This information is spread all across the web in various places. I thought it would be a good idea to compile a list here since this is one of the most often asked questions for men coming to these parts.
Who this advice is for
Most of the men that come around this blog are in relationships or marriages where their woman or wife is acting rebellious. In most cases, the rebelliousness has continued even after the husband has spoken to her about it, including discussing relevant Scriptures. For example, the wife is sexually denying her husband, so the husband brings up 1 Corinthians 7. Another example is if the wife is being willfully disobedient with finances or other parts of the relationship.
In some drastic cases, the leadership of the Church(es) a husband in attending also affirms their wife’s rebelliousness. The leadership of said Church may heretically claim that a husband needs to earn his wife’s submission (helping her with chores and other duties), or that the submission of a wife to her husband is based on making her feel some certain way (a wife is like a slow cooker and you need to act romantic if you want to have sex), or that her submission is only required if he does the right thing (your wife is a barometer of your spirituality).
Clearly, these things are against what the Scriptures council, and no amount of bringing up the Scriptures or reasoning to said wives and/or pastors seems fruitful. This is the very definition of contentious women. Proverbs even reiterates it twice:
Proverbs 21:9 It is better to live in a corner of a roof Than in a house shared with a contentious woman.
Proverbs 25:24 It is better to live in a corner of the roof than in a house shared with a contentious woman.
Proverbs 27:15 A constant dripping on a day of steady rain And a contentious woman are alike;
The nature of how to act in these situations
In these cases, it is my general contention that those who are disobedient to the Word are acting as unbelievers and therefore should be treated as such. Divorce is not an option, even if the wife is an unbeliever.
1 Corinthians 7:12 But to the rest I say, not the Lord, that if any brother has a wife who is an unbeliever, and she consents to live with him, he must not [f]put her away. 13 And a woman who has an unbelieving husband, and he consents to live with her, she must not [g]send her husband away. 14 For the unbelieving husband is sanctified through his wife, and the unbelieving wife is sanctified through [h]her believing husband; for otherwise your children are unclean, but now they are holy. 15 Yet if the unbelieving one leaves, let him leave; the brother or the sister is not under bondage in such cases, but God has called [i]us [j]to peace. 16 For how do you know, O wife, whether you will save your husband? Or how do you know, O husband, whether you will save your wife?
Wives have a good example of this in 1 Peter 3.
1 Peter 3:1 In the same way, you wives, be submissive to your own husbands so that even if any of them are disobedient to the word, they may be won without a word by the behavior of their wives, 2 as they observe your chaste and [a]respectful behavior. 3 Your adornment must not be merely external—braiding the hair, and wearing gold jewelry, or putting on dresses; 4 but let it be the hidden person of the heart, with the imperishable quality of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is precious in the sight of God. 5 For in this way in former times the holy women also, who hoped in God, used to adorn themselves, being submissive to their own husbands; 6 just as Sarah obeyed Abraham, calling him lord, and you have become her children if you do what is right [b]without being frightened by any fear.
Wives are told to win their husbands without a word, chaste and respectful behavior, and a gentle and quiet Spirit, with all submissiveness. This echos the similar qualities of a hierarchical relationship discussed in 1 Peter 2, Ephesians 5, Colossians 3, and so on.
Husbands can learn from this example to act according to what the Scriptures command. If words aren’t working, then it must be actions that must win a wife. In the Scriptures, a husband is tasked with the headship/leadership of the marriage (Eph 5), provision for the family (1 Tim 4), instruction (Eph 6), and protection in various ways (OT).
One of the traps of this that is very easy to fall into for both husbands and wives who want to win their spouse is that they do all of these things with the intention of trying to earn back the devotion of their spouse. This is false.
Husbands and wives should obey Scriptural roles and responsibilities to each other because they want to please God first.
Certainly, God may use the way you act to win a wife (or husband for that matter), but it is far from guaranteed. It certainly is possible that you can learn to act and be one of the most godly men on the planet, and a wife may will want to divorce you. That’s fine. Many people who listened to Jesus, saw the miracles He performed, and watched his ministry up close did not believe in the end or mocked Him when He was on the cross.
James 1:2 Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various [c]trials, 3 knowing that the testing of your faith produces [d]endurance. 4 And let [e]endurance have its perfect [f]result, so that you may be [g]perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.
5 But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all generously and [h]without reproach, and it will be given to him. 6 But he must ask in faith without any doubting, for the one who doubts is like the surf of the sea, driven and tossed by the wind. 7 For that man ought not to expect that he will receive anything from the Lord, 8 being a [i]double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.
If you suffer for the sake of doing what God has called you to do that is normal. The Scriptures tell us to count it all joy. Yes, it’s a hard thing to learn how to do — to count suffering as joy. However, remember that is what Jesus did as He went to the cross for us.
Concepts to understand how to act if a wife is acting rebellious
In general, the thing to keep in mind is that as a man and husband are a few things.
- You are responsible for the way you act. After we die, when we are judged by God we are held accountable for the roles and responsibilities that we had. If we are tasked with leadership, then we should lead, even if those under us are rebellious.
Ephesians 5:25 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her, 26 so that He might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, 27 that He might present to Himself the church [q]in all her glory, having no spot or wrinkle or any such thing; but that she would be holy and blameless. 28 So husbands ought also to love their own wives as their own bodies. He who loves his own wife loves himself; 29 for no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ also does the church, 30 because we are members of His body. 31 For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and shall be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh. 32 This mystery is great; but I am speaking with reference to Christ and the church. 33 Nevertheless, each individual among you also is to love his own wife even as himself, and the wife must see to it that she [r]respects her husband.
A husband’s love is to work toward sanctification — holiness — so it is the primary duty of a husband to point out ways in which to shed the ideals of the culture and put on the ideals of the Scriptures. Likewise, loving his wife as his own body (3x).
- The speck versus the log. It is often the case in a contentious relationship that each side of the relationship thinks that the other side is the problem. Sure, to an impartial observer you may be the lesser “problem” but you still have problems to take care of. Remove any logs and specks as much as possible.
Matthew 7:3 Why do you look at the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? 4 Or how [a]can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ and behold, the log is in your own eye? 5 You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye.
- Don’t ignore the nature of women. Yes, society, family, friends, and even the Church may have lied to us that women are just men with boobs. Yes, it’s easy to become bitter. However, don’t be ignorant of the human nature of women, and don’t get jaded because of it. Yes, you need to understand that women are the weaker vessel.
1 Peter 3:7 You husbands in the same way, live with your wives in an understanding way, as with [c]someone weaker, since she is a woman; and show her honor as a fellow heir of the grace of life, so that your prayers will not be hindered.
Colossians 3:19 Husbands, love your wives and do not be embittered against them.
Practical ways to act if a wife is acting rebellious
Biblical roles and responsibilities:
- Do what is required of you, according to the Scriptures as the role of the husband: love your wife as your own body (Eph 5), don’t be bitter toward her (Col 3), and try to live with her in an understanding way as a weaker vessel (1 Pet 3).
- Continue to lead. Initiate family activities and events. Give the wife and/or kids instructions on what to do and teach them as necessary if they’re struggling.
- Be a good provider and protector. Look to see how you can meet a need when applicable. Distinguish what are needs and wants and prioritize the needs.
- Don’t complain. Ever. It only validates what she thinks and says. If you need to complain, you complain to your superior: God in prayer.
- Spend more time with your children, if any. Be the best father you can be, along with instructing them according to the Scriptures.
- Never deny your wife sex when she wants it (1 Cor 7).
- Keep initiating sex, but don’t get mad if you are denied.
Uncontentious behavior on your part:
- Don’t argue. She clearly does not believe the Scriptures, so bringing up the Scriptures or arguing of any kind is pointless.
- If she wants to argue, don’t argue. There’s no point, and it will only serve to make her more angry and volatile. If you give into her contentiousness, you’re only propagating it.
- Don’t respond to threats. What is she going to do? Divorce you? If you’re already at the point where divorce would only be a relief, then why not try to win her to Christ before she divorces you?
- Just listen, don’t speak. If you need to say something then let it just be listening: “It sounds like you’re feeling hurt, how can I understand why you’re feeling this way better?” and just let her tell you how she feels without getting upset or responding. Then thank her for telling you how she feels afterward, even if it’s about you.
- Don’t throw any accusations around. It will only start arguments. You don’t want arguments.
- Try to never, ever, raise your voice. This goes with all of the points above, but it bears repeating.
In general, treat conversations non-chalantly and kindly. She can’t continue to get mad if you’re overwhelming exhibiting the fruits of the Spirit through patience, longsuffering, and kindness. It’s very hard to get angry at someone who is not angry back.
Masculine behavior and nature of women:
As we’ve discussed multiple times before, Donal’s PSALM/LAMPS explores the nature of attraction of women. Most of these things are a result of being naturally masculine. However, in this day and age, most men are not masculine because we have been conditioned to be feminine. Hence, specific work may be needed in order to become more masculine.
- Be disciplined in your work/job and ambitious to be better and promoted.
- Workout — gain muscle and lose weight.
- Nutrition — get control of your nutrition and start eating healthier. Nutrition is the main way you’re going to lose weight if you’re overweight.
- Dress nice, all the time if possible. Good grooming.
- Get some hobbies.
Some have objections about understanding the nature of the attraction of women. I outline here why the Scriptures indicate that marriage is an earthly institution to serve earthly needs. A Christian understanding of attraction and the role it plays in marriage Part 2. Hence, it is foolish to ignore the nature of what men look for in marriage (beauty, helpmeet, companionship) and what women look for in marriage (leadership, power, status, athleticism, looks, money/provision, protection).
In general, emotional outbursts are a woman’s way of telling you that she feels powerless or insecure. Telling a woman like this what she should be doing is the wrong response. The correct response is to be strong and comforting. Women don’t necessarily want solutions to problems — just to be heard and/or held (hugged) when their emotions are going crazy.
In general, if you start being more masculine by understanding the nature of women and how to act around them like the above examples, then women will tend to become more feminine and less combative and less emotionally needy and hostage taking. However, this is not always the case if the wife is narcissistic, BUT you don’t have to let it affect you and how you act even though it is difficult.
The focus needs to be on what you can control, and the only thing you can control is you and how you act. This is a very difficult thing to learn, but you need to learn it to be an effective man of God.
- I know I didn’t cover all actions a man can take. If you have more to add, then post them in the comments.
- Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to you all.