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"Isn't It Demeaning to Me if I Respect My Husband?"

pondering-1482305

A guest post from a precious sister in Christ who is very new to this journey:

Thank you!! I was ready to quit when I stumbled onto your site. When you responded to my anger with such kindness and affirmation something clicked for me – if I could be kind to my husband when he’s angry or stressed, I thought it could soften him, too. And it has.

When I read your blogs about how you used to be and God opened my eyes about how I was, your transparency helped me be brave and face the truth. If God would help you then He would help me. If you could die to self, so could I.

I love how you post stories from women who don’t have it all together. We aren’t through yet. Often times, we walk in many doubts but still we are seeking, applying what we are learning. It’s SO encouraging. So please feel free to share my small part in this journey. I love being a part of it. Again thank you for your kindness to me when I first posted. It’s strange but at that time even though I knew God was pointing to respect and I knew He wanted to keep our marriage together it’s as if the world’s voice even in the church to just leave your marriage was so strong, I needed permission to stay and keep trying. Your blog and all those other women helped me be brave and stay.

My husband and I have been separated for awhile but he has been coming to the house more and more often now. He was to come last night and then it looked like he wasn’t going to with work (he works a lot). At first I said it was okay even though inside I was hurt and angry. Since reading your blog I was able to take it to Jesus.

  • Instead of playing the martyr and then blowing up I called him back and very calmly and respectfully stated how much I was looking forward to seeing him but I really did understand his work is busy. I didn’t get angry but I didn’t stuff either.

He said he was glad I told him I wanted to see him. He doubled his efforts and made it to the house by 8:00pm. Played with the kids. Helped me with some things. And even stayed here. I don’t know why I’m shocked – LOL – but I continue to be amazed at how he is responding to me and how respect energizes a man.

Clear, direct, respectful communication is moving the mountains that all the begging and crying in the world couldn’t! I’m sad it had to take this long. But I’m glad God didn’t make changes in the marriage until I started to change. My heart is just gushing with gratitude! Thank you Jesus and thank you April and all the wives at your blog!

I, too, believed showing more respect (to my husband) would be demeaning (to me). I felt I had respected my husband and he just treated me as a doormat. This is why your advice to really seek Jesus is so imperative.

When I put my husband to the side and simply began seeking God for Him, to be in His presence, and to ask for His guidance – I immediately saw several things:

1. One was that we are deceived as women into thinking that respecting our husbands will make them arrogant. The truth is it often humbles them and touches their hearts.
2. Another thing God showed me was my “respect ” was polluted with what I hoped to get in return. It wasn’t pure unconditional respect given simply because my husband is a child of God, fellow heir, and my husband.
3. Then I saw how demanding and rude I was to God. And yet God still loved me.

So I had to repent of those things and as I did, the lies slipped away. However, telling this to a woman who hasn’t spent that deep time with the Lord, she will have a hard time hearing how this is actually empowering not demeaning. Telling my husband how I felt last night (about wanting him to come home earlier from work) and letting him decide was empowering to me and when he came to me it was a celebration. Once we find that path of true respect it’s a whole different ball game. My marriage is still insecure but I know God is guiding me on ways to keep energizing my husband. I now look forward to my husband being my covering and discovering ways to bring out the leader in him. I see that man again. So, so, so much I have to learn!

FROM PEACEFULWIFE:

  • Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good. Romans 12:21

Some women believe that if they show genuine respect to their husbands, they are disrespecting themselves. That is not the kind of respect God is talking about. The truth is that we can honor, respect, and love God, ourselves, and our husbands all at the same time! These are not mutually exclusive concepts.

In fact, for respect and love to be godly and healthy, we need to be able to give them in all of these directions. If I respect or love my husband but not myself, that is self-hatred. I can’t love and respect God and others if I hate myself. I must be able to receive God’s love and my identity and worth in Christ before I can share God’s love and honor with others.

Love, honor, and respect should flow back and forth in all of these relationships. Of course, the love and respect I have for God is much greater than my love and respect for people. And the way God shows us honor is different from the way we show Him honor. We worship Him, He does not worship us. But He does make us His beloved children. He clothes us with worth and dignity and makes us co-heirs with Christ!

The way I treat myself, my husband, and others is about my character and my relationship with Christ. I can act in the power of God’s Spirit, treating all people with love, dignity, honor, and respect regardless of what others do. This is the Fruit of the Spirit living in me.

48 thoughts on “"Isn't It Demeaning to Me if I Respect My Husband?"

  1. That was such an encouraging story to read! Thank you to the wife who shared!

    And April, I just love the way you continually point wives back to Jesus. We all have different stories, but our relationship with Christ truly is the “heart” of the matter for each of us.

  2. Yeah!!! I’m so rejoicing with you, Sister!

    I was in this same exact spot: It was year 11 of my marriage, in tears, in brokenness, in fear of a divorce, that I cried out to The LORD, and He showed me a verse: “Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husband as unto the LORD.” {Eph. 5:22} The Lord gave me a vision of honoring my husband, and my children feeling peaceful. I prayed, “LORD, I don’t know how to do that…I don’t even know what that looks like!” A peace filled my heart that the LORD would guide me.

    Then I thought of my husband, who at that time was cold and distant.. “OK, LORD,” I looked up at the ceiling in my closet, “but he’s going to railroad me.” I could just see it: no going to church, no volunteering, stay home all of the time until the house is spotless… my fears went on and on.

    In faith, The LORD gave me the strength to follow His guiding. Not once has my husband “railroaded” me – not once! It took a while. (At first, he thought I was using some sort of manipulation technique.) The more I truly honored my sweet husband, the more he began to love and nurture and protect and take care of me. I’m amazed.

    Today, The LORD is still teaching me and growing me in honoring my wonderful husband. We are close to our 19th Anniversary. We are best friends.(!!)There are fewer arguments, and disagreements tend to end quickly. He is merciful to me and deeply caring. I never would have imagined our marriage could be like this.

    Thank you so much for your encouraging and well-written post! My prayer is that many, many ladies will be blessed by it! ~ Blessings to you!

  3. Thank you, sister, for sharing your story. How encouraging!

    I too have discovered the almost miraculous effects of respectful, clear, concise communication. I didn’t really understand the differences in the way men and women think until I was older and read some of April’s columns, and it was humbling to have such an epiphany at my age. As long as we live we will be learning and growing in wisdom.

    My eyes were opened to how much I depended on my husband to validate my own personal sense of security and acceptance, which put a terrible burden on him no man should have. Learning to lean on God instead and rely on him for security and acceptance made so much difference in our communication. I used to read too much into what my husband said or did that I thought implied criticism, and would be heartbroken.

    Now I give him the freedom to be himself, take his words at face value, and strive to show him respect and grace at every turn, and he does the same. Certainly I’m not perfect, but when I make a mistake I quickly tell him I’m sorry, and it doesn’t turn into a major conflagration. We are each other’s best friend now, and I can’t tell you how much joy respecting each other has added to our lives.

    I’m so happy you’re on this journey with us, as we all learn from and encourage each other! Much love to you!

    1. Rose,
      Here is something I shared on FB just this past week…

      My husband explained just last year to me that what he really wants in marriage is pretty simple. For him, it is not a big to-do list. It is not about me being “the perfect wife.” He likes things like for me:
      – to genuinely smile and be happy
      – to be truly peaceful and not stressed (because if I am stressed, he is stressed)
      – to be his friend
      – to be a safe, welcoming place for him
      – to treat him like a grown adult and equal
      – to just sit with him in the evenings, cuddle with him, and enjoy being with him while he watches TV
      – not to “try too hard”
      – not to ask what I can do for him
      – not to ask how I can improve
      – to appreciate the many things he does to show his love for me
      – to give him time to think and process with decisions
      – to honor his parenting
      – to use a respectful, friendly tone of voice and friendly facial expression
      – to make changes for the family slowly rather than to make sweeping changes all at once (he doesn’t like change very much)

      It would be interesting to find out what things most speak respect and honor to your husband. Every man has his own list.

      —-

      Other men WOULD appreciate very specific things, and would want to be asked what their wives can do to bless them.

      Here is a post about things that may feel respectful to husbands.

  4. I truly appreciate your website! Thanks! After reading a few of your blogs, I feel I can ask you a question that I have pondered on for a long time. How do I treat a woman who makes me uncomfortable and in some ways eventually affects how I respect and treat my husband?

    Here is what happened….We were at a public event (Christian) and when the event was over this gal came up right away to my husband (who was still seated) from behind him and put her hand on his shoulder. She conversed with him (her hand on his shoulder and bending forward) like this for quite awhile. I know because it made me uncomfortable so I walked away to stand in a line for an autograph. When I started walking toward them she was STILL there! I did something else and she was still there…. It seemed like an eternity!

    This is one of the most awkward things that has EVER happened in our marriage. I respect my husband’s decisions most of the time, but this one was/is hard! I bring it up once in awhile and probably should just drop it. But it made me disrespect him that he didn’t try to move away from her. I do trust him and he was probably as stunned as I was! He just says he didn’t think it would be for long so he didn’t move away.

    Any advice in how to deal with this lady would be appreciated. Although we weren’t close, our families previously did a few evening activities together, but now I find myself avoiding her. I feel she has told others that I avoid her, but I honestly don’t know what to do! I asked a couple godly women that I respect. All of them said to not confront her and avoid her when possible. They felt as I did that this was a clear effort to flirt with my husband and that she must have feelings for him.

    I pray, read, don’t blab about her-trying to not slander my neighbor, but I don’t feel the Lord has given me clear direction. I feel I have forgiven her but don’t want to be put in that inappropriate situation ever again. So maybe I haven’t totally forgiven her? I just don’t trust her around my family /my husband more specifically….She appears to be a Christian lady in other areas, so this is very puzzling. What would you do? What does the Lord require of me?

    1. Leace,

      It is possible that this woman didn’t purposely try to flirt with your husband – trying to give her the benefit of the doubt. Like maybe she didn’t realize how that might come across? If that is the only thing she has ever done that seemed inappropriate – it could be that she is just a more touch-y kind of person. Ideally, your husband would say something or move at some point. But I can understand him feeling uncomfortable and shocked and not sure what to do.

      What was she talking about with your husband? Was she trying to get him to volunteer for something that she didn’t think he was going to do, and maybe she was trying to keep him from leaving? I think there could be multiple explanations for this. I don’t want to automatically assume that her intentions were evil or that your husband’s intentions were evil.

      This has only happened once, right? How long ago was that? If it never happened again and it was many months or a year ago or more, I am not sure it is worth getting upset about at this point. She may seriously not have meant anything by this. Different people have different personal boundaries.

      If it happens again, and your husband would like you to say something, you may be able to talk with her in a friendly, humble way about that sometimes prolonged touching, even if unintended to look like a come-on can appear that way to others – and see what she may have to say. She may be just as shocked. Or, your husband may prefer to take care of it himself. I would assume that next time, he might be more prepared and he might speak up or simply move away a bit.

      Unity in the Body of Christ is one of Jesus’ greatest prayers. I am concerned that you avoiding her is going to create division. I would hate to see a bunch of resentment and hard feelings over something that potentially was innocent. If she shows more evidence that she is coming on to your husband, then I would personally prefer for him to speak to her, or it may be time for you to say something.

      There is a difference between forgiveness and trust. You can absolutely forgive her. But you can also be alert and aware of what is going on in the future. Does she do this to other men? Does she do this to women? Is it just a habit that she touches people’s arms or shoulders when she talks a lot?

      What does your husband say he believes would be the best approach? That is going to be the most important thing – that and prayer. I do pray that you won’t hold this one isolated incident against your husband. I think a lot of men would have been very unsure about what to do. They would’t want to cause a big scene, but would feel very uncomfortable and awkward. I can see why he thought that surely she would stop soon.

      Much love to you!

      1. Well, in guy-world, hand on shoulder is kind of a dominance move. Might have been here as well.

        If a girl did that to me, I’d kind of feel like it was a ‘keep you from leaving’ thing rather than flirty. I’d be more annoyed than flattered myself, although I see right through false flirting.

      2. Hi April;
        I know of a similmar situation that occurred to a friend of mine in church. It caused her some real distress. Seems another christian gal kept hitting on her husband, being overly familiar, flirting etc. It went on enough that it was pretty obbvious that she was disrespecting their marriage relationship and doing it purposely to upset my friend. So they talked about it together and it was decided to confront her. The next time she did it, the husband called her out on it, saying that it was inappropriate . The woman’s response was “Does Lydia have a problem with this”? Attempting to manipulatively make it seem that Lydia was insecure and thus discredit her in her husband’s eyes and make her the outsider; how brazen! Lydia’s husband responded firmly ” WE have a problem with this”, making it clear that he stood firmly with his wife and saw through this woman’s attempts to divide them and insinuate herself into their marriage. The woman finally accepted defeat only when she was flatly and firmly rebuffed, and apparently refocused her wrongful motives elsewhere. This is not the only incidence of deliberately brazen impropriety in church from women professing faith. there was a girl in my old church who would come up and be a flirty and playful, drop gum wrappers down your man’s shirt collar, etc.

        Her reasons for doing it I think had something to do with it giving her a sense of power, perhaps towards women she was perhaps jealous of. And on the flip side, sometimes someone’s behaviour or expressions can look pretty darn bad and improper and yet they have no real desire or intention to do anything sinful and are NOT after an inappropriate relationship with someone else’s man. The enemy likes to use wolves dressed as sheep and he likes to set up sheep to look like wolves. So if I could suggest anything, it would be that this lady and her husband spend some time ascertaining what this gal is really up to and then form a strategy together.

        1. Patricia,

          Thank you very much for sharing. I am so glad this couple handled the obvious flirting together with the husband leading and the wife supporting him. They sent a strong message of unity for their marriage. So beautiful!

  5. Reblogged this on The Faithbook and commented:
    Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.
    β€”Romans 12:21
    Today’s post comes from The Peaceful Wife, probably one of the best sources for showing the struggle and the practical way to life for God and love our spouse. We see so often these days the way most feminist talk encourages us women to “rule over” our husbands or how to “wear the pants of the house” and yet still desire a very loving relationship that caters mostly to usβ€”the wivesβ€”just as the curse in Genesis 3 that Eve received after partaking of the forbidden fruit with her husband Adam. Thus we struggle to love our husbands, and respect them the way we ought to, but through God all that can change.
    Just check out the post below:

  6. What a great story – and also the stories from other wives. I have to add my own grateful words of God’s kindness and compassion as He brought about events in my marriage that led to Him opening my eyes to some of the destructive ways I was acting in my marriage. When I look back on the last few years of this journey and see where He has brought me today….well, I just can’t find appropriate words to express the gratitude that I have.

    I would say to the idea of respecting our husbands being demeaning that it is very much to the contrary. In many ways, I have learned to love who God created me to be and to feel more comfortable with who I am than ever before. I am much more forgiving of myself (and others now!). This has all been part of this journey. I am learning to find my identity solely in Christ. God has taken me to places in my marriage that I thought that our marriage might end. Three years ago, that would have devastated me. Today, I know it would be hard, but I also know that if I have Christ, I have everything. God is “un-enmeshing” (one of my favorite posts, btw!) me from my husband, but in that process, is giving us something better than we’ve ever had before (His ways and thoughts are so above ours). I am able to let my husband be who he is and realize that his actions or non-actions don’t have to affect my joy. It is so freeing to give him (and my children – and other people!) freedom to be and to make their own choices. God is enabling me to let go of some of my “ideas” of what marriage should look like – deep intimate conversations being one of them. Now, when I find myself being upset about that, I just turn my thoughts to the One who knows me, who understands my hurts, who will never grow tired of me talking and will never turn my heart away. I know my husband is not capable of providing me a deeper connection at this time in our lives – and at the same time, I am learning to “hear” depth in some of the things that he tells me that I didn’t notice before.

    I hesitate writing my story because I know that sometimes, the journey for other wives doesn’t look the same. Sometimes, God does some of these same things inwardly for a wife, but outwardly, the circumstances don’t change or even get worse. I guess I just wanted to acknowledge that and say that my heart aches for those of you who are in painful circumstances.

    Thank you, April, for loving and serving your sisters and brothers with this blog and for your prayers and loving counsel. Thank you for being an example of how to respond in love and gentleness when someone has been offended or has offended you.

    It is so awesome to know that countless wives are on the journey. The enemy has been on the attack against marriages, but the children of God are more than conquerors through Him who loves us. Greater is He that is in us than he that is in the world.

      1. Yes, April! Share away. I know the stories and testimonies from others greatly impact my desire to “keep on keeping on” this journey…

        Love you!

        1. Jennifer,

          YAY! I plan to share on my Peaceful Wife Blog FB page later this week. THANK YOU SO MUCH! What an amazing story of the love, grace, and power of Christ to change us and to heal broken people and relationships.

          Much love to you! And thank you!

  7. I really appreciated the author saying how she responded to her husband – I have been struggling for a while to figure out how I can respectfully share my feelings with my boyfriend on the rare occasions when he cancels plans we made. Everything I could think of to say would sound disrespectful, so I would just say I was okay with it, but he would always notice I was sad (he’s very observant – one of the things I love about him!) and then he would ask me to tell him why I was sad, and then I would have to explain how I was feeling and why, without knowing how to say it respectfully!

    I love the way this wife said that she was really looking forward to seeing him, but that she understood he was busy. Very respectful but still very honest. Maybe this was supposed to be obvious before, but I certainly will be using this method from now on! πŸ™‚

  8. April,
    I was invited by an attorney friend along with a lifelong friend to go to the church today where my divorce wife of 16 months goes and where I used attend Church together with her…
    I felt like a child that was attending to his first day at school and I’m 64, but I did it anyways…because I love and miss my wife of 40 years terribly…
    And seeing how I’m a totally repentive sinner…
    It was a test, and I thought that I should have been welcome back with open arms by my wife, the Pastor and his Wife, but that never happened… After services my wife turned around only to find me standing there alone as my pals had to go and deserted me, she walked by and I approached her with my heart pounding out of my chest and she said how come you didnt go to your Berean church today… and i said i was invited here, by Frank and Louie… and we talked briefly for a minute outside…
    It made me so ill to watch her two pews in front of me, I watched her as the Sermon was going on, her probably not even thinking or caring that I was even there….Thinking how bad I wanted to sit with her and talk as I did 19 months ago in that same pew, but yet she goes to that Church, for what reason I don’t know, I can’t figure it out…
    I think about how truly repented I’m for my sins, and what Jesus Himself said about welcoming the sinner of back with open arms… but I believe a lot of Christians just put on some sort of act or their selfish and proud and filled with strife…
    Like the Bible says they will be in the end of times…
    Very hypocritical, almost laughable, if it wasn’t my families souls at stake…
    After church we parted ways after a brief encounter and I went to a local coffee shop and I seen some Catholic friends that go to the local Catholic churches…
    I am not Catholic, I go to the Berean church that believes in the truth in the Bible, with good honest loving Pastors…my pastors greet you with hugs and kisses and they tell you they love you so wonderful walking in there and after the service you don’t walk out, you float out the door…
    Nobody speaks tongues at the Berean church, scaring people away, they speak in English the language that we all understand in our church… I have good friends that want to find Christ and are very curious about him, but I refused to take them where they are speaking tongues, and I travel 100 miles to church every Sunday just to go to the Berean church, that’s how good it is… I can’t take a hundred miles, but I still don’t want to take them to a place that will scare them away, it scared me, Tongues scares a lot of people…
    I know some people have the gift of tongues, but the Bible says why not speak your own language so they can understand the words, besides the Bible tells us it’s rude to speak tongues, if you don’t have an interpreter there…
    I’ve even heard where there were witches attending services in a church supposably speaking tongues, but was speaking there own evil Worlock, Witches and Wiccans language and no one even knew It… not even the pastors, elders or any members knew it…until a former witch informed them to their total surprise
    I find it super scary, almost unbelievable , but undoubtedly evil…
    Anyways, My wife (I will never use the term ex wife as long as I’m alive ) goes to a Christian Center… but I talked to this lady whom I met through thru a friend at the coffee shop… a for just one minute and I told her that I was divorced and how repented by was but my wife didn’t want to know nothing even though I was so humiliated to mention it and she says to me I was divorced too, I know you’re coming from, it was my fault, as it was your fault, but I lied to my husband and ask God for forgiveness, because I thought I was justified, because I thought my husband didn’t want me anymore…
    I never realized how much I hurt him, he just never paid attention to me, I didn’t think you cared and when I cheated on him he was so broken and I didn’t talk to him for a long time after the divorceI was so angry because he didn’t show me he cared…
    Then I repented I looked him up and I wanted to talk about my repentiveness, but he was gone he died a couple of days before I could say how sorry I was and I never got to talk to him again…
    God, I told that lady that that was my biggest fear and she says it was horrible it still is horrible and it will follow me for the rest of my life…
    But you have repented they should welcome you back with open arms like you say because you are a new creation your a new man, the old is gone and the new you had appeared, but you must keep trying don’t end up like me, be good and hope and pray that God will soften her heart and she gave me a hug and a kiss and said I wish I had more time to talk to you and she left,…
    I could see how broken she was…
    What’s happening to the world ?
    What’s happened to our Christian people ? Christian divorce outnumbers non-christian divorce…
    This stuff just doesn’t make sense anymore it’s like people go to church, but their blind to his word, they’re listening to only what they’re itchy ears want to hear and completely missing the point redemption and reconciliation…I’m a horrible sinner in some ways, but yet so good in other ways and now all the things I have learned in the past two years, like my wife telling me how I should be saved and have a relationship with Jesus and now that I do, I am still rejected as before… I could never make anyone happy, especially her, she just doesn’t want me anymore, she threw me away like a piece of trash… How can a godly person (spouse ) do that ? without looking like a hypocrite in the two years I have tried my best to be a good Christian..
    I’ve surpassed so many that have studied the Bible their whole life… What have they been doing in church ?
    What have they been listening to ?
    What have they been reading ? it’s not the book that I’ve been reading the Holy Bible King James Version, because my Bible states clearly, from Genesis thru Revelations about repentance,forgiveness and reconciliation, AND LOVE… Joe

    1. Joe,

      It is my deepest prayer that God might bring about a massive Great Awakening among His people. It is already happening in parts of the world and in the hearts of many here. I long for us all to walk in the love, power, truth, and wisdom of God and for us to display His character to the world and to one another.

      1. Thank you,
        People better wake up and fast !!!
        These days are Truly the beginning of the End of Times… The Last Days…
        I’m saying this to save souls…
        These are His Words and Commands not mine !
        I’m just the messenger…

        2 Timothy 3:1-5 ESV

        But understand this, that in the last days there will come times of difficulty. For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good, treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power. Avoid such people.. The End of times…
        Wow, written Over 2000 years ago… Jesus himself said, When you see these Signs and Prophesies coming true…. LOOK UP TO THE HEAVENS, CAUSE I’M A COMING !!!!
        So we all must, Truly Repent, Truly Forgive, Truly Reconcile and Truly Love one another has he asked…
        So we are prepared and won’t be caught naked, He will come like a thief in the night and fear not, he will protect that choose his ways…. and He Wants ALL MEN, ALL WOMEN AND EVERY CHILD SAVED… This is why we all must get along and forgive one another Our Sins as he has forgiven us and to Love our Spouses and to Love our Neighbor… so he will forgive us, if you have not forgiven your Spouse and your Neighbor their sins against you… The Lord will not forgive you… Yes lets all participate in this Great Awakening… Can I get an amen to that ? Joe

        1. I just also wanted to say, Amen to April…
          The founder of this Godly post, The Peaceful Wife… What a Wonderful Woman she is, God is so pleased with her and all the Wonderful things she has done and is doing for everyone…
          God bless her and her family… She is Truly a disciple of God and shows God’s love the way she treats everyone that reaches out to her… I have never seen April, like I have never seen God, but I believe if I did see her someday I would see the image of God in her… Joe

  9. Hi April,
    We have talked through email and some comments in the past… I’m just commenting because, honestly, I feel hopeless. I feel like I have been trying to get this wife thing right for the past 4 1/2 years of our marriage and it’s just getting worse. I don’t really fully understand it. I know part of it has to do with my resolution to never become a doormat and taken advantage of as my mother is by my father, but it is out of control at this point. Although my husband was dealing with it more quietly for the past years, he now feels exhausted and is a lot more angry. I constantly feel dismissed and uncared for and not listened to while he constantly feels nagged and criticized and like my expectations are insatiable. I don’t disagree with him.

    And in the past we have had issues with him looking at porn or other sexual purity things and we had agreed on certain parameters like that he wouldn’t use the computer (which has covenant eyes on it) on the weekends and wouldn’t be home when I wasn’t home. I feel like he always is breaking these rules for one reason or another and it causes huge conflict and then I start to wonder if I’m crazy for having these rules to begin with. I feel like I just don’t trust him and besides the porn thing I don’t know what other reason I wouldn’t have to trust him. Cognitively I see that he is an amazing godly person who tries so hard to make me happy. But then, I feel compelled to point out the things he does wrong and the rules he breaks. Then I attack him and convince myself he has no integrity and csn never follow a rule (which he admits he does have some issues with). I don’t know, my thoughts are everywhere but we both agree that we are in a very bad cycle. I am terrified that I’m going to destroy my marriage and yet I feel like I’m out of control and can’t stop this cycle. I’ve read every marriage book I can find and pray about it and listen over and over to sermons and I’m seriously just getting worse. I don’t know what to do.

    1. Feeling Hopeless,

      My precious sister, I can certainly understand how painful this is for a wife. I can also understand that if a husband begins to feel like his wife is trying to be “his thought police” that is probably not going to work long term.

      If you haven’t, please search my home page for “porn” and read the posts, and also the post about a book review for Through a Man’s Eyes by Shaunti Feldhahn and Craig Gross. That book has many chapters with ideas of ways wives can be supportive in meaningful and healthy and helpful ways that don’t feel smothering and disrespectful and that actually help a husband who is struggling with porn issues.

      I don’t think it is going to work for you to make rules for him to follow. If he makes his own rules and has a male accountability partner, I think that would work much better. If you are making the rules, then it is like you are his angry mother or his angry probation officer and no man is attracted to that.

      I would also love for you to search my home page for:

      – control
      – fear
      – bitterness

      Another post that may be helpful is this one – “I Need to Change. I Can’t Go on Like This!”

      There is every reason for hope in Christ. But – He may want you to be willing to allow Him to work and change things in your heart first. If you are willing to try things God’s way, I am happy to walk beside you on this road. πŸ™‚ I can show you the baby steps.

      How is your walk with Christ going? What do you want to have in your relationship with Him?

      Much love to you!

      1. Thank you April. I have read those blog posts over and over and for some reason just feel like I am stuck. While I know that it is a process, I feel like I often read about the epiphany that so many wives have about how things that they were doing were disrespectful and they never meant or intended that. It seems like such a big part is understanding how our actions make our husbands feel. The problem is, I feel like I have known that for a while now and can probably even name all of the things I do and say that are disrespectful, nagging, controlling, etc. But for some reason, I feel compelled to do them like I can’t stop. In some ways, I have even gotten worse. That’s why I feel kind of hopeless.

        I can be very rigid and wanting everything my way and then tell my husband that I am not like him and not as easy going so he should be sensitive to the things that I care about. Unfortunately, there are very few things that I don’t care about.

        I fee like my walk with God could be going better and, in fact, don’t feel close to God mostly because of how I am as a wife. I know I am not doing what I am commanded to as a wife. I have started reading the Bible everyday since the New Year, and praying (a lot of times begging) God to help me change. I just feel stuck and… hopeless. I go to bed everyday feeling so bad and reminding myself what an amazing guy I have and then I wake up and sabotage the relationship all over again.

        I know that seeing my mom be a doormat my whole life made me extra determined to never be like that, but I am starting to think that I am very afraid of intimacy and being vulnerable at all. A lot of times I realized that I picked fights that weren’t even an issue…It feels easier for me to have the wall up then risk being hurt. I said something yesterday about my husband being my dream guy and he laughed and thought I was being sarcastic. It made me feel so sad because he really is my dream guy, but with the way I act toward him and criticize him of course he thought I was kidding. He couldn’t possibly believe that. Sorry to be rambling, I am just feeling so defeated.

        1. Feeling Hopeless,

          I’m so glad you are sharing this struggle and reaching out for help! THAT IS AWESOME!

          It sounds like your walk with God is where things are getting stuck from what you are describing.

          What do you think about when you picture giving up control?

          Are there things you are afraid to trust to God?

          What are your biggest fears at this time?

          Do you want God to heal you and to radically change you by His power?

          Much love to you! Let’s hash through this together. πŸ™‚

          1. Thanks for being there April.

            1. What do you think about when you picture giving up control? I think when I picture giving up control I just picture hurt. I think of my husband doing things that will hurt me and me just being naive and taken advantage of. I think of unnecessary troubles and thinks not going off flawlessly.

            Are there things you are afraid to trust to God?
            Yes.
            What are your biggest fears at this time?
            I just recently prayed that God would help me just to wake up and get out of this rut. That night I had the most heart wrenching dream that my mom died. I am EXTREMELy close to my mom and anything happening to her is definitely my biggest fear. In general I have a huge fear of losing someone close to me.

            I had this realization today that in striving to never become like my mother (in the sense of being a doormat and taken advantage of), I’ve instead become like my father. It’s really devastating to think about.

            I don’t know exactly why I’m so scared of closeness and intimacy with my husband. In my head I know he’s a great guy and would never be like my dad, but for some reason anytime we are close or intimate I find myself trying to sabotage and have even felt sick to my stomach.

            It’s hard for me to pinpoint what exactly it is that I’m scared of in my marriage.
            Do you want God to heal you and to radically change you by His power? I really really do. I’m scared of change and this dysfunctional pattern feels comfortable but I sooo want it to change.

          2. Feeling Hopeless,

            Thank you so much for answering these questions for me. It is as we dig into these things that we will find the areas in your soul that need God’s truth and healing. πŸ™‚ I am going to ask some more questions to get a bit more clarification, and we will hash through this together. I will seek to point you to Christ and to His truth and power. πŸ™‚

            1. So you believe that if you yield control to God, you will not be able to protect yourself? And you think that if you are not on your husband constantly monitoring him, he might treat you worse?

            2. Do you believe that it is your right and it is in your power to control your husband and all of the circumstances around you? How much power do you believe you have? Do God and your husband need to submit to your will for things to be “right”?

            3. With what things particularly are you afraid to trust God?

            4. The death of those you love is a big fear? (That is certainly a very common fear – I had to hash through this fear myself, especially about my husband.) What if you had to face that fear? What specifically would be so awful if your mom died or someone you love died?

            5. Do you believe that God’s Word is true? Do you trust His promises? Is the Bible the source of absolute truth, or is your wisdom the source of absolute truth?

            6. What is your father like? what is it that feels so devastating if you are like him?

            7. Did you feel loved when you were growing up? Did you feel safe? Was it okay for you to be yourself, to share your fears and feelings, and to be close to your parents?

            8. A lot of times people tend to think that God is like their earthly dad. Is it possible that you may believe that God is more like your imperfect dad than He is like He presents Himself in the Bible?

            9. If you really want to change and you are willing to trust God, I can walk beside you on this road and point the way to Jesus and His truth. I’m really glad you want to change.

            Let’s talk a bit more so we can uncover the destructive thinking that may be going on – that you may not even be aware of – and then we will pray through this together.

            Much love!

          3. 1. So you believe that if you yield control to God, you will not be able to protect yourself? And you think that if you are not on your husband constantly monitoring him, he might treat you worse?

            Yes, I guess I feel like I would be letting my guard down and would be defenseless… like if I don’t protect myself then no one else will. When I just think rationally and have to directly answer these questions then no I don’t think my husband will treat me worse if I am not monitoring him, but in the moment I do believe that. On a cognitive level, I understand that all this is just an illusion of control. In reality, I am well aware that I have very little control. And maybe that’s just it…I am fearful and feel so out of control that I strive to control anything that I can. I have talked about this with a woman in my community group at church…it very much is an ILLUSION of control…even knowing this, for some reason, I still try to control.

            2. Do you believe that it is your right and it is in your power to control your husband and all of the circumstances around you? How much power do you believe you have? Do God and your husband need to submit to your will for things to be β€œright”?

            I don’t believe that it is my right and in my power to control my husband. I think that it’s terrible. I hate so much that I don’t let him be his own person. I think about how I have free will and get to just be myself and yet I don’t give him that same right in return. When I really think about it, I feel so sad that he tries so hard to please me and never lives up to my expectations and can never just breathe. In reality, I don’t believe I have any power…I just try to I guess. In fact, I don’t even WANT that. What I truly want is for my husband to show these leadership qualities like looking out for me and protecting me and guarding his own thoughts and actions without me having to do it for him. However, I fully recognize that I don’t even give him the chance to do that if he wanted to!! Again, in my head I don’t think that God and my husband need to submit to my will for things to be right, BUT in my actions it is exactly what I believe.

            3. With what things particularly are you afraid to trust God?

            I think if I am honest, probably everything. I feel like huge things like the safety and health of my family I always pray about, but that’s probably because I know that it is completely out of my control. But, the little day to day things that I convince myself I can control are the things I don’t even bring to God. My husband making the right decisions, having the house clean and everything put in the right place, just overall control. It’s hard for me to answer this question. I don’t know exactly what I don’t trust God with, but with my actions I feel like I must just not trust that He is good. My pastor says that faith is trusting in God’s benevolence toward you. At my core, even though my life has been abundantly blessed much more than I deserve, I think I doubt God’s goodness. I think I believe in His sovereignty and how his ways are higher than mine and that things He does aren’t necessarily what I want, but forget about the part that He is good and loves me.

            4. The death of those you love is a big fear? (That is certainly a very common fear – I had to hash through this fear myself, especially about my husband.) What if you had to face that fear? What specifically would be so awful if your mom died or someone you love died?

            Even just answering this question makes me feel sick. My mom is my best friend. We are so close that I couldn’t even fathom my life without her. My sister has this same kind of issue with my mom. I mean in one sense it’s the same way that no one would want to lose their parent and my mom is just such a good person. My friends have always wanted to come over to our house when I was younger because they loved her, and still do. I really am so blessed. I hadn’t known many people who were really close to their moms, but one of my good friends from college was and just a couple of years ago her mom was diagnosed with cancer and died within 4 months. This was at a time where my friend was having her first baby…it was just a tragedy. That reinforced my fear even more…my friend is a Christian and a wonderful person and so was her mom and yet something so terrible can happen. My husband is a pastor (not working as one right now) and I feel like I know the theological answers to these things, but don’t believe or find comfort in them in my heart.
            On another level there is the fact that I have always felt like my mom’s protector. My dad was physically abusive when I was younger and I am the oldest so even as a 5 year old I would do things so that my mom would be away from my dad and safe. Even now, he is emotionally abusive in my opinion. Now that I am older, I have seen where she has to stand up for herself (and she has much more, though it hasn’t made things better) and that it isn’t my responsibility, but I still get so angry when I see him treat her poorly and take advantage of her. In general in my family, I feel like the one who has been the parent in a sense. There are some things my parents did extremely well, but just in that area I have felt like the protector.

            5. Do you believe that God’s Word is true? Do you trust His promises? Is the Bible the source of absolute truth, or is your wisdom the source of absolute truth?

            Yes. I was raised in a “Christian” home and believe I became a Christian in high school. I have always been the one telling my family to go to church going to church on my own as a high schooler and up until now. So, yes I would say I believe it is true, but sometimes I question if I truly believe it by my actions. It’s almost like I want to say “yes I believe God’s word is true and I trust his promises, BUT….I am scared.”

            6. What is your father like? what is it that feels so devastating if you are like him?

            That’s a complicated question. It is always hard because he was always great to me and my siblings personally. Culturally, it was always a little different because my parents came to America when I was a baby and have mostly assimilated to culture here (they’ve been here over 30 years), but there is still just something different above having the influence and values of another culture. However, to my mom, he is/was very controlling, rude, unappreciative, etc. As an adult, I see now that he is very insecure and has almost become accustomed to this pattern with her. My dad has some good qualities, but in general, he has had issues with people that he works with…he is very prideful, puts down others, is also comparing. What is devastating to me is that those very things that I see him to do now to my mom and absolutely despise, I do in varying degrees to my husband. While I know, by God’s grace, that I am not exactly like him, I still can see some of those same tendencies in my marriage and it is so devastating because it is exactly what I always swore I wouldn’t do. I feel like I worked so hard to make sure that I was not taken advantage of like my mom that I ended up being more like him. It’s just such a sad realization.

            7. Did you feel loved when you were growing up? Did you feel safe? Was it okay for you to be yourself, to share your fears and feelings, and to be close to your parents?

            I very much felt loved by both of my parents. They tried so hard to give us everything. Witnessing the bad marriage just felt so traumatic to me. I felt safe, but didn’t feel like my mom was safe. Culturally, I definitely felt expectations to be perfect. I was a straight A student and would hear, “why didn’t you get an A+?” It wasn’t in a mean way, but trying to always motivate me to be my best. Unfortunately, it led me to being a perfectionist and finding my identify in my success. I definitely was very close to my mom and brother and sister growing up (and still today), but I didn’t really share my fears and feelings with my mom because I didn’t want to burden her. I did with my brother and sister, but even then, I always expressed anger never sadness. Anger is my defense mechanism. I have always had to come off as the strong one. My husband has even said he feels sometimes like I don’t have feelings and it’s so crazy to me because all of my anger IS all of my hurt…just expressed in a bad way. I feel like I have had to come off like everything is ok and nothing bothers me. Everyone has always said I am so strong, but I feel so weak. I have felt the weight of the world on my shoulders since I was little. Even telling people about all this, I say it emotionless like a rehearsed story. I never cried about it as an adult until premarital counseling 5 years ago when I shared the experiences and actually showed feeling about it. I actually thought I was over it as an adult and I can see now it is so not true.

            8. A lot of times people tend to think that God is like their earthly dad. Is it possible that you may believe that God is more like your imperfect dad than He is like He presents Himself in the Bible?

            I don’t think that I view God that way. At least not consciously. If anything, I think I demonize my dad and have a hard time seeing the good so I feel like I see God in stark contrast to my earthly father.

            9. If you really want to change and you are willing to trust God, I can walk beside you on this road and point the way to Jesus and His truth. I’m really glad you want to change.

            I really do and am thankful to have a place to do that.

          4. Feeling Hopeless,

            I really appreciate your willingness to answer these questions. I think I have a much better handle on what is going on with you and where you may be getting stuck, my beautiful sister. πŸ™‚

            The big thing that jumps out at me is that you felt you had to protect your mom from your dad when you were young. When we are children and we feel responsible for the safety of our parents or we feel we have to be the parent for our siblings or our parents – that tends to create a warped understanding in us when we are very young that we take with us into adulthood that we have a lot more power over other people and responsibility over others than we really do. I had the same kind of distorted thinking, although my situation was a bit different. I believed I had to be the mom for my twin sister and my brother and that I had to take over for my mom sometimes. I remember crying every night when I was in 3rd grade because I was not taking care of all of the starving people in the world. I truly believed I should be able to fix that. This was not my responsibility. I didn’t have the capacity to fix this problem. But I tried to take things that belong to God and to others on my shoulders. When we do this, we end up overwhelmed, anxious, afraid, controlling, and lonely.

            I had self on the throne of my heart as an idol. Didn’t realize it. But I expected everyone to agree with me and do what I wanted. I expected to always be right. I thought I was always right. I told God what He needed to do to make things right. I knew better than He did, really. Not sure I would have admitted that, but that is how I lived.

            I believe what you are dealing with is what we all deal with – we build our lives on fixed beliefs when we are very young about who we are, who God is, what healthy boundaries are, what our responsibilities are, etc… We can know in our head that these things may not be true, but we don’t know any other way to live. Of course, when we mix in the sinful nature, as well, which tends to be prideful, unbelieving, and rebellious against God anyway, we have a mess.

            You remind me a lot of myself. If anyone had asked me questions like this, I would NEVER have said that I had the right to control other people or that I was sovereign, not God. But when God opened my eyes to my sin 7 years ago, He revealed to me that maybe I didn’t consciously think a lot of these things, but I lived as if these lies were true. I lived as if God was not good and was a small wimp. I lived as if it was my right to demand that others do what I wanted them to do because I knew best and I was right and I knew God’s will more than anyone else.

            I know that if you are willing to confront some of these deep-seated beliefs and tear out anything that is not of God and replace them with God’s truth, you will be healed. That is the great news. πŸ™‚ Jesus is the truth. The truth will set us free!

            What do you think? Are you ready to allow God to shine the blazing Light and Truth of His Word into the darkest corners of your soul and mind and allow Him to show you the rotten stuff that needs to go? And then are you ready to rebuild your life on Christ and His Word alone?

            I have some posts about a number of the other things you addressed, too, that I can share if you would like. You may search my home page for:

            – idol
            – fear
            – control
            – Christ as Lord

            Much love to you!

          5. Yes, you got it! I am definitely living as though those lies are true. Just hearing that it is possible to live life a different way is encouraging. I SOO want that! I really do desire that and I want to really live out the faith that I claim to believe.

          6. Feeling Hopeless,

            It is VERY freeing to shed those lies. The difficult thing is that the lies and messed up thinking is so deeply rooted that we often don’t even recognize that lies are there. We deceive ourselves. God’s Word says the heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. That is so true. I seriously believed I was trusting God – but I was full of anxiety, fear, pride, self-righteousness, disrespect, idols, and yuck. If I really looked at the fruit of my life, it was not Galatians 5:22-23 it was Galatians 5:18-21 stuff. Flesh stuff.

            So, what this requires is that you are willing to allow God total access and control over what stays in your mind and heart and what goes. I thought of it as ripping out almost everything I thought I knew about self, femininity, masculinity, marriage, and a lot of stuff about God, too. I had to be willing to ask myself the hardest questions and face my deepest fears. It works best if you do this slowly and thoroughly, in my view. I told God I wanted to tear out anything that was not of Him and rebuild on His truth and His Word alone.

            I believe that searching my home page for posts about the following would be a great place to start:

            – fear
            – idol/idols/idolatry
            – control
            – worry
            – insecurity
            – security

            And, when you are ready, please read RadiantandRedeemed’s comments on the post Monday. She walks the ladies through a powerful prayer and explanation of spiritual deliverance in Christ that you are welcome to experience, as well.

            I’m right here. Let’s walk this road together, my precious sister!

            Lord,
            I thank and praise You for the healing You are about to do in Feeling Hopeless’ soul. I thank You that You are able to expose the sinful thoughts, hidden motives, and lies in our hearts by the power of Your Word and Your Spirit. Open My dear sister’s eyes. Give her a new name! Let her receive all that You have for her in Christ.
            In the Name and power of Christ Jesus,
            Amen!

            Be thinking about what new name you might like to use here on the blog. It needs to change from Feeling Hopeless to something beautiful. πŸ™‚ Feeling Hopeful? Or ReadytoReceive? Or something else?

            Much love!
            April

  10. Hi April & readers, I just wanted to share something in gratitude and testimony. I discovered this blog and the concept of being a peaceful, respectful wife about 8 months ago at a very low point. I was absolutely clueless about what to do with our communication problems (more specifically, how terribly unloving my husband seemed and how sorry I felt for myself). Since I began reading, learning, and praying about these things I have seen tiny baby steps toward a better life. However, for the most part, it has been one step forward, one step back, repeated over and over.

    On Christmas day we reached our lowest point ever – discussing my husband’s desire for separation (which never, in my craziest nightmares would ever be an option). It was just a conversation, no action yet, but he agreed we could pray together and I pleaded with the Lord to give us a tiny ray of hope and he did. That very day, we were given the chance to be on the same team in a card game with his family and work together. It was the smallest and strangest thing but doing something enjoyable together melted a layer of his hardened heart, given him hope for our marriage and has been softening gradually since. Since that time we have continued to have conflicts but after all these months the reading, learning, and praying have turned into PRACTICING πŸ™‚ definitely the hardest part but we are seeing progress! AHHHH!! (clearly I have not yet completely surrendered myself to the option of things not improving – the faith not to be healed. However I still rejoice in the improvements and will continue to work towards complete surrender to God, regardless of what happens)

    For me I have realized in those hard conversations/areas of conflict it comes down to giving up myself, stop focusing on how I feel and let go of my pride. Finding something to do (doing the dishes, reading a book, getting together with a friend) when my needs are not being met. For a long time, my husband has lamented that I am not independent, emotionally self-sufficient. I would retort that we are married, of course we should be interdependent and that HIS perspective was wrong, that he did not love me enough (oops. Basically every post on this website is spot on for the things I’ve been doing wrong our whole marriage). However, I have experimented on the counsel to be submissive and respectful by way of the practical suggestions on this blog, even when I am in great pain. Formerly I would cry, demand to be listened to, sob, text, cry myself to sleep every night, when I was feeling unloved. But I have tried giving him space, biting my tongue (hard!) when I want to criticize or call out, etc. etc….I know I shouldn’t be surprised but he is so much friendlier to me when I am pleasant!?!?! πŸ™‚ Also I think I am re-gaining the confidence I had before I got married. I used to be such a joyful, peaceful, person (or I thought so, haha, definitely prideful then as well). Unfortunately I have made my happiness and my marriage an idol and refused to respect my husband’s need to be his own person – and his desire that I do the same.

    I know this has been a long post and I’m sure I will write again. Old habits die hard but I do want to testify that positive actions as a selfless/submissive wife (even at great personal growing pains!!!) can indeed bear fruit in God’s timing. Also that messing up, slipping up is okay. The power of hope in repentance and forgiveness is real!

    1. Progress,

      This brings such joy to my heart and the biggest smile to my face! I LOVE LOVE LOVE hearing your story and how God is working in your heart and in your marriage! WOOHOO!

      Thank you VERY MUCH for sharing!!!! How I praise God with you!

      1. Progress,

        I wonder if there is any of this, especially the next to the last paragraph, that I might share anonymously on my PW FB page? No pressure! Totally up to you! πŸ™‚

        1. Thank you so much! I have learned so much from you and have hope that I can find hope and joy in Christ alone – some day! Definitely.I am a member of the Facebook group and your request for experiences is what prompted my original comment πŸ™‚ But I chose to post here because even though the group is private I still fear that someone I know could see if there were a glitch so I prefer to be anonymous πŸ™‚

          1. Progress,

            I appreciate your willingness to share. It’s totally fine for you to share here anonymously. πŸ™‚

            You CAN find hope and joy in Christ alone – even today – because Jesus IS real love, real life, joy, and peace. These things are found nowhere else but in His person. πŸ™‚

            Much love to you!

  11. What can I do to show respect, which was part of the problem, now that my husband left, wants to end the marriage, and does not communicate with me except about practical meetings (money etc)? I want to return any disrespect or fear he is acting on with respect and love, but I don’t know what that looks like: going silent, not contacting him, or contacting him about his new dream job, his successes in fitness events, ?
    I don’t want to mess things up more than I already have. I am also praying and asking advice from godly couples and counselor but seeking all the help I can.
    Thank you

    1. J,

      Such a tough situation. πŸ™ sending you a huge hug, my sister!!
      What do you believe God is prompting you to do?

      Your husband wants no contact, right?

      What are you praying for now for yourself and for your husband?

      Much love to you!

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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