This post is by Peacefulwife
I have heard from a number of you and my heart is so heavy when I read your stories.
I want to offer husbands some insight into the minds of disrespectful, contentious, controlling wives
MOST WOMEN DON’T “GET” RESPECT
It is entirely possible and I would even say probable that your wife does not intentionally disrespect you or intentionally try to hurt you.
It’s hard for me to believe now how blind I was to disrespect 5 years ago. Most wives have no idea how men think and feel and assume that men are just like women. Most wives assume that men need love like we do and try to fix problems by being more “loving” – by our definition. Wives tend to react disrespectfully when they feel unloved (Dr. Emerson Eggerichs “Love and Respect”). But wives also act disrespectfully because that is our culture – and because that is what is in our sinful nature, sadly.
Sometimes women think men are so “big and strong” that we think our husbands are invincible to our words. We have no idea that our words can crush our husbands’ souls. We expect our husbands to tell us if we hurt them – but we don’t recognize the pain behind our husbands’ stonewalling or behind our husbands’ anger. There is much misunderstanding about how men think and feel among women today. If we understood how very different you are from us – how you don’t think and feel the same way we do – that would help us begin to understand how to relate in a much more productive way. (Shaunti Feldhahn’s book “For Women Only” is a fantastic book to help women learn to understand how husbands feel.)
There aren’t many godly examples of respectful and biblically submissive wives out there. Some of us have NEVER seen a wife respect her husband and we don’t know where on earth to start. That is something I am trying to change with my blog www.peacefulwife.com.
Many times, a wife’s disrespect/controlling behavior has nothing to do with her husband. It usually has to do with what is in her own heart and soul. This is how she would treat any man she was married to. It’s not usually a personal attack on her husband – even though she may think that her behavior is about her husband, and he may think that her disrespect is all about him.
A wife’s level of respect and biblical submission to her husband is a tangible indicator of her reverence for and submission to Christ Jesus as Lord in her life.
Ultimately, only God can open a wife’s eyes and convict her of sin. And, ultimately, a wife respects her husband and honors his leadership because she wants to please Christ. This is not something a husband can force, any more than a wife can force her husband to love her. It is a decision of her own will and her own heart. When a wife has Christ as LORD of her life, she will desire to honor Him and obey Him in everything – including the way she treats her husband. Jesus says, “Anyone who loves Me will obey My teaching.” (John 14:23)
WE AREN’T TAUGHT THIS STUFF!
Women today, even in the church, are not taught to follow, respect and honor their husbands properly. And women are not taught what respect means or how to make a man feel respected. We often don’t even recognize disrespect. Many of us are completely blind to the entire concept. It seems that respect for men was discarded in our culture many decades ago.
Once wives have any clue about the damage we are doing to our husbands, most of us feel HORRIBLE and want to learn to treat our men with respect. When we do see our disrespect, it’s very overwhelming to begin to learn this new, “foreign language”. It took me a solid 2 years of studying and seeking to learn to understand respect before I began to have a clue what I was doing.
Wives will make mistakes. It’s a long journey of many years. It is the process of sanctification. She will need God to help her rip out all of the old sinful self and completely rebuild on Christ and His Word alone – a total regeneration of the heart and mind and soul. It is not a quick process. She will need your support, encouragement and unconditional love as she tries to learn. She will stumble many times. There is no switch to flip to suddenly make a woman the most godly, respectful wife ever.
HOW TO REACH AN UNHAPPY, UNLOVED-FEELING WIFE
You have an incredible wealth of power that you may not even be aware of with your wife. Your silence or anger will likely create fear and insecurity in your wife’s heart. What reaches her feminine soul is your tender, loving, caring, patient, gentle pursuit of her, even when she messes up. If you can embrace your wife’s anger and say, “I don’t want you to feel unloved, Honey. I’m right here. I’m not going anywhere.” She may calm down pretty quickly. If you can address her fear of not being loved, you may be able to reach her.
Wives generally don’t understand how stable their husbands’ love usually is. They think that if they don’t hear words of love and see selfless gestures of love, the love might be gone, and they panic. Your wife probably doesn’t know that your love is pretty stable. She probably thinks she has to see and hear your love to know it is strong and it is there.
A contentious, disrespectful and controlling wife often has DEEP spiritual misunderstandings about who God is and who she is and HUGE FEAR in her heart.
Your wife may also have idols in her heart like I did. She may have SELF, being-in-control, romance, her husband or “feeling loved” on the throne of her soul instead of Christ. She may live as if she is sovereign and has to try to control everything or it will all fall apart. She probably won’t consciously realize she has idols, but there are things she thinks she MUST have to be content that are not Jesus. That is huge sin!
A wife who is full of fear, anxiety and worry doesn’t understand who God is or His sovereignty. She doesn’t have peace because her sinful nature is in control, not God’s Spirit. She is not living with Christ as Lord. And she may not understand subconsciously that she is only a sinful human – she is NOT God. If she trusts SELF instead of God, there may be serious pride and disobedience to God’s Word going on if she believes she always knows best and she is always right – like I did. She may even have YOU as an idol in her heart and expect YOU to be Christ to her – expecting you to be responsible for her happiness. That isn’t going to work. She has to be responsible for her own happiness and joy in Christ. No one else can make her content and full of joy.
When a wife’s expectations seem unending and she seems insatiable no matter how hard a husband tries, there is usually idolatry of some type going on. You can certainly pray that God’s Spirit will speak to her heart and open her mind to His Word and help her make Jesus truly Lord of every aspect of her life. You can pray for God to tear down Satan’s strongholds and pray over your wife. And you may be able to speak to your wife about the issues you see and gently encourage her to honor only Christ as Lord.
You are the spiritual leader of your marriage, whether your wife acknowledges that or not. God has given you this role. You don’t have to be perfect to do this. She may not understand how to let go of control. She may be terrified to follow someone else, even though you may be completely competent, responsible and capable. She may need a lot of reassurance.
Usually, her fear of not being in control has nothing to do with you – and much more to do with her lack of understanding of who God is and His sovereignty. Godly, strong, selfless, loving leadership and gentle teaching of the truth of God’s Word under the power of God’s Spirit in a marriage can accomplish incredible miracles!
OUR GOD IS ABLE
We serve a MIGHTY God! When just one spouse is willing to obey His Word about marriage, God begins to do amazing things!
Your wife may be open to reading books about marriage. Most women are! Here are some to suggest, or you may offer to read along with her. –
- Love and Respect by Dr. Emerson Eggerichs
- For Women Only by Shaunti Feldhahn (her husband has one for husbands called For Men Only that would give guys a LOT of insight into how women think, too.)
- A Grace Filled Marriage by Dr. Tim Kimmel