Compilation of advice for men struggling in their marriage

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:

  1. 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).
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. Spend more time with your children, if any. Be the best father you can be, along with instructing them according to the Scriptures.
  6. Never deny your wife sex when she wants it (1 Cor 7).
  7. Keep initiating sex, but don’t get mad if you are denied.

Uncontentious behavior on your part:

  1. Don’t argue. She clearly does not believe the Scriptures, so bringing up the Scriptures or arguing of any kind is pointless.
  2. 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.
  3. 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?
  4. 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.
  5. Don’t throw any accusations around. It will only start arguments. You don’t want arguments.
  6. 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.

  1. Be disciplined in your work/job and ambitious to be better and promoted.
  2. Workout — gain muscle and lose weight.
  3. 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.
  4. Dress nice, all the time if possible. Good grooming.
  5. 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).

Summarized:

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.

End notes:

  • 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.
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31 Responses to Compilation of advice for men struggling in their marriage

  1. Chevalierdejohnstone says:

    I can’t think of an adjective to describe the lofty heights of yesness this post achieves. This needs to be stickied, bookmarked, whatever. An excellent Christmas gift.

    I have already been doing all these things. My situation is perhaps a bit easier than other men because neither wifey nor I were Christian when we married, so when I began my pilgrimage with the Lord I hoped but did not really expect my wife to follow quickly. I suppose it’s a bit easier then for me not to feel bitter, since she hasn’t changed her behavior – it’s I who have changed.

    I would add one additional piece of advice. I encourage all husbands in these situations to practice sexual continence in your marriage. I know a lot of guys are being denied sex by their wives, but please consider that if you don’t both see sex in marriage as an embodied act of spousal love which echoes the love of God in the Trinity, then any intercourse you do have is objectively sinful. Consider that even if you convince your unbeliever wife to have sex with you, she is, sadly, incapable of anything other than fornication. And if you lead her into that you are sinning as well. So choose to practice continence until such time as, God willing, you have a truly Christian marriage. And accept that this may not happen, but the rewards of Heaven are greater than any worldly pleasure. Sex is both unitive and (potentially) procreative in God’s plan for marriage. If it is not both of these things – if it has a hint of using each other simply as objects – then don’t do it. As someone who has voluntarily practiced continence in my own marriage for some time now, I will say that for me personally it would have been impossible to behave as a Christian husband were I engaging in intercourse with my unbelieving spouse. There are many spiritual rewards to continence, and the Apostle Paul exhorts is to practice it. I do recommend, if you choose this, that you live “as brother and sister” as much as possible. Don’t ogle your wife naked, sleep in separate beds if you can afford it, and so on. And be joyful!

    To those who think marriage without sex is bad or somehow unmanly, I say, Saint Joseph, descendant of Kings, foster father of our Lord, spouse of the perpetually virgin Holy Mother, and terror of demons, pray for us. Saint Isidore, pray for us. (And by all means, if your wife asks you for sex never deny her. Scripture is very clear on that. You practice continence, but don’t force it on her. It’s something that can be a source of great joy if practiced mutually in a Christian marriage, whether temporarily (such as giving up sex for Lent) or more permanently. But you don’t have a Christian marriage if your wife refuses to behave as Scripture prescribes, so don’t force it. It’s up to the Holy Spirit to bring your wife to holiness, not you. You lead the way, you don’t pull her. )

  2. Minesweeper says:

    ” In the Scriptures, a husband is tasked with …provision for the family (1 Tim 4)”

    Where do you find this ? Not v10 I would assume, it dosnt mention husbands\fathers etc

  3. @ Minesweeper

    Oops. 1 Tim 5:8 rather.

  4. @ Chevalierdejohnstone

    I don’t see a reason not to initiate sex, as 1 Cor 7 says the believer sanctifies the marriage.

    You just shouldn’t get angry or hurt when it is denied, because they don’t believe that a marital debt is owed.

  5. Minesweeper says:

    @DS, 1 Tim 5:8 dosnt mention husbands in the greek, its anyone\everyone should provide for their own. All are tasked for providing for each other. Again the concept of husband only provision is also a new invention.

    So you have the concept of women (and ive known this happen) who just chuck their job in upon marriage as they assume the man is on the hook for their entire life expenses !

  6. @ Minesweeper

    Arguable, at best.

    1. Husbands were tasked with provision of food, clothing, and sex in the OT for their wives. There’s no indication in the Scripture that this was to change.
    2. The Scripture is mainly written for men, except for certain instances of instruction to women.
    3. It is men who were in charge of households (which this verse refers to those from v4). The care of the mother fell to the son, post-father death. See also: Jesus giving responsibility of Mary to John when He was on the cross.

    If the family needs a wife to work (via the husband’s prerogative) then she should work.

  7. Scott says:

    Thanks for the pingback. That post continues to the most popular one to date. I’m glad it has helped.

    Merry Christmas to the Gregorians!

  8. shredifier says:

    *entire post*……what a load of utter pagan Romanism, Catholic garbage. …your post so reeks of pagan and Popish Roman heresy I won’t even dignify it with a rebuttal

  9. Zhou says:

    Great post! The fact that there is rebellion and contentiousness is why I think, partly, GK Chesterton said that marriage is a duel to the death, to which no man should decline. A contentious, nagging wife will drive a man nuts, and with a more liberal, feminist climate, many good men don’t have the resources to take charge (e.g., having a good social support – many Churches will automatically take sides with the wife as the default since men or naturally sinful and women are barometers of godliness). Wish I learned this stuff when I was younger.

  10. Jeff says:

    Chevaliersjohnstone,

    Don’t have sex if she doesn’t understand it etc? Lmao! She needs it whether she knows it or not. You having sex with her so that YOU are not led into temptation is part of your leadership responsibility.

    Does the Lt. Not lead his men to safety because those under him don’t understand the direction he is going? Lol!

  11. shredifier says:

    Chevaliersjohnstone’s comment was so retarded I couldn’t resist exposing it for the piece of Catholic Popish garbage that it was

  12. ballista74 says:

    Hi all! Had the (exceedingly rare) opportunity, so I thought I’d drop in. Besides the usual things most of the others have said (and I have said in the past) in response to the legions of problems/issues of this post, I thought I’d point out the main thing:

    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.

    For men, remember God’s set out order and Adam’s sin. While it’s not “safe” under any circumstances to point out such truths, given the feminist nature marriage has been given over the last 400 years or so, your goal is to NOT please your wife, but to please God alone. This was Adam’s sin: He listened to and heeded his wife rather than God. Know who your boss is, and work to please him and don’t make your wife into your God (as the common advice dictates).

  13. @ ballista74

    Good stuff.

    What’s been going on with you and your site?

  14. ballista74 says:

    Pretty long story on both counts. There’s a long form post that I don’t think got out about the site overall, which explained quite a lot.

    Short form is that I ceased to have both the time and steady Internet access to give it its just due (if it ever got that at all given the number of writing ideas I had and continue to have and prep to write), especially given two or three things I desired to do with the site.

    My e-mail (the site at gmail) has always been available if there are those that want to discuss anything.

  15. Art says:

    Chevalierdejohnstone

    Wow! Thanks for confirming to me just how profoundly anti-Biblical the teachings of the Roman Catholic Church are. I knew that Rome had anti-marriage and anti-sex tendencies, but I it boggles my mind to hear what you have to say.

    Rome surely is a great enemy to Christ, and His people. The time is coming when the Harlot Babylon will be cast down and utterly destroyed (Revelation 17-19). Then will come the true and never ending wedding feast of the Lamb, and His pure and spotless Bride. Soli Deo Gloria!

  16. Minesweeper says:

    @Art, explains why the protestant translations were much better but not accurate to the greek\hebrew with regards to sex, they did really improve it just not to the original text, as in the RCC was so screwed up on it you could only take it so far, people just couldnt handle the truth. Its amazing really, we seem to have made a religion by itself regarding sex among christian prob more “rules” regarding that with the church than anything else. Which just distracts from what we really should be doing.

  17. dvdivx says:

    I’m not sure who this advice is for. In my case my marriage is just dead. That’s it. Can’t afford to leave and we are at best roommates. I would litteraly put a bullet through my skull then to spend the rest of my life with my wife but have no way out with little kids. Most Christian marriage advice falls under the I’m in a good marriage but here’s what to do when your not. Its like someone in the matrix trying to describe the real world. There are no emotional outbursts for instance and no yelling. We are well past that stage. As far as sex goes there is not enough Viagra to compensate for someone’s bad personality.

  18. mark shaffar says:

    Thanks Deep Strength. I think

    “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.”

    says it best. I was involuntarily separated from my Christian wife for 1.5 years and now divorced for a year and I’ve been doing most of the things you said in your practical advice section. It didn’t save my marriage but running to Christ 1st and seeking to please him made it a whole lot easier to let go of the pain my wife was causing me and my kids.

  19. Minesweeper says:

    @mark shaffar, DS hasnt gone through this, so isnt speaking from experience of understanding. I dont think DS have you ??

    unless you have been thrown into the woodchipper of divorce and crucifixion among the western churches, you really have no idea just how absolutely horrible things will become. Its unimaginable to those who havnt gone through it. Just as well, as they would lie awake night screaming.

    ex-wives and their supporters are empowered to cause an almost unendless amount of pain and suffering, the more the better they believe.

    been through it, I spent most of the time saying “i cant believe this is happening “, its so far outside the realm of possibility for a single or still married man in the church they literally cant connect with the experience.

  20. Minesweeper says:

    @dvdivx , been there big time, is she BPD at all ?? been there too.

  21. Minesweeper says:

    @dvdivx , with hindsight, me ex had a horrendous personality and morbid obesity too within 9 months of marriage from normal weight – didnt even think that was possible.

    when you discovered you married a BPD, the normal rules of life are thrown into destruction.

  22. dvdivx says:

    My wife wasn’t BPD and hasn’t really gained that much weight. Maybe 10-15 pounds tops. She only weights 125 or so. She just said the only reason she married me was to have kids. After the kids no sex no nothing. Her ‘mission’ was complete so why pretend to be a wife. It was all just a giant scam. Kids are mine but so what. There hasn’t been anything resembling a marriage since the youngest was born. Kids have never seen any affection between us nor us even sleeping in the same bed or room. Doesn’t really matter I guess since I can’t leave.

  23. Minesweeper says:

    @dvdivx, did she give any explanation to why she deceived you ??

  24. @ Minesweeper

    Nope, I haven’t. Just compiling what advice I’ve seen over the years and from Scripture that apply to various situations.

    If we’re talking about suffering, no one could have suffered more for doing what is right than Jesus.

    I don’t claim to know or have experienced how terrible it is, but Mark is right that turning to Jesus is the only answer in the end.

    Doing such things may help if the wife is just lost or off track, but it is also possible that being a “perfect husband” may still lead to a divorce and suffering and there’s nothing you can do about it.

  25. ballista74 says:

    I went ahead and put up another location.

    http://ballista74.wordpress.com/

    Don’t expect regular posts, but whatever I feel the need to post will end up there.

  26. ballista74,

    Welcome back!

  27. thedeti says:

    Ballista:

    You should put up some “best of Society of Phineas” on your new blog.

  28. J says:

    Ballista, glad you are back. I really enjoyed S of P when it was up and running. Your posts were very thought provoking and helpful in my deprogramming from churchianity back to Christianity. Thank you for that brother.

  29. ballista74 says:

    @thedeti
    Actually, people would have to request some of those things. In terms of hits, what I thought was formative to do wasn’t always what people liked. Besides, with the way I wrote posts (single topic point per post, 500-1000 words, often turning into threads, hence all the self-linking), it quite obviously revealed itself over time that people either missed the totality of what I was saying or just was opposing it for reasons as written in the Scripture, as the S of P final post stated. To that end, if I can ever get the secretarial work done I have here in the background, I plan on collecting several of these things into book type texts. The latest post on the new blog is indicative of one of those projects.

    @J
    To God be the glory, of course.

  30. @ ballista74

    Book is best, I think.

    That’s what I’m eventually going to do with all of the posts on here. Reformat most of them into a book.

  31. ballista74 says:

    @Deep Strength
    Indeed. Of course, part of the problem of a well-posted blog is that it’s hard to track of what you’ve written about, exactly. Much more so, keeping things organized enough that you (and others) can find every post on a topic easily. Probably the best option to preserve what you do in the long run. If you have the time to do it, of course, outside of not letting new good (and timely) topics going for making new posts.

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