Many of us have experienced something like this with our men – “Things seemed to be going great! My husband was talking, calling or texting with me when, seemingly out of nowhere, he storms out of the room or hangs up on me.”
WHAT ON EARTH JUST HAPPENED?
WHAT WE USUALLY DO
Most wives panic and begin trying to re-establish communication immediately. They follow their husband out the door, demanding that he stop and finish the conversation. Or they call or text frequently, ask lots of questions, beg to try to resolve the problem.
Women use words to fix relationship problems. The more words, the better, right!?! We don’t realize that words don’t do much for men. Actually – sometimes more words can make things a lot worse for men. Sadly, our intuition tells us to TALK to him right away to try to explain and fix things – and that is the opposite of what a man usually needs in a situation like this. That is what a wife often needs, but husbands are VERY DIFFERENT FROM US!
When a husband suddenly shuts down, leaves, hangs up – or explodes with anger out of “nowhere,” there is a REALLY good chance that he is feeling disrespected. Of course, there are other possibilities, but this is one that is worth thinking about first.
WOMEN DON’T ALWAYS NOTICE OUR INADVERTANT DISRESPECT – BUT IT REPELS MEN
It could be something very seemingly “minor,” from a woman’s perspective:
- You used an “angry mother” tone of voice
- You tried to have “the talk” with him about where the marriage “is going.”
- You tried to make him to talk about emotions. If he is not ready, this will almost always push him away.
- You told him what to do – implying to him that he was inept, incapable, and unable to figure things out for himself. Men REALLY value figuring things out on their own. Men don’t offer unsolicited advice to other men. That is disrespectful in a man’s world.
- You tried to FORCE your own plans or your way on him. Men will resist when they feel controlled.
- You insulted him in front of other people. THIS REALLY, REALLY hurts men. Please DO NOT EVER criticize your husband or “tease” him by bringing up his weaknesses in front of others!! There is almost nothing that would hurt a husband more than being publicly humiliated by his wife. Be extremely careful only to share positive things about him with your family, friends, coworkers, children and on FB.
- You were critical about his dreams, his goals, his career, his sexual abilities, his parenting abilities or something deep-seated in his manhood.
- You took over and tried to lead in the relationship. God purposely made husbands the spiritual authority in marriage. When we try to usurp control, we usually create a lot of very difficult problems. (Biblical Submission)
- You expected him to think, act and have needs like a woman and didn’t understand his masculine needs.
WHAT DO I DO NOW?
If your husband just quit speaking with you or left the room, or the house – the best thing to do is going to be exactly the thing you don’t want to do –
Let him have some time.
DO NOT FOLLOW, CALL OR TEXT HIM!
Do not pursue him.
If you initiate contact right now, it will feel even more intrusive, smothering and disrespectful to him. Most likely, if you give him some time, he will probably approach you again when he is ready.
- He may need time to process something in his mind, and if you call a lot and pressure him, it is going to make things much worse.
If you realize what you did specifically that was disrespectful, it may be a good idea to pray about if you should BRIEFLY apologize to him about your disrespect. When I say briefly, I mean VERY BRIEFLY. Men are usually not affected by words like women are! He does NOT want a big, emotional, detailed explanation. That will push him further away. Sometimes it’s best to wait till he contacts you. Sometimes you may need to email an apology. That will have to be a Holy Spirit-led thing.
WHAT IS HAPPENING?
Most likely, his blood pressure was going up and he was afraid he was about to lose control of his words or his temper. He is probably trying to protect you from his own anger by doing the honorable thing and walking out instead of staying to fight. Many men feel that if they don’t leave when they are getting extremely angry, they may say or do things they will regret. They ay need time to cool off before they do something terrible.
If you follow him or try to contact him and make him talk – that is inviting a conflict or confrontation, maybe even a physical fight.
Please, DO NOT DO THAT!!!!!! This is why I am saying that he needs some time and space.
You could say or email something like, “I see that I came across very disrespectfully to you just now. I am SO sorry. I was wrong to do that to you.” If you don’t believe you have done anything disrespectful – then it may be something that is going on with him that doesn’t have anything to do with you – or it may be some type of disrespect that you are unaware of.
And then, do not contact him again.
LET HIM CONTACT YOU!!!!!!!! If you try to make him come back to you, you’ll push him away! But if you let him think about your apology, and how wonderful you are – if you can be patient enough to give him the gift of missing you – he will probably eventually come back to you! When HE is ready.
IN THE MEANTIME
- Pray and spend time with God first.
- Get things done that you need to do.
- Spend time with a godly mentoring wife or godly friends who are willing to point you to Christ and His Word.
- Enjoy your children.
- Pray for your husband to find God’s will and to draw near to God.
- Cultivate a spirit of gratitude and joy – thanking God for every blessing He has given to you.
This is a situation where we trust in God’s sovereignty to work out things for our best interests and we don’t try to be the Holy Spirit or try to be sovereign ourselves. That would only make things worse and make it harder for our men to hear God’s voice!
This is a time that you learn to wait on God and see how He works things out. Waiting on God is a REALLY critical skill. It’s VERY DIFFICULT TO DO at first, but it is worth it!
WHEN HE CONTACTS YOU AGAIN – My Suggestions:
- Be friendly, pleasant and polite. Apologize humbly if you did something offensive to him – without justifying what you did or explaining why you did it.
- Do not demand a big explanation of where he went and why right now.
- Listen attentively to what he wants to say. If he is upset about something you did, listen and don’t defend yourself. Apologize if you were wrong.
- If he does not bring up his issue, eventually it may be wise to say, “Did I do something that felt disrespectful to you, Honey?” and then listen carefully.
He will probably eventually bring up what the problem was. Or it could be that he was feeling disrespected but can’t verbalize his feelings.
**** If there is MAJOR sin or extremely serious problems in your marriage, you may need some godly counsel from a mentor/Christian counselor/older Christian woman/godly pastor. Please seek help if there is physical violence, an uncontrolled mental health issue, a major addiction, infidelity, etc… Those things require much more specialized help than I can possibly address in a general post on marriage. Please find godly help ASAP!
Why Pressuring Your Man to Talk RIGHT NOW about His Feelings Probably Won’t Work
Understanding a Passive Husband’s Mindset – an Interview with My Husband
Why Men Sometimes Need Space a 6 minute Youtube video (my channel is “April Cassidy”)
*** It seems I had a technical glitch yesterday 🙁 If you are interested in reading, here’s the link to “The Wonder of New Life”
I would like to encourage you to keep private relationship stuff private and off of your public Facebook page, Twitter account, Instagram, etc…
I personally believe it is wise to post things on social media like:
- interesting, fun things you are doing
- sweet pictures
- positive comments
- funny little insights you may have that would bless other people
- kind observations
- respectful things about others
- good things about your husband and family and friends
There are some things that I believe are NOT wise for us as women who are disciples of Christ to post on social media like:
- PDA – unless maybe just a sweet pic of you and your husband kissing
- rants about how angry you are at your man or anyone
- crass/foul language
- jokes with sexual innuendo or explicit content
- the details of a fight you have had with someone
- a list of your man’s or your ex’s faults and sins (or anyone else’s)
- personal/private conversations
- pictures of you doing something that could be misconstrued or that may have the appearance of evil
There are SO MANY REASONS why it is wise not to post these kinds of things – employers may choose not to hire you based on what they see. NOTHING you post on FB or any of the social media sites or even things you text on your phone are ever deleted from the server. There are people who could dig these things up and use them against you in the future.
You cannot take back destroying someone’s reputation on FB. The damage that we can cause to others on social media is astronomical. I don’t believe it is ever appropriate to “air our dirty laundry” in public. That is EXTREMELY disrespectful to anyone, and it does not honor God.
Our husbands need to be able to count on us not to bash them in front of others – but for us to be loyal to them, not sharing negative things about them – but speaking of them respectfully in public.
Go to a godly mentor if you are having a lot of trouble in your relationship – an older, spiritually mature woman who lives out God’s Word and is a prayer warrior or a godly Christian counselor. But other people do not need to know about the arguments, fights and issues you are having with your friends, family or husband.
I believe that God’s Word gives us a beautiful standard of how to use our words that we can apply to EVERY area of our lives – even social media!
TIME FOR A HEART CHECK:
Am I using God’s standard in how I speak to others in person and on social media??? Ask God to help you see areas that He wants to change…
29 Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. 30 And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealedfor the day of redemption. 31 Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. 32 Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you. 5 1 Follow God’s example, therefore, as dearly loved children 2 and walk in the way of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.
3 But among you there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality, or of any kind of impurity, or of greed, because these are improper for God’s holy people. 4 Nor should there be obscenity, foolish talk or coarse joking, which are out of place, but rather thanksgiving. 5 For of this you can be sure: No immoral, impure or greedy person—such a person is an idolater—has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God.[a] 6 Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of such things God’s wrath comes on those who are disobedient. 7 Therefore do not be partners with them.
8 For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light 9 (for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness, righteousness and truth) 10 and find out what pleases the Lord. 11 Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them. 12 It is shameful even to mention what the disobedient do in secret.13 But everything exposed by the light becomes visible—and everything that is illuminated becomes a light. 14 This is why it is said:
“Wake up, sleeper,
rise from the dead,
and Christ will shine on you.”
15 Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, 16 making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. 17 Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is. 18 Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit, 19 speaking to one another with psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit. Sing and make music from your heart to the Lord, 20 always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. – Ephesians 4:29-5:20
It is a matter of weighing those fears with the peace of releasing my husband and having an open heart to accepting whatever God’s will is vs. keeping those fears and trying desperately but ineffectively to prevent them. Not too much of a question, is it?
He was very forgiving. I could tell the apology went over much better without the explanation of why.
Are we trying to control our husbands?
I had another impromptu interview with my husband. I’m so thankful he is usually game for answering my questions! He is able to express a masculine point of view very clearly now – I learn so much from him every time we talk! My husband may not be speaking for all men as he answers these questions. I hope other husbands might be willing to share their perspectives, as well. But I think it is possible that other husbands may look at things the way my husband does – and this may be something to prayerfully consider for us as wives. (If you have SERIOUS issues in your marriage – your husband has uncontrolled mental health problems, major addictions, major unrepentant sin, physical abuse, infidelity, etc… this post may not apply to your husband. Please seek godly, wise counsel ASAP!):
I was talking with my husband about a situation that – I would guess – probably happens in almost every marriage at some point, maybe MANY points:
The wife feels disconnected emotionally. She feels like she is not a priority. She feels like work, the TV, hobbies, the kids or friends are bigger priorities for her husband than she is. She is feeling unloved. So she begins to say things like:
- Why don’t you ever sit with me?
- I want us to sit together/cuddle. We never spend time together.
- I’m not a priority to you.
- If you really loved me, you would make time for me and you would want to sit with me on the couch (or cuddle with me in bed) instead of sitting by yourself at the computer/in the recliner.
- I want to be with you, but you never want to be with me. You wouldn’t care if we never spent time together.
- You need to sit with me right now!
- Oh, no! Where do you think YOU’RE going????? You can’t go out with your friends. You’re spending time with ME!
- Why can’t you turn off the TV and talk to me????!?!!
- Why did you even marry me if you never want to be with me?
- You obviously love the TV more than you love me.
- I have felt disconnected from you for weeks! All you want me for is sex. I feel like such a piece of meat to you.
- You care more about football/hunting/sports than you do about me. You need to spend some time with me right now!
- I feel like we are just roommates. You don’t love me at all. Why don’t you ever just cuddle with me and talk with me?
The wife just thinks she is “sharing her heart” and saying what she needs.
She thinks she is being totally reasonable – because any woman would feel the same way she does in her situation. She fully expects him to drop whatever he is doing RIGHT THEN and come lavish attention and affection on her. In all likelihood, she probably believes that her husband has the same emotional need to verbally connect that she does. If we assume our husbands think just like we do – we can get ourselves into HUGE trouble because it is VERY EASY to assume that our husbands have evil motives toward us based on their behavior and our assumptions that our husbands’ motives must be the same as our motives would be if we were behaving the way they are behaving. I hope you were able to follow me on that last sentence!
ASSUMING THE WORST OR THE BEST?
Unfortunately, our assuming the worst about our husbands does not promote a healthy marriage. It brings out the worst in our husbands – and in ourselves – when we make these kinds of assumptions.
We end up sabotaging ourselves and preventing ourselves from getting the very emotional intimacy we really long for!
If we can take the time to realize that our husbands and men in general often have VERY different ways of thinking, feeling and processing life than we do – that their masculine perspectives are totally different from our feminine perspectives – we can offer grace, understanding and empathy – assuming the BEST about our men instead of the worst. This is the kind of environment healthy marriages need in order to flourish.
Another issue is that in each of the examples above – the wife was approaching her husband disrespectfully. She was either giving him a directive (telling/ordering him what to do), making a demand or unfairly assuming that her husband is being unloving. This is NOT the way to motivate a husband to do what we want!
Men don’t like to be controlled. Honestly, who does?? Husbands respond to RESPECT – sincere, genuine respect that is completely free of manipulation.
I would suggest something like:
- “Honey, I’m feeling lonely today. Would you please hold me sometime when you have a few minutes? Thanks!”
- “Honey, I really miss you.”
- “I can’t wait to get to be in your arms soon.”
- “I’m really looking forward to have a chance to just talk and relax together soon.”
I would say this with a smile and a pleasant tone of voice. And then – be gracious no matter how he responds. This is a respectful way to share our feelings and needs WITHOUT pressuring our husbands, making them the bad guy or making demands. If he feels pressured, he will not feel like he has the freedom to delight you. He may feel like he has to wait a day or several days to be able to really give you what you say you desire.
HERE ARE SOME OF MY HUSBAND’S THOUGHTS (I hope some other husbands will also share their thoughts on this important issue, too!)
“If a wife demands attention/affection/discussion immediately, a husband is in a terrible predicament.
- If he immediately does what she says she wants, he and she both know that his actions are not genuine. He feels he has no choice but NOT to do what she demanded right then.
- If he does not do what she says she wants, she will think he is a total jerk and that he is being extremely unloving. He knows this. He doesn’t like it. But he MUST know that he is acting because he wants to, not because she is ordering him to do something.
He has to wait a certain amount of time so that he can act in his time, not her time.
It may be that later that week, if his wife asked respectfully and doesn’t blast him with criticism/contempt/disrespect – he will try to make some extra special time to hold and cuddle her and show her affection. But it will only be when it is HIS idea and he knows that she knows that it is not because she is forcing or coercing him – but that he wants to give her his attention on his own.”
A FEW OF MY HUSBAND’S THOUGHTS ABOUT “EMOTIONAL CONNECTION”
Greg says that – from his perspective – when I feel emotionally disconnected from him, it is MY emotional disconnection, not his. He says that a husband “is feeling very connected to his wife until she says she feels disconnected, then he feels like she is saying he has failed her.”
Most men are not motivated by feeling like failures.
I know that wives don’t intend to communicate, “I feel disconnected from you, so you are a failure in my eyes.” But, maybe that could be what our husbands HEAR? I don’t know if this is how every husband feels. Maybe some husbands feel this way?
Greg says, “When a wife wants emotional connection, if he thought things were fine, it is a slap in the face to him. If he was gone on a trip or very busy with baseball or kids or work, then he can understand her feeling disconnected. If he is unaware of her disconnection, it is like wife has a hole in her bucket, he can’t fill it fast enough. He feels he can never do enough to satisfy her.”
“Wives need emotional connection, husbands don’t need nearly what a wife would need. Most men have very few emotional connections outside of their wives.”
“If the family has a very hectic schedule, a husband would be fine without talking all week, and would understand that this is what we have to do to get this done. It’s not that I don’t love her or am not connected. My love doesn’t change because of that.”
I asked Greg, “What makes a husband feel connected or not?”
He said, “Disrespect can make a husband feel disconnected and for some men, not having sex with their wives in a certain time frame can make them feel disconnected. But
usually, a guy is going to be connected, and will not lose his connection unless his wife disconnects from him.”
MY THOUGHTS AFTER OUR DISCUSSION:
My feeling is that as a wife, many times our “neutral status” is feeling disconnected. We feel we have to do something actively to feel connected (talking, cuddling, affection, time together, praying together).
Greg said he believes that “A husband’s ‘neutral status’ is feeling connected and they have to do something actively to feel disconnected.”
WHAT AN IMPORTANT CONCEPT!
When I learned that my husband thinks of his love for me as unchanging and constant, regardless of what he says to me or our time to talk in a given week, that was a HUGE burden lifted from my shoulders. Now, I am able to rest in his love and know that he feels connected to me, even if we don’t get to have the time together I would really like. That helps me feel very connected to him – even when we can’t talk as much as I would like. Of course, I am also resting in my Jesus’ love that is unending and never failing, knowing that nothing can separate me from His love.
“For Women Only” by Shaunti Feldhahn talks about this – that most Christian husbands see their love as unchanging and solid. Many of them have no idea why their wives constantly want reassurance of something that, to them, is steady and constant. One man said (this is my paraphrase), “my wife needing constant reassurance of my love seems as unnecessary as if she were to ask every day ‘Do we still own the house?’ Of course we still own the house! We bought it! And, of course I still love you, I married you!”
Men do not always express love verbally. For a lot of men – words aren’t worth much. But that DOES NOT mean they don’t love their wives. They tend to show their love in action. They often show love by going to work everyday and providing for their families. They show love by running to the pharmacy in the middle of the night when the baby wakes up sick, or by putting gas in their wife’s car, or by lifting burdens from her when she is overwhelmed. They show love by remodeling the house, taking the family to church, taking out the trash – by the things they DO. And when they do these things, they do them out of love, not because someone tried to force them to do them.
A NEW APPROACH
I think if we approach our husbands as if they live in this mysterious (new to us) world of masculinity that we know nothing about and that we would like to explore his world with him – and ask questions with eyes of wonder and amazement and friendly, genuine curiosity – continuing to see the best in him – our husbands will be able to eventually open up to us more and more.
I would like to see us as wives assume that if we don’t understand why our husbands are doing something, that they have good motives towards us. Unless they have definitely proven to be evil and untrustworthy, let’s assume the best about them, instead of the worst. Let’s assume they love us (if you have SEVERE issues in your marriage, this may not be true – but most husbands do love their wives – especially if they are still with them.) And let’s assume that they don’t have evil motives towards us. Let’s assume maybe we don’t understand how they think and maybe their priorities are different from ours. But let’s not assume they are ill-willed towards us and that they are our enemies.
An Interview with My Husband (Understanding a passive husband’s mindset)
thank you so much for this blog! I stumbled upon it just last week and have been reading your posts ever since.
I have been married almost for a year now and dealing with all the issues you talk about myself. For some time I have regretted the fact I do not have any experienced Christian wives to turn to who could teach me to be a good wife to my husband as the Bible encourages us to do.
Reading your testimony I was amazed to discover how much I am like you. I have an identical twin sister myself, I have always been a straight-A-student, top of my class in the university, always self-sufficient and reliable, becoming a teacher and attending church since I was ten.
Naturally, all the traits of my personality and habits from maiden life came with me to my marriage. I did not intend to disrespect or overrule my husband but I did it anyway for I never knew a better way. I have always made more money than him, and being very responsible with those matters (as he generously admits) I felt obligated to keep my eye on (read: have control over) our finances. I tended to remind him things when I thought he was about to forget something important. I never told him to spend time with me or skip his activities but often cried and pouted when he went out anyway knowing I did not want him to go. And so on. Needless to say what a burden it was on my shoulders.
I never understood his angry reactions to some of my comments or questions that seemed absolutely innocent to me. And it seemed to me he never understood my desire to be number one in his life after God. He always told me that I was but it was difficult for me to believe it for his actions spoke differently to me. Falling pregnant with our son right after we got married did not help things along, so our first year has been quite rocky.
I had been reading a lot about marriage and shared my thoughts with my husband, too. Fortunately he is eager to make a change for the better. But I had done it with wrong purpose and attitude – I always thought he was wrong and I wanted to change him. You can guess if it was successful or not.
Only when I started to read your blog did I see how mistaken I have been trying to lead him instead of him leading me. Though he might not be as educated as me and only a young Christian, he is entitled to do that for God has made it that way. I am the luckiest girl on earth to have a husband who loves God more than he loves me.
Now that I am beginning to understand what it means to respect my husband and to be a submissive and godly wife and started to act accordingly, I have seen such a difference in our lives. The biggest change has taken place in my own heart as I trust my husband and also God so much more. I also shared my thoughts with my husband and apologized to him for disrespecting him for so long. Surprisingly I have seen changes in his behavior, too. He has been more caring of my feelings and thoughts recently and really making an effort to love and please me. What a joy for both of us!
So thank you again so much for this honest blog of yours! It has been such a blessing for me already, though I have only read a few of the entries. I am glad I have finally found a godly wife to learn from even if she is on the other side of the world.
May God bless you and your family abundantly!
My hope is to point women to Christ and His Word. I don’t write for men because Scripture admonishes women not to teach or have authority over men. This does not mean that the Bible doesn’t apply to men or that they are off the hook with God. Husbands are more accountable to God for their love and godly leadership than wives are for their roles in marriage.
I write especially for wives who tend to be dominating and controlling with passive husbands. If you have a very dominating husband – this blog may not be a good fit for you. If your husband is abusive – please don’t read my blog in that case, but seek godly, experienced, wise counsel ASAP or check out www.leslievernick.com (specifically for emotional abuse)! Sometimes women with abusive husbands tend to think they hear me say things I don’t say. Please be safe! Don’t stay and take abuse – get out and get help if you are truly in trouble!
And if your family or your husband’s family is seriously hurting you or extremely toxic and your husband is not acting, please get somewhere safe. Don’t stay if you are in danger. There are times you may have to take action even if your husband is not on board – but my prayer is that you would seek God’s wisdom and do what He clearly prompts you to do.
This is a question I hear a lot. MANY wives are upset because they feel their in-laws (or sometimes their own parents or family members) disrespect them or try to control them and their husband does nothing to come to his wife’s defense. I talked with Greg about this issue. Here are some of his thoughts:
A husband who feels respected probably will try to protect his wife – but she has to be willing to stay under his covering and protection. If she lashes out at his family members, insults them or disrespects them and creates a lot of hurt feelings, she will be on her own. Her husband can’t protect or defend her if she creates a lot of problems for herself. At that point, a husband will allow her to lie in the bed she made for herself.
Most men HATE drama. They don’t want to be put in a tug of war between their mom and their wife. Yes, he should always choose his wife over his mom. But he doesn’t want to hurt his mom. He would rather not be forced into a position where he has to hurt the feelings of a woman he loves. But if his wife is honoring his leadership, genuinely respecting him on a regular basis and he knows she trusts him and admires him – he probably will be willing to stand up for his wife against someone else if he sees someone insult his wife – particularly if she didn’t do anything to instigate the attack.
WHY ARE THESE RELATIONSHIPS SO DIFFICULT?
In-law relationships can be very tricky. We don’t have the long history of unconditional love with in-laws that we do with our own parents and siblings. Each family’s culture is unique and it is easy for people from different families to have widely differing expectations about lots of topics. Plus, attempting to navigate the new boundaries of a new marriage can be difficult for families who are used to being very involved in their children’s decisions.
Also, it is difficult for some parents to let go of control of their son (or daughter). They love him. They want the best for him. But it is difficult for them to release their son to be his own man when he becomes an adult. Some parents want to continue being the authorities in their children’s lives and don’t embrace God’s design for the authority structure of the new marriage. If they think the have the right to be in charge and that they are still God-given authorities over their child, they can be quite controlling – and this is VERY destructive to the new marriage.
- The new wife NEEDS to know that it is her husband who is in authority and in charge now, not his parents or her parents.
- The husband NEEDS to know that his wife will follow his leadership, not her parents’ or his parents’.
CREATING NEW BOUNDARIES THAT PROTECT YOUR MARRIAGE
It is critical for the husband, in my view, to set healthy boundaries with his family or with his wife’s family, if they are attempting to exert improper authority over the marriage – because he is the authority in the marriage. Sometimes, it may be appropriate for the wife to do the boundary setting with her own parents. Please pray for God’s wisdom on this! (some suggestions):
- I love you Mom and Dad (and siblings)
- God has placed my husband in charge of me now in my new marriage.
- I want to honor you and respect you. I’m so thankful for all you have done to raise me right.
- Now it is time for my husband to be responsible for the decisions in our new family.
- I welcome your ideas and suggestions when I/we ask for them.
- Please pray for God to give my husband wisdom to lead me and our family well for His glory.
WHAT CAN A WIFE DO?
(My suggestions, for whatever they are worth. The most important thing is for us to listen to God’s Spirit and obey His Word.) As a wife, you can’t force your husband to set healthy boundaries with his family or your family. But, you can support, honor and respect his leadership. You can close ranks with your husband and not allow family members or friends to divide you and destroy your unity. (Only say these kinds of things if you can say them sincerely and genuinely!)
- Look to your husband when family members want to make you make a big decision and allow him to answer if he is there. If he is not there, you could say, “I need to talk to my husband about that. I’ll let you know what we decide.” or “I’ll check with my husband.”
- “You can talk with (my husband) about it if you aren’t comfortable with his decision.”
- “My husband asked me to do X. I’m going to honor him and do what he asked me to.”
- “That is a decision my husband and I will be making together. I’ll be sure to let him know about your concerns.”
- Don’t speak negatively about your husband to others!!! This is REALLY important! This protects your marriage and enables your husband to trust you and to know that you are loyal to him.
- Talk about your husband’s strengths and the good things you admire about him to family and friends.
- “This is the decision my husband made (or my husband and I have made), and I support him.”
- “I know you are concerned about what we are planning to do. Thank you for sharing. We appreciate that you love us very much. We will be sure to take these issues into consideration when we talk about our plans.”
- “I trust my husband.”
- “I have every confidence in my husband.”
- “Yes this is a big decision. We will be sure to be careful and thorough as we decide what to do.”
- “Thanks for telling me your concerns. We know you love us very much.”
- “That is an issue I am not at liberty to discuss right now. Thanks for understanding.”
Also – it may be best NOT to talk to extended family members about every little decision – or the big ones. It may be best only to talk with your husband about them, and pray about them and possibly speak to a godly mentoring wife who is living out respect and biblical submission in her own marriage (if your husband is ok with that). Then, when you have made your decision together, you may be able to talk about it with other family members – follow your husband’s lead on that.
Once you are married, you answer to God and to your husband. You don’t answer to extended family and friends and coworkers. It can be very wise, in my view, to not share all the personal business that goes on between you and your husband but to keep most of that private. If you are in serious danger – you may need to reach out for help – or if there are some HUGE issues like drug addiction, alcoholism, infidelity, physical abuse, uncontrolled mental disorders – but understand that family and friends may not be as willing to forgive as you are when the crisis is over. Please pray that God might show you the healthy boundaries you need to have with your families and for your marriage to be strong and vibrant.
HOW TO TREAT HIS FAMILY (some of my suggestions, but be sure you do what God calls you to do)
- ALWAYS be respectful
- don’t criticize them to their faces or to him – he hears criticism of his family as criticism of himself
- don’t raise your voice
- use a pleasant, friendly tone of voice
- Don’t tear them down to other people
- don’t try to change them
- Accept them the way they are and that they are different from your family. That is ok!
- Be sure they feel included with seeing your children if at all possible
- Allow your husband to be the one to deliver difficult news to them if possible
- Respect the way your husband decides to relate to his family – Don’t try to make him do things your way. Trust him to handle his family members and let him be the one to speak to them if there is conflict going on or if you are trying to avoid conflict. His family can hear from him much more easily than they can hear from you.
I don’t ever intend women to hear “stay and be abused.” Or “if your husband won’t stand up for you, you have no choice, just take it.” My first prayer is that wives might be able to work on their end of things if that is needed (as per Matthew 7:1-5) and then she will see clearly enough to address sin issues with her husband. Sometimes just a wife working on her own issues may bring healing to the husband and marriage and inspire a husband to take the lead as he should if he is not leading properly – not always, but sometimes, depending on the situation. If he continues not to lead or a wife or children are seriously in danger – a wife may have to refuse to see her in-laws and keep herself and her children safe. If a husband won’t protect a wife who is walking in obedience to God’s Word, that is a big problem and it is not okay. She may need godly, wise counsel from a trusted counselor one-on-one. She may need to involve the police if she and her children are extremely unsafe. The goal, in my mind, is for each of us to listen to God’s Word and His Spirit and to seek to do exactly what He prompts us to do with right motives in our own hearts – so that ultimately He will be glorified.
RESOURCE for those with very difficult husbands, Nina Roesner’s “Strength and Dignity” eCourse
Playing the Martyr Repels Those We Love
Using Guilt to Manipulate/Motivate is Destructive
You can also check out my Youtube channel – “April Cassidy” – I have a lot of videos about these topics and more!
- I rolled my eyes at him.
- I used a tone.
- I insulted his income.
- I said things in front of people that were unkind.
- I called the shots.
- I kept him in line. Although, he wasn’t lining up so great for me
and I am not proud of any of these things.
But the total renovation that I read about happening to Peacefulwife and other wives who did this was not happening for this girl.
- I turned a lot of decisions over to my husband.
- I tried to focus on building him up.
“I am so tired of fighting for him! I have done nothing but fight for his attention and to be his priority for ALL of our marriage.”
- I had given it my all.
- I had tried everything to win.
- I wanted to win.
- I NEEDED to win.
- It was VERY, VERY important to me that my husband show me and everyone else in the world how much I mattered to him.
I did not win.
I waved the white flag.
I. LET. GO.
This is not something you can just decide to do. This is something that you have to HIT.
I told my husband this very clearly that
I would no longer try to make him show me how much he cared about me.
- It meant I would no longer pursue him to get him to pursue me.
- It meant that the ball was in his court.
- If he wanted to play ball, I am up for it but I will not make the first move.
- I handed him control of our relationship.
- I finally understood what Peacefulwife meant when she said she had to grow content in a season of waiting because this meant I was going to wait on my husband until he was ready to make a move. And if he didn’t, we would sit here.
I made a decision that I would continue to meet his needs even if he didn’t mine. That was not easy because that was unselfish which is not something I was very closely acquainted with.
I let that fantasy die.
Letting go of that fantasy also brought me some good things. Life giving and healing things.
- Peacefulness in myself
- Security regardless of what my husband does or does not do.
- An ability to see things more clearly.
- An ability to find God in a totally new way.
- I got a few more puzzle pieces to work with.
I did not get that when I tried to make him give me what I needed that I was using another form of control.
My husband may never choose to meet my needs.
Perhaps he will.
This really isn’t about that at all.
This is about me
- hitting the point where I could not go on living in such an unhealthy way any longer.
- saying, “Lord, my husband belongs to you. You take him and work with Him. You are far better equipped than I.”
- realizing how little control I actually had.
- realizing just how tiny I am and how big God is. I am just a little ant in his great big world.
- realizing that although my husband and I are joined by marriage, I do not own him.
- seeing God show me how much work there is to do in ME.
- realizing that it is okay to focus on ME and my relationship with God and let my husband have his own process.
“Lord, I cannot do this any longer.
Please take this because it is too heavy for me.
Take all of my expectations of my husband and
all of my hurts and unfulfilled dreams because
they are too painful to carry any longer.
I pray someday you bless our marriage with the things
You know I have wanted so desperately
but even if You never, ever do,
I can’t do this without You any longer.
I need You to help me.
I need You to do the changing and fixing in our marriage.
I am not equipped to do it and I am sorry I ever, ever tried.
I pray You work with both of us.
And start with me.”
That was a hard place to be and a hard thing to say. My heart was so broken accepting that the things I have waited on and wanted so desperately may never be a reality.
- I had to get to where I could go on EVEN if my worst fears happened.
- I had to get to a place where I realized that I never really had any control at all. At best, what I had was some sinful tools of manipulation and guilt to try to get my way.
- I had to get to a place where I let go of my husband and got ahold of myself again. Where I could realize that the only person I could change was myself.
This is a much more peaceful way to live. Trying to control my husband and the outcome of everything in our marriage was exhausting. Resting in myself and my relationship with God is refreshing.
- I see my husband beginning to stand taller.
- I see my husband beginning to search for his wife now that she is not following his every step.
I am hopeful good things are coming. I have to trust that this is for my ultimate good. Since I am a child of God I believe that anything that happens to me is FOR my good or He would not allow it. I felt frustrated and overwhelmed when I first started out to become a godly wife because I didn’t have all of the puzzle pieces yet. I may not have them all now. I don’t know. My puzzle isn’t finished. But I have more than I did have and the picture is becoming clearer.
Once you are hit with that over and over, why answer? What’s my role? Do I have a role?
2. (Talking about the TV/football watching thing) I can probably watch 1 football game, but I can’t watch 40 hours/week. Of course, wives would like to talk and connect with their husbands 40 hours/week.
I don’t even talk to MYSELF 40 hours/week!
To husbands, talking = conflict. At work, we have to have a meeting because there is a problem. At home, we have to talk because there is a problem.
It was never, “Can we talk about what you want to talk about, Honey?” It was always, “I’m going to tell you, and you’re going to listen to me.”
At times I felt trapped. I felt like I didn’t have a voice.
I looked at myself as the problem most of the time. I looked at me as “not getting it.” I didn’t look at you as the problem.
- I just wasn’t doing what I needed to do.
- I wasn’t making you as happy as I needed to.
- I was not the husband I needed to be.
I was looking for ways to limit the pain by going into a shell.
I didn’t tell you my pain because “a man doesn’t show pain.”
10. Why did you allow me to lead?
Some things I looked at as it was advantageous for you to lead. When I wouldn’t make a decision, you were always there to hammer down the decision, and if things got screwed up, it was your fault.
11. I can remember BEGGING you many times, ” PLEASE, just tell me what you need! I don’t know what you need!” Why didn’t you say that you needed respect from me? Why didn’t you say you needed me to stop trying to control you?
- I felt like it was my problem.
- I didn’t necessarily know what I needed.
- I would have felt like it would have been selfish for me to say what I needed.
I knew I needed respect, but I didn’t know how to explain that to you. I didn’t look at it as something I could ask for. I looked at is as something I couldn’t obtain. There was something I was doing that meant I didn’t deserve it.
I think it is SIGNIFICANT that BOTH of us thought my husband was the problem. I didn’t see myself as any part of the problem those first 14+ years of our marriage. My husband didn’t see me as being any part of the problem. But the truth is – we were BOTH contributing to the problems in our marriage – and change only happened after I was willing to look at my (rather hefty) part in the mess. My power came when God opened my eyes to my own sin and helped me stop pointing my finger at my husband and begin to deal with the mountain of sin in my own life.
- I was not responsible for 100% of the problems in our marriage.
- I was not responsible for my husband’s sin.
- My husband was not responsible for 100% of the problems in our marriage!! Sadly, that was the only explanation I could imagine for many years. How wrong I was!
But I was responsible for my own sin, my own walk with Christ, my emotions, my responses, my joy, my contentment, my peace. Of course, real joy, contentment and peace can only be found in Jesus. My husband can’t give me those things. Only Jesus can. And He only gives me His supernatural joy and peace when I follow Him and lay down my life for Him in total submission 100%.
Please notice that some of my husband’s feelings are the exact same kinds of fears women tend to have about biblical submission and respect. Quite honestly, in the first 14 years of our marriage, I expected my husband to “submit to me.” I tried to force him to bow to my will. And man, was I offended when he wouldn’t do as I said he should! I would NEVER have said that I wanted him to follow me or “submit” to me. But I thought I was always right. I thought I was better than he was. I thought I was closer to God than he was. I thought I was a better leader than he was. I thought he “wouldn’t” lead or “couldn’t” lead. So I tried to take control. What a disaster!
Thankfully when a woman biblically submits to her husband – she has the freedom to speak her mind and voice her feelings – and her husband, as he feels respected and honored, will generally desire seek what is in her best interest.
A godly husband who is entrusted with leadership reacts with humility, sacrificial love and a desire to delight his wife.
But his first priority is to please and honor Christ. So – ladies – don’t worry about losing your voice when you obey God in marriage. When we do things God’s way – we have MORE power in a godly way – than we ever could when we try to usurp our husbands’ authority and take over and try to force our way.
The truth is … I wouldn’t follow Greg. He did try to lead early on. I fought him tooth and nail. I was in rebellion against God and against Greg. My husband was totally capable of leading. He does a wonderful job of it now! I was sabotaging him, myself and our marriage – and didn’t even know it. I NEVER EVER EVER want to go back to the way things were. I was miserable, lonely, anxious, stressed and fearful. Greg was shut down and emotionally very distant. Our marriage has been INFINITELY better since God showed me His design for marriage. We have the intimacy and connection we always wanted. My husband is the man I always knew he could be. I am the woman I had always longed to be. I am SO ETERNALLY THANKFUL to Him!
MY HUSBAND’S BLOG:
- I smiled a lot.
- I cooked.
- most of all I was QUIET.
When hubby said something mean, I was quiet. When he made fun of me, I was quiet. When his mom made off-handed remarks, I was quiet.
Now I did quietly stick up for myself but my attitude was totally different.
Then a miracle!
Suddenly he grabbed my hand and apologized for being mean to me around his parents! Then he told me he wanted to quit smoking and dial back on drinking.
She didn’t have to say anything in this particular situation – her respectful (not resentful) silence allowed her husband to clearly hear God’s voice.
God’s wisdom is infinitely higher than our own. When we are willing to do things His way – it is an amazing adventure! You never know what surprises He has in store!
- A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger. Prov. 15:1
- Likewise, wives, be subject to your own husbands, so that even if some do not obey the word, they may be won without a word by the conduct of their wives, when they see your respectful and pure conduct. Do not let your adorning be external—the braiding of hair and the putting on of gold jewelry, or the clothing you wear— but let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet (peaceful, tranquil) spirit, which in God’s sight is very precious. I Peter 3:1-4 ESV
- Bless those who persecute you. Bless and do not curse. Rom. 12:14
- Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all. If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” To the contrary, “if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.” Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good. Rom. 12:17-21