Why “Marital reboots” are necessary for healthy marriages

Any successful Christian marriage is going to require “reboots” from time to time. Troubled marriages are often the marriages that suffer from a lack of regular reboots or if they do reboots they do them in an unhealthy manner.

An example of “reboots” in the computer world

A “reboot” in the computer world is when a computer is completely shut down and then restarted.  From a technical perspective when a computer reboots everything in the RAM (Random Access Memory) is cleared out and then when the computer restarts the RAM is repopulated by reloading the operating system and other applications from the hard drive back into the RAM.

I work in the IT industry as a developer and sometimes as a system administrator (I wear many hats). In our industry we know that regular reboots of computers are essential to the health and performance of a computer and that is why we actually schedule them on a regular basis.

Sometimes a computer may have processes “hang” in between reboot cycles so we may have to do “off schedule” reboots.

All healthy marriages need reboots

In the same way that computers regularly need reboots so too our marriages often need reboots. Just like a computer our marriages can sometimes get to a point where they “hang” and do not properly work.

6 Examples of everyday situations that require marital reboots

  1. The husband has a bad day at work or a hard time fighting traffic and he comes home and speaks sternly to his wife not because of anything she has done but really because of his own bad mood.
  2. The husband has a fine day at work but his wife has had a stressful day with the kids and rips his head off the minute he comes in the door.
  3. A husband has to correct his wife’s sinful behavior and she does not take it well and storms off.
  4. A wife shares a grievance she has with her husband and he does not take it well and storms off or he cuts her off and ends the discussion abruptly.
  5. A husband goes to initiate sex with his wife and she turns him down even if for a legitimate reasons.
  6. A wife tries to talk with her husband and he tells her he is busy with something else at the time and can’t talk.

There are many more examples that could be given but I think these examples give us an idea of situations in marriage that may require marriage reboots.

The reason for reboots

The reason for a reboot is to restore full functionality to a computer and in the same way marital reboots are needed to restore full functionality to a marriage. Just as a computer is designed to function in certain ways God designed marriage to function in specific ways.  When these functions are performed properly then Christian marriage rightly resembles the relationship between God and his people, but when any of these functions are lacking then our marriages are not functioning as God designed them to and we cease to properly model the relationship between God and his people.

These are key “functions” that God expects from every marriage:

  1. The wife is to submit unto her husband as unto God in everything (Ephesians 5:22-24)
  2. The husband is to love his wife as Christ loved the church and sacrifice himself in many ways to help make his wife holy (Ephesians 5:25-27)
  3. The wife is to reverence her husband (Ephesians 5:33)
  4. The husband is to love his wife as he loves his own body and protect her and provide for her as he would his own body (Ephesians 5:28-29)
  5. The husband and wife have a duty to come together as “one flesh” in the act of sexual relations (I Corinthians 7:3-5)
  6. The wife has a right to bring grievances and concerns before her husband in a kind and respectful manner. (Job 31:13-15)
  7. The husband has the right and responsibility to discipline his wife in an attempt to make her holy (Ephesians 5:25-27 & Revelation 3:19)
  8. The husband has a responsibility to live with his wife according to knowledge and this means he must talk with her and spend time with her so he can know her (I Peter 3:7)

The costs of not rebooting a marriage

When we do not reboot our marriages after experiencing any kind of friction or when we have delayed fulfilling our marital duty to our spouse that can break the fellowship and harmony between a husband and wife that God intends there to be in all marriages.

In the same way that a computer lags, slows down or freezes when it is in need of a reboot this is what happens when we delay reboots in our marriages.  Both verbal and physical communication between a husband and wife suffer as a result. Some marriages go on like this for weeks, months, years and sometimes even decades!

Imagine that you never rebooted your computer at home for a year? In most cases that computer would not be operating in a healthy manner as it was intended to. But too often we allow our marriages to go on for great lengths of time without the reboots that are needed to restore the fellowship and harmony in a marriage.

The cost of rebooting improperly

A computer does not just need to be rebooted regularly, but it also needs to be rebooted in the right way. Rebooting your computer improperly over a long length of time will cause even more problems that not rebooting the computer.

If you just abruptly turn off a computer by unplugging the back of it you may cause corruptions to the hard drive of the computer. You may also cause problems to other components of the computer doing this. Instead you need to properly reboot your computer by shutting it down through the computer interface in an orderly manner.

In the same way some couples improperly reboot their marriages.  There are two primary ways that couples improperly reboot their marriages:

  1. The silent treatment – This where either one or both spouses are upset or angry at the other and communication ceases for a period. Then after several hours or even days of this silence they just start talking again like nothing happened.
  2. End of discussion – This is where one of the spouses gives the “end of discussion” flag and refuses to discuss the situation any further but normal communications continue afterward without any period of silence between the couple.

Obviously the silent treatment is not good for any marriage but I want to discuss the “End of discussion” reboot method. There are some times especially as husbands with our wives or as parents to our children that we may have to throw an “End of discussion” flag out there. Anyone who has a teenager has had to use this flag in a conversation many times.

Husbands though are often afraid to use this with their wives but I think there are sometimes where a wife will continue going on and on and men have to use this “End of discussion” flag with their wife.  I saw with my parents as well as many other couples when a wife would continue arguing with her husband especially in front of people and husbands have to throw out that “End of discussion” flag to their wives.

But as husbands we need to careful to not over use the “End of discussion” flag as a way not to ever hear grievances from our wives or even our children. But we must convey to our wives and children that grievances need to be made in a respectful way and in the right setting.

The wife’s use of the “End of discussion” flag with her husband is a little more problematic. Imagine if your teen abruptly stopped you as you were telling them something you did not like that they did and they tried to use the “End of discussion” flag with you.  Most parents would have no part of that.  In the same way I don’t see a way where God allows a wife to cut her husband off when he is discussing a problem he has with something she has done.

However, there is nothing wrong with a wife saying “lets agree to disagree” as a husband cannot control his wife’s beliefs or feelings on an issue. He can and should though attempt to control and mold her actions through proper discipline. What that means is a husband and wife may disagree on whether something was right or wrong that happened in the past.  They may disagree on what to do about something going forward.

But here is the key – the wife even though she may still disagree with her husband about what to do going forward must submit to his way unless he is asking her to directly sin against God.

6 Ways to properly reboot your marriage

Now that we have discussed the need to reboot our marriages and the wrong way to do reboots we will now discuss the RIGHT way to reboot you marriage in these common situations.

  1. If you as a husband had a bad day at work and you come home and yell at your wife you need to reboot your marriage by going to your wife and apologizing to her.
  2. If you as the wife had a bad day at home and you rip your husbands head off you need to reboot your marriage by going to your husband and apologizing to him.
  3. If you as a husband realize that you just cut your wife off with an “End of discussion” while she was trying to share a grievance she had with you (and this was not something you have previously discussed where she is nagging about the same thing over and over) you need to reboot your marriage by going to her and apologizing and then let her express her concern or grievance.
  4. If you as a wife had a strong disagreement with your husband and walked off in an angry manner you need to reboot your marriage by going to your husband and apologizing.  If you still have an honest disagreement with him tell him that even though you still disagree you WILL continue to follow his leadership and you will NOT continue to badger him about your disagreement over the issue.
  5. If you as a husband turned your wife away when she needed to talk you need to reboot your marriage by coming to her as soon as you can and asking her what she needed to talk about.
  6. If you as a wife turned down your husband for sex for wrong reasons you need to reboot your marriage by apologizing to him and then you need to initiate sex with him. Even if you turn you husband down for sex for legitimate reasons you still need to reboot the marriage by initiating sex with him as soon as you can.

What all six of these methods have in common is they require us as husbands and wives to truly examine ourselves and compare our actions with God’s Word and his model for marriage. When a husband and wife have broken fellowship their marriage is not operating as God intended it to.

The importance of sexual reboots

While all six points I just mentioned where reboots are needed are important if we had to rank them Biblically speaking the “sexual reboot” is the most important. Some people might say “well you are just saying that because you are a man” but that could not be further from the truth.

God warns men in I Peter 3:7 about not knowing their wives (talking to them and spending time with them) telling men that God will not hear their prayers if they ignore their wives in this area.  But if we look at I Corinthians it seems to convey a great sense of urgency of not allowing a lot of time to go between times of sexual intimacy:

“Defraud ye not one the other, except it be with consent for a time, that ye may give yourselves to fasting and prayer; and come together again, that Satan tempt you not for your incontinency.”  – I Corinthians 7:5 (KJV)

Ladies remember – God calls marriage a “one flesh” relationship and at the heart of this one flesh relationship should be regular sexual relations.

Also a lot of women wrongly think if they gently and kindly give their husbands a rain check that he should just come back and ask for sex again at another point.

But what women fail to realize is that initiating sex for most men puts them in a very vulnerable position.   When a man initiates sex with his wife it is the equivalent of an animal rolling on its back and showing its soft underbelly. So when a woman turns her husband down when he is in this vulnerable state even for legitimate reasons it really sets some men back.  They need to know that it is ok to make themselves vulnerable in this way once again.

Men need to be able to trust that when they initiate sex and make themselves vulnerable that their wives will not turn them away.  Each time a woman denies or even delays her husband that trust from her husband is weakened.  This is why it is so important for a woman to restore her husband’s trust that she will meet his sexual needs by initiating sex with him as soon as possible after giving him a rain check.

Also a reminder on sexual rainchecks – some women give rain checks far too easily when they could meet their husband’s sexual needs in other ways.  So what that means practically speaking for you Christian ladies is if your vagina is “out of service” due to medical reasons (pregnancy, periods, infections) God gave you other ways to help you husband.  This should make sexual rain checks extremely rare in one’s marriage.

Some marriages require a “reinstall” rather than just a “reboot”

Sometimes an operating system on a computer is simply defective or corrupted. Anybody remember Windows Vista? Ok for those of you who are not in the computer world Windows Vista was probably the worst version of Windows Microsoft ever had and they quickly had to scrap it and move to Windows 7 shortly thereafter.

In the same way with marriages some marriages have a faulty operating system.  For example a man and woman might have married as unbelievers so they went into marriage using the egalitarian “operating system”.  Other Christians may simply have had a corrupt or substandard form of complentarian marriage.  In either case sometimes a Christian couple when they truly want to honor God with their marriage may have to do a “reinstall” of their entire marriage operating system.

I have received several emails over the past two years from couples that have told me they had to do just that – a reinstall. It takes work from both sides.  It is difficult for men who have never lead their homes to suddenly lead and it is difficult for women who have never submitted to their husbands to suddenly submit.  But I thank God every time I receive an email from Christian couples who have decided to take this “reinstall” approach to make their marriage be what God intended it to be.


Well after reading this article you may have come away with two good things – how to keep your computer healthy and how to keep your marriage healthy.

But in all seriousness – we as believers in Christ need to examine ourselves daily and constantly be looking to see if we as the husband or the wife need to reboot our marriage. It requires humility and obedience to God in order to do this.

14 thoughts on “Why “Marital reboots” are necessary for healthy marriages

  1. Vista was bad, but Windows ME had the strongest stench of them all!

    Maybe it could be said that when a marriage is running on ME rather than Thee it stinks too!

  2. As a Linux user I have no idea what you are taking about. But if you limit your examples to Windows, I guess that works.

  3. I think sometimes it’s more like running on Unix. You know it’s running, but have no idea how it works or what commands to enter. Unless your a 12 year old girl at Jurassic Park. Then Unix is easy….

  4. “The husband has a fine day at work but his wife has had a stressful day with the kids and rips his head off the minute he comes in the door.”

    this is when my husband looks at me and says, “Well, who pissed in your cheerios this morning?!”
    or … “Are you PMSing again?!”
    or … a few other lines he comes up with … and they usually make me laugh and break the tension. if not, he just lets me rant away while he goes on about his own business and ignores me 🙂

  5. “If you just abruptly turn off a computer by unplugging the back of it you may cause corruptions to the hard drive of the computer.”

    oops 😉

    really, though, i do try to reboot properly … except when it won’t … and patience with technology is not my strength. so far, so good … but i’m sure my luck will run out someday 😉

  6. “But here is the key – the wife even though she may still disagree with her husband about what to do going forward must submit to his way unless he is asking her to directly sin against God.”

    yes, regardless of whether he is right or wrong and regardless of the consequences if he is wrong (not sinning against God, but she knows he’s wrong.)

  7. this post actually came at a good time. and if people can talk about the frequency of blow jobs out here … then this should be nothin 😉

    peri-menopausal, irregular periods and hormones are just oh so delightful! today was one of those days where every freakin thing i don’t like about my husband was magnified. i have to give him credit for some of that, but most of it is mine.

    i used to have dinner ready early when he came home from work, but then he’d come home and never be hungry, and the food would sit there warming for a couple hours. so i’ve just put off making dinner till later. today he tells me he feels better when he eats soon after he gets home from work … this after a discussion of how i think he needs more sleep (which he actually does and will admit occasionally) and how he comes home too tired to do anything but grump … to which he said he would not be so tired if he ate dinner earlier.

    y’all … i did not blow up at him! 🙂 🙂 🙂 i did kindly remind him why i had moved back dinner time but that i could easily move it back up if that’s what he wants.

    part of why he’s so tired right now is b/c he’s got this crud i still can’t get rid of … which i did not share with him, he just took it from me (you know, if we’re gonna be technical, we might as well get our facts straight 😉 … not that i minded at all! 🙂 )

    anyway … he gets over/moves on from/deals with/blows off – all my crap, and i do the same for him. sometimes one of us is a bit slower on it than the other, but we usually end up apologizing within a relatively short period of time, and that’s a good thing.

    so i’ll just go eat some of my fav mint chocolate chip ice cream and listen to him hack and sputter and cough and sound absolutely disgusting and nasty while i clean the kitchen … then we’ll go to bed and snuggle, and all will be right with the world once again 🙂

  8. @Ame,

    This situation with you husband and dinner could be very frustrating if you allowed it to be. But I think it illustrates a good point about marriage.
    In God’s model of marriage should a wife mold herself to conform to her husband’s habits and wishes or should he mold himself to conform to his wife’s habits and wishes? Some would say both. But is that what Christ and the Church do? Does Christ mold himself to conform to his Church’s wishes or should the Church conform itself to Christ’s wishes?

    Now please don’t misunderstand me. I do think we as husband’s need to be considerate of our wives. But when a woman goes into marriage with the idea that she may bend a little to her husband but he is going to have bend a little to her looking for everything to be equal instead of realizing God created her to serve him and not him to serve her she is going to have a lot of trouble.

  9. not misunderstanding you at all. i totally agree.

    there are things that can’t be done b/c they just can’t be done. for example, he loves his mom’s homemade cornbread dressing (it’s a southern/texas thang). his mother died long before i met him, and all i have is a recipe that kind of resembles what she made but is not accurate. i’ve tried. i really have. but i can not get it right. so when he wants cornbread dressing, he goes somewhere else. i don’t mind, and even though he’d really prefer i be able to make it, i just can’t. that is neither good nor bad, it just is.

    but there are things i can do … like change the time his dinner is ready if that’s what he wants. and he wants … or at least thinks he wants. so i’ll go with it. my schedule is flexible that time of day, so it’s not a problem – if it wasn’t, we’d need to have a discussion to see what he wanted moved and rearranged.

    God made women moldable to their environment. it’s why we’ve been able to follow our men around since the beginning of time and adapt to where ever we are. it’s why we can adapt to pregnancy hormones and birthing babies and having babies and toddlers and preschoolers and school agers and tween agers and teenagers and young adults, etc. we mold to our environment. while God made men more stable, consistent, the ‘straight line’ that becomes our plumb line in life, if we choose to allow it to be so. while we’re molding and adapting to everything, our husbands are our anchor, our lighthouse, our solid ground. that can drive us nuts sometimes, but we NEED y’all to be that like we need oxygen to breathe.

  10. <— Does Christ mold himself to conform to his Church’s wishes or should the Church conform itself to Christ’s wishes?

    Might it be said that a wife (church) conforms to her husband's (Christ) wishes primarily out of duty, fear and reverence, and the husband bends to his wife's wishes primarily out of compassion, care and nurture?

  11. Jonadab,

    I agree a husband may bend to his wife’s wishes out of compassion, care and nurture. Sometimes God gave people what they asked for the same reasons – as long as the request was not something sinful or would disrupt the plan of God.

  12. BGR, I really like this post! I had one question about the silent treatment and the ‘end of discussion’ flag. Tobias and I have never really struggled with either of those, and one of the reasons I think is because both of us occasionally use the ‘we need to put this on hold for now’ flag. This happens when we are getting to the point that we are both so emotionally invested (anger and frustration are emotions so this applies to men, too) in the argument, that we’re not making any headway and are both being extremely hurt by the random crap flying out of both of our mouths at that point (we all have our moments 🙂 ).

    I have always given a reason for my use of it that typically looks like “this is really bothering me to the point that I’m not able to discuss this well right now and I don’t want either of us to say hurtful things that we don’t mean, so let’s return to this at a later time”. He typically just says “we need to stop talking about this for awhile” but he does it when he gets really angry to the point it’s extremely obvious (tone of voice, body language, etc.) that he really doesn’t need to give a reason why at that point.

    What do you think about that use? As with everything, it can be done in the wrong way or overused, but I know it has been helpful for us.

  13. AnnaMS,

    “I had one question about the silent treatment and the ‘end of discussion’ flag. Tobias and I have never really struggled with either of those, and one of the reasons I think is because both of us occasionally use the ‘we need to put this on hold for now’ flag.”

    I don’t think that is bad at all and I would have included that if I had thought it. I think it is fine to use the ‘we need to put this on hold for now’ flag in instances such as you described when things are heated and the discussion is going no where. As long this is not abused like the “End of discussion” flag sometimes is to avoid tackling difficult issues. Taking a break is fine, avoiding the issue forever is not.

    This is why I have said that sometimes the resolution when there is a disagreement is the “agree to disagree” method and unless the husband is asking the wife to engage in sinful activity she follows him even in her disagreement. At the same time the husband acknowledges that his wife will have disagreements and that is OK as long as she still follows his leadership in the end with a right attitude.

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