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How Marriage Books/Blogs/Seminars Can Be Dangerous

There are all kinds of wives who read marriage blogs and books with all kinds of histories, bents, personalities, tendencies, and marriage dynamics. There are many different levels of spirituality. Some are unbelievers, some are baby Christians, and some are in various other stages of spiritual growth in Christ.

I think of there being a continuum in a lot of areas of our personalities and approaches – things like:

Too Quiet <——> Too Talkative

Passive <——-> Controlling

Self-harming <——-> Other-harming

Doormat <——> Bulldozer

Conflict Avoiding <——-> Conflict Starting

This is very simplistic – I realize that real life and real people aren’t always that black and white. But it may be helpful for the sake of illustration.

When it comes to reading about marriage and finding what is most helpful to point us to Christ and His healing, truth, and love – sometimes what one person on one end of the extreme needs is the opposite of what someone on the other end of the line needs. The healthiest place of balance is usually a thin tightrope in the middle of these fleshly extremes. We get there with the help of God’s Spirit’s power and the truth of His Word. But we may need different approaches to our marriages depending on our particular bent, filters, wounds, marriage dynamics, and personalities.

Some resources will be helpful for all wives, especially things about our walk with the Lord. We all want to get to the same end result – becoming the godly women and wives God calls us to be. Finding healing and hope for our marriages and families in Jesus. God’s Word and promises apply to us all equally.

NOTE – There are also some marriages where one or both spouse is also abusive – emotionally, verbally, financially, physically, and/or sexually. That can impact how wives hear, or mishear, things even more – especially about topics like respect and biblical submission. This is why sometimes those who have experienced abuse may do best reading resources for wives specifically designed for those who have suffered from abuse or talking to a specialized godly counselor in person one-on-one.

TWO BIG DANGERS

If a wife who tends to be a strong, Type-A, take-charge personality reads resources designed for wives who tend toward passivity and being too quiet, she may tend to hear:

  • “Stand up more for yourself, insist on your way more than ever, be even more strong against your husband and even more dominating. All that matters is your opinion and what you need. Don’t let your husband have a voice at all. Your husband is entirely at fault for 100% of the problems in your marriage.”

Of course, that is not the message that was intended in a biblically sound resource, but that is sometimes what Type-A wives might hear from resources designed for wives struggling with passivity. This is what strong personality wives especially tend to hear if they read resources for wives who are being emotionally abused by their husbands – when they are truly not being emotionally abused themselves. We have to be really careful.

If we Type-A wives read something and then feel emboldened to be more controlling, more disrespectful, more harsh, and more condemning toward our husband, that is probably not be the best resource for us. We may do best focusing on dealing with our own sin and our own obedience to the Lord rather than how to change our husbands or how to try to address our husband’s issues, at least at first. We may need to address our husband’s sin at some point, but we will need to deal with “the beam” in our own eye first, in most cases.

If a wife who tends to struggle more with being too passive, too quiet, too respectful, and too submissive to her husband reads material for wives who are more controlling, she tends to hear:

  • “Be quiet and say nothing All that matters is your husband’s opinion and what he needs. You don’t get to have a voice at all. You are entirely at fault for 100% of the problems in your marriage.”

Of course, that is not the message that was intended in a biblically sound resource, but that is sometimes what certain wives might hear from resources designed for wives who do struggle with control.  If we think we hear that we need to be oppressed, completely quiet, doormat-like, and to take all the blame in the marriage – that resource may not be the best resource for us.

We may do best focusing on receiving God’s love, healing, and truth into our own hearts first, and learning to think rightly about God, others, and ourselves first, rather than focusing on respecting our husbands first. And we need to be able to get rid of the toxic messages we have received and learn to use our voice and influence. Eventually, after we have healed a good bit spiritually, and we understand our influence authority and godly femininity better, we can begin to understand the concepts of respect and submission in a healthy way, rather than a toxic way.

There are some resources we may need to avoid, at least for awhile.

OTHER POSSIBLE DANGERS

  • If we don’t know Jesus personally as our Savior and Lord, His Word and principles will not make sense (1 Cor. 2:14).
  • Of course, we need to evaluate any resource for sound doctrine and compare it to scripture. Not all resources labelled, “Christian,” are doctrinally sound.
  • We have to know scripture for ourselves and we need the Spirit to help us handle God’s Word rightly. Otherwise, we can twist God’s Word or accept teaching that has been twisted – false teaching.
  • We have to guard our hearts and minds because we could misunderstand or misinterpret correct teaching and sound doctrine in the Bible and/or from Christian teachers. (Ideally, we would have a godly husband we could check with on these things, or a trusted godly mentoring wife to ask about anything that seems confusing.)
  • It is possible for us to try to make changes in our own power without God’s Spirit, even if the teaching we read is biblical, this will not work.
  • It is possible for us to focus on what our husbands should do and ignore what God calls us to do, and that we could develop an entitlement mindset.
  • It is possible for us to read only about what wives should do and ignore the big picture and to enable an abusive husband to continue in his abuse or to leave our husband’s sin unaddressed when we really should address it biblically in a godly, respectful way.
  • It is possible to want to change ourselves in order to try to get our husband to change – which could be manipulation.
  • We can sometimes make a human author’s writing more important than the Bible.
  • We could submit to a particular teacher rather than appropriately submitting to our husband.
  • We can let Christian resources/teaching replace our time with God, the Word, prayer, and our walk with the Lord.
  • We can get legalistic about books, lists, posts, and suggestions from human authors.
  • We can expect a human teacher/author/blogger to spoonfeed us and not invest ourselves in our walk with the Lord.
  • We can make wanting a godly marriage an idol.
  • We can make wanting our husband to be saved an idol.
  • We can focus too much on our marriage, and even pray too much for it. Jesus and our walk with Him have to be first by a long shot.
  • Sometimes abusive husbands can take material written for wives about respecting our husbands and biblical submission (even in the Bible) and try to cram that down their wife’s throat in extremely selfish, ungodly ways as they totally ignore all of the rest of the Bible and all of the instructions for them about how to live for Christ and about being godly husbands. That upsets me beyond words!

If our motives, our hearts, and/or our understanding are not right, any resource (including the Bible) could be dangerous because we are likely to misunderstand and misapply what we read.

SOME SIGNS THAT A RESOURCE MAY NOT A GOOD FIT

It causes us to feel:

  • Emotionally/spiritually crushed and hopeless.
  • We are being pushed more toward an extreme. (i.e.: Your marriage problems are 100% your fault, or everything is 100% your husband’s fault. Rather than realizing we are responsible for our sin, our thoughts, our motives, and our obedience to God and our husbands are responsible for themselves.)
  • Guilt, shame, and worldly sorrow that leads to death rather than godly sorrow that leads to repentance and life.
  • Entitlement and/or sinful empowerment to do things in selfish, destructive ways.
  • We are moving farther away from the Lord and His healing.

This requires wise discernment from the Holy Spirit.

Sometimes we may feel legitimate conviction about sin. That is a good thing, even though it is painful at first. Then we can repent and allow God to heal and restore us. But if we are sinking into a terrible depression from the enemy or we feel completely paralyzed, confused, or stuck, we may need to reach out for help or look for other resources, at least for a time, to find the healing we need in Jesus.

SOME SIGNS THAT A RESOURCE MAY BE A GOOD FIT

It causes us to:

  • Realize legitimate sin, wrong thinking, toxic lies in our lives that God wants to remove and help us heal from.
  • Hate sin more.
  • See more of the love, grace, mercy, truth, holiness, and wisdom of God.
  • Love God more.
  • Love others more with His unconditional love.
  • Think more biblically.
  • Understand other people’s perspectives better.
  • Understand our own perspectives, motives, and thinking better.
  • Find tools to help us deal with our sinful tendencies.
  • Look to the Holy Spirit for help.
  • Depend on God’s Word more.
  • Grow in our faith.
  • Grow in the fruit of the Spirit – love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.

WE ALL NEED THESE THINGS FIRST

A saving relationship with Jesus Christ as not just Savior but also Lord.

Spiritual Healing in Christ – by Radiant

The power of the Holy Spirit

A Renewed Mind – by John Piper

Time Alone with God – by Francis Chan

Time in the Word of God

PRAYER

Lord,

We all want to be close to You. We all want to think rightly about You, our husbands, and ourselves. We all want to experience Your healing and Your power in our lives. Help each of us to find the resources that best fit us and that most help us plug into Jesus and His healing, truth, and love.

Amen!

SHARE

What are some resources you have found you need to avoid, and why? What are some resources that have been a blessing to you?

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RESOURCES

Wives who tend to struggle more with being doers, fixers, and taking over often do best reading about things like:

Wives who tend to struggle more with being too quiet and passive, especially with husbands with very strong personalities tend to do best reading about things like:

Sometimes, as we are learning, we may swing too far one way, then the other. So there may be times we need to read some other resources to help balance things properly. Some resources are helpful for all of us no matter where we are in life at the moment. And, always, we need the wisdom and power of the Holy Spirit to direct and guide us and to give us the ability to be godly women and wives.

Wives whose husbands are truly emotionally destructive/abusive (narcissists, psychopaths, sociopaths, etc…) tend to do best reading resources like:

Note – I could have, in the past, used Leslie Vernick’s material to destroy Greg if I had read it years ago when I was steamrolling over him. That would have been a harmful resource for me. But for a wife who is in specific circumstances, her material can be exactly what she needs.

 

 

 

 

12 thoughts on “How Marriage Books/Blogs/Seminars Can Be Dangerous

  1. Thank you for this insightful article..Ive been married for over 20 years and being a pleaser by nature sometimes find marriage books to be very frustrating. When I was a newlywed , we were deluged with marriage books, I remember crying to my husband saying, I can’t do all of this! Finally, I read a book that soley focused on my relationship with the Lord and it was very freeing! We cannot do the things we want or always say things perfectly , but in God’s mercy He gives us whatever we need if we submit first to Him.

    1. Clarissa Dearth,

      Yes, we have to take care of our relationship with Jesus, first! Or we won’t have the power we need to do any of the other things we want to do. I’m so glad you finally found that book and experienced freedom in Christ, and healing. That is awesome!

      Thanks so much for sharing!

  2. I remember hearing Jmac say once that if you went into todays Christian bookstores with a yellow highlighter and highlighted everything that was unbiblical teaching you would have only a small percentage of books left. You are so right about everything labelled Christian not being biblical.

    One thing regarding the continuum between passivity and being a doormat, to type A steamroller behaviours, is that the same wife can swing between both extremes. A very passive person can be that way due to fear of getting hurt if they stand up, and then reacting to the anxiety caused by fear, can blindly grasp for control. Much like a blind version of the proverbial bull in a china shop, esp. if the passivity has some roots in past experiences of fear, abuse or chaos. It is said that trauma freezes thinking which of course would create a kind of blindness to all other concerns when we are in self protect mode due to fear. Ordinary sinful human beings have enough problems with fear already; just note the number of times God has said `fear not“ in the bible. I think you have said that fear fuels our need to control in another post.

    I was reading a biblical counselling book by Cathy Wiseman on personality disorders and a line just really stuck out to me. She is talking about our relationship with God being the only relationship where growing up doesn`t require us to cut the umbilical cord, but rather God wants us to stay dependent on Him. She says we get into trouble when we try to unplug our umbilical cord from Jesus and try to connect it to another person. I agree with y all that our relationship with Jesus has to be first 🙂

    1. SevenTimes,

      It is sobering to think about how easily we may ingest unbiblical content – even in a Christian bookstore or even in a church, sometimes. Very sobering.

      I agree that it is also possible for a wife to swing between these extremes. I did. When God convicted me, I went totally silent for awhile. I didn’t know what to do. I knew I didn’t want to do what I had been doing. But I had no clue what to say or how to approach things in a healthy way. I think it is pretty common to overshoot one way and then the other way and it can take some time, much prayer, and the power of the Spirit to arrive at greater balance.

      I believe that fear, emotional/spiritual trauma, and emotional/spiritual injury are often behind our thinking and motives on both ends of the extremes.

      Yes, God is the only one we can be “enmeshed” with or “codependent” on in a healthy way. I have often thought about that.

      Thanks so much for sharing!

  3. Such helpful perspective and guideposts for women to keep in mind when evaluating what they’re reading – what is it feeding within your heart and mind- healthy thoughts and desires or destructive ones? I realize this post was focused on non-fiction self-help type writing, so this is not directly on point, but I have realized that reading certain types of fiction can have a really negative affect on my happiness and attitude by calling my attention to things I want from my husband and don’t always receive. This can happen even with things that are valid desires. For example, my dad was very protective. My husband is more logical than emotional, and evaluates risks based more on probability than severity of impact. He is also a peace-maker who can tend toward being a people-pleaser. All of that can at times feel to me as though he is unprotective/unconcerned/unloving. So, reading books that involve a relationship where the guy is the “knight in shining armor” is not helpful for me because it can leave me longing for an alternate reality. It doesn’t matter whether the book is Christian allegory like Redeeming Love by Francine Rivers, or popular tripe like the Twilight series, books with that theme feed an unhealthy sense of wistfulness.

    1. Holly,

      That is a great point. I have found that even when I read Christian romantic novels, I can sometimes find myself comparing my husband to the fictional lead. If I notice that I feel discontent in my marriage after reading something – it is a good thing for me to really pray about it and to ask God to help me discern if that resource may just not be a good fit for me.

      Thanks so much for sharing!

      1. One thing I notice in these novels, even in the Christian and Amish themed ones, the man is always the hero who somehow saves the woman in some way, usually emotionally or perhaps from some horrible injustice, that, had he not come along, would have resulted in her gross oppression or being robbed of her life somehow.

        Others may have let her down and caused her to give up hope, but HE is the one who proves himself, comes to her rescue, and saves her life from the pit of despair or ruination, or otherwise somehow turns the tide in that critical way. He may be the mentor she never had who believes in her, or the romantic hero who fights for and wins her heart over a long period of time with many expansive and outrageously creative gestures that show undying commitment to her, or the one that sees her wounds and tenderly heals them. He is the one who sees her true worth and value even if no one else does. In other words he is often her……..drum roll please…….SAVIOUR.

        1. SevenTimes – Ultimately, Jesus is the only perfect Savior. You are so right! Our husbands long to be our heroes. And they may be able to be heroes to us in a number of ways at different times. But none of them can be a hero for us like Jesus can. He is the ultimate Hero and the only one who can truly meet our deepest needs.

          Great point!

  4. Also there can be other underlying issues that are very subtle like mild learning disabilities, undiagnosed Asperger’s or ADHD. Expecting husbands with those challenges to be able to “lead” in areas such as finances could be disastrous, including to their own self esteem. Wives who are fixers may want to consider learning more about 12-step groups including Codependents Anonymous or Al-Anon. Both help wives to learn to trust God and surrender other people and their issues over to His Hands.

    1. Marked Wife,

      Thank you for sharing. Yes, when there are learning disabilities, mental health disorders, medical issues, the beginning of Alzheimer’s or dementia, there are times when some husbands are not able to do certain things, or they may need more assistance from their wives.

      Sometimes we think that for the husband to lead, he has to be the one to pay the bills. I don’t find that to be a biblical principle. We would want to involve our husband, certainly. But if a wife is particularly gifted in the area of math or finances, if the husband is too busy, if he prefers not to handle the bill-paying, if he struggles with math/finances – there are certainly times when it may be wise for the wife to handle some or even most of those things. Hopefully, the couple will arrive at that decision jointly.

      Thanks for sharing these resources. 🙂

      Much love!

Thanks for joining the discussion! Let's keep it classy and respectful. I'm so glad we can walk this road together.

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