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.

 

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146 thoughts on “7 Ways to Discipline Your Wife

  1. You are probably not aware that even these 7 forms of “mild” discipline are abuse, according to national abuse websites such as http://www.thehotline.org/is-this-abuse/abuse-defined/

    In addition, these are ways in which a parent would discipline a teenager and therefore, according to your own definition of not disciplining wives as you would children, are not appropriate in a marriage relationship.

    As Christians, it is not our responsibility or within or ability to control other people or bring them into holiness. Those are roles for God alone.

  2. So, in the hypothetical scenario that you present in number three (the part about going against your parenting decisions, not about neglecting the children), you and your wife have such a serious disagreement over a parenting issue that she’s decided that it’s in your children’s best interests for her to do something that you don’t want her to do or to not do something that you think that she should do. Do you really think that not buying her a new car or buying her a lower quality car is going to make her go against what she believes is best for her children? If you seriously do, you have a pretty low opinion of women.

  3. Well, this post is bound to create some controversy. 😉

    From my perspective this just seems like the most natural thing in the world. Wives really have no way of knowing what a husband finds disrespectful unless he speaks up. The alternative is keep it to yourself and grow resentful. In general wives want to be pleasing and you can’t be pleasing to someone if you don’t know what they find displeasing.

    In a lessor way, wives think nothing of disciplining husbands, and although there may not be any authority there, culturally there is never any controversy about it either. “Wipe your feet, pick up your socks,” hopefully said gently and playfully, are a form of discipline. It is only when we turn it around and reverse the genders that people’s hackles tend to rise.

  4. Alex,

    No I don’t think if a wife has a serious disagreement with her husband about what is in the best interests of their children that she would not act as she thought was right no matter the cost – just a father would do the same. But if it truly is so serious that she feels she must defy her husband then this is where counseling would be recommend and if the matter could not be settled then divorce would probably happen and the battle over the custody of the children would begin.

  5. No, I don’t think asking a person, be they husband, wife or guest to please wipe their feet counts as discipline. Wives giving the cold shoulder would, and I don’t agree it is appropriate. If a wife genuinely needs space or time to think, that’s one thing, but punishing with a cold shoulder or withholding sex out of resentment are not good things. I agree those are often dismissed by culture, and husbands should speak up if something truly bothers him. But there are times too, when a wife is never able to please her husband and he is always finding fault with something. That is abuse.

  6. Insanity,

    You are absolutely right – women discipline their husbands all the time whether in more subtle ways or even more obvious ways. They just don’t don’t call it “discipline”. But it is exactly what it is.

    But women have a much more powerful tool they use to discipline their husbands and that is sex. I have a young relative of mine – he and his wife are in their early 20’s. If he does what she says he gets all the sex he wants. If He defies her or confronts her in any way he does not get sex until he apologizes and agrees that she was right. This is the pattern of many many marriages in our culture – it is an evil in the eyes of God that we must fight against.

  7. I see what you’re saying. It was unclear based on how the post was initially written. It did sound like you were saying that a wife would go against her husband’s wishes, remain unconvinced by his arguments, refuse to trust his judgment, and refuse to compromise until she didn’t get a new car. But I would also hope that a disagreement like that wouldn’t get so ugly and that the couple could work things out in counseling if the husband couldn’t make the wife see his side and do what he wanted or the husband didn’t soften his stance after talking more with his wife and getting a better understanding of her perspective.

  8. Loura,

    Oh I am well aware of national abuse websites that say things like this are abuse. I wrote a piece of satire a while back demonstrating the absurdity of them.

    https://biblicalgenderroles.com/2015/05/31/the-frustrated-feminist-wife/

    Even if some day Courts actually arrested men for doing the things I have mentioned here – the Scriptures are clear that we “We ought to obey God rather than men.” – Acts 5:29 (KJV).

    So we are not responsible to discipline those under our authority? I beg to differ. A husband is responsible for those in his home.
    You are right in the sense that we cannot control people.

    A small child – sure we can physically restrain them and send them to their room, but trying doing that with a 15 year old teenager that is the same size as you! Once human beings grow in adolescents it becomes practically impossible to control them. But we can still attempt to influence their behavior by various means, and the key word is “attempt”.

    Discipline is always an attempt to motivate right behavior, and from a Christian perspective right behavior is determined by the Bible. All we can do as believing husbands and fathers is attempt to motivate our wives and children to right behavior as those who are under our authority as God has given it to us.

    Now I agree there is positive and negative motivation and we should always opt toward positive motivation first. But there will be cases where positive motivation does not work with our children or even our wives in certain circumstances and this is were a husband must prayerfully seek the Lord’s guidance in applying the right discipline to these situations. There will be times that even negative motivation does not work with our wives or children but we are required to at least make this attempt. What happens after the attempts at discipline fail will be very different depending on the situation.

  9. I don’t see how a husband asking a wife to change some aspect of her behavior or tells her that he feels that she’s being disrespectful counts as discipline, nor do I see how a wife asking her husband to do something like pick up after himself count as discipline.

    Discipline is defined as training people to obey rules or a code of behavior, using punishment to correct disobedience. Asking someone to do something differently or telling them that a certain behavior bothers you isn’t a punishment by any definition. For example, a mother who told her child to clean up his or her room wouldn’t be disciplining the child. A mother who took away that child’s toy or gave him or her a timeout for not cleaning the room would be enacting discipline.

  10. Well, we have rather harsh views of discipline, but really it just means to teach. Those who followed Christ were called disciples, the same root word.

    A mom telling a kid to clean their room is indeed a form of discipline. The most effective discipline operates off of someone’s desire to please, so my kids will clean up something because they don’t wish to have me glaring at them in disapproval. Something as simple as temporary disapproval is a form of punishment.

    Needless to say, not everyone’s heart is that soft and sometimes you have to enact more consequences to get their attention. But discipline done in love is not really based on creating a fear of punishment, it is based on a desire to teach.

  11. If by discipline you mean a husband mentioning that something came across as disrespectful, I have no problems with that. My husband has done that (even before we were married), and often it came as a complete surprise to me because we just don’t think the same way. I was glad at that point to change how i worded something or to keep from making similar jokes in the future. I have also had to tell my husband a few times how something he said was hurtful and how a different phrasing would be good, and he was very receptive to that (we’re both growing!) If I were to say ‘well because you were hurtful earlier, you’re not going to get sex tonight’, that would not encourage my husband to treat me in a loving manner. Likewise, if my husband were to say ‘you were disrespectful again, so we’re not going on a date this week’, that would not encourage me to respect him more. I’d like to think that both of us would still try to do what was right but we don’t have to make it harder for the other person.

    Some say that when a husband acts dominantly like that, it causes his wife to automatically respect him more because he is acting manly. But that is a very screwed definition of dominant and manly. When my husband backs me into a wall and starts furiously making out with me, that is definitely a turn-on and I am very keenly aware of his masculine presence and strength. The one time in our entire relationship that he said ‘well then i’m not going to do nice things for you anymore’ in response to a conflict, it came across more as petty than masculine.

    True submission will always be voluntary. My husband (who agrees with me on this concept) has said numerous times that he would far rather I follow him because I want to than because I’m afraid of not doing so. If i’m doing everything my husband asks because i’m worried if i don’t that date night will go away, we are not living in a peaceful relationship that exemplifies anything close to Christ and the church. What a complete mockery of something God designed to be precious! Not to mention how terrible my husband would feel if I actually thought him capable of such actions.

    How we pick spouses really is important. Now of course wives (as well as husbands) are capable of being complete gems in the dating phase and then turn into someone entirely different in a marriage. And that definitely sucks (and i’ve seen this happen with both genders). But that still doesn’t make either person responsible for the other’s behavior.

  12. You make some really good points, Anna. One problem I see in the world is that some people have trouble knowing the difference between abuse and discipline. So when you say, “well because you were hurtful earlier, you’re not going to get sex tonight,” you are right, that would be abuse. Even on the Deluth Domestic Violence models, with holding sex is a form of control and psychological abuse. We’re good at recognizing that from a woman’s perspective, but when it comes to wives abusing husbands that way, we suddenly don’t see it so clearly.

    Something else I think is kind of sad in the world today, authority is perceived as being a fear based thing, power over someone, domination defined by destruction. We don’t tend to see the more positive aspects, provision, protection, love, healthy masculinity. There really is nothing more wonderful than a husband or a father who has that confidence, who understands what his role is, a role tempered with a great deal of love.

  13. Insanity,

    I think what we are really getting at is correction and the harder form of correction rebuke are both forms of discipline from a Biblical perspective. Often times whether it is with a child or even an adult as in the case of a husband and wife relationship – correction or perhaps rebuke is all that is needed, it does not need to go further into more punitive forms of discipline.

    I have tried to make the point here that everyone seems to miss – the harder forms of discipline should not be for our first “go to” whether it be with our children or with our wives as Christian husbands. It should always start of gently and in proportion to what has happened. If a wife rarely speaks disrespectfully to her husband there is no need for a stern rebuke, but perhaps a gentle correction.

    But what all of these people miss is – there are some women that have very disrespectful attitudes toward their husbands and they regularly pretty much ignore whatever their husbands say on different matters. The modern western world and even a lot of Christianity says a husband has no recourse except to keep gently telling his wife he thought she was wrong.

    The underlying reason that even many Christian husbands reject the idea that they have not only the power, but the duty to discipline their wives are for one of two reasons:

    1. The first group is men that are afraid their wives will divorce them, so they bow to her rebellion. (This group also includes some men who believe in the Christian teaching of male headship, but their fear keeps them any form of discipline toward their wives).

    2. The second group believe that their wife is their equal partner and neither has true authority over the other, therefore they cannot discipline their partner. For this group if their wife is a battle ax – the only escape is divorce but discipline is never an option for them. This group also includes some male headship advocates but they are not true believes in male headship, they believe the husband is only a figure head that inspires his family but he has not real authority or power.

    What all these groups miss is – husbands cannot be afraid of their wives leaving them. If you give your wife the ability to believe your greatest fear is her leaving you and she can get you to fold on anything she will always use that card. God does not call us to force a rebellious wife to stay in marriage to us, he calls us to love her by leading her, teaching her, providing for her, protecting her and disciplining her. If she chooses to to rebel against her husband’s discipline and leave her husband that is between her and God. He has done what God called him to do.

  14. AnnaMS,

    First and foremost discipline is not retaliation. If it is done in that way then it is wrong. Discipline is communicated ahead of time and clearly defined.

    Now I realize that to most women in western culture this seems appalling. Because we associate discipline with children – therefore if a husband were to enact any kind of discipline toward his wife he is treating her like a child in their view. No adult wants to be treated like a child. So natural resentment can occur if the spouses have not talked about what discipline is ahead of time.

    This is why the responsibility sits on the husband to teach his wife about the Biblical roles of husband and wife and talk about discipline as part of that discussion.

    I agree that the best form of submission is that which is freely given, and that is what I believe the vast majority of Christian husbands would like to see. In fact that is what the vast majority of Christian parents would like to see from their children. But the fact is we all have a sinful nature and that nature manifests itself in different ways with different people.

    If a woman has been raised in home where her mother modeled Biblical submission and she is that way toward her husband he may never have to discipline her, of if he does it will be rare and may only have to be a soft rebuke. But if a woman was not raised in a home where Biblical submission was modeled by her mother, then that husband will have his hands full and that is where what you said about being very careful in who we date comes into play.

  15. I know a man who has a little color coded flow chart for chores on the fridge and when he completes one his wife puts up a little colored magnet for him. It is somewhat ironic, she is the one who complains about being treated like a child and yet her obvious displays of responding to her husband as if he were the child are so obvious as to be somewhat embarrassing.

    At least in my experience, women treating men as if they are children is far more common than the reverse.

  16. Throughout the Old and New Testaments, the only “discipline” I see displayed is meted out by God alone. Sure, there are civil authorities, but when it comes to family and spiritual behavior, perhaps God sends a prophet to warn the people, but the prophet has no more ability to “discipline” beyond that.

    Even in the New Testament church, the only discipline applied was to oust a wicked person from fellowship. That sounds like the marital equivalent of divorce, but there is nothing more available to Christians. In the Old Testament, there was more emphasis on hierarchy, in the New Testament, we are all priests of God (1 Peter 2:9) and on the same footing.

    By acknowledging your understanding of forms of legal abuse, you may very well be responsible for the destruction of families and lives via legal repercussions by encouraging abuse in the name of Christ, who told us to remain under civil authorities, and that they were in fact implemented by God.

    Romans 13:1-14, “Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God. Therefore whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment. For rulers are not a terror to good conduct, but to bad. Would you have no fear of the one who is in authority? Then do what is good, and you will receive his approval, for he is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword in vain. For he is the servant of God, an avenger who carries out God’s wrath on the wrongdoer. Therefore one must be in subjection, not only to avoid God’s wrath but also for the sake of conscience. … ”

    http://www.openbible.info/topics/obeying_authority

  17. I would not be surprised if you were correct. I’ve seen multiple women treat their husbands that way and it always embarrassed me as a woman to see another woman acting that way….how much more so for their poor husbands!

    The desire for a man to show godly leadership and the desire for a woman to show submission are heart issues. Normally in the dating phase, if there is a problem here, it will show itself at some point. Both me and my husband, prior to meeting each other, went on dates with people that we could tell right away would not make good spouses because of these issues. We were wise enough to look elsewhere for a spouse and are reaping the rewards of it. Just like women should not marry a man with a husband improvement plan in the back of her mind (and all too many women do this), men should not marry a woman who shows difficulty following his leadership, and expect that to change after they get married.

    Both me and my husband believe that a husband’s job is to lead and a wife’s job is to follow. But it is not the wife’s job to make her husband lead (although she can help by not grabbing the lead if she feels he is slacking). And it is not the husband’s job to make his wife follow (although he can help by exercising Godly leadership and pointing out areas where he feels disrespected).

    I am highly skeptical that following the practical options given in this post will cause any change in outside behavior, but even more so that it will do anything to help the heart issue. And that would seem to be the main goal, I should think.

  18. Insanity,

    What you are referring to is wives “mothering” their husbands. There is a Christian woman’s website or blog and I can’t remember the name – if someone does know it please let me know so I can give her credit for her statement. But one of the themes of her site is “Men need lovers, not mothers”

    Far too many women, even Christian women are more of mothers to their husbands than lovers to their husbands. They act as his mother instead of his help meet.

    One of the things where this issue of discipline of wives comes into play is over “discretion”

    “A foolish woman is clamorous: she is simple, and knoweth nothing.” – Proverbs 9:13 (KJV)
    “As a jewel of gold in a swine’s snout, so is a fair woman which is without discretion.” – Proverbs 11:22 (KJV)
    “teach the young women to be sober, to love their husbands, to love their children, to be discreet, chaste, keepers at home, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God be not blasphemed” – Titus 2:4-5 (KJV)
    “And if they will learn any thing, let them ask their husbands at home: for it is a shame for women to speak in the church.” – I Corinthians 14:35 (KJV)

    One of the defining attributes of what it means to be “ladylike” is for a woman to have discretion. Women of the past were taught this art of discretion of knowing the proper place and time and to speak to their husbands and how to conduct themselves in mixed gender gatherings. Women who were loud and brash around other men and their husbands were considered very un-ladylike. Today this far too common place and men are taught that women are simply exercising their equal rights when they act in this way, and if a husband calls out his wife for acting indiscreetly he is judged by some to be a domineering husband, when the sin does no lay with him, but with his wife for her indiscretion.

    A man asserting himself in a public gathering could be(depending on the circumstances) a very masculine and right thing to do(“stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong.” – I Corinthians 16:13 (NASB)). But a woman doing this same thing in most cases would be an act of indiscretion. Again this is seen as “unfair” and bias by our modern world – but God created men and women with different roles and natures and we must accept that truth.

    It is funny how often I hear from Christian feminists and egalitarians their straw man argument on this “Ya you think women should just shut up and not have an opinion on anything.” That’s now what the I am saying and that certainly is not what the Bible is saying. There is a place and time to speak – that is what we are saying. They just want no boundaries, no rules and no authority over them.

    I say all that to say – it is because of the utter lack of discretion that is found in soooo many women today that discipline from husbands is so sorely needed.

  19. @Insanity,

    You say, “Well, we have rather harsh views of discipline, but really it just means to teach. Those who followed Christ were called disciples, the same root word.” It may be this “harsh” view of discipline, which is really just based on an understanding of how the term is commonly used, that creates some of the controversy, but because most people wouldn’t consider a husband asking his wife to stop doing something that bothers him (or even a husband getting more frustrated and persistent in his responses if the wife kept doing the thing that bothers him) or a wife doing something similar with her husband to be discipline, then very few people are going to respond badly to a post that just says, “Ask your wife to stop doing that thing that bothers you.”

    @BGR,

    “But what all of these people miss is – there are some women that have very disrespectful attitudes toward their husbands and they regularly pretty much ignore whatever their husbands say on different matters. The modern western world and even a lot of Christianity says a husband has no recourse except to keep gently telling his wife he thought she was wrong.”

    As Anna said, I don’t think that the methods that you’ve listed here are likely to inspire respect in a wife. I’m sorry to say it, but most of them seem very petty. For example, canceling a trip that you had planned might disappoint her, but it also might make her roll her eyes to think that you’re punishing yourself as well as her, unless you never wanted to go on that trip in the first place. Same thing goes for canceling the cable. It comes across as you depriving yourself of cable just to spite her and seems likely to induce snorting and eye-rolling. I know that you said that none of these actions are supposed to be retaliatory, but it’s hard to interpret them in any other way.

    Then there are the suggested punishments that don’t even make sense in relationship to the offense. Your wife isn’t doing enough for your kids, but she asks for something that she thinks will help her take care for the home and clean the dishes that you eat off of more thoroughly, so don’t give it to her? If anything, it sounds like not getting the new dishwasher would only make things worse. Or if she’s neglecting the home but for some reason wants furniture to make the home look nicer, so you don’t give her the new furniture, which means that the home ends up looking even worse? It seems sort of counterproductive. And then there’s the bit about responding to sexual denial by not letting her get nice clothes. Aren’t you depriving yourself of visual pleasure by doing that? I guess that I get the logic of making the denial seem less bad by making her less attractive to you, but I’m not sure that that was what you were going for. Obviously, you’re not obligated to buy these things, especially if you can’t afford it, but refusing to buy them as a disciplinary measure seems petty and in some of the cases outlined here counterproductive. In plenty of them, you’re frustrated with your wife for not doing her job, so you’re responding by making her job harder.

  20. For what it’s worth, financial control can have severe consequences. First and foremost, a wife who is already being physically and/or emotionally abused will be put in an even worse place if she doesn’t have access to money that will enable her to leave. But there could be other issues even if the husband isn’t emotionally or physically abusive.

    For example, in another post you mention that a husband can conceal information about the family’s finances from his wife and handle financial and budgeting affairs entirely by himself without even letting her know what the situation is. This might seem like it’s taking a burden away from the wife and keeping her from worrying, but what is she to do if her husband dies suddenly, and she has no clue how to handle finances, no idea what her financial situation is, and possibly even no way of knowing where all of his money is, especially the portion that’s been invested? Or even if he doesn’t die, a wife who has no idea what the family’s financial situation is doesn’t know when she needs to save a lot or when she can spend more in a way that could add to everyone’s comfort. You might say that a husband can just give his wife a weekly allowance, but a wife who knows that the family is struggling financially can potentially spend much less than the amount allotted to her each week and help the family save. Basically, a wife who doesn’t know what the family’s financial situation is can’t be expected to properly adhere to a budget because she has no way of knowing how little or how much money she has to spend.

    There’s also the possibility that husbands might severely restrict the amount of money that their wives have access to but still expect them to make high-quality meals like steak or lamb on a regular basis, keep the furniture looking good even if it’s aged and hasn’t been replaced, wear trendy and sexy clothing and lingerie, etc. Basically, they expect their wives to produce luxury on a tight, shoe-string allowance.

    Then you have men who overspend or blow their paychecks on things like gambling addictions or other bad habits. If the wife doesn’t at least have access to all the pertinent financial information, she won’t know that this is happening.

    I get that you need to make sure that your wife doesn’t overspend either, and I could see why taking away credit cards and carefully controlling how much money she has might be a last recourse for a wife who compulsively overspends due to a shopping or gambling or substance addiction. On the other hand, teaching a woman who doesn’t have such problems but doesn’t know how to budget properly how to handle the money to which she has access seems more productive. In all probability, she’ll be happy and able to learn, and it will help the family in the long run.

  21. “By acknowledging your understanding of forms of legal abuse, you may very well be responsible for the destruction of families and lives via legal repercussions by encouraging abuse in the name of Christ”

    Loura Shares A Story, there is noting on Biblical’s list that is the least bit abusive. To not buy her new furniture or new clothes? To cancel wi/fi? I mean, come on! What kind of world are we living in? Husband’s are really not required to unconditionally lavish their wives with all the creature comforts of western society or else we can accuse them of abuse. That’s ridiculous.

    “I don’t think that the methods that you’ve listed here are likely to inspire respect in a wife. I’m sorry to say it, but most of them seem very petty.”

    Alex, I guarantee you a wife will never respect a man who buys her a new dishwasher, furniture, vacations, cars, all in an attempt to appease her so she will behave respectfully. It just doesn’t work that way. Unless she’s a saint and paying close attention, she will come to disrespect such a man even more and learn that the way to acquire things she wants is to try to make him (and herself) as miserable as possible.

  22. Citing from my original comment, “You are probably not aware that even these 7 forms of “mild” discipline are abuse, according to national abuse websites such as http://www.thehotline.org/is-this-abuse/abuse-defined/

    The author went on to acknowledge this, however this issue is not a question of lavishing or not being able to lavish due to financial constraints, but of “discipline”. It is the delaying or refusing something promised or anticipated (which seems like lying to me, or at least not keeping one’s word, which Jesus had something to say about) based on a husband’s interpretation of “bad behavior”. This is not only treating a spouse as a child, which the author, contradicting himself, states is wrong in the article, it is also, in the circumstances described in the article, legal abuse.

    Here are a few examples of abuse from the link that sound very much (and that the author admits are) like the disciplines described in this article:

    Telling you that you can never do anything right
    Embarrassing or shaming you with put-downs
    Controlling every penny spent in the household
    Taking your money or refusing to give you money for expenses
    Controlling who you see, where you go, or what you do
    Preventing you from making your own decisions
    Telling you that you are a bad parent or threatening to harm or take away your children
    Preventing you from working or attending school
    Pressuring you to have sex when you don’t want to or do things sexually you’re not comfortable with

    As the link states, abuse is about control. What else are these disciplines about than controlling or attempting to control a wife?

  23. It really frustrates me when we look for hidden signs of subtle “abuse” within our modern culture, because it really trivializes what genuine abuse is and makes no one want to listen when we have valid concerns. It’s like crying wolf.

    Let’s look at some of those “abuses.” When your wife is demeaning you in public, you rebuke her. That’s not abuse, it’s common sense. Actually, a wife demeaning a husband in public is a form of abuse.

    “If your wife is spending money against your wishes – this may require confiscation of her credit cards and ATM cards.”

    A husband by law is responsible for half your debts, if not more. It is actually abusive on the part of a wife to rack up debt against her husband’s wishes. He has every right to take a credit card away.

    I could go on and on, but the point is, each one of these wifely behaviors that Biblical is describing ARE actually abuse. In each one of these cases, what the husband is doing is saying NO to psychological, financial, and emotional abuse.

  24. There is a world of difference between buying a dishwasher to appease a rebellious wife (which will not likely work) and not buying a dishwasher to discipline a rebellious wife (which will also not likely work). He could buy the dishwasher because that will make her more effective in the kitchen, or because it will make the home run smoother, or because he loves her, or because he promised to, etc. It doesn’t have to be about respect. Of every single practical reason to buy a dishwasher, none are about respect.

    if a wife merely shows outward respect so she can get stuff that she wants, that’s not real respect and is not likely to meet her husband’s need for respect. This is all about behavior modification which, by itself, does little if anything to address the heart issue.

  25. It seems you are missing point. These are not “hidden” or “subtle” signs of abuse, and this is not a witch hunt. These kinds of abuse are out in the open, clear as crystal.

    The disrespect or demeaning comments the author discusses is fully open to interpretation, and public rebukes are not appropriate. It is one thing to take a person aside, even in public, and quietly tell them what they said hurt. I would not call that discipline, but love. It is another thing entirely to call someone down in front of other people. That is called shaming, and it is abusive. The purpose is not to correct or express, but to embarrass and silence.

    If the wife continues to demean (and yes, that is a form of abuse too, as you pointed out) after privately and respectfully discussing it, the author is correct that counseling should ensue or perhaps, sadly, separation or divorce.

    As to the credit cards, I think the laws of responsibility vary by state, but IF there is compulsive and unhealthy spending, rather than confiscating cards (really, she could always open a secret account anyway), counseling again would be the best option. Otherwise, this issue is again open to too much interpretation on the husband’s part concerning his wife’s spending which may or may not actually be an issue. A person can only control themselves, even if we see loved ones taking the wrong path. Limiting her finances for the purpose of punishment/correction is a form of abuse.

  26. The website you reference is not endorsed by the DOJ;

    “Neither the U.S. Department of Justice nor any or its components operate, control, are responsible for, or necessarily endorse, this Web site…”

    Your linking this website with its discredited Duluth Model to breaking the Law is deceptive and a bridge to far.

  27. The site is not run by the DOJ, true, however not being associated with the Department of Justice in no way discredits the facts of this site. If you have information that proves this site is illegitimate, I would be happy to admit it and change my source.

  28. @insanity,

    Buying that stuff isn’t about appeasement or respect. As I pointed out, if a wife is asking for a new dishwasher or new furniture, it’s not a test to see how much her husband respects her. It’s her discussing major purchases that will help her clean or will make the house look nicer, which is part of the homemaker’s job. Maybe buying those things won’t make her respect her husband, but not buying them to punish her (even though they’re also intended to benefit him) won’t make her respect him either. Not when it makes him look like a five year old who breaks his toy so that no one else can play with it.

    And honestly, if the wife is being abusive, he should just divorce her. Maybe try counseling, but that’s unlikely to help. Same as trying to exert financial control. At most, that will temporarily encourage her to fake being non-abusive and to feign respect until she gets what she wants.

  29. Anna, I totally agree with you, it’s a heart issue, but a husband also has to have enough heart and sense of self worth and value, that he can stand up for himself, that he can say no sometimes.

    Everything Biblical has listed are subtle signs of abuse towards a husband. Given our culture today, she may have no idea that she’s being hurtful.

    Loura above complains about a “public rebuke” being shaming, but there is a frequently seen complete disconnect from the fact that this is in response to a wife demeaning her husband in public. She is publicly rebuking him when she does that. She is shaming him. I watch wives do this all the time without even thinking.

    Some wives have the heart, they have the good intentions, they just don’t understand their own behavior.

    I have a teen age daughter who’s a real pain and we argue a lot. We were planning a camping trip and Dad said if we couldn’t stop arguing, we weren’t going. Discipline, yes, in terms of he was going to take away something we wanted, but it was also simple, natural, reasonable. So, we made an effort to stop arguing for Dad’s sake and went camping. There are husbands who cannot even say these things, who do not even recognize their own right to set boundaries.

  30. Quick question, Insanity. Why in the world are you encouraging men to stay in abusive marriages? As for your story about you, your husband, and your daughter, did he encourage you to resolve your issues so that the arguing would stop, or just to stop arguing temporarily so that you could both get what you wanted? If it’s the second, then it sounds like you’re all just putting a bandaid on the problem rather than actually dealing with it.

  31. Insanity,

    Well said. It is amazing me to how for many the word discipline must mean abuse if ever comes from a husband toward his wife. Yes some husbands actually do abuse their wives and you are right that this does those women who are truly be in abuse disservice.

    Go and find the woman in a battered woman’s shelter whose husband has given her two black eyes and ask her if she would have rather had her husband say they were not go on their date that they had planned. Its laughable what some people call abuse.

    And its not matter of one bad thing verses another bad thing. It is right verses wrong. If a woman publicly demeans her husband and he corrects her or rebukes even publicly there is no sin in that. But if he were to punch her out that would be sinful. So its a comparison between right and wrong, not lesser wrong or greater wrong.

  32. “Why in the world are you encouraging men to stay in abusive marriages?”

    Because marriage need not be abusive, especially when we are dealing with things like emotional or psychological abuse. Those dynamics can be changed with some effort. Sure, people can just get divorced and some have to, some marriages cannot be saved. However, why in the world would one just throw their marriage out without first trying to set boundaries, to attempt to bring some order to the chaos?

    There is a really humbling idea for both husbands and wives, humbling but also empowering. A marriage problem may not be your spouse’s fault, it may be yours. If a husband cannot recognize his own right to stand up for himself, even with his own wife, his own issues, fears, insecurities may be what is influencing and motivating her behavior. Relationships are complicated, people exist in symbiosis with each other.

    As to band-aids, yes, my own husband is clearly putting a band aid on a situation to create some peace in our house. Teen age years however, only last for a season and it takes some time to resolve all these issues. Regardless, mother/daughter arguing and conflict really just makes us all miserable,so he is right in this particular case.

  33. Alex,

    What I find interesting is whenever we speak of husbands having authority over “everything”(Ephesians 5:24) in their wives lives somehow we always run to abuse and exceptions. Yes there are husbands who abuse their authority and yes there are exceptions if he asks them to do something immoral or against God’s law. If he is starving his family or truly abusing them. If he refuses to have sex with his wife. Yes there is abuse, yes there are exceptions.

    But why do we immediately have to run there? Why can’t we just let that settle in. “everything” means everything.

    Why instead of running to how men might abuse their authority or to exceptions when a wife may have to go around her husbands authority why don’t we look at what is the larger problem in our modern culture – women doing the very things I mention here? Why as soon as we talk about these sinful and rebellious behaviors by wives do we have to run away from that and focus back in on potential abuses by men?

  34. Insanity,

    I think when we talk about what I call the overused word “abuse” we have to realize what abuse is – it is sin. Husbands and wives sin against one another on a weekly basis, maybe even a daily basis. But while some sins rise to the level that there may be cause for separation and or divorce, many do not. Instead we must confront these sins in our marriages. Now the way a wife approaches the sin of her husband may look slightly different, because she is not his authority and he is hers. But in general husbands and wives should attempt to gently and respectfully address when they feel that they have been sinned against by their spouse.

    So really what we are encouraging is – yes husband and wives should stay in marriages with a sinful spouse. Because we are all sinners! Certain sinful behaviors might require counseling, seperation or even divorce but many do not. Many simply require the hard work of confronting sin in the marriage.

    A husband approaches sin in his wife’s life as one who is her authority and one who bears responsibility for her before God, he can do this in a loving but firm way. A wife redresses grievances with her husband in a humble and respectful way as one who is under authority.

  35. Alex,

    What you are missing is that many times discipline costs us(the authority implementing the discipline) something. I love playing PS4 with my kids on the weekend. But sometimes they have gotten so out of hand that I have had to say “no PS4 tonight”. Does that hurt me too? Yes I wanted to spend that time with them, I wanted to enjoy the fun of playing those games with them. When I spanked my kids when they were little – it cost me something too. Sometimes I shed tears when I was away from them because I did not want to have to do it – but I knew it was for their own good.

    In the same way, when on occasion I have had to cancel a night out with my wife due to rebellious behavior on her part – yes it costs me too. But I do this for her own good, not as an act of relation. I wanted to go out – it would have been fun – but sometimes discipline is needed.

    Your analogy of the five year old boy who breaks his toys is flawed. The five year old boy is not in charge of the others – he is their peer, their equal and he has no right to do that. A husband is not his wife’s peer, he is her authority. If the spirit in which he is taking something away is done in tough love to discipline his wife then there is no sin in this. He is simply taking responsibility for the person whom God has place in his care – his wife.

  36. “Because marriage need not be abusive, especially when we are dealing with things like emotional or psychological abuse. Those dynamics can be changed with some effort. ”

    Unless the person who is being abusive honestly doesn’t realize what he or she is doing and demonstrates that he or she is working to change the abusive behavior and IS ACTUALLY MAKING PROGRESS, then no, the dynamic cannot be changed because the person who is acting abusively is doing it on purpose because he or she wants to maintain control of the other person. He or she doesn’t want to stop and doesn’t recognize the behavior as a problem. If the person exhibiting abusive behavior only changes such behavior when the other person enacts a consequence, then that person has an abusive personality and will only refrain from exhibiting that behavior temporarily in order to restore the relationship, lure their spouse back, and regain whatever privileges he or she lost.

    The type of behavior that BGR is encouraging, when enacted against abusive wives, won’t make those wives less abusive. All that it will do is lure the husbands who try it as a response to emotional or psychological abuse into a false sense of security and an erroneous belief that he is setting effective boundaries. A wife who doesn’t care when a husband tells how what she’s doing makes him feel but who does care when she doesn’t get a wardrobe upgrade isn’t experiencing a change of heart. She’s an abuser who’s testing her husband’s boundaries, modifying her behavior for a time to lull him into a false sense of security so that she goes back to getting what she wants, and intending to go back to her old ways once her husband’s guard is down. If the wife really understood why he didn’t like what she was doing, she would make efforts to work things out at some point during the talking phase. If she did that, then it would be a sign that she really cared, really got it, and really wanted to change. She wouldn’t need to lose anything, and if she does need to lose something first, then it means that the change is insincere. If by some chance these methods do produce a lasting change because the husband keeps applying them every time his wife goes back to her old patterns of behavior, then all that he’s doing is controlling her abusive tendencies by making her afraid of him, and he’s in danger of becoming just as bad as she is.

    BGR brought up God punishing the nations of Israel and Judah in another post, and that actually demonstrates my point extremely well. Sure, Israel and Judah would usually go back to monotheism and to keeping their covenant for a period of time after God punished them and then rescued them after they repented, but they always slipped back into idolatry after things had been good again for a while. If anything, the Bible shows us that repeated punishment doesn’t produce an effective and lasting heart change.

    “There is a really humbling idea for both husbands and wives, humbling but also empowering. A marriage problem may not be your spouse’s fault, it may be yours. If a husband cannot recognize his own right to stand up for himself, even with his own wife, his own issues, fears, insecurities may be what is influencing and motivating her behavior. Relationships are complicated, people exist in symbiosis with each other.”

    Well, yes, that’s technically true. People with abusive personalities will pick spouses who will either tolerate abuse on their own or who can be manipulated into tolerating it.

    “As to band-aids, yes, my own husband is clearly putting a band aid on a situation to create some peace in our house. Teen age years however, only last for a season and it takes some time to resolve all these issues. Regardless, mother/daughter arguing and conflict really just makes us all miserable,so he is right in this particular case.”

    Or he could mediate so that the conflict is actually resolved rather than letting resentment simmer beneath the surface so that you all can go on that camping trip.

  37. “If by some chance these methods do produce a lasting change because the husband keeps applying them every time his wife goes back to her old patterns of behavior, then all that he’s doing is controlling her abusive tendencies by making her afraid of him, and he’s in danger of becoming just as bad as she is.”

    It’s somewhat sad to me Alex, when people speak of discipline they immediately leap to abuse, punishment, and fear. It hardly even occurs to anybody, that discipline can be about love, the precise opposite of fear. Perfect love casts out fear, right?

    I assure you, I’m not the least bit afraid of hubby, in fact he’s probably the one person in the world I am the least bit afraid of. What is actually even more scary is when men fear getting involved, fear standing up for themselves, fear setting boundaries. That fear within men is palatable, you can feel it, you can sense it. It makes everyone around them uncomfortable. To be a good husband, to be a good dad, you have to be a bit of a rock, steadfast, reliable, willing to take responsibility for your home life.

  38. Insanity, did you even read my whole post, which was mostly about MEN, the effects of emotional and psychological abuse ON MEN, the ways in which abusers (in this scenario, the wives, not the husbands) manipulate their spouses (in this scenario, the husbands, not the wives), and why I thought that BGR’s advice about what a husband should do after milder forms of discipline was advice that would keep men trapped in abusive relationships where they’re miserable and they feel like they constantly have to taking stuff away from their wives in order to get their wives to treat them with well and with respect? It really seems like you just zeroed in on the sentence about how men who keep themselves in such relationships can turn into abusers themselves because that’s the only way that they can effectively enforce their boundaries with an abusive wife and that you missed the context of the abusive wife, which was prevalent throughout the whole post.

  39. I’m sorry Alex, I do apologize for not addressing that. I think all men simply want to be loved, they all want their wives to “just get it,” to treat them well just because they are awesome men. The problem is, men and women often speak a completely different language. Women, especially today, do not have a clear understanding of what men want and need. We do not all “just get it.”

    Setting boundaries, discipline, isn’t going to make a wife respect you less. It isn’t going to keep you trapped in an abusive marriage. It may force the issue, it may lead to divorce…..or it can lead to understanding and communication.

    Alex, this is one of those life lessons that I myself dislike a great deal, “they feel like they constantly have to taking stuff away from their wives in order to get their wives to treat them with well and with respect?”

    That sure seems to be the nature of people in general. Coworkers, neighbors, kids, they all seem to need me to set boundaries and to create some respect. It is very rare that somebody just treats me well because they should, because it is the right thing to do. That is a bit of a blow to my pride, I imagine it is much more difficult for men when it comes to wives. Maybe there are some really good women in the world who just get it, but I know I did not, I had to learn. If my husband had not stood up himself, I would have emotionally abused him right into divorce, probably without even realizing it.

  40. Would you mind defining what you mean by “setting boundaries?” I usually take it to mean stating clearly when a certain behavior bothers you and explaining why. If that doesn’t work, be persistent. Be clearer in your explanation. If that doesn’t work, say that your spouse should respect that that behavior bothers you, even if they don’t understand why it’s a big deal. Don’t compromise on the issue, unless at some point during the discussion your spouse makes some arguments that convince you that compromise is reasonable, and don’t let it go. Keep bringing it up if it keeps happening. Recognize that they may not be able to completely change overnight, so recognize and respect if they’re honestly making improvements and showing effort to do better. I get that at some points, you may get so put off by the behavior that it makes you feel like canceling an evening out or postponing it until the issue is resolved, although I think that some couples might find that they resolve disputes more easily if they go off and do something fun together first, and then come back together and try to resolve it. I also get that some people don’t want to have sex when they’re mad at their spouse and that they need to resolve the conflict before sex. Other people find that sex helps them resolve conflict. It depends.

    But I don’t think that gender differences provides an excuse. Women can understand men if they listen and empathize, and men can understand women if they listen and empathize. Maybe the person with the grievance needs to find new ways to explain it. But if you can’t understand your spouse’s point of view–and I’m sorry to say it–it’s not because they’re a man, and you’re a woman or vice versa. It’s because you’re not trying hard enough. Asking questions works wonders, in my experience.

  41. How is a woman being aware of her family’s finances, working to save money where she can when it’s needed or for her family’s future, or wanting to learn to plan out a good budget for herself ahead of time being abusive or disrespectful?

  42. Also, my point was that a good, non-abusive husband who doesn’t abuse his power can still do more harm than good by keeping his wife in the dark about their finances. It screws her over if he dies before her, and it keeps her from doing all that she can to do her job as a homemaker and as his helper.

  43. Insanity, I absolutely agree that a husband, and even a wife, has to say ‘no’ sometimes. My husband once asked me if i wanted ice cream and even though I did, i’d had a lot of sugar already that week so I needed to decline. Another time, I asked my husband if we could go out for dinner, and he said ‘no’ because we had already spent a lot that month on eating out. Neither of these were discipline issues. I am definitely not suggesting that either spouse lose their ability to say no.

    My husband does have enough self-worth and sense of value that he wants me to treat him well. This is why when I am not doing so, he mentions it privately and lovingly. If that is no longer working on a wife, then counseling is probably in order. Most women in good Christian marriages want to make their husband happy. So if there is deliberate and repeated disrespect, there are probably deeper issues in her character that losing out on a date are not going to solve.

    On two separate occasions, I have disrespected my husband while we were in the check out line at Wal Mart (never a place for good attitudes it seems!). The first time, he addressed it to me right then, intending to be private, but he has a loud booming voice so everyone in line heard him. Needless to say, that only escalated it with me and i was very hurt and upset for a bit after that. The fact that he hadn’t intended to embarrass me helped but the tit-for-tat escalation (you embarrassed me so i’m gonna embarrass you, too) is something we need to leave behind in pre-school. We’re adults. This shouldn’t be a race to the bottom. The other time happened just last week, and he waited till we were outside in the privacy of our car and brought it up. I was immediately apologetic and truly sought to do better. He was actually able to reach the heart issue right then and I truly wanted to change. A lot of that was that he cared more about me than that the cashier know that he doesn’t let his women treat the big guy that way. He has more respect for himself than that.

    I agree with you that a lot of women have no idea they are being hurtful. As I mentioned earlier, this has happened numerous times with me and my husband and I had no idea. That is why a private and loving discussion about how what i said was disrespectful can be so effective.

    Finally, do you realize that when you were talking about you and your teenage daughter, you kept referring to your husband as ‘Dad’? I get you mean the teenage daughter’s dad, but in that scenario, he was kinda acting like your’s too. Maybe subconsciously you saw him that way, too?

  44. AnnaMS,

    Finally, do you realize that when you were talking about you and your teenage daughter, you kept referring to your husband as ‘Dad’? I get you mean the teenage daughter’s dad, but in that scenario, he was kinda acting like your’s too. Maybe subconsciously you saw him that way, too?

    AnnaMS – you have hit on something here that goes to crux of how a wife views her husband. Let’s look at the Biblical roles of a father and then a husband:

    A Father’s role is to love his children by:
    Sacrificing himself for their needs(as opposed their wants and desires)
    Providing for them
    Protecting them
    Teaching them
    Sets boundaries for them
    Corrects and Rebukes their sin
    Guiding them in their role as children
    Disciplines them as needed
    Knowing them and talking to them
    Praising his children
    When all things are equal, the needs of his children come before the needs of others outside his family

    A Husband role toward his wife is to Love his wife by:
    Sacrificing himself for her needs(as opposed her wants and desires)
    Providing for her
    Protecting her
    Teaching her
    Sets boundaries for her
    Corrects and Rebukes her sin
    Guiding her in her role as wife
    Disciplines her as needed
    Knowing her and talking to her
    Praising his wife
    Making sure the children respect her authority and honor her as their mother
    When all things are equal, the needs of his wife come before his children and others
    Has sex with her

    So you can see AnnaMS – from A Biblical perspective – the perspective of the wife toward her husband in many ways overlaps that of the children toward their father. I realize that is VERY politically incorrect today to say but it is true. I can see if a woman believes she is her husbands peer and equal and he does not have this kind of authority over her or any kind of authority then this would make no sense. But if we accept the Biblical pattern, it does make sense. But when a wife is surrendered to the role that God has given her, she looks to her husband for his provision, his protection, and even his guidance in much the same way as the children do. In fact a mother ought to be modeling this for her children.

    A lot of times the reason we have disobedient and disrespectful children in families is because in those same families we have disrespectful and disobedient wives.

    I know that is a hard truth to hear – but it is true.

  45. Sorry Alex,

    I realize I did not answer your question in all that. More specifically to your question my answer would be it is not disrespectful or wrong for a wife to know the families finances. But I don’t think it is required and I think that each home will be different. Some women can handle the pressure of knowing the bills and others cannot. For some women they just want their grocery and spending budget each week, whatever that may be and that works. I think while a husband should look out for his family in the event of his death(like through life insurance and other things) he can also help make sure the finances will be taken care of by getting with several Christian brothers or relatives that would agree to help his wife manage the family finances in the event of his death.

    In fact until this last century, male relatives helped cared for the wives and children of their departed relatives. This tradition spans back thousands of years to beginning of creation but has only been lost in the last century. I believe we need to get back to a society where men step up and help take care of their widowed family members. That would solve the issue you are asking about with the finances.

  46. Alex you stated:

    BGR brought up God punishing the nations of Israel and Judah in another post, and that actually demonstrates my point extremely well. Sure, Israel and Judah would usually go back to monotheism and to keeping their covenant for a period of time after God punished them and then rescued them after they repented, but they always slipped back into idolatry after things had been good again for a while. If anything, the Bible shows us that repeated punishment doesn’t produce an effective and lasting heart change.

    Alex – you seem to be saying that God demonstrated for us “what not to do” with our wives. If anything your words could be construed to say “if you have a rebellious or unfaithful wife who will not listen to your guidance or grievances – skip the discipline step and move straight to divorce”.

    If anyone is the model husband, it is God. Many times God does things for our example, not for himself. When God rested on the 7th day it was not because he was literally “tired”, he is God!. He rested for our example. He showed us we can work 6 days but we should rest one out of 7 days.

    In the same way God demonstrated in his marriage to Israel the picture of how a husband should handle a rebellious and unfaithful wife – he did not move to straight to divorce. He did the hard work of disciplining her and only in the end after repeated attempts to get her to change her heart and repent did he finally give her a bill of divorce.

  47. BGR, you said
    A Husband role toward his wife is to Love his wife by:
    Sacrificing himself for her needs(as opposed her wants and desires)
    Providing for her
    Protecting her
    Teaching her
    Sets boundaries for her
    Corrects and Rebukes her sin
    Guiding her in her role as wife
    Disciplines her as needed
    Knowing her and talking to her
    Praising his wife
    Making sure the children respect her authority and honor her as their mother
    When all things are equal, the needs of his wife come before his children and others
    Has sex with her

    What about the Wife’s role toward her husband? Here are the ones on that list that my husband has requested from me.
    -Sacrificing myself for his needs
    -Providing for him (we both need to work)
    -Setting boundaries (he has requested my help when it comes to certain addictions he either has fought like porn, or currently fights like sugar).
    -Pointing out areas of sin (he has said that one of the things he appreciates about our marriage the most is the sanctification that we have both experienced).
    -Guiding him in his role as a husband (my husband often asks me what he can do to help when i’m sad or stressed because he knows that sometimes i know better than him what I need at a given moment).
    -Knowing him and talking to him (this is actually something he appreciates more than I do because he’s a philosopher and loves discussing ethical issues he encounters in his classes)
    -Praising him
    -Making sure the children respect his authority and honor him as their father
    -When all things are equal, his needs come before others (he knows as a nurse that i can’t just call off on a whim, but when I have days off, he knows he is my #1 priority)
    -Has sex with him.

    We do not have children yet, but there is a baby on the way and we are starting to think about some of these issues. Obviously, the way we point out sin in each other’s life is going to be different than the way that we confront it in our children’s. And the boundaries we set for our children will be different and will be set in different ways than we do with each other. However other things, like sacrificing and providing, don’t really come with authority. They’re necessities that we did as adults and will continue to do as parents. My authority over my children does not come because I paid for the food they will eat. I currently make a good deal more money than my husband does, but that does not give me reason to view him in the same way that I would view a child. A lot of what is on this list (with the exception of sex which is obviously meant to be contained within marriage), is just part of Godly Christian living. I would hope that people in my church would sacrifice, provide, listen, encourage in Godliness (whether that was praising Godliness or confronting sin), teaching, praising, encouraging a Godly family structure, and as necessary protecting. That doesn’t mean they’re relating to me like their children.

  48. But discipline in more extreme forms didn’t affect a change of heart in Israel and Judah. Nor will it affect a change of heart in any person who does not truly wish to change. People can be forced to do things for a while to avoid consequences. People can’t truly change their hearts unless they want to, though. That’s what you’re failing to see with abuse and how it differs from other sins. People who sin in different ways will be willing to change and will try to avoid that behavior once they realize that it’s hurtful. Abusers won’t. That’s what make them abusive. They want that control; and they don’t want to lose it.

    It’s frankly despicable the way that you and Insanitu are encouraging men to stay with women whom you honestly believe are emotionally abusivie and that your “remedy” is to become controlling enough that you might be able to force them to permanently pretend that they’ve changed.

  49. Sorry, adding one more thing cuz my husband just phrased something really well (something I struggle with). He says that relational responsibilities don’t change much. They’re are some that are added to specific relationships (like sex in marriage), but the majority of the list of relational responsibilities applies to every relationship we have. However, the differences come because we have greater responsibilities in different relationships and the way we express those responsibilities changes with different relationships. So he has a greater duty to protect and provide for our child than he does for another child at church. Also, the way he expresses his correction of his child is going to be different than the way he expresses his correction of me as his wife, which will be different from a friend in a church, which will be different than a friend’s child. Relational responsibilities overlap a LOT. That does not mean that each relationship should be viewed the same.

  50. Loura,

    By your own admission discipline comes from God, civil authorities and church authorities. I doubt you would say parents don’t have the right to discipline their children so I will spare you the multitude of Scriptures that exhort parents to do this.

    But God also grants Masters(or today’s equivalent employers the right of discipline as well).

    Yes we are all priests before God as believers in the sense that we can go directly to God with our petitions, but that in no way removes the earthly spheres of authority that God had established.
    Hierarchy does not disappear in the New Testament, instead it is reaffirmed and strengthened.
    “But I would have you know, that the head of every man is Christ; and the head of the woman is the man; and the head of Christ is God.” – I Corinthians 11:3 (KJV)
    “For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the saviour of the body.” – Ephesians 5:23 (KJV)
    “Put them in mind to be subject to principalities and powers, to obey magistrates, to be ready to every good work” – Titus 3:1 (KJV) (speaking to civil authorities) and of course Romans 13 which you quote
    “Obey them that have the rule over you, and submit yourselves: for they watch for your souls, as they that must give account, that they may do it with joy, and not with grief: for that is unprofitable for you.” – Hebrews 13:7 (KJV) – speaking of Church authorities

    Each realm has its sphere of authority and only God’s authority trumps all other authorities. When an authority steps outside the jurisdiction God has given them, or compels behavior that God condemns or forbids behavior that God commands that authority must be opposed in that instance whether it is a civil authority, an employer, a church authority or even a husband or parent.

    I do not acknowledge these methods I have suggested are forms of abuse anymore than I acknowledge that flying pink elephants exist. Just because some website, or even if the government officially ever said these are abuse does not make it abuse. God determines what is sin and what is abuse. If man’s laws go along with God then I will follow them, when they deviate then I will practice civil disobedience as I ought to obey God rather than man.

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