Last week I shared about how we can develop a compulsion to control other people, situations, and the Lord in this post. I thought I “had to try to control” other people and situations. I truly believed it was my responsibility and that everything would be a disaster if I didn’t make sure it all worked out right.
When I try to be in charge of things that are out of my control, I am trying to carry a very heavy weight that I was not designed by God to carry. This leads to extreme stress, frustration, depression, discouragement, anxiety, and a feeling of being completely overwhelmed. It is not the path to peace.
THE CURE FOR MY COMPULSION TO CONTROL IS VERY SIMPLE
I need to have proper thinking about God, events, other people, and myself. I need truth.
In my old way of looking at things – subconsciously – I saw myself as very big and God and other people as rather small and mostly within my sphere of control. I would never have articulated it like that – because it sounds audacious. But this is how I lived. You could see it in the fruit of my life.
I am not saying it is painless or necessarily “easy” to give up control – but it IS simple when I see the differences between:
Other people’s responsibilities
Here is reality:
When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is mankind that you are mindful of them, human beings that you care for them? Ps. 8:3-4
When I understand who God is and the place of people in the universe, then I can begin to properly relate to God, people, and myself.
God alone is God, I am definitely not God. Not even close.
God sent Jesus, His Son, to be the only Savior people need. I am not a savior.
God’s Spirit is the only one who can open blind eyes and convict people of sin. Not me.
God sits on the throne in the highest heavens. Every knee will bow to Him alone.
God has put all authority under Jesus’ feet.
Angels bow down to God, even the demons believe and tremble.
God alone is worthy of worship. I am not.
God reigns over the universe. I do not.
God has all power and all wisdom. I do not.
God loves me, and all people, very dearly because He IS love.
I have value because God loves me and I am created in His image.
My purpose is to love and obey God and bring Him glory – and to love others with God’s love pouring through me.
I can influence God, people, and circumstances to a degree, for bad, or for good (if I allow God to work through me). But I can only control myself – my attitude, my motives, my sin, my responses to others, my words, and my actions. And even then, I can only control myself in a healthy way with the power of the Spirit.
Just to recap, my actual responsibilities are to:
Control myself with God’s power.
Love, obey, and worship God with all my heart, mind, soul, and strength – which brings glory to Him.
Love others with God’s love.
I can be set free from my illusion of control. And that is definitely all it was – an illusion.
God’s truth truly does set me free! I can repent from my pride – my huge pride – thinking I was so big and important. And humbly receive God’s truth. What freedom!!!! I seek only to control the things that are truly mine and I trust God with circumstances and other people.
GOD’S SOVEREIGNTY AND WILL
Within God’s sovereignty is His permissive will and His perfect will. God’s permissive will is larger and accounts for people’s free will, their sin, the effects/consequences of sin, and Satan and his influence. But all of these things operate in the confines of God’s sovereignty and only what He allows can happen. And He uses all that does happen ultimately for His glory and for the ultimate good of those who love Him – to help conform us to the image of Christ.
He doesn’t make choices for us or violate our free-will. That is a good reminder for me that it is not my place to violate other people’s free-will either. God wants us, more than anything, to have the choice to voluntarily love Him or to reject Him. People need that choice in their relationships with me, too. The price of our free-will is very high. For us and for God. We experience earthly and eternal consequences of our choices. But we can never fall outside of His sovereignty and even Satan can never do anything without God’s permission.
This is how, in Christ, His yoke is easy and His burden is light. He does the heavy lifting. He takes responsibility for the big stuff.
THE FIRST STEP ON THE PATH TOWARD PEACE
I can step down off of the throne of my life and invite Jesus to reign as Lord over every part of my life.
This means total, humble, absolute surrender to Him, His will, and His control. I hold nothing back from Him.
This feels pretty terrifying at first because I have only really trusted myself before. But as I taste and see that God is good, I begin to realize He is much better at being deity than I ever could be and He is trustworthy. Infinitely more trustworthy than I am! He is the only one who is truly worthy of all of my faith, obedience, and submission. I also begin to realize that trusting Him is wise and safe and trusting myself is the most dangerous place to be.
NOTE – Don’t just take my word for anything. Dig into the Bible yourself. Find out what God’s Word has to say about these important issues and choose to build your life on Christ and the Solid Rock of His Word!
In my experience with women who feel they have to be in control of situations and other people, there is usually some level of trauma or hurt in her past. The level of trauma can vary. But usually something happened that caused her, as a young girl, to develop the following kind of thinking:
The people who are supposed to be in charge are weak. (Maybe they are incapable, absent, traumatized, or addicts.)
My parents can’t even take proper care of themselves. I have to be the adult and take care of them.
I have to be the savior for my parents.
My parents can’t/won’t take care of the household. I have to take care of it.
They are not able or willing to take proper care of me. So I have to take care of myself or no one else will meet my legitimate needs.
I have to be the savior for myself.
I have to protect my younger siblings or something awful will happen (maybe something awful did happen, and I felt I should have been able to prevent it but I failed).
Our parents have failed my siblings.
My brothers and sisters need me.
I am the only one who can help them.
I am responsible for their lives, safety, and wellbeing. I am the parent now.
I have to be the savior for my siblings.
I am responsible for other people.
I am responsible for my parents.
I am responsible for my siblings.
I am responsible for other people in the world.
I have to take some of God’s sovereignty on my shoulders because if I don’t, everything will fall apart.
People who are in positions of authority in my life have failed me.
They seem wimpy and weak.
Everything is up to me.
It is my duty and responsibility to be sure things go right.
It would be irresponsible of me not to take care of other people because I am the only one who can.
I can’t be irresponsible and cause other people to suffer like I suffered.
I can’t be irresponsible and cause myself to suffer again.
Yes, this weight of responsibility for everything and everyone is way too much, but if I set it down, it will result in catastrophe like I have experienced before.
Stress, worry, anxiety, and bitterness are just the price I have to pay for having to be in charge. There is no way around those things. This is what love is.
I can’t trust anyone else. They will fail me.
People in positions of authority represent God to me, and so I have to conclude that God must also be weak, incapable, or absent.
I can’t really trust God.
I can only trust myself.
I have the wisdom that people need. Only I can help everyone.
I have to be the savior for everyone.
I am not secure financially, emotionally, relationally, or physically.
Some Things That May Have Been Triggers:
Someone got hurt and she took full responsibility and believes it was completely her fault (even if it really wasn’t). She can’t forgive herself. She feels compelled to prevent something like that from ever happening again. She feels overly responsible for other people because of this.
Perhaps her dad was very passive or absent and her mom was completely in charge and had a controlling personality and being a controlling woman/wife/mom just seems “normal.”
She may have been the oldest child and was given, or felt she had to take, extra responsibility for her siblings and felt she had to act like a parent more than a sibling.
Her pastor or parents may have taught, or she may have misunderstood, that people’s free will is huge and God’s sovereignty is very small.
She may have heard that she is responsible for making sure people go to heaven or it will be her fault they end up in hell.
She may have witnessed some horrific tragedy or accident at school or somewhere else and blamed herself for not being able to stop it or for not being able to save everyone.
She may have been taught that God does not exist and she can only depend on herself.
She may have personality traits tend to lean toward being a fixer, doer, and in charge.
Her sinful nature is happy to help promote control and pride.
She may have bought some of the messages of radical feminism, even if she didn’t study it, just by absorbing it from our culture.
Women should be in charge.
Men are evil.
Women are goddesses and are always good.
Men are idiots.
Women are very wise.
God either doesn’t exist or He is a woman.
You can’t depend on the God of the Bible.
The Bible has no authority over our lives as women.
The Bible is not true.
The church has no authority over our lives.
No God-given authority in scripture has any right to guide, lead, or direct women.
Everything rests on your shoulders as a woman to take care of yourself.
The bottom line is this:
She believes she must make sure everything turns out okay and that it is her responsibility to do so.
She has a small, wimpy, or non-existent picture of God and a picture of herself as big, strong, and powerful.
When someone’s core beliefs about God, other people, relationships, and themselves get skewed (and all of us experience this to some degree) – the only way to heal is for that person to be willing to examine these core beliefs against real truth. We must learn to take our thoughts captive for Christ. That is a scary thing. A painful thing – at first. But it is a necessary pain that leads to healing. Kind of like the pain of having a wound full of gangrene debrided. It is necessary to get rid of the toxins and the lethal infection. As we tear out the faulty foundations in our thinking, we can invite God to help us build all of our fixed beliefs about important topics on His Word and truth alone.
“Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock.The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock.But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand.The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash.” Matt. 7:24-27
We all tend to develop wrong thinking as children. Then we build our lives on those messed up beliefs. But when we build on anything other than the truth of God’s Word, we are building on sinking sand. Things begin to collapse the farther we go along in life because the foundation of our belief system is faulty.
It takes great courage to be willing to examine our fixed beliefs and to question them. And to allow the Lord to show us His infinitely higher way of thinking. We have to tear out the old foundation and rebuild a new foundation for our belief system on Jesus and His Word. It is hard. But it is worth it.
As we do this, we have the incredible blessing and gift from the Lord of finding spiritual, emotional, and relational healing in Christ.
Next week we will dig further into the cure for a compulsion to control.
If you struggle with control, is there a specific event or situation in your past that you can link to this struggle? You are welcome to share with us.
Identifying the Lies We Have Embraced (My new book, The Peaceful Mom, will have a whole chapter on this issue with a chart of lies we tend to believe vs. the truth of God’s Word – the book releases March 27th, 2018).
I am so excited to have Shannon write a guest post today as we celebrate her new book releasing this month! I hope you will check it out – it has been such a blessing to me. If you tend to struggle with wanting control, this is the book for you, my precious sister!
This post was taken in part from Shannon Popkin’s book, Control Girl: Lessons on Surrendering Your Burden of Control From Seven Women in the Bible, published by Kregel Publications, 2017.
I often use the word “providence” when I tell about the day I first heard my husband’s name.
I was moving into my new apartment, and my only two friends in town—Chris and Jamie—had brought a meal over to welcome me to Milwaukee. As we ate, Chris shared a story from his day.
Chris was a Christian education pastor and had received a call informing him that the fourth grade boys’ teacher had quit. But after the call ended, immediately the phone rang again. This time it was Ken Popkin calling to say, “I’d like to teach Sunday school. Maybe fourth grade boys?” Chris said he just happened to have an opening.
We all laughed about the providential timing of the calls. Then my new roommate, who also went to the church, mentioned, “I know Ken Popkin from the singles group. He’s really good-looking.”
As I lay in bed that night recalling the events of the day, I whispered into the darkness, “Well, at least there’s one good-looking single guy in Milwaukee. And if he’s willing to teach fourth-grade boys, he’s got to be a good guy!”
I think God was listening to my thoughts with a big grin on his face that night. Because two years later, I wore my white dress and walked down the aisle into the arms of the Sunday school teacher of my dreams. (And yes, he is quite handsome.)
My heart swells every time I consider all the details God arranged to create that bit of foreshadowing. He prompted the back-to-back phone calls on that very day, arranged the dinner guests, and inspired the conversation—all as a teaser for the new girl in town.
Five years later, I didn’t doubt my decision to marry Ken, but I did doubt the extent of God’s control over the details of my marriage (among other things). I wouldn’t have said it that way, but my behavior and attitudes sure did.
My new husband, who had first brought me such joy, was now causing me deep frustration.
We had just moved to a new town, and I was feeling so lonely and anxious to get connected. Then one night, a young couple from down the street invited us over for dinner! I was almost giddy, sure that they were going to be our new best friends.
Ken was less than giddy. Not only was he less social than I, he was also exhausted. Ken is a driven, self-motivated kind of guy who gets up at four thirty in the morning, leaving him little leftover energy for Friday nights.
After a lovely dinner with our neighbors, they led us to the living room. Our conversation progressed nicely, but I noticed Ken wasn’t saying much. I glanced down to where he was sitting, petting the dog on the floor, and I noticed his hand, limp on the dog’s back. And his head was drooping at a strange angle.
Oh no, I thought. He’s asleep!
From where the neighbors were sitting, they couldn’t see Ken’s face, so I crossed my fingers and hoped they would think he was just oddly staring at their dog. I tried to hold their attention by talking faster and with more animation. But then someone asked Ken a question.
I nudged him with my foot, and his head yanked upward. He made some unintelligible remark with slightly slurred speech. I was mortified.
The neighbors laughed good-heartedly and said, “You must be exhausted.” So this beautiful evening, with these people who were now not going to be our new best friends, came to a screeching halt. They showed us to the door, and we walked down the sidewalk toward home.
In that space of about five driveways, I packed a lot in.
“Unbelievable! You humiliated me! From now on, mister, you are guzzling coffee before we go anywhere!” I spat the words into the darkness, pumping my arms with disgust. My husband lagged behind, saying nothing.
As I lay in bed on that night, recounting the events of the day and listening to the soft breathing of a man who was working so hard to provide for our family and lead us well, I was filled with regret and sorrow. This is not the sort of wife I wanted to be. I felt ugly and ashamed.
God’s Perspective on Control
In the heat of the moment, control always beckons to me with logic, clear and strong. It says, “You’ve got to do something! It’s all up to you! What if he falls asleep every time you’re invited somewhere? You’ll never make friends! Everyone will shun you! If this is ever going to turn out right, you’ve got to take control!”
But lunging for the control—which always seems to slip from my grasp—never brings the peace and security I’m hoping for. In fact, it just makes everyone (me included) miserable.
Do you ever wonder what God thinks of our frustration, our anger, and our disrespect toward the husbands He has given us? Do you ever consider His perspective on our fretting, fearful, control-craving hearts?
I do. I picture God’s grin fading that night, as He listened to my sharp words, echoing off the sidewalk. And I picture His heart longing for me to find the peace that comes only from surrender. Though I wouldn’t have heard it, I imagine God whispering something like this:
Shannon, Shannon… These neighbor friends, whose opinions you’re stressing over? They’re going to move away soon, and in time you won’t even remember their names.
But that man you just emasculated? He’s building his career. He’s tired. So sure, he fell asleep. Does it really matter that much? He is a good, faithful husband. He is a kind, dedicated daddy. He is my gift to you. A life partner. Sure, he has weaknesses. But why don’t you let me handle those?
And this habit that you have of trying to control him? That’s what I’m working on in YOU! Do you think that this evening in your neighbors’ living room was out of my hands? I keep adding situations to your life that you can’t control, hoping that one day you invite Me to take that burden of controlling everything off you back. It’s a burden I never wanted you to carry.
We usually only use “providence” to describe the moments God causes details to fall into place the way we’d like. It’s heartwarming to remember the way God brought our marriages together. But has control slipped from God’s hand when marriage is hard?
No, not at all. When I think back to my early marriage struggles (like the one I described), I’m actually thankful. What if God had allowed me to persist with the illusion that I could control everything? I would have gone stomping through life as a Control Girl! Instead, God used the strain of marriage—two people trying to merge their lives—to confront me with the ugliness of my controlling heart.
Trying to control my husband is disrespectful and creates tension. It makes things worse, not better. But when I lay down the burden of trying to make everything turn out right, I find peace. When I surrender the outcomes to God, I find security. And when I turn to God with the things that seem to threaten my happiness (even a husband who falls asleep on neighbors) I find hope, comfort, and joy.
Friends, God is in control and we aren’t. If we convince ourselves that the reverse is true, we only make everyone (ourselves included) miserable. Won’t you lay down your burden of control today? Whether it’s a husband, child, situation, or outcome that you’re trying to control, God invites you to surrender that burden to Him.
He’s in control, so you don’t have to be.
Comment below for a chance to win one of three copies of Shannon’s book!
Shannon is happy to be sharing life with Ken, who makes her laugh every single day. Together, they live the fast-paced life of parenting three teens. For more from Shannon, please go to shannonpopkin.com, or connect with her on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or Pinterest.
Definitely not the picture of godly femininity we are going for!
And not humorous at all, in my view.
Please do not attempt any of the things I talk about on my blog without the Holy Spirit’s counsel. John 16:14: “and He will give you a Counselor to help you and be with you forever.” The Holy Spirit has wisdom that is infinitely higher than any human wisdom for our marriages and every other aspect of life. Jesus alone is Real Love and Real Life, and the way He gives us that abundant spiritual life is through the power of the Holy Spirit dwelling in our hearts. God will give the Holy Spirit to you if you belong to Him and ask Him to fill you. (If you don’t have the power of God’s Spirit in your life, it could be that His Spirit is being quenched by sin or that you may need more time in God’s Word and prayer – or it could mean you do not yet belong to Christ.)
That is what we all need more than anything, to let the Holy Spirit lead us as to how we should proceed in our life and relationships. Be sensitive to His Word and His promptings. What God has to say is always infinitely more important than anything I or any other human might advise. I seek to point women to Christ and the Bible. But each of us desperately need much time in God’s Word and in fervent prayer daily – seeking God and His righteousness and His kingdom far above anything else.
“THE MORE PERSONAL THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN A MAN AND A WOMAN, THE LESS A WOMAN OUGHT TO RELY ON DIRECTIVES TO GUIDE HIM.”
Sometimes the reason why our husbands seem to ignore us, shut down, or fight against us – may be as simple as they way we approach them – particularly our choice of words and our tone of voice. Of course, there can be a lot more going on than just this. Our motives, what we are asking for, the wounds our husbands have, our own scars, whether we are filled with God’s Spirit, where our husbands are spiritually, and a lot of other things contribute to communication issues, as well. But lets look at directives today.
A directive is a command:
Don’t do that.
You better …
Get in here!/ Come here!
You need to…
You have to…
Give me that.
There is no relationship that is more personal than the marriage relationship. We may not even realize that we are using directives and commands in our communication with our husbands. I know I had never thought about that earlier in our marriage. Honestly, I don’t think many women or even older children would appreciate an authoritarian approach, either. I know I am glad that Greg doesn’t talk to me this way.
My giving someone directives is a great way to create resentment and bitterness in others.
There are times that directives are appropriate – if someone is about to walk into the street in front of traffic, I will want to scream, “STOP!!! Don’t walk into the street!” But most of the time, directives are unnecessarily forceful and they can be insulting. If I give a directive to someone, I am implying that I have the right to tell that person what to do (or to control him/her) rather than honoring that person’s God-given free will.
We can communicate effectively without ordering people around, thankfully!
A woman can communicate her desires, needs, and feelings with her husband by using respectful persuasive language, suggestions, or requests. It is important that if we use these approaches, we do them sincerely and honestly. I’m not saying to lie to your husband or manipulate him!
For those of you who tend to be overly quiet, “too respectful, “too submissive” or “passive” wives – the ideas below may give you some ideas about how to find the courage and the way to open up more and to begin to share more of your thoughts, feelings, and ideas. You are a person, too. Your ideas, wants, perspective, wisdom, and concerns are important and it is your responsibility to share yourself with your husband, to be authentic and vulnerable. It is important to use your God-given influence in marriage for God’s glory.
We can respect our husbands for being men by approaching them in a way that honors their God-given masculinity and value as grown adults:
I would really appreciate it if you would please…
Would you be able to…?
I need to get X done by tomorrow. How do you think we could accomplish this goal?
What ideas do you have?
What are your concerns?
Here are some of my concerns…
What is important to you about this decision?
Some things that are really important to me are…
I was thinking about this project. I really want to do X with it.
Would you please…?
I’m not sure I completely understand. Would you please share more of your perspective with me?
I need X, please.
I’m having a problem with …
I could use some help with …
It would mean a lot to me if we could…
Would you consider…?
What if we…?
Here are a few of my ideas… what do you think?
Would you please take care of X for me? Thank you very much.
I really appreciate how you handled Y.
Thank you for taking care of that. You really did such a great job!
I knew I could count on you.
You’re my hero!!! Thank you!
I’d like to try…
Some things to avoid:
criticizing his character
mothering him (treating him like he is an incompetent little boy)
a hateful tone of voice
purposely trying to wound him
rolling your eyes to imply he is an idiot
acting superior to him, being condescending or patronizing
gossiping to him or about him
Some ways to bless him:
use a gentle approach
use a pleasant tone of voice and facial expression whenever appropriate
show appreciation for his gifts, talents, abilities, and work
be genuinely friendly
be generally receptive to considering his ideas and to find the good in his ideas
acknowledge, especially in your heart, that you are both equally precious before God, equally fearfully and wonderfully made, equally image bearers of God, and of equal worth and dignity
respect God, respect him, and respect yourself
This same approach is going to be a way that we can respectfully express our needs, desires, and thoughts with just about everyone in our lives. It is good for us to share our needs, desires, and ideas and we can share them in a way that honors our own femininity and that honors the personhood of those around us.
Something to prayerfully consider:
How might these same kinds of things apply in our relationship to God?
Is it appropriate for us to give God directives?
Respect is part of the love God commands all believers to show to all other people. It involves using good manners, being polite, having true humility, and seeking to show honor to other people:
Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails. I Corinthians 13:4-8a
What are some effective ways you have discovered of approaching your husband and sharing your needs, desires, and feelings respectfully without directives?
If you are a man, how do you believe men feel when their wives use directives to communicate with them? What approaches do you believe would be more effective?
If your husband is particularly controlling or abusive in some way, please seek godly, one-on-one, experienced biblical counsel from a trusted pastor or Christian counselor. I am not able to write for wives facing severe issues here, and strongly encourage you to seek appropriate help for your situation. I don’t want anyone to be unsafe.
The Salvation Army may be a good resource if you are dealing with true abuse, active addictions, or severe situations.
Celebrate Recovery is a Christian program to help people find sobriety from drugs/alcohol/addictions.
In response to my post last week – thanks so much to this dear wife for allowing me to share!
Some things I have learned about my husband in the past year, since working on respect:
* Complaining stresses him out. Even if it is about something he can’t control (like the weather), he really just can’t take negatives! His work life is all the stress he can handle.
* When he comes home, he needs to be greeted and feel relaxed, because he comes home to de-stress. Lists or the kids’ schedules are stressful.
* I have learned to email him our kids’ sports schedules and not talk about the schedules. This way, our conversations don’t have to be centered on driving/schedules/etc.
* He likes being around me more when I am quiet and peaceful. (sense a theme here?)
* He now sees his friends less (because I am more of a friend to him now, not a needy, complaining wife) and takes me out more and spends more time with me.
* He calls me “Babe” now & is much more romantic with me…since he feels more relaxed and respected around me, I am much more appealing to him.
How does my husband reflect Christ to me?
* My husband wants me to trust him in everything.
* My husband wants me to be thankful for all the good in our lives, and not complain about the bad.
* My husband wants me to just be with him, not just asking for things.
* My husband hates worrying and fearfulness.
* My husband truly does love me and wants the best for me.
* My husband’s timeline is not my timeline. I need to trust his timeline.
What have I learned about myself?
* When I try to “do everything” to “help,” I’m actually trying to control everything…which makes my husband and children resentful.
* I can let go of control, and the sun still shines…and I’m a whole lot happier and less stressed.
* When I was seeking perfection, I was not happy, and neither was anyone else…even though I thought I was doing everything for the family’s “common good.”
* The more in love with Christ I fall, the more peaceful and joy-filled I am.
* Being gentle and quiet and waiting is not weakness or laziness. I am actually a better witness when I am “resting” in Christ…a breeze kisses, whereas a tornado disturbs and destroys. Lord, make me a gentle breeze.
What has God shown you about what speaks respect to your husband, about how your husband reflects Christ to you, and/or about yourself on this journey to become a godly wife?
A precious sister in the Lord, BlessedOut, has allowed me to share her response to a woman who commented on one of my posts:
One of the things you said made me curious: “…then we can go about having (men) understand that it’s much more about their perceptions than actually being disrespected…”
I have been raised in a very feminist environment, and when I read your statement, I interpreted it as, “Their feelings don’t matter, and now I can show them that.” I have felt the very same way in the past. However, can you see how unfair that is? How would you feel if you were in a relationship with a man and he didn’t care when you got hurt by his unloving behavior? If he thought you were overreacting, merely because you’re different than he is?
If I loved someone (truly love someone), I would think I’d be considerate of their feelings, even if I can’t understand why they feel that way. I read a quote earlier that said,
“The way we love people we disagree with is the best evidence of what we really believe.”
I used to expect my husband to behave exactly as I do… to be just like me in how he processes information, speaks to me, and shows me his love. But I didn’t marry myself, nor would I ever want to! My husband has insights that I would never think of, just as I have insights he wouldn’t think of. We complement each other, and we can’t do that by being carbon copies of one another.
My husband has never laid a hand on me for any reason either than to comfort/caress me. He is an amazing man and I’m very grateful to have him in my life. Is he a typical husband? In a lot of ways, probably not. However, I’m also striving not to be a typical wife. You mentioned abuse toward women, and that’s true. Some women do suffer abuse, and of course, that’s never OK. However, men are suffering on a continual basis as well, but don’t even feel like they’re able to express it. We poison our husbands with our words and sour looks. We cut their hearts out with our complete disdain for them and the way God created them. We wield our weapons far more than they wield theirs, because it’s socially acceptable to do so.
Even children’s shows make light of a husband’s role as head of the household. I couldn’t watch “Fairly Odd Parents” the other day, because Wanda was constantly calling her husband an idiot.
Of course, I can’t speak for everyone. I know there are women who are being abused and I know that’s not their fault. God needs to work on the man in that situation while healing the woman of the hurt she’s experienced. She needs godly, experienced help, and if kids are involved, it is certainly her responsibility as their caregiver to move them out of the dangerous situation. My heart breaks for women in those situations and I pray that they will get the help they need.
I’m not speaking from that point of view, though: I’m speaking as a woman who has a wonderful husband and didn’t fully appreciate him in the beginning of our marriage. I’m speaking as a woman who was being influenced by the world, even when I thought I was honoring God. I finally learned I need to accept the whole truth of God’s Word, and that means respecting my husband no matter what. (1 Peter 3:1-2 “In the same way, you wives, be submissive to your own husbands so that even if any of them are disobedient to the word, they may be won without a word by the behavior of their wives, as they observe your chaste and respectful behavior.”)
I can respectfully disagree, of course, but I needn’t make him understand by being rude or hurtful in my tone and expression. That phrase “You can catch more flies with honey than with vinegar” has a lot of truth to it. I don’t know about you, but when a man is being unloving toward me, it’s certainly never makes me want to be respectful to him. It’s the same way with men: Our disrespect will not motivate him to love us, or “show him how much he hurt us”. It will only lead him farther away from us… and then, (perhaps when it’s too late), we’ll wonder what happened to what used to be a beautiful relationship.
I have been practicing being respectful to my husband, and let me assure you: I don’t feel oppressed in the least. I feel freer than I’ve ever felt in my life. I feel like my husband and I now have a deeper understanding because I’ve come to realize that his desires are important as well as mine. I find our relationship much more fulfilling now, and the ugly feelings I used to have of jealousy, comparison, unmet expectations, having to “know it all” and “do it all” are all but gone. There’s a reason April chose “PeacefulWife” as her blog name… there truly is a ton of peace that goes into this. My husband didn’t point this blog out to me; I looked for it of my own accord. I read “Love and Respect” of my own accord: he didn’t even know what I was doing!
Showing respect is actually pretty awesome, and I’ve found that the opposite of your scenario happened with me: He was MORE loving with me after I started showing respect, not less loving. In response to another one of the things you said, yes, the male ego is very fragile… just as fragile as our sense of how loved we are is. We desire that need to be handled with care, so it’s not unreasonable for us to also treat their needs with care. 🙂
The truth is, no one can force a woman to respect her husband, in the same way that no one can force him to love her. It has to be of our own free will.
We are going to look at what godly femininity is. But sometimes, a powerful way to study what something is – is to look at what it is NOT. There may be some women for whom all of these things (about being an ungodly woman) would apply – hopefully not! But if any of these things describe our lives now, that is a problem! I don’t want us to compare ourselves to other sinful people, but to the holy standard of God. This may be a bit painful, my sweet sisters. My hope is that we might approach this list prayerfully, humbly asking God to reveal any issues He has in our lives with a willingness to get rid of anything that offends His holiness.
For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. Romans 3:23
I’m estimating that about 60 of the statements below applied to me when God woke me up to my sin in December of 2008. Here is the scary thing – that whole time, I was in church 3 times a week, I read my Bible every day, I prayed sometimes for hours every day. I THOUGHT I was the best Christian wife ever. Yet, my life was overflowing with sin. You can read my story here. PRAISE GOD – HE WOKE ME UP AND CHANGED ME! And He can do the same for each of us! WOOHOO!
Today would be a fantastic day to lay down any sin God convicts us of and to turn completely from our sin in godly sorrow and turn to Christ in faith with a desire to submit fully to Him in trust and to obey Him in all things!
If we confess our sin, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sin and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. I John 1:9
We are going to go to the Bible for our understanding of what being an ungodly woman looks like. In our next post, we will look at what Scripture says about godly femininity. Even after we come to Christ, we can choose to have ungodly femininity if we choose to live in our own strength and we choose not to abide in Christ or not to believe His Word or we grieve His Spirit. Not to mention, this is a long process, and there are times, especially in the beginning months and years where we don’t understand and we stumble. But if we are His, we cannot stay in a sinful state for long, because His Spirit will work in us to draw us back to Himself and we will want Him to change us.
The goal is to abide in Him and to be filled with God’s Spirit.
That is the only way to have a godly life. I am not talking about sinless perfection – but I am talking about a generally holy life and a conscience that is deeply grieved by any sin. We can’t do it in our own strength! Only God is good. And only He can produce goodness in us. But praise God He is able to change us and regenerate our souls and transform us to be more and more like Christ! THIS IS SUCH WONDERFUL NEWS! If God empowers us with genuine faith in Himself, He will cause MAJOR and DRAMATIC changes in our lives. We cannot stay the same once we meet Jesus! He changes us. We don’t clean up ourselves. He does all the work. THANK GOD FOR HIS GRACE! There is hope for each of us in Him!
You are welcome to share your thoughts! (I am very aware that this list is not exhaustive. But – it is already very long!)
– It is better to live in a desert land than with a quarrelsome and fretful woman. Proverbs 21:19
– The woman Folly is loud; she is seductive and knows nothing. Proverbs 9:13
– Like a gold ring in a pig’s snout is a beautiful woman without discretion. Proverbs 11:22
– do harm to her husband and have hurtful intentions toward him to hurt him spiritually/emotionally/sexually/physically. (Proverbs 31:10-12)
– eat the bread of idleness. (Proverbs 31:27)
– allow other people and relationships to be more important than her husband and marriage (parents, friends, children, church, extended family, work). (Matthew 19:5)
– allow her husband or other things to be more important than Christ to her. (Matthew 16:24)
– refuse to die to self and to her sinful nature. (Matthew 16:24, Romans 6)
– try to usurp the position of the Holy Spirit in the lives of others as if it is her job to convict people and to make people holy. (John 16:8)
– try to usurp the position of Satan as if it is her job to accuse people and condemn them before God. (Revelation 12:10)
– believe she is good and God is evil. (Luke 18:19, Job 1) She may accuse God of wrongdoing and believe she is right and innocent. (Romans 3:23, Isaiah 64:6)
– not take responsibility for her own sin, but blame others for her sin and expect others to be responsible for her happiness. (Genesis 3)
– think others’ sins are much worse than hers. (Luke 18:11)
– use crude, vulgar language or cutting sarcasm. (Ephesians 4:29-30, Ephesians 5:4)
– be judgmental, condemning and critical. (Galatians 5:18-21)
– act as if she is sovereign instead of God, as if she is in control over things that really only God can control. (Psalm 103:19)
– trust self rather than God. (Psalm 118:8)
– be overcome by fear. (2 Timothy 1:7)
– encourage others to trust her instead of God or to put her or her wisdom above God and His wisdom in their own lives. She may encourage others to sin in order for her and for them to get what they want rather than doing things God’s way and trusting God. (Genesis 3, Genesis 16:2)
– hate her husband or others and deceive herself into thinking that she can love God at the same time (I John 4:20-21)
– focus on her charm and external beauty. (Proverbs 31:30)
– not fear God in a healthy way – knowing she will ultimately answer to Him for every thought, word and deed she has in this lifetime. (Proverbs 31:30)
– bring shame to her husband and is like rottenness in his bones. (Proverbs 12:4)
– not trust, believe or obey God. (Matthew 22:37-40) She may believe in God. She may even think she is a believer. But she does not live like she truly trusts God and does not rest in His sovereignty and feels she knows best and has to make things work out herself. This results in GREAT stress, worry, fear and anxiety!
– use her power and influence in the marriage to try to tear down her husband spiritually, emotionally, mentally, maybe even sexually and physically – maybe because she feels unloved. (Proverbs 14:1). She may think that if he could just hurt as much as she is hurting, he will love her more. But all she does is destroy him and the marriage.
– harbor hatred, resentment, bitterness and unforgiveness in her heart. (Galatians 5:20) Maybe she wants to forgive – but it just seems impossible. She feels justified to hang on to grudges and resentment. She doesn’t want to let go of bitterness. She cherishes her bitterness.
– stir up contention at home, in the extended family and at work. She sows strife, gossip, dissension, arguments and discord. (Galatians 5:20)
– be consumed by false humility, insecurity and self-hatred, (a form of pride), accepting lies of this world and the enemy over the truth of the Bible. She leans on her own understanding instead of fully trusting the wisdom of God. (Proverbs 3:5)
– unable to stop the constant stream of worry and “what ifs” in her mind, consumed by fear and thoughts of bad things that might happen. (Philippians 4:4-8)
– have no godly wisdom or discretion. (Proverbs 11:22)
– refuse to submit herself to Christ as LORD and therefore cannot biblically submit to her husband’s God-given leadership either. She is adamant that she will do things HER way. (I Corinthians 11:3)
– not honor God’s design for marriage (Ephesians 5:22-33, Titus 2:3-5, Colossians 3:18, I Corinthians 11:3) and she may try to usurp authority from her husband and demand that he submit to her and that she should lead or she may become very passive and go to the other end of the spectrum and become too submissive.
– bring disgrace on herself, God, her husband and family, and may not even realize it, thinking she is so good. (Proverbs 11:2, Titus 2:5) She may smear her husband on social media or to friends/family/coworkers and say the most hateful things about him, trying to hurt him as much as possible, and not even see how she is smearing filth on the Name of Jesus and how awful her sin looks to God and to everyone else.
– may think that being a godly wife is a way to manipulate God and her husband to give her what she wants. (James 4)
– malign the Word of God by refusing to obey God’s commands for her. (Titus 2:5)
– use lots of words to try to force her husband to do what she wants and to explain herself. She may believe that if she can just explain herself enough, her husband will see that she is right and will do what she wants. She believes more words are better. And she doesn’t see the damage her words do. “Where words are many, sin is not lacking.” Proverbs 10:19 (I Peter 3:1-2)
– gladly or unknowingly disrespect her husband. (I Peter 3:1-2, Ephesians 5:22-33) Respect for husbands is something our culture threw out a few generations ago. Many wives have never even seen what real respect and honor for a husband looks like in marriage. This does not help!!!
– be foolish, brash, brazen, loud and arrogant. (Proverbs 9:13)
– not guard her heart and her marriage inviting flirtation from other men, moving carelessly toward adultery. (Proverbs 2,5-7)
– believe that if she is sinned against, she is justified to sin against her husband or others even though God gives no free passes for sin and God calls us to overcome evil with good. (Romans 12:9-21)
– be unruly and defiant, with feet that never stay at home. (Proverbs 7:11) Or, she may flirt a lot online or have inappropriate relationships with men at work, church or social media.
– dress immodestly – purposely or unintentionally. (Proverbs 7:10)
– be filled with jealousy and yield to fits of rage. (Galatians 5:20)
– be selfish. (Galatians 5:20)
– abuse drugs or alcohol. (Galatians 5:21)
– set her heart on many worldly things other than Christ to try to find fulfillment in them – which is idolatry. Friendship with the world is enmity toward God. James 4:4 (Galatians 5:20)
– have a husband who does not feel safe with her spiritually, emotionally, sexually and/or physically. (Proverbs 31:11)
– not have dignity or honor. (Proverbs 31)
– not be trustworthy. God cannot trust her. Her husband cannot trust her. (Proverbs 31)
– not care about her husband’s feelings, needs or desires, placing her own feelings, needs and desires far above his. (I Corinthians 13:4-8, Ephesians 5:22-33)
– be harsh and aggressive. (Proverbs 15:1)
– be filled with anxiety, fear, worry and stress not the power of God’s Spirit. (Galatians 5:22-23, I Peter 3:4-6)
– be rude. (I Corinthians 13:5)
– be power-hungry and harbor selfish ambition. (James 3:14, James 4:1-10)
– decide to have an abortion because she is more afraid of the consequences of having a child than she is afraid of God. (Proverbs 1:7) Or because a child is not convenient. Or because she submitted to her husband /boyfriend even though what he asked her to do was clearly sin against God. (Isaiah 57:5, Exodus 20, Psalm 139)
– she may think God cannot forgive her – but He can!!!!! (I John 1:9)
– push for divorce against the teaching of Scripture. (Matthew 19:3-12, I Corinthians 7)
– gather ungodly counselors to give her the advice she wants to hear. (2 Timothy 4:3)
– argue and complain often and have a lot of negative things to say which causes her not to be able to shine for Christ. (Philippians 2:14-16)
– have no grace, mercy or forgiveness to offer to anyone, but she may hold onto grudges, resentment and bitterness. (I John 2, James 2:13)
– constantly dwell on all the things people have done to hurt her and keep score of exactly what others, especially her husband, have done to wrong her. (I Corinthians 13:5)
– love sin and evil and hate what is good and right in God’s sight. (I Corinthians 13:6) It is often VERY hard, scary even, for a lot of women to give up their bitterness, pride, control, self-righteousness, gossip, idolatry and sin – until we realize that our choice is that we can keep sin or we can have Jesus. But we cannot have both!
– be irreverent and disrespectful toward God, toward her husband and possibly to others, as well, particularly those in positions of God-given authority. (Titus 2:2)
– withhold sex from her husband or use sex as a weapon or as a means of bribery. (I Corinthians 7:1-5) Or she may use her husband’s willingness to have sex with her to determine her self worth and make sex an idol.
– set an ungodly example of femininity, marriage and motherhood. (Titus 2:3)
– give ungodly relationship advice to others. (Titus 2:3)
– try to set herself up as an authority over her husband and maybe over men in the church which maligns the Word of God. (I Corinthians 11:3-16, Titus 2:5. I Timothy 2:12)
– reject her husband’s God-given leadership and God’s leadership. (I Corinthians 11:3, Ephesians 5:22-33, I Peter 3:1-6, Titus 2:3-5)
– despise God’s Word, His wisdom and godly correction. Or she may distort God’s Word, ignore God’s Word, choose parts of God’s Word that she doesn’t agree with or she may just not be able to see or hear God’s Word. She may bristle if anyone dare rebuke her because, after all, she is always right! (Proverbs 1:7)
– be insecure because her security is not in Christ. She may have idols in her heart – self, romance, happiness, control, having her way, her husband, beauty, thinness, wealth, children, etc… Things that are more important to her than Jesus. She cannot find contentment or joy in these other things. She knows she does not measure up and is not finding enough acceptance or validation in them. She is looking to worldly things and people to meet needs that only Jesus can meet. The results are always going to be anxiety, fear, depression, loneliness, discontentment, insecurity and/or bitterness. (Galatians 5:20)
– be involved in any kind of sinful thoughts, words or behavior.
– not have any prick of conscience about staying in sin. Thinks her sin is “not that bad.” (1 John 4, James 2)
The wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus, our Lord. Romans 6:23
For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. Ephesians 2:8-10
PRAISE GOD! THERE IS FORGIVENESS, GRACE HEALING and MERCY available for all of my sin and your sin in Jesus Christ!!!!!!!!! His blood can cover ANY sin! When we turn to Him in faith, He can and will cleanse us from all of our sins and filth and He will give us a new heart, mind and soul. He can give us NEW, ABUNDANT LIFE! He gave all for us, now, we surrender all to Him and make Him our Savior and LORD. To find out about having a relationship and being made right with God, please click here.
This is some more of my correspondence with Godlywifetobe. I have also taken on another wife to mentor whose story I hope to share in the coming week. GraceAlone is doing well. There are definitely some days that are very hard, but there are also new blessings. She is 3 months into her journey – which is still quite early. I hope to share another update from her in a week or two. She is making some definite strides in her understanding of God and her trust in Him and she is learning to refine her motives and to continue to seek to bless her husband regardless of his response. She has had a LOT of tests in the past few months that have really forced her to depend on God and to face some of her deepest fears. I love being on this journey with these wives and with all of you! I wish I could email every single wife, but I pray that these wives’ stories might bless you. If you are interested in being a wife that I mentor, I may be able to take another wife in about 2 months. So you can be thinking about that. 🙂 The requirements I have for wives that I take on to mentor are in Godlywifetobe’s first post.
(Background – Godlywifetobe is a believer in Christ. Her husband is not. Things are often difficult right now.)
Ladies, you are all welcome to write out your answers to the assignments I give Godlywifetobe. You can send them in as comments, or you can keep them for yourself in a journal or a private file. The actual writing/typing out of these deep heart issues is so important as we allow God to shine His light into the deepest corners of our souls. We cannot heal and move forward in God’s power if we are clinging to lies or unknown sin.)
I guess my fears are…
Nobody wanting me
People not liking me
Not knowing what’s going to happen/future
Wanting romance. Which comes down to wanting to feel loved/cherished/important.
Growing up I always had to be the adult and the responsible one with my mother and father. I also watched my mum go through around 30 sexual partners growing up and mopping up the mess when they cheated on her or dumped her. I grew up having to be in control and take the lead. By being in control of things I also kept safe from the various abuses I had experienced as a child (sexual, mental, physical, emotional).
So giving up control is something very scary for me. I want things the way they should be done and I feel unsafe and scared when it’s not and that’s some of the anxiety I feel, I guess.
What I would like you to do is to look at each of these fears and come up with scriptural truth to counter your fears. What does God say about you, about your worth, about if you are alone, about you not being wanted, about you being unloved, about His feelings for you, about pleasing people, about fears and worry for the future and about your desire to feel loved?
And, can you please tell me, what do you believe will happen if you do not “feel like you are in control”?
What are the worst case scenarios that run through your mind?
What are the tapes you play in your head and the things you tell yourself about you, God and your husband?
Scriptural truths for my fears is a great idea…
Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.
Nobody wanting me-
For your Maker is your husband, the Lord of hosts is his name; and the Holy One of Israel is your Redeemer, the God of the whole earth he is called.
But God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
People not liking me-
For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ.
Knowing the future-
The heart of man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps.
Romance/Feeling cherished and important
The Lord your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; he will rejoice over you with gladness; he will quiet you by his love; he will exult over you with loud singing.
What do I feel will happen if I’m not in control? Well my head says nothing major will happen, that God will work it all out. I want things done the way I think they are to be done. I guess that’s pride and control isn’t? Ugh. I don’t want to be like that!!! I guess I feel anxious and worried when I’m not in control.
Worst case scenarios would be:
my husband cheating on me
my husband leaving
my husband getting more distant and mean
my children copying our behaviour in their relationships
my husband not coming to Christ
I guess the tapes that play in my head are that:
I’m not good enough
I’m a failure
I made the wrong choice marrying my husband (that one makes me sad…but it’s the truth)
my husband will never change and only get worse
my husband has issues he needs to deal with but is putting his head in the sand or using hobbies/smoking etc to drown it out
I guess with God I feel that I’ve done something to deserve this, that I’m not good enough
I feel He’s ignoring me
Are these things you are telling yourself true? If so, what will you do about it? If they are lies, what is the real truth?
What if God is able to even turn “mistakes” into something beautiful and glorious?
The things I tell myself aren’t true. No. It’s a false perception I’m believing. Satan is the father of lies and I’m sure he enjoys me believing these lies so he has me being less than I am…of who God made me to be.
Those lies stop me from doing things, they cause me to act of fear or control, they produce self pity and bitterness it me. I didn’t realise how powerful those lies were until typing this just now. It’s bondage. Chains. But Christ came to break every chain. He came to free me from the bondage of sin!!! I need to walk in this daily!
You are so right. Those lies are absolutely creating bondage and they are very powerful. You end up believing those lies that you repeat to yourself over and over again.
Jesus DID set you free from the bondage of sin. You died with Him on the cross. Your old sinful self is dead and buried with Christ. Now He gives you a new self, a new heart, a new Spirit so that you can live in the power of His resurrection and in His truth. You can choose to stay bound by those old lies. But you don’t have to stay there. Jesus set you free already. All you have to do is thank Him and praise Him for it and begin to live in Him. 🙂
Some things to wrestle with on a very deep heart level:
Are you willing to lay down all of these fears and the lies that you are believing?
Is God sovereign even if your worst case scenarios were to happen?
Are you willing to replace those tapes with the truth of God?
Are you willing to give up all resentment and bitterness towards your husband and God?
What are you afraid to trust God with?
What would happen if you fully surrendered to Christ and trusted His sovereignty?
Is God who He says He is?
Is His Word true?
I definitely want to. I feel like Paul when he’s talking about doing the things he doesn’t want to do…
I guess it’s all renewing my mind isn’t it? Feeding it on the Word of God and replacing those lies and thoughts with Gods Word.
I’m going to watch through your video on idols and read all the posts again on them. (From Peacefulwife – you can search “idol” “idolatry” “insecurity” “security” “control” “fear” on my home page)
Do you know of any sermons that cover this? I might google my favourite preachers and see if they have anything to say on it. (From Peacefulwife – I would suggest checking at www.desiringgod.org – John Piper’s site and www.radical.net – David Platt’s site.)
You know I saw something on fb that said the more you are in the Word the more you believe His promises. That’s been true for me. Since you challenged me to read every day and not just go on my old knowledge of what I’ve read I’ve been able to take control of thoughts. I’m reading the Watchman Nee book you suggested, too, (The Normal Christian Life) and have nearly everything in it highlighted. Lol.
So I’m building my faith up, building my thought life up and now the next step is to start putting it into practice. So when hubby snaps at me for no apparent reason instead of me thinking he hates me or “poor me” I can think “I wonder what’s making him so mad and stressed? How can I help him share what’s bothering him? How can I show him that we love and need him around”.
Thank you for being submitted to God to allow Him to speak through you. I’ve come to see that I have lots of sin in my life and instead of looking at what my husband may or may not be doing, I need to look at me!!!
I love this! What God is already doing in your heart is SO BEAUTIFUL! His Word is powerful. We need to feed our souls with it often. We have no power when we are starving ourselves spiritually. I can’t wait to see all that God has in store for you and your husband!
I asked the men some questions earlier this week and want to share some of the responses I have received. I want to share all of them!!! But some, I want to reserve for my book. 🙂 I’m so thankful for the husbands who are willing to share a masculine perspective on these important issues. I know that many of our own husbands may not be able to voice how they feel about these things, or maybe, they have, but we just haven’t really and truly heard them. I believe that hearing from other husbands can be a powerful tool for wives to better understand men in general and for us to begin to understand our own husbands with much greater clarity. I would love for us to put ourselves in these husbands’ shoes as we read their stories. These are the questions I asked:
We are talking about what it means to our husbands when we as their wives honor their leadership even in the “little things.” I’d like to invite you to share what it means to you when your wife willingly and joyfully follows your lead.
What does it mean to a husband when his wife trusts him in small things, even if she doesn’t understand exactly why he is doing what he is doing. If you have a specific example, that would be exceptionally helpful!
What goes into deciding where you believe the family should sit – are you thinking about the safety and security of your family at a restaurant, in a theater, at church, etc.?
Would you like to talk about a time when something that seemed small to your wife might have seemed big from your perspective?
What does it do to a husband when his wife argues with him constantly about small things and insists on her way without taking his feelings, perspective, insights, preferences and wisdom into account?
Would a husband feel respected and loved if his wife willingly follows him in the big decisions but doesn’t cooperate with him in little things?
When my wife trusts me with the little things, then it helps improve the confidence that she will have my back on the big things. In my heart – it creates a different perspective. Her concession on a decision makes me want to consult with her more. It creates a sense of oneness. Aside from God’s word – nothing makes me feel stronger as a man than knowing that my wife has confidence in me.
What does it do to a husband when his wife argues with him constantly about small things and insists on her way without taking his feelings, perspective, insights, preferences and wisdom into account?
It quickly creates an environment where the husband can start to believe that he does not have much value in his wife’s life or their marriage. Two things that impact me the most:
1) Not listening with I am trying to share my thoughts and feelings with her.
2) Unproductive comments that are meant to take a shot at me while I am taking ownership for something that has gone wrong.
I remember a time recently when I messed up. I was sharing where I felt like I had messed up, how I thought it impacted her and that I was sorry for how I handled the situation. As I was talking to her – she picked up her phone and started to look on her social media. I asked her if she would stop and listen to what I was trying to say. She told me that I was being controlling and high maintenance. I explained that I needed her to hear me out. She told me that I was being a baby.
It becomes easy to believe that my thoughts and feelings are less important that her social media. And if I am showing emotion, then I risk being called names. So…why should I make the effort to take ownership if this was the response I was going to receive?
I know that it might seem silly to create a safe place for husbands to communicate, but it does make a difference. I believe that I have always done a fairly good job with sharing my feelings; however that still doesn’t always make it easy to open up. I think that one of the greatest gifts that God gives us through marriage is the security that two people can create together. It is important that both spouses become intentional in their words and actions to create security. It starts and continues in the little moments.
What does it do to a husband when his wife argues with him constantly about small things and insists on her way without taking his feelings, perspective, insights, preferences and wisdom into account?
When this occurs, it makes me feel insignificant. I feel totally disrespected. It would be as if I was her child instead of husband. I’d start to ‘shut down.’ There would be no need for my input. I do think about what our children are gleaning from this if they see it occur.
Would a husband feel respected and loved if his wife willingly follows him in the big decisions but doesn’t cooperate with him in little things?
This would feel like ‘quid pro quo.’ There would still not be any ‘respect’ felt because it would be contingent upon the size of the decision.
“What does it mean to a husband when his wife trusts him in small things, even if she doesn’t understand exactly why he is doing what he is doing”
For me it helps build my confidence in myself to allow me to make wise decisions for all the matters I take care of.
“What does it do to a husband when his wife argues with him constantly about small things and insists on her way without taking his feelings, perspective, insights, preferences and wisdom into account?”
In my first marriage this was a problem. Knowing how good my marriage is now, lets me know that the needless arguing made me doubt most of my decisions and had me apologizing for those things that were not my fault.
“Would a husband feel respected and loved if his wife willingly follows him in the big decisions but doesn’t cooperate with him in little things?”
Obviously its more important to cooperate on big decisions then the little ones. But not cooperating on little items may get tiring and diminish anyone’s confidence after time.
Note: I share this not to complain about my own situation, but to help others. I understand that I am equally accountable for creating my own situation.
To be honest, and a conscious level, my primary concern in choosing a seat is having a plausible answer to the question to, “Why would you want to sit there?” Unconsciously, I’m sure my own personal comfort plays a role (I’m 6’5″, and wary about having to sit in cramped spaces for long periods of time).
I can’t claim that physical security plays heavily in my mind, at least at a conscious level. Again, this is probably luck/privilege of being 6’5″. I’m not really a “tough guy,” but bad guys don’t know that, so I and the people with me aren’t going to be the first choice of targets. Maybe I subconsciously choose spots where I can keep an eye on things, but I don’t find myself vigilantly scanning crowds for signs of danger.
This is especially true at events (like church) that I value and wish my wife would value more. I want to make it a pleasant experience for her, and probably bend over backwards to a fault to make it so.
One event I recall that was especially devastating as my daughter’s swim meet.
Note: This story probably makes me look better, and my wife look worse, than is truly reality.
I arrived early with my daughter and all of our gear. I was scheduled to “work” at the swim meet, so I would be putting our stuff down to claim a spot my wife would sit during the meet.
Now, I had to figure out, where should I put it? What was most important? To be close to where our daughters would be with the team? To be next to her friends that she could talk to? To be in the shade? To not have a long walk to leave?
I chose based on what I thought was the proper balance of these concerns, and apparently got it wrong, since my wife laid into me about how thoughtless I was in choosing the spot.
Now, I could take criticism for making the wrong choice. But the idea that I was “thoughtless” about something I had invested a a great deal of time and worry into was particularly devastating.
Again, this is a dynamic that I had a significant part in creating, and this story is probably not a fair representation of our marriage.
But I think it paints a vivid picture of the impact the manner in which we discuss these “little things” can have.
And I guess the impacts on me:
1.) It leads me to dread/avoid future occasions like this where I will have to make a decisions my wife will have to live with.
2.) It leads me to not want to invest much thought and consideration into these future decisions. If I’m going to get clobbered anyway, why bother? In a way, it becomes a self-fulfilling prophesy.
I’m not claiming these are the best/healthiest responses, but we are human.
FEAR is a major part of our motivation to grab for control as women. We are afraid we won’t be loved. We are afraid we aren’t secure in the relationship. We are afraid we will be rejected. We are afraid we aren’t good enough. We are afraid we aren’t beautiful enough. We are afraid of so very many things! Lots of us learned fear when things were out of control and we did not feel safe as children. We also molded our image of who God is and His character from our fathers influence or lack of influence in our lives. I am going to share some extremely simplistic examples of ways our experiences in childhood may impact our view of God and our husbands. This really could be a book in itself, I am sure. It is obviously much more complicated than what I am about to describe, but hopefully these examples might be a bit helpful.
Our fathers were supposed to be godly examples of the character of God – that mysterious combination of power and gentleness, strength and meekness, holiness and mercy, unconditional love and justice. We learned from them what to expect from God and from men:
Girls who didn’t have fathers in their lives, learn that God/men are not there, not reliable, not dependable, and often these girls develop a fiercely independent spirit and learn to trust SELF. These girls often struggle mightily with the desire to have a father figure and to be loved and accepted unconditionally and may not think it is possible for God or men to love and accept them or to be able to grasp what God’s character and love are like (or a godly masculinity is like) because they haven’t seen anything like it in real life.
Girls who had abusive fathers or father figures in their lives learn that God/men are not loving, not able to protect them, not able to stop bad things from happening to them, that God/men have evil motives and they learn that they have to try to control things themselves or they are not safe. They will easily develop an extremely warped image of God and possibly an inability to see the good in their husbands. (These precious ladies are going to need extra specialized, experienced wife mentors/Christian counselors to help them work through the deep scars and wounds they have experienced. I have not been through abuse, and am not able to write from that perspective. My blog is not written for women in severe situations who have been through abuse, mental health issues, drug/alcohol addictions, infidelity. If you have experienced something serious like this, I pray you will seek godly, experienced, appropriate counsel. My blog may not be helpful for you. God can heal you, and His Word applies to us all, but my words may not!)
Girls who had domineering mothers and passive fathers learn that God/men are not very active or involved in our lives and that God/men don’t really care about women and that God is not in charge, and men are not to have leadership in marriage, women are supposed to lead and men should submit to their wives. They also learn to be very independent and to take charge and to be in control in the marriage. They may develop a very warped image of God and masculinity.
Girls who had very dominating, intimidating fathers may be afraid of God/men (in an unhealthy way), waiting for God to “zap” them if they do the slightest thing “wrong” and they may live in an unhealthy fear of God and masculinity, not knowing His grace, mercy, unconditional love and not realizing there is any safety or refuge in Him.
Girls who had overly permissive fathers may not really consider God or His Words much (or her husband and his words) and just think about what they want and ignore God’s counsel/their husbands’ counsel, His wise boundaries that are there for our protection, His holiness and the gravity of their sin. They may not have appropriate healthy fear of God and reverence for God and may not have appropriate respect for their husbands God-given authority.
Some of us had pretty godly fathers but still absorbed so many lies from the world (from school, our careers, the church, friends or the media) or from traumatic situations that we still developed a very warped understanding of God and masculinity.
If our fathers seemed “weak” in our eyes, or “not in control,” or if they had addictions of some type, we may have felt that we had more wisdom than they did and that we were “the adult” in the relationship and they were the “children.” We may have this view of God and masculinity, as well when we are adults.
Whatever we believe about our dad and his character and his love for us, we tend to believe about God. Whatever our parents’ marriage was like, we have been “programmed” by living with them as we grew up to think that their way of doing marriage was “normal” and “right.” We often develop ideas about God and build our theology about God as children based solely on our experience with our earthly fathers (and, to some degree, our mothers):
He doesn’t really love me.
I can never be good enough for him.
I have to be perfect for him to love me.
If I could just make him spend time with me, I know he would love me!
He hurt me again, I can’t trust him. I can’t trust men. I can’t trust anyone.
He didn’t protect me. He isn’t able to keep me safe.
He is so harsh with me. He doesn’t have my best interests in his heart. I can’t be honest or vulnerable with him. I am not safe.
He ignores me. I mean nothing to him. All these other things are so much more important to him than I am.
I’m never going to let a man treat me the way he is treating my mom. I’ll be sure I am in charge and never let a man hurt me.
He has evil motives towards me.
Then, we end up believing these ideas we have about our fathers to also be true about God – no matter what the Bible says about God. We tend to believe our experiences with our fathers or father figures are more true than God’s Word. Unfortunately, every dad is a sinner – and even the best dads fail at some point or another. Sometimes we cannot shake the warped construct of God in our minds because we don’t even realize how deeply flawed our understanding of God is.
We may also have developed significant fear from having a mother who was very unloving, hateful or abusive – or from being abused by someone else emotionally/mentally/physically/sexually as we were growing up. Or, we may have had a very difficult romantic relationship in the past that created major doubt in our ability to be “worthy of love.” Maybe someone, even a pastor or a teacher, tried to use great fear and guilt to manipulate us. Or maybe we were constantly rejected by people we cared most about.
We also learned from our mothers how to biblically submit to our fathers and to those in spiritual authority over us and to God (and some of this we learned from our fathers, as well, how he related to God and those in authority.) If we did not witness our mothers respect and biblically submit to our fathers, we will have a much harder time learning to do this ourselves.
I am sure the possibilities are practically endless of all the ways that fear can become one of the biggest motivators in our lives. No matter why we have learned to do things out of fear, God calls us to learn to receive His love and healing and to learn to do things out of LOVE.
To become the godly women Christ desires us to be – we will have to be willing to examine everything we think we know about God, godly masculinity, godly femininity, marriage and living for Christ and trash everything that is not based on the truth of God’s Word. Then we will rebuild on Jesus Christ and His Word alone. Our lives require total renovation and transformation.
We also tend to take our fears and understanding of masculinity that we experienced with our fathers (or with prior boyfriends/husbands) and assume that our husbands are the same way. We want our husbands to make up for the things we were lacking as children or in an abusive relationship in the past – and to heal our wounds, many times. We easily turn our husbands into idols (something more important than Christ in our hearts) and lay certain expectations on them that they should meet spiritual and emotional needs for us that really only Jesus Christ Himself can meet. (We do need to some level of basic expectations of faithfulness, respect, love, honor, etc… But we want to watch for unrealistic, destructive, or unbiblical expectations.)
He has to show me unconditional love all the time.
He has to prove that I am his first priority in the way I think he should all the time.
He has to accept me no matter what I do wrong.
He should stop watching TV or working on the computer or working at his job and spend every possible waking moment with me and meet my needs for love, affirmation, romance and emotional connection.
He should just know what I need.
He should want to always emotionally connect with me like I want to always emotionally connect with him with words.
He should want to pray with me like I want to pray with Him.
He should be my hero.
He should be like Christ.
He should always have unwavering grace, mercy and forgiveness for me.
He should never sin against me.
He should never fail me, never leave me and never forsake me.
He should …
He should …
He should …
And if my husband doesn’t do what I want him to do – I WILL NOT BE OK!
I HAVE TO HAVE HIS LOVE.
I HAVE to be his number one priority.
I HAVE to feel loved and hear him tell me that he loves me.
I HAVE to have more quality time with him.
Or I will feel unloved. And that is not acceptable! I MUST feel loved all the time.
Sometimes we also make the mistake of believing our feelings all the time, even when our feelings are not telling us the truth:
If I don’t FEEL connected to him, we are not connected.
If I don’t FEEL loved in this moment, I am not loved.
If I FEEL lonely, I am alone.
If I FEEL afraid, I have good reasons to be afraid and my fear is always justifiable. (some fears are justifiable, but some are not.)
Our feelings are not always accurate about these things!
THEN WE THINK:
I cannot feel unloved. My worth and value as a person is completely dependent on my husband loving me the way I want to be loved. If he doesn’t love me the way I want him to, my greatest fear will come true!!
My happiness and contentment in life completely depend on my husband doing what I want him to do when I want him to do it the way I think he should do it.
My husband is responsible for my happiness, not me.
I am not responsible for my own emotional stability, contentment, happiness, fulfillment, peace and joy.
I will love him so that he will love me.
I will be kind to him so that he will be kind to me.
I will do things for him and give him things so that he will take care of me the way I want him to.
I will tell him what to do so that he will meet my needs.
I will make him love me the way I want to be loved.
I will dictate to him and demand my way because I WILL NOT allow myself to experience my deepest fears of rejection and feeling unloved.
If he does NOT love me the way I want him to, I am totally justified to be hateful to him, to disrespect and hurt him because he failed me. I can sin against him if I feel unloved because “he is supposed to love me the way I want him to love me.”
AS I TRY MORE AND MORE TO CONTROL MY MAN TO MAKE HIM LOVE ME (OUT OF FEAR):
I sabotage our intimacy.
I sabotage his masculinity.
I emasculate him.
I disrespect him.
I hurt him.
I push him away.
I become so prickly that it becomes increasingly difficult for him to love me.
I smother him.
I use negativity, criticism, lectures, ridicule, sarcasm, mockery, humiliation, manipulation, guilt, people pleasing or I play the martyr to attempt to control him if he will not do what I tell him to do.
I dig in my claws and try even harder to force my way because I cannot face my fears. And I don’t even see that I am creating the very thing I fear the most myself. I don’t even see that I am foolishly tearing down my marriage and my husband with my own hands and my own words and attitudes.
I become increasingly desperate, needy and clingy.
I become insatiable.
Eventually, my husband realizes he CAN’T meet my needs, please me or satisfy me and he gives up even trying. It is not worth his time because I am going to treat him with contempt no matter how hard he tries. He can never measure up and he can never be perfect – he cannot be Christ to me. He can never make me happy and he feels like a failure every time he sees me. It becomes easier for him to shut down and try to be far away from me (or to respond in anger) because he does not feel safe, respected, loved, appreciated or valued with me.
My motives are not to love him selflessly with the unconditional love of Christ and to bless him and honor God. My motives are to make him give me what I want. My motives are selfish. My motives are fueled by fear of not getting what I want. This is not God’s brand of “love.” This is worldly, carnal, sinful “love.”