Sexual denial, threats of divorce and threats of suicide. These are the three primary ways that wives use to manipulate and gain complete power over their husbands and their homes. The first way which works with the majority of men is sexual denial. Women use sex as a reward system. If the husband follows his wife’s wishes in whatever she wants to do in the home she will give him sex as a reward for his submission to her. At the slightest resistance of the husband to anything the wife wishes, she will turn off the sexual tap.
But for some men, the attempts of their wives to manipulate them with sex does not work. But rather it reinforces their resolve with their wives. These men might even engage in disciplinary tactics like taking away credit cards, access to the bank or canceling date nights or other things the wife wants. So, then the wife moves on to her next method of control. The threat of divorce. And for many women, it is not just a threat, but indeed it is a promise.
And this willingness of women to so easily divorce their husbands because of their own selfish ambitions should not surprise us. Millions of women each year murder their unborn children because of their selfish ambitions. And it is with this same self-centered attitude, that millions of women each year subject their children to disunity, fighting and ultimately the divorce of their parents. These women only care about one person and one person alone – themselves.
But some women are unwilling to deal with the prospect of their husband marrying another woman or having to share joint custody with him where his new wife raises their children. They want their husband; they want their children and they also want to retain their power over the decisions of the family. So, after sexual denial and threats of divorce don’t work to bring their husbands into submission to their will, they turn to the ultimate weapon. They threaten suicide.
Recently I received an email from a man calling himself Alex. Alex has gone through all three of these attempts at manipulation that wives use to take power in their homes and bring their husbands into subjection. Below are excerpts from that email.
“My wife recently threatened that she may commit suicide if I do not back down from exercising my spiritual authority over her as her husband. This was her last-ditch effort to get me to retreat. And that is exactly what I did – I retreated.
I met my wife in a good Bible believing and Bible preaching church. My church is actually one of those five percent of churches you talk about that still preach gender roles and male headship. My wife is a stay at home mom who homeschools our children while I am the sole provider for our home.
We have been married about 10 years now. When we were dating my wife seemed to be a good, submissive and Christian woman. But after we married her true nature began to reveal itself. Her stubbornness and her unwillingness to listen to me on even the smallest matters was evident. And if I mounted even the slightest challenge to what she wanted to do in our home she would deny me sex and that combined with a very cold shoulder for days would get me to bend and apologize to her every time.
In order to maintain the peace in our home and have any chance at sex I completely caved. I never confronted her about anything anymore. What she wanted to spend we spent. What she wanted to teach the kids we taught them. What she allowed them to do or not do that is what we did.
About 2 months ago, after my Pastor taught a series on the duty of husbands to lead their homes and properly exercise their spiritual authority over their wives God convicted me in my heart that I had been a coward all these years. I had been a coward for the sake of peace and for the sake of sex.
I came and had a private meeting with my Pastor. I described what had been going on in my marriage for years. He told me I was involved in a spiritual battle. And I need to take back the spiritual leadership in my home and challenge my wife’s sinful rebellion and stubbornness.
So, I implemented his advice. I opened a new bank account and changed my paycheck to deposit into that new account. I called all of our credit cards of which I am the primary and she is only secondary and had her name removed from the accounts. I reported all our cards missing so her cards would be useless. I shredded my cards and ordered new ones.
She went to use one our credit cards to purchase something online as she does often and it was declined. She called the credit card company and they told her she was no longer active on the account and then I was the next phone call she made. I told her we would talk when I got home.
When I got home from work that evening, I sat her down and explained what I was doing and why I was doing it. That it was because she was in complete rebellion against my spiritual authority as the head of our home. That she spent money she should not spend. That she did not listen to me regarding the teaching and discipline of our children. That she denied her body to me in our marriage bed.
Then she threatened divorce.
My pastor had prepared me for that threat. I told her “Go ahead. If you want to see me married to another woman and raising your children with her and only seeing them every other week go for it. Because trust me, I will mortgage this house and burn through every savings and investment we have to make sure I get full joint custody of our kids with equal parenting time.” She stormed out without saying another word.
Days went by and then it turned into weeks. We basically were in a cold war footing. I did my thing and she did hers. I slept in our bed and she slept in our guest room. Barely any words were spoken except those which were absolutely necessary.
Finally, when sexual denial and threats of divorce did not work, she moved to her final weapon against me which was threats of suicide. She claimed she would rather die than witness her children being raised by another woman and she would rather die than live under my “tyrannical rule”. My Pastor had not prepared me for that. And that weapon worked. I caved. I retreated. I gave her back access to our bank and credit cards and ultimately the reigns of our home.
Was my pastor’s advice wrong? It did not seem to work. If it was not wrong, how do I deal with her threats of suicide? Can I really start this battle all over again? Is it worth her possibly losing her life?”
What follows is my response to Alex and other men on how to deal with these kinds of manipulation tactics from wives who resist the authority which God gives to their husbands and commands them to exercise over their wives.
How to Deal with Your Wife Using Suicide as a Weapon to Keep or Seize Power
I agree with your Pastor that you need to break her will, or I would say more accurately, break the stubborn spirit your wife has. But at the same time, you need to speak truth into her life. Your attempts at exercising your spiritual headship over her in these areas where you see problems is not an act of tyranny.
Today our humanist dominated culture defines tyranny in marriage as a husband trying to exercise any control whatsoever over his wife . But Biblically speaking, tyranny is the cruel, unreasonable, or arbitrary use of power or control, not control itself.
A man exercising control over his wife is one of the greatest sins to a humanist, whether they be a Christian humanist or an atheist humanist. While a woman exercising control over a man is seen more as a minor transgression in the world of humanism.
For us as Biblicist Christians, a man exercising control over his wife is one of the greatest virtues a man can exhibit in his life. And likewise a man who allows his woman to “usurp authority” (1 Timothy 2:12) over him sins against God and denies part of the core purpose for which he was created, which was to image God with his life.
A man who does not exercise control over his wife is not a man in God’s eyes. God created woman to be in subjection to man, to be controlled by man. He created her to give man someone upon whom he could exercise all the attributes of God that are within his masculine human nature.
So, no this not about you as a husband acting in a tyrannical manner toward your wife. It is about doing what God has commanded you to do. And it is all about framing the narrative, that is so important. Constantly refocusing her thoughts and redirecting them toward a proper perspective.
Now to your wife’s threat of suicide.
Make no mistake that is what is going on. It is a power struggle. And it is not just a power struggle, but it is a spiritual war going on your family.
The Bible says the following in Ephesians 6:12-18:
“For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness; And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace; Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God: Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints”
You need to realize that the real battle you are in is not with your wife, but with the sin that is in your wife’s heart. Satan is using your wife as an instrument of sin and spiritual oppression against you. He is using your wife as an instrument to launch his fiery darts at you.
Being firm is not being harsh. It is being firm. Being harsh is being cruel. Sometimes when as men we are firm with our wives it may appear that we are being harsh and they may try and frame it that way saying things like “Why do you have to be so mean and so harsh?” but again that is just the wife trying to twist the narrative. Remember having the right perspective and constantly re-framing the narrative for both yourself and your wife is critical.
The Bible commands men to be firm when it states in 1 Corinthians 16:13 (NASB) “Be on the alert, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong”. There is a spiritual war going on in your home and this was simply one battle in that war. You fired the first salvos to begin to wage war on your wife’s lack of submissiveness and her spirit of stubbornness. She first tried firing the divorce darts at you. It did not work as you were prepared for that. So she opened fire with threats of suicide. You were not prepared for that and you buckled under her fire and retreated. You lost your resolve and you are no longer standing firm in the faith, acting like a man and being strong in the face of your wife’s threats and rebellion.
So, the question is will you continue to give way to fear? Will you allow her to continue to manipulate you with fears of suicide or divorce? Or will you reorganize and get back into this spiritual warfare God has called you to?
Jesus talked about the cost of following him and the cost of obedience to God. He asked in Luke 14:31 “Or what king, going to make war against another king, sitteth not down first, and consulteth whether he be able with ten thousand to meet him that cometh against him with twenty thousand?” You must know and fully accept the consequences of waging spiritual warfare in obedience to God. You must be fully prepared for the onslaught of threats or even the consequences of if your wife carries through with those threats and you must have firm resolve in the face of those threats.
So here is my advice for dealing with your wife’s threats of suicide whenever you attempt to exercise your God given and God commanded authority over her. You do the same thing as if she had a true mental health disorder and had suicidal tendencies. You take her to the ER of a hospital in your area where they have a mental ward. You explain to the nurses that your wife is threatening suicide.
I know of many Christian husbands who have done this with great success. And there is one particular instance that comes to mind that I think will give encouragement to men who find themselves with these kinds of manipulative wives.
I heard this story from a pastor friend of mine. A member of his church took his wife to the local ER after she threatened to commit suicide if he would not surrender to her wishes in the home. She wanted an egalitarian marriage and he would not give it to her. He told her they were going to have a patriarchal marriage or no marriage at all. He showed her the door and said she was free to leave at any time. At this point she threatened suicide if he would not bow to her wishes and this was when he took her to the ER. And he made sure the hospital he took her too had a mental ward.
His wife told him how she was going to tell the ER people how horrible of a husband he was. So, when he got to the ER, she did just that. She railed on and on to the nurses about horrible of a husband he was. Then they asked him to leave the room. This was probably the time they asked her if she was being physically abused by him or if she felt trapped in her home. Eventually they had a psychiatrist come down from the mental ward of that hospital who interviewed her and then recommend that she be committed. He even persuaded the wife it would be good for her and she agreed and signed the papers. He said it would be for just one week.
So, the husband gets a call in the middle of the week to come down for session with the psychiatrist and his wife. He went over all the discussions he had with his wife. The psychiatrist told the husband all of his wife’s concerns and asked him if he would be willing to go to marriage counseling and modify their marriage so it would be more pleasing for his wife. The husband gave the psychiatrist a flat answer of “NO”. He was unwilling to see any counselor. His beliefs as to how marriage was to be conducted were firmly based upon his Biblical beliefs and would not change.
The psychiatrist asked him if he was holding her at home against her will or if he had ever physically abused her. The husband’s response was “No sir. Never laid a finger on her. I have told my wife she is free to leave our home and our marriage at any time. But if she wants to stay, I will not change my beliefs on how marriage is to be conducted”.
At this point the psychiatrist turned to his wife and said the following. “You have told me in our private sessions that your husband has never raised a hand to you. That he has never made you feel trapped in your home. You just want him to change right?” And her answer was “Yes.” At this point the psychiatrist turned to the wife and said “You and your husband are clearly incompatible. He will not change and neither will you. It is unhealthy for you to continue in this relationship if you cannot agree to a common framework of marriage. But threats of suicide are never the answer. Divorce may be an answer, but suicide is not.”
His wife was released from the mental ward a few days later. She hated being in that mental ward. And she never threatened suicide again. So, when his wife saw that threats of sexual denial, divorce and suicide did not work she eventually came to an acceptance of her husband and the way he conducted their marriage. She did not always agree and still gave him much grief at times. But she realized her husband was a man who was immune to her tactics of manipulation.
If you are a husband dealing with a situation like this with your wife you need to think on and answer the following questions for yourself.
Are you willing to see that you retreated from a spiritual battle with your wife, but also that the war is not over with? You can reorganize, you can steel your resolve and you can disarm her tactics of trying to manipulate you through fear.
Will you put on the whole armor of God? Will you realize that what you are fighting for is righteous in the sight of God and your wife’s resistance to your authority is an act of sinful rebellion against God?
Will you take the shield of faith and hold it up when she fires darts at you like threats of sexual denial, divorce or suicide? Will you take the sword of the Spirit, the Word of God, and cut through your wife’s evil thought patterns?
Will you use God’s Word to speak truth in your wife’s life? And will you resolve that obedience to God is more important than temporary peace in your home? That it is so important you are willing to risk losing your marriage or your wife?
The Bible tells us in 1 Timothy 2:12 “But I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence”. How long will you continue to allow your wife to usurp authority over you as the man of your house in direct contradiction to God’s commands?
These are the decisions you must face.
Will you be the man God has called you to be? Or will you cower in fear for the remainder of your days? The choice is yours. But I pray you will make the right one.