My primary issue in my marriage was that I didn’t know how to respect my husband – I had no problem standing up for myself – although I personally had a lot of pride to deal with before I could do this in a godly way. I was the overly critical, perfectionistic one who thought everything should be done my way. 🙁 Yikes!
Other wives have the opposite issue. They work so hard to respect their husbands (maybe to an unhealthy degree where a husband’s approval is more important than God’s), sometimes they disrespect themselves. Maybe the husband is the more controlling one and the wife is the more passive one. There has to be a delicate balance where we reverence God above all else, and we think rightly about ourselves (respect ourselves) and respect our husbands appropriately. But we don’t have to respect sin. We can confront sin appropriately if we are being sinned against. And we can acknowledge that we have human limitations.
Radiant responds to a wife’s situation whose husband is constantly critical, degrading, negative, and perfectionistic, who expects his wife to do much more than is humanly possible and who is unloving because she “never measures up” in his eyes. This post is primarily about how she can think in her own heart. It is just barely scraping the surface of this issue and is not a comprehensive article on this topic. For more – please check out the resources at the bottom of the post.
I would say she needs to imagine Jesus as a sleeping bag or bubble all zipped around her, completely enfolding her – because He is – and to not absorb or receive any negative words aimed at her – but let Jesus absorb them.
She needs to only absorb what Jesus says about her.
She could respond with, “I am sorry you feel that way” if her husband complains about things about her. But I don’t think she needs to try to give excuses, try to work herself to death, or go to extremes to please him by overdoing things. She can do what is reasonable and that is all she can do that day.
And Jesus is enough. Jesus can give her the wisdom to figure out what is her responsibility that day and what she can’t manage alone.
She can only do one person’s worth of work without breaking down her spirit/heart/mind/body. If she can’t do something – she can politely say, “I will do my best with the time I have, and I will do y and z, but I just won’t be able to get to ‘x’ task today.”
She is not doing her husband good, or herself or kids or God good, if she wears herself out doing more than possible. She is not responsible to change or make her husband happy. Only the Spirit can do that. She can’t meet the deepest needs of her husband’s heart that only God can meet.
She can work on receiving everything God has for her and claiming His promises. She can declare out loud over her home the things God wants for their home:
- Thank You God that You want our marriage to reflect Christ and the Church.
- Thank You that Christ is the head of my husband and the priest of our home and He will lay down his life for His Bride and will not provoke his children to wrath.
- Thank You that he will be a servant leader like Christ.
- Thank You that the Spirit will reign in peace and unity over our home.
- Thank You that I am strong in the Lord and in the power of His might.
- Thank You that I have the whole armor of God and the protection of Jesus and His angels over me.
- Thank You Jesus that You are with me, you are mighty to save, You take great delight in me, You comfort me with Your love, You rejoice over me with singing!
- Thank You Jesus that You are my perfect Bridegroom, I am already perfectly loved and I don’t have to live in fear. I cast out fear from myself and this house and receive Your perfect love in the Name of Jesus.
(and soooo many more! so many good ones!)
- Thank You, Jesus that You are all good and love and holy. If Jesus’ love for us looked like human love (critical, condescending, selfish, etc…) – we would have zero hope.
- Thank You Jesus that You pursued us and died while we deserved nothing but wrath. That You laid down Your beautiful life for Your Bride. That You rise to be gracious to us. You love to put us in a place where You can lavish Your love on us!! You meet our every need and You love to give.
I see such a parallel between the Western Church and how she thinks of God and this particular marriage dynamic. We tend to believe God thinks of us the way this husband thinks of his wife, and we accept it as true about us and God. But it’s not true of Christ and the Church.
That is not who Jesus is. I know He wants her to find rest in Himself and His love and protection. In who she is in Christ. In her new identity – that she is one with Christ. He is her shield, refuge, strength, joy and protector. He is her dear Friend, Comforter, and Counselor. He is with her always. When she feels like a failure – or is told directly that she is – she can keep on that breastplate of His righteousness. Jesus lived the perfect life for her to set her free from the law. She is no longer under law but under grace.
Old Self died with Jesus on the Cross. New Self is alive together with Christ – resurrected in power! And yay for her husband being able to see good things of her with Christ! That is all that is good about any of us. We have nothing good in ourselves. She can completely put off everything about her old way of thinking/living/reacting/fear/anger/hurt and doing. And put on Christ – His heart, His mind, His words, His wisdom, His peace, His life, His breath, His hope.
She can completely reject the lies of the enemy (the real voice behind these words she is being told) that she is useless and there is nothing good about her. That is not from God – so she needs to not receive that at all.
Test and see what the source is behind your thoughts. If it is not love/peace/power/hope/the Gospel and all about the beauty of Jesus – it is not of God. In which case it is of the world and the enemy. We stand against the enemy’s ideas and plans and strongholds and lies in this marriage, these hearts and this home.
PRAYER FOR THOSE WIVES WHO ARE STRUGGLING IN SIMILAR SITUATIONS:
In the Name of Jesus – we speak Jesus’ kingdom come, and His will be done in this precious wife, her husband, her home and children as it is in heaven and in all of those who are reading this post. We place Your shield about her and her children and her husband. In Jesus Name we put on the Armor of God (Eph 6). Our sister in Christ does not have to stay locked in prison and darkness. She is set free by all Jesus did for her on the Cross and resurrection, and she can live in life, freedom, hope and peace and healing.
We receive Your Truth and freedom for her today. We resist the enemy and he has to flee in the Name of Jesus. We pray for reconciliation, healing and peace and love in this home for the honor and glory of Jesus. Set these hearts free and implant Your infinite love in their hearts. Take all Satan has stolen and destroyed and meant for evil – and turn it on its head for good, glory and celebrating Christ! Turn these hearts and this home into a Lighthouse of peace and love and power in the Spirit. Let what is hidden and in bondage be brought into the light and revealed and healed in Jesus’ all-powerful Name and by His blood.
Thank You Jesus that You are at work. We receive Your answers and provision. We will praise You today even before we feel or see any answers – knowing You are at work here to bring beauty from ashes and life from dead bones. Yes these bones can live! The One who is in us is greater than he who is in the world. And the armies of heaven that surround us are greater than the enemies attacking us! Jesus’ yoke is easy and His burden is light. We receive His power to do His priorities. We can’t possibly do every possible thing every day. But we can do what Jesus wants us to do today by His power. Jesus didn’t go all over the whole world and heal every single person either. We receive Your boundaries on this wife’s roles and responsibilities and ask for You to open her husband’s eyes to You and Truth and grace for himself first and then for his family.
RELATED (remember – always compare anything any human author says to scripture and do what you know God desires you to do):
How to Calm Down an Angry Husband – by Nina Roesner
How to Deal with Critical People – by Nina Roesner
Cinderella and the Gospel – by Radiant about receiving good things from God
25 Ways to Respect Myself – to think rightly about myself and my new identity in Christ – the goal is to reverence God above all, and then to respect our husbands and ourselves all at the same time
www.leslievernick.com – many posts about emotionally toxic marriages and how to handle them in a godly way
Sacred Influence – by Gary Thomas (about being a godly wife and using our influence in powerful ways in marriage. He has some chapters about dealing with angry husbands)