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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

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

  1. 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!

  2. 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!!

  3. 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.

  4. 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.

  5. 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. 🙂

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

  7. 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.

  8. 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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