What Decades of a Wife’s Disrespect and Control do to a Marriage

Posted on September 11, 2012 by


This precious wife wrote to me – asking for help.  She and her husband have been married long enough to have children and grandchildren.  She wants to become a respectful, submissive wife and honor God in her marriage. The first assignment I gave her was to list all of her sin against her husband that she could think of  so she can repent to God and to her husband of it.  (Repent means to turn 180 degrees from the way I was going and go the opposite direction – away from sin and towards Christ!)  This is EXACTLY what I had to do to start this journey 4 years ago, too.

Please carefully read this wife’s list.  This has to be the first step on the path to living in God’s power and peace.  We cannot skimp here.  This has to be a thorough inspection where we allow God access to every dark corner of our souls.  He will not fill us with His Spirit when we are laden with sin and defiled by it.  When we grieve His Spirit, we lose His power in our lives.

I want you to see this BEFORE you marry – because the longer you allow this kind of serious sin to grow unchecked in your soul  – the more catastrophic damage is done to yourself, your marriage, your husband and your intimacy with God.  This is the road I DO NOT WANT YOU TO TAKE!  It is lined with tears, hatred, pain and misery.  This is why I write to single women.  I want you to see the fork in the road and know where each one goes before you make choices.  There is great hope when we have Christ – and I believe He will heal this marriage.  Most likely, it will take MANY months, possibly many years. But how much better not to go here yourself!  We are all capable of this kind of sin in our relationships.  If we are far enough away from God and we are acting in our own strength and sinful nature – this is what we will do to the men we love.  And it is very sad.  This husband now works 3 hours away and doesn’t know if he wants to be with his wife anymore.  If this wife had repented and obeyed God LONG ago – they would not be in this painful situation now.

List of My Sin against My Husband and My Reaction to His Sin Against Me

April, I basically looked at your list and let it remind me of my own specific behaviors, words, thoughts, etc., that were disrespectful against my husband and my God.

  • having myself as an idol – living as though I am the creator rather than the created; being my own authority; behaving as though I am the expert, the “right” one, the authority on everything; the arbiter of “what’s right”, “Miss Manners”; worshipping my knowledge and wisdom; believing I could be a savior to my husband – and resenting when he wouldn’t allow it.
  • pride – living as though I have a right to all I have, know, do, the way I behave; saying I respect him and behaving as though he is “less than”; not valuing him as he deserves as a child of God
  • control – I see that I have done this all my life; I got the message early that if I didn’t take care of what was going on around me, something bad might happen; can’t count on anyone – have take care of myself – others will let me down.
  • controlling my marriage – directing and dictating when we would get counseling or classes; demanding, if necessary – taking the lead away from my husband and taking away the Holy Spirit’s guiding – even though I would counsel others that they needed to do what I wasn’t myself doing
  • living as though my husband is my god and savior; that is, WHEN I wasn’t living as though I was my own god and savior
  • worshipping my husband, especially early on – loving him more than anything or anyone, including God
  • believing that I am all-powerful and all-knowing, if he would just get out of my way and let me show him
  • rebellion – against God, my husband, all authority, really – although I pride myself in being a rule-following first-born and practically brag about it to others. I don’t like to be told what to do; haven’t submitted myself and allowed myself to come under my husband’s God-given authority; nor have I truly lived as though Jesus is LORD of my life.
  • not forgiving my husband, not letting him continue in forgiveness – keeping his sins over his head
  • acting toward my husband in a way that tells him I know everything, all that is best for him, that I know how to analyze him, that I know the reasons for everything he thinks, says, and does – better than him and even better than God
  • being bitter, holding resentment, keeping a long list of his wrongs and throwing them in his face at every turn
  • angry words, thoughts and actions, feelings of hatred toward him
  • allowing thoughts and words that brought division in our marriage
  • talking about him and his weaknesses, to his family, my family, my friends
  • allowing his past sin to color how I think – feeling jealous even when he hasn’t done anything, not allowing him to live in the changed man God has made him
  • criticizing him in front of our children and grandchildren
  • undermining his authority
  • undermining God’s authority over him, and over me
  • fighting any other authority over my life except myself
  • controlling him with my emotions – I can yell and I am expressing myself, but if he yells he is being mean and hateful
  • focusing on his weaknesses and condemning him for them
  • EVERYTHING under your CUT OUT THE NEGATIVITY – done it ALL
  • blaming him for everything that upsets me or goes wrong in our life – an attitude of, if not voicing the words
  • thinking that if I don’t say the words I’m not disrespecting
  • disrespecting him in my thoughts and in my heart
  • trying to manipulate him
  • nagging him, pushing him, trying to persuade him
  • not letting him behave or think as men do – I’ve crushed his sense of manliness, courage, warrior spirit
  • saying things to him that sound like I know best what and how he needs to change
  • being quarrelsome – yes you are, no I’m not
  • not listening when he’s tried to tell me that I’m disrespecting him; arguingthat he’s wrong or he doesn’t understand; justifying my behavior/words/actions
  • telling him what to think, say, do
  • gossiping about him with other women – man-bashing
  • doing for him all the things he can do for himself – in the guise of “helping”– without asking if he would like my help
  • resenting him when he gets angry for being treated like a child
  • when he says “don’t mother me”, responding with, “if you would act like a grownup I wouldn’t treat you like a child”
  • anger when he finds my faults or exposes my weaknesses
  • raging at him
  • telling him what a good Christian man would do, because I’m the expert, because I go to Bible studies, read my Bible, read lots of stuff, etc. – being“holier than thou”
  • tone of voice, facial expression that mock, show derision
  • demanding behaviors of him
  • confrontational facial expressions, tone of voice, words, posture –“fighting words” as he calls them, that would make him want to punch a man out
  • taking responsibility for the finances away from him – saying he’s irresponsible, that “we can’t afford it”, that he is selfish and spends without regard for his family
  • telling him how to do all the things that he does – washing clothes, putting them in the dryer, dishes in the washer, etc., because I know best how to do them most effectively and efficiently
  • doing the same with my stepson, in his dad’s hearing – “so you can learn to do it right”
  • asserting myself as “right” all the time, in all things and resenting him when he criticizes me for my perfectionism
  • HIS PET PEEVE – asking him to do something and then saying, “never mind, I’ll do it” when he doesn’t perform the task in my timeframe
  • asserting my “maximizer” strength on him, his behaviors, his likes and dislikes, etc. – as though I am his god and know what’s best, what he needs, etc.
  • reminding him constantly about what he has or hasn’t done, what his responsibilities are, etc.
  • treating him as though he is incompetent and incapable and unknowledgeable – this man that runs a multi-million dollar division!
  • insinuating to him “how can you be so smart at work and so inept at home?”
  • not allowing him his feelings of anger, frustration, betrayal and violation at my hands
  • criticizing his ability as a husband or son, his ability to practice his faith with his God, his ability to manage his family of origin relationships
  • insinuating “like father like son”, knowing that he doesn’t want to be like his (alcoholic, abusive, absent, relationship-challenged) father
  • interrupting when he’s talking – even if others are around – especially if he’s telling something about me inaccurately
  • telling him what to do, in all things, and “helping”, always helping – without asking if it is welcome, required, necessary – I just do it
  • making fun of his favorite shows, hobbies – making judgments on their value, worthiness, etc.
  • trying to explain why I’m right and he’s wrong – whether we are alone or with others, in public and in private
  • trying to be his god – telling him how he should live, what he does wrong, making him aware of his faults and weaknesses, and how he should go about fixing them
  • participating in the lies of Satan about “the kind of man I married” and how I am so good at helping others to see the errors of their way, and then how good I am at showing them the “right” way
  • participating in the lies about how justified I am in my behaviors, in my actions, in my words toward my husband – that he get what I think he deserves, whatever I think he should have coming
  • anger, so much anger, and bitterness against all the hurts I perceive that he’s piled on me – not holding back
  • judging his ability to make wise decisions on our family’s important issues
  • not valuing his God-given abilities and strengths as a unique individual, or as a man in general – even making fun of those very things
  • not appreciating what his special make-up contributes to our family
  • making him an object of money for the bank account
  • saying things that tell him I know best how he needs to talk, treat others, etc., so that I manipulate how he reflects on me
  • making judgments on his closely held beliefs, his politics, his values, etc. – we have about the same but if they don’t match with what I think is right, he will hear about it
  • telling him exactly what I think of his brothers as men/husbands, what I think of my sisters-in-law for “allowing” their mens’ behaviors, making judgments against them – because I’m the expert about what’s “right”, after all!
  • getting defensive in any conversation that sounds like it will go against me
  • asking directly what I need to do to be a better wife (which sets him up – it’s a lose/lose!) and then arguing/justifying why he’s wrong
  • being selfish and demanding, bossing him around, treating him like a child
  • not allowing him his feelings
  • treating him as “less-than”
  • trying to control his every move, decision, like/dislike, mood, tastes – ANYTHING AND EVERYTHING – especially if it poorly reflects on me
  • telling him to make his son do…; running down my stepson’s mother and expecting my husband to go along
  • “spanking” him with my words
  • insinuating that he’s lazy
  • being loud, not in a good way – hiding behind my boisterous, everyone-talk-at-once culture

My reactions to his sin against me:

  • how could you? why would you? how dare you?! you must not love me!
  • hurt
  • resentment
  • holding a grudge
  • anger, possibly rage
  • fear that if I express my hurt or anger in response, he might want to leave me
  • judgment and condemnation of his behavior
  • yelling, crying, angry words, rants
  • telling my girlfriends, to “process my feelings” and “ask them to pray”
  • demanding my rights to express my feelings of anger, hurt, etc.
  • injured pride – you could behave that way toward ME?!
  • unforgiveness
  • justified for bad behavior toward him
  • using back to him his foul words, to make him react and stop
  • intolerance

FROM PEACEFULWIFE – my email to this wife after she sent me her list:

I am SOOOOOOOOOO proud of you, girl!!!!  You did a FANTASTIC job on this first assignment.  You really put the time into it that was needed and you did a thorough job, not excusing yourself, just listing all that ugly sin.

It is sad to see all of that.  It is hard to look at ourselves from God’s perspective and to see how much damage we have done to our husbands and our marriages with our own words, attitudes and behaviors.

This is where you begin to realize that you owe Jesus billions of dollars for those sins that went on daily all day long for decade after decade.  This is where you begin to see the true price He paid in His blood for you.  This is where you experience the depth of His grace, maybe for the first time  – and realize that you are among the worst of sinners.  This is where you realize that he who has been forgiven much loves much.  And that you are right there with the adulterers and murderers and that your sin is mountains and mountains that only Jesus can remove.  How precious His blood is – that He could take ALL of this away.

Your willing spirit and your desire to obey God will open up the valve so that His Spirit can enter your soul and your life full blast now.  You will begin to see Him working powerfully in you now that You are no longer grieving Him.

At first, you will be focusing on Christ and finding your identity in Him and getting your needs met in him and focusing on your husband’s needs.

Please do NOT expect him to meet your needs right now. (Things are very strained in this marriage right now – understandably, I think)

Right now, your husband is in critical condition in this marriage.  He is laying in the corner of the boxing ring that has become your marriage and he is losing consciousness, he’s hemorrhaging so badly.  Yes, you have a black eye and maybe some broken bones, too.  He has sinned against you, too.  But right now, YOU will have to be the one – by God’s power – to crawl over to your husband, look into his face and begin to give him first aid.  You’ve got to stop the bleeding (stop ALL negativity from your mouth, your expressions and your heart and mind).  And then God will use you to begin to breathe life back into him with respect.

You can’t expect him to jump up and serve you right now.  He can’t do it.  He’s down for the count.  So there can be no expectations of him.  Anything he does do for you – call you, talk with you, email you, spend time with you, pay bills, be a good dad… YOU THANK AND PRAISE HIM for all of that stuff!  He doesn’t have to still be here.  But he is.  That is a man of character.  That he has stuck with you this long despite being so greatly sinned against.

And it is a great blessing that he would not be manipulated by your emotions and games – thank GOD you have a man who stands by his convictions and won’t let his wife run over him and try to change him.  A man who would allow you to control him like that would be a wimp and a coward.  You have a real man – he’s a keeper.  And you have A TON of making up to do in your marriage.  You owe him a mammoth debt, one you may never be able to repay.

God is going to renew your heart and mind so that in time – you won’t even think those sinful, disrespectful controlling idolatrous thoughts anymore.  I’m going to be right here with you, walking beside you every step of the way.  And praying for you, my precious sister!

I would like you to begin thinking about an apology for your years of disrespect, control and sin against God and him.  I’d like you to keep it short – about 100 words or so.  And I’d like you to consider sending it to me before you send it or give it to him.  I want to check it for unintentional disrespect.  The last thing you need to do is be disrespectful as you are apologizing for your disrespect!  Remember, no justifying your sin.  Just taking total blame for YOUR sin.  No mention of his sin at all.  And repenting and telling him you want to change.  IF he is interested, you could share your list of sins against him.

Next you will begin working on your list of things you respect about your husband, things you admire about him.

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