You should be training your wife

I went with the inflammatory title for a reason.

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 in all her glory, having no spot or wrinkle or any such thing; but that she would be holy and blameless. 28 So husbands also ought 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 parts of His body.

A husband’s love is to emulate Christ’s for the purpose of sacrificial sanctification. Christ’s loving sacrifice for us on the cross was that so we would be reconciled to God.

2 Corinthians 5:16 So from now on we regard no one from a worldly point of view. Though we once regarded Christ in this way, we do so no longer. 17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here! 18 All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: 19 that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. 20 We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God. 21 God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.

Thus, a husband is to love his wife for the purpose of sanctification. How can he do that? By discipling her in the faith, which part of that includes the use of Scripture.

2 Timothy 3:16 All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, 17 so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.

In general, husbands should be discipled by other men in the faith, and they should be discipling others including their wife and children in the faith. Much like God commands the Israelites in Deuteronomy 6.

Deuteronomy 6:4 Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. 5 Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. 6 These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. 7 Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. 8 Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. 9 Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates.

What does this mean? What are some practical examples?

Here’s one example I used in the book. While I was dating my wife she was being disrespectful in her speech with other people toward me, so I pulled her aside and told her not to speak about me that way. If your wife is treating you in a way that is not Christ-like with the fruit of the Spirit you should be teaching, rebuking, correcting, or training her to operate in a way that conforms with Christ.

The problem is that many Christian husbands don’t do this, so their relationship or marriage devolves into a pattern of disrespectful behavior.

One of the axioms I’ve used on this blog before always rings true: You teach others how to treat you.

If you let your girlfriend or wife run all over you or treat you with disrespect, that’s the type of relationship you are going to have. You need to grow a backbone and tell her disrespectful or non-Christian behavior is unacceptable. Just as Adam failed to rebuke Eve (and the serpent) in the garden when she gave him the fruit, husbands are to emulate Christ to be more like Him instead of doing nothing and allowing the sinful behavior to slide.

Use wisdom. If you and your wife get hotheaded, make a rule that there’s no talking about things until emotions have cooled off. If there’s name calling don’t engage. If she’s acting like a spoiled child then call it out.

If you don’t tolerate manipulative behavior and don’t respond it then surprise surprise it will improve over time.

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18 Responses to You should be training your wife

  1. Jack says:

    I think this idea should be discussed openly, because if men made this expectation clear in the beginning, then this would weed out those women who disagree with the idea of Headship. It’s a vetting technique that will reveal whether a woman has a scarlet letter, so to speak.

  2. Jack says:

    Actually, the Scarlet Letter is not a good analogy, because Hester Prynne was very loyal to her lover, but you get my idea.

  3. Red Pill Apostle says:

    Jack “I think this idea should be discussed openly, because if men made this expectation clear in the beginning, then this would weed out those women who disagree with the idea of Headship.”

    You are getting at the concepts of selection and adverse selection. If you can accurately communicate the traits of who you are up front, girls will self select away from or towards you depending on how well y’all match up. If you how you communicate the traits of who you are is off somehow then you run the risk of adverse selection where you attract girls with the wrong fit for you.

    Thinking about this concept further, this may be one of the more damaging parts of the modern church’s teaching on men and marriage because it creates a trend of men being selected by women that are egalitarians. The lessons men are taught about masculinity, girls and marriage show up in men’s characteristics that the egalitarian girl finds pleasing and there is little impetus for her to move on over philosophical/theological views. The expression of biblical masculinity coupled with biblically minded vetting processes advocated for here and elsewhere help mitigate the chances of adverse selection.

  4. I do understand the respect thing but shouldn’t that go both ways? Like the man should not dis his wife and that she should be able to correct him.

    Am I mistaken about Christianity? When i became a Christian i thought that God/Jesus/Holy Spirit became my teacher, leader, guide, etc not a fallible man. My husband told me the day we got married he was not my boss or leader and that I was to follow God’s will in my life not his.

    After living under Gothard theology for a while I realized that putting all the rules on how women should act and very few on men that boil down to lead and breed caused the abuse of many women by men who hid behind a few bible verses that gave them free rein and free reign. See the website called Recovering Grace for stories of how making a whole theology out of a few verses caused many to fall away from the faith.

    The fact that those few misinterpreted verses about male headship spawned such patriarchal websites such as Biblical Gender Roles that claims the bible says men are owners of their wives, women should not go to college or be educated or even vote, and only be housewives and mothers, advocating for marrying young girls in their teens and molding them to be the perfect wife in all ways….among other things that will make your hair stand on end —all backed up by scripture !!!!!!!!!.

    And to disagree with someone who supports women in “traditional” submissive roles is to invite ire, name calling, vitriol and many other unchristian responses, including not allowing differing opinions on their sites, only comments that agree with what they say.

    If God meant for women to only be housewives and mothers why did He give some great inventive minds and abilities? Why was it 3 black women that did the math and computer calculations that got the astronauts home safe from the moon? Why didn’t God give that knowledge to men whose women were at home raising kids and cleaning house?

    One last point…even though patriarchy is in the Bible that does not make it God’s plan for the family. To say that is to also agree slavery is ok because it is in the Bible as part of the ancient and Roman/Greco world where biblical events took place. Under patriarchy women can be abused. But under mutuality, no one is abused because God is the only authority. Yes there are wordly authorities but we cannot obey them blindly.

  5. @ Jack

    I think this idea should be discussed openly, because if men made this expectation clear in the beginning, then this would weed out those women who disagree with the idea of Headship.

    Yes, you should be teaching and discussing the Scriptures with your wife. If she knows how you are going to do things prior to marriage — and during the relationship you lead by example to show how it will work — then it makes things much easier: either she will agree or you can mutually part ways for a better fit.

  6. @ susan

    I am going to assume you are here in good faith, we can have a discussion.

    I do understand the respect thing but shouldn’t that go both ways? Like the man should not dis his wife and that she should be able to correct him.

    The Scriptures provide a framework for how to act within the marriage.

    The husband is the leader and should treat his wife with love and understanding. The wife is the helper and submits and respects her husband.

    A wife as the helper should be able to point out areas of improvement or correction, given she does it within the parameters of submission and respect. I have told my wife if she sees any areas of improvement or areas where I’m in sin to let me know so I can correct my actions.

    Am I mistaken about Christianity? When i became a Christian i thought that God/Jesus/Holy Spirit became my teacher, leader, guide, etc not a fallible man. My husband told me the day we got married he was not my boss or leader and that I was to follow God’s will in my life not his.

    If that’s what you were taught then you are mistaken. The Scriptures instruct that in marriage the husband is the head/leader/authority and the wife is the helper/follower and submits and respects her husband. Genesis 1-3, Ephesians 5, Colossians 3. Titus 3, 1 Peter 3, 1 Corinthians 11, etc.

    Your husband is accountable to God for his leadership. If he wants to have an “equal” relationship or whatever like that then he’ll be judged by God for that.

    After living under Gothard theology for a while I realized that putting all the rules on how women should act and very few on men that boil down to lead and breed caused the abuse of many women by men who hid behind a few bible verses that gave them free rein and free reign. See the website called Recovering Grace for stories of how making a whole theology out of a few verses caused many to fall away from the faith.

    No clue what this has to do with my post. The Scriptures are pretty clear that authority is given to love and serve others.

    John 13:12 When he had finished washing their feet, he put on his clothes and returned to his place. “Do you understand what I have done for you?” he asked them. 13 “You call me ‘Teacher’ and ‘Lord,’ and rightly so, for that is what I am. 14 Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet. 15 I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you. 16 Very truly I tell you, no servant is greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. 17 Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them.

    Jesus does not cancel authority or denigrate it as He acknowledges He is His disciples’ authority. This analogy is that Christ is the authority and the Church submits to Christ. The same one used in Ephesians 5 for wives to submit to their husband’s authority. Christ -> Church is the same as husband -> wives.

    Instead, Jesus says to use authority correctly which is to love and serve others. Men have a greater responsibility using their authority rightly than women have with their submission and respect.

    The fact that those few misinterpreted verses about male headship spawned such patriarchal websites such as Biblical Gender Roles that claims the bible says men are owners of their wives, women should not go to college or be educated or even vote, and only be housewives and mothers, advocating for marrying young girls in their teens and molding them to be the perfect wife in all ways….among other things that will make your hair stand on end —all backed up by scripture !!!!!!!!!.

    And to disagree with someone who supports women in “traditional” submissive roles is to invite ire, name calling, vitriol and many other unchristian responses, including not allowing differing opinions on their sites, only comments that agree with what they say.

    If God meant for women to only be housewives and mothers why did He give some great inventive minds and abilities? Why was it 3 black women that did the math and computer calculations that got the astronauts home safe from the moon? Why didn’t God give that knowledge to men whose women were at home raising kids and cleaning house?

    The Scriptures don’t make prescriptions like that but give a framework.

    Headship-submission
    Love-respect

    In my opinion, too often do people assume that their own way is the only right way when the Scriptures don’t support things like that. Proverbs 31 even indicates that the wife is shrewd in business, although Titus 2 states that wives should have their primary focus on the house. That doesn’t exclude working or running a business.

    One last point…even though patriarchy is in the Bible that does not make it God’s plan for the family. To say that is to also agree slavery is ok because it is in the Bible as part of the ancient and Roman/Greco world where biblical events took place. Under patriarchy women can be abused. But under mutuality, no one is abused because God is the only authority. Yes there are wordly authorities but we cannot obey them blindly.

    This has been previously debunked by the passage in John and Ephesians.

    Ephesians uses Christ and the Church (headship and submission) as the model for the husband and wife for the New Creation in Christ. This was the original intent from the beginning, before the fall, as Eve was created as a helper to Adam.

    The fact that authority can be abused does not cancel or denigrate authority. Doing this is essentially “throwing the baby out with the bath water.” The dirty bathwater represents the way authority can be abused, but authority is not bad it is good. It’s the baby that God created.

    Christians need to obey God and rightly use authority to love and to serve.

  7. @ RP Apostle

    You are getting at the concepts of selection and adverse selection. If you can accurately communicate the traits of who you are up front, girls will self select away from or towards you depending on how well y’all match up. If you how you communicate the traits of who you are is off somehow then you run the risk of adverse selection where you attract girls with the wrong fit for you.

    Thinking about this concept further, this may be one of the more damaging parts of the modern church’s teaching on men and marriage because it creates a trend of men being selected by women that are egalitarians. The lessons men are taught about masculinity, girls and marriage show up in men’s characteristics that the egalitarian girl finds pleasing and there is little impetus for her to move on over philosophical/theological views. The expression of biblical masculinity coupled with biblically minded vetting processes advocated for here and elsewhere help mitigate the chances of adverse selection.

    Correct.

    My wife actually was very conflict avoidant at first. I had to drag out what she was mad about whether it was me, others, or something that happened.

    If you can operate in this situations with the fruit of the Spirit (especially patience and long-suffering) and avoid emotional and angry responses, it’s pretty amazing how men and women will start to want to open up and talk about their anger or the mistakes that you, they, or others have made.

    It’s gotten to the point where most of the time my wife will just come out and talk to me before the emotions get bottled up for days or weeks and then come to a blow up. However, helping her learn this took upwards of several months to a year.

    One must not only model the behavior you want but be patient to start to teach it. However, this also requires that you have been working on your own character and virtue a lot before you get into any relationship. It’s much harder to start doing it once you are in a relationship or marriage, but it can be done.

  8. Red Pill Apostle says:

    DS – If that is what you were up against, consider yourself blessed. It is much worse for many men.

  9. Anonymous Reader says:

    Jack wrote:
    It’s a vetting technique that will reveal whether a woman has a scarlet letter mark of Eve, so to speak.

    Improved it for you. Or perhaps you would prefer rebellious and contentious heart, to be more explicit.

  10. Anonymous Reader says:

    Deep Strength
    My wife actually was very conflict avoidant at first. I had to drag out what she was mad about whether it was me, others, or something that happened.

    A lot of men I see, both churchgoing and not, are conflict avoidant. A conflict avoidant man may often tend to solve interpersonal problems by leaving, one way or another.

    If you can operate in this situations with the fruit of the Spirit (especially patience and long-suffering) and avoid emotional and angry responses, it’s pretty amazing how men and women will start to want to open up and talk about their anger or the mistakes that you, they, or others have made.

    On the other hand, people with a lot of pride and anger will pour anger over you pretty much all the time, if you just take it and put up with it endlessly. There has to be a limit to patience, surely?

    It’s gotten to the point where most of the time my wife will just come out and talk to me before the emotions get bottled up for days or weeks and then come to a blow up. However, helping her learn this took upwards of several months to a year.

    Was that time period prior to marriage, after marriage, or both prior to and after marriage?

  11. Anonymous Reader says:

    One benefit of actively training a woman is subtle but important: it makes pedestalization nearly impossible.

  12. @ RP Apostle

    If that is what you were up against, consider yourself blessed. It is much worse for many men.

    What I am saying is because I stopped it things early at the beginning of the relationship things improved from a small trouble standpoint to a very good one.

    If you aren’t teaching, training, or correcting your girlfriend or wife that means she’s only taking cues from the culture which is to disrespect her boyfriend or husband. It will only devolve to much worse states.

    In other words, flatten the molehills before they grow into mountains. If you’ve already let things devolve into mountains, it’s gonna be a lot more prayer, time, effort, and sometimes tears.

  13. @ AR

    On the other hand, people with a lot of pride and anger will pour anger over you pretty much all the time, if you just take it and put up with it endlessly. There has to be a limit to patience, surely?

    For sure. If she never improved on her character and virtue and that was a problem then I’d have to end the relationship before marriage.

    Was that time period prior to marriage, after marriage, or both prior to and after marriage?

    Prior. Much more difficult after you’re married, especially if you were not doing it beforehand.

  14. Red Pill Apostle says:

    DS “If you aren’t teaching, training, or correcting your girlfriend or wife that means she’s only taking cues from the culture which is to disrespect her boyfriend or husband. It will only devolve to much worse states.”

    If she is not willing to be taught then this does not apply. I know it is my fault for not knowing better and entering into marriage with such a girl, but my sentiment is true. Not all girls are as willing to be molded into what you want from them. Many married men who have found their way to a site like yours did not do the vetting process well, me included. Know that there are no molehills in marriage, because once the commitment is made they are mountains.

  15. @ RP Apostle

    If she is not willing to be taught then this does not apply. I know it is my fault for not knowing better and entering into marriage with such a girl, but my sentiment is true. Not all girls are as willing to be molded into what you want from them. Many married men who have found their way to a site like yours did not do the vetting process well, me included. Know that there are no molehills in marriage, because once the commitment is made they are mountains.

    You’re thinking of things too formally. Teaching, training, correcting, modeling, and admonishing does not necessarily have to be a formal process. Much of it comes from leading by example and engaging in a godly manner while being firm with boundaries and minimizing negative encounters. I’ve been working with men on the discord in similar positions at this.

    For instance, one man’s wife has an issue with complaining about her job where it bleeds over in conversation to starting to take it out on her husband which per his experience “indirectly calls him a lazy piece of shit.”

    In these types of situations with conflict, it tends to gentle chastize while characterizing the communication into a better format. This exchange may look like this:

    Wife: “indirectly calls him a lazy piece of shit.”

    Husband: “I understand that you’re stressed out about work, but that is no reason to take your stress and anger out on me. Let’s take some time apart to calm down, and if you want to vent a bit more later without taking it out on me let’s do it.

    As you can see, you gently correct her on taking things from her job out on you, but you indicate that you still want to be there for her and that you can engage in things later when things calm down. This is a good way to lead by example and set a standard that you’re not there to be abused but you do want to be understanding and help her through the situation.

  16. elspeth says:

    In response to the woman who commented about being taught under the so-called “Gothards teaching”:

    Women who came up under these kinds of ministries often have a very hard time reconciling themselves with marital hierarchy. Bill Gothard largely taught (often overtly but mostly through insinuation) a model of marriage and family where wives were basically for the purposes of sex and child rearing. I suspect a lot of his stuff has been stretched in hyperbolic ways, but there is a credible trail of evidence that some not-so-kosher stuff was going on there.

    My husband, who is a very commanding presence with no qualms exercising his headship and expecting me to honor it. But he does not believe he is God to me. And he absolutely expects me to have a relationship with the Savior that is separate from his. He isn’t like Susan’s husband as he does see himself as my boss, albeit a loving, benevolent one. He made it clear early on that my job is whatever he tells me it is, but getting it done is something he trusts me to handle.

    Husbanding well necessarily demands training. I underwent some boot camp years myself, but when women have come from heretical backgrounds which contain abuse (sometimes real, others just perceived due to culture), they tend to buck against the idea of male authority over them. They associate it with pain.

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