Don’t tolerate abuse or disrespect

It is not okay for your husband (or anyone) to treat you disrespectfully.  Let me just say that again.  It is not okay.  I know far too many beautiful, kind Christian women who, for some reason, allow themselves to be verbally, emotionally, or physically abused by their husbands or boyfriends.  It’s heartbreaking.  I heard yet another story from a highly-intelligent, gorgeous woman recently.  She came to me in despair, wringing her hands over her abusive situation.  Yet, she didn’t clearly see that she needed to draw a firm boundary and impose consequences on such behavior.  In her case, she needed to leave until he showed serious, sustained repentance.

Ladies, do you think God winks at a man who is abusing his wife or girlfriend?  Absolutely not.  In fact, God tells husbands they are to lay down their lives for their wives.  Ephesians 5:25 says, “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her.”  If your husband or boyfriend is emotionally, verbally, or physically abusing you, you need to take a stand.  If you don’t take action, you’re basically enabling his destructive behavior to continue.  Read Matthew 18:15-17 and ask God to reveal His plan for you to take a stand when someone is sinning against you. 

Handling disrespect by husband

I keep bumping into beautiful, intelligent women who, for some bizarre reason, allow their husband or boyfriend to treat them horribly.  One gorgeous young woman had her boyfriend spit in her face and she still stayed with him!  What’s up with that?  Do women no longer have any dignity and self-respect?

A wife’s dignity is actually a quality that is highly valued in the Bible.  When describing the wife of “noble character” in Proverbs 31, the Bible says in verse 25 “she is clothed with strength and dignity“.  So, what does the word “dignity” really mean?  The dictionary defines dignity as displaying poise and self-respect.  In other words, a woman of dignity respects herself enough to refuse to be treated disrespectfully!

Don’t believe the lies of the enemy.  Don’t believe that you need to tolerate disrespectful treatment, verbal abuse, or emotional abuse by your man.  That’s a lie!  A dignified woman doesn’t tolerate that.  She confidently, but lovingly, puts boundaries in place and refuses to allow herself to be treated in a dishonoring manner.  A confident woman of dignity trusts God to take care of her even if she has to take drastic steps to protect herself such as breaking up with a disrespectful boyfriend or separating from a verbally-abusive husband.  Be courageous. Choose to carry yourself with dignity and self-respect. 

Defining abuse in relationships

I will always remember the time I was talking with a wife who has endured physical abuse from her husband for years.  It began so slowly that she didn’t actually realize she was the victim of domestic violence until her injuries had become pretty serious.  I was reminded that wives, especially Christian wives, need to be alerted to what constitutes physical abuse. 

These things are definitely physical abuse:  Punching, slapping, shoving aggressively, kicking, trapping physically (as against a wall), twisting arm painfully, throwing objects at you aggressively, biting, pulling your hair painfully, a pattern of refusing to allow you to sleep, regularly requiring you to work until exhaustion or while sick, tying you up against your will, forcing you to perform sex acts against your will, forcing himself on you sexually against your will, forcing you to use alcohol or drugs, denying you medical care.

If your husband or boyfriend is currently doing any of those above things, call 911 and seek immediate protection at your local domestic violence shelter.  If these behaviors are not currently occurring but have occurred fairly recently, you still need help.  I strongly urge you to call your local, confidential domestic violence hotline.  It’s time for Christian wives to stand up against abuse!  The Bible makes it clear that husbands are to treat their wives kindly.  1 Peter 3:7 instructs husbands to be considerate of their wives and to treat them with honor as the weaker vessel.  Furthermore, Ephesians 5:11 says “Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them”.  So, don’t cover up your husband’s or boyfriend’s abuse.  He is not your enemy, but he needs to be stopped, both for his own good and for your welfare.

Are you suffering outside of God’s will?

Even though you may have accepted Jesus as your Savior and Lord, you and I will still encounter trials and hardships in this life here on earth.  They are inevitable.  In fact Jesus told his disciples in John 16:33..”In this world you will have trouble.”   Sometimes, the trouble is inside our marriage, and when that’s the case, we often find the need to practice great patience, endurance and “longsuffering”.  The Bible tells us in Ephesians 4:2 that we should act “with all lowliness and meekness, with longsuffering, forbearing one another in love…” (KJV).  Other translations use the word “patience” in the place of longsuffering.

However, the Bible doesn’t always advise us to just sit on our hands and settle into a long season of quiet endurance and longsuffering.   Jesus says in Matthew 18:15-17 that we’re supposed to confront someone who is sinning against us.  We always need to be respectful and loving, yet he tells us to confront that person.

So yes, there is a place for patience and longsuffering in relationships.  However, it occurs to me that perhaps the best time for longsuffering is when you’ve already confronted the person sinning against you and they are working to turn away from that pattern of sin.  I guess my question to you is this:  Have you lovingly and firmly confronted your husband if he is sinning against you or your children?    Have you drawn clear boundaries on what you will accept and have you followed through with appropriate consequences when necessary?  If you haven’t, then there’s a chance you are longsuffering outside of God’s will.  Pray about it and see what God reveals.