Do you have a Christian wife whose jealous behaviors drive you nuts as a Christian husband? Does she want to know your every move? Does she need to know about every phone call you make? Does she need to know the password for your computer or the electronic devices? Is she jealous of any time you spend with your guy friends or perhaps she is even jealous of time you spend with your children?
If this is the case with your wife, then you may have the first type of jealous wife which is a possessive jealous wife.
But then there is a second type of jealous wife. This the wife who constantly compares how you treat her with how her friends are treated by their husbands. Perhaps she even compares you to couples on TV and how the husband’s treat their wives. Her comparisons may be about words of affection, or gifts or going places together.
If this is the case with your wife, then you have the second type of jealous wife which is an envious jealous wife.
But aren’t some kinds of jealousy from a wife a good thing?
Jealousy is a bit like anger. It is often what we do with these feelings that makes them sin or not sin. However, there are some things we have no right to be angry over and there are some things we have no right to be jealous over. The Bible tells us that we must compare every thought and feeling we have against the knowledge of God and make it obedient unto Christ.
“Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ;”
2 Corinthians 10:5 (KJV)
There is actually only one type of jealousy felt by wives toward their husbands that we see is accepted by God and actually can be a force to motivate a wife to be a better wife and that is the envious type of jealousy. But before you get confused and think I am saying the behavior of the envious jealous wife in my example above is acceptable before God please know I am not saying that at all.
“But I say, Did not Israel know? First Moses saith, I will provoke you to jealousy by them that are no people, and by a foolish nation I will anger you.”
Romans 10:19 (KJV)
God actually took a new bride, the church, in order to make his first wife Israel jealous. God had warned his first wife, he rebuked her and called her to come back to him, he disciplined her and finally had to divorce her (Jeremiah 3:8). But he still loved her.
The type of jealousy that God was trying to provoke in Israel was not a possessive jealousy because in God’s design of marriage a wife never possesses her husband, but rather he possesses her. Rather God was trying to prove an envious jealousy in his former wife Israel when she witnessed the affection that God lavished on his new bride – the Church. The Bible tell us that in the future this final act of God to provoke his first wife to jealousy will work and the nation of Israel will return to him (Romans 11:26).
If a wife uses her envious jealousy to make herself a better wife so that she may earn more affection from her husband, then there is no sin in that. But if she allows her envious jealousy to make her bitter toward her husband for him not showing her certain types of affection or giving her certain things she desires then she has allowed her jealousy to cause sin in her life rather than good.
Wives are forbidden from having possessive jealousy toward their husbands
In the last couple sections, I talked about the fact that the only type of jealousy God allows from wives and even sometimes encourages from wives toward their husbands is the envious type of jealousy. If only envious jealousy is allowed for wives and even then it must be channeled for self-improvement, not bitterness this then leaves out possessive jealousy.
God actually prescribed a test for husbands when they felt jealous toward their wives in Numbers 5:12-31. There are many non-believers and even some Christians today who mock this passage as some sort of “Biblical voodoo” but make no mistake those who do so attack the very integrity of the Word of God. While it is impossible for Christian husbands to practice this today as the Old Testament priesthood has been done away with and Christ is now our new high priest and the law has been changed (Hebrews 7:12), it does prove the point that God allows for men to be possessively jealous of their wives. Can men sometimes be too possessive of their wives? Yes but that is a topic for another post.
But while God prescribed a test for husbands who felt jealous toward their wives if they felt they were being unfaithful to them – God prescribed no such test for wives who felt jealous toward their husbands. Why? Because in God’s design a wife does not possess or own her husband but rather the husband exclusively owns and possesses his wife.
“Thou shalt not covet thy neighbour’s house, thou shalt not covet thy neighbour’s wife, nor his manservant, nor his maidservant, nor his ox, nor his ass, nor any thing that is thy neighbour’s.”
Exodus 20:17 (KJV)
The English translation of Proverbs 31 masks the ownership of the husband over the wife. The word that is translated as “husband” in Proverbs 31 is not the normal Hebrew word for husband but rather it is the same word used for owners of slaves and livestock:
“10 Who can find a virtuous woman? for her price is far above rubies. 11 The heart of her husband (lit. Owner) doth safely trust in her, so that he shall have no need of spoil.”
Proverbs 31:10-11 (KJV)
For more on the topic of husband’s owning their wives and children and the treatment of human property in the Bible see my article “Does the Bible teach the concept of human property?”
The reason that a husband owns his wife as well as the reason for the Bible calling for the subjection of women to their husbands is because the husband/wife relationship was designed by God as a symbol of the relationship between himself and his people.
“23 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. 24 Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in every thing.”
Ephesians 5:23-24 (KJV)
Does the Church own Christ or does Christ own the Church? The answer to that question is the same answer as to if a husband owns his wife. This is why we see a bride price being paid for women to their father’s throughout the Bible. The transfer of a daughter from her father to her husband was a property exchange. Is this entire concept of men owning their wives and children offensive to our modern egalitarian views? Of course it is. But it is the God’s design according the Word of God.
But it is for the reasons I have just shown that a wife is absolutely forbidden from having or acting on a possessive jealousy toward her husband. Her husband does not belong to her but rather she belongs to him and he belongs to God. When a wife allows herself or is allowed by her husband to act in a possessively jealous way toward her husband this breaks the symbolism and roles in marriage which God designed.
Ways to train your wife in regard to her jealousy
Step #1 – Correct her possessive jealousy toward your thoughts
Women are usually far worse about this than men although there are some overly possessive men that are bad in this area. But many wives want to know or possess every thought in their husband’s head. They do not have a right to possess these thoughts of their husband.
If you want to share your thoughts with your wife, then you can. If you don’t wish to then tell her you do not wish to. She has no right to your thoughts. Even with husbands I have mentioned that while the husband role has the most power of any human authority God did not give husbands the ability to read their wives’ minds or the power to compel their thoughts.
As Christians we are required to be “bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ”, rather than making our every thought captive to our spouse, parent or other human authority. Husbands have authority over their wives’ words and actions, not their thoughts. God is the only one who knows our thoughts and can command our thoughts.
Step #2 – Correct her possessive jealousy toward your time
The Bible requires husbands in regard to their wives to “dwell with them according to knowledge” (I Peter 3:7) and this certainly would require a husband spending some time with his wife and talking to his wife. You can’t know your wife’s heart, her needs, her concerns without spending some time with her.
However, you as her husband and the head of your home are the determiner of when you spend time with your wife. You might have to travel for work or even if you don’t travel you may have to work a lot of hours locally. You need to spend time with your children and you should set aside some alone time for yourself as this is a healthy thing to do.
But what you need to emphasize to your wife is that yes you recognize that you need to set aside some time to spend with her, but she does not possess your time and it is your discretion as to when you will spend your time with her.
Step #3 – Correct her possessive jealousy regarding other women
The position I take based on my understanding of the Scriptures on this particular type of jealousy is going to be the most controversial and it where I will spend the most time on this topic. Most Christian preachers and teachers today will teach that wives have a God given right to be possessively jealous toward their husbands regarding other women. They teach this based on these beliefs:
- Polygamy was a corruption of God’s design for marriage. So if a woman’s husband has any sexual thoughts about other women, or enjoys visually taking in the view of other women or if he desires to marry a woman as an additional wife this is not based on a God given desire but it comes from his sin nature.
- Because they believe man’s polygamous nature is a corruption and not by design they believe all his sexual thoughts and energy must be solely directed at one woman – his one and only wife.
- While many Christian teachers believe the first two points I have just given on this third point they will disagree. If a man’s desire toward a variety of women (polygamous desire) is a corruption of God’s design of his sexual nature, then does his wife have the right to confront him and force him to focus all this sexual thoughts and energy on her? Those who believe a wife has the power to confront and rebuke her husband’s sin will say yes. Those who believe a wife has no such power will say she must pray for her husband and leave him to the Lord.
But regardless of whether they embrace all three beliefs most Christian teachers will maintain that a wife’s possessive jealousy toward her husband is justified because she is simply reacting to her husband’s violation of God’s design of marriage. They just disagree on what she can do based on that jealousy.
But these beliefs in the justification for wife’s possessive jealousy toward their husbands in regard to other women do so in defiance of the Scriptures.
To reject the polygamous design of man is to reject the weight of the Scriptures
The three most common arguments that anti-polygamy advocates attempt to use to support their belief that polygamy is a corruption of God’s design of marriage and sexuality are:
“God only gave Adam one wife in the garden of Eden, not many” (Genesis 2:21-24)
“God says a pastor must be the husband of one wife” (I Timothy 3:2)
“Look at all the jealousy that was caused between wives because of polygamy” (Genesis 29 & 30)
The first argument is faulty based on rules of Scriptural interpretation.
Whenever we are trying under God’s will on any subject we need to follow certain rules. The New Testament interprets the Old Testament, commands outweigh examples and the weight of Scripture interprets Scripture. The anti-polygamy stance of the modern Christian church is a violation of the last two rules.
Anti-polygamists give us the example of God only making one wife for Adam as proof that polygamy is against his design yet they ignore examples of God saying he gave David his Saul’s wives (2 Samuel 12:8) and the example of God picturing himself as a polygamist husband to two wives two passages of Scripture (Ezekiel 23:2-4 & Romans 10:19).
So right there we have examples that God does in fact allow polygamy. But the evidence does not stop there. Rather than just example we actually have a direct command from God allowing men to take other wives as long as they care for their first wives (Exodus 21:10-11).
The second argument regarding the qualifications for bishops is faulty as well. God’s restriction on pastor’s having one wife is not worded as a condemnation of polygamy or a change in God’s position on polygamy. If it is referring to a restriction against polygamy, then it is a restriction for pastor’s only just as priests in the Old testament had stricter marriage rules than other men (Leviticus 21:14). It could just as easily be referring to the fact that a Pastor must not have divorced any of his wives as there is similar wording for widows serving in the church that they had to have “been the wife of one man” and this was referring to divorce.
The third argument regarding jealousy is perhaps the weakest of the three arguments against polygamy. It assumes that the jealousy of these wives toward each other and their husband lay at the feet of the practice of polygamy. Often the story of Rachel and Leah from Genesis 29 & 30 is one example of jealous wives that anti-polygamists use.
The funny thing is this story if you examine it closely actually works against anti-polygamists. In this story we have Jacob who is madly in love with Rachel yet he tricked into marrying her older sister Leah who is less attractive first. God sees after he marries Rachel that Jacob is not showing the love for Leah that he should so makes her fertile and he makes Rachel barren. Leah has an envious jealousy toward Rachel and she tries to have as many children as she can for Jacob so that maybe he will show her the affection she so desires.
Eventually Leah does something that would make modern women today cringe. She actually gives her husband her servant girl as a wife and God actually rewards her for it by giving her another son.
“And Leah said, God hath given me my hire[or reward], because I have given my maiden to my husband: and she called his name Issachar.”
Genesis 30:18 (KJV)
But anti-polygamists would have us to dismiss all these Biblical examples of God condoning polygamy and his express command allowing it based on their arguments from the creation example, the qualifications for a pastor and the fact of jealous wives.
The fact is God designed men with the capacity and desire to have multiple wives in the same way he designed women with the capacity and desire to have multiple children. Until the Roman empire outlawed polygamy after the time of Christ society did not condemn men desiring multiple wives. And until the dawn of the feminist movement over a century ago society did not condemn women for desiring multiple children. Now society condemns both. But God’s design has not changed.
For more on the discussion of polygamy see my series “Why polygamy is not unbiblical” as well as my article “Was polygamy a sin God overlooked in the Old Testament?”.
So how do you as husband confront this type of possessive jealousy in your wife?
First you need to teach your wife the Word of God. Take her through the Scriptures I have mentioned here regarding the polygamous nature of man. Let’s face it – most men in our culture will never be able to actually marry multiple wives both because of economic reasons and the societal taboos against it. And yes, polygamy has been made illegal but the governments of man have no business in an institution that God created. Laws against having multiple wives are about as valid as laws against having multiple children(China). Yes, we are to obey man’s laws as long as his law does go into areas God did not give the government power over (examples would be marriage, family and the church).
But regardless of whether or not your wife accepts the evidence from Scripture that God created you as a man with a polygamous capacity and nature she must accept that she is not your head and you are not accountable to her but to God. If she disagrees she must accept the disagreement and agree not to hound, you about enjoying the beauty of other women. Now as anyone who has read my posts on polygamy and sexuality knows I am not talking about men gawking at women everywhere they go. That is rude. I am talking about me taking tasteful glances of beautiful women.
Step #4– Help your wife channel her jealousy into a positive force for change
Previously I had mentioned that a woman’s jealousy can actually be a positive force. In this last step I want to elaborate on that with examples. Now I purposefully had to hold this step for last because I needed to discuss the polygamous nature of men in step 3 first.
This last step I am going to write in a way that you could present it directly to your wife. Even if your wife rejects the Scriptures I have shown proving the polygamous nature of man I believe she still could channel her jealous energy into these steps and she may find that you look at other women less if she is constantly getting your attention in other positive ways. So, with that being said here is a list you can give your wife with ways for her to channel her jealous energy into positive actions.
- If you see that your husband seems to be looking at red heads the perhaps dye your hair red.
- If you see that your husband seems to like a certain type of blouse or skirt on a woman, then go and buy a blouse and skirt similar to that.
- If you see your husband looking at women that are thinner than you then you have to ask this question – “Am I way overweight compared to when he met me?” Now obviously with having children and age women gain weight and some of it is almost impossible to lose and you have to recognize your limitations. Maybe you will never be the weight you once were but have you given up? Have you lost as much weight as you can for your age and body type? So instead of being angry at your husband for looking at women that are less overweight perhaps you can channel that jealous energy into losing weight.
- If you are walking through the mall and you see your husband glance at a couple of women in their early 20’s and you are mom of 4 in your mid 30’s how do you compete with that? The answer is you don’t. You will never be that young again. But you have something those women do not have. You have experience. You have a history with your husband and that counts for something. I believe Christian wives should have sexy selfies standing by. Maybe your husband glances at a few young women and instead of getting mad you send him a selfie from your personal library with a sexy note about what he has to look forward to when he gets home.
Every one of these steps requires a woman to humble herself and realize that she does not possess her husband but instead he possesses her. God did not make him for her, but rather he made her for him (1 Corinthians 11:9). It calls on her to put all of her pride and insecurities to death and for her to instead channel her jealous energy into positive things that will strengthen her husband’s affection for her rather than diminishing his affection for her.
Your wife can look at this list and even listen to all the other principles I have put here and choose one of two paths.
The path of pride
Your wife can choose the path of pride and allow her jealousy to grow into bitterness toward you as her husband. She can comfort herself with this thought:
“I don’t have to change; I don’t have to compete for my husband’s affection. He owes it to me no matter what I do! The way I look is the way I look – I am not changing a thing whether it is how I dress, how much I weigh or what I do for him sexually. He is supposed to be completely satisfied in whatever I do or don’t do. He is supposed to be a one-woman man and that one woman is me!”
The path of humility
Your wife can choose the path of humility with this simple thought:
“My husband was not made for me, but I was made for him (1 Corinthians 11:9). God made his nature different than mine and I will accept it even if I don’t completely understand it. Whether I agree or disagree with all his actions my duty is to be the best wife to my husband that I can be according to I Peter 3:1-6. That means if I see my husband looking at other women whether it be as we go shopping in a store or him looking at images of women on his computer I am going to strive to channel my jealous energy into a positive force to bless my husband and I will do everything I can do to draw him closer to me and not push him away.”
There is good jealousy in wives and bad jealousy in wives. Often times it comes down to how they channel their jealousy. Will she channel her jealousy into being a better wife or will she allow it to cause bitterness in her heart? The choice is hers.
But this leaves us with the question of “What if my wife refuses to see that her actions based on her jealousy are not a positive force for change but a negative force that will tear the marriage apart?” And this is a very real possibility.
And the answer is a husband using Biblical discipline with his wife. See my article “7 Ways to Discipline Your Wife” for non-physical methods of discipline that husbands can use. Also see my articles “Does the Bible Allow a Husband to Spank his Wife?” and “The Biblical Case For Domestic Discipline” to learn what the Bible says about husband’s using physical discipline with their wives.