go to heaven.
Jesus clearly states, “I am the Way, the Truth and the Life, no one comes to the Father except through Me.” John 14:6
There are many more ungodly influences and teachings we have been exposed to in the world and in the church. It is time to question every idea and premise and to throw away the ones that are evil and ungodly and to dig down to the foundation of Christ and build our lives on the Rock of Jesus and His Word alone!
Tomorrow, we will examine Finding Victory Over Our Fears in Christ!
If you have done the hard work of facing your fears – we would love to hear how you did it. I believe the more wives’ stories other wives can hear, the better. 🙂