Many wives want to know why their husbands don’t protect them from his family or other extended family during conflicts. I know every situation is different, and I can’t begin to address every possible scenario and there can be many very complex factors involved. So I will only be able to speak in generalities here – primarily about when a wife is being controlling.
(** If you are dealing with very serious situations – mental illness, drug/alcohol addictions, criminal activities, actual abuse, infidelity, etc… please don’t read my blog but seek godly, experienced one-on-one help.)
My understanding is that most men who are anywhere near healthy emotionally/spiritually/mentally are glad to provide for, protect and lead their wives and families, especially when they feel appreciated, trusted and respected.
God created men to want to be our heroes, to be the “good guys” we can trust, admire, be proud of and honor. Most husbands LOVE to see their wives happy. Really! If a husband knows it is actually possible to please his wife, he will usually want to try to please her. Many men measure their success as husbands/fathers/men by the happiness of their wives. (I am not saying they should – I would rather they measure their success by God’s approval not our emotions, myself. But this is what many men do.)
If a wife disrespects her husband or tries to usurp his position of God-given authority (I Corinthians 11:3, Ephesians 5:22-33, Titus 2:3-5, Genesis 2-3, Proverbs 31), the dynamics dramatically shift:
- Now the wife is taking a stance of being in competition with her husband instead of looking to him with admiration, honor, respect and cooperation to bless him as her teammate in the marriage. A man doesn’t generally try to protect, nurture, be affectionate toward, be gentle toward, fawn over or woo his competition.
- If a wife takes the masculine stance of taking authority, the husband will generally either fight her for his position or will unplug and become passive and let her take over. If he is more prone to being passive, he may eventually just let her do her own thing and let her have the whole job of leading, providing and protecting herself since that is what she wanted. She is signaling to him to treat her like a man. He may even give up trying to be the leader, husband and father God calls him to be. At this point, many men sink into deep depression.
- If she is going to take care of herself and she doesn’t want or need him to be her hero and she isn’t willing to follow his leadership, then he assumes she can protect herself and take care of everything herself. If she wants to act like a man, he will let her “be her own man.”
- He married her to be with a woman who complements him and is his teammate, not someone who acts like his competition. He may feel like there is no role for him in the marriage if she tries to take the position God gave to him.
- If a wife takes over and tries to control her husband and she disrespects her husband, he will be very busy trying to protect himself from his wife. She is coming at him like an enemy. So the one he is most concerned about protecting is himself. Why would he try to protect, nurture, adore and cherish someone who is doing everything in her power to undermine and hurt him?
- In a man’s world, if someone takes an authoritarian role, that person doesn’t want or need others to protect him. Whoever is in charge does the protecting. And it would be disrespectful to the person in the position of authority for someone else to rush to protect him.
- He may even feel like she is pretty scary. Those verbal attacks and outbursts of negative emotion, criticism, scolding, lecturing, bossing him around, criticizing him, blasting him, humiliating him, undermining him, arguing with him, complaining about him, telling everyone how little she thinks of him… do not draw a husband toward his wife. This is how “a foolish wife tears down her house with her own hands” Proverbs 14:1.
- Wives have SUCH power to make a home a peaceful sanctuary filled with joy, safety, love, respect, honor, nurturing, blessing and comfort, or we can turn our homes into an all out war zone where no one is safe, everyone ducks for cover and it is “every man for himself.”
- When a wife expects her husband to submit to her, she is asking him to emasculate himself and take on a wife’s position in marriage.
- If our husbands did everything we told them to do and catered to our every demand, we would actually not be satisfied even then, and we would also respect our husbands LESS, not more. I’m not sure we realize that. When a wife is dominant and the husband does decide to submit to her, the wife lose all respect for her husband, he loses respect for himself and loses his ability to love her. Everyone loses.
- Most husbands don’t want to be in the uncomfortable position of having to choose between their mothers or their wives. Yes, husbands should put their wives first. That is God’s design (Genesis 2:24). But husbands don’t want to have conflict with their mothers. They love their moms and don’t want to hurt them if at all possible. And it is also God’s command for us to honor our fathers and mothers (Exodus 20). Most husbands want to put their wives first and honor their parents as well. That is a good thing that honors God.
- If a wife is being disrespectful to his family or the extended family, he will most likely let her fix the mess she made herself. She has stepped out from under his covering and protection if she is provoking discord and fights with family.
- If a wife attacks his family members, the husband will feel a sense of duty to try to defend those he loves. This pits the wife and husband against each other. That is not the message we want to send to our men. If a wife determines to be enemies with his family, it puts him in a lose/lose situation. He loves his wife and his family.
- If a wife tries to go into his family and change people’s personalities or tries to go against the unwritten “emotional rules” on his side of the family, it would be very difficult for him to support her.
If a husband has felt truly loved and genuinely respected for quite some time by his wife, and she is treating his family with respect – most husbands will, eventually, protect and stand up for their wives and their family IF they believe that there is a real threat against their wives and children. (Please note, husbands don’t always have the same definition of “threat” that we do as wives.)
I believe, as we obey and honor God’s Word for us as wives and as believers in Christ, we may be able to avoid a lot of conflicts so that they don’t even happen in the first place. That is my prayer. But if there is inevitable conflict, and a wife is placing herself under her husband’s authority, leadership, protection and covering – her husband will be most inspired and empowered to defend her and their children if necessary.
Please check out a husband’s comments in the comment section. Other husbands are welcome to comment, as well, I am sure a lot of wives would appreciate a masculine perspective on this issue. And, ladies, you are always welcome to comment any time. 🙂