It is no secret if you have read many posts on my blog that I believe the vast majority of problems we face today as a society lie squarely at the feet of feminism. But even coming from a Biblical gender roles view as I do, I still believe in and have seen the controlling husband.
I believe there is a Biblical view of what a husband should be, if a husband acts outside those bounds he may be a controlling husband. But the world, including many people who profess faith in Christ and his Word, have rejected the Biblical view of a husband, and that makes them have a very expanded view of what a controlling husband is.
Let me first state a concept that is extremely clear in the Bible – God instituted patriarchy in the home, the church and society at large. Ladies, if you want to follow the Bible, you need to leave feminism at the door.
We will first look at what a controlling husband looks like from a Biblical worldview, and then what actions are NOT those of a controlling husband(even though the world claims they are).
This is what a controlling husband looks like from a Biblical worldview:
- He is infuriated that his wife actually has different opinions from him.
- He not only wants her to act a certain way, he wants her to feel a certain way.
- He may or may not yell a lot, but he dominates every conversation in such a way that she cannot get a word in.
- He refuses to let his wife be involved with other women, whether they be friends, or family and insists her whole life be focused on his needs, wants and desires.
- He may or may not be physically abusive.
- He may or may not be verbally abusive.
- He makes his wife like less of a human being.
These are the Biblical passages that support the definition of a controlling husband I have given above:
A Biblical Husband doesn’t hold grudges against her
“Husbands, love your wives, and be not bitter against them.”
A Biblical Husband Honors his Wife – Respects her as an adult human being, with her own opinions, thoughts, likes and dislikes
“Likewise, ye husbands, dwell with them according to knowledge, giving honour unto the wife, as unto the weaker vessel, and as being heirs together of the grace of life; that your prayers be not hindered.”
I Peter 3:7(KJV)
“She openeth her mouth with wisdom”
A Biblical Husband sacrifices himself for his Wife
“Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it;”
A husband who is controlling is acting contrary to these Scriptures I have just mentioned. Such behavior is despised by God, and according to I Peter 3:7 God will not hear the prayers of a man who treats his wife with such contempt.
Now that we have discussed what a controlling husband is from Biblical view point, we will turn our attention to what is NOT a controlling husband from Biblical view point.
These behaviors are NOT wrong or controlling for a husband from a Biblical worldview:
- He completely controls the finances, even money his wife may earn, and gives her a weekly allowance for groceries, clothing and things that she or the children may need.
- He sets the discipline polices and rules for the children.
- He determines where the family goes to church.
- While he allows his wife to express her opinions on all manner of subjects privately with him, he determines the public family opinions on religion and politics. He determines what the children will be taught from a religious, social and political viewpoint. He also teaches his wife from the Word of God. He does not always expect that his wife will agree with his interpretations, but he expects her to have a teachable spirit and respect for his right as her husband to teach her the Word of God.
- He expects his wife to fulfill her duties as a wife, including having sex with him and caring for their home and their children.
- He expects his wife not to disagree with him in public, but that she will keep her disagreements for private discussions with him. Even when she disagrees in private, he expects her to do so in respectful manner.
- He expects his wife to be respectful of other men as well, especially in mixed gender gatherings. He expects that his wife will not correct other men, or be too opinionated in the presence of other men.
- While his wife may be courteous with other men, he expects that his wife will never ever flirt with another man. While his wife may communicate with other men in his presence, he expects that his wife will never have a private friendship with any man other than her male relatives (father, brothers).
- While his wife may find other men attractive, he expects her not to gawk or act in an unladylike manner toward other men.
- While a husband should allow his wife to have lady friends with whom she can share her feelings and have a bond in a way only women can, he also has the right to restrict her from certain women whom he feels are a negative influence on his wife.
What to do if you have a controlling husband
If you have looked at the first 7 points I gave about a controlling husband, and he matches most of them then you indeed have a problem. But hopefully you have also ran your thoughts by the 10 items I have mentioned above, and you are not considering you husband to be controlling because of any of these actions.
So if you still believe you have a controlling husband these are the steps a Christian wife should take:
- Examine yourself first. While 80% of the problems in the relationship may be from his selfish and ungodly actions, you need to make sure you have cleaned up your own house first. Are you routinely disrespectful toward him? Whether it is public disrespect or private disrespect, this can cause your husband to act in unloving ways toward you. I am not justifying his actions, only giving one possible source of the problem.
- Pray for him. Do not under-estimate the power of prayer.
- Try to communicate with your husband how you feel in a very respectful way. Communicating things in an angry or disrespectful way will not accomplish anything, and two wrongs never make a right. Make sure you communicate these things to him in private, not in front of other people.
- Physical abuse does not have to be tolerated. Contrary to what some Christians have taught, if he is physically abusing you – you do not have to stay and take that. The Bible commanded (Exodus 21:27) that slaves had to be freed by their masters if they caused any serious physical damage to their slaves. This would be no less for a wife who is physically abused by her husband, as a wife had more rights than a slave. A wife has the right to be released from a husband who physically abuses her.
- Verbal abuse is different situation. I don’t think there is anything wrong with you taking a walk if your husband is using verbally abusive language, but there are no Biblical grounds for divorce in this situation. You also do not have the right to stop performing your duties and responsibilities as a wife and mother due to his unkind words. I Peter 2:18 tells slaves to be respectful and obedient even to masters who are cruel or unkind. This concept applies to the behavior of wives towards their husbands as well (I Peter 3:1-6).
Make sure your husband is truly a controlling husband. If you are bucking your husband for any of the 10 things I stated above that are NOT the marks of a controlling husband, then you need to repent to God and your husband for rebelling against his God given authority over you and your family.
If however, your husband is truly acting in controlling or unloving ways towards you, first examine if you have been a disrespectful or unloving wife toward him. Make sure you have made your own heart right with God first.
Once you have examined yourself, and have addressed any failings you have had toward your husband, try to address the situation with him in a private, and in a very respectful manner. If you are being physically abused –get out and try to get help for him. If he will not change, I do not believe you are bound to him in this case. If he is not physically abusive, but refuses to change, you need to pray for God’s grace and give your husband to God.
You are not the first wife to deal with an unkind or cruel husband, and you will not be the last. Our unchristian world says “leave the bum” if he treats you in unkind way. The Bible says to love him even more, and maybe, just maybe you may win his heart to Christ.