3 Ways Wives Try to Control Their Husbands

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.

Alex’s Story

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.

Conclusion

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.

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.

Conclusion

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.