When a husband is clearly sinning against you through something like verbal abuse or an affair with another woman, it seems pretty clear that you should take a stand, draw boundaries, and maybe even have a time of separation. However, the Christian wife isn’t always as certain about how to handle a husband who simply seems to be selfish or very self-centered. This is the kind of husband who almost always does exactly what he wants to do, when he wants to do it, with little regard for the desires of his wife or children. What’s a wife to do?
First, realize that your husband’s selfishness is not okay with God, and thus, it shouldn’t be okay with you. In the famous love passage in 1 Corinthians 13, the Bible says love is not “self-seeking“, and in Philippians 2:4, the Bible says “each of you should look not only to his own interests but also to the interest of others.”
Second, you must realize that nothing is likely to change unless you sit down with your husband and bring the problem to his attention. Ignoring the problem and hoping it will go away isn’t going to work. You’ll grow resentful and eventually explode!
It’s time to gently and calmly tell your husband the truth about how you are being negatively impacted by his focus on doing what he wants without regard to you or your children. Ephesians 4:15 says we should “speak the truth in love“, so gently explain the problem. Then directly ask him if he is willing to begin considering your desires when the two of you disagree on something. Ask him if he is willing to work with you to forge a compromise the next time you disagree. Hopefully, by bringing the problem to his attention, he will begin considering your interests. If he doesn’t, it’s probably time to ask him to go with you to meet with a pastor or counselor.
Wouldn’t it be wonderful if all husbands were gentle with their wives, always asked for their wife’s input, and took great care to meet the needs and desires of their wife? Yep, that would be great, but unfortunately, both husbands and wives are still in the process of being sanctified (made holy) and we all have a way to go before we reach perfection! Your husband won’t be perfect. YOU aren’t perfect.
That being said, a wife doesn’t need to settle for a husband who continues to run rough-shod over her, ignoring her needs and desires, dismissing her input and suggestions, and doing whatever he wants with little regard to how his decisions and behavior affects her! In fact, 1 Peter 3:7 says… Husbands, in the same way be considerate as you live with your wives, and treat them with respect as the weaker partner and as heirs with you of the gracious gift of life, so that nothing will hinder your prayers. And Ephesians 5:25 says Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her.
Clearly, God is calling husbands to self-sacrifice for their wives; to treat their wives with respect and consideration; to value their wives. So, what does this mean for you if your husband is very controlling, strong-willed and ignoring your needs or input? I believe it’s totally appropriate to pray for the right timing and the right words to respectfully ask him to consider your needs, desires, opinions and input on matters that affect your relationship and your family. If he agrees, great. If he doesn’t make any changes, then its likely time to ask him to go to a marriage counselor with you. If you don’t address your lop-sided relationship, you will likely find your heart slowly withering and becoming colder and harder toward your husband. Don’t wait until that happens to act! Act now.
Sometimes, life just gets plain hard. You forget to pay a bill on time and get hit with a giant “late fee”. You catch your husband looking at pornography. You teenager lies to you. Your child accidentally drops an entire jog of milk on the kitchen floor. Ugh!
At times like these, it’s easy to feel weighed down. It’s so common for us to give into despair and depression. But instead of conceding defeat, we can regain our spiritual equilibrium by practicing 3 things:
1) Recognize this is a scheme of the enemy to try to steal, kill or destroy your joy (John 10:10 “the thief comes only to steal, kill and destroy“)
2) Remind your soul of the enemy’s inability against our mighty God (1 John 4:4 “You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world.“) *Sometimes I even laugh at Satan’s pitiful attempts to drag me down! I like putting him back in his place!
3) Trust that God will carry you through this challenge and even redeem the circumstances so that something good comes about in the long run. God is an expert at turning lemons into lemonade! (Romans 8:28 “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who are called according to his purpose.”)
For over a dozen years, I tended to constantly pick at a dysfunctional relationship in my life. It drove me a little crazy that I was estranged from some relatives. I kept on feeling like I needed to “fix it”. This went on for so many years! And I think Satan had my number on this. Just when I thought I had sorted through my responsibility in the situation and had come to the conclusion that I had done everything I should, Satan whispered into my ear once again “this is your fault”…”you aren’t handling this correctly as a Christian”…blah, blah, blah. And the cycle repeated itself every few months…for years!
I was feeling that way again a couple of years ago, and I rehashed that fractured relationship once again with my husband. Bless his heart! I’m so thankful that he was actually be patient with me as I talked through that situation over and over again every few months. Anyway, he quickly reminded me that I had done everything I could. He helped me to see the situation objectively. Where I was consumed with emotions and doubt, he could see more clearly and objectively. As Ecclesiastes 4:9-10 says “Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil.For if they fall, one will lift up his fellow. But woe to him who is alone when he falls and has not another to lift him up!”
Sometimes, you and I really do need our husband’s counsel. Often, they are less emotional than we are. Many times, they can see the situation much more objectively and correctly assess how it should be handled. Plus, our husbands love it when we come to them for advice, because it signifies that we actually respect their opinion. Is it time to seek your husband’s counsel on a situation in your life? Two are often better than one!
You may be a wife (like I have been in the past) who is stunned when her husband does or says something that isn’t exactly kind and loving. To be honest, at some subconscious level, I guess I expected my husband to always make me happy and do the right thing. In short, I rather expected him to be like Jesus. I mean, after all, he was a Christian, for heaven’s sake!
Hmmm. On the other hand, the Bible makes it clear that no human being is perfect. Psalm 14:3 says, “there is no one who does good, not even one“. So, perhaps it’s time for you to take your husband off the hook. I’m not saying that you should give him a free pass on blatant, destructive sin. Jesus makes it clear we should confront someone who is truly sinning against us. You can read his instructions about that in Matthew 18:15-17.
However, I do believe it’s time for Christian wives to start being gracious to their husbands in terms of looking beyond their minor faults and annoying quirks. Does he sometimes drive more aggressively than you would like? Maybe you can be gracious about that (while praying for safety!). Does he fall short in the romance department? You can be gracious about that too. Does he sometimes snap at you when he’s stressed. That makes him human! Remember he is a flawed person, just like you! We’re all a work in progress…in the master’s hands.
Many women struggle with following the leadership of their husbands because their men seem to be controlling, manipulative, or inconsiderate. When is it proper to submit to such “leadership” and when is it appropriate to respectfully draw a boundary?
Well, according to the Bible, a godly husband will love his wife in a selfless way (Ephesians 5:25) and will treat his wife with consideration and respect (1 Peter 3:7). These verses give us a pretty clear picture of what a godly husband looks like. As a result, it seems pretty clear that a controlling husband, one who bullies or intimidates his wife and children, is NOT behaving in the way that God intended.
I believe a wife can respectfully confront a husband who is trying to control, intimidate, bully, or manipulate her. She may need to lovingly, but firmly, establish boundaries on what she will tolerate. This might mean simply walking away when he begins to start bullying or controlling. If he continues to follow you, it could mean even leaving the home for awhile. I would add that it would be very wise to consult with other godly women, a pastor, or a counselor before moving forward in establishing boundaries. It’s always best to make sure that you are evaluating the situation clearly.
Does your husband tend to give full vent to his temper when you disagree with his opinion or his desires? When you guys have a conflict, does he end up yelling at you or saying mean things? When this happens, deep heart wounds occur. There must be a better way to handle conflict! Here are a couple things you can do to help put out his anger fire before it scorches you:
1) If a disagreement is starting to get a bit ugly, YOU can simply stop arguing! Tell your husband that you love him and you want to take a time-out before discussing the issue further. Tell him that you’re going to think and pray about his perspective and that you’d love him to do the same for you. Then agree to talk about it again later that day or tomorrow.
2) Remain calm even if your husband does not. Refuse to match his loud volume or hurtful comments. In fact, if he becomes emotionally abusive, calmly tell him you do not allow anyone to speak to you that way, and then walk away. If he follows you and continues the emotional abuse, get in your car and drive away. Do not tolerate aggressive, harsh, or wounding treatment from your husband during conflict. That is not God’s plan for how a wife should be treated. Colossians 3:19 says, “Husbands, love your wives, and do not be harsh with them.”
Do you keep replaying your husband’s past mistakes over and over again in your mind? Do you find yourself dwelling on how he’s disappointed you in the past? Let it go! Thoughts like that become toxic…to you and your marriage. Hebrews 12:15 makes this point: “See to it that no bitter root grows up among you to cause trouble and defile many.” If you keep rehearsing your husband’s past failures, you will end up growing more and more resentful of your husband. The resulting bitterness acts like poison to your own heart. You become a dried up, miserable woman.
Even more damage is caused when you verbalize those past mistakes to your husband. Yet many wives do that. They repeatedly bring up their man’s past mistakes and almost wield them as a weapon against their husband. His heart gets sliced and diced in the process. His heart becomes poisoned against his wife as well.
It’s time to decide to release your husband from his past failures. The Bible is pretty clear about your need to release bitterness and resentment. Ephesians 4:31 says “Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger…” Sochoose to exercise the same grace God has given you!! News flash: You’re not perfect either. By the way, releasing your man from his past mistakes doesn’t mean you should ignore current sin. If he is currently sinning against you, determine to respectfully confront him and work through the problem, perhaps with the help of a counselor or pastor.
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.
Selfishness. It’s such an unattractive character quality, right?! I’ve always thought most men are pretty selfish, and perhaps many are. However, God’s been convicting me of my own selfishness! Ugh. It can be a very subtle thing for women. In fact, selfishness is often found in a woman’s thought-life. She may think things like this: My husband should be more romantic toward me. How can I convince my husband that my way is right? My husband isn’t really making me happy anymore. I married him because he’s supposed to make me happy! And the thoughts go on and on.
I’m becoming convicted neither wives nor husbands will find much joy in marriage when we only look out for what we want and what we think will make us “happy”. Actually, true joy comes from serving others and thinking of how we can bless them. It is so counter-intuitive! However, it is also so Biblical. Philippians 2:3-4 says “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourself. Each of you should look not only to his own interests but also to the interests of others.” Maybe you should try to look at life from your husband’s perspective this week and really try to understand his point of view during disagreements. Maybe you could intentionally build him up each day and voice your appreciation for big and small things he does. How could you bless him this week?
P.S. I know some of you are thinking, “Why should I be the only one doing this? What about my husband?” Well, how about if you clean up your side of the street first? I have a strong hunch that your entire marriage will improve and your husband’s heart will be drawn to you. Are you willing to give it a try?