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April and son 2003

“I’ll Show Him!” – Why Revenge Kills Relationships

Greg circa 1996
Greg circa 1996


I appear to have the flu or something similar. My temperature was 103.1 yesterday. I will get to the comments when I am feeling up to it. 🙂


Some wives decide that when nagging, attempts to control, criticizing, lecturing, demanding, negativity, disrespect, etc… don’t work – that it is time to resort to punishing their husbands in order for the wives to get their way about an issue. Some punishments I have seen wives use include:

  • withholding sex
  • withholding affection
  • withholding attention (cold shoulder treatment)
  • refusing to cooperate with anything their husbands want to do
  • poisoning the children against their dad
  • withholding all respect
  • withholding praise
  • withholding any encouragement or admiration
  • being very negative, harsh, critical, cold, hateful, and mean
  • doing something to try to hurt her husband and make him as miserable as possible

For a bigger list of examples of ways wives sometimes try to punish their husbands, and for a more detailed discussion about God’s instructions to us please see the post from earlier this week. (Of course, sometimes husbands resort to similar tactics that are equally destructive, as well.)

Proverbs 14:1

The wise woman builds her house, but with her own hands, the foolish one tears hers down.

I used to think, “I am hurting so much. I feel unloved. If only I can show Greg how much I hurt, then he will love me again!” Of course, he always did love me, he was just not responding the way I wanted him to. He was showing love in his own way, that I didn’t even see for a long time. He was also a man – not a woman – and I misunderstood him SO MUCH!!! I thought he would think, talk, and act just like me. He is very different from me. Turns out, that is a good thing!

I thought that Greg didn’t understand that I was hurting, so I needed to up the volume and emotional intensity. I didn’t realize he could best receive my message at a very low volume and low emotional intensity. All I have to do is say, “That hurts,” “Ouch,” “I am feeling lonely right now,” “I would love to spend some time with you,” “I wish we could have some time to talk/emotionally connect,” “what I heard when you said X was this…” I also had no idea that Greg always felt connected to me, and that words we shared had nothing to do with how bonded he thought we were. I had no idea that some people bond without words!

I thought, “If only he knew how much I am hurting and how unloved I feel, Greg would feel horrible and he would fix everything immediately, right?” I made him responsible for my happiness. The crazy thing is, I truly convinced myself somehow that if I lashed out at Greg, that he would suddenly be convicted, see my pain, see how unhappy I was, fall to his knees at my feet, beg for my mercy and forgiveness, and promise to do anything I wanted in order to make me happy.

I also thought that Greg was so strong that it was impossible for me to hurt him. He didn’t express and emote like I did, so I assumed that meant he was invincible. I was so very wrong! I wounded him deeply. He never said a word about it. He just shut down and pulled away. Then I labeled him as the bad guy who was being “unloving.”

What I expected to happen was a story line for a fictional Hallmark movie. My expectations  were NOT reality, my precious sisters! This is not how real men respond to their wives’ attempts to punish them or lash out at them.

Do we even realize that it would be a total  disaster for a husband to give a wife what she wants if she is using a destructive, sinful approach? If a husband gives in to poor behavior like this, he will help to create a selfish, prideful, hateful, manipulative, controlling, disrespectful monster. And even worse, his wife will lose respect for him if he allows her to mistreat him like this. Really, no wife would want her husband to use this approach on her, either. If we purposely try to hurt someone, that never builds intimacy.

If we sin in response to feeling unloved, all we can do is trigger a downward spiral in the marriage. All we can do is cause more damage and destruction. Sin always hurts others, God, and ourselves. Always. My sin will only widen the chasm between my husband and myself. Adding more wrong and pain never brings healing. Hatred and unforgiveness never bring love. Sin never brings peace, joy, and harmony. God is very clear about the results of sin – death. Sin will destroy our relationships and our lives.


Think about a woman in your life who has been controlling, critical, bossy, and negative. Maybe it was your mom, your mother-in-law, your older sister, a coworker, your boss, a woman at church, or a neighbor. Think about a time that you did something this woman did not want you to do and she let you have it and tried to make your life miserable. Think about the negative comments, the glares, the hateful tone of voice, the gossip against you, the disdain, the contempt, the pride, the arrogance, the hatred, the bitterness, and the resentment you experienced from her every time you saw her. Maybe she even shunned you, unfriended you, and refused to speak to you in true Hatfield and McCoy style.

Maybe for months or years this is how things were and she was a constant source of friction, tension, aggravation, and pain in your life. Now think about how you felt about this woman after she treated you this way for awhile. Did you spend a lot of time thinking about all the ways you wanted to show your love for her? Did you spend hours every week trying to figure out how you could spend more time with her and get to know her heart better? Or did you dread hearing her name and dread seeing her phone number on the caller ID? Did her hatred draw you to her and create greater closeness, or did her hatred and attempts to punish you repel you and make you wish you never had to see her again?

If you caved in to this controlling woman’s demands and gave her what she wanted after this awful behavior, what kind of relationship would that be? And if you caved in to her and did things she wanted you to do, would you be doing them because you truly loved her, or just because you felt guilted and pressured? Is that real love? Is this real intimacy? Will she suddenly be kind to you for real for the rest of her life from that point on? No. You know all too well that it is just a matter of time before there is another thing she will want you to do that you don’t want to do – and the crazy cycle starts all over again – until you eventually decide you can’t take it anymore and break off contact with her, most likely. We put our husbands (and ourselves)  in a total no-win situation when we try to punish them or take revenge.


Now, think about a time when someone truly loved you even when you didn’t deserve it. Maybe you were a rebellious teenager, and yet, your parents continued to love you even when you screamed, “I HATE YOU!” to them. If you were mistreating your parents, but they continued to do the right thing and to extend, love, mercy, and grace to you, even as they sought to lovingly correct you, didn’t that eventually draw you to them? Of course, they may have had to set up some boundaries wtih you.

It is human nature that we feel repulsed by those who mistreat, abuse, sin against, and hate us. How could we ever think that our hatred and revenge would heal our relationships? It is also human nature that we feel drawn toward godly love, honor, genuine respect, acceptance, blessing, friendliness, real smiles, and pleasant people.

God is love. God is peace. God is the Lord of harmony, unity, reconciliation, beauty, love, and honor. When we love as He loves by His power, we don’t lose power. Thankfully, God’s Spirit can give us the power to respond with His love even in the face of sin, hatred, criticism, negativity, bitterness, and malice.  The only power we lose when we do things God’s way is the power to destroy ourselves, our husbands, and our marriages. But we gain the power of heaven to breathe healing, life, love, and hope into our lives, our marriages, and our husbands’ lives.

April around 1997
April around 1997ish

45 thoughts on ““I’ll Show Him!” – Why Revenge Kills Relationships

  1. Very insightful courageous post April. You know, the only thing is when it started happening to me, I felt all those things you talked about, but I sinned by thinking I could stop it by caving. I caved because if my own brokenness and faults due to extreme abuse at the hands of my mother. Only one person could ever push me around. I really did love her, and I knew where her deep pain came from. She was a Christian, how could I go wrong. 28 years later I’m still paying, after all those cycles and caving who would respect me? Everything lost, you know it all. Fighting for my life with early heart disease and now cancer, and now divorce which actually started in the beginning. I caved. I pray others don’t, it never ever ever works. She added on the list of punishments threats and actual seperation, time and time and time again until I caved. I was selfish actually, doing it not to lose her. What a horrible mess I have made. I regret all of it except for our children but now she has poisoned them after two years of seperation right after heart surgery. I see it all so clear now. It is too horrible to bear.

    1. John,

      Many of us have wounds and scars from childhood that haven’t healed and then we enter marriage without a solid, biblical foundation. We often respond from the power of our sinful flesh rather than the power of God’s Spirit. In our own strength, that is all we can do.

      If your mother was very controlling, then it probably seemed “normal” to be with a woman who was also controlling. You did have some very big flags that trouble was brewing. But, hindsight is always 20/20.

      Caving in to a controlling person can seem like the “easiest” way to go. Ultimately, rewarding someone for being controlling doesn’t end well. I think a lot of husbands feel like they can’t make waves and don’t want to upset their wives. They want them to be happy. Especially considering how easily a wife can file for divorce today without any cause. But, there are times when it is unwise to give someone what she wants if giving it to her feeds idolatry, pride, selfishness, entitlement, etc… in her life. This puts many husbands in a lose/lose situation. If they refuse to cooperate with their wives or to submit to their wives, their wives will leave. But if they give their wives what they demand, more and more damage is done to the marriage and family. There are no easy answers here. One husband I know of decided not to cave to is wife. You can find his story at It was a rough journey for many years, but they have a very beautiful relationship today.

      I am sure there is plenty of guilt on both sides. I am glad you can see things more clearly now.
      Thankfully, there is hope in Christ, my brother!! He is able to heal your pain, your soul, your heart, and give you His supernatural peace and joy. Even now. All is not lost if you have Christ!!! He is completely capable of making something so beautiful from your life. A woman can never meet the deepest needs of your soul. Only Jesus can do that.

      I am praying for you today, my brother!

    2. John,

      I hope that you realize that your wife would have acted like this no matter to whom she was married. She had issues in her own heart that had nothing to do with you. Yes, you had your own insecurities and wounds and issues, too. But you are not responsible for her sin. You are only responsible for your own sin. She is responsible for hers and will stand accountable to God for her sin. If having children was that big of an idol for her, and she was willing to go to the extreme lengths she went to with you to get her way, she would have done the same thing with another husband, too.

      I don’t want you to try to carry the weight of responsibility for things that are really her responsibility. You are only responsible for you. I don’t think her behavior really had much of anything to do with you. I think it just revealed what was going on in her soul.

      I hope that makes sense!

  2. April, thank you very much for this post! True, when I thought abot my husband’s grandmother and her negativity and controlling issues (though she seemed to get better after grandfather’s passing), it always used to repel, but not draw us towards her… So, yes, I think this kind of approach won’t be good with our husbands at all. Sometimes I can be rather harsh with my hubby, but I am working with God’s grace for my disrespectful behaviour to be show less and less.

    1. Anna,
      I think if we had to see ourselves on camera, we would be appalled at times at how scary we can look when we are being disrespectful. I used to talk about a woman who really scared and intimidated me who was very controlling toward me, and was shocked when Greg said I had been way scarier. Ouch!

      Looking at how we feel when we are around other controlling women is a great way to “turn a mirror on ourselves” and to imagine how our husbands feel when we act that way. The older a woman gets, the harder it can be for her to change. I am glad to hear that your husband’s grandma seems a bit more mellow now. It makes me so sad to watch women live in bitterness, resentment, unforgiveness, and to see the effects of all of those toxic sins over time. How I long to see everyone live in the power and abundant spiritual life Jesus offers to us!

  3. Its not very hard to think Of a woman with those behaviors towards me . To think that’s how my husband feels about me when Ive acted that way makes me shudder. Our hearts are so sinful and deceive us, The pastor at our church has been talking on this topic and it makes me sweat LOL Thanks for the great reminder April.

    1. Marie,

      Yea, it is painful to think about that our husbands may view us the way we view some controlling women in our lives. But, I think it really drives the message home to us about how destructive this behavior is when we can see what it is like to be in the receiving end of it. I am so glad God is working powerfully in your life!!

  4. April,

    A wonderful, wonderful post. How often extreme pain drives us to say or do something we regret later! My husband has said during a conflict, “I would never intentionally hurt you.” I think it’s wise to remember this, that often our husband’s behavior or words may be insensitive or less than perfect simply because they aren’t perfect people and don’t understand us perfectly or take the time to sift and measure their words perfectly before they speak. I need grace from my husband and try to extend it to him, but it’s so easy to feel hurt first and not see things in perspective right in the moment. It’s really true that our husbands can hear us even better with less emotion and fewer words, and I continue to work on this. Sometimes it’s really better to just let something go and not shine a spotlight on it by continued discussion. I also try to remember something my husband encouraged me to pray regarding someone with whom I had a problem: he said to ask God to love them through me. This helps shift the focus from me to them, and minimizes hurt. Negative behavior NEVER NEVER NEVER builds anything good, but taking the initiative to be understanding, peaceable, and loving does!

    I hope you are feeling better soon, and thank you again for this great post. Much love to you.

  5. Great post April. Hope you feel better fast and the temp goes down. The comment hindsight is 20 20 may be true, but it does us little good to have eyes in our backsides, lol.

  6. April,
    I pray you are feeling better. Heavenly Father we ask that you heal April, touch her body and bring her relief from this sickness. Give her strength to endure and bless her in your name for her faithfulness. In Christ our Lord. Amen

    God bless you April- Robert

  7. The point that some people/ in particular men bond without words was lifechanging for me when i read it some time ago on your blog. Great reminder today! Thanks so much! I always interpreted my husband behaviour totally wrong. I interpreted him passive, putting no effort into the marriage/relationship, but indeed he is just content, connected and at peace if i don’t destroy it with my expectations/ lashing out at him. MY PRAYER WE KEEP THIS IN MIND ALWAYS…

    1. Hisgraceissuffciient,
      Your comment made me laugh. That is how I used to view Greg, too. But you are so right. He was content, feeling connected and at peace unless I messed things up. 🙂

    1. Dear Peaceful Wife and Respected Husband,

      First, thank you. I’ve watched some videos.

      I’m a man, and looking at engagement with a Christian Girl.

      … I’d like to contribute some ‘suggestions’ for future Peaceful Wife and Respected Husband topics:

      Peaceful Wife:
      Gossip, slander, and the Spirit controlled tougue from the heart. (this is an issue in all cultures globally, of a failure of christian wives to not take problems to their children (daughters), family or friends…and how to deal with temptations when others do slander a mate.)

      Biblical helps from a born-again christian wife perspective, as to the life of Christ, His motives (heart) and his viewpoints or approaches (thoughts), towards empowering new change.

      WORDS.. the encouraging, edifying, focusing on the positives, being able to speak concerns then let them go, etc.

      Bible times, heart-memorization (what I call it…ask and I’ll share)… the family devotions, etc.

      Suffering, and how that is a gift of GOD in a loving marriage.. (taken from beginning of 1 Cor 13)

      …and perhaps a correction about ‘how we give in marriage’ for both men and wifes… to not look at the Christian Psychology book ‘Love Banks’ and follow JESUS’ model of the gospel of unearned, undeserved love, giving in marriage.

      For… Respected Husbands:

      Study kit (with scriptures) on how to study, appreciate, listen to, and therefore validate and love a wife.

      How to help a wife ‘keep a stable keel on Christ’ (i.e. assisting her or guiding her emotional swings or changing demands or desires)

      CALM-training for husbands, dealing with being like JESUS, by letting JESUS live through us to ‘respond to a wife when she is frustrated, rude, neglectful, etc.. and still give her love, guidance and patience, etc. (I find Jesus rather remarkably composed, NOT angry with the inconvenient demands often made on him even when he had serious needs (hunger, thirst, pain). My point is to love her like JESUS does us all; when she does not deserve it, when she is ‘off day’ troubled, or simply when we are either exhausted ourselves as men.

      THANK YOU… sincerely. Tim

      1. Tim,

        It’s a pleasure to meet you! Thank you for your suggestions. 🙂

        Here are some resources on my site related to your ideas:


        Your Words Can Cause Catastrophic Damage

        How Do You Stay Filled with the Holy Spirit?

        Choosing Your Girlfriends Wisely

        Giving Your Friends Godly Marriage Advice

        Respecting Your Man Around Extended Family – don’t air dirty laundry to others

        Why Won’t He Protect Me From His Family? – treat your man with respect around his family and your family and treat his family with respect

        Please search my home page for – idols, idolatry, prayer (biblical helps for wives) You can also look on the right column of my home page under “categories” and there are sections about growing in Christ, peace, joy, etc… You can search my home page for humility, as well. There is a section in categories “winning him without a word” which is about how wives can walk in obedience to God even when their husbands are not meeting their needs and are far from God.

        Speaking Life Giving Words to Our Husbands

        Wise Words and Kindness

        Where Words are Many Sin Is Not Absent

        Please search “suffering” and “pruning” on my home page search bar

        please search “prayer day” on my home page search bar

        Unconditional Respect – some things are unconditional, some are not

        I have MANY, MANY posts about a wife focusing on her end of the marriage and on her obedience, repenting of her sin, and loving, honoring, respecting, and blessing her husband no matter what he my be doing or not doing at the time. Please check out FAQs

        What does it mean to be an ungodly woman?

        Godly Femininity

        Stages of This Journey

        What Does Casting Your Cares on the Lord Look Like?

        The PMS Issue

        Much love in Christ to you, our brother!

  8. I’ve been praying for your full recovery. I hope you are feeling better! Merry Christmas to you and all your family!

  9. I was listening to a song by Melanie fiona called “It kills me” and in the song I heard her say ” Should I pay him back, to see how he reacts to my love.” Ive heard this song before; but because of this post that was the first time is really heard what she said.

    When women hurt they try to pay back. That has always been my mind set even growing up. Someone hurt me I just had to pay them back. How foolish was I. Now when someone hurts me I tell on them. ” Jesus did you see what they just did? Okay lord just making sure.” and then I try hard to let it go.

  10. A Man His Wife The Bible ~ April, what day was this testimony on on this blog? I couldn’t seem to find it. Do you know the day or the title of the post?
    Eliza 🙂

  11. April, sorry; I’m confused…you referenced his blog in your response to “John.” Weren’t you referencing his testimony about his not “caving in to his wife?” I wanted to read it but can’t find what you referenced. I’m not understanding your response.

    1. Eliza,

      He had shared some posts where he described their story on my blog. Those are currently down. I would assume he shares his story on his blog – but you can ask Robert to direct you to their story. I am so sorry for the confusion!

  12. Often, after a period of emotional distance from my husband, he will come back to me, wanting physical affection. After his physical needs are met, I usually receive a short period of emotional closeness, (we’re talking only 15-30 minutes sometimes though!), followed by more emotional distance. There is not always severe emotional distance, but there has been enough to make me feel resentment towards him sometimes when he finally requests my attention.

    Over the past year, I have been earnestly working on placing my hope and faith in Jesus instead of my husband and the harmony in my home has increased by leaps and bounds. I had made the mistake in the past of treating my human husband as my savior, thus putting way to much pressure on him and being disappointed when he wasn’t perfect.

    I said that to ask this: What specifically can I focus on when I’m not feeling physical and he is? The reason I’m asking here is because I think the the reaction I have towards him is vengeful and I know that’s wrong. Typing it out here, I have to admit I’m a bit ashamed because it seems like such a small and selfish issue but it takes up a lot of real estate in my brain.

    Do other women go through this? It’s not that he really treats me badly, it’s just that i wish he’d court me a little beforehand. And it’s not that he never courts me, but sometimes the emotional droughts are unbearable. I think Jesus may mean for me to go through thsee droughts to teach me to rely on him more completely. I have never denied my husband physically but I know he can tell when I’m feeling resentful. Thank you for this blog. It has been a tremendous help to my marriage and a wonderful resource for me personally!

    1. Kelice,

      This is a great question!

      I think there are several things going on here. A lot of husbands equate physical intimacy with every kind of connection and intimacy. To many of them, it is a profound experience of spiritual, emotional, and physical connection. A lot of men are not very verbal. I am assuming your husband is possibly one of those less verbal men? Him coming to you is probably his way of wanting to make up with you and reconnect and show you that he loves you. 15-30 minutes of emotional connection is AWESOME!!! Especially if he is not very verbal or emotionally expressive.

      I hope you will THANK him for wanting to reconcile and thank him for spending time with you emotionally, too. If you are able to see that this is how he is extending an olive branch to you, you may not feel so resentful. (Look up the phrase “olive branch” in my home page.)

      The other issue is, if you would prefer emotional and verbal connection first, you can ask for that respectfully. “Honey, thank you so much for reaching out to me and for wanting us to reconcile and be together again. Thank you for wanting to make things right. I want to be totally engaged and turned on for you, and what would really help me do that is a bit of emotional and verbal connection first for about 15-30 minutes. Maybe we can take turns giving each other a massage as we talk and that will help me get revved up for an amazing time together sexually.”

      What do you think?

      I am so thankful that God has used this blog to bless you. I praise Him for all that He is doin in you! It is so beautiful!! 🙂

      1. Yes, he’s extremely non-verbal and he has a very high pressure job so when he comes home in the evenings it’s all about depressurizing. Sometimes I’m invited into his “world” (e.g. talking about what’s on the news, listening to what happened at work that day), and sometimes I’m not.

        When we’re emotionally connected and he’s receptive to conversation I find myself sometimes only able to think, “He’ll be different tomorrow. This won’t last.” I’ve even said to him, “Tomorrow you won’t even know I’m alive!”

        I’ve been thinking about why it’s hurting more right now and I think it’s because we both just started back in full swing at work after a lot of days off during the holidays. We were both able to forget work for a while and we were spending some really nice days together! That’s a big deal because our extended time off together used to be a nightmare when I was disrespectful. This was actually our first really nice Christmas since the first year we were married.

        I think I just miss my husband. 🙂

        I’m glad you think 15-30 minutes of emotional closeness is a big deal. I think so too but I feel a little foolish feeling that way. But it is awesome, isn’t it?

        Tonight I think I’ll give my husband an unsolicited and silent shoulder and head massage. The next time he wants to connect emotionally I’ll thank him and definitely not say anything negative. I’ll try to keep the negative thoughts at bay too. I’m going to pray about the negative thinking.

        One of the best lessons I’ve taken away from this process is the realization that my husband is human. Taking the highly charged emotion out of any criticism I offer has also helped tremendously. I have set clear boundaries and if/when he crosses them I say so gently, succinctly, and then I remove myself from the conversation.

        1. Ha! And I just thought of what, specifically, I should concentrate on!
          Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable–if anything is excellent or praiseworthy–think about such things. Philippians 4:8

        2. Kelice,

          I wonder if you have read some of my posts about emotionally distant men and men who are not very verbal? I think they may be very helpful to see that your husband’s personality is probably just very different from yours, but he probably loves you with all his heart. I used to tell Greg, “What do you need from me?!?!” (no answer) “You wouldn’t even care if I died!” I would get so upset. But he really does love me, he is just not super verbal, especially under lots of pressure, especially when I am being very emotional in a negative way. I had to learn to see the ways HE shows his love for me and to appreciate that instead of demanding that he show and express love the way I do. One time he said, “You telling me I should just write you a love letter for Valentine’s day would be about as difficult for me as it would be for you if I said, ‘Just build me a set of shelves to show me you love me.'” Oh. Hmm… I’m not good at building shelves! That illustration really helped me to understand that just because words and emotions are super easy for me – the aren’t super easy for him. And that is not wrong. It doesn’t mean he doesn’t love me. It just means he’s not me and he’s not a woman. But I don’t want to be married to another me or to a woman! Now, I really love and appreciate the ways he shows his love for me – by working to provide well for us, by fixing things around the house, by building things for me, by fixing the cars, by taking care of the yard, by getting things for me if I am sick, by cuddling with me at night (even if we are not talking).

          There are SO MANY posts here that I believe will bless you. Let me know what you have read, and I can point you in the right direction, if you are interested, to some more helpful posts.

          I LOVE your plan for tonight!

          Check out “Taking Our Thoughts Captive for Christ”

          “Triggers for Sinful Thoughts”

          And please search:

          – husband shares
          – husband emotions
          – non-verbal
          – distant husband

          Much love!

          1. He parks outside in the cold so my daughter and i can park in the warm garage. He makes me a cup of coffee every morning. He hangs my towel over the shower rod so I dont have to open the shower to get my towel. He’s a nice guy! I’m off to read more posts. I swear I think I’ve read almost everything on this blog 2 or 3 times but it takes a while to sink in. Every time something triggers my old self i really have to work to remember what I’m supposed to do. I lived too proud and too stubborn for way too long but I’m so thankful to God for the changes He’s making in my life!

            1. Kelice,

              I would love for you to begin to make a list in a notebook of these sweet things he does to show you his love. Sounds like his way of expressing love is through serving you. So precious!

              I am excited about what God is doing in you! Definitely check out this post from this week if you haven’t seen it yet.

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