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:
- 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)
- 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).
- Not lead (or be the head),
- Become embittered toward her,
- Deny sexual relations,
- To not be understanding/considerate to her
- 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:
- Direct her away from them if they are inconsequential, typically by changing the subject. This can be towards Biblical principles, or
- Allowing her to vent her emotions or frustrations without getting involved or vested in them (listen without attempting to fix), or
- 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
- 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.