Am I Too Hard on Women?

Note: If you’re here from Reddit looking for my “controversial” post, it’s right here.

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My husband and I speak at FamilyLife marriage conferences around the country, and most of the time we do the talks together. We talk about communication, and sex, and accepting each other, and resolving conflict. But on Sunday mornings we split up, and Keith and the other speaker guy take the husbands, and the other speaker woman and I take the wives.

One of the interesting things about giving the wife talk is that, as I start to talk about what a woman can do to make marriage great, I see many in the audience looking distinctly uncomfortable and shifting in their seats. So, just like clockwork, about seven minutes in, I stop my talk, and say:

I know you women are uncomfortable with me saying all these things that you should do. But let me reassure you that right now my husband has all of your husbands in another room, and he is blasting them and telling them what they need to do, too, in no uncertain terms. So don’t worry. Your husbands are hearing an important message. So get your minds off of them and let’s just spend this time thinking about what we as women can do to make the marriage great.

After that, the women laugh, visibly relax, and I can go on.

Sometimes, when writing this blog, I can see the same attitude in the comments, and it goes like this: I won’t listen to your advice for how women can make their marriages better unless I’m assured that someone is lecturing my husband first, because he’s the one who really needs to change. It came up last week in my post about how making love to your husband, even when you don’t feel like it, is not the same as rape. One woman made the point in the comments that too much of Christian advice and Christian counselling is talking about what the woman must do, rather than telling men to step up to the plate. Here’s what that commenter said in another comment thread:

I for one am tired of well-meaning Christians not holding men’s feet to the fire. The Bible is pretty clear that men need to love their wives as Christ loved His Bride, the Church. I don’t see Jesus standing at the foot of the cross saying to Himself: “Well, you guys are weren’t dying for today because there’s a ballgame on and you don’t look very pretty to me.”

Did Jesus and does He still ACTIVELY pursue His Bride? Should men continuously make their wives a priority and pursue them?

Another thing: I hate these lists that men are given to tell them how to show love to their wives. Buy her flowers. Write her little love notes. Do this for her. Do that for her. I think the best thing a man can do is quit relying on those generic lists, even such advice from “Christian” counselors, and start studying your wife. Make your own lists, men, that show you wanted to be sincere and genuine in your relationship with your wife. . . That you actually treasure your wife and realize she is a unique creation by God given to you to CARE FOR, PROTECT, SERVE, and HELP. You’d do this with your own children, wouldn’t you? Why not with your wife? The Bible tells me to get to know their wives. It’s easy to follow a list. It’s harder and demonstrates great care to genuinely get to know your wife.

(By the way, women should do the same for their husbands.)

I’m sick of “Christian” counseling advice. It’s sexist, it doesn’t take into account individuality, and it’s so pop culture.

Men, women have to have the babies. The least you could do is make a date once a week or two. Get off your butts. Feminism occurred because men liberated themselves from the home during the industrial revolution. . . And gradually, they turned their backs on their familial and marital duties. It particularly heightened post WWII.

Please, Christian church ladies, quit making excuses for Christian husbands. Somebody, PLEASE SOMEBODY, hold their feet to the fire. As long as you keep telling women to do what men ought to be doing, it’s not going to improve.

Now, I agree with her. Absolutely men need to step up to the plate. But here’s where these comments sometimes annoy me. Right now, take a look at the header on this blog. What colour is it? Pink, right? Now, I have a weekly meme that occurs every Wednesday called Wifey Wednesday. Who do you think that’s directed at? That’s right. Women.

I’m talking to women. So when people disagree with me because they think I should be harder on the men, I have to wonder: how do you expect me to do that? Men are not reading this blog. This blog is not for men. It is for women. And very, very few men actually read relationship blogs. If I were to write a blog for men, they wouldn’t come. When I write my column for men that appears in the Promise Keepers magazine in Canada, I tell men what they can do to make their marriages thrive. But men are not reading this blog.

And then there’s a bigger issue at work here: Yes, your husband may not be treating you very well. Yes, your husband may be selfish (we all are, after all). Yet when people say, “because he is selfish, he needs to hear from God first, and he needs to change his behaviour first”, then you start acting as badly as he is. Nowhere in the Bible does it say that we should wait for someone else to do the right thing before we do the right thing. We are supposed to love our husbands regardless.

This does not mean that we are to be doormats, and indeed, acting like a doormat and enabling him to treat you disrespectfully can make your marriage worse. I have spoken about this at length. It also does not mean that we put up with abuse. Sometimes I guess I don’t say that clearly enough in my posts, because I often have commenters saying, “my husband was abusive and you think I should just stay with him?” I assume that most readers understand where I’m coming from, but perhaps they don’t. So let me say it again: I do not think you should be a doormat, and I certainly don’t think you should put up with abuse.

However, most of the problems in marriage can’t be classified as abuse. They’re just negligence or passivity or selfishness. And none of those things gives you the “right”, for lack of a better word, to stop loving your husband. If you want to change the dynamic in your marriage, then work on changing how you react to him. Love him, find out what his love language is, work on your friendship, and make sure that you’re acting in such a way as you command respect. Do these things, and your marriage–or at least your peace of mind–will likely improve. If you decide that you’re right, and that you shouldn’t have to change because he should change, then you’re basically resigning your marriage to never improving. You can’t force him to change, so if you decide you won’t do anything, either, then your marriage is stuck. I want to give women strategies to “unstick” their marriages.

Does this mean I’m saying that all marriage problems are laid at the woman’s feet? Not at all. Sometimes you can do everything possible and the marriage will still fail. But as I said before, I am writing to women. I am not writing to men. And to say to a woman, “you’re right, your husband is a jerk, you should make him treat you better and withhold from him until he does” will not make your marriage better. It’s not biblical, and it won’t actually solve your problems.

I could say that, and get a lot of traffic, because many women just want to hear “you are totally right, he’s an idiot, and you’re justified in being angry.” That’s actually quite a popular message. Yet who cares if  you’re right? It’s one of those cases where you may win the battle but lose the war. In marriage, it’s either win-win or lose-lose. There is no win-lose. If you both don’t win, you both lose. So feeling morally superior doesn’t help a marriage, even if you are in the right. What you need to do is find a way through this impasse, focusing on the things that are actually within your sphere of influence: your own attitudes and actions.

When I give advice to women, then, it isn’t that I think women are completely to blame or that men shouldn’t improve. It’s that this blog is actually for women, and the only effective advice I can therefore give is what women can do to change the dynamic, not what men should do.

I hope that’s clear. I’ve written this post so that next time people berate me in the comments for laying the blame at women’s feet, and not telling men to shape up, I can point them back to this post!

Now it’s your turn! Let me know: do you think I’m too hard on women? And, given that many men do need to improve in marriage, too, how should they hear about that?

Comments

  1. Another great post, Sheila! I get the same arguments from women since I write about the same things. I always remind them that we can only change ourselves. We can’t change our husbands. When we stand before God, we will only give account for our behavior, not his. And we are given the promise in scripture that we “may win them without a word.” This promise isn’t given to men so it shows the power a woman can have over a man when she walks in obedience to God and His ways!
    Lori recently posted…Was It Worth The Wait?My Profile

    • That’s interesting, Lori, about that promise. It’s funny, but I’d never really thought of it that way before.

  2. It would be nice if people were mature enough to figure that out on their own. You do such an amazing job of encouraging wives to be the best they can be, and yet you still get slammed. Hang in there. Don’t get discouraged :) You are making a big impact in this world, and I really appreciate it!
    Stacey recently posted…Sick DayMy Profile

  3. I for one am tired of well-meaning Christians not holding men’s feet to the fire.

    Forgive my frankness Sheila, but that comment is the biggest bunch of bull I’ve read and I’m frankly I’m sick of women online regurgitating that lie.

    Yes online, on Christian blogs, there is a lot of advice geared towards women. This is true. But in the larger culture, in the church at large, the general consensus is that whenever there is a problem in a marriage the man is deemed to be either at fault because of something he is ding wrong or NOT doing right. I see it all. the. time.

    In a culture where feminism colors everything, does anyone truly doubt that this is true?

    And women wonder why people in the church who are concerned about marriage are trying to restore a bit of sanity and balance by reminding women that we have responsibilities too. Responsibilities besides cooking, cleaning, and chauffeuring for the kids which most men would happily be more lenient about if they were received more respect, deference, and sex. Yeah, I said it, LOL!
    terry@breathinggrace recently posted…You May Need to Leave the Cell Phone at HomeMy Profile

    • So true, Terry. Just think of the difference between the typical “Father’s Day” sermon (Men, you need to step up to the plate! What is wrong with you?) and the typical Mother’s Day sermon (let’s thank God for mothers and give all the women in the congregation roses!).

  4. Oh yeah. Great post, Sheila!

    And Merry Christmas.
    terry@breathinggrace recently posted…You May Need to Leave the Cell Phone at HomeMy Profile

  5. Well said! I was baffled by those comments…why would anyone expect you to be lecturing men on a blog they don’t read? It’s kind of silly to demand that someone address every possible angle of a problem when their specialty is one specific facet, and their audience is based on that facet. Frankly, I appreciate the fact that everything I read here speaks directly to me as a woman.

  6. Andrew Baumgardt says:

    As one of the men of this world that do read your blog, I can understand the women’s comments. I often have the same type of internal response that my wife isn’t doing what she should be as a wife so why should I do what I should? Depending upon the situation it may take a few moments or more to remind myself to continue to work on removing my own ‘specks’ before working on my wife’s ‘logs’ – which is one of the reasons I lurk at this an other Christian marriage blogs. I’ve been learning a lot more about how my wife’s mind works and how to get to know her better and take care of her without her asking.

    I have found out in life the only thing I can control is my own behavior and attitudes – and that only with Christ’s help. I’ve also found out that my wife often changes her behavior to be more biblical when I am consciously laying down my own life for my wife. God’s word also speaks to women’s ability to lead husbands to Christ – and I assume more and more Christ like behavior – without a word through their own actions.

    Christian marriage is a covenant not a contract. My wife’s lack of fulfilling her duties to God as they pertain to marriage have no bearing on whether I fulfill mine. The reverse is also true and I am blessed that my wife understands this important prinicple for those all too frequent times I fail her.

  7. You are absolutely NOT too hard on women! Are we grownups, or not? If so, then we need to take responsibility for doing whatever *we* can do in our marriages. I guess there are articles and blogs speaking to men, and men need to be spoken to, too. We’re all fallen human beings in need of major spiritual repair. That’s not in dispute. It’s interesting how often some women will try to deflect their own responsibilities by drawing attention to what the other half needs to do. “Enough about me! Look at this lout over here!”.
    Cindy recently posted…The Money Saving Mom’s BudgetMy Profile

  8. And let me add something to that. If a woman is unwilling to step up and give more of herself to her husband on the grounds that he isn’t doing enough for her, and he needs to go first, (where “doing enough” means being romantic, or washing dishes, or otherwise making her happy) then I’d say the two of them probably deserve each other.
    Cindy recently posted…The Money Saving Mom’s BudgetMy Profile

  9. Sheila, I think you’re one of the most GENTLE writers I read! Speaking the truth in love still stings, sometimes, but that’s usually because it’s hitting the mark. True and faithful are the wounds of a friend, right??

    And you – and your commenters – have already nailed it. I’m responsible, before God, for ME. Not for him! Doesn’t mean I like it. Doesn’t mean it feels fair. Doesn’t mean he has no responsibility or fault. Just means that I’m responsible for me.

    Keep it up, my friend, keep it up :D

    Julie

    • Thanks, Julie. It’s funny, but “gentle” was the word that I had been praying over myself for 2011, because I do think it’s one of my main failings. I’m a very black and white thinker, and I don’t always show or feel a lot of grace for people. I admire those who can stand up for truth, but do it in such a gentle way that people are moved by it. I want to be like that, but I’m not there yet. So the fact that you used that word about me means a lot! And Merry Christmas, too!

  10. And Merry Christmas!

  11. Wonderful post! I agree with what you said, and I wanted to add what we learned in watching the Love and Respect messages by Emerson Eggerichs. He said that ultimately everything we are doing is unto Christ. So when you are frustrated with your husband because he is not doing what you want or responding how you would like, look past him, see Christ, and act in a way that you would towards Him. As someone else said, we will give an account for our actions, not our husbands!
    Shawna recently posted…No Time…My Profile

    • So true, Shawna. There was a big Love & Respect conference in Ottawa last month that a bunch of my friends went to and just loved. Very good stuff.

  12. Sheila, I don’t think you are too hard in terms of your attitudes and the way you write (actually I look forward to your humor, a girl needs a good laugh now and then). It’s just that sometimes truth is hard. As women we have to deal with our bad attitudes and actions. It sucks. It’s hard to face our wounds, our frailties, our sin.

    As to the guys, just send them to http://www.the-generous-husband.com. Now he’s hard.
    Lori recently posted…Lift Him UpMy Profile

    • Thanks, Lori! And your husband’s blog is great. I sent a reader there this morning who asked for recommendations for blogs like mine, but for men! Thanks for all you do.

  13. Sheila, you are definitely not too hard on women. Sometimes the truth is hard to hear, that’s all. I too was baffled by the comment complaining that Christians are too hard on women. Maybe on marriage blogs you see more admonishment geared towards women, but that’s simply because women are more likely to read said blogs than men. And like a previous commenter said, the church as a whole is WAY harder on men than women. Unfortunately feminism has become such an accepted part of our culture that even the church gets caught up in it. You’re right about the vast difference between Mother’s Day and Father’s Day church services. Mother’s Day is all about honoring and glorifying motherhood/womanhood while Father’s Day is all about telling men that they’re all terrible husbands/fathers and they need to get their lazy bums off the couch. Isn’t Father’s Day supposed to be about HONORING fathers? Yeesh.

    • I agree that the church really is harder on men. I’ve known two women to leave their husbands in the last few years in our church after affairs, and everyone still assumed it was the husbands’ fault. It was really tough!

  14. Audience and context mean a lot. Of course you are speaking to women. And I agree that The Generous Husband is a good site for men to go to (and there are others). I like to read it for the male point of view.

    We each need to take responsibility for our part in marriage. When my marriage stunk (and at one time, it really did), I was so overwhelmed and frustrated with my husband. I felt that I was trying everything I could, and someone needed to scold him into doing his part! When I look back, I realize how skewed my perspective was. I was doing everything I could to make things the way *I* wanted them to be – not to simply be a loving, God-honoring wife. Sure, there are reasonable boundaries, and no one should stand for abuse. But most of us aren’t in that situation. When I figured out how to change the equation and do my part, we both became happier in the relationship. My husband and I have become better spouses to one another now, and our marriage is a happy one.

    It’s hard to have that humility and open your ears to the tough stuff. But I am thrilled that you are here, Sheila, encouraging women to do just that – to listen to God’s Word, common sense, and the wisdom of others who have been through it. Great stuff. Thanks.
    J (Hot, Holy & Humorous) recently posted…3 Practical Tips for a Sexier YouMy Profile

  15. I do not think you are too hard on women at all. I think there are too many feel good blogs out there that validate unbiblical feelings of women. One of the things I have really been convicted about in the past year or so is that I am not called to submit or be obedient to Christ in my marriage only if my husband is doing what he should be doing. I am called to be obedient regardless. My husband’s behavior may never be what I think it should be, but that should not impact my daily obedience to be the best wife I am called to be. It’s a too common lie of the world to think that we should only “do” if he does.

  16. I think for the most part your marriage posts are right on. That’s mainly why I read your blog. But I could do without most of your parenting posts.

  17. I have not commented on your blog before now. I really appreciate all that you write for women. I do not believe that you are being too hard on women. It is a hard truth, well written and direct. I have had a difficult marriage and there were times earlier in the marriage when I would have been very angry at your words. I had the mindset (and I still fight it at times) that he was a jerk, selfish, and did not deserve for me to try to save the marriage because “i” was the ONLY one that tried to do anything. My skewed perception based on my feelings.
    You are speaking the truth that we can only change ourselves and we answer to the Lord for our actions, not our husbands actions. I do agree with the other commentors too.
    The turning point for me was a very, very difficult time and I was in a deep rage and harbored such bitterness and literally cried out to the Lord. It is one of the few times in my life where I KNOW that I heard God speak to me. I was ready to walk out the door but he told me he wanted me to stay in the marriage and obey Him (God.) He told me that I did have the right to be angry over my husband’s actions and He was not denying me that emotion. God showed me that my anger and bitterness would only engulf me and destroy me and that it was my choice. Walk away from the marriage and God or turn to Him.
    I chose to obey God ( it was very difficult to do ) and have a much deeper relationship with the Lord now. It was like a veil was lifted from my eyes, so that I can see and hear the truth that you are sharing with us women. Not that the truth does not sting every so often. :)
    Thank you for your posts!

  18. I think you’re totally fair. This is obviously a blog for women and your advice is quite right (well, most of the time ;) )

    Your commenter is right, but as this is a blog for women he/she is out of place with this comment.

    But you are right. We can only change ourselves. We have to work on ourselves and leave our husbands, and whatever they need to change, in God’s hands.

  19. You are not too hard on women. As women, we need each other to sharpen ourselves, to make us better… better women and better wives. I want to be a better woman and a better wife, so I need you to challenge me as a woman and as a wife. Hubby doesn’t read your blog, which is just fine… as he isn’t trying to do either of these things (and good thing).

    Reaching men? I can only think of the one-on-one mentoring. Hubby isn’t interested in reading blogs, but he is interested in chatting with other men and building those friendships. Reaching men in mass — no idea.
    Rachael recently posted…Luck shines on me againMy Profile

  20. do you think I’m too hard on women? And, given that many men do need to improve in marriage, too, how should they hear about that?

    No. Not at all. Truth is sometimes hard to hear, but I’ve not heard you ever say anything that isn’t true.

    How should men hear about what they need to improve? Ideally it will come from a) time alone with God/in the Word, from the pulpit, from an accountability partner/men’s group/friend, and from honest discourse with their wife. Since often the ideal won’t be happening, I would say the best way for a man to HEAR is the best way we all hear things: from someone who obviously cares for us, said in a caring way. Proverbs 16:21 “…pleasant words are persuasive.”

  21. The Bible is very clear what our role is as women. It is also very clear what a man’s role is. It does not say in the Bible for women to only do their specific role’s and to love, submit, and respect their husband only if he is a godly wonderful sweet and loving husband to you. Just like it does not tell husbands to love and cherish their wives only if she submits to his leadership. No, we are to die to ourselves and take up our cross and follow Him.

    I have found however, in my marriage that the more I commit myself to following God’s ways and not my ways the more my husband loves and cherishes me as his wife. He knows that he is the leader, provider, and protector in this home. He knows that he has the final word with things. He knows that he is the man in this relationship! :) I think if more women would stop being so stubborn and prideful and start living how God wants them too they would find that their husbands would start taking on his God intended role and would show the love and adoration that she so craves!

    Some great resources that I believe every women should read are:

    Created to Be His Helpmeet by Debi Pearl
    Secrets of Fascinating Womanhood (google search it you can read it online for free!)
    http://www.aboverubies.org

  22. I also wanted to add the comment that it is not Sheila’s job to be telling what the men should be doing anyways. Look at what the older women are commanded to be doing in Titus 2 instructing and teaching the younger women, not the men. As women we are to teach women. Men are to teach men. It is simply not Biblical for a women to be teaching and telling men how they should be living and doing life.

    I start to question women that are teaching and telling men what to do because they are so obviously going against God’s Word. If they are not following God’s standards for living 100% then how can their words be trusted? To me their words mixed with some Biblical truth becomes not anything I can rely on and in fact just really becomes personal opinion. I look to godly women and ministry’s like Above Rubies, Revive our Hearts, Secrets of Fascinating Womanhood, Debi Pearl- No Greater Joy, and many more and all of these women are teaching other women NOT men.

  23. I do not think it is hard on the women. How to say, just I always think woman play a more important role in family. Also, we should be more mature after building family with our husbands, so we should view and deal with thing as adult. It is not helpful to argue who should make change and take more responsibility for the conflict. Just clam down think about what things ourselves could do for maintaining the good relationship.
    Sophia recently posted…Forex Robots Are DangerousMy Profile

  24. I have been with my husband for 26 years (married for 18), and I could not be happier in my life or in my marriage. It has not always been pure bliss, but we have worked together to overcome any problems we encountered over the years. I have a little group of girlfriends, and I am the only happily married one among us. I’ve noticed one common thread. They all make fun of me for being “subservient”. What gives me this title is the following: I go to bed earlier than I normally would (my husband gets up early for work and is a very light sleeper), I make dinner every night (my children have food allergies so it’s harder to eat out than just stay home and cook), and I’m generally home when he’s home. Sometimes I find myself getting defensive about the “sacrifices” I’ve made to make my husband happy. As the years go by, though, I realize that it’s these “sacrifices” that have strengthened our marriage to make it so wonderful today. Many women would balk at having to go to bed at a certain hour because the house had to be quiet, but, seriously, is that so much to ask? These are his particular “quirks” and, like a tree in the breeze, I have had to bend or break. I know he’s done plenty of bending too! The funny thing is that I don’t even feel I am bending anymore. We’ve grown together so nicely (forming a very odd-looking tree, I’m sure!) Now when one of my girlfriends mocks my inability to go out for drinks on a weeknight, I just smile and suggest a nice early breakfast date instead! Please don’t feel you are being too hard on women by encouraging them to bend!

    • I love your comment, “I don’t even feel I am bending anymore.” That’s what I feel, too. It’s weird, but after a while you don’t even feel like you are sacrificing. You just feel like this is the way life is supposed to be, and it’s really very peaceful. Thanks for sharing!

      • Yes, peaceful is a great word for it. You hear so much about marriage being such hard work. I feel very blessed to have gotten to the point where those feelings seem so distant I can hardly remember! As distressing as getting older can be, this would definitely be one of the perks!

  25. Like you, I write to women. Like you, I expect each person in a marriage to work as hard at making the marriage work, but I write to women. Sure Ephesians 5:22 is hard. It’s hard to submit. In an ideal world we could do it and not worry about it. We have to work with our limitations and our husband’s limitations and work out how that is going to look in the very real world we live in.

    But you know what I know? I’m glad I’m a woman! Ephesians 5:22 may be hard to work toward but Ephesians 5:25 is even harder. Biblically our husbands are called to lay down their very lives for us in love and service. I don’t know how to even approach that one, so I don’t write to men.
    Christie @ Garden of Holiness recently posted…Wifey Wednesday: Twelve Years InMy Profile

  26. I read an article about 25 marriage tips, which led me to your site. I do appreciate that you so bluntly yet lovingly help guide women on to ways that do make an impact. I’m a firm believer that we can change ourselves but not anyone else, because that takes God. But if we’re willing to be changed, He uses our willingness to change those around us–husbands included. So many marriages are saved because the woman was so desperate to make things better that she took it upon herself to change what she chould about herself. I;m not discrediting men at all, I’m simply saying we ladies are generally the ones with the softerh heart and are broekn so much more easily. If we’ll be willing to le Him work in us and do it out of honor for Him first, our willingness will not go unnoticed and very oftern softens the man;s heart as a result. We just need to be willing. We stand to benefit so much from it. I;ve experienced so much of that.
    Jennifer Travis recently posted…Are You Teachable?My Profile

  27. I think you are dead on in your approach towards us women and wives. Not too hard at all. God will make the men do what they are suppose to, “hold their feet to the fire” and you are helping women fulfill the scripture…”she will win him over without a word”. You were called to teach wives to be responsible for themselves. You are empowering them to follow God and be strong woman. The woman wrote something about Jesus actively pursuing His bride. If we are fussing at the husband and trying to tell him he is wrong for not actively pursuing you the focus is off. If he isn’t doing his part you keep pursuing God, Christ, doing what he has asked you to do. Men do need to be held accountable, men do need to stand up and be strong BUT beating them over the head and yelling at them doesn’t do it.
    You are good Shelia!
    April recently posted…Potato-Turnip Soup, Pumpkin Bread and Playful BoysMy Profile

  28. You can send the husbands over to my blog. I beat up on them plenty!!

    Seriously, though, I agree that the church needs to do a better job challenging and equipping men to step into their responsibility of showing Christ-like love to their wives.
    Scott
    Scott recently posted…Liberty vs License in MarriageMy Profile

    • Thanks, Scott! I think I’ll make a list of blogs for guys, because many have asked. And I’ll include yours in it! Nice to see you here as well as on Twitter.

  29. I get a lot of pushback from what I would consider the pseudo-feminist viewpoint that “I’m not responsible for my actions until he is accountable for his.”

    But the truth is this: Sometimes, girls, we need to put our big girl britches on and do the dirty work, regardless of what britches hubby is wearing. What kind of a woman waits for change to happen to her instead of affecting it?

    Funniest thing happened to me when I started implementing a more respectful view of my husband (even though I thought some of it was completely silly)… and that is that I WAS THE ONE WHO CHANGED. I realized how wrong I had been. How MY view was off. How MY influence was tearing my husband down instead of building him up. Funny how deciding that I was going to change my husbands behavior (originally through what I considered manipulation) ended up humbling me and bringing me to a completely different place.

    I sometimes think THAT is what scares women, especially traditional feminists: the idea that in the end YOU could be the one who ends up changing.

    Thankfully re-routing my identity out of career, bill paying, taking charge, and having 100% control of our marriage didn’t kill me like I had thought it might. I couldn’t be happier. I’ve said it once, I’ve said it hundreds of times… Consider your sphere of influence.
    [And yes, as a college grad and controlling career woman who quit her job to be a keeper of house, home, and husband, I have taken a lot of flak from my feminist friends. But the truth is I haven't felt better, he hasn't felt better, and the same friends keep asking me why my marriage is so happy. They don't ACTUALLY want to hear the answer, of course, but they enjoy making fun. ;) ]

    • I find the same thing, Amanda: They don’t really want to know the answer. What they want is a magic: what did you do to make him so great? How can I get him to change? Because they think that’s what you did–they think you managed to change him. What they don’t see is that you changed yourself, and in so doing changed the dynamic, and then everything got so much more peaceful!

  30. Sheila,

    As you know, I blog to men, and I get the same thing “You always beat up on men, why don’t you pick on women.” Next time I hear that I think I will send them to this post.

    Be it writing or speaking, I address those in my audience, and suggest what THEY can do to make a change. Telling someone what they can do empowers them; telling them what their spouse can do just adds to their anger and frustration. Even if the spouse is the other spouse is the majority of the problem, there is always something the one I am talking to could do to start a change.

    Of course the “I’m not responsible for my actions till my spouse is accountable for their actions” is not just a female problem – men do it to! The other one I see is a guy working very hard on items 28 and 37 on her list, and yelling that she won’t deal with the top five items on his list.

    Keep lovingly going after the gals, and I will keep beating up on the men.
    Paul Byerly recently posted…A free gift she will loveMy Profile

    • As one of the rare men who reads relationship blogs, Paul (among others I lean on and look to) does a great job of kicking my behind regularly. :)

      I do agree that men generally don’t read these. But have a near-death experience to thank. A rough period in our marriage led to (but did not excuse!) an emotional affair on my part. I literally saw my entire marriage and family life flash before my eyes as we went through a trying and still ongoing period of healing, completely with weekly marriage counseling.

      These days, though I still have my own “wish list” for my dear bride to work on, on my behalf (what hubby doesnt?), I know that my responsibility is the guy in the mirror, not her. And while I often am tempted to send her blog posts that eloquently make a point I want her to hear (generally ones about sex, let’s be honest) I resist that temptation, and instead send her the ones that knock me on my keister and point out places I’ve failed her and need her grace and forgiveness. As a result her heart softens toward me, and our marriage strengthens as a result. It’s a virtuous circle.

    • Glad you understand, Paul! And you can certainly send people here when you need to deal with that question :).

  31. gaurdian777 says:

    I try to take the verse talking about how we love Christ because He first loved us as needing to love my wife first before I can expect her to love me in return. If Christ stopped loving us for any reason wouldn’t we fall out of love with him as well? It only makes since.

    It’s not to mean that women should stop loving their husbands but how can we expect them to love us if we don’t love them first. God designed it as a pursuit. We are hunters by nature and it should be in our nature to pursue that which we desire. If we desire our wives love and respect then it only makes since that we should first pursue them.

  32. I just wanted to say that that are a “few” men at least that read your blog. Being a christian divorced male, I am striving my best to become a better christian, not only for myself, but also for any future wife I may have, assuming that is God’s will for my life. Your blog, with a while host of other female written christian marriage blogs, as well as the male written christian marriage blogs are helping me to better understand where I need to make changes to better ensure the success of my next marriage. Maybe men do not subscribe to female geared blogs, but I personally think they are doing themselves a major disservice. However, I am probably a pretty rare breed that believes I can gain insight and wisdom from learning from those who have more experience than I.

    Thank you so very much for taking the time to help educate the rest of us.

    • And Mark, we’re glad to have you! If you get an insight on the female brain and temperament here, all the better!

  33. Sheila, you absolutely are not too hard on women.

    Really, if women want to improve their marriages, they need do only two things: Respect their husbands, and submit to them.

    If men want to improve their marriages, they need do only one thing: Love their wives as Christ loved the Church and gave Himself up for her.

    These three things right here are the way to making a covenant marriage work. The failure to follow these commands is the singular source of all marital strife, discord, and divorce.

  34. I recently came across your post. I wanted to share my thoughts. I don’t feel you are too hard on us women. You are a woman & can relate to us. I have been working on my marriage & God has taught me so much & continues to. I am to change me. I can’t change my husband but if I seek God’s Kingdom 1st & his righteousness the rest will be added into me (Matt 6:33). He showed me that I was a problem as well as you stated we start to act the way our husbands act & that’s where my husband started to have an emotional affair. I know God had prepared me prior to my finding out. We have a son together & I knew there had to be major changes but I felt at the time it was my husband. The more I searched for God’s help the more He led me to changing myself. I can only Thank Him for that because He uses women such as yourself to share what we should be doing. Women should read the Proverbs 31 woman! That’s who God says we should be like. God also showed me 1 Peter 3:1 “in the same way, you wives must accept the authority of your husbands. Then, even if some refuse to obey the Word, your godly lives will speak to them without any words. They will be won over by observing your pure & reverent lives.” Wow! That’s powerful & a great scripture I still meditate on. We have our own duties as women of God, wives, & mothers that we should concentrate on the things we CAN control & not on the things we can’t such as changing our spouses. In all, thank you for being bold as God has empowered you to be to teach others!

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  1. [...] the Plane. In retrospect, perhaps I was too harsh in this post. But I hope the intent was clear! 3. Am I Too Hard on Women? A response to some commenters who said that I should be telling men to smarten up. 4. What is [...]

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