Skip to main content
image6

“Wouldn’t a Husband Be Prideful for Not Accepting His Wife’s Help?”

image6

Photo credit – Maral Rabbit Photography

A woman asked this question recently – and I think it is a great one to discuss.

Women tend, in general, to jump in to help their husbands or other people – because we see it as “the loving thing to do.” Men tend, in general, not to jump in to offer unsolicited advice or help because they often believe that would be “disrespectful.” So when a wife offers unsolicited help or advice to her husband, and he refuses it – she may be tempted to think that he is being prideful. (Of course, this may happen in reverse, as well. I am talking in generalizations here – but there can be different dynamics in different marriages.)

But let’s step back and realize that we don’t know other people’s motives or their hearts. Other people may have perspectives that we are not privy to. So, it may not be that a man is “prideful” for not accepting his wife’s attempts to help him. He may feel that she doesn’t believe he is capable of doing what he is trying to do and he may feel insulted by what she believes she is doing to be “helpful.”

Let’s see how a woman might experience a similar scenario:

  1. Imagine that you have a newborn and you are nursing your baby because you believe it is the best thing for your baby’s health. Now picture that your mother tells you that formula would be better for your baby and that your baby will never get enough nourishment because she thinks that you cannot possibly produce enough milk to sustain your baby. Imagine that your baby is well within normal weight limits and that your baby is healthy and you are having no problems with nursing. How would you feel about your mother’s unsolicited advice and “help”? Would it be prideful for you to make your own decision about whether to breastfeed your baby or not?
  2. Imagine that you are cleaning the bathroom and your husband comes in and and grabs the sponge and spray bottle out of your hand and starts cleaning himself? What if he also criticizes your own cleaning abilities the entire time as he is taking over the job you were doing? How would you feel about your husband’s “help”? Would you be prideful to be unappreciative?
  3. Imagine that you are in the middle of ringing up a customer at work when a coworker comes over and steps in front of you and finishes the transaction while you were handling things just fine yourself and didn’t need or ask for help. How would you feel about your coworker’s “help”? Would it be prideful of you to expect to be able to do your own work without your coworker stepping in to do your job for you?

Perhaps we can appreciate that what one person perceives as being “helpful” may actually feel insulting to the one receiving the unsolicited advice or help. Could it be prideful not to ask for help when we need it? Yes. It definitely could. But there may be other ways to look at situations at times – and that is what I would like for us to try to do. Let’s seek to understand our husband’s perspective rather than judging him as having evil or sinful motives first.

Here is a recent 4 minute Youtube video I did about how to tell the difference between being controlling vs. actually being helpful to our men:

 

RELATED:

What Is Respect in Marriage?

Husbands Share What Is Disrespectful to Them

Signs Your Husband May Feel Disrespected

The Respect Knob

 

GENERAL DISCLAIMER ABOUT MY BLOG – if you have really serious issues in your marriage, if your husband is very dominant/controlling/abusive, you are struggling with mental illness, your husband is struggling with mental illness, you or your husband have an active addiction, you tend to be extremely codependent, you are extremely passive and tend to be too afraid to share your needs with your husband, or you are severely emotionally scarred  – my blog may not be a good fit for you.

I would suggest that you find a godly,   you can get to know and trust one-on-one to help walk you through your situation. Sometimes women in these situations mishear me in dangerous ways. I never want that to happen. I want everyone to find the healing that is in Christ – if that is through a different source, I am fine with that.

33 thoughts on ““Wouldn’t a Husband Be Prideful for Not Accepting His Wife’s Help?”

  1. April. I have been prayerfully considering this very subject over the last few weeks. It was brought to my attention by my therapist that I was exhausting myself trying to do EVERYTHING. Not only taking care of the house, kids, yard, work, laundry, vooking, shopping etc. But when my husband was home, I was picking up after him, waiting on him, jumping in to help even when I wasn’t asked. I thought I was being loving and respectful, but it occurred to me I was exhibiting enabLing behaviors. I was wearing myself out and feeling resentful about it.

    My therapist pointed out that I was not giving my husband a chance to even look himself in the mirror and feel good about his contributions to the home because I was taking those opportunities away from him. At that point, I knew he was right, but I am still trying to walk the fine line of helping him vs enabling. My research shows helping someone is stepping in when a person does not have the ability to do something. Eg. a baby feeding herself, a paralyzed person getting dressed or washed, an injured person needing medical help. But enabling is doing things for someone they are perfectly able to do themselves. Like picking up their own drycleaning, picking up their own messes, making the bed.

    I tried do hard to do things to show him I loved him and wanted to ease his burdens. But it just let him take advantage of me and he couldn’t feel goid about himself either. As Christians, we sometimes feel that we must do these things without complaining and always help, but men need to feel involved and responsible as well. I am trying to learn to ask for help in a respectful way, he seems more than willing to help, but other times, he is mad I won’t do something I always have done, like pick up his own prescriptions.

    In an effort to avoid a confrontation and also because I feel it is more important to keep the relationship intact than to argue over something do trivial, I keep caving in. But I am not respecting myself if it causes bitterness and anger and I am enabling him. Enabling is disabling. I struggle with this concept and need much prayer over it. But I also know I can’t keep on the way I am going. I will crash and burn and be no good for God, my kids, myself or my husband.

    If we are all one body in Christ, then the parable applies like this: the more the right hand does for the left hand and does not allow the left hand to work, flex, move or stretch, the left hand will atrophy and weaken. Soon, the left hand will wither and be useless to the body. The right hand may be strong, but will be at a disadvantage not having a strong left hand to help with lifting or other 2 handed tasks, and thus will not be as effective,either.

    It seems to me that enabling and “rushing in to fix things” is a form of control that, as women, we probably don’t even realize. Motives could be

    1. To feel needed and wanted
    2. To have it done our own way
    3. To look like the “good guy”
    4. To have something to hold over someone else
    5. To have “ammunition” to accuse and be right.

    I’m sure there can be more. I took on the idea that I can love my husband better by not caring so much. Sounds weird, but I have to back off and not care if the last dish gets in the washer before I turn it on for the night, or that his dry cleaning is picked up in time for the next meeting. If the bed is not made, then life doesn’t stop. I have noticed my husband trying a bit more since I have stopped catering to him.

    I am still respectful and do some things I could stop. But it is hard. I probably would go right back to enabling if he was loving and appreciative right now. I am sure God has a plan and I need to follow where He leads me. This is such a long process and a slippery slope. I just pray to be able to hear God’s directions clearly and to do all with the motive of love, even if it ends up being tough love. I am still looking for advice on this as well about my thought process here, but I was surprised I was led down this road. Never expected to be shown my sin of being too nice!

    1. LmsDaily… I think you’re in my head. I’ve been trying to do the same things. And my husband doesn’t like it either. April suggested moving at a slower pace for us. And I’m waiting on God to help lead the way too. Just letting you know you’re not alone in this. My husband is so used to em doing everything. Why would he want to have to do anything when it’s been done for 7/almost 8 years. It’s a growing thing for him too.

      1. Nikki,

        Thank you for sharing, as well – perhaps my response to LMSdailly115 might be a blessing?

        Sometimes we think that if we serve our men enough, they will come back to us faster. That is not usually the case. We can serve too much – especially if our motives are to make them love us more or try to make them come back or to control them… that is usually not going to work! Trust me, I know!

        Men are not usually drawn to their wives by us DOING lots of stuff for them. They are more drawn by our peace, joy, contentment in Christ, etc… But ultimately, we are seeking only to please Christ in what we are doing – and to bless our husbands. But we can trust the results to God.

        Much love to you! And a huge hug! 🙂

    2. LMSdaily,

      I am so glad you shared this!

      YES! There is a HUGE difference between showing respect to our husbands vs. enabling them or “people pleasing” and trying to do so much for them so that they will love us more. That doesn’t really work.

      It is not that we don’t care – it is that we are not hanging on their approval for validation and that we are not overstepping healthy boundaries to try to control their lives. This feels much more respectful to most men. (And to most women, too!)

      I like the definitions you have for helping vs. enabling. Also, help for a man is something that actually feels like help from his perspective, not just from our own perspective. I talk a bit more about that in the video.

      Seeing your own motives is really important. I’m glad you are talking with your therapist about this. It is healthy to back off from what you were doing. Being codependent like that is only going to aggravate him and make you feel bitter and overworked. That is not a gift to anyone!

      I’m glad you are seeing that you maybe went too far in one direction, and it is time to swing back to a better, more healthy place of spiritual and emotional balance.

      I pray that God continues to lead you, my dear sister. These are VERY important insights God is giving to you!

      Much love to you!!!!! 🙂

    3. Lmsdaily,

      I just love reading how God is working in you and the things He’s showing you. I know you’re in a painful situation right now and I think of you often and pray for you and the others who are going through really hard times in their marriage.

      Something I thought of as I read your comment…

      Do you think it could be helpful to pray for an opportunity to speak to your husband about this new shift in you and how you’ll be operating from now on? Obviously, you wouldn’t want to share all the specifics and details, but something along the lines of at least kind of sharing that you have realized that it is affecting you because you are trying to take on his load, too, and that you realize that that is not fair to both of you. That you realize that you could get resentful for taking some of his load that he is capable enough of doing (this could be worded in a way that affirms his capabilities and your trust that he can handle his own life and responsibilities!).

      I struggle with this dynamic with my kids – especially my older son. As a matter of fact, it is something that has been very unclear to me for several years – where’s that balance of serving and being willing to serve vs. enabling and not letting someone grow in responsibility? Your post was very helpful for me.

      1. Jennifer and LMSDaily115,

        If you were dealing with a woman, I think it may be a great idea to have a verbal conversation about your new plan.

        But dealing with a man, my experience has been that husbands prefer for us not to talk about what we are going to do and how we are going to change, but they would rather just see us change.

        I personally vote not to have a discussion about it unless God clearly prompts a wife to do so.

        With teenage boys, that may be diffrent. It could be wise to say, “We are going to be changing things a bit as you are growing up. Here is what you can expect and here is what I expect.” But you are the authority figure there, so, I think that would be appropriate.

        It can be tricky to tell where the line is between blessing and respecting a man vs, enabling and controlling.

        Praying for God’s wisdom for you! With children, the line changes as they grow up, so it can get even more difficult to discern sometimes.

        Much love to you!

        Thank you so much for sharing!

        1. April, yes, with my son, he is older, so that line has definitely changed.

          Good insights. I guess I was wondering if in a case where it could appear that you were being unloving by shifting behavior if it would be best to kind of address it (quickly and with emphasis of trusting his ability and capability) vs. not saying anything about it. As opposed to when we are making positive changes that our men are going to totally embrace happily right away (as in giving them more space, smiling, admiring, respecting, etc.)

          But, I can see where that might not be a good idea, too!

          1. Jennifer,

            There may be some men who would want their wives to talk about this – but, based on the feedback I have received from a number of husbands on this issue, most of them say – “Just change. Don’t talk about it.”

            Here is a post where you can read some of the comments on that topic. 🙂

          2. Jennifer,

            It is possible it could be beneficial to apologize BRIEFLY if a wife realizes she was coming across disrespectfully. But I would keep it very brief. Like – “Honey, I just realized that when I do X that I thought was helpful, it may not actually feel very helpful to you. I’m so sorry! I’ll let you handle that. I know you’ll do a great job.”

          3. Yes! I like this, this is kind of what I had in mind, but wasn’t able to figure out how to say it as briefly and respectfully as you just put it! Thank you! And, I can see how the wording I had originally wouldn’t go over too well and could put a husband on the defensive. Thanks for continuing to dialogue so that I could see what an appropriate handling of it would be if the wife felt led to say anything at all.

          4. Jennifer,

            Of course, God may lead a wife to say things differently from my example – but maybe this example might be a helpful place to begin to prayerfully approach this issue.

            Much love!

  2. I wrote you months ago April. We have had so many problems in our home. My husband has cancer. He actually was unfaithful with multiple partners and had a drinking problem. He denied his belief in God but, has since recanted and states he is not an practicing his faith. The attacks upon my family are myriad. They are brutal and merciless. I spend time in the Word everyday. My husband tried to leave but, found he has cancer and stayed. He says he wants to work it out. I have spent much time in bettering myself and learning all I can to save my marriage. I want to take responsibility for my wrongs. My husband has initiated touch twice in almost eight months. He has told me he loves me again but, regretfully it seems halfhearted. He wants me to leave him alone and I want so much to help. It has offended me. We both see counselors separately and also a cancer psychologist (I’m not sure she is a Christian). I see that I may have been prideful. My husband was not this type of man for many years. He’s had a huge personality change with non-hodgkins lymphoma. I feel so alone. It’s effecting our college aged children. They have done things they have never done seeing their father be this way. I even caught my husband setting while I was in the ER with him. He says he has stopped as I said it was disrespectful to me as I cared for him. Please pray for me and help me April.

  3. Firstly – you are sooo cute April!!!!! 🙂

    This is so helpful. I have been trying to see how I can help in a difficult season of transition for him where he has become so distance and lost in his own thoughts. Uff. It has been so weird. I was worried that I was not being “helpful” because I have been learning to give him space (I keep having to re read why your man needs space and separation paradox blog articles lolol to stay sane – thank you for those). But it is hard because I keep wanting to do something. Anything! I just want to be part of the plan and jump in with ideas and be helpful because I feel like two are better than one… and the power of two and I have good strategy ideas and contacts… Hmm… I tried one suggestion which was shot down and I gracefully responded with “sorry if I offended you” and dropped it. I am getting so good thank the Lord 🙂 But it is sooo hard to rewire my brain. So thank you for the reminder and your video that they don’t need help the same way we need help. Your messages are always so timely. I will get busy doing other things on my list and stay prayerful and joyful as I wait for him and God to work things out.

    Big hugs xxx

    1. Happy Wife,

      I know that it feels SO BACKWARDS and unloving to us as women sometimes to give more space and back off. It feels like the wrong thing to do to let them handle things themselves. We want to help! But – many times, it is the respectful thing to do to let them handle their stuff themselves, even if it feels awkward and like emotional/spiritual contortion to us at first.

      Praying for God’s wisdom for you, my dear sister! And for healing for your man.

  4. I looked at this post from a completely different angle. I have sons. And it’s a good thing they have a strong daddy! Because I have always wanted to help them with everything. My husband is a great balance, and a great dad. I promised myself early on that I wouldn’t contradict my husband in front of the boys. Sometimes I’ll wait until we are alone and say “I didn’t agree with that” – but 85% of the time once he explains, I see that he was right.

    Our oldest just started driving. Oh how I want to keep him here and safe! But that’s not realistic. We need to let him grow up. Thankfully my husband doesn’t mind me asking him (over and over and over) “do you think we should let our son do x,y, or z?” My husband is wise and discerning and usually makes the right call. Thanks to him (and God’s goodness, of course) the boys are growing into strong young men.

    I am extremely responsible and have a hard time letting others do things without my oversight. I believe this is because at six years old I needed to get myself up, dressed, lock the house and walk to the bus stop on time. It was a lot of responsibility on such a little kid, but it did make me a more responsible adult. So it was a positive and a negative thing. But anyway, you’d think someone who grew up like that would want to force their kids to be independent. For some reason it made me want to help them more.

    Anyhow, God provided me a wise husband to counterbalance me, in order that our boys grow up emotionally healthy and strong. Thanks be to God!

    1. Becca,

      With a 13 year old son at our house – we are beginning to try to transition more with him, as well. Great points, my dear sister! Thank you for bringing up this important aspect. 🙂

      Yes, even though we don’t agree with our husbands all the time, they DO provide much needed balance for our children.

      Thank you for sharing these insights!

  5. Wow, April, I needed this today. God’s wisdom flowed through your post in a great way. Yesterday at church the pastor asked my husband David to share his testimony at church next week. I am thrilled about this as he has such a powerful testimony that glorifies the Lord. Yet, I already am being controlling about it. I encouraged him that he has such a powerful testimony and I’m so excited for the Lord to be glorified. I was giving him ideas yesterday of what he could share, and he thanked me. But when he said he will probably just share what he does when he is at the shelter, my heart was discouraged. Only because he shares in such a general way that people can’t really see the depth of how the Lord has redeemed him. I need to pray and give this to God, and trust that God will be glorified with however he shares. Will you pray for me that I am godly and encouraging and not controlling or fearful.

    1. Amber,

      Of course I will pray for God’s wisdom for you -and for your husband – that you both might honor Him with every thought, word, and motive. I am sure God can lead your husband to share what He desires him to. And – I am sure God can give you wisdom about how to best encourage your husband in a way that would be most helpful to him.

      Much love to you!

  6. Wow, I absolutely love this. It has been difficult for me to pinpoint over the years why my husband gets so up in arms when I “try to help”. I never realized that he might see my “loving help” as disrespect. I read him the first few sentences of this blog about the difference between men and women and we were both amazed at how true these differences are. We discussed how I will try to be more aware about offering unsolicited advice and how he will be more aware that if I slip up and try to “help”, he will try to remember that I am just trying to be helpful and loving. Thank you!!!!!

    1. TheDaintyChef,

      That is a really critical piece of information that often creates so much conflict! We make assumptions – “He is being unloving.” “She is being disrespectful.” And we don’t realize, “She is trying to be loving.” “He is trying to be respectful.” Then we miss each other’s hearts and assume evil motives and things spiral downward from there.

      So glad this was helpful. Thank you very much for sharing your husband’s thoughts. 🙂

  7. Thank you for this video. This week and last my husband has been on holiday (he’s a teacher) while the kids are on holiday. I am working though. He has taken on the role of cooking and food shopping which is quite unusual. I have been tempted to come in and give advice, but have stood back and let him go. He has come up with great ideas. Pre chopping veg and meat for 3 days worth of stir fries and curries, making pizza dough ahead of time for lunch time pizza. The kids are loving his food and although there is more mess for me to clean it’s been reassuring to see that his ways work just as well as mine if not better. It’s left me feeling quite relaxed actually.

  8. Good post. Some of my best marriage moments have come from letting go,from not helping, especially when it comes to the kids. They are mostly grown now, but when they were younger I had a tendency to want to control their dad, to supervise him, not unkindly, but just because I thought he needed help. That kind of “help” however is a no confidence vote, it is disrespectful, it implies distrust. It would be different if I had a reason to distrust him, but he was always good with the kids, I was just a bit of a control freak. It annoyed me when their clothes didn’t match, when they didn’t eat healthy, when Dad let them watch too much TV. When I finally learned how to let go and how to stop helping him to be a dad, it was a big relief for me and his confidence grew. By the time they were teens it was wonderful, because when I had had enough, I could walk away with complete confidence, and hubby would really step up to the plate and take over. Men often like to feel important, needed, to come to the rescue once in a while.

    1. insanitybytes22,

      Thank you so much for sharing your story. I can definitely relate! I had similar issues earlier – but then when I learned to trust Greg, even when he did things differently – and saw how he plugged in and began to really lead our children and myself, I realized this is a GOOD thing!

      God puts two parents in a family because we help to balance each other out.

  9. I primarily keep up our home but my Husband is great at helping me if I ask. Sometimes he just takes initiative without my asking….like he takes out the trash constantly. I have noticed we do things differently but he still does a good job. He knows I want to help with different things and it’s a standing offer. He asks me if he needs help with something so I am not offering as much verbally. He told me, ” Honey I know you will help if I need it”.

  10. Those are awesome examples, April!! This is an area I have struggled with. I am trying to put this in practice with my male relatives and friends now that I am single. I am amazed how much more peaceful I feel than when I was bossy and saying things like You should do it this way and of course they respond so much better!

    1. Daisymae,

      How have you been doing, my dear sister? How may we pray for you?

      I’m so glad you are practicing this with the men around you. That is a fantastic idea. At first, it seems so difficult to change the way we speak – but it is very much worth it!

      Much love to you!

      1. I am doing good 🙂 I recently met a man. We are just on a friend level right now but I am praying about future. I would really appreciate prayer for mine and my son’s future, finances and decisions we have to make. Thank you for asking! Much love back!

        1. I loved your posted and understand but what if your husband take a leadership role and sets a plan in place for something and then is spiteful and takes it all back and claims he did that to see what reaction he gets. Which I question it because it was against what he planned and I was upset about it. I am trying to be a godly wife but how is it leadership if he testing the waters or pushing buttons…and then if I push back tells me I will never change. Then why would he try to test why can’t he just accept the change and live peacefully why must he start a war in our household. I get so frustrated because it feels like I take 5 steps back….I think it is vengeful….and so dishonest and I told him of his sin that is actions start the war and make me feel I should question his leadership doing something so spiteful….

          1. Maria,

            I have heard of husbands testing their wives like this sometimes to see if the changes in their wives are real. I don’t think that is a biblical model for leadership. No. But I have seen husbands who just don’t believe their wives are really changing and who are skeptical and afraid to believe that this could be true. It can take a long time for a husband to trust his wife again if she has been very disrespectful and controlling.

            Here is a post about that, perhaps it may be helpful?

            Much love to you and the BIGGEST hug!

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.

%d bloggers like this: