If I’m a Christian, do I need to put up with my husband’s crap?
I’ve been troubled a bit recently with some of the comments and emails I’ve been getting. Don’t get me wrong, about 75% of the comments you leave are so encouraging and they make my day, like, all the time! But some come to Living the Sweet Wife carrying heavy burdens, and those of you who do are so welcome here! Being a wife myself I only find it fitting to write about marriage from a wife’s perspective. I find that easiest for some reason ;). Although I have learned a lot from my husband about what it’s like to be in his position. (Did I mention I actually got him to write a post for LTSW?? I’m saving it for juuuust the right time, but let me tell you- it’s a goodie!).
Anyway, I wanted to share a couple comments I received with you because I think these women bring up a very good question that needs to be talked about! I’m sure they’re not the only ones thinking these things. I’ll keep their names to myself for now.
“Strange to me how there are so many “self-help” columns for women and women actually seek them out and read them. How many of your husbands do you “catch” on the internet seeking ways to improve themselves in the husband department? I thought so! […] Some of these guys need to grow “some” and outgrow the need to be coddled! That was mommy’s job not wifey’s!!!”
“Why is it up to the wife always to make sure the hubby is happy? It seems to me hubby gets a free ride. Shouldn’t he have ideas on how to help his Wife and the mother of his children. to make her life a little easier. Even to this day I’m sure men think that women are subservient to them and should be waiting at the door. with full make up a pretty dress dinner on the table and his pipe and slippers ready.”
First of all I’d like to make it clear that I’m not bringing up these comments because I thought they were mean and I want to call them out. Like I said, I think these women raise a really good question and I’m sure they’re not the only ones thinking it! I’m not really going to address why men don’t search relationship tips on the internet. I’m pretty sure a huge reason for that is due to the fact that of 1 million active Pinterest users, 85% are female. I don’t think it’s because men don’t care, they’re just not exposing themselves to clickable self-help articles as much as women are. (I got my stats from here).
What I will address is this:
“Why is it up to the wife always to make sure the hubby is happy? It seems to me hubby gets a free ride.”
Let’s talk about that.
Where do we get our standards from for our husbands?
First of all, we need to ask ourselves this question: Where do we get our standards for our husband? If we really think about it, this is the reason why our husband upsets us, when he does. It’s because we have standards and expectations for him. If we expect our husband to to be mindful and clean up after himself, we get upset when he doesn’t. If we expect our husband to not cheat on us, we get upset when he does. When we reading that, it seems pretty obvious. But what’s not obvious is where these expectations come from. Do they come from the patterns you grew up with in your family and saw in your parents relationship? Do they come from societal norms? A book you read on marriage? The Bible? And then if your husband is not living up to your expectations and standards, ask yourself why not? Did he grow up differently? Is he a different religion than you? What are his morals? And have your expectations and reasoning behind them been communicated?
Phew, sorry, a lot of questions there. Take a few minutes to think about them before moving on…
If your husband is not a Christian
I want to warn you guys that the next few sentences might be hard to hear, but they need to be said. Since my husband calls himself a Christian, he has a set of standards and expectations that he is held to outside of my own expectations and preferences. If your husband is not a Christian, whether or not you are, ask yourself what it is that would call him to have the same expectations, morals, selflessness, and standards as you. Other than just the motivation to make you happy, which he might not always be feeling, there’s not much that is holding him to being a good, selfless, loving husband. Other than the fact that you simply want him to.
If your husband calls himself a Christian
He may not scour the internet looking for self-help articles on “How to be a Good Husband in 6 Easy Steps”, but he will know where your expectations for him will come from. If your husband is a Christian, he will know that even though he is saved by grace, his actions will be the evidence of that for others to see. Romans 3:28 & 31 says,
“For we conclude that a man is justified by faith apart from the works of the law.”…”Do we then cancel the law through faith? Absolutely not! On the contrary, we uphold the law.”
So, if your husband is a Christian, he knows that he is saved by grace, but he is expected to live by God’s standards. Standards such as these:
“Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave Himself for her,”
“In the same way, husbands are to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself.”
Are we doing too much?
For a lot of wives out there, I want to say, “No, not yet.” For many of us, our husbands haven’t reached the point where we need to show the tough love in order to enable them to be a better man whose heart longs to please God. Most of us have well-meaning husbands who miss the mark more often than we’d like, but we are in the place where we need to practice self-sacrificial love and forgiveness. That’s not to say that confrontation isn’t necessary. It probably is from time to time. But reconciliation should and can probably happen sooner in these cases.
However, there are also many women who will read this whose husbands call themselves Christians and are not at all trying to honor God with their lives. Although they have been saved from a life of selfishness and have been given the ability to live a selfless life (serving, loving, helping, providing for, and protecting their wives), they forget the grace and forgiveness that God has given them and they don’t show the same grace, forgiveness, and selflessness to their wives.
Take a minute and read this story Jesus told about a man who was shown forgiveness and then those not to forgive someone else:
“For this reason, the kingdom of heaven can be compared to a king who wanted to settle accounts with his slaves. When he began to settle accounts, one who owed 10,000 talents was brought before him. Since he had no way to pay it back, his master commanded that he, his wife, his children, and everything he had be sold to pay the debt.
At this, the slave fell facedown before him and said, ‘Be patient with me, and I will pay you everything!’ Then the master of that slave had compassion, released him, and forgave him the loan.
But that slave went out and found one of his fellow slaves who owed him 100 denarii. He grabbed him, started choking him, and said, ‘Pay what you owe!’
At this, his fellow slave fell down and began begging him, ‘Be patient with me, and I will pay you back.’ But he wasn’t willing. On the contrary, he went and threw him into prison until he could pay what was owed. When the other slaves saw what had taken place, they were deeply distressed and went and reported to their master everything that had happened.
Then, after he had summoned him, his master said to him, ‘You wicked slave! I forgave you all that debt because you begged me. Shouldn’t you also have had mercy on your fellow slave, as I had mercy on you?’ And his master got angry and handed him over to the jailers to be tortured until he could pay everything that was owed. So My heavenly Father will also do to you if each of you does not forgive his brother from his heart.”
This story in Matthew 18 makes me very wary for anyone who calls themself a Christian and are not striving for a life of grace, forgiveness, and selflessness. This goes even more so for husbands!! God designed marriage specifically to be a picture of His relationship with the Church. If a Christian husband is not acting “Christ-like” to his wife, how do you think that will make God feel about the way that man is representing God to the world?
If I’m a Christian, do I need to put up with my husband’s crap?
That being said, as a wife who is trying so hard to love her husband and serve him despite his imperfection, I do believe that that honors God! But there comes a time and place where self-sacrifice can be set aside to lovingly improve the Christian man in our lives that is not living in a way that brings glory to God. And this doesn’t just end at being more helpful around the house, this affects everything first and foremost his relationship with Christ and, if your husband understands God’s grace correctly, he will show grace to you and love you self-sacrificially, whatever that looks like. Keep in mind, that just because your husband loves God, doesn’t mean he will naturally take on the role of husband of the year. But it does mean that he will treat you with respect, serve you, forgive you, and love you self-sacrificially. Even in these things, be patient with your husband.
A word of caution
I want to caution wives, though, before you decide that it is time to lay down the law with a selfish husband, spend a lot of time in prayer. Pray and ask for discernment that what you’re feeling isn’t just about your own preferences, expectations, and pride, but that your desire to confront and help correct your husband’s behavior really comes from a desire to see him honor God with his life (which will give him the extra love in his love to give you). Josh and I have the first portion of this C.S. Lewis quote hanging on our wall, but I absolutely love the whole thing!
“When I have learnt to love God better than my earthly dearest, I shall love my earthly dearest better than I do now. In so far as I learn to love my earthly dearest at the expense of God and instead of God, I shall be moving towards the state in which I shall not love my earthly dearest at all. When first things are put first, second things are not suppressed but increased.”
How do I know that my intentions are right?
Whenever I am tempted to be angry with Josh’s actions, I think of this verse from Matthew 7, “First take the log out of your eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye.” Before you decide to confront and/or find help for your husband, check yourself. Check your motivation and intentions. Pray for your husband that he would desire to live a self-sacrificing life that honors both God and you. Ask yourself if your husband could use more forgiveness from you or if your forgiveness is enabling him to live a sinful life. If decide and confirm with prayer that your husband is taking advantage of your forgiveness and needs his behavior to change, then it is time to confront in love and very possibly seek help from a Christian counselor.
Keep this in mind:
Keep in mind that every household functions differently. My husband never cooks. Like, ever. But for him, that’s not being selfish. The stuff he tries to make is just not nearly as good as what I make 🙂 and we both agree it’s usually better when I cook. But in many other families, the husband is great at cooking and loves to cook. That’s just one example. Just keep in mind that every family functions differently and what actions may seem selfish in one family might not seem selfish to another family.
I love you all so much and I hope this cleared up a few things for those of you were were thinking similar things to these two commenters here.
Keep the comments coming, you guys! I love hearing what you all have to say and hearing about your own experiences! And don’t forget to share with friends.