How Do I Deal With an Unreasonable Husband?

Occasionally we receive an email that addresses a specific question that is often asked. Such is the question asked below.
I have been married for 3 years.  We are both 56 years old & probably very set in our ways, but how do I respond biblically when my husband is a controlling person?  I have never bought a roll of paper towels nor have I had a hot shower in the winter…..He controls it all!  It turns out that expressing a different opinion causes a real verbal attack from him…He is a Christian but feels that he is the high priest & I am to be totally in submission.  When you preached at our church last week I was so happy to hear that the husband is to help glorify the wife in her Christian growth…The only thing I hear after Sunday School is how I need to correct something in my life….I am very frustrated & do not want to talk to my husband at all anymore…..My Sunday School kids are more loving & encouraging than my legalistic minded husband…
I have counseled with my pastor & a lady Christian marriage counselor….Getting basic respect & kindness are all I want!!
I am thankful for your ministry – Hope to hear from you whenever you can…..

Answer:

I am glad that my husband’s messages encouraged you.  Please delight in the fact that the Lord was encouraging you and confirming His character to you.  The home life that you described is hurtful and not according to God’s plan.  You stated that getting basic respect and kindness is all you want.  These things are certainly reasonable desires, but it appears that your husband is not willing to meet these desires at this point.  This is a major disappointment in any marriage, but because we have Jesus, we can confidently know that He will subjugate this trial and force it to do good for you when you are loving Him and delighting in Him (Romans 5:1-5, 8:28).  When you conveyed that your Sunday school kids are the ones that show you love, I thought about Jesus and how He can relate to your struggles.  He did not receive respect or kindness from the legalistic authorities surrounding Him, but only from His students—His disciples.   Jesus understands your disappointments, because He has experienced them Himself. His purpose is to use these challenges as an opportunity to grow in intimacy with you by conforming you to His image.  If you desire this intimacy, I suggest that you intently study the person of Jesus Christ and delight yourself in Him.  This will energize you and protect you from bitterness.  I suggest the book, The God You Can Know by Dan DeHaan.  I have also discovered that when I preach the gospel to myself by continually reminding myself of my hopeless condition that was amazingly and dramatically rescued by My Redeemer, I can face trials victoriously.  For the last ten months, during my quiet time, I have daily read a section in the little book, A Gospel Primer by Milton Vincent. Utilizing the insights in this book to incorporate the gospel into every aspect of my life has greatly strengthened me to humbly, but confidently respond to trials.
As I mentioned above, desiring respect and kindness from your husband is a reasonable desire, but I caution you to restrict these desires to being desires.  When good desires develop to the point of being viewed as needs, our lives can begin to downward spiral to a despairing focus that robs us of our joy and consumes us with self centeredness. To counteract this tendency that each one of us faces, I suggest that you ask the Lord to nudge you anytime you are concentrating on irritations concerning your husband.  If you concentrate on the irritations, you will become an irritating person.  “Philippians  4:8” your husband instead.  Whatever you can think of that is pure, lovely and of good report concerning him, concentrate on those things.  Replace the irritating thoughts with kind thoughts and also thoughts on the goodness of God.  I very strongly recommend the book, When Sinners Say I Do by Dave Harvey.  This book very practically teaches how, within marriage, someone as inadequate as me can be transformed to gracefully respond to anything from minor irritations to deep, hurtful sinful actions in a spouse.  The reader is helped to recognize and adjust any personal attitudes or actions that may be provoking a spouse to sinful behavior. The material covered also offers insight as to when to overlook a transgression or when to confront by speaking the truth in love.
Your husband is missing the joy of Jesus in His life.  As you begin to daily meditate on gospel truths, you will long to see him experience the fullness of the Lord.  Milton Vincent says, “The more I rehearse and exult in gospel truths, the more there develops within me a corresponding burden for non-Christians to enter into such blessings.”   Rather than praying with the intent of receiving personal relief, the motive for this longing will switch over to be for his benefit. I am sure that you pray for your husband.  Start praying scripture over him.  Daily, pray the following scriptures and insert your name into them. Pray them again and insert your husband’s name into them (Ephesians 1:15-20, Ephesians 4:14-21, Colossians 1:9-10, Philippians 1:9-11). These power-packed prayers entreat that the person prayed for will grow in a deeper awareness and understanding of Jesus through personally experiencing His love.  The Bible teaches that the Lord reversed the fortunes of Job when he prayed for his critical, arrogant friends (Job 42:10).
May the grace of God flood you and fill you with joy and peace.  May His love shine through you and be used to draw your husband to the Lord.  Remember 1 Peter 3:1.  Husbands are influenced, without a word, as we allow the joy and the love of the Lord to abound in us and affect them.  It will not be your elaborate explanations or subtle hints that will influence your husband, but rather your joy.

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