Her emotions

This is a follow up post to Discerning the mission.

In that post I listed what the Scriptures say that a husband is responsible for in his walk with Christ and with his wife.

Just because a wife is rebellious does not give a man permission to:

  1. To not love her by washing her with the water of the Word (teach and show her Christ-likeness from the Scriptures through your words and actions)
  2. To not love her by not treating her as his own body (violence; though if a couple agrees on domestic discipline that’s up to them and God).
  3. Not lead (or be the head),
  4. Become embittered toward her,
  5. Deny sexual relations,
  6. To not be understanding/considerate to her
  7. Even if she is an unbeliever, BUT she is willing to live with you then you must not divorce her.

If you read through the above list, you will note that none of the Scriptures mention a the wife’s emotions.

Likewise, as I discussed in the article Anchored Emotions, the main emotions that we are to anchor ourselves to as Christians are the peace and joy of the Lord. Any other emotions such as happiness, anger, sadness, etc are transient and nature and we are not to be significantly influenced by them.

This is not to say that happiness and any of these other emotions are bad. In fact, it’s definitely a more pleasant home if a wife is happy over angry. However, this is often taken too far, especially in churchianity. Christian husbands and Christian nice guys get this very wrong.

Any words or actions that a husband takes in regard to his wife are not to be about making her happy but rather to draw her closer to Christ. It is important for husbands and men to realize that sometimes women are going to feel good and sometimes women are going to feel bad. Likewise, men will sometimes feel good and sometimes feel bad, but it should’t get in the way of us doing what is righteous.

As Paul defends his ministry in 2 Corinthians 10 (NASB) we can take on the same knowledge about our thoughts and emotions:

3 For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh, 4 for the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh, but [b]divinely powerful for the destruction of fortresses. 5 We are destroying speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought (noema) captive to the obedience of Christ, 6 and we are ready to punish all disobedience, whenever your obedience is complete.

G3540 — νόημα — noēma — no’-ay-mah
From G3539; a perception, that is, purpose, or (by implication) the intellect, disposition, itself: – device, mind, thought.

However, husbands must understand that the Scriptures don’t state you have to make her feel differently, but as the head it is commanded to facilitate her on the right path which is toward God. It’s her decision on what to do with her feelings, though your words and actions can facilitate her away from her feelings in many cases.

When a husband tries to make his wife happy, he often attempts to do things to curry her favor. For example, doing the dishes, doing the laundry, thinking a woman needs romance, etc. This never, ever, ever, ever works.

When you attempt to make a woman feel happy, you are basically validating her bad feelings. You’re telling her subconsciously that she’s feeling bad, and you’re responsible for her feeling bad which is why you are doing all of these things to make it up.

If you read my previous article on Christian masculinity, mindset, and fitness testing, you will see how this all starts to fit together. When a woman asks you a question about her appearance expecting you to validate her, if you do actually validate her then you’re basically another woman to her. Women validate each other’s feelings.

When men do things to attempt to fix a woman’s emotional state they are validating that her emotional state was correct. This is very difficult for men, especially husbands to learn, because men are doers. If we see a problem, we like to do something to fix it. Unfortunately, that is the wrong approach.

Since wives are supposed to be submissive, respectful, and a helpmeet in the marriage relationship, you can see how this will start to make her feel less submissive, less respectful, and sets the husband up as the submissive in the relationship.

A woman’s emotional filter is complex. Sometimes her emotions will be from other people, and she will direct them at the husband. Sometimes her emotions will be because of husband. Sometimes her emotions will be from other things in the world, and she will direct them at the husband. A husband must determine why a wife is in a certain emotional state and respond accordingly.

Men and husbands — don’t try to take responsibility for a woman’s emotions. Take responsibility instead as the head to facilitate her lovingly towards God.

If she chooses to rebel against the headship in marriage because of her emotions, it is not your responsibility to clean up any of her mess. Her rebellion means the consequences fall on her. God does not take responsibility for rebellion and sins that Christians commit, and neither should husbands take responsibility for rebellion and sin that wives commit.

As the head of the marriage instead focus on:

  1. Direct her away from them if they are inconsequential, typically by changing the subject. This can be towards Biblical principles, or
  2. Allowing her to vent her emotions or frustrations without getting involved or vested in them (listen without attempting to fix), or
  3. If she is venting her emotions at you which are caused by other people then firmly tell her that you are not the cause of her frustrations and taking it out on you is the wrong thing to do, or
  4. If you were in the wrong then apologizing but never begging and never pleading and never attempting to fix it, but rather allowing her to work through the process of forgiveness herself.

If you understand that you need to treat women differently than you would treat a “problem” with interacting with a man, you are already halfway to a solution of having unity in your relationship.

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35 Responses to Her emotions

  1. Chad says:

    Yes.

    If God is the rock upon which we men weather the storm, we have to realize that sometimes she’s the storm we have to weather. Other times we’re the rock upon which she weathers the storm.

  2. Mark says:

    Excellent post. I wish I had all this twenty years ago. I’ll be 47 this year, single (engagement blew up last year) and the outlook is bleak.

  3. smilinghope says:

    I disagree with some of this though… wow

  4. @ Smiling

    What do you disagree with?

  5. smilinghope says:

    Not validating a wife when she asks about how she looks?
    I don’t see how that would be loving your wife nor how that makes him one of her female friends… maybe I’m not understanding it right?

  6. @ smiling

    Think of it this way: Should anyone give a compliment to someone who is fishing for compliments?

    The answer is of course no.

    Someone fishing for compliments is needy and insecure, which should not the case especially for Christians who know that God is all they need.

    If a woman is fishing for a compliment she’s basically attempting to coerce her husband into complimenting her. It’s the same as manipulation to make herself feel better. And when a husband obliges he is just like every other woman who compliment women about every little thing.

    I have no problem with anyone giving out compliments on their own terms, but I will never suggest to give them out to someone who is fishing for them. Men and women, and husbands and wives included.

  7. smilinghope says:

    Okay, thank you…

  8. smilinghope says:

    Ow okay, I understand now, thank you for clearing that up for me.

  9. @ Smiling

    You’re welcome.

  10. Bobbye says:

    Good answer Deep Strength. When my wife fishes for a compliment ,I remind her that it doesn’t mean anything nor is believable if asked for. She needs to wait and give me the opportunity.

  11. femininebutnotfeminist says:

    I would like to point out that a wife won’t fish for compliments if they are already being freely given by her husband. So if you think she is attractive, tell her so, and often. She needs to hear this from HIM regardless of whether or not she hears it from other women, because other womens’ opinions of her attractiveness mean nothing to her, only her husband’s. Don’t leave her guessing and thinking she has to fish for them.

  12. Looking Glass says:

    A “fished for” compliment also involves 2 lies:
    1) The Woman is wanting affirmation by hiding it behind a different request.
    2) The Man is obliging and may or may not believe it. He’s assuaging her emotions.

    Everyone is worse off and has committed a few sins in the process. Yet it happens millions of times a day. Think about that.

  13. femininebutnotfeminist says:

    @ LG

    I was stating the circumstance under which a woman feels the need to go fishing, not saying it is correct for her to do so. And that if a man thinks his wife is attractive (or anything else that he loves about her) he should just tell her truthfully rather than expect her to read his mind.

    And a woman needing to know that her man finds her attractive is no more insecure/seeking validation/affirmation than it is for a man to need his woman to BE attractive FOR him. Men need their women to be attractive for them, women need to know that their men find them attractive. They are complimentary needs that we both have, and nether should be brushed off or ridiculed just because one gender doesn’t understand the other’s need.

  14. donalgraeme says:

    Interesting you mention that FNBF… I have heard similar statements from other young, unmarried women before. At least, in so far as women need to hear from their husband that he finds them attractive. Not sure though that the absence of compliments on his part is the source of her fishing for them. General insecurity might cause that, or attention from other, attractive women might.

    I think that much of the problem in this area lies in the fact that men and women speak a very different language. A husband might do something, thinking that he is complimenting his wife, but fails to realize that she didn’t interpret his action that way. She is looking for direct verbal affirmation, whereas he is probably sending messages dynamically through non-verbal actions.

  15. donalgraeme says:

    I should also note that this need for affirmation is probably some sort of reverse mate-guarding. Women seek it to make sure that they are not likely to be cast off by their present mate, and replaced by another woman.

  16. Bobbye says:

    I think that the explanation for affirmation behavior is found in how they were raised from infants. My son once commented that all those horrible singers on American Idol were the result of their parents and family telling them all of their lives how wonderfully talented they were. How many little girls ask” do you think I’m pretty, Mother?” or “Dad?”, and are never given proper instruction to develop a proper self concept.

  17. femininebutnotfeminist says:

    @ Donal

    A good way to tell the difference in whether it is from insecurity or not is this… does she go fishing quite often? As in nearly every day? Does she constantly complain about her own appearance compared to other womens’ but do nothing about it? (Meaning she has given up because she thinks it’s a hopeless cause to even bother trying anymore). Or does she go WAY over the top trying to overcompensate and compete with all other women? These behaviors scream insecurity. If she is just trying to take care of herself, look pretty, basically just making an effort (not over doing it, but not under doing it either) and just wants to know that her man appreciates and notices it, that isn’t insecurity. In this case, a man should verbally tell her this, and often. I’m curious though about these non-verbal compliments you speak of…. what might a man do (but not say) that he means as a compliment for her?

    @ Bobbye

    In the case of the terrible american idol singers being told they are uber talented their whole lives, I agree that nobody should falsely compliment someone like that. Though I do think that if a man thinks his wife is attractive that an honest and simple compliment is in order… “you look pretty in that dress”… “I love how that color brings out your eyes”… things like that. Very simple to do, very meaningful to her.

  18. femininebutnotfeminist says:

    @ Donal,

    Oh, and wanting to know that he isn’t going to trade her in for a newer model is probably part of it too, at least during middle age. Especially if she notices him noticing other (attractive) women, but doesn’t seem to notice her anymore (or at least she thinks he doesn’t because he never verbalizes it to her). She can’t help but wonder, “is he *still* attracted to me…?” I’ve heard it from more women than I can count.

  19. donalgraeme says:

    @ FBNF

    I’m curious though about these non-verbal compliments you speak of…. what might a man do (but not say) that he means as a compliment for her?

    We are talking things like leer at her, grope her, give her backside a quick swat, run his fingers through her hair. Essentially, any kind of sexual or possibly sexual “kino” is a sign of attraction from a man.

  20. @ FBNF

    You have to remember that generally men like doing rather than talking. We’re action oriented.

    Thus, look at what a man does for his affection. Especially if he’s going out of his way to help a woman.

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  25. Anonymous says:

    We are indirect communicators. I know I, for example, feel very awkward in expressing my needs. I was taught from a young age that we were to think of others, not ourselves, as we are being taught to serve rather than be served. So when our wells run dry, and we find ourselves in need, our training and upbringing forbids us to acknowledge a need because that is the height of selfishness — sometimes we are scolded when we find ourselves in need, because there is always someone in greater need than us.

    So as time goes on, and nobody notices us, we tend to hint around that we would like to be noticed. Husband takes advice here and deliberately does not grant the need, or tells us he will not give because we aren’t asking correctly. The well-trained wife who was trained to have the servant’s heart can gradually start thinking, “I was taught I had to anticipate the needs of all around me, I am trying to do what I ought, and I am sinking, nobody cares,” and slippery-slope into depression. They may go through all the motions and be OK, but they get exhausted in their daily routine and develop upper-lip stoicism, which eventually shows up in other areas (without getting too graphic, everything they start doing out of sense of duty and they lose the ability to spontaneously enjoy things as they develop a numbness about them; that is all I will say).

    I don’t know about others, but I would give my right arm for a loving look from my husband, a hug, or even a swat, as one person said. I struggle and struggle and struggle. I have to keep remembering that I have a job to do, that I’m supposed to meet the needs of my family, that I’m supposed to keep my mouth shut, but man, I think it might be easier just to have a spike driven through me and be done with it all sometimes. Not to be noticed, even a little, is like dying every day. It’s hard just to comb my hair every day. I find it difficult to even purchase a pair of shoes, even if the old pair is full of holes, because I have this heavy “what’s the point” feeling all around me.

    My husband must be reading this blog; just reading some of the things on here sounds a lot like what he does, and makes sense — when I saw the husbands win their wives with words thing, I thought maybe you were emphasizing the importance of how much words mean to us, but I found quite the opposite. Oh, well.

  26. @ Anonymous

    I posted this comment on the husband win their wives with words post, but it is an apt response to you comment as well:

    I understand what you are saying. Let me try to explain it in a different perspective.

    Communication is such that fishing for compliments comes off as manipulative. That may not be the heart of the wife or even the husband as both sexes can fish for compliments; however, that is the way it comes off. Basically, it matters both from your heart AND what you say.

    So my advice would be to communicate more clearly. For example,

    “I’m feeling ____ because of ____.” I need ____ instead.

    I’m feeling __overwhelmed__ because of the __stress of taking care of the kids and keeping the house clean__. I need _encouragement and help_ instead.

    You can see how this type of higher quality communication is a far cry from something like “do I look nice?”

    Good communication requires the communicator to actually be vulnerable — they’re voicing and expressing their needs and it is possible that the other person could ignore or insult them.

    “Do I look nice?” leaves the need unvoiced and cons the other person into fulfilling said need without giving them a chance to freely express their affection. In other words, there is less free will present with poor communication because you don’t actually know what the other person is asking or needing help with because they don’t tell you.

    The more people comment on my blog, the more I realize just how poor people are at communicating what they are experiencing.

    It is possible to communicate what you are feeling without coming off as judgmental or blaming the other person. However, it requires vulnerability.

    Likewise, while it’s nice to be validated by other humans, especially your spouse… Christian men and women need to realize that the fullness of our identity is already in Him. This frees us from the expectation and need of human validation.

  27. Anonymous says:

    Red,
    I am Anonymous, and I am shocked that you would write this way. It’s people like you who use such offensive language that has made most of these men feel the way they do. If all you can do is use profanity, then why are you commenting on a blog like this and making it difficult for all women who speak appropriately?
    And just where did I threaten suicide? That is ridiculous. You give all women a bad name and simply reinforce the “manosphere” idea that we are all feminist and wicked. Thank you, you have just made my day. Please do not reinforce the idea that we are all bad by using profanity and speaking so disrespectfully. We have enough problems without this.

  28. Anonymous says:

    DS,

    What I could say is, that if my husband seems to be depressed or is “fishing”, as you might put it, I feel an obligation to give the compliments. I believe it my duty to fuss over him a little and do for him, try to say things that build him up, etc. I was taught this was my duty. Do I always want to? Nope. But it is my duty to do it. As his wife, I am supposed to serve him, to tell him he’s wonderful, etc. Recently, I haven’t been bothering to do much verbal complimenting because I just haven’t the heart. I’ll still wait on him, but only because it is my duty. In general, I’m just too tired to care much (of course I would never tell him that because that would be disrespectful and just get him mad.)

    What I am getting here is that we are supposed to do our duty and then talk like a man if we need anything, otherwise we will get ignored or else verbally corrected. That is something I truly don’t understand. I understand your response, but it’s just kind of depressing.

    Yep, I already understand about God being the fulfillment of all our needs — that’s the response I usually get when I am feeling particularly low. Always brightens my day considerably, knowing that I’m supposed to cater to my husband and fulfill my duties while he can continue to ignore me unless I communicate what is considered to be the “right” way.

  29. Robin Munn says:

    Um, what just happened?

    First we have two different commenters calling themselves “Red”, with two different emails (as proven by the two different gravatars). Then Anonymous responds to the first Red, who was not talking to her (as evidenced by the “guys like you” in the first line of that comment), and the second Red takes offense …

    I see a whole lot of talking past each other and miscommunication in the past few comments.

  30. Red says:

    I, for one, apologize. I didn’t see my name, so I tried changing the email. I’m sorry for any confusion this may have caused.

  31. Red says:

    You’re absolutely right, Robin. You have every right to be confused and disappointed. I lack even basic communication. I should have mentioned the switch in email, were the occasion to present itself that the other email would show. I also disagree that Anonymous had any right to respond to me, when I was talking to someone else. Of I course, I should have made it more clear that I switched who I was talking to beginning at third paragraph of the first post. I should have said, “Now, I am conversing with Anonymous, until otherwise indicated.” However, I neglected to do this, once again evidencing how poor women are at communicating. God made them inferior, in nearly every aspect that does not include child-rearing or being one with a man. This includes communication. To begin with, we are constantly lying to ourselves and don’t even know our point is. After you get past that, we only make a logical point if it emotionally appeals to us. Usually, our points are not logical for that very reason. Finally, we fuck up our speech, because we don’t even know how to say anything. Finally, we screw up our language, because our sin nature leads us to Feminism and causes us to be wicked and selfish. The penalty of our sins is the hurt feelings of men in our life. Our pain is repercussion for theirs. Who took the fruit first? It was Eve. Eve hurt Adam, and so any hurt she felt was not direct repercussion for her actions, but repercussion for Adam’s pain. He was to be a farmer. Now, I don’t know about you, but farming seems to me as though it is a tedious and repulsive job. I mean, maybe this is just me freakin’ out, but I hate dirt and I hate worms. And also frogs and bugs, who are bountiful in farming, not to mention their bountyon a plantation. Thank God men do farming. I would especially drop any farming equipment God made for me to plow the field with, both on purpose, because I would see it as a means to rebel, and on accident, because there’s no way I can handle the weight of something over thirty pounds. Are u kidding me? However, proper discipline, especially domestic discipline, may still be applicable in this situation, depending on the movement of my husband’s spirit in this instance.

    The point is, should I be punished for a mistake. According to Mark Driscoll, Jesus made mistakes. Now, I disagree with him on some things, and that’s part of the reason I’ve thought about joining the Catholic Church. I don’t want to be the only person on Facebook who’s joined a cult. I’d rather be safe. I don’t like it when people tell me, “Mark Driscoll is a heretic.” I usually tell them off, and if they’re right, I delete their message. I don’t like how it feels to be stupid. I’ll admit that I am, but for Pete’s sake (no offense) I’m sorry if, for Saint Peter’s sake, I’m sorry if that’s how it is, okay? Does it look like it’s my problem? Then I don’t care! Can someone else deal with this for once?

    It’s not fair. It isn’t.

    So, I get mad. And when I get mad, I can’t even talk well. I will talk in txt spk or something, because my spirit is wrong. My sin nature again.

    So, should you use domestic discipline? It depends on the spirit.

    It depends on what she did and how he feels what she did. Do you feel bad, wife, in a marriage? It depends. It depends on how your actions lead him to feel about how your sin as a flesh is caused by yourself alone, and you have no one to blame but yourself alone! I’m sorry! I can’t help you!

    I hope this clarifies what the deal is. I know it shouldn’t, but you never know how much something can help if you give it the effort. It’s not about winners and losers, it’s about proper authority and not condoning bad actions and their attitudes.

  32. I removed the profane post(s).

    Like I said in the other posts, if anyone has a problem with me they can e-mail me to resolve it privately via Matthew 18.

    @ Anonymous

    It’s not about who has to communicate the “right” way or who has the “worse” deal of it. There’s always a reason behind the desire or need for both men and women. However, the responsibility that both the husband and wife have is only to them: to do the right thing even when the other isn’t. This is what God’s grace is needed for.

    April’s website may be a better fit if you need advice as a wife, although her ministry is more geared toward if the wife was bpreviously overbearing as opposed to the husband being overbearing.

    http://peacefulwife.com/

  33. Anonymous says:

    Thanks, DS. I am looking at Peacefulwife right now.

    I am sorry that it appears my contribution spurred someone to start acting inappropriately here. I cannot understand why people think that profanity and swearing are ever appropriate. And I am sorry, Whatever, but you DID use profanity. The “f” word in any form or attached to another word is profanity. Also, swearing automatically discredits a person, especially a woman. Women are the ones who always kept society a little bit more respectable than usual, as is evident by the fact that gentlemen always watched their language around ladies in days past. Ladies set the standard with dignity and grace, and that is what we must do even more today because so many of us unfortunately don’t act like ladies.

    Once again, I deeply regret that my comment was the spearhead for this.

  34. Anonymous says:

    DS,
    Thanks once again, Peacefulwife is an excellent blog. It’s almost like she’s talking to me. There are several points I just read that are almost word for word exactly like what I’m experiencing. Thanks once again, I really appreciate it.

  35. Pingback: You’re not responsible for a woman’s emotions | Christianity and masculinity

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