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Husbands May Not Force Their Wives into Biblical Submission

Me in May of 2014 - full of the love, joy, peace and presence of God. Living in Him is SO much better than clinging to all my pride, self-righteousness, bitterness, unforgiveness, idolatry of self, idolatry of happiness, anxiety and fear!!!!!

Sometimes violent, ungodly husbands attempt to twist my words and the Bible to justify their sin and abuse against their wives. That is NEVER ok with me and I NEVER condone any kind of abuse or sin against anyone! (For a good definition of abuse, please check out this post.) When I see this kind of thing happening, I try to address it right away – which is what I am doing in today’s post. So, I am talking today about husbands who seriously threaten their wives’ lives or health or who do things like demand their wives worship them as God. This is the kind of “abuse” I am talking about right now. Very serious abuse. I want wives to know that this is not ever okay!

Scripture never commands husbands to violently force their wives into biblical submission and never permits or condones abuse or any kind of sin or harm to one’s spouse or anyone else. Even our enemies – we are to treat kindly, to pray for them, to minister to them, and to bless them and overcome evil with good (Romans 12:9-21). How much more should spouses treat each other well with the very love of God (I Corinthians 13:4-8)!?!?

Biblical submission is something a wife first gives to Christ as her ultimate Authority – just like all believers do. Then a wife voluntarily and intelligently decides to honor her husband’s leadership out of her love and reverence for Christ. Jesus is the absolute authority, not a husband.

The husband is a delegated human authority who will answer to Christ for  every aspect of his leadership.

God doesn’t command wives to make their husbands love them. And He doesn’t command husbands to make their wives respect or submit to them.
The Bible teaches Christlike, selfless, sacrificial male headship/leadership – not abusive, violent, hateful, selfish, prideful, tyrannical male domination. There is a big difference between the two! Husbands are to seek to do what they believe God desires them to do according to the Bible more than what their wives want them to do. Their wives ideas, opinions, needs, concerns, and suggestions are very important – but ultimately, husbands answer to God for their decisions and should do what God desires them to do even if their wives disagree.

God gave us each free will. He doesn’t override it. He is sovereign at the same time in a mysterious way that we can’t fully comprehend. But we don’t have the right to try to control other people. We only control ourselves.

TO CLARIFY:

  • Husbands don’t get to force their wives to do things with threats of violence, real violence, or by demanding that their wives worship them instead of God (Yes, I have seen that happen several times).
  • Wives don’t get to force their husbands to do things with threats of violence, real violence, or by demanding that their husbands worship them instead of God.
  • We are responsible to obey God ourselves and we can trust God to work in other people’s hearts to change them. We can only control ourselves if we have the Holy Spirit working in us.
  • Husbands and wives may address sin in their spouses’ lives.

If a wife is not safe with her husband and he is threatening to kill her or their children – she needs to leave for her own safety and seek outside, appropriate, experienced help ASAP. (The same is true for husbands who are not safe with their wives. If a spouse is threatening to kill you – please get out and get somewhere safe as soon as possible! Keep in mind, that sometimes if a violent spouse realizes the other spouse is trying to leave, that can be a very dangerous time. Please research options discreetly before making a move if possible. And pray for God’s wisdom!)

A wife’s submission is NEVER slavery or oppressive in Scripture! No one is to be unsafe in marriage or in a family!

God commands husbands to love their wives as Christ loved the church and to be gentle with them (Eph. 5:22-33, I Peter 3:7) – without qualification. He commands wives to respect and submit to their husbands as to the Lord (Eph, 5:22-33, I Peter 3:1-2). This does not mean a husband cannot be firm. He may need to be firm at times.

A husband may ask his wife to follow his lead – if she will not – and he is not asking her to sin or condone sin – she will answer to God for her disobedience to Him. He may confront his wife’s sin if she is sinning – according to Matt. 7:1-5 and 18:15-17 – just like a wife may confront her husband in a godly, humble way with pure motives. But he has no right to try to use violence or threats of violence against her. He may need to give some consequences if his wife is in sin, but that does not involve hatred, sinful anger, or violence. He may need to say, “I believe you are sinning against me and against God right now because of your attitude/behavior. This needs to stop.” A wife may not threaten her husband with violence either, even if she may need to give consequences if her husband is involved in serious, unrepentant sin.
If a husband tries to lead his wife in ways that are against God’s Word and that are violent or clearly sinful, then a wife is to obey God rather than men (Acts 5:29). And she may need to seek godly, biblical help – or even police help – depending on the situation. If a husband is involved in unrepentant serious sin like adultery, abuse, drug/alcohol addictions, or is not in his right mind… it may not be safe for a wife to submit at that time until a husband gets these issues handled and is able to be in his right mind again. Trust will need to be rebuilt over time and probably with outside appropriate help in such cases.

I plan to have a follow up post about what a husband’s appropriate leadership looks like and how there are many wives who claim “abuse” when their husbands are actually trying to lead in a godly way. I have a preview of that post in the comments on this post.

For more on these issues, please check out:
Spiritual Authority
Do I Condone Abuse?
Husbands Are Never the Absolute Authority
My Beliefs (The Danvers Statement)

Why I Don’t Write for Women with Abusive Husbands

And please search my home page for all the posts about:

Biblical Submission

National Hotline for Domestic Abuse

RESOURCES FOR HUSBANDS AND WIVES:

Love and Respect by Dr. Emerson Eggerichs

Recovering Biblical Manhood and Womanhood – free download edited by Wayne Grudem and John Piper, there are several chapters that describe godly male leadership in great detail. Chapter one is a great place to start. It also describes godly femininity and a godly wife’s role, as well. Fantastic resource for men and women!

Biblical Foundations for Manhood and Womanhood – Wayne Grudem

John Piper’s resources on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood at www.desiringgod.org 

Biblical Manhood and Womanhood – David Platt Secret Church

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76 thoughts on “Husbands May Not Force Their Wives into Biblical Submission

  1. My question for you about this is, though: what does a man do when he is faced with a woman who causes him harm?

    A friend of mine I know is absolutely hurting her husband by her lack of contribution or any cooperation in their home. What does he do? Does he just have to hurt?

    I guess what I’m seeing is that, when a man doesn’t “do his part” a woman has options. Okay, but if a woman doesn’t do her part, and he is done incredible harm as so many husbands have been (as you have written in the past, some even felt suicidal), what are his options, in your view?

    1. Sorry, I mean the man I know is my friend. His wife doesn’t cooperate or contribute and in so doing has done him tons of harm. It’s frustrating to hear him talk over the years because it seems like she just doesn’t change and somehow he’s practically forced around by her.

      Obviously, “submission” or even basic cooperation isn’t happening. I’ve seen him suffer and suffer.

      What does he do? How does this end? If he got “abusive” that would be a no-no, but what could he do to relieve his suffering, given that she just isn’t changing?

    2. JC,

      Husbands may certainly leave if they are being attacked by their wives or if they are not safe. Are you talking about violence and legitimate abuse? Anyone who is seriously not safe in their marriage who is being threatened with violence may leave. There are other types of abuse that can be very severe where a spouse may need to leave, as well.

      If she is just not earning money or helping with the house – my guess would be something is going on spiritually with her – depression, spiritual warfare or bondage of some type… He can seek to minister to her and to pray with and for her. Husbands and wives hurt when one spouse is unplugged and not contributing – but that usually doesn’t mean that the other spouse needs to leave. It does mean that it is time to look to God for wisdom, spiritual power, help, direction, and resources.

      All sin hurts our spouses. But not all sin is grounds for a spouse to leave. God wants us to live in His power so that we don’t sin against each other. But if we do sin, we need to immediately repent and get right with Him and with our spouses.

      1. I feel that Proverbs’ reference to the contentious woman (which is obviously what this is) tells us two things: the harm she does to a man is very severe, such that he’d be better off unmarried without a house and stuck in the desert (Proverbs 21:19), and that changing his situation is beyond his control (Proverbs 27:16).

        If those passages exist for anything, I would think that it’s to alert us that a man needs major outside support as the idea of him dealing with it himself is a totally unreasonable (and sinful) expectation–a gesture as pitiful as giving him the corner of a roof to live on would be better than what is usually offered (Proverbs 21:9).

        Call it my “opinion,” if you will.

        1. In my humble opinion, and I suffer no lack of empathy for this man, he needs to build a support network around him and develop strong relationships with family and friends that help him keep his head on straight.

  2. Agree with everything you said. BUT…loving, not harsh, gentle, unselfish- as defined by Christ & His Word and not by the world. In other words we are to treat our wives as Christ treated(s) the church- and if we read the Bible that is not always warm and fuzzies. Nor does it mean we don’t ask for things that are uncomfortable. Christ is repeatedly not what we expect towards his disciples and followers in today’s definition of not being “abusive.”

    I’m sorry to state this as you and I have discussed this many times and are on the same page but I always worry that we begin painting husbands back into this corner that is not scriptural when we make these statements that IF we have a good understanding of scripture and who Christ was/is and what He did/does- but many of us don’t have that understanding and the lenses we view things from taint the message sent.

    If we view things through today’s lense Christ was “abusive” to His church. But we both know that the problem is not Christ and how He treated His church but today’s lense of what is acceptable, loving and sacrificial.

    Happy Independence Day to you and your family. In Christ, Robert

    1. That, and how can a captain lead his crew if he is totally defenseless against harm that his crew does to him?

      The truth is also that in other authority positions in the world (military, job, church leaders, etc.), the authority is PROTECTED from subordinates’ harm. Otherwise how could he fulfill his duty, let alone that his own life, value and dignity is important unto itself?

      I’m just saying: what do we expect to happen when husbands are hurt by their wives? Are we even attempting to answer this question? Aren’t we trying to float half of a boat here if we don’t answer this question?

      1. PS I’m NOT saying that I want to see husbands abusing their wives. But at the same time, aren’t men being abused if they are not offered solutions, and we just complain when they come up with their own?

        1. Yes, it is a form of abuse, but it’s not quantifiable and is impossible to take into a court of law, so there are no legal recourse to this type of abuse. It’s a really tough scenario that has been created. I can’t do anything other than have empathy with the horrible state of the relationship, and maybe we can pray for that person.

          In your posts I haven’t heard much about your friend’s spiritual walk. Perhaps these are the times God is using to draw Himself closer to your friend, and you could be the spark to personally lead him to Christ. In the greatest evil, God shows that he can triumph, because there is always good to glean from the tribulations.

          For some people it doesn’t feel like you’re helping, but a prayer for the withdrawn spouse is worthwhile as well. Pray that she might have a moment of clarity, and that God sets her heart on fire.

      2. JC,

        Because I don’t write for husbands, I am not telling men what to do in these situations. However, the same options wives have to leave if necessary for their safety, are available to men, as well.

        There is also a lot more detail about godly male leadership in the resources I shared that my brothers may be interested in reading.

    2. I agree completely about truly abusive men not using your blog (or any blog/teaching) to justify violence against their wives. There is no place for it at all.

      I just worry that in today’s culture, we can paint men as truly abusive who are not way too easily. God bless-

      1. Robert,

        I just added a bit about that husbands do have the ability to confront sin in their wives’ lives. I don’t want to say a husband cannot lead or ask his wife to do things she doesn’t agree with. Sometimes godly leadership requires a man to make difficult and unpopular choices.

        I don’t ever want to paint godly men into a corner. But I do want truly abusive men to stop using my blog to justify violence against their wives.

        It can be difficult to get this message across clearly – especially considering different people’s filters and experiences.

        Please pray that God might empower me to be as clear as possible and that His Spirit might work in all who read my blogs.

        I agree that the word “abuse” is VERY overused. It makes this topic so difficult! Some wives think “abuse” means that their husband wants them to do something they simply don’t agree with. That is not abuse. But when there is violence or a husband demands to be worshipped in place of Christ – and uses my blog to attempt to force that on his wife – I have to speak against that.

        If there is a way I can communicate against the real abuse while still empowering other husbands in their leadership, I am all ears.

        I address the issue of the definition of abuse in this post.

        1. April,
          I think the rub comes in the definition of modern words and expectations- both their meanings and their lack of biblical reality. We say husbands are to be loving and gentle. Okay, what does loving and gentle look like? It certainly doesn’t look like Jesus Christ as we now define those words. Were there moments of His life that looked like modern loving and gentleness- certainly but they encompass only a small portion of what biblical gentleness and love look like.

          What does forcing wifely submission look like?

          Truly abusive men don’t care what you think, say or teach. In fact nothing short of a large man or the police standing in their way will change them (short of the Holy Spirit), and that is just in the moment. It will change the moment the large man/men leave or the police leave. It is a sickness in them of sin, selfishness and destruction in them. Your telling them that you won’t have your teaching justifying their behavior doesn’t mean squat to them.

          But when words are stated that a husband cannot force his wife- without defining force- and that husbands are to be loving, gentle and sacrificial- without defining those words- it puts up a lot of road blocks in wives minds and hearts because they have notions of what gentle, loving and sacrificial looks like but those might not be biblical notions.

          In other words, we as christian husbands already have the deck stacked against us in the current culture we live in- both in church and out of church. We are painted into a corner. Just asking your wife to be submissive is considered abusive in today’s world. As is not giving her her way. Wives can be the abusive ones and husbands are the ones held guilty. Both in the church and the legal system.

          In other words, the only men you are scaring are the ones who care about their wives and doing things God’s way- the ones who are NOT abusive, but scared by the climate of the culture we live. The abusive ones could care less what you say. But for the ones who are trying to be godly husbands because they are hemmed in on every side by people attacking them and God’s ways we put another road block in their path in one of the few places left in the western world that is actually on their team versus the thousands on the other side.

          So who are you really speaking to- the wives, right? Then defining what gentle and loving and not harsh is the most paramount task, because I can guarantee you it is not what most think it is. As most understand their meanings is not what is found in the four gospels of the One who lived out those words. Defining what those words are, what force is, is of the up most importance.

          To put it another way, what I’m asking all of us to do is not use the words alone. Do not lean on our own understanding but turn to God’s Word and read about how Christ treated force, love, gentleness, not being harsh. Pull the stories and actual words of Christ’s life to define those words. We’ve all been bamboozled into falsehood’s from the world as we define these things and if we are not careful we further the falsehood cause.

          You know there is no bigger fan of your teaching than I (and my wife), but because you teach on what wife’s duties are and rarely teach on a husband’s (and rightly so) when we try to get an understanding of a husband’s in a paragraph that is loaded with words that have loaded meanings it’s a trip hazard for even the biblically literate and God intentioned. Sorry to be a pain in your backside. Keep up the good work. God bless-

          1. Thankful Husband,

            I realize that abusive husbands won’t care what I say – but if they are telling their wives to read my blog – my prayer is that their wives will read what I say and realize that their husbands are not speaking biblical truth to them when they threaten to beat them up if they don’t do whatever their husbands want them to do. I explained force in the post by describing violence or threats of violence – but perhaps I was not clear enough?

            I do agree that all of these words are easily misunderstood or misinterpreted. I spend the vast majority of posts of my blog speaking to wives about submission and respect and how those things are not optional for believing women. I have so many examples of what various words mean – but I just don’t know how I can fit all of this into one post that is under 1500 words. It would need to be a book – which is what Recovering Biblical Manhood and Womanhood is. And then there is the David Platt Secret Church series on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood that is 4 hours long. These resources I linked to are places where women and men can go for further in depth study on these topics.

            There are women – I don’t know how many – who are making self destructive, potentially deadly choices because their husbands twist MY words and God’s words. I know that this is a relatively small portion of my readers – but I need to be able to address this. I don’t want women to think that biblical submission means staying and getting killed – like the wife who commented on my post on Thursday. Or like the sister of a wife who commented on my blog this morning about her sister’s abusive husband who uses my blog to mistreat his wife. If these women read this, perhaps they will realize that they need to get out and get somewhere safe. Perhaps they will seek appropriate help and not continue to stay and have knives drawn at their throats. There are some who tell these women that a respectful, submissive wife would allow her husband to do such things, stay, and say nothing about it. I want them to hear very clearly from me that this idea is not true!

            The fact that this issue exists at all on my blog causes me such grief and heartbreak. I can’t even count how many disclaimers I have and how many posts I have about this issue – and yet – so many continue to misunderstand in such destructive ways. I want to do all I can on my end to prevent confusion. But maybe I am creating more confusion.

            I want more than anything to handle God’s Word rightly and to be faithful and obedient to my Lord. I want His commendation. I want to protect those who are most vulnerable from real abuse. I want to sharpen those who need sharpening – by the power of Scripture and His Spirit.

            I will prayerfully consider your suggestions tonight with many tears and with a heart that longs only to please God and to speak the truth in love to my sisters.

            Thank you for the admonition.

            In Him,
            April

          2. “In other words, we as christian husbands already have the deck stacked against us in the current culture we live in- both in church and out of church. We are painted into a corner. Just asking your wife to be submissive is considered abusive in today’s world. As is not giving her her way. Wives can be the abusive ones and husbands are the ones held guilty. Both in the church and the legal system.

            In other words, the only men you are scaring are the ones who care about their wives and doing things God’s way- the ones who are NOT abusive, but scared by the climate of the culture we live. The abusive ones could care less what you say. But for the ones who are trying to be godly husbands because they are hemmed in on every side by people attacking them and God’s ways we put another road block in their path in one of the few places left in the western world that is actually on their team versus the thousands on the other side.”

            This is very astute. I love the words “on their team,” because like you say there’s a scarcity of a “team” to be on.

            I got a critique back on my book in which a male and female character fall in love but I was accused of “misogynist undertones” because all she seemed to care about was supporting him (the women support the men). The women were honored and treated well for what they did and I esteemed the characters a great deal–but according to this guy, it’s hateful of women.

            Support for husbands just plain needs to be stronger, is the problem. But who is left who has the time, energy, and resources to do so? Men are on their knees no matter what in this culture, and yet expected to be strong leaders, almost nowhere can I find genuine support, restoration, and compassion for Christian men (in general) let alone in marriage situations.

            It reminds me of what was said to the Pharisees: “Woe to you lawyers also! For you load people with burdens hard to bear, and you yourselves do not touch the burdens with one of your fingers.” (Luke 11:46)

            That is how Christian men are treated: negativity and condemnation and “responsibilities” from BOTH sides of the issue (feminism vs biblical) having almost nothing but beat-ons–while genuinely desiring to do good.

            Some of us WANT to be righteous men/husbands. But how are we, who want to do good, truly supported?

            Sometimes when you LONG for something offered to you during your aspirations to do good–entailing the full spectrum of accountability, loving support, protection, restoration, etc.–like you say, we’re hedged in on all sides. But there’s almost nothing supporting, with back-breaking and angry expectations either way.

          3. JC,

            As you know – I completely support husbands’ headship – and the vast majority of my posts are about how we as wives can support our husbands’ leadership and cooperate and work together with them as a team. What I do not support is male or female domination, criminal acts, violence, true oppression, and real abuse.

            This particular post is about men who are truly ungodly and violent where women are being threatened with murder or bodily injury or where husbands are demanding that their wives bow down and worship them literally in the place of God. I cannot support these things and want to be very clear about that these kinds of husbands are not leading in appropriate ways and that there are times when wives need to leave in such situations.

            But I wholeheartedly support godly male headship – and I believe that you are well aware of this. I plan to have a post later this week fro wives whose husbands are truly not being abusive to support their leadership and the necessity of husbands confronting their wives’ sin.

            Much love, my brother!

          4. April,

            Oh yeah, I’m with you: it’s a frustrating disaster we have on our hands. I want everything to succeed and avoid such ugliness on so many fronts.

            A man on a Christian forum (moderator, actually) I tend to butt heads with regularly said something very similar about men, like enduring abuse from women is part of “be a man.” He told a story about how his wife hit him with a skillet, then called the police who came and arrested him and he’s on the books as domestic violence offender. This is a VERY common story! Male DV victims are usually not believed. Undisputed statistic: the highest rates of domestic violence are found between lesbian couples! Not heterosexual couples, not homosexual male couples–lesbian couples! He says that a man who can’t “weather” whatever abuse a woman dishes out isn’t a real man. The women on the forum love him for the way he worships women at the expense of men, and there are many men like him.

            Another man (again, moderator)–again, the Christian women love this guy for it–said he speaks to married couples. He has an attitude that yes, a woman can be controlling, but a man ought to be capable of dealing with it and made excuses for women. I quoted the passages of the “contentious woman” which CLEARLY indicate that a man CAN’T be expected to deal with her (“he who restrains her restrains the wind or catches oil in his right hand”). I said, so if a man comes to you, and says “I’m stuck with the contentious woman,” what do you do for him? He had NO answer.

            My reaction to the scenes and disaster you speak about–which I’m with you–was just this: what if men were actually loved from ministry before the fact?

            If I can make myself excruciatingly clear, if a husband is struggling to endure his wife (just as wives often struggle to endure their husbands), but never gets any support, things lead to a scene that unbelievably ugly for a guy who is driven out of his mind. Would as many men be driven to violence if resources existed to nurture and support them before that point? That is, while he’s enduring hardships in marriage.

            These are the kinds of things I consider when I renounced marriage for myself: I do not know how I would endure the situations men have to face given the lack of compassion and action to heal and support men in the church–men are simply routinely abandoned while held to high expectations. And when something goes wrong in a man’s behavior or performance, there’s little interest in healing the person, just “men step up!” There is such an incredible amount of dehumanizing poison for men in the place of compassion and support (has Jason ever given you a spiel about all the horror he sees regularly? He endures a LOT more than I do! Though it’s still incredibly hurtful).

            When you feel alone and cornered in the world, it does things to you. Big time.

            I care about BOTH the men and women in the whole scene, and I often think of how much better men could meet women’s needs if the church (demonstrably) loved them as much. 😉

            So for the sake of men AND women, a big part of my frustration was that, well, isn’t this the kind of disaster we can expect when the culture refuses to support men in distress and then men come up with their own answers? Isn’t this a simple factor of reaping and sowing? And I thought of my friend who is totally controlled by his wife, and how many men are driven toward suicide in their marriages, even. It hurts BOTH the husbands and wives in these scenes.

            “Love your neighbor as yourself” can be harder to do when you feel worthless yourself. A LOT of Christian culture has its backhanded ways of telling men they are worthless, apart from how they perform. Many problems for men AND women would heal if that changed (such as porn problems, as I have my own take on solutions for a lot of these things). It is upsetting that people prefer to see everyone–men AND women–hurt rather than actually learn to love men in the church. Many men are crying out, weary of their personhood being ignored, and (like me) just saying that marriage does not look like something we could endure in the context modern world despite how much we might otherwise want it–that includes seeing how other husbands suffer in abandonment.

            Anyway I’m just saying this to a reasonable person who is equally interested in seeing disaster being solved, for the sake of people and marriages.

          5. JC,

            I love the idea of us all just not sinning against each other – by the power of God’s Spirit working in us – and us all loving each other with the love of Jesus and seeking His glory above all else.

            Is that too much to ask? 🙂

          6. April,

            Oh sure, and for neither for women feeling like submission is a self-lobotomizing/devaluing affair, nor for men to feel like headship is a dehumanizing one that means they shouldn’t receive as much love/support.

            And for this not to swing back and forth in “this for that” or “back at you” thinking in the discussion.

      2. Thankful Husband,

        I totally agree that is possible. And I don’t want to do that. I am thinking about a post to help balance this – it is VERY, VERY difficult to attempt to reach the entire spectrum of people on this issue in one post! How do I address the violent husbands and the ones who demand their wives to worship them as Christ – AND address passive husbands and those who are reluctant to lead. How do I address wives who truly are abused and wives who really aren’t being abused so that both groups hear and understand clearly.

  3. I might add…
    Both husband and wife need each other to effectively grow up in Christ in their marriage. The idea that submission is voluntary so a husband has no role in moving his wife towards this healthy Christian role is a falsehood taught in far too many churches. It is a big part of why Christian wives often maintain their unsubmissive state because they try to independently achieve something God requires be done achieved under a husband’s leadership. To gain such leadership all that needs to happen is a wife asks for it. That may be the first step to learning such a role, is to ask a husband to help lovingly teach it to her or at least to participate with her on this important journey.

    Three times I reminded my wife that the God asks her to be submissive, and she said, “Yes, but you can’t make me!” My response was, “You are correct, but you need to talk to God about this.” Her Spirit inside spoke to her and convicted her that indeed, even if her husband was not perfect himself, she had no choice but to obey the Word of God is she wanted to walk in righteousness. Now we have a fabulous marriage. Not just because she is submissive, but because I set the rule that no fleshly sins are allowed in our home or marriage without the other spouse at a minimum pointing them out or, or following preset accountability, one with another. It is how the church should function, and how a marriage should function, as both are examples of each other. Grace must abound, but ultimately the same sins cannot be repeated regularly without accountability, and being called out for the sin. Then we see it all but disappear and we do not fear our roles, but embrace them as God’s healthy design for a Christian marriage.

      1. I had a moment of clarity recently as well, and it was very similar. Instead of engaging in the normal arguments (point-by-point unpacking what she was saying, explaining my thoughts, arguing, going in circles), I had some luck in ending the argument by saying, “Listen, I don’t want to argue with you, please just take this one to God.”

        I’m not sure how it will end up, but it might marinate and give her something to think about.

    1. Happy Husband,

      I love your approach to point your wife to God when she was walking in sin and rebellion against God. THAT IS AWESOME! I also love the accountability in your home. How I long for every marriage to be like this! I wonder if you might allow me to quote you in a future post on this issue, please?

      Thank you so much for sharing!

      1. You are welcome to use anything I write April as ideally any words of true wisdom come from above. I am glad you liked it and understand it… and apologize for the typos that spell checker didn’t catch.

  4. I don’t know why this did not post first:
    Everything you write is correct April, as submission is always a voluntary act. As a husband who was married to an unsubmissive wife for many years, I was taught that submission was voluntary so leave your wife alone and just love her. Unfortunately, I was not taught the full truth that many wives will not voluntarily give their submission or respect to a husband because they have a sinful desire to remain in control. It is not until a godly wife is confronted with her sin that she can begin to see clearly that her submission is indeed to be voluntary to her husband, but such submission is a mandatory act demanded of her Lord and Savior. It is in no way optional, except for a Christian wife wants to live in sin.

    Don’t get me wrong. The same is true of a husband who is doing or saying unloving things to his wife. He too must understand that living his wife, no matter how difficult she may be, is a mandatory, not optional, demand made by His Lord. But a Christian husband should not be ashamed or bashful to ask a Christian wife to consider what her Lord asks of her as it unlocks a marriage to far greater joy and happiness, and a Christian wife may do the same in asking her husband to love her and treat her gently. Neither must live perfect lives to be able to point out to the other their sins.

    There are many a wife who desire to be far more submissive and respectful but are seemingly incapable of moving fully forward in such a new phase of life, and marriage, because their flesh controls them. It is here that a Christian husband should show leadership in discussing with his wife the Biblical roles and point out to her the times she is being unsubmissive and disrespectful. Calling her out on her willful disrespect in private is vital to helping her overcome her fleshly sins. Awareness is the road to change and when husbands are afraid to ask their wives to obey Jesus, they are not displaying the headship role God has given them.

    I spent many years embarrassed to ask my wife to be submissive because I thought if her submission to me was not of her own free will it was not worth having. What I failed to realize is that sins of the flesh often do not just change because of “ah ha” moments, but by practicing self-control, and self-discipline. If a godly wife is understanding that her spirit and her will, even her mind, desires to do things God’s ways, but her fleshly habits are interfering, then she should as her husband to help her learn submission to help her set healthy standards and accountability, perhaps even disciplines, that will help retrain her flesh, always waiting patiently upon the Lord to do His mighty work in changing her as she yields to the Spirit who lives inside of her.

    1. Happy Husband,

      Yes, wives do need to be confronted about their sins! I WISH Greg had confronted me about my disrespect and unsubmissiveness. It was not a gift to me to allow me to go on in sin for all those years. It is godly leadership for a husband to lovingly share the truth that he sees about his wife and to be willing to have the courage to point out her sins. He cannot make her change. But I believe it is a spouse’s responsibility to be willing to confront his/her spouse about sin (Matt. 7:1-5 and Matt 18:15-17). Then we can trust God to change our spouse.

      1. I agree that husband’s and wives who function as the church in their home should confront each other on sin, but how this is done may be different with one being the head of the family. Just like an employee must choose their timing and words respectfully in trying to get an employer to see their mistakes, so too a godly wife must find a way to remain respectful while not allowing any regular sins in her husband to be left unspoken. How can we change if we are not aware, and how can we become aware of our blind spots if we do not trust the one we say loves us the most to point them out to us?

        1. Happy Husband,

          I do agree that a husband and wife, though both free to give a godly rebuke, will do so in different ways based on their God-given roles in marriage. Thank you for this.

          Thank you for sharing!

          1. I would love to hear from some of the godly men here about how a wife might respectfully handle a situation where her husband expects her to work two jobs, keep the house immaculately perfectly clean, lose a lot of weight, and take better care of the children – while he hasn’t been willing to touch her in a year.

            This particular wife has been working for a year and a half or more on respect, biblical submission, working on her sins, and drawing closer to God. The husband may not be a believer.

            Thank you!

            April

          2. I’d like to say, seek church discipline for that nonsense, though not without investigation and consideration to heal the husband.

            “This is very, very hard, please help.” 🙁 I hope she can continue to be honest about her vulnerabilities in the matter to her husband, or I pray for God’s intervention for her if he’s too far gone to care.

            I pray for their rescue–for her endurance under that sin and his healing and repentance. I pray she has good support.

  5. April,
    I understand how hard it is to reach everyone. Truth is though you just stated it more clearly than you ever have- women in those situations need to leave and get help (and probably do so as discreetly and as a surprise as possible without telegraphing what they are going to do) now.

    I honestly don’t know how someone could read you and come to the conclusions they are coming to in instances like these two you state though. You are very clear that you don’t condone abuse. I’ve always thought your posts on this were great.

    It seems like though the couple times we have run into misunderstandings between is around this very issue of “forced submission”. All I have been trying to say, way to ineffectively and with way too many words, was that the path from an undefined term “forced submission” (which seemed to be loosely described as not being loving or gentle w/o defining those also) way too quickly got to abuse. The train of thought was just moving too fast from point A to B without proper stops for me.

    Sorry again. In instances like you describe- I don’t want to subtract from this post. It’s instances like the JC above that this post scares me.

    Thank you again and God bless-

    1. Thankful Husband,

      I don’t know how anyone who reads my blog much at all could glean “I need to stay and take violence and say nothing” from my blog. And yet, it happens on a regular basis. I also don’t know how any woman could read my blog and then tell me, “I submitted just like you said. I didn’t say my opinion, I never talked at all. I let my husband do anything he wanted. I smiled all the time. I didn’t ask for anything. I didn’t say what I needed. And my husband hated it after a month.”

      How can these women mishear and misunderstand so much?!?!?!!? I truly do not understand because I never say any of those things. I suppose it is their filters and life experiences. But I don’t ever want them to blame this kind of sick behavior on me – if there is anything I can do about it.

      I added a bit to the post – I hope it is more balanced now.

      I also have one coming out on Tuesday where I hope to address the majority of women who are not actually being abused but who may be balking at submitting to their husbands.

      This post today is specifically directed to wives in severely abusive situations where they are in great danger for their lives. I figure that after two comments within a day or two, I needed to put up another post about violence again.

      1. How can these women mishear and misunderstand so much?!?!?!!? I truly do not understand. I suppose it is their filters and life experiences.

        Sounds like black-and-white thinking. Many people see a woman’s submission as more of a lack of doing something more than an action.

        Have you ever likened it to ballroom dancing? 😉 That’s kind of a classic. The woman is just as active as the man, just that he leads and she follows. Proverbs 31 scares me, with how busy she is (and as I’ve pointed out, it doesn’t even say anything about raising kids which both parents do).

        I think there’s a lot to be said about what it is to be a woman/feminine more than just the marriage relationship–what that means in general. I think that when a woman (or man) understands herself, it helps her understand how to apply herself.

  6. Some of the women whose husbands literally try to kill them are being told by Christians that “this is their cross to bear” and they just need to obey I Peter 3:1-2 and not say a word and submit to their husbands and respect them even if they get killed.

    I can’t stand by and watch that happen. I can’t be silent when there is true oppression like this being done in my name and in God’s Name.

    1. April,

      You have stressed repeatedly that you do not condone abuse and have explained this in great detail. There will always be a tiny percentage of people reading something who either:
      1) don’t really comprehend what you mean because of intelligence/mental health issues or
      2) choose to intentionally cause you great distress by creating deceptive posts–lying.

      Others will ignore the spirit of what you have written, wickedly twist it to suit their own purposes, and/or nitpick your language–language that is unmistakably clear. Please do not allow this to disturb your peace or cause needless anguish, as if it were somehow your fault that others are sinning or in situations that prevent comprehension of the truth. Those who twist your words are evil and know what they are doing; no amount of protest and further explanation on your part will stop them!

      Instead, I would like to see you refer people to your disclaimer and perhaps two or three other posts in a simple one-sentence response–and then entrust those situations to God. Your energy and ministry are both too precious to waste on those who would love to disrupt your peace and effectiveness with endless criticism.

      Much love to you!

      Elizabeth

      1. Elizabeth,

        My greatest concern is that if I am hearing a few comments, that means there are many more people who think this same way who are not commenting. I do have a number of resources on the blog about abuse. But I don’t want newer readers to miss this.

        I will prayerfully consider your wisdom, insights, and suggestions. Thank you so much! Much love, my sister!

  7. A PREVIEW OF THIS COMING TUESDAY’S POST:

    It seems there is no end to confusion on the subject of what biblical submission is for wives and what godly leadership looks like for husbands. It is difficult to attempt to address women who are being beaten and whose husbands are threatening to kill them in the same post with women who think they are being abused – but really are not. I confess that I haven’t figured out how to address both groups in one post so that everyone understands completely clearly what I am saying and what God’s Word is saying – even more importantly. I also confess that I am dependent on God’s Spirit to reveal truth to people – and that without His power, people will be confused about His Word and will misunderstand His design.

    There are some wives who have violent, extremely hateful, very disturbed, godless husbands who are purposely trying to destroy them. These are men who ignore all of the rest of the Bible and only preach, “You must submit to me or else!” These husbands tell their wives they will not love them until the wives obey them 100% of the time. They forbid them from seeing anyone else or talking to anyone else in the world, and often forbid them from reading any book or resource except for the Bible and things that these husbands write. These husbands tell their wives all day every day that they are unsubmissive or demon possessed and they are going to hell. They scream, rage, threaten and carry out violence. They tell their wives things like, “I am God to you! You will bow to me!” Or, “I’m going to make your life hell unless you do everything I tell you to.” And they cut off their wives’ email and phone. And they try to prevent them from being able to reach out for help. They forbid them to go to any church and refuse to touch their wives or have sex with them until their wives suffer for a long, long time. I do have some wives and husbands in that situation who read my blog – and I want to be as clear as I can that violence and this kind of spiritual oppression and tyranny is never ok in marriage on either side. This is NOT God’s design for marriage. This is NOT godly male leadership. That is sinful male domination. Their goal is not restoration and spiritual health for the marriage and honor to God. Their goal is hatred, injury, murder, and suffering. It is not okay to threaten to use violence or to try to enslave someone else by demanding total and absolute obedience or you will beat or kill the other person. A wife in such a situation needs to find a safe way to escape and find appropriate help.

    Rev. Weaver, a minister at my church who wrote “Spiritual Authority” says that if a husband acts in these ways in the above paragraph, he forfeits his right to exercise authority over his wife and a wife has a responsibility in such a situation to leave for her own safety.

    Thankfully, this kind of situation where a husband behaves in a criminal way toward his wife is relatively rare. What is much more common is that wives have decent husbands, but if the husband attempts to lead in a godly way – the wife accuses him of being “abusive.” This word, “abuse,” is so very overused today!

    Some wives say they are being “abused” when their husbands:

    – don’t agree with them.
    – ask or tell them to do something they don’t want to do.
    – confront them about their sin.
    – are firm about that their sin is unacceptable.
    – tell them they were being disrespectful or unsubmissive because the wives actually were being disrespectful or unsubmissive.
    – ask them to keep a record of what they spend.
    – ask them to spend less time at church (i.e.: a husband may say, “I think that our family is suffering because you are spending 4 nights/week helping at church. I want you – to cut back to one weeknight at church and be home with us the other evenings.”)
    – don’t want to tithe/give the same amount the wives want to.
    – get upset with them about legitimate concerns.
    – ask for their wives to meet their needs sometimes that may be different from a wife’s needs.

    These things are not abuse!

    If my husband has the courage to say to me, “You are being disrespectful.” Or “You are not submitting to me,” – and he is not violent or prone to constant out of control rage – but he is a man who truly does love me and is trying to do the right thing – this is serious. I need to consider his words very prayerfully in light of God’s Word to see if his rebuke has merit in God’s eyes. If my husband’s rebuke does have merit according to Scripture, then I need to repent to God and to my husband and ask God to help me change and stop my sin. God wants me to live a life of obedience to Him in holiness by the power of His Spirit regenerating my heart, mind, and soul. I have no excuse to continue on in sin if I belong to Jesus – and He is my Savior and Lord.

    Dear children, do not let anyone lead you astray. The one who does what is right is righteous, just as he is righteous. The one who does what is sinful is of the devil, because the devil has been sinning from the beginning. The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the devil’s work. No one who is born of God will continue to sin, because God’s seed remains in them; they cannot go on sinning, because they have been born of God. This is how we know who the children of God are and who the children of the devil are: Anyone who does not do what is right is not God’s child, nor is anyone who does not love their brother and sister. 1 John 3:7-10

    This means, I cannot live in habitual disrespect to my husband and be fine with sin in my life and belong to God. I cannot live with continual unforgiveness, bitterness, having self in control of my life, seeking my own happiness above obedience to God, being content in sin, and belong to Christ. I cannot live in a continual state of usurping my husband’s position of God-given authority and leadership and be right with God. I cannot embrace rebellion against God and be God’s friend at the same time. I must choose sin or Jesus. I cannot have both!

    If I respond to my husband by saying, “You can’t make me submit to you!” That statement and attitude reveals a very rebellious heart against Christ.

    No, my husband cannot violently force me to submit to him, but if Jesus is my Lord – my greatest desire will be to seek to submit fully to Him and to obey Him – out of gratitude for all He has done for me. If I respond with rebellion, hatred, resentment, bitterness, pride, self-righteousness, or I attempt to usurp my husband’s God-given position – I am walking in sin and am destroying my fellowship with God and my marriage. There are serious issues in my relationship with Christ. I will answer to God for this. My husband is right to point out my sin if there is sin in my life.

    My brethren, if any among you strays from the truth and one turns him back, let him know that he who turns a sinner from the error of his way will save his soul from death and will cover a multitude of sins. James 5:19-20

    1. Hey April fwiw I think you did a really good job with this. 🙂

      The other husband who commented had really good points. Those are the two facets of the problem.

      Of COURSE there is true sin from husbands to wives! And vice-versa. And it’s a complicated thing to straighten out when the world has such a different opinion of things.

      I myself was raised on the egalitarian end of things (not all by any means). But I came to a point where I felt things were not quite in alignment with the Bible.

      As I tried to seek out changes, considering masculine/feminine and all those subjects, I’m faced with the fact that MANY people will accuse Biblical submission (and masculine/feminine portrayals) as the hatred of women; so that’s what a lot of husbands, I figure, have to deal with sorting out – a REAL conflict with the world. A man DOES have to be strong in his house or else a biblical marriage can’t happen.

      Both husbands and wives are clearly struggling to get a picture of it all. When you’re making radical changes it can be easy to make a whole bunch of new mistakes too.

      I struggle to make sense of it all too. There are bitter disagreements and horrible mistakes. And I think I underestimated the sheer disaster of what you said you were witnessing (personally). Yeah, it’s definitely out there.

      In this post-feminist era, unfortunately, men are in very weak shape as “head” of their family if only because (like the other husband said, if I understood) they’re in such a minority and winging it.

      Whatever . . . nothing you don’t already know.

      “Whoever loves is wife loves himself.” 🙂

      Colossians 3:19
      “Husbands, love your wives [be affectionate and sympathetic with them] and do not be harsh or bitter or resentful toward them.”

      I think that’s a good passage to quote for husbands who are called to a lot of extra patience in their marriages.

    2. Oh and also, I have no doubt you are a profound help and reinforcement to many, many husbands seeking the biblical model – in their corner. 🙂

  8. Sending you some love and support! One of the most painful things that happened to me in the blogging world once was speaking lovingly about marriage and submission and then seeing those words used by some as if I either justified or condoned abuse.

    Yes, women do indeed struggle with submission, but some men also struggle with pride and arrogance and rather then focusing on their own leadership abilities, their own relationship with Christ, they use biblical submission as a weapon, as an excuse for abuse. People will try to use anything as an excuse for their poor behavior, it’s just extra painful to witness when it is being done in Christ’s name, because that is such a perversion of everything He taught.

    In a marriage context, I really do think that husbands teach wives submission, but they teach lovingly, as if we are their very own flesh. “So husbands ought also to love their own wives as their own bodies. He who loves his own wife loves himself; for no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ also does the church,…”

    1. insanitybytes22,

      The topic of wives’ biblical submission and male headship is such a difficult one, especially in our culture today.

      My desire is to be faithful to my Lord and to share His truth as clearly as I can, depending the whole time on His Spirit!

      Thank you for sharing your heart and for talking about how godly husbands can teach wives submission in loving ways. I believe that is on target with what the Bible teaches.

  9. On a sidenote–I’ve probably said this before–but I’ve come to understand what being submissive/respectful to authorities means a lot too, applying some of the imagery you present.

    That is, not being like a “doormat” but respectful, things of that nature. 😉

  10. I feel as if my head is swarming with so much information right now after reading this post and all the comments.

    I love the changes that I see in myself since I have given myself to Christ. I have a desire to serve my husband in a way I never had before. I forgave him for past hurts that I bitterly hung onto for many many years, I look at our marriage as a sacred gift from God now and it means so much more to me now than it ever did before when I wasn’t a follower of Christ.

    Yes, my husband has been abusive and I can look in the past and see a pattern, but should I be doing that? I’m not sure. I really don’t like answering the question “Has he been abusive in the past?” because I forgave him for that about a year ago. I was holding on to that hurt for so many years and felt like it was still something that was holding me back from my walk. So, should I really be conjuring up old hurts or thinking about or mentioning them? It feels like I am adding to a list of wrongs against him with things I already forgave him for. That’s not really the kind of person I want to be.

    It’s true that I didn’t respond during the recent abuse and I tried to pretend everything was normal afterwards, but it really had to do with a strong mixture of me trying to treat him respectfully and the extreme fear I was feeling. I afraid of saying the wrong thing or doing the wrong thing and triggering another episode. I imagine other women in same situation have felt the same way.

    Forgive me if I am reading your messages wrong and please correct me if I am, but it seems like you are saying that it is sinful to continue to stay in a situation where the person is sinning against me because then I am condoning his sin? I had not ever thought of that before. I don’t want to condone someone’s sin, but I guess when you stay in an abusive relationship that is what is happening. I guess my concern has been, how can I ever win my husband over by my actions (because I know I cannot with my words) if I am not even near him? Or would not being near him perhaps be the way to win him? (As I write this I think of the changes I have seen in him since the month I was gone away to visit my son.) The time away has proven so far to have been a blessing.

    I was very nervous to come back home but I came back knowing and trusting that I have a Supreme Power on my side. I felt protected and assured of a love that is way beyond anything any human being could ever offer me. I still have moments I feel nervous. My husband has not been angry or violent at all since I have been back, but he has the knife he used at my throat out of the protective case and stabbed into a table near where he sits all the time, that is what makes me feel nervous. The fact that he chooses to keep the knife out is the whole reason I was going to approach him about the way I feel about the whole incident that happened. The knife was not out when I left to go see my son, I have no idea where he put it after the incident but it wasn’t out in the open when I left. So of course it makes me feel a little uneasy and nervous, but I try not focus on it and just focus on the good that I see happening in our marriage.

    Since he hasn’t been angry it has been much easier to carry on conversations with him and be close. We have been spending time together and laughing and although we aren’t addressing any of our problems or issues, we have been enjoying each others company. He has helped me make dinner and do dishes a couple times and I helped him today do some work outside. Some may say I am just avoiding the inevitable and putting off leaving him, but I feel God is using this time for both of us to experience what a joyful marriage can be like.

    My heart breaks for the man whose wife is not cooperating at all. I was that wife, but not out of intentional rebellion against my husband but out of plain ignorance to what the Word says. I wonder if that is how it is for other women. I wonder if this particular wife even knows what God’s Word says or if anyone has ever led her in the direction of reading blogs like Peaceful Wife. It is a shame that so many years went by without me knowing how wrong my behavior was. I chose to believe I had rights and if he did something that was upsetting to me I made sure he knew it. I always wanted to voice my own opinion, be right on certain issues, have the last word and never knew how important it was to actually listen to my husband.

    When I first learned about being respectful to my husband I felt so overwhelmed with guilt. I felt like I had ruined his life by my actions and words. So many years of disrespect and ignorance had gone by. I apologized to him and I have made it a mission to try to learn more and understand more. I would like to add here that I did think I was responsible for the violence and outbursts that my husband has, but I know now that I am not responsible for his out of control behavior just like he has never been responsible for any of the disrespectful behavior I have shown him. We are responsible for our own behavior and we will ultimately have to answer for our own behavior.

    In my case, neither one of us were Christians so I think back then there was a lot of disrespect and misunderstanding on both parts. It is very difficult to understand each other or get along when you both feel so strongly about issues and feel you have the same rights. We both do have rights, but God designed us differently and designed our roles differently. I think when we don’t know what those roles are then we overstep our boundaries and then problems arise.

    I believe in order for a woman or man to change that kind of “me” behavior there has to first be a desire in their heart and then the Holy Spirit works through that desire to shape and mold us into the kind of person that God truly wants us to be. But in saying that, I also believe that there are true evil forces that try to keep us from enjoying the freedom of a joyful marriage, but that doesn’t mean it’s not possible or the situation is too difficult.

    We are human and we can only see and think like a human. Our Almighty Father can see things way beyond what we can. What seems like an impossible situation (even something that has been going on for years) is like a blink of an eye to Him. And one thing we must never ever forget is that no matter what the situation may be, God has total control. There is no situation that he does not already have the solution for, and there are no problems or circumstances that are brand new in God’s eyes. He already knew about them before they happened and has seen the same situations before. What we do need to do is to take the time to spend with Him and let Him lead us. If we allow the bad situation or the person we are having difficulty with to lead us then we can’t hear what He is saying. This makes Satan very happy. He doesn’t want us to have a relationship with Christ at all.

    I am so thankful and so grateful that we have such a loving Father to turn to in times of need. I am so undeserving of forgiveness but so thankful and grateful for what Christ has done for me!

    1. Tammy3346,

      I don’t want to create more confusion for you, my dear sister! Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts. If this is too confusing, please just seek godly, experienced, trustworthy counsel from your pastor and don’t read the posts and comments here.

      These other men who are speaking out are not violent men, to my knowledge. They are believers and they want to be sure godly husbands have the ability to direct their wives and families and to lead the way God desires them to. Husbands do have the ability and responsibility at times to point out sin in their wives’ lives and to address that and to lovingly teach their wives God’s Word. Wives also have the responsiblity at times to respectfully confront their husbands’ sins – under the prompting of God’s Spirit and wisdom, of course.

      My concern with your husband is that I don’t know him, and I cannot possibly predict how he may respond if you confront him about holding the knife to your throat. I am not sure you could know how he may respond either. For men with violent tendencies, a confrontation may be a trigger to violence. That doesn’t mean what he did was okay. It doesn’t mean you should do nothing. It means you may need help and much prayer and God’s wisdom and timing to address this issue because it is so serious.

      I am thrilled about all of the things God is doing in you. I praise God for then way He is regenerating you soul! I am glad He showed you your sin and that He empowered you to forgive your husband – that is awesome! I love your heart for Christ and I am glad you love your husband and want to be a godly wife.

      No, it is not a sin to stay with your husband – it just may not be safe. It may be suicide.

      God can change your husband whether you are home or not. He is not limited by you being with your husband – thankfully! Your husband is not out of God’s reach at all. God loves him dearly, and he is a person for whom Christ died. I would love for you to work with your trusted pastor about this issue of whether to stay or not. Ultimately, it is your choice. Could God empower you to stay? Yes, I believe He could – but I don’t think this would be the normal pattern. Could He prompt you to leave for your own safety? Yes, I believe He could. I would want to be sure you are hearing God clearly and not deceiving yourself if you believe you should stay. In my limited experience with wives who have been abused with violence, it seems that sometimes it can be really difficult for wives to think clearly about what they need to do next.

      God may even use a separation time to begin to work more in your husband’s heart about his sin – I have seen that happen many times. You are not the Holy Spirit to your husband. You don’t convict him, you don’t bring him to repentance, and you can’t change and regenerate his heart. God is the important One here, not you. Christ is who your husband needs more than anything else. Does that make sense? We can’t even open our own eyes, much less someone else’s eyes. But God does sometimes use us as instruments to draw our husbands to Himself. Still, that does not mean you have to stay and risk your life in order to witness to your husband.

      I am glad you have been enjoying time with your husband. It sounds very sweet so far.

      I am very concerned about the placement of the knife right now, though.

      I don’t know for absolute sure what God may lead you to do at each moment. I cannot recommend wives stay if they believe their lives may be in danger. Not that you need to make decisions based in fear. But if your husband is unrepentant and has serious anger issues that are uncontrolled and violent – you have the ability to leave for your own safety and to give him some time to get help and to heal as you pray for him and for reconciliation in God’s timing. The end goal is to seek your husband’s reconciliation with God and healing for the marriage. To reach that goal, it can include separation at times.

      I pray you may hear God’s voice very clearly. And I pray for God to reach your husband and to protect you. If you believe you are in danger, please get somewhere safe ASAP. I don’t want to see you or any wife lose her life. It is wonderful to forgive your husband, but there is a difference between forgiveness and trust. If he is untrustworthy with your life, I don’t believe you are required to stay.

      I was a rebellious, disrespectful wife, too, for many years, and didn’t even see it. I am thankful God opened my eyes and was willing to change me. We are all in desperate need of God’s grace. I relate to your feeling of terrible guilt over your sin. But I am so glad you see that you are only responsible for your sin not for your husband’s sin. I am also thankful for the grace available to us all through Jesus!

      All,
      Let’s join hands around this wife and her husband and pray for God’s wisdom and protection and for God to draw her husband to Himself and to give her the resources and wisdom she needs to make some difficult decisions.

    2. tammy3346,

      I am praying for you.

      I also want to tell you it really frightens me that his knife was out. That he even KEEPS a knife he used at your throat is shocking that he would think that’s okay. Forgive me, but this is said out of deep concern.

      Please consider this…

      If you had a daughter who had experienced everything you had with your husband, with her husband, how would you be counseling her if she returned home to find that knife out? How would you have advised her when her husband pulled a knife to her throat years earlier?

      I pray you get some wise, Godly counsel with someone qualified in dealing with these issues. Please stay safe.

  11. I will admit I am one of those women who found herself in a women’s shelter a few years ago because I needed to find out if I was being abused or simply in an unsettling situation. Was it time to leave or time to accept what comes during the natural stages of marriage? When a person marries, there’s so much to unravel about their own history and sinful patterns, not to mention the other human being they are living with. When narcissism, depression, Asperger’s, addictions, undiagnosed personality or medical disorders, etc become a reality for any spouse, it is difficult to know what to do, which way to go, especially when the counselors can get things wrong and make them worse.

    The road from devaluing another person to actual abuse can be so incremental that one feels the weight of the world is suddenly in their hands when they see the death of their family and the unknown as a real possibility. And denial is sweet compared to considering if this person you vowed to cherish all your days could and would kill you?!! This is scary stuff.

    I thank you April for using this platform to teach the difference between God’s love and gross distortion. Some of us need the lessons as if we are preschoolers because you’re filling in the gaps left open from our own childhoods and replacing them with options. Thank you for doing so with much grace, patience and concern for safety. I also appreciate that while you train up the married women in the ways of biblical submission with unconditional respect, you also acknowledge the men’s difficult responsibility to love and nurture their wives with or without their submission for a picture of love that is truly balanced and healthy.

    1. Refined,
      Thank you so much for sharing your story! I pray it might bless and encourage Tammy3346 and others. I don’t know if you would like to share a bit about how things are going much better now?

      Thank you for talking about your feelings on this road when you decided to separate. I know there are many complicating factors in your situation – but I praise God for what He has done in your life and in your marriage. You are such a blessing and a treasure to me!

      1. Things are MUCH better now. The big things I always used to define my marriage have been greatly challenged and even put on ‘pause’. We have not been physically intimate in months and we still don’t worship together. It feels like we are taking a microscope to our life together and working on all things under the surface. I get so impatient for my ideal but when I look at how we’ve moved forward, truly I can be amazed.

        For my part, I really had to learn what self respect and respect for my husband should look like. I had to learn about men in general and especially my man in particular. I had to learn about normal stages of marriage and the responsibility I have to meet my own needs. It helped a lot when a husband told me how he knew he could drive his wife who suffers from depression towards violence with his expectations but that he chooses compassion instead. He’s actually a friend of my husband’s and shared with me what it meant to ‘take off the pressure’ from my husband. (As a rule I share mostly with his wife.) I needed a few select friends like these I could tell anything to, and hear godly counsel v. judgement.

        By God’s grace I also had a lot of free time during the day to study the particulars of our marriage, journal and pray. If I had to work full time, finding the energy to interact with so much awareness would’ve been difficult. My husband gets overstimulated quickly and can react with anger. Our improvement looks like the graph that goes up a lot then takes a dip, goes up, then dips.

        My husband has faithfully attended weekly meetings for children of alcoholics for 2 years now, reads a lot about family dysfunction and definitely has his heart towards home. Right now he’s playing a video game with our son and when he’s directing him he looks up at me for validation. With a smile or specific verbal encouragement he revels in being the hero. He works out regularly to control stress, is starting to hang out with friends again, and removes himself if he feels too anxious or anger brewing. He continues to work really hard to be the main provider and is simply exhausted every night. I know he is working hard even if our relationship doesn’t currently have all the reciprocity and mutuality it should…yet. I am now ok with giving him a lot more space to recharge.

        At some point I did have to accept that my husband has limitations and a dark side that is potentially dangerous. I had to consider my boundaries and my options if lines were crossed, understanding that this was part of God’s good plan for my life, that it included measures to protect me, even from my own husband, if need be.

        I’d like to go on but my husband wishes to take the family out for dinner and I am very glad for this! Today was a good day.

        Your encouragement always warms my heart, April. Thank you friend.

  12. I am so sorry for the hurting and confusion women are experiencing over this, the whirlwinds, the back-and-forth.

    Ladies, you were not put in the world by God to be hurt, kicked around and denigrated by anyone. You were not put into the world to be hurt like that.

    NONE of us “deserve” God’s grace! But in His mercy He calls us to be patient and longsuffering with one another, and it’s by His power that He can do that. If you (ladies) are making mistakes–just as men are making mistakes–in your eagerness to do good, I thank God that He is patient with all of us on our roads to self-improvements, supplying us with strength and wisdom along the way. I pray that husbands, likewise, can receive strength from God (as we all need strength) to be patient with their wives in their journeys, or even if their wives are unrepentant sinners.

    God’s helpmeets were not sent to be harmed by the men they were sent to help. 🙁 I thank God for every godly woman who is making her greatest effort and pray she is empowered by God and feels mercy and tolerance–that EVERYONE needs on every step of his or her journey, and, likewise, seeks to do good, not harm, to their husbands and are also merciful to their husbands.

    You have great worth in God’s sight. 🙂 All love comes from God, whether it comes through people to you or not, you are loved and precious to Him at all times. I pray for your strength to believe that in your hearts!

    Much love!

  13. From a brother in Christ, Jack:

    God does not force us to submit to him.

    Also, if is forced it is not submission, it is coercion. Submission means nothing unless it is an act of a person’s free will. It would be like forcing a person to love you – it would not really be love.

  14. I really don’t understand something…why is it that men always speak of a woman being submissive bit they have no idea what wives go through on a daily basis?? I hardly ever here men speaking about loving their wives Christ loves the church so please help me understand..I have been battling submission for the longest…my days just seem extremely long and I just don’t understand it all…Men want women to be submissive to them because its,God’s order but they forget their role to and no body encourages us wives when we constantly struggle from day to day basis being a stay at home mom with two little,children and absolutely no help from family or friends because they don’t care:/…

    1. Anon,

      My precious sister! Men ARE required by God to love, be gentle, serve, be humble, be selfless… Husbands will answer to God for that. And they should be answering to the church leadership for it, or to a godly mentor – like women should be answering for their obedience to God, too. But most churches have no accountability anymore, sadly.

      Some resources, if you think your husband would be willing to read or listen (that describe both the wife’s and husband’s responsibilities)

      – Recovering Biblical Manhood and Womanhood by John Piper and Wayne Grudem (there is a free download at http://www.cbmw.org/resources/ ) – even if you only read chapter 1, it is really helpful for men and women, in my view.

      – David Platt’s Secret Church series on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood. Can find it at http://www.radical.net or Youtube.

      – Love and Respect by Dr. Emerson Eggerichs

      Men are to be fully submissive to Christ first, just like women are. And they are to demonstrate the love of Christ. I don’t talk a lot about what husbands should do here, because I only teach women. But men have greater responsibilities than women do in marriage. There is a post written by a minister at my church at the top of my home page that is about both men and women “Spiritual Authority.

      There are some husbands who hammer their wives about “You better submit to me” but who totally ignore God’s commands to them to love, to protect, to lead selflessly and humbly, and to be gentle.

      Do you feel safe to share your concerns with your husband?

      How is your walk with Christ going?

      Much love to you! I am sending you the biggest hug and am praying for you today!

      1. Hi, well my walk with Christ has gotten much better thank God. I have actually spoken to you briefly before by the name of submissive. April you are right to say their is no accountability in the church organizations anymore. Sometimes all I want is too,know that somebody is there. We have been going through different problems in our marriage sickness, arguing etc. I guess sometimes I feel my husband does not understand me. I want to move and be able to help financially even if it’s working from home but he does not allow it, and it’s frustrating at times that we are not in a financial positon to move as of b yet…I’ve spoken to my husband on many occasions and he said be content because it’s only for a time..but sometimes I feel that if I trust my husband with my whole heart he will break it and then the children and I would have to pay the consequences for his actions. I hope I’m not sounding Ill towards home I’m just crying for some accountability to help me day by day.i have learned to hold my peace about my frustrations and don’t even speak on it any more because I know for a fact it will turn to a argument.

        1. anon,

          Yes, I recognized your email. 🙂 Thanks for clarifying, though, just in case I had missed it.

          I am thrilled to hear that your walk with Christ is going much better. That is AWESOME news!!!!!

          I think you will find that there is much support available here. You are most welcome here and there are women (and men) who will pray with you and for you here.

          Honestly, men and women think so very differently, that there are very few husbands and wives who automatically understand each other. There is a long process of learning to understand each other that can be rather frustrating. The books that helped Greg and me the most were For Women Only by Shaunti Feldhahn – for me to better understand Greg, and For Men Only by Jeff and Shaunti Feldhahn – for Greg to better understand me.

          Most of the conflicts I see in marriages boil down to different perspectives. Usually it is not a matter of one person is trying to hurt the other, but just that they have different ways of looking at things, different priorities, different ways of connecting, and different needs. When you can discover how your husband thinks, how he processes emotions, what matters most to him, how he communicates love, how he communicates respect, etc… it is much easier to extend grace because what he does makes more sense. When I used to expect Greg to think and act just like myself, I assumed evil motives often – because I wouldn’t do the things he did. But as I learned to understand his thinking, I realized he was not doing things to hurt me, but he was doing things a certain way because he was a man, not a woman, and because of his own unique personality that is very different from mine.

          Are you safe with your husband?

          Why do you want to move?

          Is it possible that God may be leading you through your husband not to move yet for some reason?

          The awesome thing about being fully submitted to God is that He will lead us through our imperfect men. If you are being abused or are not safe – or if there are very severe issues, you may need to seek godly help to walk through things. But if your husband is in his right mind and is a decent man, God can lead you through him and accomplish His purposes and His timing and His will through him. So you can’t lose. If God moves your husband to move now, you win. And if God prompts your husband not to move yet – God will cause these circumstances to work out for your ultimate good because you love Him.

          You are called primarily to trust God with your whole heart. People will fail us at times.

          Are there reasons you believe you cannot trust your husband?

          Much love to you!

          1. Hi, yes I’m safe with him. I want to move to a better neighborhood for our children. The area we are in is cramped so I’m learning to maintain. Your right at men perceiving things different from us women. I guess I see him as a friend as well being that I don’t have any female friends around me. In the past he has allowed something to happen to mean from a women in the church we used to attend. He did not take us out of the situation so I guess I closed off a piece of my heart to him. Is this wrong? How can I open up again if I don’t know what the future holds? I really hope I’m making sense.

          2. anon,

            Your husband may be waiting for more financial stability so that he doesn’t drive the family into a financial crisis. He may be trying to make wise decisions and to provide well and plan well. That would be my guess. As far as the issue at church – does he usually step in if someone mistreats you? Is it possible that he may have felt that it would not have been wise for him to intervene?

            Does he generally feel respected by you, and do you usually seek to honor his leadership?

            None of us know what the future holds. None of us have a guarantee our husbands won’t hurt us. In fact, we all have a pretty good guarantee our husbands will hurt us to some degree in the future – and we will probably hurt our husbands at some point, too. We are children of God, we are becoming sanctified in Christ, we should be sinning less and less. But none of us will be perfect until heaven.

            There is no guarantee in this life of anything. And yet, God calls us to love with His kind of unconditional love and to respect our husbands, too. Love is painful. Look how painful it was for Jesus to love us. Love is not about protecting myself from all possible hurt or pain. It is about trusting God to use the good and bad things in my life to mature me and to help me grow closer to Him and to make me more like Christ so I can love Him and love others better. It’s not about what I get from other people. It’s about what I give. And the only reason I have anything to give is because of all that Jesus has given to me – then He lives through me to bless others.

            Being vulnerable is part of intimacy. You might get hurt. Then God will help you and be with you and you can trust Him to bring you through whatever may happen. The goal is to please and obey God, even in suffering – not to avoid all pain.

            Much love to you!

          3. I do,at times disregard my husband’s leadership due to lack of trust, bit I’m learning daily hoe to respect him. No he doesn’t step in usually. We were just going through a rough time with certain brethren. I get upset when he tells me I can’t do this or that due to our financial situation. I feel if he would let me help him even if it’s just a little bit then maybe things will get better for us. Please pray that I keep myself at God’s throne of grave and seek him for protection and covering. I really need help in putting my trust in him. It’s not only me but it’s our children as well that will be affected by his decisions. I’m used to doing for myself and I do believe that God has a plan for us but right now I can’t see it…thank you for your beautifully explanation about love and honoring my husband. I have to learn to do this no matter what I may feel♡

          4. anon,

            So, here is something about men – they want to feel like they can provide financially for their families – and provide well. It may be that your husband would feel like “less of a man” if you helped financially. I am guessing here. I know of husbands who feel that way. They feel like failures as men sometimes if they have to ask their wives to help with the income. Not that it is wrong for wives to help – but some men feel such a powerful responsibility to be the sole provider, that they would feel like failures if they couldn’t do that for their wives. Most likely, he is trying to show his love for you by providing and not asking you to work so that you can enjoy being home with the children. Is that possible?

            It sounds to me like he is trying to be very responsible financially. If you really want to move, he may be trying to save up for that, and try to spend less in other areas. He may feel that it is impossible to make you happy – because you want to move, but then you want other things that will push moving back farther?

            Would you be able to thank and appreciate him for his hard work and for his provision? That would probably mean the world to him!

            Is it just the thing at church that makes you feel you can’t trust him?

            Is it possible that he is a really great guy who loves you and wants to do what is best for the family? Not perfect, but a decent man who wants to take good care of you and your children?

            Yes, if you trust your feelings, they can lead you astray at times, Feelings are a blessing and a gauge. But they are not ultimate truth. God’s Word is ultimate truth.

            Much love to you!

          5. I guess your right…I guess because sometimes lonliness creeps in I get angry at my husband all over again. April do you know what it’s like not to have any female friends or family around to encourage you? It doesn’t feel good at all. My husband does try, I just want to help him so we can enjoy life:/but you are right. I’m young and going on 4 years of marriage and it has not been a easy road. Submission is not something I was raised in. I was raised to be independent and I sometimes still have it especially when times are rough…thank you for your counsel April I will take heed. It’s more to what I’m saying but I just have to learn how trust the Lord fully…

          6. Anon,
            Yes, I actually do know what it feels like to be alone on this journey. I personally had to step way back from everyone in my life emotionally for a few years as I allowed God to work in my life and as I learned to listen to Him. I didn’t have any mentors or godly wives to help me or pray with me.

            We are all daughters of Eve and struggle with wanting independence and control. That is part of our sinful nature.

            But God can help you with this!

            Much love to you!

            April

My grandmother is on hospice and won't be with us much longer (11-30-16). I will get to comments when I am able to but I need to be with family right now. Thanks for understanding.

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