There is a particularly vicious cycle that can start in a relationship. It’s super common but also super subtle. Trust me. You don’t want to enter this cycle. The cycle goes like this:
My husband does something wrong, so I feel completely justified in my critical and disrespectful response. Or my husband does something that really annoys me so I feel totally justified doing that certain thing that I know really annoys him. In both cases, of course he responds with his own counter move, and the vicious cycle has begun. We give into the subtle, destructive temptation to “hurt him just like he hurt me”. We feel justified in our reactions, but we’ve just escalated the war. Unfortunately, in this war, there are no winners…just losers.
I know! Here’s an idea (yes, you noted some sarcasm there!). How about if we decide not to play the justification game anymore? How about if we, as our husbands’ helpers, decide to respond to our husbands with grace, love and respect, even when they annoy us? How about if we choose to stop trying to punish them every time they upset us? Romans 12:18-19 directs us to live this way…”If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: ‘It is mine to avenge; I will repay,’ says the Lord”.
Now, don’t get me wrong. This doesn’t mean we keep totally quiet all the time. You may need to establish boundaries on sinful behavior. However, even if you’re confronting your husband or establishing boundaries, you can do so with love, compassion, respect, and gentleness!
Are you bewildered by the amount of time your husband spends surfing online to check out the latest, fastest motorcycles available, or talking about quitting his job to open a risky new business, or dreaming about buying a huge boat and sailing around the world? Apparently, you’re not alone! Many wives report being frustrated, bewildered, and maybe even scared about their husband’s “crazy” ideas to spend way too much money on a hobby or to take a gigantic risk on some new money-making adventure or wild life-style change. So, what’s a wife to do? Let me give you two thoughts:
1) Since a wife is to show respect to her husband (Ephesians 5:33), avoid the tendency to ridicule his plans, but instead come to him gently and with a true desire to understand how his idea would work. You can simply say, “Tell me more about your idea…” Then, you can ask gentle, respectful follow-up questions, such as, “How are you thinking we would handle the financial part of that idea?” or “Do you have some thoughts on how we would pay our mortgage while your new business is getting started?”
2) Also, ask your husband if he will take the matter to God in prayer to seek God’s guidance on his dreams and plans. By the way, it will be super helpful if you’re humble and ask your husband if he has any concerns about the way that you spend your free time or about the things you tend to focus on. When we are humble, our husbands are much more willing to accept input and gentle correction. Colossians 3:12 says “Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.”
When the kids are fighting with each other and you overcooked the dinner and you shrunk your favorite new sweater…it’s pretty natural to get a bit grouchy. In those moments, we usually need to “vent”. Unfortunately, our husbands often get the brunt of our “venting”! In fact, the men whom we promised to love and respect can become our scapegoats. The tragically funny thing is then we wonder why our husbands don’t seem to enjoy being around us very much!
One husband once told me that encountering his wife as he walked in the door at the end of his work day was like walking into a buzz saw. She was wired and churning and her tongue was sharp enough to slice right through him. Yikes.
Yes, ladies, we all need to vent sometimes. Some days are incredibly challenging. But let’s pick the correct scapegoat. If we need to talk to someone about our stress, anger, or exhaustion, let’s turn to God. He has really broad shoulders and he’s not afraid to hear what’s on your mind. Psalm 40:1-2 says “I waited patiently for the Lord; he turned to me and heard my cry. He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; he set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand.” Jesus is the correct scapegoat. In fact, if you study the origin of the word “scapegoat”, it was the term used by the Israelites for a goat that symbolically carried their sins away. Wow! Jesus really is our scapegoat, and he perfectly carries our sins away, as well as our anger and frustration on a really bad day.
So when you feel the frustration mounting and you can tell you’re about to snap at a family member, mentally give your irritation to the Lord. Just picture handing it over to Him. Then take a deep breath, relax your shoulders, and chuckle at the enemy’s pitiful attempt to make you lose your temper! Hah! His stupid plan is defeated once again. You are victorious through Christ!
I have seen so many women wither and die emotionally in their marriages because their husband is engaged in disrespectful or sinful behavior and the wife gives up too easily in terms of confrontation. (I should know because I was one of those women in my first marriage!) So why would a wife give up? I believe it boils down to one main fear.
The wife fears that if she continues to confront the issue, or heaven forbid, draw a serious boundary, her husband may decide to leave her…and in her mind, she will lose what’s supposed to make her happy and secure. But this is faulty thinking! Your husband is not a reliable source of happiness. God is the only one we can depend on for unconditional love, compassion, and security. If your husband were to leave after you draw a line in the sand, I believe God is big enough to take care of you financially. I know He is. Do you trust Him? Do you believe what He says in Hebrews 13:5 “I will never leave you, nor forsake you”?
Trust in the One who will never leave your side. Trust in the One who can provide innovative ways to take care of your financial needs. Trust in the One who can bring supportive people into your life to stand by you as you draw boundaries. That One is Jesus.
It’s vital for you and your spouse to come into agreement on the major issues within your marriage, such as finances, parenting, time spent on recreation, frequency of sex, etc. You must come into agreement because division in a marriage often leads to the eventual collapse of that marriage. God’s word even states this. In Matthew 12:25, Jesus says “Every kingdom divided against itself will be ruined, and every city or household divided against itself will not stand.”
So, what should you do if you and your spouse are consistently divided in a specific area? Do NOT just throw your hands up in the air and give up! You must decide to respectfully, but thoroughly, discuss the issue with your husband UNTIL you reach an agreement! You MUST persevere until the issue is resolved!
Ask God for the right timing and ask God to prepare your heart and your husband’s heart for the conversation ahead. The goal is to reach a compromise that you can both support. And, if you can’t reach such a compromise on your own, then seek help from a pastor, counselor, or mentor couple. Do whatever you need to do to come into agreement with your husband on this issue. It will bring peace to you, your marriage, and your household!
P.S. If the disagreement stems from your husband wanting to do something immoral, then compromise isn’t the right option! In that case, you will likely want to see help from a counselor or pastor, and you may have to establish boundaries in the relationship.
So many couples, especially young couples, argue over money. They disagree over how much to spend, how much to save, the financial priorities, whether to help loved ones in need, whether to give to the church, and on and on.
You might not be aware, but the Bible actually gives a ton of guidance on how to handle money and possessions! I have found 3 particular Bible principles to be especially helpful for couples who have been suffering from financial tension and strain in their marriages. Allow me to summarize those principles for you. (You can look up the verses for yourself and ask the Lord to counsel you directly).
Bible Principle 1: Live intentionally below your means! (Hebrews 13:5) So many couples are under heavy financial strain because there is no real cushion in their budget. They’ve bought the biggest house they could possibly afford or the most expensive car they could afford, and then when something unexpected comes up, they become super stressed-out and start ugly arguments!
Bible Principle 2: Don’t wear yourself out or stress yourself out by working too much to accumulate possessions and wealth because those things will mean nothing at the end of your life. The only thing that will matter is your love for the Lord and the people he placed in your life. (Proverbs 23:4)
Bible Principle 3: Take a step of faith and cheerfully give some of your money back to the work of the Lord because He promises to reward those who trust Him by doing so! (Malachi 3:10). I’ve done this faithfully for several decades whether I felt like I had the money to give or not. The Lord has always provided for me, sometimes in strange and unusual ways!
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.”