7 Ways to Discipline Your Wife

Biblically speaking all those who are under various authorities can and should be disciplined by those authorities. The husband wife relationship is no exception to this rule. So how should a Christian husband go about his duty of disciplining his wife whom God has placed under his authority? This is a question that we will seek to answer here.

When we hear the word discipline in the context of wives this can be a scary term for many. It invokes images of husbands beating their wives and knocking them around or locking them in closets. It might invoke images of husbands standing over their wives yelling and screaming at them and using all kinds of obscenities. This is not the type of discipline that we are talking about in a Biblical context. Men who behave in such ways will answer to God for this abusive treatment of their wives.

Arguments against the discipline of wives by their husbands

Before we can get into how to discipline your wife as a Christian husband we need to address the arguments against any form of discipline by husbands toward their wives.

Argument #1 A Partner cannot discipline their other partner

The first and most common argument against Christian husband’s disciplining their wives is the belief that a husband and wife are equal partners in marriage. The Bible does not show marriage as a partnership, but rather a Patriarchy (male lead hierarchy). See my post “Is Marriage a Partnership or a Patriarchy?” for all the Scriptures that present marriage as a Patriarchy and not a partnership.

Argument #2 Discipline infantilizes a wife

Some would argue that if a man disciplines his wife in any way that this is treating her (an adult) as a child. This could not be further from the truth. The discipline of a wife is certainly different than that of a child and we will discuss that later in this post.

But discipline is something that applies to adults as well as children. Governments have the power to discipline their adult citizens, military commanders have the ability to discipline adults under their command, Churches have the power to discipline their adult members, and employers have the right to discipline their adult employees. Discipline applies to all of us as adults – both men and women.

No one would argue against discipline in these other spheres of authority or say that it infantilizes these adults.   Certainly there is also the potential to abuse one’s authority and discipline in wrong ways, but the exercise of discipline itself is not wrong, only the abuse of it is.

Argument #3 A wife’s submission to her husband is voluntary, therefore he cannot discipline her

Even some Christian complementarians and others who believe in male headship in marriage reject the husband’s right and responsibility to discipline his wife. They do so based on their belief that while a wife is commanded by God to submit to her husband, this is a voluntary submission on her part and cannot be compelled from her husband.

So in their reasoning if a husband cannot compel his wife’s submission, he cannot discipline her for failure to submit to his leadership. I have shown how the Scriptures refute the idea that a wife’s submission is voluntary but rather they show that her submission is mandatory and synonymous with obedience. See my previous post “Should a Christian husband make his wife submit?” for more on this subject.

Argument #4 Christ does not discipline his bride

Some Christians, both complementarians and egalitarians, have attempted to argue that since we have no examples of Christ disciplining his bride (which is the Church) that husbands ought not to discipline their wives. This is actually not true.

Throughout the Scriptures God pictures his relationship with his people in two primary ways. The Bible pictures our relationship with God as individuals as that of a Father and his children. The Bible pictures God’s relationship with his people as a group as that of a husband and a wife with God being the husband and the people of God being his wife.

In the Old Testament God made a covenant with and married Israel as a nation (Ezekiel 16:1-14). Later he shows he had to divorce Israel because she failed to repent of her wicked ways and return to him (Jeremiah 3:8) despite the discipline that he had brought on Israel.

In the New Testament God has a new bride which is foretold in the Old Testament prophecies. But the Church (which a new body compromised of the remnant of Israel and Gentile believers) is pictured as bride that is betrothed to her husband which is Jesus Christ (II Corinthians 11:2). The marriage and consummation of the Church with Christ is seen in the marriage supper of the lamb in Revelation 19:9.

Even as a betrothed bride, Christ disciplined his Church through his Apostles who acted as the protector and guides of his bride.

“I am jealous for you with a godly jealousy. I promised you to one husband, to Christ, so that I might present you as a pure virgin to him.” – II Corinthians 11:2 (NIV)

“What do you prefer? Shall I come to you with a rod of discipline, or shall I come in love and with a gentle spirit?” – I Corinthians 4:21 (NIV)

When speaking to his seven churches in Revelation (chapters 2 & 3) Christ rebukes and disciplines all but one because of their failings and Christ says this to his churches:

“Those whom I love I rebuke and discipline. So be earnest and repent.” – Revelation 3:19 (NIV)

So my point in all this is – Those who say God does not discipline his bride are ignoring passages of Scripture that show both in his previous marriage to Israel as well as his current betrothal to the Church that he in fact does discipline his bride.

My position on wife spanking

While I do not support all the methods prescribed by Christian Domestic Discipline (CDD) movement (a group that advocates for wife spanking and other physical discipline toward wives) I do not think wife spanking by itself is sinful.  I believe it requires the consent of the wife though to use that type of discipline.  I do not practice this myself and no it is not because my wife did not consent.  I never asked to do this and I never would – this is my preference.  But I do know some godly Christian couples that use this in their marriage with the wife’s consent.  I have written an entire article on this subject that you can read “Does the Bible allow a husband to spank his wife?

Different Types of Discipline for Different Spheres of Authority

The discipline from each authority that God has established looks very different. The types of discipline that a government can bring on its citizens looks very different than the discipline that church authorities can bring on their members. The discipline of an employer toward his employees looks very different than the discipline of parents toward their children. In the same way a husband’s discipline toward his wife will look different that the discipline used in these other spheres of authority.

But what all these spheres of authority have in common is this:

In every sphere of authority God has established that the authority has not only the right, but the duty to discipline those under their authority.

Discipline makes us a better person

The Bible has a lot to say about discipline. These are just a few of those passages.

“Whoever heeds discipline shows the way to life, but whoever ignores correction leads others astray.” – Proverbs 10:17 (NIV)

“Whoever disregards discipline comes to poverty and shame, but whoever heeds correction is honored.” – Proverbs 13:18 (NIV)

“Those who disregard discipline despise themselves, but the one who heeds correction gains understanding.” – Proverbs 15:32 (NIV)

Discipline should be measured

“I am with you and will save you,’ declares the Lord. ‘Though I completely destroy all the nations among which I scatter you, I will not completely destroy you. I will discipline you but only in due measure; I will not let you go entirely unpunished.’” – Jeremiah 30:11 (NIV)

As husbands our discipline should always start off gently and then move toward harder forms of discipline. So for instance, if your wife rarely speaks in a disrespectful or demeaning tone to you then if she slips up gently let her know that her tone was demeaning or disrespectful. If she apologizes then no further action is needed.

But what if your wife is acting defiant or publicly speaks disrespectfully toward you as her husband? In this case a Christian husband may be compelled to use harder forms of discipline.

Discipline is about holiness

Christ did not sacrifice himself for his bride (the Church) in order for her to follow her own selfish ways, but rather he sacrificed himself to make her holy.

“Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless.” – Ephesians 5:25-27(NIV)

As we previously mentioned God says this to his churches in Revelation:

“Those whom I love I rebuke and discipline. So be earnest and repent.” Revelation 3:19 (NIV)

No man who truly loves his wife takes pleasure in disciplining her. We as Christian’s husbands naturally want to see our wives happy we don’t want to rock the boat needlessly. This is why discipline on the part of a husband toward his wife if he is truly acting in love is a sacrifice on his part. It saddens him to have to take these measures with his wife whom he loves.

Discipline is about maintaining Order

I think the comparison of the family structure to military ranks is both Biblical as hupotasso (the Biblical term for submission in marriage) is a military term and it helps us to understand the discipline in the home as well.

God is like our General (4 star). In the home the husband would be like a Lieutenant General (3 star), and the wife would be like a Major General (2 star). The children would be the enlisted men. Imagine that a 4 star General came along and saw a 2 star General publically degrading her 3 star General in front of other officers or the enlisted men. What do you think the response would be from that 4 star General?

That 4 star General would first scold the 2 star General for her disrespect and then he would probably scold the 3 star General for allowing the disrespect to go on. It is the same with God as he looks at the relationships of husbands and wives.

He has given us different positions and we are to exercise and play out those parts he has given us. As a Christian husband you cannot allow your wife’s demeaning or disrespectful behavior to go unchecked because it is an affront to God’s established order. You are responsible for teaching both your wife and your children the ways of God. You are equally responsible for disciplining your wife and children when they rebel against God’s ways.

So now that we have addressed the arguments against a Christian husband disciplining his wife as well as the intended purpose of a husband disciplining his wife we can now look at practical examples of how a Christian husband can discipline his wife.

7 Ways to Discipline Your Wife

Discipline toward your wife should always start with the gentlest approach first and only move toward harder forms of discipline if the gentle approach does not yield results. Warnings should always be given before harder types of discipline are implemented. You should always pray and seek the Lord’s guidance before bringing these types of discipline on his wife.

Here are 7 ways you can discipline your wife if a gentle rebuke does not work:

#1 For Disrespect

If your wife is speaking in disrespectful and demeaning ways in public in front of others (whether this is toward you or others) this might require a public rebuke of her tone and actions.

#2 For Overspending

If your wife is spending money against your wishes – this may require confiscation of her credit cards and ATM cards. Of course this can be done in measured amounts. Perhaps you might just take away one or two cards that she has abused and if her spending continues to get out of control you would move toward removing the ATM card as well. This does not necessarily mean she would have no money, but you could give her a cash allowance each week.

#3 For failing to care for your children or contradicting your authority with your children

If your wife is failing to do her duties as a mother toward your children or she is continuing to contradict your authority with the children then perhaps you might put off buying that new car for her and have her continue driving her older car for a while as long as it is safe for her to drive. If you have to purchase another car – you could downgrade the type of car she will be able to get or buy her a used one instead. Maybe you put off the purchase of that new dishwasher she has been wanting.

#4 For too much TV watching

If your wife is watching too much TV you could cancel the cable or satellite TV and just have antenna service.

#5 For too much online time

If your wife is spending too much time online (like Facebook or other social outlets or online shopping) then if she does not respond to your warnings about this you could change your internet code on your router so that her devices will not have access to the internet.

#6 For neglect of the home

Maybe your wife is not watching too much TV or spending too much time online but she is still neglectful toward her duties in your home. If your wife is being neglectful of her duties to care for your home then you might put off that new living room furniture set you have been talking about or those new window dressings she has been wanting.

#7 For sexual denial

If your wife is un-submissive in the sexual arena and chronically denies your sexual advances (without legitimate medical or psychological reasons for doing so) then perhaps that upcoming trip you were going to take her on gets canceled. Maybe that wardrobe upgrade your wife was looking forward to gets downsized or canceled. The Bible says a man has to supply his wife with clothing, but it does not say it has to be the expensive clothing she wants!

Some of these disciplinary procedures may affect the family as a whole, but sometimes it is necessary to do this in an attempt to bring your wife to repentance.

These are just some examples of non-abusive ways that a Christian husband can discipline his wife in a way that honors God and his design for the home.

Conclusion

God not only give husbands the power to discipline their wives, but he also gives them to the duty to do this. Men should not discipline their wives out some sort of power trip or prideful arrogance. Instead men should discipline their wives from a place of love in order to bring about holiness and order in their homes. Even if a wife rejects her husband’s discipline as Israel did God as her husband – he should still discipline her and pray that God will bring his wife to repentance.

Update 10/20/2015

Answers to readers questions

What if a wife works and makes her own money or even makes more money than her husband?

Many have emailed and asked me “What if a wife works and makes her own money or even makes more money than her husband – wouldn’t that take the teeth out of most of these types of discipline?”

Discipline is not about controlling someone and physically forcing a person to do a certain thing. Discipline is about trying to motivate someone to choose to do the right thing.  I have teenage sons and they are both bigger than me now. I gave up trying to physically make them do anything many years ago.

Now I discipline them through very similar discipline to that which I could use with my wife.  I take away their laptops sometimes for a few days, other times I take away their cell phones for a few days.  Now could my son’s physically refuse to hand over things, or work around any punishment I gave them? Absolutely.

But my sons submit to my discipline because as angry and rebellious as they can be at times, they know that God has placed me over them to look out for their spiritual and physical good and they know I love them.

I hear from women all the time – “well if you took this away, I would just do this…and so on”.  Yes whether they be young adults (teens) or older adults we all must decide if we will submit to and learn from discipline what the person in authority is trying to teach us.

Wives must choose to submit to discipline – there is no question.  I am not saying it is optional or voluntary, God requires women to submit to the discipline of their husbands. But a husband cannot physically control his wife or her actions.

However just because a husband cannot physically control his wife, he is still required to do as much as is in his power to do as her husband to bring discipline into her life that will show her the right path.  Now she can either rebel against that discipline and try and go around it, or she can learn the lesson that is meant to be learned by the discipline.

When a husband has done everything he can do as his wife’s immediate authority, then he leaves her in the hands of her higher authority which is God himself.

One last thing on the area of finances.  Yes your wife might work.  Yes she may make more money than you. But if she is mishandling the money you have an obligation to a least separate your money from hers so she will not be able to use it for sinful or reckless purposes.

But won’t discipline attempts by a husband toward his wife ultimately lead to divorce?

Other husbands have emailed in and asked “But won’t these types of discipline ultimately lead to divorce?”

Divorce is always a very real possibility in any marriage, whether discipline takes place or not.

But God does not call us as husbands to abdicate our role as the head of our wives in order to keep our marriage together at all costs. Christ did not sacrifice himself for his church to enable her sin, but to make her holy.

If you allow your wife to believe the threat of divorce will get you to let her continue in whatever sinful behavior she is doing she will use it every time.

In fact the two most powerful tools in the hands of most modern rebellious wives is that of the threat of divorce or the removal of sex.

There are many men in American and western cultures that have been brought to their knees in submission to their wives using one or a combination of these two evil weapons.

Now on the threat of divorce – threats of divorce are not always evil.  If a woman threatens to divorce her husband because he is physically abusing her or her children, or because he refuses to work or provide for his family she is Biblically justified in doing so (there are other valid reasons for divorce as well).

But if she threatens divorce because of unbiblical reasons this makes the threat of divorce a weapon of evil.

At the end of the day you as a husband must stand against sin in your home and your marriage regardless of what consequences may come.  Your wife will then be left with the choice of whether she will rebel against your discipline (and therefore against God’s authority) or she will submit to your discipline and learn from it and the fruit of it will be righteousness in her life.

“Can’t you just talk to your wife like an adult? What is all the need for this discipline stuff?”

I have received many variations of this question since I first posted this article. The answer to that question if you actually read this post is that a husband should always speak to his wife gently at first.

So for instance if a husband thinks his wife is mishandling the credit cards his first action is not to take away the cards.  It is to first speak with her gently.

With many Christian wives the gentle approach is all that is needed.

But are we so naïve to think that every wife will respond to these gently conversations and turn from her sinful behavior, whatever that may be? Is there no such thing as an unrepentant and rebellious sinful wife who tells her husband “where he can stick it” anytime he brings things to her attention?

Many Christians and even non-Christians would have us to believe that wives who do the things I mentioned above do not exist.  The existence of these wives is equivalent to big foot, it’s just a myth in their view.

Others will acknowledge the existence of these kinds of women. But many Christians will say that all a man can do is pray for his unrepentant wife, he is not allowed by God to bring any kind of discipline into her life.  I believe in the power of prayer, and a husband should always pray about discipline he is bringing into his wife’s life.

But if you asked these same Christians if they had a rebellious child or teen if they should do nothing and just pray about it – they would have a very different answer.  The reason is because many Christians have made this “carve out” this special class for wives where they are immune to discipline.

Even a husband is not immune to discipline. But rather his discipline comes from the Church or from civil authorities.  For instance if a wife is being physically abused by her husband she has every Biblical right to go to her husband’s authorities in the Church and in civil government to seek help and for them to discipline him.

Update 3/29/2016

What if finances are tight is there any other way a wife can disciplined?

As of today, this post by itself as received almost half a million views since I first published it back in October 2015. I have had countless emails from Christian men asking me to clarify things as well as address their specific situations.

One of the issues that has been raised is how can a man discipline his wife if the finances are tight? What if you are living on a shoe string budget and there is no money for the niceties she may be wanting or what if as I previously mentioned she works and has her own money to do what she wants?

The answer Christian husbands is TIME. Really this could be considered “the 8th way to discipline your wife”. Most women want three things from their husbands – money, time and tokens of affection.  Some women will go without the money, others may even go without the tokens of affection (flowers, jewelry, and other gifts). But few women except for those who married only for money will go without their husband’s time.

So no matter how poor you are Christian husband – in most cases you have a precious and costly item to your wife in the form of your time.  Certainly God wants you to spend time with your wife. In Deuteronomy 24:5 we read that newlywed men were not to go away to war or for any kind of business for the first year of their marriage in order to “cheer up” or as some translations render it “make happy” their wives. I Peter 3:7 tells men to “dwell with their wives according to knowledge” – You can do this without spending some time with her.

I say all this to say that in no way am I saying that you can completely ignore your wife as a form of discipline.  One wrong does not make another wrong right. But you can use discretion with your time.  If you give your wife 5 hours of your free time a week for just the two of you cut it back to 3 hours.  Perhaps there are some TV shows you watch with you wife that you have zero interest in but you just watch them to spend some time with her.  Stop doing this.  There may be upgrades around the house that require more of your time than your money. Perhaps it is repainting rooms.  Leave handy man tasks alone unless they are absolutely necessary.

My point is you know your wife best and where she wants your time – use those times to show her your displeasure in her wrong actions.  You would be surprised at how quickly just the removal of some of your time with her will get the gears in her brain running.

 

135 thoughts on “7 Ways to Discipline Your Wife

  1. Leona,

    Thank you for you kind and respectful comments and concerns. I have pointed this out in the bottom of this post in the Update section. The discipline I have listed here is not meant to be the first way a husband deals with these issues. I said it many times in the post, only after a husband gently approaches his wife about these issues does he need to move to these harder forms of discipline that I am advising.

    I agree when a person falls into sin we need to help them. But we can only help someone who wants to be helped. If a man gently approaches his wife several times about her credit card spending and she basically ignores what he says, won’t talk about it and continues to spend as she sees fit then this type of discipline would be right and just.

    I would never agree with a man going straight to these harder forms of discipline unless he has exhausted the gentler approach first. But sometimes these harder forms of discipline are necessary for wives who don’t want to talk, don’t want to budge and just want to continue in their sinful ways.

  2. I agree to a point. Some of These methods however, do not seem biblical. There is a biblical method of confronting sin in a persons life. Especially if a wife is withholding something like sex. Down to overspending, or a disrespectful tone. A brother (that is in Christ) should go to his brother in quite, confronting him on his sin. If the brother does not listen to the correction. You are then to consult two or three others and come to the brother in quite, with a group confronting the sin. If the brother does not listen to the correction, you are to take it to a higher authority, that is a pastoral leader or someone in a leading position in the church. Together you come again to your brother in love and give the correction (usually this is where married couples get counceling). All of these sins that you listed for a wife, are sin of the heart. And are not easily broken. This is where a timeframe in your post would’ve helpful, background story’s, and personalization. These issues cannot be taken care of in a few weeks, sometimes it takes months, sometimes even years. Now, during this timeframe of dealing with the sinful heart, you can implement some of these discipline issues. Withholding somethin like sex is definatly something a husband should not handle alone if the gentle approach doesn’t work. He should go seek a biblical leader at once. As well as disrespect and neglect of children or home. These are issues with things such as discontent, loneliness, heartbreak, depression, and others. Your post has a few holes, not because it’s not biblical, but because this kind of a post is hard to get all the things part of it that need to be. And also, you should acknowledge that all people fall short of the glory of God. All people have sin, all people need correction. I hope this is helpful for future posts.

  3. Since it appears you cannot or will not read and properly present the facts, I am posting the FULL excerpt from your cherry-picked source:

    “We analyzed data on young US adults aged 18 to 28 years from the 2001 National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health, which contained information about partner violence and injury reported by 11 370 respondents on 18761 heterosexual relationships.

    Results. Almost 24% of all relationships had some violence, and half (49.7%) of those were reciprocally violent. In nonreciprocally violent relationships, women were the perpetrators in more than 70% of the cases. Reciprocity was associated with more frequent violence among women (adjusted odds ratio [AOR]=2.3; 95% confidence interval [CI]=1.9, 2.8), but not men (AOR=1.26; 95% CI=0.9, 1.7). Regarding injury, men were more likely to inflict injury than were women (AOR=1.3; 95% CI=1.1, 1.5), and reciprocal intimate partner violence was associated with greater injury than was nonreciprocal intimate partner violence regardless of the gender of the perpetrator (AOR=4.4; 95% CI=3.6, 5.5).

    Read More: http://ajph.aphapublications.org/doi/abs/10.2105/AJPH.2005.079020

    As you can see, the source does NOT claim that 70% of violence in relationships is initiated by women. It says that in the abuse cases in which a partner does not fight back (non-reciprocal), 70% of violence of initiated by women. I detest your purposeful misuse of information in an attempt to not only prove me wrong, but keep abused people, including men, women, and children, oppressed. God has some strong things to say about that alone.

    Lying is not a fruit of the Spirit.

  4. @Loura,

    I specified “nonreciprocal violence” in my comment about women initiating over 70% of violence.

    Get some new glasses and read what I wrote again.

  5. Nice try, liar. I have your original comment in my inbox. I double-checked and that’s not what you first wrote. I’m glad you edited your first remark, but be humble and wise enough to admit your mistake.

  6. Guess I do need glasses. My humble apologies. I read through it a third time, and you did reference the non-reciprocal issue. Still, you did not put that in context, making it sound as if 70% of all abuse is initiated by women, which is not at all what the stats say.

    I am sorry for calling you a liar.

  7. What if I’m also working a manual labor job and my husband is the one that is overspending, spending way to much time online or watching TV, not doing his share around the house, denying me sexually, not respecting me, not being the spiritual leader in the home and looking at pornography. Should I still respect him and treat him the same way? Because that just sounds extremely unfair to me

  8. Cynthia,

    God does not tell you to respect your husband’s person(which may be less than respectable depending on his behavior), he tells you to respect his position. Your husband may be sinning in many ways, but that does not give you the right to disrespect his position. You are not responsible to God for your husbands behavior, he is responsible to God. God wants you to continue doing what is right, even if he is doing what is wrong. Now that does not mean that you can’t respectfully bring your grievances to him – you can.

    But also remember that nagging does not often work.

    “It is better to live in a desert land Than with a contentious and vexing woman.” – Proverbs 21:19 (NASB)

    The Bible tells wives to win their husbands “without a word” by their respectful behavior toward them.

    “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, as they observe your chaste and respectful behavior.” – I Peter 3:1-2 (NASB)

    Now if he is doing something that is a cause for breaking the marriage – such as the sexual denial you describe that is a different story. Then you can take him to his authority – your Pastor and have his authority confront his sin. If he refuses to repent and change after you give him some time – then you can divorce him for the sin of sexual denial.

  9. What are some ways to discipline your wife for “letting herself go”?

    It’s been an issue and only escalated over the past year where she has gained ~20+ pounds and this is affecting her attitude, our marriage, and family. The weight gain impacts many aspects of our lives, for example, she refused to have her picture taken most of the time unless it is at the “right” angle, no family pictures, prevents us from doing certain physical activities with kids, don’t go to swimming pools often and when we do she complains, cancelled a vacation, doesn’t want to do physical activities with just us like hiking or skiing, dresses in sweats/yoga pants often—majority of the time, often tired at end of night with no energy, has aches and pains most of the time, sex in dark, she dresses in dark closet, list goes on. I can understanding putting on a few pound here and there but the impact has been drastic in the way it has affected many aspects of herself, marriage, and family. She is healthy with a recent physical. This all said, there is more context I could provide regarding the situation but wanted to rather direct about the ask of how do you discipline your wife for letting herself go?

  10. Mike,

    This is a pretty big subject – that of a wife “letting herself go” and how a Christian husband should handle it. I am going to try and write something on this in the next week or two and I will let you know when I post it.

    Larry

  11. In reply to the comment saying a woman should be quiet and submissive even if her husband is acting badly or sinning, unless he denies her sexually– I have a question. Why is the issue of sexual denial something she can take to her pastor, but other sins she cannot? For example, he is also commanded in the Bible to love her as himself. If he is not doing this, can she take the issue to her pastor?

  12. Tara,

    Your question:

    “In reply to the comment saying a woman should be quiet and submissive even if her husband is acting badly or sinning, unless he denies her sexually– I have a question. Why is the issue of sexual denial something she can take to her pastor, but other sins she cannot? For example, he is also commanded in the Bible to love her as himself. If he is not doing this, can she take the issue to her pastor?”

    Yes the Bible is clear that this should be the course of action that wives should take in most instances with their husbands:

    “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, as they observe your chaste and respectful behavior.” – I Peter 3:1-2 (NASB)

    Husbands can be “disobedient to the word” in many ways, and in most ways a woman is not to go “tattle tailing” to her Pastor about it. But there are some sins which God sets aside as grave enough and serious enough to break a marriage.

    The book of Exodus gives us two such sins where a wife could approach her Pastor(her husband’s authority) to see if he can intervene and help to keep the marriage from breaking apart.
    “If he take him another wife; her food, her raiment, and her duty of marriage, shall he not diminish.
    And if he do not these three unto her, then shall she go out free without money.” -Exodus 21:10-11

    If a man is failing to provide for his family(through laziness, not because of disability or truly being unable to find a job) or if a man fails to perform his sexual duty with his wife these types of things God set asides in different category. Abuse would also be another issue – while it is not specifically spoken of in regard to a wife, it is spoken of in regard to slaves and slaves having to freed if they are physically abused by their master. This principle also applied to a wife being physically abused by her husband.

    The issue of a man not loving his wife as he loves himself is very broad issue and emotional issue as well. God does not allow divorce for emotional reasons. If you notice the only reasons that God actually allows for divorce are physical(and only certain physical things), rather than emotional.

    A man not providing for his wife with food clothing and shelter is a physical need.
    A man not providing his wife with sex is a physical need.
    A man physically assaulting his wife is a physical sin.
    A man abandoning his wife(another reason for divorce) is a physical sin – he has physically abandoned and left her.

    But God does not allow divorce for emotional abandonment, or any other emotionally based sin. In fact God does not prescribe punishments for feelings, only for how we act on our feelings. These are sins as husbands and wives that we must work on in our marriages. Even in the case of discipline, a man only has the power to discipline his wife for her actions(such as disrespectful behavior or laziness or sexual denial) not her emotions.

    There are many other things a husband might do outside of these – but in these cases God wants wife to win her husband without a word by her quiet and submissive behavior. Maybe he spends too much time with his friends, maybe he spends too much money on himself and not any on her. The list could be endless. But God does not allow for a wife to be running to her Pastor about these things.

  13. What if all of the above behaviors are the husband’s. What should a wife do? Just pray and hope for change,.no. As a women, I believe the church has faltered in not teaching the men how to be loving enough to want to LAY DOWN THEIR LIVES LIKE CHRIST LAID DOWN HIS LIFE FOR THE CHURCH. Their is a sin of pride and selfishness among Christian men . I have waited in a marriage where my husband refused all responsibilities in rearing the children.He refused to show honour to his wife and refused to teach the children ‘ to honour their father and mother’. Isn’t that a command from God. The verse is found Eph6:1-2/ Col.3:20 “Honor your father and mother. so that it may go well with you and you may experience a good life.This is the first commandment with a promise.

  14. June,

    I can sense the frustration in your statement.

    I am sorry that your husband is apparently not living up his duties as a husband.

    You said “What should a wife do? Just pray and hope for change,.no.”

    But is that how God says a wife should hand a husband who being disobedient to God’s Word?

    “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, as they observe your chaste and respectful behavior.” – I Peter 3:1-2 (NASB)

    A husband and a wife have a very different responsibility when it comes to disobedience in their spouse.

    For a husband – if his wife is blatantly disobedient he is called to do what Christ does toward his disobedient churches in Revelation:
    “Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline; therefore be zealous and repent.” – Revelation 3:19 (NASB)
    A husband is responsible to to discipline his wife and children.

    But for you as a wife – you are in a different position. When you husband is disobedient to God you are to attempt to win him to God “without a word”, but rather win him by your pure and respectful behavior.

    Now I know that you might say like many other women who have face the situation of a disobedient husband – “Well I tried being quiet and pure and respectful for years and none of that worked”. What you miss is – it is not our job to worry about the results, it is simply our job to do what God calls us to do.

    For instance many husbands might say – “I have tried to discipline my wife, but she is still stubborn, defiant and unrepentant”. I say the same thing to them – “When you have done all you can as her husband and authority to bring discipline into her life and she chooses to stubbornly reject that and learn from it then you leave her in God’s hands.”

    June you can actually find a way to live at peace with your husband, even though he is not doing everything you think he should be doing as a husband toward you and toward your children. You need to give this burden for your husbands behavior over to God. Once you truly give it to God, and simply serve and respect your husband in a true genuineness of heart just being the best wife and mom you can be you will find peace.

  15. Loura, I have read your position and what you have to say on this matter. There are many who share your views. But, I pray, do tell me, what you think of my situation. I do not want to divorce my wife, but she has completely abandoned her home and her duties and responsibilities, towards the kids and I. It has been several years, and I have been humble enough to always ‘suck it up,’ as you would say. She disrespects, accuses me of things I never do, including but not limited to having multiple women. She will not have sex with me, it is like milking a dry metamorphic rock, unless it rains and you get a few drops. She won’t take care of the home, but will go out of the house every single day, coming home late every time. She has no idea how the children eat, I have to worry about that. I pay the bills and provide for whatever is needed in the house in case you are wondering. She will claim to be in meetings, and every time she sees me or I am near her, she gets all moody. But whenever she needs something or money from me, she will pretend to be an angel. The methods proposed above do not apply in my context, and would never work. At some point she has threatened to poison me. I have asked her to end this marriage, but I don’t want to ruin our sons lives. One of them is already thirteen. I am not afraid of walking out, but she swears by her maker that she loves me and is faithful to me only. She is a pathological liar too. She will lie to protect herself , and she keeps secrets, and if I try to find out what it is she is hiding….she goes berserk. I feel caged, and I want out, part of me does. Another part want to maintain that relationship and see it work since we are both church leaders. Recently I discovered she was married to someone before I met her, and she swears that is bridge under the water, but I have heard her swear at me in the name of her first husband. Sincerely, I feel like I should discipline her to show her who is head of the family, which might include some violence since she is confrontational and will probably attack me first. PS/ It is Christmas, and without consulting with me, she left home saying she has important things to attend to elsewhere. I am certain she is not meeting another man, but what could be important on Christmas than your own children and husband? Instead of divorcing her, I have considered beating the ‘demon’ out of her (for lack of a better word) because about four or five years of talking have yielded nothing. The alternative is us going separate ways. Counseling will not work. She refuses to acknowledge that their is a problem, and whenever I attempt that route, she tells me she does not need a counselor other than the Holy Spirit. Today, I realised that we are also losing the theological position (reformed) that we both hold on to. She is not afraid of shutting me down in public by saying that some cults could actually be more truthful than the evangelical position we have always held. I have been married for fourteen years.
    Your response Loura? and any other opinion is also welcome .

  16. If wives would make a priority of making their husband happy, would there be much need for disciplining them?

    In the US, when raising daughters, it does seem that the emphasis is placed on telling the daughter to make sure she gets a husband who will be both good enough for her and who will be good to her. Daughters also need to be instructed as to the proper role of the wife in a marriage. The bitter fruits of feminism are hurting marriages and families.

  17. Lisa,

    I have a feeling your question is a loaded one but I will bite. A man could discipline his wife for adultery, he could forgive her or he could divorce her. The only way we he would know what to do is to pray, seek wise counsel and listen to the Holy Spirit.

    As far as “looking at other men with lust” – I am not sure how you define that. Just because a woman looks at other men there is no sin in that. Just because a woman finds other men attractive there is no sin in that. Lust Biblically speaking is not simply finding someone desirable. It it about coveting them, desiring to have unlawful sex with them. It would be very hard for a husband to get into his wife’s head to know if she were truly coveting or not.

    My point is a person cannot be disciplined or punished for their thoughts – that is between them and God. As human authorities we can only discipline those under our authority for their actions, not their thoughts or feelings.

    Now flirting is an action and that can be something to be disciplined for if it overt and obvious.

  18. My wife just won’t listen to me, she living with my in-laws, and she doesn’t want to come to live with me, she says she gets sick here in Delhi, she spends so much of money went I don’t send she threaten me with divorce. She doesn’t want to listen to my advice. She wants her will in all decision, what should I do?

  19. Jack,

    You need to be the head of your home no matter if your wife chooses to follow or not. The first think you need to do is cut off the finances from her. Move your money to a new account with just your name. Tell her you want to work this out but she is going to have follow you. Let her threaten to divorce you. Do you know what the two things women use to usurp authority over their husbands and their home? They either threaten to cut off sex or threaten to divorce. The only way you can confront their sin is to call their bluff.

    Maybe it is not a bluff. If it is not let her leave. A wife belongs with her husband. If she will not come live with you be your wife she should have not access to your money until a court orders it.

    You need to pray and ask God for courage.

  20. I was raised by a single mom. My dad ditched us a long time ago. It has been my experience that women are almost always more responsible than men. And more godly too… Women usually end up with the kids. First of all, I’d like to ask where all of this leaves single moms? I have never had a positive male role model. I am enraged at the very idea that a male with no cares in the world automatically making more money than a woman who has to take care of the kids and herself. That’s not fair to the kids.

    And what if the husband wants the family to reject God? What if the father keeps the kids from learning about God, and maybe even wants them to do wicked things? Is the woman supposed to stand by and let her family go to Hell just because the guy said so? The kids deserve better. And what if the woman is a genius PhD big-time boss lady and the husband is a dumb lazy bum with no job, because that happens a lot around here? Can the man just walk into the meeting and be the automatic boss, saying “No woman, this is how you do it! This may be right according to the law, but you need to do it the way I say to because I’m the man and everything I say is law!”? Seriously!? And is the woman supposed to commit crimes if her husband said so, and say in court “Well, my husband told me to, so it was God’s will.” See, these types of things burn me up! Please respond to this.

  21. Brandon,

    We have to be very careful of always believing our own life experiences reflect the norms of how things work in the world. I can see how you might feel women are the ones who are more responsible because of what your father did and because of other men around you. There are definitely a lot of deadbeat dads. But there are also deadbeat moms and in my life experience I have seen plenty of those as well. I have seen women that are extremely lazy who fail to do simple things like make meals for their children or even make sure they go to school. I have seen families where the father has to take on the role of both parents(father and mother) because of failure on the part of the mother. I have seen women leave their husbands to run off with their lovers. So if I were to take my life experience I could just as easily say men are the ones that often more responsible than women.

    You see a world where men leave women high and dry to work and care for the needs of their children on their own. Are there men that do this? Absolutely! Should these men be pursued and forced to pay support for their children? Yes.

    But there is another world that you probably have not seen because you see the world through lenses of your childhood and what your Dad did to you and your mom. There is a world in which a woman marries a man and that man deeply loves her and her children and does everything he can to provide her with a good life. But because she feels that man does not worship her enough, and romance her enough she finds love in the arms of another man. She then is able to easily divorce him, take his children and half of everything he owns and now she gets to go live with her new lover with his children while he fiances her life with her new lover. That is pretty messed up too would you not agree?

    Your Questions:

    “And what if the husband wants the family to reject God? What if the father keeps the kids from learning about God, and maybe even wants them to do wicked things? Is the woman supposed to stand by and let her family go to Hell just because the guy said so?”

    Brandon – the Bible says in Acts 5:20 that “We ought to obey God rather than men.”. No human authority whether they are a King, a President, a mayor, a pastor, a teacher, a parent or even a husband has absolute authority. The only absolute authority is God himself. So we obey our human authorities until they go outside the sphere of authority God has given them or they ask us to go against God’s commands.

    The Bible tells us we are not to put family before God:

    “He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me: and he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me.” – Matthew 10:37 (KJV)

    So no a mother is not supposed to stand by as her husband tells her children to do wicked things or reject God. But a woman needs to practice discretion and choose her battles. If a husband is asking his kids to sell drugs on the street corner the mother needs to step and say no. She may even need to take her children and leave if the husband is creating an unsafe atmosphere for the children and her. But on smaller issues like Dad says kids can watch a certain TV show and she does not agree she should take that to him privately. If he still does not agree then she needs to drop it.

    A man is not always right because he is a man. Men are just as fallible as women are. But God has placed fallible men over fallible women. In the context of marriage unless a man physically abuses his wife or fails to provide for her or stops having sex with her she has no right to leave him. Unless a husband asks his wife to do something illegal or wicked or that violates the commands of God she must submit to him.

  22. Oh yeah, I know a lot of skanky moms, I was just stating a different scenario. But hey, what if a woman is an expert in something the man knows nothing about? For example, what if a woman is an accountant and does her job perfectly, and her husband tells her to do it differently. Should she do it this other way and screw everything up just because he said so, and possibly even endanger the company? Or what if she’s in a meeting and her husband texts her with “Hey, come make me a sandwich?” Should she just drop everything and get fired? Or does the woman’s job not even matter… or perhaps she shouldn’t even get one? She shouldn’t go to college? A perfectly capable woman who could do a particular job better than anybody around should just waste her time sitting around knitting blankets and producing 15 babies? Granted, kids are important, but still. I get that a woman supposed to do everything she can to help her husband succeed, that’s a given, but is he not supposed to care anything about her, and even actively hold her back? One more thing… I don’t believe “holding back sex” is a valid reason for divorce. If any person doesn’t want to have sex, and just politely declines, then any violation of that person’s body should be considered rape. That demotes people to being sex slaves. Isn’t there a line where asking for sex every 5 minutes is considered a little excessive?

  23. Brandon,

    A wise husband should listen to wise counsel and that includes wise counsel from his wife. My mother in-law is much better with accounting and math in general and she pays the bills and manages the finances in her home. My grandmother did as well with my grandfather. There is nothing wrong with a Christian husband delegating the paying the bills to his wife. However he cannot delegate his responsibility to make the decisions as far as financial policies go. For instance he and his wife may frequently discuss their income to debt ratio and she may advice him on exactly what she thinks that ratio should be. But ultimately the policy regarding their income to debt ratio is his decision.

    On the issue of women having careers I have written extensively on that subject on this site. God has given men and women different missions in life. For a man his primary mission includes lovingly leading, protecting, teaching, disciplining and the members of his house. But another large part of a man’s mission is for him to work and provide for his family. For a woman serving the needs of her husband, her children and her home is not just part of her mission(as it is with her husband) but it is the very essence of her mission.

    So I believe that I Timothy 5:14 gives us the primary directive for women when God exhorts women to “marry, bear children, guide the house”.

    Now are there some instances where a woman has to work? Absolutely! If her husband becomes disabled or some unforeseen financial crisis were to occur she may be called to go and work. If a man abandons his family as was the case with your father then your mother was called in the provider roles along with her homemaker role.

    We live in a sin cursed world and because of that women are sometimes called to do things that under normal circumstances God did not intend for them to do(like providing for the family). Men are are sometimes called in the homemaker role in addition to their providing role when they have a disabled wife.

    But no woman should go into marriage planning on having a career that takes her away from her home for 50 hours a week and where she will be dropping her young infants off with strangers when they are 6 weeks old. If God allows the circumstances that force her to work then so be it – but women should be concentrating on the prime directive God has given them. And no my friend it is not a waste of a woman’s time to care for her young children, her home and the needs of her husband. It is a beautiful thing in the sight of God.

    On the issue of sex I think even those of us who believe a woman should not say no to her husband recognize that he should be considerate of her as well. I think asking for sex every 5 minutes would be a bit excessive and most men could not humanly do that and I recognize you are exaggerating. But let’s get more realistic here. Is it wrong for a man to ask for and expect sex from his wife once a day or maybe on some days twice in day? I don’t think so. Now obviously if she is sick or has had surgery or had some traumatic life event like the loss of a loved one husbands should take this into account give their wives a break. But expecting sex on a regular basis – even a daily basis is not sin.

    And the whole “sex slave” this to me a very false comparison. Wives have it WAY better than sex slaves. I think some of these women who complain about their husbands wanting sex to much and they say “I feel like my husband’s sex slave” need to go talk to REAL sex slaves. Go talk to some poor Asian or middle eastern girl that is a sex slave to some man. I guarantee you this women would give anything to have a husband and all the perks most wives have especially in western countries. They would gladly be having sex with their husband every day because of what they went through as a REAL sex slave.

  24. I have a question. Don’t get me wrong, I lean toward your thinking (perhaps not all) but I do believe the man is the head of the household as appointed by God. The woman is directly under him. But, I wonder, sometimes if the wife ‘should’ speak up. What is considered disrespect? Sometimes I think a woman is to remain silent, but at other times, maybe she shouldn’t be. Well, here is my reason for asking. Long story. Sorry. My husband was to go away for a business meeting. It was the first time he would be going away with only one female coworker. Alone. For three days. Don’t get me wrong. I do trust my husband to have common sense, but, I DO believe in safe guarding your marriage. I believe in taking every measure to ensure that you aren’t tempted to sin and also to keep your testimony clean from any appearance of evil.

    Well, he left with her early in the morning and I said only small little harmless hints of dissatisfaction (truthfully). Nothing that caused a fight or anything. He texted me, “We’re here.” when they arrived at their destination. Then called me at about 4:30pm after the conference ended for the day. The attendees are of course then on their own for the remainder of the day. Sooooo, he and she went out to eat alone for supper, then they walked through the mall, together, then they went back to their separate rooms. 10:20pm came and I finally broke down and texted him asking if they were back yet. It all boiled down to a fight via text. Me saying it was wrong, him saying it wasn’t. It basically lasted those full three days. After the conference he came home, said he thought about the things that I said, and basically agreed that we needed to take measures for the future to ensure that he didn’t end up in the same position again.

    That’s all good, BUT, I’ll admit, I wasn’t the most delicate of wives during those three days. I was a bit of a bully and preacher towards him. I don’t like that, but wasn’t sure how else to handle it. There was no other man there to say, “Hey, Bro, that’s not cool.” No accountability partner. Just me. I was the only one who knew. Again, I approached him about the matter very delicately before he left, but he does not HEAR delicate. He hears when I’m upset and adamant. Well, anyway, as the argument climaxed, I did try to bring in a male authority figure and told him we needed to take it to the pastor. He didn’t want to do that. I keep going from thinking I shouldn’t preach at my husband to remembering Sarah when she told Abraham to put out Hagar and her son. GOD BACKED SARAH and told Abraham to listen to her. It never said that she argued/pleaded/fussed with Abraham, buuuuuuut, it seems like an emotional sort of thing. I’d say she was a little steamed. Of course, that could just be my own American influenced thinking though. Either way, she confronted Abraham. Then God backed her. Should I be Sarah? Should I be the quiet wife? Sometimes I’m just not sure how to handle things.

    On another note, I’m a little bruised right now. My husband just told me to “Be quiet!” I listened and shut my mouth. And. It remained shut throughout the rest of the evening. Spiteful, yes, but I’m still a little bit bruised over his brutishness. We were arguing over me giving or not giving him some paperwork. So he finally just yelled at me. Sometimes being the woman can stink a little. It can be great, but yeah, it can stink when you feel like you’ve been treated like a child.

  25. ML,

    Let me first say I understand your concern and your husband should be very careful about being alone in anyway with a woman he is not married to. Unfortunately because of the sinful world we live in men and women are often forced to work together and go on business trips with one another. But what he can do is setup boundaries where is only goes to business functions with her and apart from that he is not going to dinner alone with her or going to malls and do things outside their business dealings. In doing the things you mention he is making an occasion to fall to his sinful nature.

    I do think a wife can speak respectfully and gently to her husband when she has concerns about anything – including this type of situation. Proverbs 31:26 tells us of the virtuous wife that “She openeth her mouth with wisdom; and in her tongue is the law of kindness.”

    I think we must be careful of reading into Sarah’s story that she was somehow reprimanding Abraham. We must remember that Sarah’s respectful attitude toward her husband is upheld as a standard for Christian women in I Peter:

    “5 For after this manner in the old time the holy women also, who trusted in God, adorned themselves, being in subjection unto their own husbands:
    6 Even as Sara obeyed Abraham, calling him lord: whose daughters ye are, as long as ye do well, and are not afraid with any amazement.” – I Peter 3:5-6 (KJV)

    I look at Sarah’s comments to Abraham not as a reprimand but more as a grievance. I think women and really anyone under authority have the right to respectfully bring grievances or concerns to their authority.

    So I say all this to say yes you can bring your grievances and concerns to your husband in a respectful way but always remember in doing so that you are not his mother and authority, you are his wife – one who is under his authority. Ultimately you are not spiritually responsible for your husband – he is responsible for you.

    In a future post I am going to write on this subject of Christian women sometimes feeling like their husbands treat them like children. I will just say this and then leave it. Think about what you are saying when you say “I feel like my husband treats me like a child” – is it because he tells you what to do? Is it because he tells you to be quiet? The truth is that Biblically speaking while the husband/wife relationship is different than the parent/child relationship there is in fact a LOT of similarities between these two relationships. Often when Christian women who believe in male headship say this what they are really saying is “I want to be treated as his equal, and not his subordinate”.
    I will explain this more in an upcoming post.

  26. Its a sad state we are in as the people of God when we have to write out in such detail the need for the husband to persuade him that he must step up and take the reigns as the Authority in his home. I to am a man under authority, I say come and they come ,I say go and they go. I have been married 28 years and almost lost my husband because my open disrespect. He left the home and told me that if I do not learn to be under his authority as he is under Christ authority that i would end up, single. I sought the Lord and he did work into me an honoring attitude towards him. But I know that I must be careful not to slip back into rebellion. This only is accomplished in my spending time with the Lord. I can only imagine the backlash you’ve endured for what you’ve written.

  27. Racheal,

    Your question:

    “Who disciplines the men?”

    Biblically speaking discipline always flows downward and never upward.
    So just as a child cannot discipline their parents because they are their authority so to a wife cannot discipline her husband because he is her authority.

    From a human perspective a husband however can be disciplined by his authorities which would be civil(like police), his manager at work or the Pastor of his church. As long as those authorities are properly acting within their spheres of authority and not going beyond the authority God has given them.

    So for instance if a husband were physically abusing his wife and children his wife or his children could report him to the proper civil authorities and perhaps even church authorities for discipline. Another example would be if he were failing to provide for his family(i.e. lazy sitting home playing video games and his family is starving and loosing their home) his wife could report him to his Pastor for discipline from the church.

    But there will be many areas outside these big ticket issues where the one who disciplines the husband will be God.

    In addition the husband is to discipline himself, as we all are responsible for self discipline.

  28. I have a rebellious wife who withholds sex moved to spare bedroom ran up $20,000 dollars in credit card debt its in her name. And she refused to not charge on her credit cards . There is no way she can pay them off she is 65 years old I told her to file chapter 13 she is on social security 800 dollars month. Her credit card payment is $500.00 dollars a month I am not paying this debt she ran up on top of that there is nothing in house to show for the money she spent . What should I do?

  29. Joseph Dobson,

    Your Question:

    “I have a rebellious wife who withholds sex moved to spare bedroom ran up $20,000 dollars in credit card debt its in her name. And she refused to not charge on her credit cards . There is no way she can pay them off she is 65 years old I told her to file chapter 13 she is on social security 800 dollars month. Her credit card payment is $500.00 dollars a month I am not paying this debt she ran up on top of that there is nothing in house to show for the money she spent . What should I do?”

    Joseph – I am assuming that these credit cards are in her name. If that is the case there is no way you can close them down. Hopefully your name has never been on her credit cards. If it has there is a chance her creditors could come after you too as someone responsible for the spending. But in either case make sure your name is not associated with her on any of her cards. If it is call and have your name removed. Take your wife off your bank accounts or if you opened them jointly then open new accounts in only your name so creditors will not have access to your money. The let her deal with the consequences of her spending even if it takes up her whole social security amount. Do not help her – do not enable her sickness.

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