controlling husband

The topic of my posts usually center on issues involved with a passive husband learning to begin to selflessly lead in the marriage and how to love your wife as Christ loves the church.  While it appears that there is an increasing number of husbands that have ditched their leadership roles in their families and have chosen to lie down, I would like to discuss another type of husband that we have come across: the controlling husband.

On my wife’s blog, www.peacefulwife.com, she also writes about love and respect in marriage. Being that the primary emphasis she writes about is the respect for husbands side of that coin, she discusses a word that often times is like putting gas on a fire to some women: submission. No matter how much she tries to define, describe, or explain biblical submission, there are always women that can’t hear her explanation and immediately associate submission with slavery. I assume it makes sense that when we have a large generation of controlling or aggressive women, the idea of not having full command over their lives could be unnerving – or terrifying.  To add to their hesitancy, I might add that we have a huge generation of men that have become passive and have not taken responsibility for their roles as husbands and fathers. Too many men are not doing a good job owning up to the loving their wife aspect of the love and respect principles and being a selfless servant to their families.

We don’t see this often, but what if a wife is willing to submit to her husband but is afraid to because he has become controlling?  Controlling may not be the best word here. I like to use the phrase that they want to be a god in their marriage but they don’t want to be like Jesus in their marriage.

We have had several men that have contacted us after reading my wife’s blog and say something along the lines of, “I have read your blog about biblical submission and respect and that is exactly what I need in my marriage. If my wife would only respect me and submit to me I would have a great marriage. Can you get her to change?” It is always a clue when someone says “change my spouse” that they are the best place to start to find the problem. Our feelings have been that you have to make sure you are taking care of your responsibilities before you can blame your spouse. If you truly evaluate if you are sacrificially “loving” and humbly leading your wife for a husband or “respecting” your husband and honoring his leadership for a wife, then a lot of times people find out that they need to change themselves and their spouse will in the process treat them the way they want to be treated. If there is physical abuse, addiction, infidelity, uncontrolled mental health issues or criminal activities – please get godly appropriate help ASAP!

So, back to the case of the men who say “Can you get her to change?” Quite often, if they are able to get their wife to email with my wife privately the wife will paint a picture that the husband wants to be treated like a god. The husband wants to be submitted to on every decision and wants to be in control of every aspect of his wife’s life.  He believes he is never wrong.  He wants absolute authority.  He demands absolute obedience to his every decision and expects his wife to submit to him rather than to God if God’s Word and the husband don’t agree.  He blames his wife for all of the marriage problems and does not repent of sin in his own life. The husband wants to rule in the household and not serve in the household. He has diminished his wife’s position to what may be a lesser role than the family dog.  He won’t allow her to voice her opinion or to ever disagree with him.

Some might say, I don’t understand. Isn’t it the husband that should make the decisions in the family? Yes. That is true, but the real issue is where his heart is when he makes the decision. Is he making decisions looking out for only what is best for him? Or has he actually taken the time to discuss the issue with his wife and family and then made a decision that he felt was the best one for his family in the sight of God?  Obviously, there is a tough balance here for a husband in making these decisions. Some problems will require us to make decisions that aren’t best for us individually but better for the family. Others may be incredibly hard because they feel like we may be making a decision that is best for the family but may not be what everyone in the family agrees with.

The reason most women run when they hear the word “submission” is because their image is of a controlling husband and the slavery that they fear they will be under. My wife says that putting her trust fully in God and then my leadership was one of the scariest things she had ever done. She would also say that figuring out submission has been one of the most freeing things that she has ever done. She trusts me to make decisions and has the faith that I am going to look out for the family before I look out for myself. She has faith in me to listen to her feelings. She doesn’t have to carry the weight of those things on her shoulders. She is comfortable with submitting to me as her husband because she knows that I will be as disappointed in myself as she would be if I fail to make a decision that protects her and the family.

When I started writing this blog, I tried to figure out what is it that a husband is suppose to do in marriage? I found that there wasn’t a lot of good material out there on this topic. There is no good manual on Loving Your Wife for Dummies that I could find to help me out. The more I researched the more it became clear that there was one easy answer to this question. If you look at how Jesus lived you can find the best example of how to be a good husband. You are to be Jesus to your family. You need to be a selfless servant to your family. If you look at Jesus’ life and the traits that he exhibited you will have a great model to follow.

So, do you want to be a god or like Jesus in your marriage today? Do you want to sit on your throne or let the one worthy of the seat take that place? Jesus calls ALL believers to be 100% submitted to Him and walking in humble obedience to Him – including husbands.  Until a husband learns to totally submit himself to Christ, he is prone to be too passive or too controlling.  We as husbands need God’s Spirit to fill us for us to be the men God desires us to be.  Do you want to be respected because of who you are or because you have declared that they must? Evaluate your priorities today. Are you controlling your wife and family or are you leading your family? Is your wife fearful of you or does she feel safe, secure, protected and cherished in your care?