When a Husband Is Negative, Critical, or Hurtful

NOTE – if there are really severe issues: adultery, drug/alcohol addiction, severe porn addiction, criminal activity, uncontrolled mental health issues – please seek appropriate one-on-one godly counsel. This post doesn’t address severe issues.

This is a spiritual battle we are fighting. Our husbands are not the real enemy, even though it sure seems like they are at times. What does God call us to do when we are mistreated? What is an effective approach when someone is being hateful? How can we respond in God’s power and not in sin?

  • Romans 12:9-21 is about how to approach our enemies/those who mistreat us and how to overcome evil with good
  • I Corinthians 13:4-8 is about how we are to love everyone with the agape love of God – that would include our treatment of our husbands
  • Galatians 5 is about what the Spirit filled life this will be true no matter how others are treating us.
  • Matthew 7:1-5 is about examining any sin in our lives before we attempt to address sin in another person’s life. I believe we should always seek God’s heart about if there is any sin from which we need to repent before we humbly attempt to approach someone else about his sin.
  • Matthew 18:15-17 is about how to confront those who sin against us.
  • But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, Matthew 5:44
  • A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger. Prov. 15:1
  • Do everything without grumbling or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, “children of God without fault in a warped and crooked generation.” Then you will shine among them like stars in the sky as you hold firmly to the word of life. Philippians 2:14-16
  • What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don’t they come from your desires that battle within you? You desire but do not have, so you kill. You covet but you cannot get what you want, so you quarrel and fight. You do not have because you do not ask God. When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures. James 4:1-3

Verses about handling conflict
As our husbands watch us respond in the power of God, with genuine respect, honor, poise, dignity, peace, joy, and love – as we respond with grace – God works in their hearts. Greg was talking with our teenage son about how to treat some other boys who are mistreating him. He advised him to treat them well and then he said to our son…

“Being shown ultimate grace is like being shown a mirror.”

(Sometimes he just comes up with the most profound things that blow my mind!) There is nothing more convicting for a husband who is mistreating his wife than to see her living out godliness, love, and goodness – and extending God’s grace to him when he knows he doesn’t deserve it. We don’t have to preach, lecture, nag, or try to verbally force our husbands to God. Our attitude and God’s power in us speaks a much more powerful sermon than any words ever possibly could to our husbands.  (1 Peter 3:1-6)

Sometimes if a husband gets too upset, a wife may find that simply distancing herself in a respectful, loving way may be helpful. (This does depend on the husband. Some want to calm down and resolve things right away. Others need to have space to calm down before they lose control.) It is important that this space is not “the cold shoulder.” It is not done out of spite. Times respectful, loving space may be wise:

  • If a husband was very hurtful and the wife shares respectfully that his words or actions hurt and he refuses to apologize.
  • If a husband is upset and needs time to think and is not ready to try to reconcile verbally yet – like when a wife tries to apologize and he cannot yet receive her apology.

Some men need space for a time when emotions run high before they can articulate their thoughts and feelings well. I personally believe this gives our men a chance to hear God’s voice of conviction and helps us not get in God’s way in certain situations.

A wife giving respectful, loving space as a gift may want to:

  • smile when she sees him
  • kiss him in the morning and in the evening
  • continue cooking and doing chores, maybe even cook her husband’s favorite meals if she feels led
  • allow him to have space to process his thoughts and any sin
  • spend extra time with God in prayer for herself, her husband, and her family
  • be content in Christ and joyful in Christ
  • be approachable when he begins to draw near her
  • be ready to extend grace and forgiveness when he verbally apologizes or extends an “olive branch” without words
  • if he is interested in sex but hasn’t apologized for a genuine sin against her, she may want to be ready to say, “I want to be available to you sexually, but I need to know our relationship is stable and secure first. Then I will be ready to give my body to you freely the way I want to.”

It is helpful to remember that our real battle is fought and won in prayer, not necessarily in conversation with those who oppose us.

God’s Word and His power are what is most needed. Our words and our human effort will not produce effective results. Our sinful power can only tear down and destroy. But as we allow God to work in and through us, He can pour healing into our lives, our husband’s lives, and our marriages in His timing.

As we are filled with God’s Spirit, He can prompt us about when to speak, what to say, how to respond, when to respectfully confront, and when to wait and pray.


“A joyful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.” Prov. 17:22

It may be that your husband is crushed under guilt and shame, trying his very hardest to be good in God’s holy eyes. It is drying up his life and joy because that is what the law does. It is impossible for us to find life in the law – the burden is too heavy. If we break even one commandment we are under a curse.

I think if he sees joy, light, life and grace in your eyes; sees that you have peace and a nearness to God that he is trying to have – God will use that more powerfully than words can ever convey.

Only God can open our eyes to His goodness and grace. He gets us to the end of ourselves and any kind of thinking that we have any ability to save ourselves or have any teeny source of good in ourselves at all.

Two things that convicted me when I was so bitter and hurting and full of unbelief were:
1) people full of powerful faith for themselves and those around them
2) people who did not speak negatively at all, but rather Scripture, thanksgiving, and praise

Find prayers like Ephesians 3:14-21 and Col 1:9-14 to pray over him.

When you pray, thank God that He has already done these things instead of asking God for these things – because Jesus said “It is finished” on the Cross and that He has already blessed believers with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly realms (and many other verses and promises for believers).

“Thank You, God that my husband already has freedom in Jesus – for ‘if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.’ Thank You, God for deliverance from lies and strongholds in my husband’s heart and thinking, for Your arm is not too short to save, and You still set the captives free, and those who look to You are radiant and will never be filled with shame. Thank You that I am radiant because I am trusting in You. Thank you God that You are working in our hearts and our home.”

And then praise Him! He is worthy of it! He is Faithful and True. He is the object of your faith – and worthy of our trust. He is infinitely good and way more interested in us loving and growing in Him than we are. And He inhabits the praise of His people. Our praise is a weapon that opens new pathways and routes the enemy.




Is there a time your husband was being very harsh and God prompted you to respond in a godly way? Would you like to share what you did and what happened, (if you believe it would be honoring to Christ for  you to share without too much detail – we want to be respectful of our husbands even as we share)? Thank you so much!


Would you like to share how you believe wives can approach their men during conflict in a godly, constructive way? If a wife giving the gift of space for a while is a blessing to you, we’d love to hear more about that. 🙂 Thanks!


A Beautiful, Feminine, Godly Example of How to Conflict

A Wife Responds Well to Her Husband’s Bad Mood

Responding to Insults, Criticisms, and Rebukes

A Godly Wife Confronts Her Angry Husband Respectfully

Some Things God Has Shown Me about Conflict with My Headstrong Husband

Confronting Our Husbands about Their Sin

Why Your Husband No Longer Respects You – by Nina Roesner

for wives whose husbands are emotionally/verbally abusive – www.leslievernick.com