Godlywifetobe began this journey to become a godly wife a few months ago. She is married to an unbelieving husband and things have been quite tense at times. For more of her story, please click here for part 1 and here for part 2.
So we all know when we step up Satan doesn’t like it. Here was my morning before work…
Hubby had 4 days off and takes the kids to school so I didn’t have to rush them out an hour before school starts. He woke up and found our daughter eating some dip and crackers for breakfast (there was no bread and she hates cereal). He proceeded to angrily tell her that she was a joke and she better not eat it again. Daughter started crying and looked at me.
So I said, “There was no bread and she doesn’t eat cereal.”
He said, “She better start eating cereal or she gets nothing.”
I quietly mentioned that what she was eating had less salt and sugar than cereal so it wasn’t unhealthy. He turned away and ignored me. Then he went to make a coffee. Our son had the white sugar yesterday and I couldn’t find where he put it so I put raw sugar in the bowl. Hubby freaked out because he hates healthy sugar and said, “You can’t get anything right.”
I said, “I know you don’t like that sugar but I can’t find the white sugar and when I finish work today I will get some white sugar for you.”
He mumbled something about, “This is what I’ve put up with for ten years.”
I just left the comment.
Then he said, “You can take the kids. I’m not taking them.”
The kids had only just gotten up and were eating cereal and I was about to leave for work. There was no way I could get them ready and not be extremely late for work. I said, “That’s not fair. The kids aren’t ready.” He ignored me so I gathered my things, kissed the kids and tried to kiss hubby for thanking him for taking them but he pulled away. That was all. I don’t know how I could of handled that mess better?? What do you think?
Ok… what I am going to suggest is going to be a radically different way of approaching things. Have you read my post “respecting our husbands as fathers“? I’d like for you to focus on honoring your husband’s parenting and leadership, even when you don’t agree (unless he is clearly sinning or they are in actual imminent danger). My goal is to help us live out God’s commands for us as wives. Always listen to God’s Spirit and be in tune with Him, abiding in Him, feasting on His Word, fully submitted to Christ – and He can give you His wisdom and prompting in each situation.
Please don’t contradict him, undermine his decisions or question him in front of the kids. That is major, major disrespect in a man’s world. When your daughter looked at you after her dad reacted (maybe overreacted) to her breakfast choice, you could say something like, “OK, sweet girl, you heard Daddy. Let’s try cereal this morning. I will pick up some bread tonight.”
If you want to talk with him about the nutritious content of crackers vs. cereal or that he was overly harsh with her – do it in private, please. (Please check the comments on the post for more details about talking to the daughter separately to try to handle the damage her dad’s harsh comments have caused. We will probably need to do a separate post just about this issue.) A wife could approach her husband in private and say something like, “I am totally willing to support your authority and decision as a father. If you don’t want our children eating crackers for breakfast, I will be sure they don’t. I can’t support you calling our children names or telling them they are ‘a joke.’ That was hurtful. I would really appreciate it if you would let her know that you truly do love her and that you don’t really think she is a joke.”
Then, her husband may apologize to their daughter himself. That is my prayer – that he would do that. And then the wife may want to also address things individually with their daughter later and talk about her great worth in God’s sight and that she is precious, and she is not at all “a joke.”
Were you “right” about the cracker thing? Yep. My son eats crackers for breakfast sometimes, I have no problem with that. But if you focus on the little issue, you can make being right about the nutritional content of crackers vs. cereal more important than your husband, obeying God and the unity of your marriage. I have SO been there and done that! If you want to heal your marriage and see God work, I Peter 3:1-6 and Ephesians 5:22-33 (just the part for wives), Galatians 5:22-33, Philippians 4:4-8, Romans 12:9-21 and I Corinthians 13:4-8 and Proverbs 31 are going to be great places to focus.
I doubt he would have gotten as upset about the sugar if you hadn’t undermined him as a father right before that. But, now you know that white sugar is a really big deal to him, so, you can instruct your children about the importance of keeping the white sugar in a certain spot in order to show honor to dad.
I am glad you left that comment alone, because, from his perspective, he was already feeling very disrespected – so if you had gotten defensive, or angry, it would have probably sent him way over the edge.
Instead of, “That’s not fair…” I would suggest saying something like, “I would absolutely love to do that for you if the kids were ready. But since they aren’t, maybe I can make it up to you tonight?” 😉
Maybe if he hadn’t felt so disrespected in front of his daughter, he wouldn’t have made an issue of taking the kids to school? I believe that as he finds that you are honoring him, supporting him as a dad, listening to him and teaching the children to respect him, he probably won’t be as harsh eventually. But we will pray for God to work in his heart and for God to give you His wisdom as you seek to breathe healing and blessing into this marriage and your husband’s life and your family.
Thanks. That makes sense. I normally try not to correct him but it was hectic and he woke up in a bad mood and I just wanted things to settle. I do contradict him at times though. Mainly because he’s not normally around and the things he says can be unreasonable. I don’t know how to address things in a different way. But I will try to be more mindful of what I’m saying/doing! I don’t tend to think playful when I’m being confronted about something lol. I know what you mean though.
I definitely see that the sugar comment and then him saying he didn’t want to take the kids was because he felt disrespected. It would be so much easier if he just said what was bothering him.
I’ll check out that post now.
A FEW DAYS LATER – FROM GODLYWIFETOBE:
I’ve had a few times this week where I’ve been tested in my new walk. I’ve tried to use what you’ve taught me, what the Bible says, and I haven’t been distraught and anxious or angry and bitter. I’ve remained calm and in control and I know it’s Christ in me, allowing Him to change me!
WOOHOOOOOOOO!!!!!! Thank You, God, for what You are doing in this precious sister’s heart!
To other wives,
It may be wise after a situation like what happened that morning for Godlywifetobe, for a wife to apologize to her husband for undermining him in front of their daughter. It may even be a good idea for her to apologize to her children for doing this, too. If a wife can approach her husband humbly about this and own her own part in the conflict, he may apologize for being so harsh without her even mentioning anything. She might briefly, humbly, calmly address her concerns at some point, in private – but in more of a “request” or “suggestion” mode not as a confrontation.
However with an unbelieving husband and in a marriage where things have been very tense for quite some time, especially if she has been undermining his authority as a husband/dad for years (as is the case here), a wife may decide not to address the concerns she had that morning yet. She may want to wait for awhile until she has been showing him real honor and respect as a dad in front of their children and see if he continues to be overly harsh with the kids over the course of a few weeks. He may change his approach and soften the harshness on his own when he realizes his wife supports him as a father. This is where we need to carefully hear God’s Spirit about whether to address something right away or wait for a more effective time.
A husband may not care much about his wife’s feelings or concerns if he is far from God and he has been feeling extremely disrespected by her. But as he sees that she is changing and seeking to honor him, his heart will likely soften to her and the children over time. As she e follows the prompting of God’s Spirit, she will be able to say something like, “Honey, I appreciate you being such an involved dad. Sometimes, as a mama, I wonder if it may be possible that a more gentle approach may be equally effective. But I trust you to do what is best for our kids. I know you know a lot more about being a dad than I do.” Or, the wife may say something like, “I know you really love our kids and would do anything for them. I am concerned about Sarah today. She seems to feel pretty hurt about being called ‘a joke.’ I know you love her very much. I’m sure you don’t want her to ever feel hurt by you.” And then a wife may decide to leave the subject alone and allow God to work on her husband’s heart about how harsh he was. Or, sometimes a wife may decide to ask (respectfully, not in a demanding way) her husband to reassure their daughter of his love and to ask him if he would consider apologizing to their daughter. This is where we must each be very sensitive to God’s Spirit about what to say, how to say it and if we need to speak or be quiet.
The great news is, once a husband has been really feeling respected and honored and knows his wife supports his authority in the family, all she will probably have to do is just look sad when he talks to the kids too harshly, and he will probably notice and apologize or even change his tone midstream. If he doesn’t pick up on how harsh he was, and she has been respecting him for quite some time and he feels safe with her, all she would have to do is say, “Honey, I am feeling sad about the way you talked with Susie today. I think her feelings are very hurt.” And a husband who knows his wife is on his team will probably do anything he can to try to make amends with his daughter. There are times when this approach may work well even if a wife is new to respect and biblical submission.
Back to the story in question where the husband is an unbeliever, whether he apologizes or not is not our primary concern. It would be wonderful if this husband did apologize. But as disciples of Christ, our own obedience to Christ in all that we do is our primary concern. I talk a lot about how we as wives can repent for undermining our husbands’ authority and how we can begin to teach our children to respect their father and his authority and why it is SO CRITICAL for our marriages and for our children that we do this well in the post “Respecting Our Husbands as Fathers.”
If a husband does not know Christ, the way a wife can influence him to come to Christ is to show him honor and respect and to support his authority as a husband and as a father in the home.
You may want to check out the post my brother, Nathan, wrote about “When My Spouse is Wrong.”
AN UPDATE FROM GODLYWIFETOBE TODAY:
To let everyone know…I did apologise but he didn’t. I know I did the right thing though by saying sorry. Another incident happened the other night where I was about to override what he had said to our son but then I saw hubby’s face and stopped and supported what he said. Things didn’t go better that night but it was a victory for me.
*** If a husband is mentally ill and not in his right mind, or addicted to drugs/alcohol or is sexually/physically abusing the kids (not just a spanking, but really hurting them) – please get outside, trusted, godly help. I am not writing for wives in these kinds of extreme situations. You will need one-on-one experienced, appropriate help.