Christians wives have two top complaints in marriage. And both concern the lack of male leadership in the home. See guest writer Julie Ganschow’s page here on our Heart2Heart Counselor Directory. Her article appeared first here and is reprinted with permission. (Edited for lenth. –LAM)
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Common complaints from Christian wives include the following:
Many of these wives share the same qualities. They are Bible literate, faithful church attendees, and clearly love the Lord. Some are willing to be honest with themselves and recognize their culpability in their marital problems.
But the majority believe the husband is mostly at fault.
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These women focus on all the things the husband does wrong. And they find it very hard to examine themselves on a deep enough level for a biblical conviction to be produced over their own sin.
Isn’t it far too easy for us to rationalize and justify our own sinful responses toward our husbands? Especially when we let our feelings lead us?
The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it? Jeremiah 17:9
Why Husbands Fail
Poor, or lacking, male leadership happens for a couple of reasons:
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1) He doesn’t know how to lead, or
2) He’s given up.
Both are problematic, and both are fixable.
Top Complaint #1: My Husband Won’t Lead
Men are by nature leaders. They are wired to take charge, protect, supervise, and lead. Our current culture does not encourage men to develop these skills. In fact, our culture seems determined to emasculate men. An unfortunate reality is there are more than eight million boys being raised without fathers. Their moms love them and do their best. However, a boy will not learn how to be a man from his mom, as much as she tries to instill those qualities in her son.
We biblical counselors routinely find men that don’t know how to lead and are embarrassed to admit it. The good news is a man can learn how to develop biblical leadership skills and habits through individual discipleship with another man. This kind of relationship will help equip him in the areas of being a godly man and husband.
Top Complaint #2: My Husband Has Given Up
The second complaint is more damaging than the first complaint. It grows from the wife undermining or getting in the way of her husband’s leadership.
Ladies, here is where you need to get honest with yourselves!
Are you undercutting or disagreeing with nearly every decision he makes? Have you stepped in to be the leader because “someone has to lead this family”? Have you given him the message that he doesn’t lead “right”? Do you disagree with the direction he wants to take you and the family? Have you delivered the message that you do not trust him or his leadership?
Husbands are easily discouraged by wives who won’t follow or who question their leadership.
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They quickly learn that they are not allowed to make decisions for the family by themselves. In these circumstances, often the man says his wife is undermining him and that she criticizes him when she doesn’t agree with his decisions. He says his wife belittles him and always has plenty of reasons why his ideas and plans are insufficient or won’t work.
But I want you to understand that the head of every man is Christ, the head of a wife is her husband, and the head of Christ is God. 1 Corinthians 11:13
In the same way, you wives must accept the authority of your husbands. Then, even if some refuse to obey the Good News, your godly lives will speak to them without any words. They will be won over when they see your respectful and pure conduct. 1 Peter 3:1-2
Finding a Solution
When a woman fails in submission, the husband eventually gives up attempting to lead.
To correct this pattern, the wife must first be convicted that she is guilty of these things. Then she would confess to God and her husband that she has usurped his authority and disobeyed God’s Word regarding submission in marriage (Ephesians 5:21-33; 1 Peter 1:3-7; Titus 2:5).
She also must cease her attempts to lead her husband. This is tough when she has little confidence in his decisions or when he is a weak leader. However, she must remember that it to God she ultimately submits and it is God who is leading her family.
A faithful wife will let her husband know she has input to offer in a situation and ask him if he wants to hear it. A wise man will accept his wife’s counsel, and take it into consideration when making a decision. When he does not, she must entrust herself to God and believe our sovereign God has the situation in His hand.
On a Personal Note
I have learned these lessons the hard way. When I determined to do things my way, I disrespected my husband by my actions and my attitudes. A lack of unity resulted. I learned two important things: men will not tolerate being emasculated by their wives, and you cannot expect to usurp his authority without consequences.
Truth: “It is better to live in a desert than with a quarrelsome and nagging wife.” Proverbs 21:19
Sharing Hope with Your Heart,
So you want to change husband’s mind? Guest writer Julie Ganschow — listed on my site’s Heart2Heart Counselor Directory, for women and by women — shares her insights. Her post first appeared here on her blog and is used with permission.
That title on changing your husband’s mind got you, didn’t it? I confess I am smiling as I think of how many women clicked on the blog because of the title.
Maybe you want to obtain something, to go somewhere your husband doesn’t care to go, or to get your own way in some other circumstance. Those are rather self-centered, right? But there are also very serious reasons women ask this same question.
In counseling, a woman may ask me how to change her husband’s mind when she disagrees with a decision he has made. His decision may regard finances, family, or something else. Often the couple has fought about the issue. In addition, communication is strained or non-existent at that time. She sees her position as righteous. She may even give me scriptural support for it.
My counsel in such situations is (usually) as follows:
1. Examine Yourself
My first piece of counsel is to examine yourself. I may ask, “Thinking back on the discussion or argument, did you communicate respectfully with your husband when presenting your point?”
In the heat of the moment it is easy to become so impassioned about the issue that words and tone of voice
quickly get out of hand. I also ask,
- “Were you speaking honestly?”
- “Did you use the dreaded “you always” or “you never” as you interacted with your husband?”
We tend to use “always” and “never” for dramatic emphasis and rarely do we use them appropriately. How true is it that your husband never does that certain thing you want him to do? Can he really always. .?
Both of these words are very concrete. I call them 100% words. They are specific and mean in every circumstance without exception. No matter how inflexible a person may seem, rarely does someone “never” or “always” say and do the things we accuse them of when we are angry at them. So, examine yourself for where you went wrong and sinned against your husband.
Logs and Specks
Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when there is the log in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye. Matthew 7:3-5
When you find the logs in your own eye, you have to deal with your own sin through confession and repentance before God. Then go to your husband and admit your wrongs to him. It is humbling to strongly believe you are right about something then need to confess you were wrong in how you went about it. Asking his forgiveness for your sin will go a long way in gaining his ear for future discussion.
Here is an aside: I know some of you reading this are in unequally yoked marriages or are married to a man who is truly unreasonable or abusive. No counsel is “one size fits all.” It is impossible to write something that addresses every situation in one blog post. However, much of what is written here is still applicable to you. Self-examination, confessing your sin, and seeking restoration with your husband (when possible) will allow you to live peaceably in your own skin, regardless of how he responds.
2. Consider a Biblical Appeal
My second piece of counsel is to prayerfully consider making a biblical appeal to your husband. I don’t hear much about this anymore. However, I believe it is a wonderful approach to take when you and your husband are at an impasse, and you cannot let the matter go.
A biblical appeal is not an argument, fight, or a manipulation
. A biblical appeal is what a wise woman undertakes when she believes that her husband’s conclusion is wrong or sinful. The purpose is to help her husband, or to give wise counsel in aiding him to make the best and most God-honoring decision
possible. It is not
merely to get her own way.
How to Make an Appeal
A biblical appeal should be based on facts not emotions. Just because a wife “feels” her idea or plan is better does not make it so. Before making the appeal, it is wise to research the subject and be ready to provide concrete data to support your position. Be prepared to present the reasons why you disagree with his decision. Then propose a different plan, idea or a solution
Choosing the right timing for your appeal. You don’t want to be rushed. Answer his questions with facts not feelings. Listen carefully to his point of view and for details you may have missed in your original discussion.
A wife of noble character who can find?
She is worth far more than rubies. Proverbs 31:10
Once you’ve made your appeal, trust God for the outcome.
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Regardless of what your husband decides to do, a wise woman will agree to go along with the decision that has been made and support him in it.
Support should be genuine. It should include prayer for success, encouragement, and your willingness to help. If you continually mention your disagreement with the decision, and tell him how he should do it your way, you are nagging. Don’t do that. You are only responsible for how you conduct yourself in these kinds of situations. Your husband may stick to his plan despite your appeal. In this case, trust God is working out things for your good and His glory, despite how it looks right now.
Making a biblical appeal is not easy, but it is always an option for a woman. Be wise and careful as you prepare to go forward. Pray for the right motives so God would be honored by your words and your actions.
But Never Go Along with a Husband’s Sinful Decision
In my counsel on making a biblical appeal, I am assuming that your husband is not asking you to support a sinful decisions. If your husband has decided to do something illegal or immoral, do not go along with his decision, even when told you must submit to his authority.
God is the ultimate authority, not your husband. Thus you cannot honor God by consenting to commit sin with your husband. If he intends to go ahead with a sinful decision, seek outside counsel from your pastor or other wise biblical source.
Sharing hope with your heart,
To win the war for your child’s heart, you’ll fight three forces. But first, you must recognize you’re in a war!
Winning the war requires you to focus on your child’s heart!
Read the part 1 here and part two here in the Best Mom Ever series, teaching you to–
2. Recognize you’re in a war.
3. Assume your role as a benevolent dictator.
4. Yield to God.
This post calls you to fight once you recognize you are in a war, a war you must win, God willing. . .and he is willing.
3 Battle Forces!
In this battle, you face three strong forces:
First, your child’s natural, selfish nature.
Second, a spiritual undertow.
For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Ephesians 6:12
And third, our increasingly wacked-out, confusing, chaotic culture.
Our culture says the best kids are happy and successful kids. This is a lie. The best kids are not the ones who seem happy and successful, who look good on the outside. Rather, the best kids are GOD-honoring KIDS.
Ground Zero: The Heart
As I’ve mentioned, your Number One goal is to shepherd your child’s heart. Scripture teaches that the heart is the control center for life. A person’s life is a reflection of the heart.
Proverbs 4:23 puts it this way:
Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life.
From the heart flows your behavior. What you say and do and think expresses your heart. That goes for your child, too.
So when your child misbehaves, he is revealing his selfish nature, his battle-weary soul, or his bent toward a sin-city culture.
OR ALL THREE!
You may be thinking, “No, not my little Ethan, not my little Emma.” The truth is, every child is selfish and foolish.
The heart is deceitful above all things
and beyond cure.
Who can understand it? Jeremiah 17:9
Even kids who are believers in the Lord Jesus Christ miss the mark, as do their parents.
We all mess up. Our intentions may be good but, well, our own desire to please our little darlings can get the best of us. Here’s one of my many “what-were-we-thinking?” stories.
What Were We Thinking?
Laura was about 2.
She knew my weak spot.
At bedtime after I laid her in her crib with five — yes, five — pacifiers — I said a sweet good night, gave her an equally sweet kiss on her chubby cheek, and tip-toed out the door.
By the time I made it down the stairs, I heard:
CLUNK. . .CLUNK. . .CLUNK!
Three pluggies down. Two to go.
CLUNK. . .CLUNK!
Yes, my sweet, sweet Laura had a good arm. She had whipped her pluggies at the door, knowing I’d come back. She was barely 2 and she was telling us who was in charge. And what was I thinking? Doesn’t scripture say kids must obey their parents? Yes, it’s right there in black and white.
Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. Ephesians 6:1
Winning Your Child’s Heart
We were in a war. And so are you, Mom. The only way to win: Look past my child’s behavior and see what was going on in her heart. To win the battle for her heart, my husband and I needed to show that, with God’s help, we were in charge.
God gave us the job of effecting godly attitudes, behavior, and character in our adorable child. In the next post, we’ll look at assuming your role as a benevolent dictator. 🙂
- What behavior problems do you see in your child?
- What have you done about them?
- How does focusing on the heart help your child glorfy God?
Be sure to read the next post on assuming the rightful role as the mom. To make sure you get it in your email, subscribe to blog. The subscription box is below.
Counseling heart to hope (and heal!)
MARRIAGE: When marriage hurts, you may wonder if you’re destined for continual disagreement and dissatisfaction. Or is their a path forward, together? Discover how you and your spouse can lead together while respecting God-designed roles in marriage.
Often we equate leadership in the home to specific roles, obligations and expectations. Did you know that biblical teaching on marriage is really more about following Christ than who’s in charge in the home?
There are five biblical words that capture the heart of the Christian leadership model in the home: stong, sacraficial, spiritual, servant, and support. The first four describes the husband’s role in a godly marriage. The fifth is just for you, the wife.
Five Leadership Keys
- Strong (intentional, pure, engaged, addressing the issues)
- Sacrificial (putting others before self, unconditional love)
- Spiritual (investing in spiritual growth, modeling godly character)
- Servant (humble)
When a husband is a strong, sacraficial, spiritual, servant leader of home, wives want to follow, don’t you agree?But when a husband abdicates his leadership responsibility,conflict and disunity result. There is hope. So if you are in this position as a couple, don’t settle for a “less than wonderful” marriage. Rather, seek help from your pastor or a biblical counselor, in person or by Skype.
So how does a wife lead? She leads by supporting her husband. Counterintuitive, isn’t it? Does this mean she brings home the bacon while her guy binges on Netflix? Oh dear Lord, no! A wife supports him by helping him become the strong-sacraficial-spiritual-servant-leader that God wants them to be. And one part of this is speaking the truth in love. You have a voice!
When a Husband Abuses His Role!
However, if you’re in an abusive relationship, God provides two primary ways to safety.
One is calling the authorities for protection and justice. If you believe you or your children are in danger, dial 911. God has provided you governing authorities and to the civil laws for your good.
Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. Consequently, whoever rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves. Romans 13:1-2
Get the church involved. Consider following Matthew 18 if your husband is in sin. Here’s a foundational text in Matthew:
If your brother or sister sins, go and point out their fault, just between the two of you. If they listen to you, you have won them over. But if they will not listen, take one or two others along, so that ‘every matter may be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses.’
If they still refuse to listen, tell it to the church; and if they refuse to listen even to the church, treat them as you would a pagan or a tax collector. Matthew 18:15-17
By faith believe God’s truth that when both spouses embrace God’s design, your marriage will begin to improve. If only one spouse embraces God’s design, you will still see improvement but more slowly.
But rejecting God’s design continues the spiral downward toward conflict and disunity. What you are going to learn in counseling is how to embrace God, each other, and healthy biblical leadership in your home.
There is no more lovely, friendly or charming relationship, communion or company, than a good marriage. –Martin Luther
Download: Here’s a download that show you how to apply the 5 leadership keys to your marriage. Thank you to Biblical Counseling Center for developing this resource.
Sharing hope with your heart,
DOMESTIC ABUSE: Here’s wisdom on counseling victims. Guest writer Joshua Waulk, director of Baylight Counseling, says domestic abuse is anti-gospel and anti-Christ. His article appeared first here and is used with permission. PLUS: Get a safety plan!
Domestic abuse, in all forms, represents a gross departure from how Scripture portrays biblical marriage, including the example of self-sacrificial love modeled for the church by Jesus.
Recently, I read an article at the site of a counseling ministry that addressed a wife whose husband had the whole family “walking on egg shells.” He had explosive behavior. While physical abuse was not alledged, there was clear indication the family was suffering emotionally since the husband and father subjected them to his fits of anger.
Reading this wife’s story was disheartening, but not surprising. Socially, we know that domestic abuse is now and has been for many a debilitating, sometimes years long reality. Authors Justin and Lindsey Holcomb, in their book, “Is It My Fault? Hope and Healing for Those Suffering Domestic Violence,” wrote the following:
Abusers often find ways to hurt the whole person. They shred their victim’s sense of self-worth, crush their wills, and violate their bodies. The effects are widespread and catastrophic—including physical, social, emotional, psychological, and spiritual damage. If left untended, these effects will be ongoing, no matter how long ago the abuse happened. This is why it is important to deal with them honestly now.
I would like to think that these truths are not novel to anyone in counseling or pastoral ministry. Yet there’s a reason many keep pounding the drum.
We Don’t Question Victims of Domestic Abuse
“I don’t know whether you’re a great wife or your kids are angels…”
The line you just read was inluded in the counselor’s response to the wife mentioned above. She was exasperated at her husband’s erractic and sinful behavior, so she sought wise counsel from a third party. This is no small thing. We cannot afford to miss an opportunity to come to the side of an abused wife or child. Frankly, we may not get a second chance.
Often times, wives and children suffering at the hands of a manipulative tyrant are too overcome with fear to reach out for help. Perpetrators of domestic abuse often convince their victims that to seek help is to risk much more in retrobution and fallout than they might wish to endure. Examples include severe physical harm, loss of children, loss of finanical support, and so on..
Counselors, especially those who serve the church in any official capacity, must be aware of indications of domestic abuse. They must be resolved to never tolerate or give quarter to an abuser or their abusive behavior, regardless of the consequences that follow. Where marriage and family is concerned, biblical counselors must be resolute about this:
In the life of the family, domestic abuse, in all forms,
is anti-gospel and anti-Christ.
We Comfort Victims of Domestic Abuse
This makes questioning the personal, in-home performance of potential victims of domestic abuse a potentially grievous error. Such questioning often shows a lack of care, compassion, and concern for the safety of those involved. It threatens to re-victimize them by sending them into an emotional retreat, potentially convinced of their aggressor’s lies that help is out of reach.
In sum, it shows a lack of understanding and preparation to work with and provide care for victims of domestic abuse. These descriptions must never be true of those who serve as biblical counselors. Biblical counseling, as well as the church proper, ought to represent one place where perpetrators know, without question, they cannot hide their sin.
Domestic abuse represents a dynamic milieu of emotional and spiritual issues. However, addressing the victim and aggressor in the posture of marriage counseling is not the proper place to begin counseling.
In domestic abuse, the problem is not the victim’s alleged shortcomings or even their own sin.
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The problem to be addressed in counseling first is the condition of the aggressor’s heart that gave rise to abusive behavior in the main. This issue is second only to securing the victim’s safety, a paramount concern.
We Help Victims of Domestic Abuse
Biblical Counselor Brad Hambrick writes,
Until safety is no longer in doubt, other concerns should be only a way of understanding how to create a safe disposition or environment for the individual.
Biblical counselors and those in church ministry must be unwavering here: personal sin and shortcomings are never an ocassion for another, especially one’s own spouse or family member, to engage in acts of domestic abuse.
Whenever biblical or pastoral counselors suspect domestic abuse, let them trust that this is the first issue to be addressed in counseling. And, let the manner in which they counsel, speak hope to victims, repentance to perpetrators, conviction to the church, and the gospel to the culture. (Note: When someone is in danger, call police immediately.)
Resource for Victims
How to Develop a Safety Plan for Domestic Violence by Brad Hambrick
Join the Discussion
- What action steps can the church take to communicate to perpetrators that their sin will not be kept hidden?
- What action steps can the church take to proactively minister to the domestic abuse victim?
Sharing Hope with Your Heart,