Someone Googled “my husband is harsh to me” so I decided to write an article about it. I do not know the person, but since they landed on our website, I wanted to give them seven things to consider.
You may want to read:
- Should a Wife Respect Her Unkind Husband
- When It’s Okay to Go Against Your Husband’s Wishes
- Going Over Your Husband’s Head to Help Him
I am glad she made it here. If she is still reading, I hope she finds this article. This abused lady represents one of the most challenging people in the world in which to provide care. Here are five reasons why I say this.
- More than likely she has no grounds for divorce.
- She is called to submit to her husband.
- She cannot sin against him.
- The chances of him ever changing are slim.
- Her situation breaks my heart.
Every time I am called to counsel a person like this, I feel like the doctor who has to tell his patient she has terminal cancer. I wish I could change her marriage. I wish I could kick her husband in the rear end. I wish Jesus would return.
I do not want to kick her husband in the rear end, though it did feel therapeutic to write it. I have never wanted to hurt anyone, but it was my way of expressing the consternation in my soul when considering this wife’s challenge. If I had the chance to talk to this woman, I would want to tell her these seven things.
God Loves You
It is a short step from trusting and resting in the Lord to thinking God is distant and silent. As David told Jonathan, “There is but a short step between me and death.” (See 1 Samuel 20:3) One of the conditions for this kind of change in attitude is unmitigated suffering.
We pray, appeal, plead, and beg, but our circumstances do not alter. In time, we can easily think the Lord does not care and is uninvolved (Job 23:2-5). Drifting from God is an easier place to get to than you might think.
There is a loneliness in a dysfunctional marriage that keeps you alone, even when you are in a crowd. If you are not careful, you can begin to think the good Lord has left you too. It is not true.
God loves you, and your circumstances do not alter His love for you. Conditions can change us, but one of the Lord’s many attributes is His immutability, which means He never changes (Malachi 3:6; Hebrews 13:8).
It will be essential for you to preach the gospel to yourself every day. Repeat after me: God loves me, and He proved His love by sending His Son to die on a cross (John 3:16). Jesus paid for my sins, and I am eternally secure even though my marriage is not (John 10:28-30).
Sin Caught Your Husband
The word Adam means “red man” or “man of the earth” (Genesis 2:7). Adam is a dirt clod, and so is your husband. For the record, you are a dirt clod too.
When the Lord looked down on His creation in Psalm 103:14, He remembered we are dust. There are a fragility and vulnerability to mankind–we are jars of clay (2 Corinthians 4:7). Then after you mix the doctrine of sin (Genesis 3:7) into our pre-made weaknesses, we are a mess (Romans 3:10-12).
Your husband is a mess. No matter what you thought of him or how he tries to present himself, he is a mess. He is a vulnerable, depraved mess, who has no ability to maintain any sustained goodness apart from the grace of God.
Paul would say sin has caught your husband (Galatians 6:1). Imagine if you were walking through the woods and you found your husband ensnared around the ankle by a bear trap. That is what Paul is saying. Sin caught your husband, and he cannot extricate himself from it.
Captured by sin is a fundamental understanding, which should lead you to pity him, as you think about his frame (Psalm 103:14)–that he is from the dust impregnated by sin (Genesis 2:7, 3:6). He is sinful dirt (Romans 5:12).
His incarceration does not excuse his sin or the need to confront him, but it does help you to guard your heart when the sinner is sinning against you (Galatians 6:1-2).
You Are To Restore
Understanding his fallenness is where you have to give serious thought as to how you want to respond to him. If you walked up on him in the forest, how would you respond? Would you become angry with him or would you try to restore him gently? Read what Paul is asking you to do:
Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted. Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ. – Galatians 6:1-2
Humbly responding to Paul’s teaching is one of the hardest applications of the gospel a person could ever make: submitting yourself to the sins of others. Think Christ here. He gave Himself up for us, the caught ones.
I am not saying you should submit to abuse. That is another discussion. You should never subject yourself to abuse. You find help.
Because your husband’s habituation in a pattern of harshness and you are vulnerable, you must reach out for help. Do not go through this alone.
Regardless of his desire to control you through his manipulations, you find someone to help you both walk through this process. Submission to him does not prevent you from helping him.
If sin has captured him, you must help him. You can be submitted to him and help him at the same time. One of the aspects of submission is respect, and if you do not help him, you do not respect him.
You can substitute the word love for respect. If you love him, you will help him. Again, you can do this while submitting to him. I have asked my children to do this for me.
When they experience my sinfulness, I have asked them to question my words and behaviors. Submission to me and speaking into my life do not negate each other. Only a twisted view of submission would teach this.
Jesus submitted to His Father, and He was coequal with His Father. My children live in those dual roles as well as my wife. We are equally made in the image of God and equally of the same status in the body of Christ, though we have different roles in our relationships.
Prepare For the Long Haul
There is a good chance your husband will never change. I do not know if he will, and I am not sure if the Lord wants him to change.
I do know there are scores of situations in the Bible where the Lord allowed sin while using it in a sinless way. Paul’s thorn in the flesh is one example (2 Corinthians 12:7-10).
The story of Joseph is another example (Genesis 50:20), as well as the story of Pharaoh (Exodus 9:16; Romans 9:17). The most profound illustration of this is the gospel.
For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. – 2 Corinthians 5:21
I am not saying this is the case for you, but it is not out of the realm of possibilities. Though it is counterintuitive to our way of thinking (1 Corinthians 1:18), there are times when suffering is God’s way to break us from our self-reliant tendencies (2 Corinthians 1:8-9).
For we do not want you to be ignorant, brothers, of the affliction we experienced in Asia. For we were so utterly burdened beyond our strength that we despaired of life itself. Indeed, we felt that we had received the sentence of death. But that was to make us rely not on ourselves but on God who raises the dead.
Pray Without Ceasing
Though I am not sure your husband will change, there is no question the Lord is calling you to an other-world reliance. You cannot fix your husband.
I know you know this, but I want to state it clearly, and you will need to remind yourself of this truth over and over again. Along with reminding yourself of the impossible, you must remind yourself of the possible.
- I cannot change my husband.
- Only the Lord can bring change to our relationship.
If you only remind yourself of the impossible, you may become depressed, and thus, set up for temptations that will develop sin patterns in your life. But as you remind yourself of the impossibility of the situation, be sure to transition quickly to making your supplications known to the Lord. Here are five ways you can pray.
- Ask the Father to change your husband.
- Ask the Father to change you.
- Give thanks to the Lord for your husband.
- Give thanks to the Lord for what He is teaching you.
- Give thanks to the Lord for random things.
Your gratitude will affect your attitude. It is a quirky saying, I know, but you will remember it. Now, if you will apply it to your life, it will begin to change you regardless of what happens to your husband.
If you are predisposed to journaling, I would recommend you write out your grateful thoughts each day, as you present them to the Lord. Paul had a habit of being grateful to mean people.
I give thanks to my God always for you… – 1 Corinthians 1:4
Guard Your Heart
Finally, my sister, guard your heart with all diligence because what flows out of it will determine the course of your life (Proverbs 4:23; Luke 6:45).
Your marriage is a temptation for you to sin greatly because your disappointment is deep and broad. Here are six possible sin traps for you to consider. It would be good for you to list your temptations and present those to the Lord as you ask Him to change you.
Anger – James 4:1-2 says anger ties what we are not getting. The most practical way to repent of your anger is to identify what you are not getting or what you are afraid of losing.
Whatever that thing is that you want will be the source (cause) of your anger. Ask the Spirit to reveal this to you and fight to get rid of it.
Revenge – Part of your anger will be to inflict punishment on your husband. Carefully exegete yourself. Figure out how you are tempted to do this. All of us are different, so how we react to others will be different.
It may be good for you to talk with a close friend, who is familiar with your situation and has the courage to help you identify how you may be sinning against your husband.
Self-Pity – Another form of anger is when you turn it away from your husband and onto yourself, which manifests in several ways. One of which is self-pity, which is anger turned inward.
Anger turned inward destroys the soul. If you do not take care of this, it will eat you alive from the inside. Meaning, you will impact your thoughts, emotions, attitudes, and other soul things. You must find help for this.
Regret – Still yet another form of anger is a disappointment, which ties to an insufficient understanding of the sovereignty of God. Regret is a ground level, backward glance at life’s circumstances that marginalizes Sovereignty.
Regret does not consider how God is in your mess or how He is working redemptively to bring about purposes that you cannot perceive at this time. Be careful here. Guard your heart. God is multitasking, and you must assume you are working with insufficient data.
Fear – It goes without saying that you fear, and this fear can come at you from many angles. The opposite of fear is faith. The most oft-repeated appeal in the Bible is fear not. If you begin applying some of the things in this article, your fear will slowly morph into faith.
Despair – But if you do not do the work necessary to abate this multifactorial problem, you will slip into depression. If you are still reading our site, keep on reading. I would recommend you join our free public or private member forum. Please do not live in your marriage alone. Let us come alongside you. Reach out to your church, if you can. Please find help. I hope this has served you in some small way.
Also published on Medium.