Christian men are told in counseling offices and churches across America that if they would just do more for their wives that their marriages would get better. But the truth is that sometimes doing LESS for your wife can actually improve your marriage.
But before we can address the men who need to do LESS for their wives, we need to address the men who actually need to do MORE for their wives.
Some men might need to do MORE not less for their wives
The Bible does tell men that they need to spend time with their wives and know them:
“When a man takes a new wife, he shall not go out with the army nor be charged with any duty; he shall be free at home one year and shall give happiness to his wife whom he has taken.” – Deuteronomy 24:5 (NASB)
“Likewise, ye husbands, dwell with them according to knowledge, giving honour unto the wife, as unto the weaker vessel, and as being heirs together of the grace of life; that your prayers be not hindered.” – I Peter 3:7 (KJV)
“If he take him another wife; her food, her raiment, and her duty of marriage, shall he not diminish. And if he do not these three unto her, then shall she go out free without money.” – Exodus 21:10-11 (KJV)
Gentlemen – we as husbands are required to provide food, clothing and shelter to our wives. We are required to give them regular sexual relations. We are required to spend time with them, talk to them, know their needs and concerns and give them proper honor as our wife. This is the Biblical definition of what it means for a man to unconditionally love his wife.
This is a tall order and each of us as men fail in this duty from time to time. I think as men often times we can be great at providing our wives with food, clothing, shelter and sex but we fail in the areas of honoring her and knowing her. We can become too wrapped up in our jobs and hobbies to the point where we never talk to our wives.
If you are failing to spend time with or talk to your wife then you are not a husband that needs to do less, but instead you need to do MORE.
A little clarification on the phrases “spend time”, “talk” and “honor”
By “spend time” and “talk” I do not mean you have to spend every waking hour, or every amount of free time you have from your job with your wife. There is no sin in a man having hobbies and interests that do not involve his wife. In fact this is actually a healthy thing for a man to do. But what it means is that you on a regular basis – even if it just a half hour or hour a day you check in with your wife to find out how her day went.
Perhaps find a sitcom or some game show you watch together and just talk. I don’t have my kids during the week (because they are with my ex-wife during the week), so my wife and I watch Family Feud each night and that is our talk time before I go do more work, run errands or blog. If you have kids this will probably be something you do at the end of the night when the kids go to bed. You discuss her concerns or maybe just talk about current events or whatever she needs to talk about. Some nights neither one of you will have anything to say and you can just enjoy the silence, other nights things will need to be discussed. This is how you come to “dwell with your wife according to knowledge”, this is how you know her.
By “honor” when it comes to your wife I mean not constantly criticizing her and not running her down in front of others. If you are a highly critical husband that needs to be put in check. Yes as husbands sometimes we are called to confront our wife’s sin, but that does not mean crushing her spirit by constantly making her feel like a failure.
Don’t get me wrong – I do NOT believe that a man needs to give his wife unwarranted compliments. If your wife rarely cooks you don’t have to brag and pretend how she cooks all the time. But when she does cook – then praise her. You don’t have to praise your wife sitting in her sweats with her un-kept hair and tell her how beautiful she is. But when she does clean herself up and make herself beautiful for you – recognize it!
Some men need to do LESS not more for their wives
Now if you can answer to the previous section that you are in fact providing for your wife’s physical needs(food, clothing, shelter and sex) as well as spending time with her, talking to her and honoring her then you may be need to do LESS for your wife in order to have a marriage that honors God.
But this works for our marriage so why do I need to change this with my wife?
Maybe as a Christian husband you feel that you have a great marriage with your wife. You enjoy eachother’s company, you go out on dates, you have regular sex and you just love doing things for your wife like buying her flowers, giving her jewelry doing housework, taking care of the kids so she can get out and a whole host of other things. These are all good things a husband can do for his wife – so why would he want to do them less?
The reason you may need to do less is because you may be spoiling your wife and enabling her sinful behavior.
The title of this post was “How doing LESS for your wife can make your marriage better” and what makes a marriage “better” will be defined differently if you don’t have a Biblical worldview.
The world which rejects all the Bible’s teachings on gender roles will say there are many ways to have a better marriage. Whether the man leads, the woman leads or even if those is no leader (which is never really true) then that is all fine. Whether a woman gives her husband sex because he basically has become her servant that waits on her hand and foot and worships the ground she walks on or a man stays home and is Mr. Mom to their kids – any arrangement is fine as long as the couple agrees on the parameters.
In other words – a good marriage, a better marriage in the world’s view is one where a couple simply gets along and comes up with their own arrangement that works for them.
But this is not considered a “better marriage” in God’s view.
Only a marriage that models the relationship between Christ and his Church and adheres to the Biblical commands regarding the roles the husband and wife play in this symbolism can be considered a “better marriage”.
The spoiled wife scenario
Sometimes as husbands we can make the same mistake with our wives that parents make with their children.
Not many people would argue with the concept that you can do too much for your child. A child needs to learn to clean up after themselves as well as do their chores around the house. A child needs to do their homework and do their very best in school and their other extracurricular activities. A child must show proper respect for their parents and their teachers and other authorities.
Some parents actually run around pickup after their children, they clean their rooms for them they even help them with their homework to the point where they are practically doing it for the child. Some parents simply ignore their children’s disrespect and disobedience.
Then after all these things they do for their child they heap unearned praise and rewards on the child telling the child how wonderful they are when nothing in their behavior warrants this praise and reward. They go and buy their children whatever toys and video games they want.
Most people would agree that such a child is being spoiled and the parents are in fact not doing right by the child.
However if we were to apply this same scenario to the husband/wife relationship all of a sudden we have a very different reaction as if it is impossible for a man to spoil his wife in the same way a parent can spoil a child. But it is actually is very possible for a man to spoil his wife. Many men both Christian and non-Christian alike spoil their wives.
Imagine a husband who buys his wife flowers every week, takes her on dates every week, spends absorbent amounts of money on jewelry and weekend getaways.
He tells his wife every day she is so beautiful despite the fact that she has gained 100 lbs., rarely showers or combs her hair and sits on the couch in her big tee shirt and sweat pants with a bag of Cheetos in her lap.
He tells her how great a cook she is and brags to others how great a cook she is when she cooks 20% of the time and he cooks 80%. He cleans the house while she sits around on a couch talking to her girlfriends on the phone, Facebooking or watching TV. He does most of the laundry. He lives for his wife’s immediate happiness above all other concerns.
Some men in this situation may not do all the house work, but instead they hire a maid so their wife can continue to sit on her throne.
Why is it wrong to spoil your wife?
Maybe this describes you wife exactly, maybe it is close but not the same. Maybe she takes great care of her appearance but neglects her duties to care for the home. Maybe she is a career woman who works but is still neglectful of her duties to you and your home.
You might say – “wait – this works for me and my wife. I do all this and she gives me all the sex I want. That is all I want.” I have received several emails from men who have this kind of relationship with their wives. I have also seen it first hand with some relatives and coworkers.
I am going to repeat a statement I have said often on this blog:
There is more to marriage than sex, but a marriage without sex is not a marriage.
Many times when we are talking about sexual denial we emphasize the second part of that statement. But in this scenario we need to look at the first part of that statement.
Marriage is not just about doing whatever it takes as a man to get your sexual needs met. It is about modeling the relationship between God and his people, between Christ and his Church.
The example I have just described above is an example of a husband spoiling his wife in the same way parents can spoil a child. It is NOT modeling the example of the relationship between Christ and his Church.
If you as a husband see yourself anywhere in this description I have just mentioned – you need to be doing LESS for your wife, not more.
You spoil your wife when you do things for her that she ought to be doing. When you step into her role as a wife and do for her what she ought to be doing for you – that is spoiling her. When you reward her with unwarranted compliments, unlimited access to your free time, dates, trips, gifts and house hold upgrades when she has not earned them by her behavior you are spoiling your wife.
Is there a place for graciousness with your wife where you give her things she did not earn? Yes. But to do this all the time is to move from being gracious to enabling sinful behavior on the part of your wife.
But when you give up your leadership and authority position to your wife in order to get sex you have reversed the God given roles of husband and wife and you are now acting as the wife and your wife is now acting as the husband.
But aren’t husbands and wives to supposed to serve one another?
Yes – but husbands and wives are to serve each other in different ways. A man primarily serves his wife by leading her, providing for her, protecting her and meeting her sexual needs. A wife primarily serves her husband by following his leadership, caring for the domestic needs of his home, bearing his children, caring for his children and meeting his sexual needs.
Stop enabling your wife and start sacrificing for her holiness
Men are called to sacrifice themselves for their wife’s holiness, not to enable their sin.
“Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it; that he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, that he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish.” – Ephesians 5:25-27 (KJV)
No parent who loves their child wants to see them unhappy, any more than a man who loves his wife wants to see her unhappy. But God places our call to holiness, over our happiness. When you as a husband take a stand and start doing less for this wife you have spoiled she is going to be angry. She may start to sexually deny you in order to get you to start doing these things again. This is the sacrifice you will have to make. You must be willing to sacrifice your own sexual needs in order to try and get your wife to conform to God’s design for her as a wife. You cannot sacrifice your faith, God’s word or the headship position God has given you just so you can get sex from your wife.
Maybe you are doing all these things but still being denied sexually
Now many men do all the things I described above in a vain effort to get their wives to stop denying them sexually. They tell themselves “maybe if I do this more, or that more then she will give me sex”.
If you find yourself in this position – know that this will NOT work.
Some wives routinely dangle the possibility in front of their husbands that if you just do “this or that more, then I might do that more”.
Don’t buy it, don’t fall it.
The same thing applies to the husband who is actually getting sex by doing all the things you are doing in vain. I know if you are living in a sexless marriage you want so desperately to believe if you just do a little more or something different it will change. But this is a false hope. You must realize that.
STOP DOING THEM.
Do less, not more for your wife if you are going to have any hope of repairing your marriage and bringing your bringing into conformity with God’s design .
10 Ways to “un-spoil” your wife
Now that we have established why you cannot spoil your wife even if you are getting regular sex or you are spoiling her in a vain attempt to get more sex here are 10 ways you can “un-spoil” your wife.
Start leading spiritually
Spend time in prayer with the Lord and ask for guidance as you take over the leadership of your home in accordance with his will. Are you going to a church because your wife picked it but you don’t agree that this is the best church for your family? Then lead your family to the church you believe God would have you attend. Has your wife been teaching your children doctrines and beliefs that you believe are unbiblical? Then you need to let her know this and correct these errors with your children.
Start leading financially
Have you gotten into debt in order to appease her? Take the credit cards away and put a budget together. Perhaps you have not been giving to your Church as you should, go to the Lord in prayer and seek his guidance in how to reorder your finances.
Start leading in sex
Make it clear to your wife that regular sexual relations are a duty and responsibility in marriage that you expect of her and she can expect from you. The only precondition to your sexual relations was met on the day you were married and made your vows before God. No preconditions remain.
Start leading by disciplining your wife
If your wife has been speaking to you in disrespectful ways especially in front the children or in other public venues then you need to rebuke her for that. If your wife has been sexually denying you, or starts to sexually deny you as a result of “un-spoiling” her you may have to take additional disciplinary steps.
See my article “7 ways to discipline your wife” for more on the subject of discipline.
Start leading in disciplining the children
Has your wife been being too lenient with the kids in your view? Has she been too hard on the kids in your view? As the father you are to set the tone of the discipline in your home. Go to the Lord in prayer and ask for his guidance in how to discipline your children.
Stop giving her unwarranted compliments
Even if she fixes herself up do not compliment her every time, instead give your comments in measured amounts.
Stop doing the household chores
It is one thing to do these kinds of things when your wife is sick or medically unable to do them. But simply to do them all the time is you doing what she should be doing in her role as your wife.
Stop taking her out wherever and whenever she wants to go
It’s ok to say no. This is not a right, this is not a requirement of a husband. Do this only in measured amounts and this should correlate to her doing her duties as a wife.
Stop buying her things that she does not need
Whether it be flowers, jewelry or any other “want” type items. Do this only in measured amounts and this should correlate to her doing her duties as a wife.
Stop giving her unlimited access to your free time
Find some hobbies you can do on your own or with your guy friends. If you have children and have been neglecting them in order to spoil her – then give them some of your free time. Give her some of your free time in measured amounts and this should also correlate to her doing her duties as a wife.
But if I do this my wife will divorce me!
After you have sought the Lord’s will in prayer in all these areas and have formulated a plan you need to have a discussion with your wife.
The first thing that you should do is apologizing for not leading your home as you should have. Now that you are taking on the leadership responsibility of your home there are going to be some changes. Go through those changes with her and be clear what you believe your Biblical duties are as a husband and father and what her Biblical duties are as a wife and mother.
Your wife will have one of four reactions to this meeting:
She will eventually repent and change and become the wife that God wants her to be.
She will cry and make you feel as though you are being mean and unloving in attempt to emotionally manipulate you into backing down.
She will give you the silent treatment and cut you off from sex hoping you will eventually back down.
She will threaten to leave or divorce you if you do not back down.
Obviously you as her husband are hoping for the first reaction. But don’t be surprised if at first she has one of the other negative reactions but eventually repents and changes her ways.
But if your wife does have one of the negative reactions (which is highly likely) – you cannot give in to any of these forms of manipulation. Your wife may actually leave and threaten divorce. She may stay and give you the cold shoulder for weeks, months or even years in an attempt to get you to break – in this case you may actually have to divorce her for sexual denial.
But in the end, sometimes it is Biblically right to do LESS, not more for your wife.