Some questions from a dear sister in Christ (men and women are welcome to share any godly wisdom y’all may have about these issues):
1. How do I handle it when my husband asks my opinion, or my preference, and when I share it but it is the opposite of his, he then tells me that I am not letting him lead, that I’m always wanting to do things my own way? I feel like I should maybe take a while to be quiet and not give my opinion, and go along with whatever he wants to do rather than sharing my preferences.
There are many stages of this journey – for husbands and for wives. Many husbands have very little experience in leadership and they have a learning curve just like we do. Men will not automatically be awesome, mature, godly leaders. They must grow into this role. And, there is a long time period when wives begin to change where husbands are very skeptical about the changes that are happening and are not ready to trust their wives yet or feel safe with them.
- If a wife has been very disrespectful and controlling for a long time, there can be a time period where it may be wise for her to not share her opinion IF God leads her to do this.
This would only be for a few weeks/months. My husband tended to be very passive. When I began to submit to him and step down and stop taking control, I didn’t give my opinion about a lot of things for awhile. I wanted Greg to have the chance to be able to learn to decide things on his own without my constant input so he could get to know his own mind for awhile. Then, in time, I began to share my needs, desires, ideas, concerns in a respectful way.
That may not be the route God leads every wife. If a husband is more dominant, he may already know his mind and it may not be necessary for a wife to have a time of refraining from giving her opinion about things. When there are different dynamics and personalities – wives may need to approach things differently. This isn’t a one-size-fits-all journey.
There are multiple issues going on here. There is the issue of how and when the wife presents her desires, needs, ideas, and concerns. And there is the issue of how her husband responds at the time. Wives have no control over a husband’s response. We are responsible for ourselves to do the right thing on our end of the marriage and to honor, please, and obey God. I don’t like the idea of a wife not sharing her input – except possibly as a temporary measure.
How a husband responds may reveal his own issues. A wife cannot prevent her husband from getting upset if she doesn’t agree with him. Disagreeing is not the same thing as disrespecting. A wife may disagree with her husband but that has nothing to do with her ability to honor his leadership or her ability to respect her husband. As a husband sees that she disagrees with him respectfully, but still honors his decisions, he will – hopefully – in time, not get so upset.
It may take time for a husband to believe that his wife can disagree with him now AND still respect and honor him.
If a husband responds that his wife won’t let him lead because she disagrees with him, she can calmly, briefly, respectfully, gently, humbly say something like,
“I’m simply sharing my concerns with you. I plan to honor your leadership. I realize you are ultimately accountable to God for this decision, not me. Thanks so much for listening to my ideas/concerns. It means a lot to me that you would consider how I feel when we are facing a decision.”
(If a husband is not close to God, I would not mention God in the statement above.) And then – if he is not asking her to condone clear sin or to commit clear sin – she can pray for God to give her husband wisdom and cooperate with her husband’s leadership. (If a husband is not in his right mind due to drugs/alcohol/mental illness/severe sin issues/abuse, etc… wives – please seek appropriate, godly help, ASAP!)
2. My husband is a leader at church, has been baptized, and is a strong leader at home…but he gets angry easily, and often times when problems arise will say things like, “I know what the *Christian* thing to do here is, but that just isn’t realistic.” He has called me naïve for responding to ignorance with kindness. He tends to be extremely intolerant of anyone with a viewpoint contrary to his, or who handles something differently than he would. Is this a situation – even though my husband is a Christian – where I should try to “win him without a word” and not speak of how God’s word says we should react to things, or treat people?
Husbands have sin issues, too. Husbands are not always right. They have a lot of room for sanctification, just like we wives do. When a husband gets angry easily like this, it can be scary for a wife. My thoughts, for whatever they are worth, are that a wife could:
- continue to respond in the power of God’s Spirit
- stay close to God herself
- seek to be sensitive to God’s Spirit’s prompting about what to say, what not to say, how to say it, and when to say it
- share her ideas if her husband directly asks for her opinion in the way that God inspires her to
- pray for God to work in her husband’s heart to accomplish His good purposes, to sanctify him, and to give him God’s wisdom
- trust God’s Spirit to do the work of conviction in him
- pray about how she might bless her husband as he is learning and growing
- seek God’s wisdom about if/when/how she needs to address what he is saying or sin in his life (Confronting Our Husbands about Their Sin)
- focus on I Peter 3:1-6, I Corinthians 13:4-8, Galatians 5:22-26
- focus on being the wife and woman God commands her to be, knowing she will be accountable to Him for herself independently, no matter what her husband does or does not do
- realize that ultimately she answers to God not to her husband – it would be ideal if she can please both God and her husband, but if she must choose between the two, she must choose Christ in a humble, respectful, gentle way (for more details about this, please see Spiritual Authority)
- there may be times when God impresses on her heart to say something, there may be times when God impresses on her heart to leave him alone and allow God to handle it without any verbal input from her
- remember that the closer a husband is to God, the more he can hear his wife about spiritual things, the farther away he is from God, the less her words about spiritual things will help and the more they might hurt (I Peter 3:1-6) – in those times her godly attitude, behavior, and respect will be much more powerful than her words to her husband
3. If a husband screams and yells, what can a wife do?
This will depend on your specific husband’s personality, how severe the yelling/screaming is and what works best for both of you and your particular personalities. Some possible suggestions that have worked for different wives – not all of these will apply in every situation:
- stay calm yourself
- calmly ask your husband, “Please speak in a normal tone of voice.”
- say, “It scares me when you yell at me.” or “I feel afraid when you yell at me. That makes it hard for me to trust you and hard for me to listen well. I don’t want to feel afraid of you.” – for some husbands, telling them they scare you makes things much worse, please see the comments.
- say, “Please don’t yell at me. I want to hear what you are saying, but I can’t hear your message when you yell/raise your voice at me.”
- say, “I would appreciate it if you would please speak to me more gently, please.” (If you yell and scream at your husband often, please correct your own sin way before you attempt to address his! Matthew 7:1-5)
- sometimes a firm, confident answer works best
- sometimes a gentle whisper works best
- sometimes silence works best
- say, “I’d like to talk about this – but I think we may need to cool down a bit first, please.”
- say, “I can hear you so much better when you talk to me more gently.”
- avoid sarcasm
- avoid responding sinfully yourself – avoid yelling, don’t throw his faults/his past sins in his face
- don’t seek vengeance (“Do I Have the Right to Punish My Husband?”, “I’ll Show Him!” Why Revenge Kills Relationships)
- sometimes a husband won’t respect a wife who will “allow him” to yell and scream at her, but he will respond to her setting firm boundaries, i.e.: “It is not ok for you to treat me like this. I’m going to leave for awhile and then maybe we can talk about this in a few hours/tomorrow.”
- there is really no reason, in my view, for a husband or wife to yell and scream – that is disrespectful no matter who is doing the yelling and screaming and does not display the power of God’s Spirit in our lives – He gives us the power to have love, peace, joy, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control
- calmly excuse yourself (some husbands get more angry if a wife tries to leave, this will require godly wisdom)
- gently ask to have some time to calm down and resume the discussion again at X time
- diffuse the tension with humor (this only works on certain husbands and only with certain kinds of attempts at humor – certainly don’t attempt to make him the object of a joke – a wife’s attempt at humor in this situation may cause some husbands to feel even more disrespected and angry)
- I don’t recommend yelling and screaming back at him, that is usually like pouring gasoline on a fire
- it’s probably best not to try to defend yourself, explain yourself, or try to prove your point to him when he is this riled up – he probably cannot hear anything you try to say at this moment
- it could be wise to repeat back to him what you hear him say with some husbands
- it could be wise to wait until another time when he is calm for you to share your ideas, thoughts, concerns, and perspective briefly, preferably after you have done a lot of praying for God’s wisdom
- if he tries to leave, let him go so he can have time and space to process – do not follow him!
- if he goes silent, give him time and space – unless you know you need to apologize for something, then apologize briefly without justifying or explaining why you did something that upset him (the more we explain and justify, the more disrespectful we often sound to our husbands)
- if you did something wrong, briefly apologize – but you don’t have to take responsibility for things that you didn’t do or if you truly didn’t do something wrong
- you may need to talk to a godly wife mentor, or comment anonymously here, but don’t go tell everyone all the hateful, mean things your husband said when he was angry
- keep in mind that sometimes men don’t mean what they say when they are very angry (sometimes women don’t either) – that doesn’t mean it is ok for them to explode – but it does mean that it may be wise not to take everything they say super personally
- some couples do better if they write out their concerns and thoughts and aren’t interrupted
- some couples do best if they each take turns taking 1-2 minutes to talk while the other one only listens
If a man is yelling and screaming and is totally out of control – that is because the Spirit of God is not in control at that time in his life. His response is about HIS character, not yours. Don’t purposely try to provoke him. Seek to honor and respect him and to not sin against him. But don’t take responsibility for his behavior and sin.
This is a situation where a wife will need extreme sensitivity to God’s Spirit. Some husbands respond best to a direct, respectful, firm, polite confrontation. “Please stop yelling at me.” “Please speak to me in a calm tone of voice.” “Please don’t raise your voice. I care about what you want to say. I promise I am listening.” Some husbands would get even more upset if a wife tries to leave. If you are in any danger, please get help ASAP! (I am not writing for wives with abusive husbands. – please check this post for resources)
Let’s keep in mind that anger is often a secondary emotion to pain, hurt, disappointment, or sadness. Men don’t usually cry in our culture. When men are upset, they are more likely to shut down or explode. What is the REAL issue? Is he hurting in some way?
Sometimes, if we can hear our husband’s real message and address that, we might be able to diffuse his anger. If he feels understood, he may calm down.
ie: If a husband suddenly gets angry, a wife may want to check to see if she just did something disrespectful. She may even want to ask what Dr. Emerson Eggerichs’ suggests in Love and Respect, “That felt unloving, did I do something disrespectful just now?” Or, she may just want to say, “Yikes! Was what I just said/did disrespectful to you?” If it was, please simply apologize, take responsibility for what you did and don’t justify yourself or explain why you said/did what you did. Or, a wife may just say something like, “Hmm… something has upset you. Could we talk about it?” (Different husbands need different approaches.)
Another thing to keep in mind is that if we are unknowingly coming across disrespectfully, our husbands may respond in anger. Their emotions are their issues. We are not responsible for them emotionally. However, we are responsible TO them to treat them with honor, godly love, and respect. Sometimes our men are responding to the messages they think we are sending. If we are being disrespectful, it may be a good thing for us to work on getting rid of any intentional or unintentional disrespect and to focus on learning what respect means to our husbands.
- Several wives have shared that their husbands scream and curse at them for prolonged periods of time, even waking their wives up to yell at them for hours.
That is NOT ok. I don’t believe husbands or wives need to yell and scream at each other – ever. But screaming for hours?!?! Greg and I talked about that scenario and we both agreed that if a spouse is yelling and screaming for hours – that is emotionally abusive – and I don’t use that word lightly. (If that is your situation, you may want to seek out godly, experienced, appropriate help ASAP.)
A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger. Proverbs 15:1
I’d love for some wives (and husbands) with godly wisdom to share how God has lead them to handle this kind of very difficult situation. This is not a one-size-fits-all issue. How I pray we will each be very sensitive to whatever God may be speaking to us in each circumstance and in each moment, that we might walk in the power of His Spirit and in obedience to His promptings.
Got an Angry Husband? Nina Roesner shares some powerful examples of different ways God has led wives to respond to angry husbands. This is SO worth your time!
How to Deal with Conflict in Marriage – by Daniel
Conflict Resolution in Marriage – by Rev. H.A. Weaver
A Wake Up Call for Wives – let’s be sure WE are not emotionally or verbally abusing our husbands or yelling and screaming at them!
A Wife’s Influence Authority -Rev. H.A. Weaver
Responding to Our Husbands’ Constructive Criticism – video
What Does the Bible Say about Anger – www.gotquestions.org
Sacred Influence – by Gary Thomas – describes several wives and how they respond with honor, love, respect, and godliness to their angry husbands