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A Wife's Power in Marriage

We took a marriage class last winter by a man I have known and respected for 25 years.  He spoke a lot about authority during our semester: God-given authority, spiritual authority and the needs of those leaders who are in authority over us.  And I HOPE that one day I have the chance to take his class on spiritual authority.  But one thing he talked about that fascinated me was the two types of authority in marriage.

The husband has “positional authority” – God has given him spiritual authority over the marriage and family.  This is similar to the positional authority of a king, president, manager or CEO.

And the wife has “influential authority.”  The type of influence a wife has at her command in marriage is the same type of influence that a Vice President  (or cabinet member) would have over a President, that an assistant manager would have with a manager or that an advisor or queen would have to a king.  Rev. Weaver pointed out several times that influential authority is often much MORE powerful than positional authority.

MISUNDERSTANDINGS ARE RAMPANT

It is SO important for us to understand – the wife is not left without any authority or power in the relationship.  I have had some women commenting to me saying that biblical submission is slavery.  Not at all!!!!  That is an incredibly twisted and warped view of the biblical concept of marriage.  I am sure there must be some people somewhere who try to turn submission into some awful nightmare like that – and it makes me VERY sad that anyone would ever think such things.

There is NO WAY I WOULD LIVE LIKE THAT!!!!!!!!

The biblical model is not a master/slave relationship in any way – FAR, FAR from it!  And it is not a parent/child relationship, or an owner/pet relationship.  This is not a king married to a servant girl.  It is a king married to a queen.  The queen has a lot of power in her own right, too!  I don’t want there to be confusion about this!

WITHOUT GOD’S SPIRIT IN OUR LIVES, WE MESS MARRIAGE UP BIG TIME!

The enemy and our own sinful nature would love nothing more than to get us to swing to one side or the other extreme to the left or right of God’s design for us.

  • instead of loving, Christ-like, servant-hearted husbands who adore, cherish and nurture their wives and children – we end up with angry, abusive tyrants or passive-unplugged men who give up all their influence and authority in their homes – leaving their families unprotected and at risk.
  • wives go to extremes, too, unless they have the Spirit of Christ in control of their hearts – a doormat/slave who gives up all of her powerful feminine influential authority, becomes 2 dimensional, loses her voice and purpose in the marriage/family and allows her husband to be a selfish tyrant or a domineering, disrespectful, unforgiving, fearful, worried woman who tries to control her husband and everyone around her.  These extremes are ungodly, worldly, sinful and destructive!

Wives have authority over their own relationship with God, their children, the home,  their own work lives, their friendships, their bodies, health, lifestyle, priorities, hobbies, etc… usually with very little interference from her husband.  He only steps in if he believes things are unbalanced, something is wrong or she is heading down a potentially dangerous path.  He is responsible before God to make the beset decisions for his family – God will hold him accountable!

HOW INFLUENTIAL AUTHORITY WORKS

When there is a decision to be made – it is the wife’s obligation, in my view, to share her perception, feelings and desires with her husband respectfully (unless she doesn’t care about the outcome of this particular decision).   A wife’s influential authority works well with husbands unless they are violent, involved in infidelity, actively addicted to drugs/alcohol/gambling/serious porn addiction, or suffering from an untreated or uncontrolled mental disorder – then the wife needs to find godly help ASAP!

A wife’s greatest powers to influence her husband are in her smile, her respect, her admiration, her faith in him as a man, her willingness to forgive, her cooperation with his leadership, her pleasant attitude, her peaceful demeanor, her gentleness, her calmness and the way she doesn’t get hysterical, fearful and worried.  Her power is in her encouragement, her building her man up with all those amazing verbal skills God gave her, her look of confidence in her man’s abilities…

When her husband has full confidence in his wife’s respect, faith, trust and admiration:

  • HE WANTS TO SAY YES TO HER.
  • HE WANTS TO MAKE HER HAPPY.
  • HE CARES DEEPLY ABOUT HER FEELINGS!
  • HE KNOWS HE IS RESPONSIBLE TO GOD FOR HIS DECISION, so he wants to make the very best choices.

Please understand – the converse is also true.  When a husband experiences a lot of disrespect, contempt, judgment, criticism, negativity, manipulation or attempts at control from his wife – then he will not want to cooperate with her no matter what it is she wants.  He will not care about making her happy because he is feeling so disrespected.  And he won’t care much about her feelings because she has trampled his.

When a man feels respected and honored, he is hard-wired by God to want to serve the one who respects him.

So a respected husband will generally be very interested in hearing his wife’s opinion.  He knows that he doesn’t have the whole picture by himself.  He looks to her unique perspective to round out the information he has to process a decision.  And usually, he will be glad to have the opportunity to make her happy by doing what she wants to do.  Seeing his wife light up with delight when he does something for her is such a huge gift and blessing to a husband!

HOW POSITIONAL AUTHORITY WORKS

In the event that the husband believes his wife is NOT making a wise decision – if she is endangering herself or the family, or over-committing her resources, or seeking to make a rash decision based more on emotions than logic, or he believes something isn’t right – then he will use his positional authority to protect her, the marriage and the family.  The details of how each husband decides to lead his wife and family will vary widely from one marriage to another.  That’s ok!  We are all different and different couples will do things different ways.  As long as we are obeying God’s Word and keeping Jesus our primary focus and priority – the exact details of how we handle things are largely a preference thing.

Husbands tend to veto ideas that, in their view, will cost their family, wife or marriage too much.  Most husbands don’t micromanage every little decision.  But they will often step in when there is a serious issue going on:

  • another family member in the extended family is trying to have too much control over his wife/marriage/family
  • serious behavior issues with the children
  • major budget problems
  • misplaced priorities in the family
  • if the wife is giving so much of herself to others that she has nothing left for him – he will probably ask her to cut out certain activities – as well he should!  The marriage is more important than serving or ministering to outsiders.
  • if he sees that the children are a bigger priority for his wife than he is (that is not right, and he is wise to correct this imbalance).
  • if his wife is too involved in her parents’/siblings lives
  • if his wife is sinning against God

Husbands who feel respected tend to say “yes” to most things – I would even say 90-95% of things, maybe even more!  They love to see their wives happy.  Men measure their success as a man/husband/father largely by the degree of happiness they see in their wives.  Did you realize that your happiness is so important to him?  IT IS!

But he also knows that he is accountable to God for his decisions and for the spiritual/physical/financial/emotional/mental welfare of his family.  So he will try to make the BEST decision for everyone using all the information he has available at the time.  That is why the wife must give her input – without her thoughts, feelings and ideas, her husband can’t make the best decision.  He’d be missing half of the information he needs!

A REAL Helpmeet Suitable for Him

half man's face

Sometimes we wives think we are helping our husbands when we are actually trying to control him like we talked about yesterday (check here if you missed it!).

That was one of my biggest mistakes.  I REALLY believed I was being helpful – but my husband saw me as being prideful (always “right”) and controlling.  I seriously thought I did know best all the time.  I genuinely believed I made better decisions than he did and that I had to be in charge because my husband “wouldn’t” lead.  Not good!  I had no idea that my husband just needed more time than I did to decide things and that he didn’t show emotions the same way I did and that he had a masculine perspective and approached life differently from the way I did.  I thought that if he didn’t act, think, talk and feel just like me – he was wrong, and I must need to take over.  Ironically, and thankfully – I was so very wrong about him!

It is true that God designed women to complete men and complement them – to be a helper to them.  It is true that God said it was not good for man to be alone.  That was the only part of the creation story in Genesis where God said anything was not good.  Woman was the crowning jewel of all of creation.

A wife deeply yearns to meet some important needs in her husband’s life – that is one of our basic needs as wives.  She wants to know she is valued and precious and cherished by him.  She wants to know that she is touching his soul and meeting his needs in ways that no other woman or person possibly could.

SOME GREAT WAYS TO HELP OUR MEN THAT REALLY FEELS LIKE HELP TO MOST MEN (this is not an exhaustive list!  What is most important is what matters most to YOUR husband.  It could be a neat conversation to start with him some time, respectfully – and be open to anything he has to say and willing to do things differently if he would appreciate that.)

– Give him the gift of leadership in your marriage and home.  Any leader will fail if no one will follow him. Learn to be an enthusiastic, encouraging, cheerful, supportive follower of your husband.  God will use your support, admiration and cooperation with his leadership to help mold your man into a godly man and into a hero!  But it has to be done God’s way – not our way.

Allow him space and time to think and process his ideas like a man.  Understand and study the way he thinks and the way the male brain works and what real masculinity is and embrace it instead of trying to make him become more feminine.  Men are different from women.  That does not mean they are “bad.”  Those differences are actually very important and God can use them for great good if we can look at the strengths our husbands have and appreciate the way God designed them instead of trying to make them think and feel like we do. (Some great resources for this are Shaunti Feldhahn’s book “For Women Only” and Dr. Walt Larimore M.D.’s book, “His Brain, Her Brain.”)

– Be as available to him physically as possible.  Gary Thomas in “Sacred Influence” describes how oxytocin, the “bonding hormone” (that women have such high levels of that make them so relationship oriented and helps them bond with their babies and sexual partner) only increases significantly for men AFTER physical intimacy with their wives.  They truly need a physical connection to be open emotionally.  And the one flesh relationship does things emotionally and spiritually for our husbands that we truly cannot begin to fathom or define as women.  Gary Thomas also describes that “sex is a glue that holds marriage together” – designed by God.  By ministering to our husbands physically, we can help keep them feeling bonded to us and by extension to our children.  We can also help ward off sexual temptation which happens to be the biggest temptation for most men and is extremely destructive to marriages and families and children.  We are NOT responsible for our husbands’ behavior or sin.  But we are responsible for our own behavior towards our husbands and to be available to our husbands sexually (I Corinthians 7:5)

– We directly affect and instill positive or negative attitudes into our children about our husbands and their father.  We can give our husbands the gift of our children’s affection and love by the way we speak of their Daddy and to their Daddy.

Support his decisions as a dad in front of the children.  If there is something he is doing that is truly awful – respectfully approach him in private if at all possible.  Stand united with him as a parent – that is SUCH A GIFT to your children!  More damaging than the occasional too strict or too lenient decision of a dad – is a mom who undermines the dad’s authority in the family and teaches children that submitting to God-given authority is optional.

Keep the house reasonable straight whenever possible.

Honor the schedule your husband prefers whenever you can.

– We can help our husbands demonstrate the love of Christ to us by making their job as pleasant as possible and not being demanding, in a bad mood most of the time, negative, pouting, chronically angry.  We can work on our own spiritual growth and pray for God to make us women of joy, peace, kindness, love, mercy, grace, thoughtfulness, respect, humility and faithfulness.

– We can guard our hearts against temptation and keep our focus on God and our husband.  We must look to God to meet our needs primarily.  Husbands can’t be Christ to us.  If I try to put my husband in the place where God should be, I am committing idolatry (which I used to do, BIG TIME!) and it makes a big, awful MESS.  Only Jesus can be God to me.  When my husband fails me, I can be unshaken because my heart is set on Christ as my King and Lord, not my husband.  God can and will give me supernatural strength, wisdom, peace and even joy to handle difficulties when I am abiding in Him and seeking Him first with all my heart, mind, soul and strength.

– We can make our home a pleasant, cheerful, welcoming, orderly, loving, happy place.  The wife sets the emotional climate of the home – she has immeasurable power over her family in this area.  I pray we will determine to have homes that our husbands WANT to come home to – where they feel accepted, appreciated, admired and wanted.

– We can develop more of a sense of humor and we can work on doing things that make us happy.  This sounds weird to most women – especially Christian women, I think.  How does doing things that make me happy serve my husband?  It sounds SELFISH!  But our husbands LOVE more than anything to see us happy and joyful.  When we take care of ourselves, our husbands benefit from our great mood and beautiful smile immensely!  If I need a nap, or need time with God, or need to go for a walk or run, or need time with girlfriends, or need to eat better – I am the only one who can do those things for myself.  And when I am filled up, I am much easier for everyone to live with!

– We can flirt with our own husbands and be playful, fun and full of wonderful, creative surprises to keep our men captivated by our love.

– We can acknowledge our husband’s spiritual authority and show him honor and respect as the head of the home (even if he isn’t leading by doing all the things we think he should be doing) and talk to our children about respecting their daddy and model respect for our children (even if our husbands are not believers, there are still ways to honor his God-given authority as the head of the home – I Peter 3:1-6).

We can get involved in our husbands’ interests and hobbies and be his buddy.  Men bond by doing recreational things shoulder to shoulder and most husbands would LOVE for their wives to try going fishing, or to the race, or to sporting events, or to sit and watch them work on their project in the shop and just be there, smiling and savoring being together.

– We can put our husbands squarely above our children and other priorities.  Only God should be above our husbands in our lives!

– We can do what our husbands ask of us (as long as they are not asking us to sin or do something illegal).  It speaks volumes of respect to a husband when a wife does the things he asks her to do.

– We can listen to our husband’s ideas, suggestions and solutions and let him be our hero by taking his advice sometimes and letting him know we think he has a wealth of wisdom and insight.

– We can go to him for protection when we are feeling vulnerable or threatened by harm physically/emotionally/spiritually.

– We can make meals he really loves to eat.  We can keep the snacks he likes and drinks he likes in the house.

– We can honor his choices and preferences – and not tell him he’s wrong to like or not like certain things. We can accept him exactly the way he is without trying to change him one lick!

– We can rest in his love and relax knowing he is making wise choices for our family and that he has things under control and doesn’t need us to micromanage him.  Men feel trusted most when we are able to be calm and relaxed and show that we have faith in them to handle things with competence.  Most men see their love as a constant thing that barely changes.  How amazing is that?  I think this is because they are to represent Christ in the marriage and the wife is to represent the church – and God’s love is always constant – His love never fails and never changes.  Of course, husbands aren’t God, but they do tend to have a very constant, unchanging love.  I like that!  Most men don’t understand a woman’s need for reassurance of their love.  Most of the time, even if he is not saying it or writing it with words – he is SHOWING you his love by his actions: he is THERE, he is providing financially, he cares for the cars/yard/house, he gives you the nicer car, he tries to protect you from harm, he gets what you need when you are sick, he comes home every night after work, he tries to make you happy (if he believes it is still possible to please you) … These are some of the ways men tend to show their love by their actions.

– When he does make a mistake, he already knows he messed up.  He probably feels pretty horrible about it on his own. If a wife scolds, lectures, condemns, judges and treats her man with contempt and disdain – the mistake may become paralyzing and insurmountable sometimes.  If we are able, in that moment, to show that we have faith that he will fix the problem and do everything he can to make things right – he will often learn from his failures and become a better man.  There are times when we must confront sin (Matthew 18) – but even when we do that it is with a view towards reconciliation and forgiveness with ourselves and with God – and we MUST deal with any sin in our own lives first before we would attempt to confront our husbands (Luke 6).  But there are also many times to extend grace and mercy.  This takes careful listening to God’s Word and His Spirit on a daily basis.

– We can appreciate the visual temptations he has to face and be empathetic and supportive that his weaknesses are different from ours and that he needs and deserves our help, prayers and support not our condemnation in this area.

– We can pray diligently, faithfully and with great fervor for our husband’s wisdom to lead our family and for every aspect of his life.

– We can welcome him home like we are SUPER glad he is home and make him feel like a million bucks by our big smile and hug and kiss and by having the house calm in order as much as possible when he walks in the door.  We can have supper waiting on the table if that is what he likes.  Or we can give him 30 minutes of peace and quiet to unwind from the day before he has the children all over him.

– We can cuddle with him, show affection and be glad that he desires us.

– We can praise and thank him every time we see him doing something we like.

– We can smile and laugh often! 🙂

Lord,

Please help us learn how to be the best helpmeets for our precious husbands.  Thank You for designing marriage and men and women the way You did.  Let us be more and more like Christ as we learn to be the wives You desire us to be!  Use us to bless our husbands and children mightily!

Amen.

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