Several married friends have come to me recently frustrated with their husbands’ behaviors. Their husbands were not ______ing the way that they “should.” All three wives had different blanks, but the bottom line was that they had talked to their husbands about what they were witnessing, and their husbands did not heed their advice. My friends “knew” that what they were suggesting was better, or if they jumped in they could fix it.
Is that our calling?
When you buy a house that needs fixing, you call it a fixer-upper. Once you buy it, you have to fix the things that are wrong with it. Some fixes are repairs required to make it functional. Others may be cosmetic, just because we want it a certain way.
What do you call it when you marry a man and then try to “fix” him? Did you marry him that way?
“Women marry men hoping they will change. Men marry women hoping they will not. So each is inevitably disappointed.” – Albert Einstein
Is he broken?
Of course he is, but then, so are you. It’s called the sin nature, and it’s in all of us. The question is… who put you in charge of judging the ailment and fixing your husband’s perceived wrongs?
What does he do wrong?
- Is he not helpful with the household chores?
- Is he addicted to televised sporting events?
- Is he not attentive enough to the kids?
- Does he make poor eating choices?
Did he change or are you imposing your beliefs about how life is supposed to look?
What’s wrong with trying to “help” them?
- What he is doing may not be wrong. It just may be that you don’t like it, or it may not line up with your expectations. Suppose he’s not taking out the trash, and that’s what your dad always did. Is that wrong or just contradictory to your world view?
- If you have said it more than once, you are nagging.
“Better to live in a desert than with a quarrelsome and nagging wife” (Proverbs 21:19 NIV).
Maybe your husband doesn’t like vegetables, but you “know” he would be healthier if he ate them. If you’ve explained the health benefits once, and he still chooses not to eat them, will it change his mind if you say it a thousand times, or will it make him want to go to live in the desert?
- What has been the best source of learning for you? Was it someone repeatedly telling you that you need to change? If that was true, I’d be a thin person today.
Unfortunately, it seems that we get entrenched in our ways. If it’s important, then God steps in and allows a consequence to our behavior that drives us to our knees in repentance. We’d love to help our spouses avoid that, but if you’ve suggested a different behavior, and they don’t do it, a consequence may be a better teacher.
- Pushing your beliefs on your husband shows a lack of trust and submission to him, and ultimately, to God. If it’s truly important to God’s kingdom, don’t you believe God will take care of it? Or don’t you trust him?
We women tend to take things into our own hands. Like Eve in the Garden of Eden, taking the fruit (Genesis 3) or Sarah suggesting Abraham make babies with Hagar, their servant (Genesis 16). We’re still feeling the repercussions of these women’s take-charge attitudes. But none of this should surprise us – it’s the result of the fall:
Then he [God] said to the woman, “… you will desire to control your husband, but he will rule over you” (Genesis 3:16).
Consequences of trying to control your husband
- Your husband will go live in the desert to get away from you.
- Your husband will stop listening to you because he perceives that you don’t respect him.
“… each man must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband” (Ephesians 5:33).
- You may drive him into the arms of a woman who thinks he’s great just the way he is.
“Stay alert! Watch out for your great enemy, the devil. He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour” (1 Peter 5:8).
- You will get frustrated.
What can you do?
- Pray. Pray for God to help you check your attitude and desire for a pure heart. Pray for God to show your husband the right path. Pray for God to send someone who he will listen to.
- Communicate. Not by nagging. Always sandwich your statements with love. In a quiet moment, face to face, tell him how much you love him and why you are concerned. Tell him what you perceive is happening, and how that makes you feel. Avoid “you” statements. Finish with a suggestion of what he might make it better.
- Only tell him once. Then turn it over to God.
- Spend most of your time in thankfulness for what he does right, and let him know how much you appreciate him.
Patricia Hartman, CPA is the owner of Patricia Hartman, CPA, PA, a tax and forensic accounting practice. She has worked with hundreds of divorcing clients. She is the author of “The Christian Prenuptial Agreement” available at www.ChristianPrenuptial.com. She is the president of South Florida Word Weavers and a board member of Living Water Christian Counseling.