Monday, December 29, 2014

What Can Wimpy Husbands Do With Rebellious Wives?

The post on Wimpy Husbands with Rebellious Wives elicited many comments with some believing that a reticent husband can do nothing but either put up with unruly behavior from his wife or separate. I think there is a lot a godly husband can and should do to try to assume his role as leader of the marriage and guide his wife forward to a Biblical marriage in a loving way. Many Christian wives, even difficult ones, will respond positively when a husband shows consistent loving leadership.

Be a Christian to Your Spouse
My {Ken wrote this post!} advice to all husbands is to act like a Christian to your wife and insist that all things in your home be Christian. No good leader is above leading by example, so ask your wife to point out to you any area in your marriage where you consistently "miss the mark" of God’s Word. But never fall for the lie that because you are imperfect you lose your God given responsibility to lead your marriage and family.

Practice Your Faith
Remember that Christianity is about faith and trust in God, not in what we can see or manage on our own. We must believe God has put us together with the spouse for me, and the one God will use to grow us up to be like Christ. Trust God that no matter how dark or frustrating things seem that He has you right where He wants you, to learn, grow and love. So trust God and jump in and lead.

Ask Your Wife to Practice Her Values
If your wife shows a pattern of acting in an unchristian way call her out on it in a Christlike way of correction. If your spouse claims to be a Christian, or not, begin to gently show her where her behavior does not match up with her own stated values. Ask her if she believes in kindness, generosity, goodness, grace, unselfishness, treating others the way they would like to be treated and mutual respect. Each time she shows a pattern of bad behavior show her where she has a dichotomy between her values and her bad behaviors. Explain that,

Happiness comes to those who live out their chosen values, and unhappiness to those who deep inside know they are a fraud as their own behavior condemns them.

Remember it Should Never Be About Superiority or Control 
God did not make the husband leader of his wife and family by virtue of his superior knowledge or wisdom, but because God plans on working in and through his life to make him a good leader. Check in with Him regularly before any knee jerk reaction and ask the question, “What Would Jesus Do?” Be humble about your leadership and let many things slide. Remember, it is not controlling your spouse, but to solve repeated unchristian behaviors so as to create harmony and oneness in your marriage.

Be in the Word Daily
Bring your Bible to the table for breakfast and dinner. Open it up and read some verses, or a chapter each day, and ask your wife and kids how these words fit into the life of your family. The job of a Christian leader is far less about changing behavior as it is about changing bad thinking. Find the lies your spouse is believing and replace them with the Word of God.

Set Specific Behavioral Standards
To work on specific bad behaviors write them down, then send a written request to your wife that she please work with you to replace her bad thinking with Christian thinking. Email your love letter explaining that you are committed to allowing God to work in your life and marriage to make the two of you fall madly in love again with each other. Be specific on what you see needs to change, and explain how her behavior now is hurting you and the marriage. Give the answers from God’s Word as to what new behavior you would like for you both to develop in your lives together.

Establish Accountability and Creative Consequences
Ask your spouse if she will agree to reasonable consequences each time a regular pattern of sin or misbehavior shows itself. Explain that you are willing to accept the same if you do not live up to your part of the deal. The consequences should be more light hearted at the first violations and perhaps increase, but never should they be anything more than a communications tool. Neither of you are children, but even adults often need forms of accountability to solve bad behavior issues. I cut tardiness by 95% in my practice by taking a dollar per minute away from a team member’s year end bonus for every minute late in the morning after a reasonable grace period. Then the lost money was given to those who are on time. Just this game is enough to keep people focused and arriving on time. So too, a good set of agreed upon consequences can keep both spouses focused on their responsibilities towards each other.

Consistently Correct with Grace
Gauge the response of your wife, and if it is not positive at first, keep inching forward. Changing bad habits takes time, and it is often one step forward and one step back. If she is unwilling to commit to change, leadership will be much more difficult, but this does not remove a husband from his leadership role. Each and every time she exhibits the bad behavior call her on it by exposing the lie and giving her the truth. Use as light a comment as possible, perhaps with a smile, or humor. Correcting someone does not mean that you have to be loud or difficult. Instead, speak your mind, give what the correct response should have been, and walk away. No discussion is necessary in the correction, but perhaps discuss it later. This is discipline, to be shown one's sins and misbehaviors with perhaps an admonition, “Please work with me on this.”

Gently and Consistently Apply Consequences
Even if your spouse refuses the consequences, smile and tell her that she just got fined for her bad behavior, but a simple apology may cut the consequence. If she apologizes you have won half or more of the battle. Give her a hug and do the consequence for her. If she won’t apologize, try smiling, shaking your head and walking away. The next day address the behavior and ask why she will not play along. Does she want a good marriage? Does she have a better way of getting to a great marriage? If so, you are all ears. 

Know that Your Christian Wife Wants Your Leadership
Assume that your Christian wife wants to work with you on your marriage and will accept your leadership if you stay consistent. No matter how difficult things may seem, most Christian wives, after a time to process your new found leadership style, will desire to move forward with you towards harmony and peace in the marriage. The unruly Christian wife often desires discipline, knowing that she cannot produce it on her own. She appreciates an outline of reasonable expectations, misbehaviors she must stop, disciplines she must learn, and she often suggests her own consequences for when she does not live up to reasonable standards that she helps set. The process of the discipline becomes easy when the husband uses a consistently light hearted yet direct approach to helping his once rebellious wife live out her own values.

Never lose hope!  
One of the finest qualities of a leader is that he never gives up believing that this is the wife God has given him to lead and God will cure his marriage. Just as a wife must trust God when trying to win a difficult husband “without a word” by her chaste and godly behavior, so too a husband must trust God with His leadership role. A Christian husband never gives up his role as a loving head and leader just because his wife is difficult or undisciplined. He is obliged by his role to at least try to lead his wife in a loving manner and that starts by not letting her fleshly desires run wild, without at least calling her out on them, and challenging her to match up her life with her own values and beliefs. Then allow God to do His mighty work in her life without much pushing or pulling. Just be like Jesus and speak the truth and rebuke as necessary without much negative emotion. "The facts, nothing but the facts tested against God’s Word."

We have heard from wives who have been so thankful for their husband showing leadership where they were undisciplined. What a husband does to win a difficult wife can be many things specific to her needs and what he believes may work with her unique personality and issues. But no matter what, he must always reflect the Lord Jesus, His love, and His tough love and discipline for His disobedient children. All with one goal in mind, as to present his bride spotless and blameless before the Lord some day.

If this exercise is for anything other than serving a wife through loving leadership, it is bound to fail. A husband must be willing to patiently wait for a wife to decide that it is the Lord who asks her to willfully submit to her husband. If we are ever to grow up into Christ we must give up fleshly behavior for a walk in the Spirit. Truth replacing the lies, because a loving husband will no longer allow unchristian behavior in his home, or marriage, without showing leadership, even if it costs him his bed some nights.

Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, 
and gave Himself for it; that He might sanctify and cleanse 
it with the washing of water by the word, that He might 
present it to Himself a glorious church, not having spot, 
or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it 
should be holy and without blemish.
Ephesians 5:25-27