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Can a Wife “Overdo” Biblical Submission? – By Nikka

2011

By my dear friend and sister in Christ, Nikka, from the Philippines. You can find her blog at www.peacefulwifephilippines.blogspot.com

Let me begin this post by saying that I am an “ALL or NOTHING” person.

My husband usually teases me that I may be “bi-polar”.

I  am either TOO HAPPY or TOO SAD.

I am either TOO INTENSE or TOO UNPLUGGED.

I either LIKE something or HATE something.

I have to give it my 100% best or I don’t give it my time of day.

There is usually no middle ground with me.

I am awful at MODERATION.

Trying to find a BALANCE is an art that I am constantly trying to master.

So, given this “character flaw”, can I overdo this submission bit?

Can a wife overdo submission?

The answer is YES.

A wife can overdo submission and cross over to being a DOORMAT.

Photo Credits: Classy Career Girl

Thank God, I do not desire to be anybody’s foot rug, so on this particular important life-changing decision, if I am to err, I will err on the side of caution — caution against being an abused wife.

First, let us define some terms once more.

Biblical Submission, according to reason4living.com  is:

“… an act of the will — it is the result of a choice, a decision.  The act of submission can only come from a choice that a person makes.  Submission cannot be enforced upon a person.  Either a person submits of their own free will or they do not submit at all.  Submission is a gift that one person chooses to give to another person.  By contrast oppression is the act of extracting something from a person against their will.  Submission and oppression are, therefore, opposite qualities of a relationship and not even remotely similar.
With 3rd baby, Reuben

The submission of a godly wife is a glorious thing that is intended to help her and her husband to have a contented life together.  Problems in life and in marriage are more or less inevitable but when a woman is submissive to her man it is much more likely that those problems can be resolved harmoniously, without unpleasant quarrelling and without bitterness and resentment.  Those people who look down on biblical submission as if it were something demeaning, degrading or humiliating are merely showing that they have no understanding of what biblical submission is and that they are quite ignorant of its power.

If you are a Christian wife who has been feeling uncomfortable with the Biblical command that you submit to your husband, then I hope these statements have perked up your interest and given you a glimpse of the bright cheerfulness ahead. Being submissive to your husband does not mean that you should be an empty-headed bimbo, or that you should have no opinions of your own, or that you should be like a doormat.
If you are a Christian husband I hope that you will take care to understand the nature of submission and be careful to understand your responsibilities in response to your wife’s submission to you.  A submissive wife is not a justification for an abusive husband. God commands men to love their wives with the same kind of love that he [God] gave to his people … that’s a pretty tough assignment to give a mortal man and it doesn’t include the possibility of abuse.”
(Italics and bold letters are mine.)
Family Picture – 2010

Sadly, I was one of those “ignorant detractors of submission.” I did not have any godly role models to follow and no godly marriages to pattern my own marriage from, that’s why “submission” to me was an alien, scary and outdated concept.

Had I known then what I knew now, I would have saved myself from a LOT of heartache in our nine years as husband and wife. Three of those years from 2009 to 2011 were the most difficult emotionally. They were when I was most controlling and my heart was at its “fullest” in terms of bitterness, resentment, fear and fault-finding. 🙁

What then is a DOORMAT?

According to Merriam-Webster.com a doormat is:

– one that submits without protest to abuse or indignities or
– someone who is treated badly by other people and does not complain

Photo Credits: Ann Cutting 

April explains it well in her blog post on “Doormats Don’t Glorify God Either”. I will share with you an excerpt of that article:

“It is true that being bossy, condescending, controlling, scolding, critical, negative, nagging, argumentative, contentious, etc… as a wife is extremely dishonoring to God.  But having NO thoughts, NO opinions, NO dreams, NO feelings, NO input, NO personality, NO contributions to the marriage and family as a wife  – well, that doesn’t honor God either!

To label being a slave or doormat as being a ”submissive wife” will also repel many people from the gospel of Christ!  A wife MUST be her own full, strong, vibrant person in order to properly complete and complement her man!  There may be specific situations where we keep our thoughts to ourselves and allow our husbands to make decisions on his own – we must be sensitive to God’s Spirit, of course.  But most of the time, our input is extremely valuable in our marriages – it is our motivations, and our respect for God and our husbands that are the key.”
(Italics are mine.)

Photo Credits: The Snooze Letter

To add, Nancy Leigh de Moss, author of ‘Lies Women Believe’ wrote that there are four LIES ABOUT SUBMISSION.

Lie Number 1: “The wife is inferior to her husband.”

The Scripture teaches that both the man and the woman are created in the image of God, both have equal value before God, and both are privileged to be subjects of His redeeming Grace through repentance and faith (Genesis 1:27Galatians 3:281 Peter 3:7) The responsibility of the wife to submit to her husband’s authority does not make her any less valuable or significant than her husband.


Lie Number 2: “As head of his wife, the husband is permitted to be harsh or dictatorial with his wife.”

Husbands are commanded to love their wives as they love themselves, in the same selfless, sacrificing, serving way that the Lord Jesus loved His Church and laid down His life for it (Ephesians 5:25-29)

Nikka and Dong – Dec 2010

Lie Number 3: “The wife is not to provide input or express her opinions to her husband.”

God created the woman to be a “helper suitable” to her husband. That means, he needs her help. He needs the input and insight she is able to bring in various situations. It also means that once a wife has graciously and humbly expressed her heart on the matter, if her husband chooses to act contrary to her counsel, she must be willing to back off and trust God with the consequences of her husband’s decision.

Lie Number 4: “The husband is always right.”

The apostle Peter specifically addresses women whose husbands “do not believe the word.” The husband may be unsaved, or he may be disobedient to God in some area(s)of his life. According to 1 Peter 3:1, the number one means of influencing such a husband is not through tearful pleading, irresistible logic, or persistent reminders; rather, it is through the power of submission:

                                             1 Peter 3:1-2

3 Wives, in the same way be submissive to your husbands so that, if any of them do not believe the word, they may be won over without words by the behavior of their wives, 2 when they see the purity and reverence of your lives.”
8 months pregnant with our 3rd –  March 2010

So, to the question, can a wife overdo submission, the answer is a resounding YES.

Can a husband overdo dominance? The answer is YES too.

7 months pregnant with our 2nd -2007

To somebody like me who is an ALL or NOTHING sort of gal and who finds it hard to stay on middle ground, you might think that now that I am being submissive, I might risk becoming ‘TOO SUBMISSIVE.’

One good thing, I think, from being used to getting my way AND being bossy (hehe), is that I couldn’t for the life of me imagine having no opinion, no say, no input on anything. I have never been a doormat and I am not going to start now. 🙂

But to those wives who are more passive than aggressive, who may have problems with self-esteem, of questioning authority or of simply speaking their mind, I pray that you find it in yourself to come out of your shell and be that significant other of your husbands. You are significant! You are important! Your thoughts and feelings matter!

If you have given up your influence on your marriage, you might want to read April’s post on that. She gives some practical tips on how to move from becoming a DOORMAT to becoming a wife who MATTERS to her husband. Click the link here.

I guess in life, for us to be able to function at our most comfortable and healthy level, one really has to find the right BALANCE. That, I am learning now as a former controlling and now converted peaceful wife. 😉

There is one passage though in the Bible, wherein being neither here nor there is considered contemptible, and that is with regards to our FAITH.

http://sfodan.wordpress.com

                                                      Revelations 3:16
So, because you are lukewarm–neither hot nor cold–I am about to spit you out of my mouth.

                                    Rebelasyon 3:16

Kaya sapagka’t ikaw ay malahininga, at hindi mainit o malamig man, ay isusuka kita sa aking bibig.

(For a more detailed explanation on this verse from Revelations, please click this.)

Finally, and here, I am overjoyed to know that I can use my ALL or NOTHING nature to its maximum capacity – giving it my ALL rather than NOTHING….

I can go OVERBOARD with my LOVE FOR GOD! 🙂  

Photo Credits: Framed Art



               Matthew 22:37
Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’

                   MATEO 22:37

At sinabi sa kaniya, Iibigin mo ang Panginoon mong Dios ng buong puso mo, at ng buong kaluluwa mo, at ng buong pagiisip mo.

This one I can NEVER overdo. 🙂

This one I can give my 110% best! 🙂

Photo Credits: Nice Ideas For All

May we all be richly blessed! 🙂

RELATED:

I Don’t Want to Lose My Voice in My Marriage!

Biblical Submission Does Not = the Husband Is Always “Right”

The Powerful Concept of Submitting Under Protest – Part 1

The Powerful Concept of Submitting Under Protest – Part 2

A Wife Heals From Deep Childhood Scars

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God has blessed us with MANY stories from so many wives recently who are sharing what He is doing by His power alone in their lives and marriages.  I know that this wife’s story will touch and bless you.  Thank you to her for sharing!
————-
I am writing to express my heartfelt gratitude to you and the work that you are doing. I am 33 years old and I too have begun the journey to become a peaceful wife, and intend to see it to the end.
I have been receiving a calling to go into ministry over the last couple years but deep down the Spirit was moving me that my relationship with my husband needed to be repaired before I could minister to others.
It was by pure happenstance that I came across a video of yours on Youtube. At first I must admit that I was more than skeptical at your message and thought that you were cut from a different type of cloth :-). But as I listened more and more, Jesus spoke to my heart and I saw the truth.
As I began readjusting my heart and my attitude, like so many others, I am seeing immediate improvements in my relationship. My husband who had begun shrinking away from me, became once more the man I fell in love with. Amazing, thoughtful, loving, incredibly helpful and supportive.
But how did I get to that point of being so proud, controlling and almost resentful of men that I kept reminding myself to prepare for the worst?  Well, I hope my story can help someone else who has a similar past.
My Story:
At around the age of seven, I was sexually abused by my neighbor. The abuse lasted for a couple years and only ended when my family moved away. I had pushed the memory into my subconscious but unfortunately it all came rushing back when I saw the person again at around 16 years old. After that, it would be an understatement to say that my teenage years were rife with issues, I was constantly rebelling and getting into trouble. Added to that my dad was very verbally abusive to my mother, I remember how he would shout at her and embarrass her constantly.

I remember making several promises to myself that I would NEVER allow myself to be weak, to be powerless and taken advantage of as a woman.

  • I developed a strong and domineering personality, an attitude which propelled me at work, as I am now a successful professional.
  • But my personal life and connections suffered tremendously. I was very suspicious of people and expected the worst. When I let myself love (as with my husband) I only allowed myself to love up to a point and of course expected, and prepared for, the worst.
Within recent years, and after recommitting myself to God, I have been breaking down my many walls with His help. I admit that this one was the hardest.
How could I let myself “submit” to a man? After all I had been through?  It was a very hard pill to swallow.
Having started on my journey, I can honestly say that It has been quite liberating. I am learning to trust all over again. Like a baby learning to walk, I am
  • trusting that God will not let me fall and that he has blessed me with a husband who will hold my hand through it
  • learning that love and trust is not a sign of weakness but rather a gift from God
  • learning to relax and let peace and respect fill my marriage
  • learning to take instructions and corrections (a biggie) from my husband and recognizing him as the leader of our home, after 10 years of marriage.

I can’t wait to start my ministry and give witness to yet another testament of God’s love….He really is a chains-breaking God!!

 

“Is It ALL My Fault?”

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My precious ladies, while it is true that a husband who feels disrespected by his wife is likely to act unlovingly toward her – there are MANY other reasons that a husband may be unloving toward his wife. Some of those reasons have NOTHING to do with what his wife does or does not do.

It is possible to be the most godly, Spirit-filled wife on the planet and to still have a husband who is unloving and sinful.

God was a perfect “husband” to Israel – and yet His people were unfaithful to Him over and over and over again – just like we are so easily unfaithful to Him. 🙁  It is not because God did anything wrong that His people are faithless.

My goal for us as wives is for us to concentrate on things that we can control – but please hear me that there are situations where husbands can be  unloving no matter what a wife does.

  • We can influence and possibly inspire our husbands.
  • We can obey God ourselves.
  • We can be full of God’s Spirit.
  • We can’t control our husbands.
  • We are not responsible for their sin and behavior.
  • They are responsible for their own sin.
  • We are responsible for our own sin.

Our respect and biblical submission may help many things in marriage, but we cannot fix everything in our marriages.
Husbands and wives are all sinners.  We are all capable of sin.  In fact, apart from God, we are all slaves to sin and unable to do anything but live in sin.  God has given us all a free will.  We can choose to love and obey Him or we can choose to sin and rebel against Him.  We can choose to love and honor others, or we can choose to be selfish, hateful and destructive.

  • One spouse’s sin can make it easier for the other to be tempted to sin.
  • One spouse’s obedience to God can make it easier for the other spouse to obey God.

But each person is accountable and responsible to God for his/her own sin no matter what anyone else has done.  (Ezekiel 18)

SOME REASONS HUSBANDS MAY BE UNLOVING THAT HAVE NOTHING TO DO WITH THEIR WIVES:

– If a husband has certain untreated or uncontrolled mental health disorders or medical issues: depression, mania, bi-polar, PTSD, Asperger’s, ADD, autism, thyroid disorders, a brain tumor, dementia, side effects from certain medications, etc… these medical issues can cause a husband to act in an unloving way or to seem unloving to his wife and family. (There are resources to help in these kinds of situations!)

– Almost everyone gets easily upset and grumpy when they are exhausted, sleep-deprived, sick, in pain or have low blood sugar.  These are times to offer much grace, in my view.  The flesh is weak.

– If a husband has a history of abuse in his past or his parents’ example of marriage was extremely ungodly, especially if he did not have a godly dad, he may not know how to be loving and may have a lot of wounds and scars to heal from.  He may not know what love is or how to express it.  He may need a godly male mentor in this situation to teach him how to be a godly husband.

– If a husband came to Christ, but is involved in unrepentant sin, his sinful nature is in control, not God’s Spirit.  He cannot act like Jesus if he is cherishing sin in his heart.  His life will bear ungodly fruit. (Galatians 5:19-21)  His greatest need is repentance.

– If a husband does not have Christ as his Savior and Lord – he won’t have the power of God to give him the strength to love with God’s agape love.  He is spiritually dead.  A corpse doesn’t get up and lovingly serve anyone.  Until God wakes him up and opens his spiritual eyes, he will be a slave to his sinful nature.  His greatest need is Christ.

– If a husband is actively addicted to drugs or alcohol or some other addiction, he may treat his wife very unlovingly no matter what she does or does not do.  She is not dealing with the real man, but with the addiction. She will need very specialized help.  It may not be safe for her or their children to stay.  Some wives believe God wants them to stay –  I support them in their decisions if they believe this is what God wants them to do.  Some wives believe God wants them to leave – I support them in their decisions if they are seeking to hear and obey God’s voice.

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This is not an exhaustive list. But I do want women to know that they are NOT 100% responsible for all problems in marriage.  

There are very few situations where one spouse is completely responsible for all the problems.  Maybe we are only responsible for 10% of the issues.   Then it is our job to take care of all of our 10%.

  • We are responsible for our own sin, our obedience to Christ and our emotions.
  • Our husbands are not responsible for our sin, our happiness, our emotions, our spiritual maturity, our joy – Jesus is the only one who can give us true joy, contentment and peace.
  • Our husbands are responsible to God for their sin, their obedience to God and their emotions.
  • We are not responsible for our husbands’ sin, their happiness, their emotions, their spiritual maturity or joy – Jesus is the only one who can give them true joy, contentment and peace.
Our husbands’ sin does not give us an excuse to sin against God.
God still calls us to please Him, obey Him, be faithful to Him and to our marriage covenant. We don’t seek to be godly wives in order to change our husbands – we do it to please God. We leave the results with Him and seek His glory.  We let God handle our husbands.

We don’t take on our husband’s responsibilities, or God’s responsibilities –  only our own.

RESPECTING GOD AND OURSELVES
We don’t just respect our husbands as godly wives – we respect God first, and we also respect ourselves. (Nina Roesner, author of The Respect Dare)
We seek above all else to honor and glorify God.  That is our primary purpose in life as disciples of Christ.  I cannot let anyone come between me and Christ.  I must obey God above all else and seek to please Him in everything I do.  He alone is my Lord.  I must say, “Yes, Lord” whenever He asks me to do anything.  I have a holy, reverential fear of God above all else in my life.
The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom. Proverbs 1:7
We also need to have respect for ourselves as women.  We have a responsibility, perhaps even a duty, to set healthy boundaries and consequences if our husbands are mistreating us.  If we don’t respect ourselves and we tolerate terrible behavior from our husbands, they won’t respect us.  Respecting our husbands does not mean we cannot respect ourselves.  Respecting our husbands does not mean we must take abuse and act like that is ok.

Marriage should have love and respect going in both directions.  

(I Peter 3:7 commands husbands to treat their wives with honor so that their prayers will not be hindered.  Husbands are commanded to love their wives in Eph. 5:22-33.  Wives are commanded to love their husbands in Titus 2:3-5 and to respect them and honor their God-given authority in Ephesians 5:22-33)
If our husbands don’t respect us –  we lose our power to influence and inspire them. Men do not allow people they don’t respect to impact their decisions.  One great thing about becoming a more godly wife is that as we become more like Christ, it should be easier for our husbands to respect us, too.
BOUNDARIES
There are times that we may need to  pray, fast, seek godly counsel and we may have to respectfully say things like:
– Please do not speak to me like that.
– That really hurts me.  This is not ok.
– You cannot live with me if you are involved with another woman.
– I want to give you the gift of my desire and my body – but I need to know that I am safe with you.  I want to trust you completely.  This is so painful for me to say, but I can’t give myself to you when you have women friends you flirt with and talk about sex with.   That is disrespectful to me and our marriage.  We have a covenant before God.  This is not right.  Here are the things I need to see happen so that I can trust you before I can give myself to you again…”
– I cannot watch you destroy your life with alcohol/drugs.  I want us to tackle this together.  If you are willing to get help, let’s beat this together as a team.  If you are not willing to stop drinking/doing drugs, the kids and I cannot stay here (or you cannot stay here).  It would be wrong and unloving of me to act like that was ok.  This is not the real you.  I miss you!  You are a better man than this!  I know this is not the life you want for any of us.
– When you use porn, it hurts me so deeply and personally.  I feel betrayed.  Please don’t use porn anymore.    Let’s beat this thing together.  Tell me how I can help and what I can do to support you.
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Even if we must set healthy boundaries or consequences, there is no need for us to yell and curse. We can have respect for God, for ourselves and our husbands – without respecting sin.
***  If you are experiencing serious issues in your marriage, please seek godly, experienced help ASAP!  The statements I gave are only examples of things wives may need to say in certain situations.  I am sure they do NOT apply in every possible situation.
Please listen to God’s Spirit and obey His promptings over my suggestions!
  • There are times when He wants us to say nothing.
  • There are times when He wants us to say specific things.
  • There are times when we need to leave for our safety.
  • There are times when if we left, we would be in even more danger.
  • There are times when we need godly, wise counsel before we attempt to say  or do anything to our husbands.

I can’t begin to tell you what God desires you to do in your specific situation.  

I trust that He is able to give  you His wisdom as you repent of any sin in your own life and put all your faith and trust in Him and learn to abide in Him, feast on His Word, seek His face, die to self and submit yourself fully to Him as Lord.

RELATED:

When My Spouse is Wrong

My Secret Idol (from a wife whose idol was her husband’s salvation)

The Respect Dare, Day 2 – Childhood Scars

Our daughter,Haley, at the beach when she was 3.
Our daughter at the beach when she was 3.

We are continuing on with Day 2 of The Respect Dare by Nina Roesner.  You are welcome to purchase the book and join us.  But if that is not possible, not to worry!!!  You may follow my blog and join us this way, also.  I believe you will still be greatly blessed. 🙂

CHILDHOOD

We all have wounds and scars from our childhood.  None of us had perfect parents – even those whose parents were strong Christians.  All of us, as children, were able to misinterpret situations or words from our parents and end up with a skewed view of God, God’s Word, ourselves or others.  And for those who suffered physical, emotional, mental or sexual abuse as children – the scars and wounds are incalculable.

We are all greatly impacted by the examples we had in our parents.  What they did, how they responded to each other and to us, how they spoke to each other and to us, their temperments, their priorities, their faith, their beliefs, their personalities were powerful forces in molding us to become the adults we are today.  In fact, you could say that in many ways, they “programmed us.”  So now, whatever they did, how they thought, how they behaved – is what seems “normal” to us.  And it will come very naturally and feel comfortable to us.

The problem is – not all of it was healthy.  Not all of it was accurate or true.  Our parents didn’t completely represent God and marriage perfectly to us.  If we don’t examine ourselves and our experiences as children, we will not understand where things got off track and what needs to be corrected now that we are adults who can decide what we believe, how we want to live and how to understand God and His Word for ourselves.   We can ask God to “reprogram” us.  That is when the Holy Spirit regenerates our hearts and gives us new minds, new hearts, new desires and a “new man.”  We die to our old self, and take off the “old man” and put on the “new man in Christ.”

Jesus can heal our wounds, scars, pain and fears that we acquired during our childhood!  He is COMPLETELY ABLE!

MY STORY

I have Christian parents who deeply love each other – and still do!  And my parents deeply loved all 3 of their children.  I always knew I was loved.  I was never abused or mistreated.  My parents took my twin sister and younger brother and me to church twice every Sunday and on Wednesdays.  My parents were teachers in the church and my father was almost always involved in being a deacon.

I was and am EXTREMELY blessed to have the parents I had.

And yet, even in the midst of all that was very right, I misinterpreted a few events in my childhood that led me to have a warped understanding of my identity and God’s identity.

When I was 5 years old –  One Sunday morning, my twin sister and I were getting ready for church.  She asked me to buckle her sandals.  I told her, “Buckle your own sandals!  You’re 5 years old!”  And she kept saying “my tights are too tight, I can’t lean over!  Please buckle my sandals for me!!!” and asking me to buckle her sandals for her.

I eventually got frustrated with her and pushed her away.  We were at the top of the stairs.  She fell backwards down the stairs.  I can see the look of shock on her little 5 year old face still to this day.  I ran to my closet and hid.

My Daddy gave me the hardest spanking ever.  I didn’t often get spankings.  But I got one that day.  And I deserved it.  He said, “You should have checked on your sister and gone to get us to help.  She could have died or broken her neck!”

My Daddy was exactly right.  She definitely could have been severely injured or killed by what I did to her.

Unfortunately, and unbeknownst to my parents, the message I took from that day was this:

“I can never say no to someone when they ask me to do something for them that they could do for themselves.  If I say no, they might get really hurt or die.”

And so began my people pleasing efforts.  I also began to think I was VERY powerful – powerful enough to kill someone.  I also interpreted that I was VERY RESPONSIBLE FOR other people.  Me.  Not God.  Not my parents.  Me.

I don’t think there was any way my parents could have known that this was the message I absorbed from that experience.

When I was 8 years old –  My twin sister and a foreign exchange student, Patricia, and I were on top of the monkey bars.  Our classmates, John and Ryan, were climbing up each side like they were going to try to “get us.”  I said, “We need to jump!!!”  We all jumped.

I was fine.

My sister sprained her ankle.

Patricia broke her leg.

For months, I wanted my leg to be broken.

I felt SO responsible for my sister’s injury and Patricia’s injuries.

I thought:

“It is my fault that they got hurt.  I said to jump – and they did.  I am responsible for other people.  I have so much power over other people and I was wrong to say to jump.”

Many nights I would cry and cry because people were starving in the world and I was not fixing it.  I truly believed I was in charge of MUCH, MUCH more than I really was.  I thought I was “sovereign” not God.  My little girl’s mind created a small, weak, tiny, impotent picture of God, and a HUGE, POWERFUL picture of myself.

I did not understand where my responsibilities ended and God’s began.

I thought I was responsible FOR other people.  I thought I needed to be a parent to my siblings.  I thought I needed to fix the problems of the world.

That was a LOT of weight for a child to carry.  How I wish I had understood God’s sovereignty!

WHAT ABOUT YOU?

Take a few moments and write down or type out your answers to some of these questions.  You may do this privately, or you may share with everyone if you would like to:

– What were the biggest events in your childhood that greatly impacted your view of yourself, of marriage or of God?

– How did your parents interact with each other?

– Was there unconditional love for everyone in the home?

– Was there unconditional respect for everyone in the home?

– Were there healthy boundaries in your home or were people controlling?

– What are the deepest scars and wounds of your childhood?

– In what ways were you “programmed” by your experiences to incorrectly view God, yourself and/or marriage?

Lord,

I pray that You might open our eyes to see the events and thoughts that have warped or skewed our understanding of You, ourselves and marriage.  Expose any lies that we have believed.  Let us embrace Your truth alone.  Heal our hearts.  Help us to learn the truth about You, about ourselves and about Your beautiful design for marriage.

In the Name and power of Christ,

Amen!

RELATED POSTS:

Boundaries and Control

Playing the Martyr

Controlling with Guilt

The Snare of People Pleasing

Insecurity 

Bitterness

What God Says about You

Finding God’s Victory over Bitterness

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Yesterday, we looked at many of the causes, signs and consequences of bitterness – if you missed that post, you can find it here.

I have discovered that I have to dig down deeply and examine all of my angry thoughts, write down exactly why I am upset and then compare my thoughts to the truth of God’s Word and trash the things I am thinking and believing that aren’t true. (But I need to throw away the list of wrongs I have suffered after I have examined them!)  I also need to identify all of my sinful reactions and repent of each individual sin towards each individual person and memory that contains the smallest root of bitterness.  I realize now that even old memories from long ago need to be uprooted and inspected for hidden traces of bitterness to get all of that before God and remove even the smallest particles – or it will fester.  I lay still before God on the operating table as He opens up my heart and examines every dark crevice. I need God to renew my mind by the power of His truth and His Word.  I must take each thought captive for Christ and allow Him to examine my heart and mind and extract every offensive way in me.  I desperately need time in His Word daily and time in confession of my own myriads of sins daily and time praising and thanking Him. I pray we will be sensitive to God’s Spirit and able to hear His voice:

  • pride – “I am better than so and so.”  “I would NEVER do what he/she did.”  “I am so much more spiritually mature than him.”  I have to ALWAYS be on the lookout for pride.  God opposes the proud and gives grace to the humble.  James 4:6 Pride is a HUGE source of fuel for bitterness in my heart.  “I deserve better.”  “I know better than her what we should do.”  “I am not that sinful.”  “He doesn’t deserve my forgiveness.”  “I am above THAT sin.”  “He/she is SO spiritually weak to fall into THAT temptation.”  “That is unforgivable.  I will NOT forgive that!”
  • ungodly motives – I am VERY SINFUL and wicked on my own.  I am in desperate need of Jesus! I have to constantly check WHY I want to do things and allow God to expose sin, pride, desire for glory for myself, selfishness, and many other sins!  The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure.  Who can understand it?  Jeremiah 17:9  I can easily be blind to my own sinful motives.  I need God to show me my sin, and other believers and other people to tell me the sin they see in me.
  • unforgiveness – Jesus commands us to forgive so that God will forgive us.  Matthew 6:14-15  Unforgiveness is HUGE sin in the  sight of our holy God.
  • gossip – usually born from my pride and wanting to prove how much better I am than someone.  MORE PRIDE!  Gossip is part of the fruit of the flesh, it is NEVER of God!  What are my motives when I am sharing stories about others?  Am I looking out for their best and for God’s glory?  Or am I trying to make them look bad and make myself look wise,  am I trying to hurt the person and ruin his/her reputation and turn others against them or using their sins/errors for entertainment?
  • fear – I need to think about God’s Word and that perfect love drives out all fear, and that the only One I truly need to fear is God – “what can man do to me?”  If I have God’s power in me and His Spirit filling me, He will give me the strength, courage and wisdom to handle another person’s sin in His way for His glory.  I don’t have to be afraid of another person’s attempts to control me, their disapproval, their unkind words, their anger.  If I am paralyzed by fear, I am not trusting God.  I have a lack of faith in His sovereignty and power to work in my life.  Without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to Him must believe that He exists and that He rewards those who earnestly seek Him. Hebrews 11:6  I don’t have to be swayed by sinful attempts of others to control me.  I don’t have to get upset or react sinfully myself.  I am no longer a slave to sin!  Now I am a slave to Christ!  I may calmly respond in the power of the Holy Spirit and refuse to cooperate with sin and ask God to give me His love for them. (If someone is violent towards you or threatening you physical harm, please do not trust your safety to them.  You may need to get away, may need to involve the police.  Please find godly, local, experienced counsel if you are in physical danger!)  I can forgive, but I don’t have to trust until the person earns my trust back.  But I need to desire to work towards reconciliation as far as it depends on me and God working in me.
  • idolatry – wanting people’s approval, wanting to please people, wanting people to think I am perfect, expecting other people to make me be happy, demanding things of others, insisting on MY will, MY way, MY desires, MY goals, MY needs, MY feelings of being loved…  If I am giving other people power over my emotions and feelings and believing evil things they say, but ignoring what God’s Word says – I have a big problem!   It is what GOD says that matters – not what others say!  If their opinions and statements and condemnation don’t line up with scripture – I don’t hang onto their words! Just because someone says something about me, does not mean it is true.  It is up to me to take that statement to God and His Word and examine it.  There is no reason to blindly swallow poison from other people. If that person could act in spiritual maturity, love and wisdom – he/she would!  But right now that person may be held captive by sin or by the enemy – and may not be able to be the person God desires them to  be.  God may want to use me and His Spirit in me to show His love, mercy, kindness and grace to that person who is acting hatefully to draw him/her to Himself.  When others mistreat me – God is watching carefully!  There are many tests of my faith each day.  I pray we will hear God’s voice and honor Him!  My reaction to others’ sin reveals my character.  Other people cannot MAKE me fly into a rage.  God’s  Spirit is to be in control of me – not my sin nature!   If I am not seeking God’s will, His dreams, His goals, His presence, His righteousness, His Word, His power and His pleasure – I may be dealing with idolatry.
  • undealt with sin – if someone sinned against me, but I didn’t go to them in love and truth and tell them that they hurt me, I was wrong.  It is my responsibility to tell someone (calmly) if they wrong me.

Martha Pearce in The Excellent Wife has a chart  of Bitter Thoughts and Kind, Tender-hearted, Forgiving thoughts to replace the bitter thought.    This same concept can be applied to ANY relationship.  What a fantastic place to start!

She lists many of  the bitter thoughts wives think, and replaces it with a truth from scripture and with a kind thought.  What a  GREAT way to counter bitterness and find victory in Christ!

Verses she used for the godly thoughts:

Matthew 18:32-33, Matthew 19:6

Romans 8:28-29

I Corinthians 4:4-8, I Corinthians 6:11, I Corinthians 10:13

Colossians 3:2, 14

Ephesians 4

Philippians 2:3-4

I Peter 3:9

James 1:5

I John 1:9

SOME INSIGHTS FROM A FRIEND THIS WEEK:

I realized several things:

1. I am SO quick to get angry
2. My anger and bitterness toward them is not just about this one incident-this is just one more incident that can be added to the long list of wrongs that I’ve been keeping 🙁
3. The beauty of Christ cannot be seen in me if I’m pouting and angry
4. I need to forgive these people and treat them kindly
5. I have absolutely no desire in my flesh to do that right now
6. I desperately need the Lord to bring me to that place!
April, I think your right in saying bitterness is progressive, and just recently learned that forgiveness can also be progressive. In Tim Keller’s Galatians study, there’s chapter on forgiveness. This has been very helpful to me, and I think it can be applied to bitterness as well since they seem to go hand in hand. He states:
  “When someone has wronged you, it means they owe you; they have a debt with you. Forgiveness is to absorb the cost of the debt yourself. You pay the price yourself, and you refuse to exact the price out of the person in any way. Forgiveness means you free the person from penalty for a sin by paying the price yourself.
  
   Realize that forgiveness is granted (often for a long time) before it is felt. Forgiveness is not primarily a feeling, but a set of actions and disciplines. Forgiveness is a promise NOT to exact the price of the sin from the person who wronged you. This promise means a repeated set of ‘payments’ in which you relinquish revenge. It is hard, and (for a while) constant. If this promise is kept actively, eventually the feeling of anger subsides.”
 
   He goes on to quote Dan Hamilton from his book Forgiveness: “Forgiveness is to deal with our emotions by sending them away- by denying ourselves the dark pleasures of venting them or fondling them in our minds.”  “Once upon a time I was engaged to a young woman who changed her mind. I forgave her…but only in small sums over a year…They were made whenever I spoke to her and refrained from rehearsing the past, whenever I renounced  jealousy and self-pity, whenever I saw her with another man, whenever I praised her to others when I wanted to slice away at her reputation. Those were the payments- but she never saw them. And her own payment was unseen by me…but I do know that she forgave me…Forgiveness is more than a matter of refusing to hate someone. It is also a matter of choosing to demonstrate love and acceptance to the offender…Pain is the consequence of sin; there is no easy way to deal with it. Wood, nails, and pain are the currency of forgiveness, the love that heals.”
 
WOW! How powerful is that??? Sisters, I just wonder how quickly the bitterness we’re harboring would fade away if we would begin absorbing the costs ourselves. To refuse to dwell on past hurts, to take every thought captive the moment they pop into our head, to release the offender from our high expectations, to not find our satisfaction in the approval of men, to choose to show love to those that hurt us, to remember Christ absorbed the costs of our debts… There are so many ways to make payments…and it’s so HARD! But freedom awaits us on the other side of it! I pray that the Lord will soften my heart and bring me to the place where I am delighted to make the payments, where I LOOK for ways to do it, because I know there’s no way I can do it in my own power!
FROM PEACEFULWIFE:
We will explore more about forgiveness and victory over bitterness tomorrow!  I am SO excited to share God’s wisdom and His path to freedom, joy, peace and abundant life!

When Your Husband Sins Against You.

I am not an expert, a counselor, a psychologist, a theologian or a pastor. I am just an ordinary Christian wife. My posts and my blog may be helpful for you – they may not be.  I share ideas and suggestions – they are not rules and they are not guarantees.  Ultimately, each wife must prayerfully decide what she believes God wants her to do to obey Him and to honor Him in her unique situation. God has wisdom. I do not. I write specifically for wives who tend to be controlling and dominating. Wives who tend to be more quiet and have dominating husbands may find that my blog is not a good fit for them. If your husband is abusing you, please seek godly, experienced, wise counsel ASAP! Please be safe! My blog is not written for wives who are abused.
Get ready and brace yourselves, ladies.  I am about to deliver the most shocking news you have EVER heard.
Your husband is a HUGE sinner.  Like… he is in SERIOUS need of Jesus.  On his own – apart from Christ – he is selfish, unkind, unloving, mean, cruel, difficult to deal with, too passive or too aggressive, ungodly, an idolator and he possibly even struggles with lust, greed, lying, stealing, hatred, un-forgiveness, bitterness and ALL KINDS of heinous sins.
I know – it’s mind boggling.  🙂  I’m sure you haven’t figured that out on your own  – so you probably don’t believe me.  You may need to go check with him on this one, right?
Just kidding!  Please do NOT go check with him! 🙂
It’s funny – all of us as wives see our husbands’ sins SO clearly.  It’s our own sin that we tend not to see.  And I usually focus on OUR sin, OUR responsibilities, OUR obedience to God and our side of the equation.  That is where our power is, after all!
But we ALL have to deal with our husbands sinning against us – just like all husbands have to deal with wives sinning against them.  Sometimes it’s much worse than others.  This topic could seriously be a book in and of itself.  So this one post isn’t an exhaustive resource on dealing with our husbands’ sin in a godly way.  But it is hopefully a starting point.
SOME BASICS
Expect your husband to sin against you at times.  He is not God.  He will mess up. He will do hurtful and hateful things sometimes.  Other times, it may seem like he is being hateful – but he may not actually intend to be hateful – it could be a misunderstanding. He is human.  And that has to be ok. Yes, he is supposed to represent Christ to you in the marriage – but he is not Christ and to expect perfection is just setting yourself up for a disaster.
Focus on your own mountain of sin on a daily basis, and try not to focus much on his.  The more I see what a wretched sinner I am  – and just how much Jesus has forgiven me for – the more grace I have to lavish forgiveness, mercy and grace on my husband.
Gary Thomas in “Sacred Influence” says, “We are most tempted to sin when we have been sinned against.”  That is SO TRUE!  So  – be Spirit-filled.  Have God’s power in you.  Repent of all your sin.  Obey God’s Word.  Then you will have the power of God to respond without sin when your husband sins against you.  Being angry is not sinful  – but in our anger, we must not sin against our husbands!
God is sovereign.  He has assigned my husband to me for my good, as a gift to me, as my leader, protector and provider.  But He has also assigned my particular husband to me to use his sins to mold me into the image of Christ.  God will use my husband’s sin against me as a hammer and chisel to create the image of Christ in my soul.  It will be PAINFUL.  It will be a cross I must bear.  And God will use it for my good and His glory.
Wow.
WE HAVE SO MUCH POWER!
We are NOT responsible for our husband’s sin.  They are accountable to God for their sin and we are accountable to God for our own sin.
But – because we are one flesh  – our response to our husbands’ sin is powerful.  We can either respond with evil and cause the whole thing to spiral downward completely towards destruction and the death of the marriage, or we can respond in the power of God’s Spirit and breathe healing, life, strength, grace, peace, hope and help into our marriage when our husbands sin against us.
BEING UNLOVING, CRUEL AND HATEFUL
It’s possible that your man is a total narcissist who is incurable and who will be chronically selfish and cruel his whole life.  There are a few of those in the world.
Thankfully, MOST men are fairly decent guys.  They are all sinners, of course.  But most men will respond well to respect.  Now if you have been extremely disrespectful for 15 years – it will take time for your husband to really trust you and begin to open up to you again.  He may continue to stonewall for a year or more from the time you implement respect and submission and stop controlling and being disrespectful.  But ultimately, you are called to respect your husband and submit to His God-given leadership out of obedience to Christ regardless of the results.  So, it is our duty to obey God’s Word and honor Christ in our marriage regardless of what our husbands are or aren’t doing.
The great news is – usually, as we get rid of disrespect and learn to speak “respect” in a meaningful way to our husbands – the verbal abuse, unloving behavior and comments usually dramatically decrease over time.
Some possible ways wives may handle such situations – say (calmly):
  • Ouch!
  • That really hurt my feelings.
  • Did I do something disrespectful just now?  That felt unloving to me.
  • Please don’t speak to me like that or I will need to leave the room.  (And then, respectfully, with dignity and poise, leave the room if he cannot control his temper.)
  • Please don’t yell.  I feel so scared when you do that.
  • Please don’t say things like that – it hurts me so much.

Hopefully, just saying something like that will elicit an apology.

If not, you may want to give him some space, respectfully, to process his feelings for a few hours or over night. And keep some distance.  Then when he approaches you, you can say, “I’m still upset/hurt/sad.”  And you really don’t have to go into much more detail than that.  He will probably apologize.

But also, consider that Jesus calls us to bless when we are cursed and to repay evil with good and to pray for those who mistreat us.  So during that time of giving space, we can be praying for our husbands and for Satan’s strongholds to be torn down.  We can pray that God will help us to forgive and have wisdom about how to bless our husbands.  And we can pray about what kind thing we could do to show respect and love.

Please do not go on a big emotional tirade against your man!  Then he will be thinking about YOUR anger, bitterness, rage and sin and he won’t have to think about his sin!  If you can respond WITHOUT sin to him when he sins against you – he will have SO MUCH weight of conviction and he will eventually apologize on his own.

The more respected he usually feels  -the more it will tear his soul apart to see that he has hurt  you, the woman he loves most in all the world.  Your distance and pain will make him feel AWFUL and he will try to make things right.

If he feels constantly disrespected – he may not care much about your feelings – and you may have to pray and wait on God to work in his heart as you continue to obey God yourself, expecting God, not your husband, to meet your emotional and spiritual needs.

As you begin to actually stop disrespecting him – which repels him – and you learn to begin to respect him – he will likely be drawn back to you.
Then – he may eventually begin to actually care about your feelings.
When he gets used to you being joyful, happy, content, smiling, accepting and welcoming – he will probably want to keep that feeling going.  Your happiness and joy is his greatest reward.  If you are mean, negative, angry, scolding, yelling, name-calling and disrespectful all the time – he will most likely build a wall against you and shut you out of his heart.  He may decide it is impossible to please you and it’s not worth trying.  And he may not care that you are in pain.  He may be in too much pain himself to care that you are in pain.  And he may not respect you because you are so down on him all the time.  Men sometimes only let people they respect influence their decisions and actions.
But when you respect him and are a joy – he may begin to want you to be happy, to open his heart up to you slowly, and eventually he may care VERY much about your feelings and happiness. Eventually, all it may take is for that light of faith and trust in your eyes and the beautiful smile on your face to go away for a minute or two and he will be asking what he can do to make you happy again.  Yes.  Really.
The silent thing is about spiritual things.  You are silent about God and church and Bible reading, etc (I Peter 3:1-2 – if you have a husband who is disobedient to the Word of God), and show him respect.
If he is flirting or doing inappropriate things with other women (short of an affair)- some possible ideas of things to prayerfully consider saying (only if God leads you to say one of these things),
  • I don’t want you to have women friends.  I think that is dangerous.  I don’t have male friends – there are too many temptations in those situations for anyone.  No one is exempt from the temptation to have an affair.  Everyone has to guard their hearts, even pastors and strong Christian leaders.  No one plans to have an affair – it happens because we don’t prevent it and protect our marriage with a hedge of precautions and boundaries.
  •  I feel so hurt when you flirt with women.
  • I only want you to flirt with me.
  • I feel so sad that you are talking with other women.
  • I am scared that you don’t let me be your friend on Facebook.  I feel afraid to trust you when I see you shut me out from certain areas of your life.
  • I want to trust you and respect you- and I am scared to right now.  Please make it easier for me to be able to totally trust you and respect you as the God-given leader of our marriage.
  • I want you to stop talking with her.
  • I want to feel completely safe and protected with you.
  • I want to know that you are protecting our marriage and your heart.
So – you say what you want WITHOUT lashing out in anger.  You are vulnerable and share your feelings in a pure way, a VERY, VERY, VERY boiled down and brief way.  He can hear you when you talk to him like this.  You can cry and be sad.  But if you attack him with anger and an emotional ocean of negativity – he may drown in it.
Then – as you become respectful and he begins to care about your feelings – all you have to do is look sad and say you are sad – and he will probably apologize.  If he doesn’t, you just respectfully move away and create some distance from him.  Bob Grant, marriage therapist, says “Words are for women.  Men don’t respond to words.  Men respond to pain and distance.”  So you sharing your painful feelings “I feel X”  and moving away physically and emotionally will make him feel guilt and want to make things better.  Yes – this is the exact opposite of how we as women want to handle this.  Want to dump our ocean of negativity on him and blast him for an hour or two with all our horrible emotions.  This does NOT help our husbands come back to us!  It repels them.  So it is up to us to learn to communicate in a way that is EFFECTIVE for our husbands to best hear our hearts and our main message.
You don’t have to argue.  You don’t have to lose control.  The more you do those things, the more you push him to the women you don’t want him to talk to.  He finds acceptance and validation and respect there.  He needs to find acceptance, validation, edification, appreciation, affection and respect with YOU.
LYING
If your husband is telling little lies, I think that being calm about it and not making a huge deal about it would be helpful.  And keep in mind that the more he sees you trust him as leader and you respect him, the safer he will feel with you.  He may be lying to avoid a big reaction, drama, lecture, scolding, disrespect and contempt.  My suggestion, for whatever it is worth, is to respectfully, calmly and without emotion say something like:
  • honesty is REALLY important to me.
  • PLEASE tell me the truth.  We will work through this issue together.  I want to try to stay calm and hear what you have to say.  I don’t want you to be afraid of me freaking out and losing control of my emotions.  I want to respect you, and for me to be able to fully respect and trust you, I need to know for sure that you always tell me the truth.

When he does tell you the truth, maybe say:

  • THANK YOU SO MUCH for telling me the truth.  It’s painful for me to hear.  But I admire you greatly for having the courage to tell me the truth.  I feel so much safer knowing that you are being honest with me.  When you tell me the truth, even about little things, I REALLY respect that about you.
  • It means SO much to me that you have the courage to tell me the truth.  That helps me to respect the man you are so much.  I admire your willingness to be honest.  Thank you.

Then keep up the respect and nix all the disrespect.  As he sees he is safe – I think you’ll see the lying fade away in a few months, most likely.

If your husband is telling bigger lies, you may have to calmly and respectfully (and probably with great sadness) prayerfully consider saying something like:

  • dishonesty/lying is not OK.
  • I REALLY want to trust and respect you – but I just can’t respect lying.
  • I need to see you do X, Y and Z to help me rebuild my trust in you.  I need total honesty and transparency from you in order to work to be able to give you all of my respect and admiration again.
  • I’m really disappointed.
  • I am devastated.
  • I think we need to have some help.

You can do this WITHOUT attacking him.

If you catch him in big lies again or other major sin (adultery) – you may need to follow the Bible’s advice about when a brother sins against us (Matthew 18).  First we are to go show him his fault, just between the two of us in private (which means, NOT bashing him on FB or to friends, coworkers or family!)  If he doesn’t repent, then we take another believer – probably a strong Christian mentor or friend or pastor and respectfully confront him with that witness present and helping us.  Then the Bible says to take the matter before the church if he still won’t repent and treat him like an unbeliever.  Most churches don’t do discipline anymore.  Sadly.  But if he is living in habitual sin, you will have to treat him like an unbeliever – because he is not living at all with the power of Christ.  I Peter 3:1-2 would apply here.  You may have to implement consequences with gentleness, respect, poise and dignity.

ADULTERY

Please keep in mind that God can and does heal marriages that have suffered the devastation of adultery.  I know MANY marriages God has healed and that are very godly and strong now – stronger than ever – and the growth began after adultery.  This is not to say adultery is fine and not a big deal. It is a huge sin. It is not ever ok!

Adultery is not necessarily a death sentence for a marriage.  But contempt and unforgiveness will kill any relationship.

But there is help and hope and our God is a God of miracles and He is able to heal broken relationships and people when we trust and obey Him.  Please seek godly, wise, experienced, biblical counsel!

PHYSICAL ABUSE/SUBSTANCE ABUSE

Please get some godly, experienced help.  This issue is more than I can address – and you will need major help ASAP.

RELATED:

Confronting Our Husbands about Their Sin

Why I Don’t Write for Women with Abusive Husbands

Do I Condone Abuse?

 

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