How doing LESS for your wife can make your marriage better

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.

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10 thoughts on “How doing LESS for your wife can make your marriage better

  1. I can’t agree more about not backing down. My wife has pushed me to the brink of divorce after I repented of my lack of headship and started turning the ship around.

    Results may vary, but at least twice I thought things were over for good and that maybe I held my ground too firmly. However, as I prepared for the worst, she came back on both occasions with sweetness and a desire to change.

    It’s been exhausting, but by God’s grace, I am fixing the mess I realized that I made and have been gaining the respect that I was missing.

  2. Thank you for that testimony. You are definitely right about it be exhausting to take the leadership in your home. The concept of a husband sacrificing himself for his wife is so misrepresented in Christian circles. It is always represented as a man simply sacrificing his selfish desires to meet his wife’s needs. While this is PART of how a man sacrifices himself for his wife, this is certainly not the whole of how a man sacrifices himself.

    It is a sacrifice as you point out – when a man exercises his leadership and has to stand his ground with wife instead of just backing down and taking the easy way out.

  3. A very real article that would be very difficult to swallow for the married women who read.

    In my marriage I cannot say I spoiled her, but I defintely idolized her and our marriage. Sure i fought with my idol because it was a sysiphean relationship. I could never do enough. I was never a braggy kind of guy. She falls into the category of looking up to men who brag about their accomplishments or their standing, so I cant figure out what attracted her to me as I was quiet back then. She use to talk about a roomate we had who was so good at triathlons. We were all runners and bikers in out social group. She knew I did races starting when I was 15.

    It was only when we got married that my mom who kept all my trophies from runs and triathlons did she freak out and say she never knew. Our roomate was fast, but his times were not close to mine…. She couldnt figure me out when things came up and it was evident I surpassed many accomplishments of other men she was impressed bu.

    My point in this is that while other men who were braggadishos impressed her and she gave them respect and admiration she wouldnt give her own husband that kind of respect even after she witnessed or heard of my accomplishments. This never hurt me, because I didnt do those things for recognition. I just wanted respect for all the things I did for her and her only. I sent her and the kids to visit her family and in 8 days I knocked down 2 walls to make a great room. I worked all through the nights and even before work. She said it looked nice then criticized on and off about the transition of the hardwood floor which we eventually had an expert come do before we sold. One wall was weight bearing which scared me to death, she could careless. If it was someone else who did it she wouldve been impressed.

    Teaching her how to sort laundry, clean bathrooms, bathe our first child and even change her diaper never even occures to her to respect me. If I bragged about shagging chicks or how well I did on the medical board, i am quite sure she would respect me.

    After RP I went through the stages rollo explains. It is hard to comprehend how women can be so cruel. I thought it was just my wife.

    I would have crawled over broken glass to be with her. Now i realize crawling over broken glass would just cause pain. Same with doing more for her. Its hard to believe men dont do enough for their wives. I must just be the odd duck because almost all the men i know do so much for their wives that its insane and i have stopped doing most of the things i use to because of the lack of respect and sex.

  4. Respect and attraction are very very closely linked for women, so I agree if a man puts his woman on a pedestal it’s highly likely there will be problems.

    “My point in this is that while other men who were braggadishos impressed her and she gave them respect and admiration she wouldnt give her own husband that kind of respect even after she witnessed or heard of my accomplishments.”

    I’m sorry, Jeff. 😦
    If that is true (and I believe you), your wife is exceedingly dim.

  5. @BGR. Great advice per usual. Especially since it is directly contrary to what most Christian men receive from their pastors and/or counselors which teach them to double down on strategies that already aren’t working for them. It’s really not too hard to understand it when you think about it. Women want to marry a handsome prince, not a scullery maid. When you behave like you are a prince they get excited and it confirms in their mind that they made the right choice. When you act like her maid she treats you like a servant. Because that’s what you are teaching her you are. And your behavior signals to her that you really weren’t the prize catch she thought you were, but just another weak male afraid of his shadow, or in this case his wife. She therefore believes she been defrauded and made a fool of by her marrying this spineless creature. Don’t blame a woman for acting like a woman, remember the scorpion and the frog.
    @ Ludwig. I remember the first time that experience happened to me, was back in my mid twenties when dinosaurs roamed the Earth. .Tall, lovely girl and I got into a tiff, I uncharacteristically held my ground. She went in her house and slammed the door in my face. Called me the next day and apologized, was all lovey for weeks thereafter. Her roomie said after she slammed the door in my face she sighed and swooned. Eventually lost her by being all beta and romantic. Took me decades to catch on to what I should have learned back then. Glad you know the truth, don’t forget or let someone convince you otherwise!
    @Jeff. Feel for you brother. You have unplugged so you know all the standard replies and I am sure you are at wits end. I have only two pieces of advice, one of which to share today, which might or might not help. First, the way you describe what your wife is attracted to, what you rightly call the behavior of a braggart, is merely a manifestation of extreme alphaness, often called the alpha male of the group in some RP circles. It may be that your wife is seeking a dosage of alphaness greater than what you think is already appropriate and the braggarts are filling that void. I’d give her some real alpha behavior to think about. Then keep upping the dosage and see how she reacts. When things start going south in my bailiwick I always find that I am shorting her (and the world) on alpha behavior. I would just keep increasing it until I see a counter reaction and then back off and keep that level for a while. . You may be surprised at how positive she will respond to over the top displays. You see how she reacts when she see it in an acquaintance, think what her reaction might be when she gets it from you. Yes, I know this is gaming (sorry BGR) but in my view its a simply using another effective tool (like using a knife to make
    kindling) in hopes of saving a marriage. If you have already tried this or you find this distasteful please forgive my intrusion. I mean no offense. Good Luck to you.

  6. Jeff, it might also help to have independent interests, rather than focusing only on the family (I’m in no position to know your situation, just a thought). If she perceives that she has become less of your focus, it might heighten your value in her estimation.
    If you ran and biked before, I hope you are still pursuing those interests. It’s good for you both physically and emotionally.
    I agree with Dash in part, but I’m not sure I agree that bragging is ipso facto associated with alpha traits. I can’t envision John Wayne bragging. To me, bragging about oneself is more a sign of insecurity.

  7. I was alpha then beta now alpha. I do not believe in alpha though. I believe in a high level beta.

    Lets see:
    Left home at 17, worked on a ranch and figured out that education was the way to go. Self supported.
    Raced against miles stewart, ken glah, ken souza, lance armstrong ( giving away my age). Ray browning tried his best to be a suuragte to him, but he was a sociopath not an alpha.
    Went to school straight thru summers etc to be the youngest in my med class.
    I co own 10 clinics now with sole franchise of the name and tm.
    Built a cabin with a chainsaw and sludge hammer and drill from logs on my own property.
    Use to do ultramarathons.
    Still exercise as much as possible.
    I hunt and eat what i shoot.
    I reload my own ammo.
    I use to shoot competition.

    What more do i have to do to seem alpha? I concede that in my belief of being an alpha means taking her crap and disrespect with silence and stoicism was being alpha. I thought that was living with understanding and being patient. All it did is make her think she was right all the time. I thot being patient was loving.

    Now i do not let her get away with comments, so my frame is different. I cannot stand the bickering and arguing. My gawd its not worth it.

    Gaming in my opinion is suplocating to the FI. Thats not biblical and all it does is perpetute or allow/consent to hypergamy. Scripurally she has a role to paly, obligations, and commands to obey. If gaming her to do them is biblical than i concede your point. If she is to obey Gods commands she needs to put away herself which includes her instincts to hypergamy. Thats like manipulating teenager with reverse psychology only to allow them to continue in their immature thinking and allowing them to teach the next generation teenagers to do what they are doing.

    When i was a child i did childish things…. When i was a man i put those things behind me. Doesnt that sound familiar?

  8. Honestly I think doing most of these things would make a wife feel safer and more secure. Not having boundaries feel very bad. It feels bad for spoiled children and for wives. When my husband took my debit card away and put me on a cash only budget I was a little sad because I knew I wasn’t going to be able to buy as much stuff as I wanted, but ultimately I felt so much safer and calmer.

    I often cry when my husband sets boundaries. Women have an immense tolerance for pain but a low tolerance for loss of control, so we will usually cry when we have some control taken away. However while I’m crying, what I really don’t want is my husband to change his mind back. I just need to get the emotion out and be comforted and reassured.

  9. Whoops,will try this post again,hoping not to duplicate.
    Perhaps Jeff’s wife does not respond to all his amazing background and current accomplishments because she is not in agreement with becoming like Sarah and calling him master as Sarah did with Abraham. In that case it is a spiritual failing that all of Jeff’s efforts cannot correct. It would be even more extreme to have it that she was actually jealous of him and is making sure by her behavior that he is kept in a lowered position in her eyes. Humility and meekness on his part is wonderful in my eyes but some women read it as weakness,which is a shame (shame on them).
    Since Jeff has accomplished much in his life by great and persevering effort it is also possible he was attempting to do the same here but it did not “take” with his wife and that can be confusing. She would have to appreciate what God says and see it’s value for herself as a person and a wife and truly believe in its benefits/blessings before she can respond with warmth and gladness to Jeff . His trying and trying hard may not have been the sole problem (determining to be more or less alpha or beta).
    Her part in this is her beliefs,her heart focus because that is what is at the core.
    If I am wrong please forgive me but God bless your next steps in trying to lead her in the best direction.

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