“Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everybody. If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live in peace with everyone.” Romans 12:17-18. (If you get a chance, please read Romans 12:9-21)
A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger. Prov. 15:1
Be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry. For man’s anger does not bring about the righteous life that God desires. James 1:19-20
There are many things that could be going on when our husbands respond in anger when we share our ideas/desires/needs/concerns. This topic could be a book in itself! Here are a few possibilities…
- A wife may not realize she is coming across disrespectfully in some way – that can make a husband feel disrespected and angry or make him want to shut down. Even a “little tiny bit” of disrespect from a wife’s perspective can be perceived as a lot of disrespect from a husband’s perspective. Some things that we as wives tend not to notice that can seem disrespectful to our husbands can be our word choices that might imply disrespect to our particular husbands, our tone of voice, our facial expressions and body language. (Nonverbal Disrespect – Youtube Video)
- A wife may be early in this process of learning to stop disrespect and may be trying to figure out respect but is still stumbling often or she may be in The Frustrating Quiet Phase and be afraid to say anything at the moment. It is a difficult thing to learn to discern when to speak and when not to speak at times.
- A wife may purposely disrespect her husband out of her own pain and anger – which is sin for which we need to repent. It is GOOD for us to share when we are sad, afraid, hurting, nervous or upset. But a wife can share what she wants and needs respectfully as she shows her husband that she is on his team and has his back.
- A husband may not believe his wife is really changing, so he may assume she intends harm and disrespect even though she is trying to change. He may need time, a lot of time, to see that this is for real and that she is not trying to manipulate him.
- A wife may try to take control when she disagrees, refusing to submit to her husband’s leadership. That will definitely be frustrating for a man who knows God has called him to lead. It is impossible for him to lead if no one will follow.
- A husband may think his wife is being sarcastic at first when his wife attempts to speak respectfully because there may be a long history of disrespect, contention and conflict in the marriage.
- A husband may feel his wife is undermining his leadership and feel his authority is being challenged if she disagrees with him if he is not used to having respectful discussions where there is disagreement. It may take time for him to realize that his wife is no longer going to attack him and that he is safe with her. Eventually, he will see that she will still support, honor him and cooperate with him even when she disagrees. This makes a powerful statement to a husband that his wife trusts him, has faith in him and is on his team.
(Please check out the posts at the top of my home page about disrespect and respect for more info on these topics.)
There are times when a husband may respond in anger even if his wife is being respectful and approaching him in a God-honoring, respectful, polite, gentle way. It isn’t always “her fault” if he gets angry. After all, husbands are sinners, too. Just like wives are.
- He may still be learning to be a godly man and leader. This is a lifelong process for men, too – to learn to love their wives as Christ loves the church and gave Himself up for her. If he is just now beginning to learn to step up and lead for the first time in the marriage or the first time in his life, he may feel overwhelmed, afraid, uncertain or insecure. If he senses that his wife is not supportive of his leadership, is critical, often negative, judgmental or uncooperative, he may respond with anger or he may give up and feel paralyzed as a leader.
- He may be responding from the old patterns and habits he witnessed from his father or step-father or the men in his life from his past. He may not know yet how to respond gently, lovingly and graciously when his wife respectfully disagrees with him. He may have never had a godly example. And for men who never had a godly example, being a godly husband is just as counter-intuitive to them as being a godly wife is counter-intuitive to us! As a wife seeks to obey God for her role in the marriage, she can trust God to work in her husband and she can encourage and inspire him to become a stronger leader by her godly living and attitude and by her godly femininity.
- He may be holding on to sin in his own life that is hindering his prayers and keeping him separated from God. That may have nothing to do with his wife. His sin is his responsibility before God. My prayer is that all husbands and wives will be Spirit-filled and obedient to God, that Jesus might be greatly glorified in our marriages.
- Sometimes, as a wife begins to operate in the power of God, her husband begins to feel conviction about his own sin and lashes out at his wife, trying to get her to sin against him so that he can continue to blame her and not have to examine his own heart and life.
- It may be that a wife is sharing a LOT of words and negative emotions for a long time and sometimes husbands can feel like they are drowning in an ocean of negative emotions that can be very overwhelming for them at times if the words are too numerous and the emotions are very intense. Sometimes if we can be brief and communicate with lower volume, calmly and without so many tears (if possible), sometimes our husbands can hear us more effectively that way. It may be that we can share things in more of a “bullet point” form instead of a 4000 word essay. We may be able to navigate our many negative feelings and emotions just fine, but sometimes husbands need a more condensed and less detailed version to be able to absorb it and process it.
- Sometimes, a husband is far from God and is not living in his power and doesn’t have the Holy Spirit to turn to for wisdom and strength of character. At these times I Peter 3:1-6 can be the most powerful approach for a godly wife. (When I Shut Up, My Husband Heard God)
- Sometimes a husband may have a knee-jerk reaction of anger if his wife doesn’t agree. But if she allows him time to think and process and she doesn’t pressure him about it, he may end up doing what she asked, even if he doesn’t talk about it anymore. This may require great patience on a wife’s part. But, she has done her job by sharing her desires and needs, and then she can pray and trust God to work in her husband’s heart to change his mind.
- He may have other issues going on. (If a husband, or anyone, is exhausted, in pain, sick, very hungry, extremely stressed about work or other family issues – it may be wise for us to wait until these needs are taken care of before we attempt to have any major discussions about an important decision.)
WE CAN ONLY CONTROL OURSELVES
It may be that a wife can just simply share her heart and if her husband begins to try to argue, she can avoid engaging in a fight, but just say, “I just wanted to share my feelings on this. Thanks for listening.” And then she may leave it. Many times, in my view, a wife who doesn’t argue and doesn’t allow herself to be sidetracked by distracting tactics and circular arguments that are meant to blame her or project fault on her, may find that just simply leaving her feelings and thoughts with her husband without engaging in a debate may impact him deeply.
We can share our thoughts without being contentious, prideful, self-righteous, controlling, argumentative or complaining. We can carefully, wisely speak the truth in love after we have spent time in prayer and know that we are seeking God’s will above our own will. We can honor God and our husbands as we approach our men about issues that are important to us. We can have disagreements without sinning on our end of the relationship.
Notice the verse at the top from Romans -“as far as it depends on you live in peace…” That means, there are things that come up in relationships that don’t depend on you, too. Some things in your marriage depend on your husband. You are only responsible for your own obedience to God, your being filled with His Spirit and your faithfulness and submission to Christ. You cannot change your husband. You cannot convict him. You cannot open his eyes. You cannot make him be loving to you or force him to submit himself to Jesus. You cannot change his mind or make him agree with you. You cannot control him. He cannot control you either. That is a good thing. God gives us all a free will.
If you have been on this journey for awhile, and you have been seeking Christ, repenting of any known sin in your own life, seeking to respect and honor your husband – and he continues to respond hatefully if you try to share a differing opinion from his… It may be that you are doing everything you can do. I pray that God might show you whether this is the case.
Even when we don’t agree with our husbands, we can submit to Christ by submitting to our husbands’ leadership. That speaks more powerfully about our genuine respect for our husbands than almost anything else we could do. (Submitting Under Protest) As a husband sees over time that his wife shares her heart and thoughts, but that she ultimately supports his final decision if they cannot agree after discussion, he will often eventually soften to his wife and be able to hear her heart more clearly. Sometimes this takes a lot of time. But other times, a wife may find that if she just simply shares her desires/feelings briefly and calmly, that even though her husband may seem angry at first, he may eventually do what she asked, even though she didn’t pressure him about it. Some men may just need some time to think. They may even apologize for their angry reaction later.
This can be VERY painful. But it is also exciting to see how God might work in the situation as we seek to obey and honor Him. If you believe your husband is asking you to sin, please check out Spiritual Authority.
WE ALL NEED GOD, HIS VOICE, HIS SPIRIT and HIS WISDOM FOR THIS!
This is where we all need great sensitivity to God’s Spirit. Only He has the wisdom we need in a given situation to prompt us whether a certain situation is a time when we should pray and wait on Him quietly and say nothing, staying out of His way, or whether we should respectfully, briefly, gently, vulnerably share our hearts or whether we should confront our husbands. I certainly don’t have God’s wisdom for every situation and I don’t have all the answers for every marriage. But thankfully, God does!
Just because a husband will get upset does not necessarily mean his wife should say nothing. I believe we generally have a responsibility as wives to share our ideas, needs, desires and concerns with our husbands. If we completely give up expressing our desires, ideas, personalities, influence, feelings and needs – that is not real intimacy and no healthy husband wants a wife who does not or cannot think and feel for herself.
It is easy for a wife of a more dominant husband to feel like she is losing her mind and sanity if her husband gets angry and blames her or turns on her if she shares that she wants to do something different from what he wants to do. She may be tempted to think, “Well, I must have not been respectful enough. That is why he is angry. If I just said it more respectfully, he wouldn’t have gotten mad. I just can’t ever say things right. I just shouldn’t say what I want, think or need at all.”
That is NOT necessarily true, precious wife!
This will require God’s wisdom and careful examination of our hearts and our true motives. There are times when a wife is doing everything right and a husband is still unwilling to listen to his wife. He may have some growing to do. That can be painful for both the husband and his wife. Or, God may be leading him to make the decision he is making and the wife may not see that until later. I long to see wives stand firm in Christ in such situations and to see them seek to please Jesus above all else and to be faithful and obedient to Him. Ultimately we must be concerned about pleasing our Audience of One – God – much more than anyone else, even our husbands. Ideally we can seek to please both. But there may be times when a husband is very difficult or impossible to please. I pray that God might strengthen wives so that their faith is unshakable and that they might have His wisdom and power to respond as God desires them to even in the face of being wrongly accused or misunderstood or unfairly blamed.
Sometimes 1 Peter 3:1-6 is our best approach. I Corinthians 13:4-8, Philippians 4:4-8 and Galatians 5:22-23 certainly apply to every situation. Sometimes we may need to confront our husbands in a Matthew 7:1-5 and then Matthew 18:15-17 way. We are all desperately in need of God’s wisdom and leadership in these times of conflict. Sometimes it will be a combination of scriptures and God’s Spirit’s prompting that we need.
Almost all husbands really do want their wives to be happy. As they discover that is is possible to please their wives and as they feel supported and honored and respected – most husbands, eventually, will seek to do what is truly best for their wives and families and will enjoy delighting their wives.
I pray that some wives who have been down this road with a husband who responds in anger even when the wife is being respectful as she shares that she disagrees with him might share your stories with the other wives who need some encouragement. Often a husband who responds in anger rather than passive withdrawal is a more dominating, strong personality. What works with more passive husbands is often not what works with strong and dominating husbands. What has God shown you? What doesn’t work in your marriage? What works? What blesses your husband? What helps him to hear your heart? How do you respond in a godly way when he lashes out in anger that is undeserved on your part? Let’s talk about this together! Maybe some husbands might also have some suggestions that may be helpful for the wives who are afraid to speak their thoughts because their husbands respond in anger almost every time.
Please keep in mind, if you have serious marriage problems – physical abuse, addictions, unrepentant infidelity, uncontrolled mental health disorders, or one of you experienced major abuse in childhood or a previous relationship and need deep emotional/spiritual healing, please seek godly, biblical, trusted, experienced help in person. I am not able to address these kinds of issues here, and my blog may not be the best fit for you. God’s Word always applies to us all. But those with severe problems are going to need much more specialized help than I can offer.