Shows Main Idea – The passive husband is one of the most common problems in dysfunctional marriages. This problem is especially acute for the wife who is looking for her husband to lead the family. Should she let things go or should she lead him and the family?
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Rick, my husband won’t lead. What am I to do? I have tried everything. I’ve left lists on the counter, sent emails, called to followup, but nothing seems to work. My question to you is should I just do everything or let some things slide? I really do not know how to respond to him anymore. Help!!
The most common marriage counseling issue I have encountered is the passive male syndrome (PMS). It is so far ahead of number two that I’m not sure what number two is.
This is a huge struggle for some wives, which can lead to bitterness and other forms of anger. I’m going to mention three things a wife should never do and then give some practical things to consider that may help their marriage.
But first, two obvious keys when someone is asking how to change another person:
- Always begin with yourself when thinking about relationship problems.
- You can only change you. Since he is not seeking change, you must focus on your sphere or responsibility (1 Corinthians 3:6).
Don’t Do These
Disrespect – Your husband was placed in your life by God and you made a covenant when you married him. You guys are not two people, but one flesh in the sight of God. To disrespect him is to disrespect God. Guard your heart against disrespect when you think about him, talk to him, or talk about him.
…let the wife see that she respects her husband. – Ephesians 5:33
BTW, being silent about your marriage is not respecting your spouse. Similar to being silent about your physical problems is not respecting your body, if you are silent about your “one flesh problems” then you are disrespecting your marriage. There is a way to talk about your problems.
- Do you know how to respect your imperfect husband?
- Is the respect you have for your husband based on his behavior?
Nag – I’m sure you knew I was going to say this. Don’t do it. Enough said.
Likewise, wives, be subject to your own husbands, so that even if some do not obey the word, they may be won without a word by the conduct of their wives—when they see your respectful and pure conduct.” – 1 Peter 3:1-2
- How slow are you to speak when you’re irritated at your husband (James 1:19)?
- Do you first address the log in your eye before you talk about the speck in his (Matthew 7:3-5)?
Slander – This is one of the easier ways to sin against your husband. As mentioned, there is a way to talk about him “behind his back.” Gossip or slander is not the way to do it.
Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you. – Ephesians 4:31-32
- Do your words build up your husband (Ephesians 4:29)?
- Would your children and/or friends affirm that you build him up with your words?
Gospel – The first thing to do is remind yourself of the Gospel. The Gospel is a multi-faceted perspective. I’ll only mention one aspect here: patience. Christ modeled patience (and still does) with you (Romans 5:8).
Consider what you did to Christ and how He always responds to you. Let the patience of Christ calm your heart as you think about your husband, specifically what he is not doing for the family. Love is patient (1Corinthians 13:4).
May the Gospel level the playing field in your home by giving you a proper perspective on yourself and your husband.
- Are you as patient with your husband as Christ is with you?
- What specific way were you patient with him today?
Prayer – Your best advice is to pray. Pray for your husband and pray for yourself. I know you know this but are you doing this? Ask God to guard your heart, while giving you practical strategies to serve your husband. Also, pray for God to do a masterful work in your husband’s heart.
The king’s heart is a stream of water in the hand of the LORD; he turns it wherever he will. – Proverbs 21:1
- Can you genuinely give thanks to God for your annoying husband? (Carefully read 1 Corinthians 1:1-9.)
- Do you have an unceasing attitude of prayer for your husband (1 Thessalonians 5:17)?
Kindness – It was God’s kindness that changed you. His kindness, as demonstrated through the death of His Son, motivated you to change. Paul reminded you of this when he said,
Or do you presume on the riches of his kindness and forbearance and patience, not knowing that God’s kindness is meant to lead you to repentance? – Romans 2:4
- How do you motivate your husband to change? Guilt, anger, criticalness, shame, threats?
- How do you need to change regarding the methods you use to motivate your husband to change?
Address Your Marriage
Appeal – I’m sure you’ve already done this but it needs to be mentioned. Choose civil (non-fight) times to talk to him. As you do this, affirm your love and affection for him. Then ask him if he would be willing to help you with some of the chores.
Authority – There is a greater Authority above your husband that you can appeal to if your husband will not respond to you. You’re not a doormat. You’re not without recourse.
After you have gone to him in the spirit of Matthew 18:15-17 and he is unwilling to change, then you have the biblical mandate from God to go to the leadership of your church. Appeal to them to help you. Do not hesitate. God’s community is a means of grace to help you. This is one way you can respect your husband.
Practical – Then there is the matter of undone chores. What should you do?
1 – Quite frankly, do as many things as you can while trusting God to sustain you until your marriage problems are rectified, if rectification is God’s pleasure.
2 – Do not attempt to be a superwoman. Do what you can to manage the household to serve your husband and your children. Do not attempt the impossible. You may have to live with untidiness. Some things will fall through the cracks.
3 – The important thing is how you model the Gospel to your children. Your husband may always fail at being a biblical husband but that does not mean you have to fail at being a biblical woman (Ephesians 5:1; 1 Corinthians 11:1)
4 – Be pneumatic: walk in the Spirit. Ask the Spirit to illuminate you (step-by-step) about how to respond to each opportunity, each undone chore.
5 – Find a girlfriend that can come alongside you to help you guard your heart. You’re welcome to jump into our community.
Take a look at the fruit in your life to see if it looks like these: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.
How are you doing with these?